The next woman who wows is Dallas-based employee benefits and executive compensation lawyer Misty Leon. Misty is a tax lawyer who also specializes in laws that apply to employer-sponsored benefit plans, such as ERISA, the Affordable Care Act, COBRA and HIPAA.

Misty has represented both public and private employers, including state and local governmental entities. She has extensive experience representing companies that provide services to employee benefit plans, which means she’s seen both sides of many employee benefit transactions. She worked at several global firms and now is at an employee benefits boutique firm where she says she is able to continue doing interesting work with more flexibility and direction over her practice.

In addition to practicing law, Misty is interested in innovating and improving upon the delivery of legal services to clients.

Learn more about her in this Women Who Wow profile and connect with her on LinkedIn.

Continue Reading Women Who Wow: Misty Leon

Recently a potential client reached out to me because she wanted me to create a social media strategy for her. She said to me, “I admire what you’ve done to market yourself and build your own brand and I want you to do the same for me and write my posts too in your voice.”

There’s only one problem with that.

I’m not her.

My experiences are unique to me. My voice is my own voice. And the most powerful thing we each have is our own experiences and the stories we can tell as a result of them.

As a coach and consultant, I can help my clients craft posts and develop a strategy for helping them build a cohesive content marketing and social media strategy that enables them to achieve their branding and business development goals. And I can even help them with the storytelling aspects of it. But it’s up to YOU to find those nuggets from your own life to tell and to put them into your own voice.

That’s what makes a successful brand on social media. That’s what enables you to truly connect with people on social media. And that’s how I have been successful on social media.

I can give you the advice that I’ve followed, which may not work for you, because at the end of the day we are all unique individuals with unique experiences and different goals.

So we each need to find what works for us. That’s why having a ghostwriter write all of your personal posts won’t really work in my opinion – not unless they know you extremely well – and not unless you draft the post first and they finetune it.

I encourage you to have the courage to be bold and create your own posts in your own voice. Pick topics that matter to you that are aligned to your values and brand, speak from the heart and your experience. Be fearless and see what happens. That’s what I did. And I will be here to give you advice every step of the way.

 

The next woman who wows is Deb Knupp, a Managing Director at GrowthPlay where she works with leaders in the legal, manufacturing, accounting and financial services industries to align their people and business objectives to create cultures based on the principles of accountability and integrity. She teaches selling as an act of service through authentic relationships and other-centered problem solving.

Prior to joining GrowthPlay, Deb founded Akina, an industry leader in global business-development training and coaching for lawyers. Before Akina, Deb was a front-line sales and human resources executive with Algroup Lawson Mardon Packaging, Frito-Lay and Pearle Vision.

Deb is also an international speaker in new business development, relationship building, culture, firm management and leadership, and that’s how I met her. I was literally stopped in my tracks by Deb when she was the keynote speaker at an industry conference for the Legal Marketing Association a few years ago in Boston. She was charismatic, self-depricating, funny, likable and super smart.

I was instantly inspired by her, and I hope you are too. Learn more about her in this Women Who Wow profile and connect with her on LinkedIn.

Why did you choose your profession?

I love to reflect on how life’s experiences are knit together to have you arrive at a place that you could have never imagined or chosen on a straight path. Having the privilege of being a business development consultant and coach to lawyers (and professional services firms) as a profession gives me a daily opportunity to model what I teach to help people become the best versions of themselves.

When you think about BD or sales in general, many professionals find the efforts to “get” business distasteful and uncomfortable. And there is a good reason selling is uncomfortable. Sales is inherently self-interested when you unnaturally to try to push someone to buy something from you for which you, individually, are the primary beneficiary.

In my profession, I get to help people re-imagine sales as an act of service – an act of giving before getting. I get to teach people how to build authentic relationships, how to engage generosity as other-centered problem-solvers and how to develop game plans that are rooted in exercising their natural, most fulfilling strengths that in turn generates predictable, sustainable and profitable revenue over time.

What do you wish you could tell your younger self?

I have been so fortunate to be surrounded by teachers, coaches, mentors, and advocates who have given me opportunities to stretch beyond my capabilities and to fail safely. These same allies have then gently helped me see that failure is one of life’s best teachers and that short-term pain or suffering is necessary on the path to flourishing.

My younger self would have benefited greatly to know that joy is not only when things are going well. Joy is available in every circumstance when you tune your perspective to believe that grit, perseverance, and wisdom are superpowers.

