Greatra Mayana

Career & Employment Opportunities

Business of Law Track: Innovation & the Future of the Legal Profession


(upbeat music) – Hello everyone! – [Audience Member] Hi! Yes, that is the energy
we need, hello everyone! Yes, we are excited, we are prepared for this third, last keynote
on this incredible stage here. Now, right before we got started today you got some paper handed out. We’ll be having pens come in a second, but if you have extra pens and the person beside you doesn’t, we’re gonna share, we’re
gonna care about each other because we are all here
for the same reason, to learn, to be invigorated, and to have a really great time. So, our next speaker is
gonna be coming out here and really talking about innovation and the future of the legal practice. They are a professor at
Vanderbilt University, as well as a lawyer themselves. Without further adieu, an
incredibly warm welcome for the one and only Cat Moon. – Hey y’all, how are ya? So I’m not use to
talking with a microphone right in front of my mouth, so hopefully will not crackle and pop and I also have another
microphone here, I’m highly wired. So, all right, you will see
the blue screen of tranquility in front of you, all right? So we’re gonna take a
moment of tranquility. I’d ask you all, I
personally really need this, and I think it’s gonna help
us all focus and center, so we’re gonna just spend a minute. If everybody could please
sit back in your chair, put screens down, please. Feet flat on the floor, kinda feel your connection to the floor. Shoulders back and then just
kind of relax into your seat, so get comfy, okay? I invite you to close
your eyes if you like, you don’t have to, we’re gonna start with just one deep breath, deep breath in, feel the air fill your lungs,
hold it there for a second, then exhale, and I’m gonna ask that
you just simply breathe and focus on your breath for the next minute or so. We’re just gonna breathe
and focus on our breath, to the exclusion of all the thoughts and concerns that we
brought into the room. Focus on the breathe. All right, thank you all
for taking that moment and hopefully that gave
you the opportunity to kinda shake off anything
you brought into the room and can be present and focused. I personally needed that, I was
very motivated this morning. I took it very easy last
night, I got up early, went to the fitness center, was doing some great work on the treadmill and I got a little too aggressive, a little too confident,
and I got in a fight with the treadmill, the
treadmill won, unfortunately, so I’m a little bruised and battered, but hopefully none the worse for wear. So that moment of calm helped
me get ready to talk with you. We are gonna be a little bit interactive, so hopefully you got a piece of paper when you came in the room and
have something to write with. There’ll be an opportunity
to get some if you didn’t, but I am gonna ask you to
work with me a little bit. So all right, so I am Cat, Cat Moon, I was asked by the nice folks here at Clio to come talk with you
today about innovation and the future of the practice, and so I’m going to share
some hopefully very focused thoughts on that in a way
that will be meaningful and hopefully practical to you both. Some of you might know me from Twitter, I’m @inspiredcat on Twitter, and if we don’t already know each other, if we don’t engage, I invite you to find me and engage with me, I really like meeting
new people on Twitter. So I teach at Vanderbilt Law School, I have a primary course
called Legal Problem Solving which is our way of convincing the ABA to let me teach human-centered
design to lawyers, so we kind of had to
play around with the name a little bit not to make
anyone upset or too confused, but I teach human-centered design, which is a problem-solving heuristic. The Design Your Life folks talked about it a little bit this morning. How many of y’all were here
for the opening keynote? Were very many of you? Oh good, good, so you have some context for some of what I’m gonna talk about, and I’ll make some points
related to that as well. I am the Director of Innovation Design at Vanderbilt Law School,
so I teach law students how to go forth and be innovative and help move our profession forward, the future of the practice. I also teach the business of law and next semester I’ll
be teaching blockchain and smart contracts so I like to dig into the technology
innovation oriented stuff myself. So I spend pretty much all day every day thinking about innovation, which I know is a word that some folks are just kind of tired of hearing, it seems like it’s becoming
a bit of a buzzword and there are constant
conversations on Twitter about what do we even mean by innovation, what is this word, and we’re
just kind of banding it around with very little meaning or purpose. Well, I would suggest that
it has a lot of meaning and purpose and then so I consider myself a student of innovation and all that goes into that concept,
which I’m going to give you my definition of in just a moment. In addition, I am a teacher,
as I said, at Vanderbilt, I teach in the program
in law and innovation and so it’s my constant mission and goal to be creating, I call
them “baby lawyers,” baby lawyers who go forth
with an innovative mindset, but in addition I just
also wanted to point out that I’m a lawyer. As of October 12th of this year, I will have been a practicing
lawyer for 20 years, I think we probably all remember that day when we got the news that
we passed the bar exam, so my day was October
12th, fast approaching. So I’m a fifth generation lawyer as well, my father, who’s been practicing law almost as long as I’ve been
alive, recently retired, and so I consider it to
be really in my blood, I feel I guess a little bit
