I Am Special. Are you? I know this to be true…
Because a stranger who wants my money told me so
I am special because people frequently seek me out to offer me thought leadership opportunities, thus increasing the likelihood that new clients will hire me as their attorney.
Look, for example, at the breakdown of an email stream below that I received recently. Jake, from an organization called “Corporate LiveWire,” wanted me to speak so badly that he contacted me not once, not twice, not three times, but four times to get me to participate in a thought leadership project!
Jake first contacted me back on Sept. 11 to offer this very prestigious honor. Jake didn’t tell me how he got my name and email, but he obviously did his research! Indeed, he wrote: “Given your expertise in this area we feel you would be a great candidate to be featured as one of our selected experts.”
Nice. Jake obviously did his homework. Not like those mass email solicitations that we attorneys and other professional service providers commonly get dangling thought leadership opportunities before us (actually, this email is just like those, but I shall stay in character a bit more).
And Jake made the offer sound quite tempting, writing:
“This opportunity will provide an excellent platform for you to showcase your expertise, champion the success of your firm in this field, and provide our readers with important information from a knowledgeable source.”
He asked that I respond in two days…Silly me. I usually plan important things in advance. I’m just too uptight.
Jake explained the event was scheduled for October and that, “Positions are extremely limited and are reserved on a first-come, first-serve basis,” and so he asked that I respond within two days.
Hmm… Less than a month away. I like that! “An organization that is not bogged down with petty things like planning things very far in advance!” (the stupid version of me thought, in some parallel universe.) Silly me. I usually plan important things in advance. I’m just too uptight.
And the cost to be involved in this thought leadership event? Only about $660. (The price was stated in British pounds, probably because Jake and Corporate LiveWire are very fancy! Oh, and maybe because 500 pounds looks less than $660 to anyone who isn’t that observant.)
Oh boy. Oh joy.
Mind you, I have never paid to speak on a panel (I have spoken on at least a hundred) or to author an article (I have authored well over 100). In fact, on occasion, when I have participated in other thought leadership opportunities, I was the one who was paid.[I AM THE ONE WHO KNOCKS!] (Am I macho or what?) But I digress …
This Jake reached out to me personally. Hell, his email even began, “Dear Jonathan Friedland”.
Such a personal touch. Like the TSA agent at the airport.
I failed to respond (since the email went to my spam folder, as well it should have, though I wouldn’t have responded anyway because, well, my mother didn’t raise a schmuck) and so, Jake emailed me again Sept. 14, at 6 a.m.
6 a.m. Wow. I guess Jake was really expecting my response by the deadline he asked me to adhere to three days prior.
Jake wrote, “Did you get my email? I was hoping to establish whether you were interested in being on the panel for the Bankruptcy & Restructuring Round Table?”
Was I rude not to respond within the time Jake specified (I did not ask myself)? I can understand Jake’s anxiousness. After all, he was very excited at the possibility of having a man of my stature on board! Indeed, Jake wrote, “It would be great to have you involved given your expertise and reputation in this area.” I could not help but wonder who referred him to me. After all, he was obviously very well acquainted with me.
I could not help but wonder who referred him to me…
Jake never did tell me how he came to learn of me, but boy, was the guy flattering. I thought of repaying the compliment, but didn’t have a clue of what to say, since I knew Jake about as well as Jake knew me. So Jake had a serious man-crush on me, I figured. I couldn’t help my curiosity. I reviewed his company’s About Us page and his LinkedIn profile. Wow. I didn’t realize I was dealing with the Editor in Chief!
Odd, though, that he is the only person I could find with a profile on his company website. I like it! He must run a lean ship! And, wow, what a multi-talented fellow: Right out of school, he worked sales at Bloomberg for two years, followed by a stint in business development at an outfit called World News Media (which looks to me to be pretty similar to his current company) for five years.
In my experience, the individual who is both great at sales and at editing is a rare creature. Kudos to you, Jake.
Seven days later (almost like clockwork, almost as if Jake were following some sort of standard protocol and script about how to reach out to potential marks — I mean, participants), Jake emailed again to say that he was “expecting the last few positions for the Round Table to be reserved this week.” Jake told me that all the confirmed participants were already, “writing up their responses to the questions and we are excited about the strong lineup of experts taking part in this edition.”
Oh no! If I didn’t move fast, I would lose the opportunity! What to do? I immediately canceled all my client calls that day to focus only on this (said no one who has a business and knows what she or he is doing, ever).
It shouldn’t cross my mind that perhaps I want to know whose names will be associated with mine on a panel. That would be silly of me.
Jake didn’t tell me who those confirmed participants were, but then again, so what? Right? I mean, I studied my ass off in college to get into the best law school I could. I worked even harder in law school. I then spent more than 20 years working hard to advance my clients’ interests, and all of that had resulted in a reputation that I value and am proud of. It shouldn’t cross my mind that perhaps I want to know whose names will be associated with mine on a panel. That would be silly of me.
And, after all, Jake did write, “We have already confirmed INSOL International so it would be great to have you featured alongside.” I know what INSOL is: It is an industry organization consisting of hundreds, if not thousands, of members. Was Jake implying that all of INSOL’s members would be panelists? That would be a pretty crowded panel. I assume that what Jake was getting at was that INSOL possibly signed on as a “sponsor” of the panel, which in my experience, does not mean that much.
But I also see on LiveWire’s “Media Partnerships” page, the company’s media partners include:
I can’t help but wonder if these entities are aware that they are being held out as “media partners” in sundry thought leadership opportunities like that of LiveWire’s. If they do, I wonder what the designation actually means. But I digress…
By the way, when I first read the emails, I thought I was being asked to buy my way into speaking on a webinar. Only upon closer examination did I realize that it would all be in writing.
Anyway… with the publication planned for some time in October (Jake still didn’t tell me what day it was planned for), though he did offer to reduce the price by 10% (which is exactly the move most businesses make when they are almost sold out, right?), time was running late.
Jake emailed me again on Sept. 29. Man, he really wants me to be involved! He even wrote, “I spoke with my boss this morning and he has confirmed that we can let this go for just £350.”
Woohoo! See? As I said at the beginning of this article, I am special. But why did this remind me of my first car-buying experience? And wait… his boss??? I thought he was the Editor in Chief. Odd.
But Jake was patient. I picture him to be a patient lover as well. He advised, “[I]f you wish to take part then I can provide the questions today and we would need responses by Wednesday 18th October 2017.”
I’ve posted the entire email streamin its entirety at the end of this article, but first, I have some closing thoughts.
Regardless, I must bring these thoughts to an end now as I must attend to this very important email I just received from Mehkus H. Gozack:
I’m Mehkus H. Gozack, Personal lawyer to Late Amos Friedland, who died as a result of auto accident. all occupants of the vehicle unfortunately lost their lives. He had an account that valued at about 9.7 million dollars deposited in Bank here. Please send your mobile number to my email address to provide you more details…
From: Jake Powers
Sent: Thursday, September 21, 2017 8:50 AM
To: Jonathan Friedland
Subject: Virtual Round Table – Bankruptcy & Restructuring 2017
Jonathan Friedland is a partner with Sugar Felsenthal Grais & Hammer, a law firm with offices in Chicago and New York City. Born and raised in a New York suburb, Friedland graduated SUNY-Albany magna cum laude in three years and then earned his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Friedland clerked for…
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