Whenever one of us Boomers talks of back in the day, the eyes of the youngers glaze over. I recall the same reaction when I was younger and thought those people ready for a pre-need burial plan. Now I be one of them and change seems huge. Growing up in a more rural area, old-time expressions were vague, but you got their gist. I decided to go to Law School based upon the compliment: “That boy could talk a dog off of a meat wagon.” I viewed it as praise and as a direction for employment.
Changes are all about and technology is behind many of them. Kodak goes out of the film business; Hostess files for bankruptcy as the Twinkie goes down; the red telephone pay phone boxes in England are sold for bar items since all there use a cell phone; gas drilling now goes deep and turns horizontally, opening huge new reserves; people communicate on “social networking” sites with names such as Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, My Space, Bebo, Friendster, hi5, Orkut, PerfSpot, Zorphia, Netlog, and Habbo. Revolutions in foreign countries are run with such social media sites and the regimes try to close down the “net” to stay in power. Younger lawyers have only known computers and text to others next door and do not seem to be able to converse in public.
This leads to our legal marketing public relations types giving instructions to young lawyers on how to engage in small talk with potential clients. We old guys are amazed and have great fun at their expense.
Blogs, or computer columns, even write on “Smart Schmoozing: Big Tips for Small Talk.” These people never developed their “verbal fluency” it seems and need to be taught so they can “network”. You need to develop your “schmooze factor” it seems. Again, may I ask where your Momma was when this basic skill needed some development? “Steve, look him in the eye, and shake his hand firmly, and stand straight,” said Momma.
So, the computer age people have to be taught to build rapport, trust, and connections in the face-to-face world. Oh, for the love, these writers tell them to hang out near the food, pick out a conversation piece to discuss; wear an interesting accessory; approach people standing alone; “observe, ask, reveal”; TV shows and sports are great subjects but avoid religion and politics; watch the body language; and get out of the conversation when you can. Well, as the younger say in text talk — WTF? What happened to common sense and basic human relations?
Old guys translate what the marketing types are writing and sending as: Be a lion and go hunt the gazelles. Wear a silly hat; interrogate the hell out of the person you meet; and walk away from them as soon as you can, and then rinse and repeat. Great advice it seems for those who are already humanly challenged. To quote one unknown writer said:
“In my mind, the best way to become a thought leader is through Legal Brand Journalism™. Legal Brand Journalism cuts out the reporter – the middle man – and allows any entity to produce its own news for its own audiences, becoming the mechanism by which thought leadership happens.”
In the 1990’s business speak, known in the country as bovine fertilizer, was rolled into mission statements for groups. They were written like the above. My favorite short version came from some clever friends who did criminal defense work and said: “Reasonable doubt for a reasonable fee.” A bunch of word dogs appeared in this era of change and business development.
“Thinking outside of the box.”
“It is a home run deal and is win-win.”
“This is a paradigm shift.”
“At the end of the day”
Only as one of my friends said just the other day: “Bob needs to drill down to focus on the low-hanging fruit. He then can be the best in breed and display his core competency. That kind of synergy will maximize leverage, manage expectations, improve ROI and get granular. This is mission critical and will lead to next steps transparent to all the stakeholders.” Yes, please watch where you step.
Well, maybe we should just allow them to text and stay in their offices. The old guys will talk small talk with the clients who pay their salaries. These wired people in their dark rooms with computer screens can be totally alone — together.