of a family responsibility to be carrying forth and helping
to improve our profession as we face the evolving legal landscape. So let’s go back to
innovation for a moment. I’m gonna give you my definition and I think this is a really helpful and practical definition, and
it’s also incredibly simple and I think it demistifies
the concept of innovation, it is simply change that
creates value, that’s all it is. It can be a tiny, infinitesimal idea that results in change that
creates value in your life. It can be a big ass idea
that creates a lot of change, that creates a lot of
value, but really most often innovation in our world
is a tiny little thing, it’s that tiny little light bulb, and so what is innovative for one person doesn’t necessarily mean
innovation for someone else, but each of us go forth in our daily lives doing small incremental things to create change which creates value. That’s all innovation is, and I suggest that if we embrace that
notion of innovation and apply it in our daily lives we have a really, really
incredibly bright future in the legal profession. Let’s talk about that
profession a little bit because it is a valid question to ask why should you care about innovation? Why is this concept really relevant? And what does it mean to you specifically in your daily life, in
your daily practice? Well, I think it’s relevant to all of us because we are all part of this, this is my vision for the legal landscape. Our legal landscape, our future, is this very lush, verdant landscape with lots of opportunity for all of us to create and grow an amazing
future for our profession. Now, you’ll notice there are
some clouds up at the top, and we’ll talk about that in a minute. I’m here to tell you that
this is not the future of our legal landscape. If you spend much time on Twitter, you will come across a few people who very much like to prognosticate about the doom and gloom of
the future of our profession unless we lawyers take certain
steps and do certain things. They like to talk about the luddite lawyer who’s on the road to nowhere, I reject this version of our future. Anybody here with me? Yeah, right? This is not our future. This is our future; a lush, verdant landscape
full of opportunity. Okay, now, as I said
there are some clouds, we have a few clouds,
we have some challenges. Technology admittedly
is a bit of a challenge, it’s a challenge in a number of ways, and I know I’m really
preaching to the choir here, I know you folks get all this, but I just want to highlight
kind of where I get to where I’m going in a minute. Technology, it’s a shield
and a sword for us, but it also is a challenge. Archaic regulatory structure, I will simply refer you to
my friend Patrick Palace if you want to talk about the challenges that our regulatory structure poses, but it poses some very serious constraints on our ability to change and
create value in our profession. Alternative providers,
in this raft I include a whole host of people from
LegalZoom to law companies to legal process outsourcing companies. They pose a challenge to the
work that lawyers currently do. Economic pressures, I
will simply refer you to the Legal Trends Report
that Clio has been producing for a few years now. I imagine all of you also
have your own practices and understand the
daily economic pressures that an attorney practicing
in this day and time faces, I certainly do as someone
who started my first firm with two other women in
2006 and went from there, created two other firms, so I understand very deeply
the economic pressures that we all, practicing
attorneys, face on a daily basis. I want to suggest
there’s another challenge that never gets brought into
the innovation conversation, and I consider it my personal
mission in life right now, actually, to bring this
into our conversation because I believe that no
matter the sophisticated structure for a new firm,
no matter the amazingly technologically advanced
platform that we create to deliver legal services, no
matter how successful we are in getting rid of the hourly billing model to create alternative fee structures, until we are healthy, until our profession really values well-being
and mental health, we’re not going to take full advantage of that verdant legal landscape
that we have before us. Just a few highlights, I think
we’re all pretty familiar with this, but 21% of us
identify as problem drinkers, 19% of us experience anxiety to an extent that prevents us from
actually doing our work to our best ability. And what I think is one of
the most concerning statistics is this one, 28% of us
recognize ourselves as depressed to the extent that it does interfere with our ability to do our work. So I think that these are challenges which must be a part of our
conversation about innovation, about moving our profession forward, change that creates value. I’ll tell you what’s incredible
change to create value is making it possible for us to take part in this profession in
a much healthier way. I agree completely with the Task Force for Lawyer Well-Being, to be a good lawyer, you
have to be a healthy lawyer. So I really believe this needs to be part of the conversation. Now, this is not what
my talk is about today, I actually have some
different points to make, but it’s an important piece
of this conversation to me and so this is why I bring it up. And I’ll be honest with you, it also hit really close to home for me, I’m part of a small local bar, very small, just a couple a hundred of us and we lost one of our colleagues
to suicide last month. And to be faced with having a professional and frankly friendship
relationship with someone who’s just become one of those statistics has really only made me more committed to bringing this into the conversation. So, I’ve given you all a bunch of lemons, we have a bunch of challenges, okay? I like to think of them as opportunities, but we’ll get to that in a moment. Actually this is an
opportunity for you right now, I’m gonna stop talking for a minute and I’m gonna find my phone
so I can run the timer, but everybody should’ve
gotten a piece of paper and hopefully you have
something to write with, this is important, so bear with me here. If you would, take the next
one minute, 60 seconds, and I want you on the
top of a piece of paper to write down three challenges that you personally are facing right now. Very quickly, first three things that come to your mind, three challenges. And please play along, I
promise it will be fun. Okay, all right, so hold on to that, we’re gonna come back to that. All right, so as I said, I
like to reframe challenges as opportunities, so I’m one
of those glass half full people I’m gonna make lemonade from my lemons. So, how do we do that? How do we pivot from the
challenges and create opportunity? So I think this is where
innovation comes in, I think this is where the
tiny things that we choose to do tomorrow, change that creates value, I think it’s those
incremental things that add up that help us create
lemonade from the lemons. I teach a specific problem-solving method which helps us take problems and turn those into opportunity to create a brighter future
in the legal profession. My primary heuristic for this is human-centered design, which
the Design Your Life folks talked about this morning. I’m not gonna go through the process because that’s not what my talk is about, frankly an hour is not
enough time to do it justice, but I did want to reference this point, primarily so I could talk
about something else. And while human-centered
design is a process for solving problems, I
think even more importantly and more powerfully it
is a set of mindsets and if you can embrace these mindsets, it’s incredibly powerful. One of the mindsets is experimentation, running small experiments, doing things, trying things and getting feedback and figuring out what
works and what doesn’t, this is a mindset of
human-centered design. Another is embracing ambiguity. Our world is increasingly ambiguous, spend any time online on
any social media platform and you can be overwhelmed
with information that only makes our
existence more ambiguous. Human-centered designers,
folks with these mindsets, embrace the ambiguity and
see it as an opportunity to create change that creates value. We reframe, the Design
Your Life folks talked about this as well,
reframing is exactly this, looking at a problem from
a different perspective so that you can create opportunity instead of being afraid
of the challenge it poses, collaboration, I think this is critical and especially for the legal profession. This isn’t just about
collaborating with each other, which I think we’re getting better at, we are not trained in law
school to play well with others, I’m trying hard to change that. But I think what is equally important is as a profession we
are coming to realize that we’ve got to learn
to play nice with people across other disciplines
and across other industries, and there is an increasing
body of research that shows when you get a
group of people together who are cognitively diverse,
meaning they’ve been trained to answer questions in different ways, they actually get to better
answers more quickly. So what that means is that getting a group of lawyers around the table is not the way to get to the best answer
in the quickest fashion. We’ve got to learn to collaborate with people from other disciplines, and I think we’re really
getting better at that. Another key aspect, another key mindset of human-centered design is empathy, and by this I simply mean putting yourself in the shoes of the person for whom you are solving a problem, it’s called cognitive empathy, and it means understanding
their perspective and where they come from. It is not the same as feeling
what someone else feels or having sympathy for them, it is understanding the
place from which they stand and seeing the world from their eyes. Critical mindset for human-centered design and I think, frankly,
for the practice of law. Finally, there is curiosity, all right, curiosity is wanting to
know and learn new things. I consider all of these
mindsets superpowers, and this has been true in my own life and my own practice and as I have evolved through the legal profession
and I see it unfold daily with my students, I see it unfold with lawyers that I work with. I think the number one superpower from human-centered design, the number one mindset, is curiosity. And so I’d like to spend
the next few minutes trying to convince you that you should embrace the superpower of curiosity and use this power for good. So, what do we talk about
when we talk about curiosity? And this is another
thing that came up often in the Design Your Life talk this morning. In fact, I would go so far to say that pretty much everything
they laid out today, by the way, I have the book,
I’ve followed their program and I actually use part of it
in my class with my students so I’m very familiar with what they do, I would go so far as to suggest that virtually everything
they talked about was based on curiosity. So curiosity means you are someone who embraces new experiences. You want to experience new things, you are someone who seeks knowledge, you are not happy to sit back and rest on what you already know, and Lord knows lawyers consider
themselves smart people and we do know a lot once we come out of the mill that is law school. And I think we continue to grow, but curious people seek
new knowledge constantly. Curious people seek feedback,
they actually want to know how things are going for the people that they’re working with and the people that they’re working for, so
they want to learn from others. And finally, and to me this is critical, curious people are open to change, which I think that in and of itself, like that subset of
curiosity is definitely a superpower in today’s age. All right, so, I have proclaimed curiosity to be the ultimate superpower
and I have defined it for you, given you some of the
elements of curiosity, so how do you become a
super curious person, and what exactly is that going to get you? All right, I want to take this moment to acknowledge that I
am not the first person to talk about curiosity
in the legal profession, Carolyn Elefant wrote a great piece in Above the Law not long ago talking about how basically law
school is killing curiosity and therefore curiosity is
dying in the legal profession and it all just sucks and it’s terrible. I happen to agree, and this
is why I teach my law students to be super curious, but I
want to acknowledge Carolyn’s contribution to this conversation. And when I started looking into this I found this post from
Kevin O’Keefe from 2011 and in this post Kevin wrote about how curiosity could serve lawyers well. Now, I just recently came across this, so this did not inspire my interest in it, but it definitely did
affirm my interest in it. So, I would also want to point out that I’m not the only
person, and Kevin and Carolyn aren’t the only people
interested in curiosity, in fact, Harvard Business Review devoted its entire September-October magazine this year to, in 2018, to curiosity, so the
business case for curiosity, how to cultivate curiosity,
why curiosity matters. So this is the subject of
actually very deep research and they’re connecting it to the basis for success in business across industries. So, okay, back to the
super curious person, why does someone want to
become a super curious person, what is in it for you to listen to me continue to talk about curiosity, and what are you gonna get out
of it by the end of the day? Well, would you believe me if I told you that curiosity makes you smarter? Curious people perform better
on standard measurements of intelligence, and
they also perform better in a number of other ways which all track to being a more intelligent person. So I think we all want to be smarter, we’ll all be curious
and you will be smarter. Interestingly, there’s research that shows that when it comes to
performing well in business, curiosity is seen as a measure that might just be as
important as intelligence, so those two things are tightly linked. Curiosity makes you stronger, curious people are able to
persevere and show more grit, and that is because when they
are faced with a challenge they don’t freak out and go, holy shit, they’re like, huh, I’m curious about that, I’m gonna dig into it and figure out how to solve this challenge. Curious people are stronger in the face of change and adversity. Curious people have greater focus. Curious people want to know more about the problem they are faced with, they want to know more
about possible solutions so they tend to dig
deeper and be more focused in their consideration of
how to solve the problems. Curious people are more creative. Now, I would suggest
to you that innovation is really scaffolding, so
you start with curiosity at the base level, gotta be
a curious person ultimately to be a really great innovator. Curiosity leads to creativity,
curious people wanting to know more, wanting to
dig into the why of things, tend to seek new information which helps them expand their ideas, creativity is simply creating new ideas, creativity is built on curiosity,
which leads to innovation. Curious people are more creative. Curious people make fewer errors. And I find this very interesting,
but it really makes sense. All this that I’m telling
you is based on research done over the past 50 to 60 years, so curious people make fewer errors because they are interested in knowing more about the problem, and they’re interesting in knowing more about potential solutions, and
so they are more considerate and more thorough in considering
how to solve problems. And when they come to a solution, it’s likely to be the right solution when compared to someone who does not self-describe as curious. Finally, and I think this is critical for where our profession is going, curious people are better collaborators, they play better with others. Why? Because curious people are empathetic, curious people want to know
what others are thinking and they ask what they’re thinking and they listen to the response. So when you have a group of people who are working together and
they are paying attention to what other people think
and they’re listening instead of doing all the talking, then the outcome of the collaboration is much, much more positive than when you have folks who
want to do all the talking. Okay, so I’ve told you some
of the benefits of curiosity, all of which, again, based on research and I’ve had personal
experience with all of them, but there are true barriers to curiosity, I’m sure this isn’t surprising. For instance, we don’t seem to have a very curious mindset generally. It’s really interesting to me when you talk with other
folks about curiosity and I ask people this question very often, how curious do you consider yourself, it’s one of the questions
I ask my students when we start the semester. Folks seem to have an
interesting relationship with curiosity, and I
think part of our mindset is that we haven’t really
valued it in a meaningful way. One of the other barriers
is actually efficiency, time to get stuff done, curiosity, actually efficiency is sort of the enemy of curiosity in many ways. When we are so focused on being efficient and we don’t let
ourselves ask the question or what I call go down the gravel roads to find the really interesting information that can be at the heart of something because we’re so focused
on getting things done in an efficient manner, it
really squelches our curiosity. A great example from business, Henry Ford became the master of efficiency in making a black Model T. He could churn those
out and sold very well, top-selling car for a long time, then suddenly people were like, huh, I don’t really want a black car, I would like a car with different color, I would like other options. Well, Ford, at that point,
was so focused on efficiency that there was no room in
their process for being curious about what people really
wanted from their car, and so their market share began to slip and slip and slip and
slip, and that was simply because Ford valued
efficiency more than curiosity about the people who they sought to serve. And finally, I think
that our work actually, to Carolyn Elefant’s
point, I think our work is a real barrier to curiosity. And not just the work of lawyers, research shows that the
longer you’re in a job, actually the less curious you become. I don’t know if it’s kind
of correlated with boredom, we just get sick and
tired of what we’re doing and we stop asking
questions and being curious, but research shows that
the longer we do something the less curious we become. So we have to be
cognizant of this barrier. So okay, there are a bunch of reasons why you want to be a super curious person, we know there are barriers,
and I just touched on a few, there are many, many other barriers, especially when it comes
to legal profession. What can you do to become
a super curious person? Because I will say again, I
think that in this scaffolding, when you start with curiosity and from that you build creativity, that is where innovation comes from, and to take full advantage
of all the opportunity that lies in our verdant legal landscape, I think we’ve really got to
start cultivating curiosity to move the profession forward. So, the very first thing you can do to become a super curious
person is to listen. And in my experience this is not something that lawyers always do well. So, I think it might be a little bit more of a barrier in our
profession than some others for a whole host of
reasons, which I’ll be happy to talk about one-on-one with anyone. But listening, becoming
a really good listener, caring more about listening
than being the one who talks. And that requires asking
really, really good questions, asking lots of questions,
and it’s interesting, this is kind of one of
those barriers to curiosity. I think we have a cultural mindset that if you ask a lot of questions, you’re gonna appear to not be as smart because if you know things,
if you’re a smart person, why are you asking all these questions? Well, interestingly,
rather counterintuitively, research shows that the most respected and trusted people are those
who ask lots of questions. People actually like it when
you ask questions of them and seek information from them, it builds trust and they actually think that you are a competent
person when you ask questions, so asking really good questions, it’s critical for curiosity
and it actually is an excellent way to build trust. So, I wrap up all of this in
the phrase humble curiosity, this is my theme for the
class I teach at Vanderbilt, the legal problem-solving class where I teach them the elements and mindsets of human-centered design. So humble curiosity actually
has a technical meaning in the world of research, and
that is intellectual humility, and all that means is that we acknowledge we don’t know it all, we are not always the smartest person in the room, we always have something to learn and so that is why we are curious and that is why we ask questions because we don’t know what we don’t know and there’s a lot that we don’t know. And the person who is humbly curious is the person who learns the most. All right, so an example
of humble curiosity, I’m gonna give you a few
examples as we go along. My Twitter friend Colin Levy, he’s an attorney on the East Coast, he exhibits humble curiosity
in his tweets all the time and I liked this one because
he’s actually pointing out that our profession needs a little bit more humble curiosity. Okay, here is another way you can become a super curious person, and
that is to create learning goals and this is super simple y’all, this is not anything complicated. But why it’s important
to create learning goals in terms of increasing your curiosity and really using it to your advantage in both your professional and
frankly your personal life, we all want to move forward, right? We all want tomorrow to be
better than it was today, at least I do, and I think most of us do. We definitely want that
for the legal profession. Again, research shows, and
I found this interesting, if you take someone and
give them learning goals, they are highly motivated to learn and take that information
and do good things with it, to succeed. If, in a similar fashion, you
give someone targets to reach, that person is actually less motivated and less successful than the person who was given a learning goal, rather than a performance target. There’s lots of research in sales that shows that if you take
a person and say, here, here’s a way to learn how
to be a good salesperson, follow this, follow this learning path to become a good salesperson. That person is highly
motivated to go forth and learn and do and succeed. If you take another person
and say here is a sales target I want you to hit, you
need to sell X thousands of these widgets over the next month. Guess what? That person isn’t nearly as motivated, nor are they as successful. So a curious person is someone who wants to continually be learning, so
to cultivate that curiosity, to motivate, and to move to success, create some learning goals. What is something you
want to know more about? What are three things you can do tomorrow to start learning more about that thing? It’s that simple. And here is a twofer, this is
a book you can read to learn, and it’s about how to ask good questions. So I wanted to share this with you, it’s one of my favorite books,
I’ll include a link to it in the talk notes as well,
“A More Beautiful Question”, so you can learn how to be a better question asker, good book. All right, here’s another way to be a more curious person, be an explorer, go out in the world and explore and look for new information to learn. Spy interesting ideas,
spy interesting people. So one of my favorite
explorers is Lori Gonzalez, she’s here at Clio, she
is from Nashville with me, and I had trouble actually
picking which tweets of Lori’s I wanted to use as examples, but Lori will I think
self-describe as a stalker, and what I love about
Lori and her stalking is that she is so passionate about finding interesting people and going out and meeting them, and I kid you not, like
you cannot hide from Lori. She will go find interesting people and then but the coolest
thing, her real superpower, she’s endlessly curious,
but then she finds the interesting people
and she connects them, and it is magical and beautiful. So Lori is one of my favorite explorers. Another explorer in my Twitter world is an attorney from South
Carolina, Jack Pringle, he’s a great explorer, he goes out and gathers really
interesting ideas all the time and then he shares them on Twitter. So you can add Twitter
to your learning plan if you want to be exposed
to interesting new ideas. Another thing, another way, another tactic for becoming a more curious person is to make time, or as the
Design Your Life guys would say, make energy for doing it,
actually build into what you do an effort, an intentional
effort to be curious. I do this in a very simple way, I, on at least a quarterly basis, do a little exercise, I call
it my curiosity exercise. You’ve already done the first part of it if you wrote down three challenges. So I keep a running list
of challenges I face, and on a regular basis I sit down and I ask three different questions about the challenges I face. I try to limit it to just one or two or else it gets a little overwhelming. So, I ask “Why?” And we’re
gonna talk about the why, the five whys in just a minute. I ask, “What if?” And this is a way of laying out potential
solutions to the challenges, and then I ask, “How
might I get that done?” I figure out actual tactics
for creating the solutions and making them happen in the real world, I create time for that. So you’ve got to be
intentional and create time. Again, Lori, a recent
tweet, great example, and what I love about
this is Lori’s talking about carving out time
to work with her staff about being curious about
how things are going even when things are going well. What I love about this tweet also is she’s curious about, hey,
what’s working for others? So this is a perfect example
of making time for curiosity and also exploring and looking
for new ideas elsewhere. All right, I’m gonna dovetail
back into that final point about what I think we need to change to move our profession forward and that is taking
better care of ourselves. So I think you need to
become curious about you, and I’m dead serious about this. I start my legal
problem-solving class every year with the students taking some
important self assessments so they have some self-awareness and they understand more about themselves. To be a good caretaker of others, to be a good problem solver for others, you have to know yourself and you have to take care of yourself. A lawyer who is not healthy
cannot be a good lawyer, and I’m not suggesting that we’re a room full of unhealthy people,
I mean you can look around and statistically about
a third of the people around you recognize or describe
themselves as depressed, but that means 2/3 of us aren’t. So how do you get curious about yourself? Well, guess what? You can take a curiosity profile, you can actually take this really cool, short little simple assessment
on Harvard Business Review that will give you some insight
into how curious you are. I will share the link in my talk notes if you’re interested in doing that. My students do it at the
beginning of every semester and then we take it again at the end, and uniformly their
curiosity profiles improve over the course of the semester even for those who describe
themselves as very not curious. Here’s another way to be
curious about yourself, this is another topic I could devote at least an hour of conversation to, but this is an assessment that I think is a brilliant way to
learn more about yourself and learn more about your
strengths and superpowers, it’s called the VIA Character Assessment, and, again, it’s a simple
online assessment you can take. You learn about 24 character strengths that are recognized as strengths across every single human
culture known on Earth. Curiosity is one of those strengths, and it tells you how better
to use these strengths in your daily life. Now, probably 30 years of research shows that if you are able
to use on a daily basis the top three to five
strengths from your assessment, you are a much happier
and productive person. And so I think that what a simple way to get curious about yourself and use your strengths to your advantage. All right, I also think
that it’s important for us to be curious about those around us. Again, talking about well-being, learn about yourself
but also pay attention to your colleagues. I think that we have a
personal responsibility to take care of ourselves, but be curious of those around you, and if you see somebody who needs help, throw them that life preserver, reach out, be curious and aware of those around you. It is very well-documented,
even recently so, that our profession
really views mental health with an incredible stigma. And I’m gonna say again, if we don’t really intentionally
focus on this challenge, all of the other brilliant
innovation we’re doing around that is not gonna save us. We’ve got to be curious
about how we’re doing, both ourselves and those around us. Okay, it is not time to run away, unless you’re mindlessly
bored and then you may go. It is time for an exercise, so hopefully you took the time to write down your three
challenges on a piece of paper as I invited you to. We’re gonna do something with that now. We’re gonna do a little something I call the five whys,
I did not make this up, Toyota has been doing this for decades and on the Toyota line
when something goes wrong they ask “why” five times in order to get to the real crux of what’s causing the problem. And so I like to think of the
five whys as a Russian doll, is everyone familiar with a Russian doll? So you’ve got the doll, the wooden doll, you take the top off, you reach in, there’s another doll, you pull it out. Well, the top comes off of that, you reach in, there’s another doll, and on and on and on,
so the dolls are nested, and I like to think of the five whys as a way that helps us get
to that really inner doll, the one that the top
doesn’t come off anymore, that’s kind of the crux of the problem. So, right now we’re gonna
do a little exercise with the five whys, and
here’s how it’s gonna work. You need to find a buddy,
turn to a person next to you, you both have a list of your challenges. And one of you is going to take one of the challenges from your partner and ask why, why is this a challenge for you? And you’re gonna get an answer and you’re gonna ask why again, so you’re gonna dig in a little bit. All right, so I require
interactivity whenever I talk, so now we’re gonna take
a couple of minutes and you’re gonna start
just asking each other why. For two minutes one person
asks and then you switch, and if anyone is terribly
confused about what I’m saying, first of all, there’s
no way to do this wrong, the point is just to engage and talk to the person next to you
and get some information about a challenge they’re facing. And if you’re really confused, raise your hand and I’ll come talk to you. They were supposed to give me a hand mic but they didn’t, so, all right, so one, two, three,
go, ask why five times, pull out those Russian dolls. Okay, for those who played along, hopefully you have an idea of a challenge your partner faces and perhaps a little bit of depth, hopefully you were curious in wanting to understand why they
face this challenge. So now we’re gonna put your
curiosity to the test, okay? So, the next step is,
right, there are three steps in this curiosity exercise, the first is understanding
what the challenge is and why, pulling out the Russian dolls to get to the crux of what’s going on. So then your challenge
is to say, okay, what if? You now need to suggest some solutions to the problem, to the
challenge that your partner has presented you with, okay? So you know the challenge,
you have a little bit of information about what some of this, reasons why the challenge exists, I want one of you to turn to your partner, start suggesting some what ifs. What if you do this? What if you try this? All right? So this is the second step, after curiosity there’s
a little creativity. All right, is everybody ready
to be a little creative? Looking very perplexed, that’s okay, there’s no wrong way to do this, I love to make people uncomfortable. My students can tell you all about that. All right, so now go, “What
if?” Suggest, be creative. All right friends, you’ve
just completed step two, I know this is really fast and normally you would
spend more time with this, but it’s giving you a flavor. The next question you
ask is, “How might we?” All right, so this is the
third step in the exercise, and honestly this is
where we all fall down. So we get curious about
why something is wrong, then we start thinking
about brilliant ideas of how to fix it, right,
that’s the fun part, the ideation or brainstorming stage, it’s a hell of a lot of fun, but the problem is what
do we do with that? Very often we don’t move
on to the final step and that’s actually doing something with the fantastic ideas
that you’ve created. That’s critical, you’ve
got to do something or else what’s the point? So, the “how might we?” is
what are the tactical steps you’re gonna take to actually do the thing that you’ve brainstormed, right? So hopefully your partner
gave you a great idea for a way that you could solve one of the challenges that you’re facing. So your task, now, we’re out of time, so we’re not gonna do it right now, but my challenge to you is to take that and go back and ask yourself, how might I actually do this? Like what are the four
things that I can do to make this happen? And I think this is
really a critical piece in how we actually make
change that creates value, how we innovate and how we
move our future forward. I think every single one
of us sitting in this room has the capacity each and
every day to be an innovator in your own life, in your
own world, in your own work. You do one small thing
that is something different that creates value for
you, and that ripples out. So that’s my primary message to you, I’m gonna stop talking now ’cause we do have a couple
of minutes for questions. I had to plan for a group
that could be really small or really large, and if you’ve ever been to one of my talks before, they’re typically much more interactive, so I appreciate, given the
constraints of this format, all of you who really jumped in and engaged on that little exercise. I want to leave you with a final thought, all right, and to me this is kind of brings together all my points. I hope that we can figure out a way to replace the fear of the
unknown with our curiosity, with our curiosity of moving forward in the profession better,
making small change every single day that creates value, not only for our clients
but also for ourselves. All right, thank you, and I’m
happy to entertain questions, I now have the mic, I had hoped to kinda get out and amongst
people and it didn’t work out exactly as I had planned,
but questions, anyone, you can come up to the mics
if you have a question. I think we have a question, yay! Someone’s curious, aah! – [Audience Member] So, in
innovating in the legal field what is the most unexpected
right turn that this, I guess five whys and this brainstorming has come up with, I
mean, that you have seen? – So I can tell you from
my personal experience and that’s probably the best
thing for me to speak from, I can tell you I learned this process from a client back in 2010, and I saw her doing really
amazing things in her work and I wanted to understand how
she was doing those things. I was also highly motivated
to change the way I worked for a whole host of reasons, and so I started doing
this and this process, this exact process,
actually led to my ability to practice fundamentally
on completely my own terms. So I went from hourly
billing to all flat fees. I went to having a very not efficient and automated practice to
having a very efficient and automated practice. And that happened, frankly, that happened before Clio was even a thing. I was one of the first
users of Clio, by the way, but I was in the Cloud
probably two years before Clio even came into existence. And so for me, it helped
me really get ahead of where now some people still aren’t. And I’m not saying I was
any smarter or brighter, I was just very curious about learning and I was able to really
understand through the five whys the problems I was facing
and looked to others for potential solutions, the same process. I hope that was somewhat responsive. No other curious people? (gasps) Yes. I’ll bring the mic. – Hello to one of my
favorite people on Twitter. (laughs) – You’re one of mine too! – My question is, I love
the idea of being curious and I try to be curious, but
sometimes I’m just overwhelmed, how do you deal with
rebuilding your curiosity when all your want to
do is hide in a corner and sleep for a bit and
just let the world be quiet until you’ve recharged? – That’s an excellent question. So, I think first of all, it’s okay to do just that sometimes, like I don’t think that we have to be constantly, never-ending curious to the detriment of our
own mental well-being, but I do think that
curiosity is a practice. And so similar to what the
Designing Your Life guys said this morning, like set a really
low barrier-to-entry goal, and, for instance, if you
just have a learning plan, if you just say, and
this is something I do to challenge myself, I wanted
to learn graphic design. And so I just built into
my schedule a small way on a daily basis to learn
more about this thing I was really curious
about and interested in. But I think to your point,
sometimes it is healthy to kinda turn it off and that doesn’t mean we’re not curious people, it just means we’re
taking care of ourselves. Also, on Twitter, so I think
Twitter is a great place for curious people and it’s a great place to cultivate your curiosity, use filters, like you don’t have to unfollow people, but if someone’s not feeding
your optimistic outlook on life, get them out of your feed. I think you can be curious and still protect yourself in that way. Another question. – [Moderator] This will have
to be our last question. Thank you.
– Okay. Wondering if you could comment
on sort of what you think is the ability of curious people to coexist with non-curious people in, like in a law firm for example? – Ooh. So, I think curious people help bring the non-curious
out of the shadows, and so I think that first I will say, you can exercise curiosity safely even if you’re in a place
that doesn’t support it or recognize it and value it, but I think that requires
more intention, frankly, than if you’re in a place
that really does encourage and value it. I really do, my exposure to
working with a group of people that was a mix, I found that the curious person who also exercises emotional
intelligence with that can really help bring everybody along into a more curious mindset. Some people are just
going to be curmudgeons, and it’s probably a
waste of time and energy to try to bring everyone
along, I’m just being honest. I’ve got people like
that in my own family so, lawyers, in fact. But not my father thankfully. So I think it is
encouraging that in others but also using emotional
intelligence and understanding. You know, I will say this very quickly, I had a great question and
I talked about curiosity at Brigham Young University
Law School on Wednesday, and one of the students
said, “How do I not “offend people when I’m really curious?” And that’s kind of a similar, and I think that’s when you
exercise emotional intelligence and understand when you’ve
got to kinda put the brakes on and limits to that. And then go find your
curious friends and people and then just go hog wild with them. So thank you all, you all
have been incredibly attentive and thank you for playing along, it’s been a pleasure and a
joy and an honor to be here. Y’all have a great rest
of the day, thank you. (upbeat music)

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