I would tell my younger self – “you are enough” and to “take courage because you can do hard things” which means not acting without fear but rather courage to act in spite of fear. I would also encourage my younger self to value self-care as fuel in a life tank that replenishes the soul as much as it gives the body and mind the opportunity to renew.

What advice would you give to women in your field?

For legal BD/marketers, I would give you advice to see your work in relationship to lawyers with fresh eyes when you embrace three truths: 1) nothing of importance or significance in the world (in business, education, finance, government, social justice, etc.) happens apart from lawyers, 2) if lawyers are not at their best, everything of importance or significance is negatively impacted, and 3) as legal BD/marketers, there is no greater opportunity to impact important and significant things when you are helping lawyers become superheroes to their clients, their colleagues and to their communities.

Your legal BD/marketing expertise is changing the world, one lawyer and one important and significant circumstance at a time. What you do matters greatly, even if your acts of service are not as visible to those whom you are serving to become the best versions of themselves. You’ve got this!

There IS a right and wrong time to post content on LinkedIn IF you want to make sure that your content has maximum impact. And who doesn’t?

I wish there was a way for me and you to ensure that every single person in our networks would see every single piece of content that we post. But that’s simply impossible. So we have to post our content when our audiences will see it.

In this video I explore when you should post your content to LinkedIn for maximum impact and engagement.

Also, try posting videos every now and then like I did here. It’s a good way to convey some of the written content you create. Video content resonate more with some people. And it ranks highly on LinkedIn.

PS – I create a batch of my videos once a week when I actually have the time to do my makeup and hair, and look halfway decent. I change my shirt in them so it looks like I’ve created videos on different days. (If video isn’t your thing, no worries. Do what makes you comfortable!)

And also try posting on LinkedIn on the weekend. You will find that many people are actually on LinkedIn then because they have more time during the weekend to scroll.

Don’t overthink it. Just do it!

Lynn Tellefsen-Stehle is the next woman who wows. She is the Chief Marketing Officer at Wilentz, where she directs the marketing, business development and communications strategy and operations for one of New Jersey’s largest and most successful law firms.

In addition to being a leading CMBDO, Lynn has the opportunity to explore her entrepreneurial side as the co-owner of a farm-to-table restaurant, Cave Bistro, at the Jersey Shore with her husband. It’s a great example of how women can be business owners while have a satisfying, progressive career. Learn more about her restaurant. And learn more about Lynn below.

Continue Reading Women Who Wow: Lynn Tellefsen-Stehle

As an extroverted extrovert, social distancing was not easy for me. But now that restrictions are starting to lift and many of us have already gotten the vaccine, we will soon start interacting in person with others.

All you really need is a close friend group

This is a great time to think about the kinds of people with whom we want to surround ourselves once we get back to “normal.” We are under no obligation to return to the way things were. 

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned over the last year it’s that I don’t need a large circle of friends anymore. I need a close-knit group of friends who I can trust, who are kind, who support me and who I know have my back.

After some really terrible things that happened to me about two years ago that made me question the people I had allowed in my inner circle, I took stock of every aspect of my life and made some major changes.

Today I have much deeper, closer friendships. And I ended some superficial and toxic ones. This social butterfly stopped being so social after being stabbed in the back and bullied by several mean girls who I thought were my friends – frenemies.

If you haven’t had a chance to think about the people who are in your life and whether you want them to continue being part of it, do it now. And continue to socially distance yourself from people who:

  • Don’t respect your boundaries
  • Don’t see your worth
  • Put you down
  • Ignore or marginalize you
  • Make disparaging comments
  • Don’t respect you
  • Don’t support you or question you
  • Make you feel like you can’t be yourself
  • Talk about you to others
  • Patronize you
  • Aren’t happy for your successes but seem to enjoy when you fail
  • Seem to use you
  • Don’t have the same values as you

Sometimes less is more when it comes to friendships and relationships. And I really do think that social distancing enabled us to take stock of everything in our lives and hit the reset button. There were a lot of friends with whom I had very superficial relationships, including friends that were really relegated to social media.

And while I am a huge proponent of using social media to build relationships, I also think that it gives a view into our lives that isn’t always accurate or necessary. As a result, I cut off a lot of people’s access to me, and I stopped sharing as much. And it’s never felt better.

So choose to think about this is a good thing and make some very wise decisions when it comes to who is in your life.

Make 2021 all about putting yourself first, being kind to yourself and others, and being a good friend.

They say that you should never forget who was there for you during a hard time, who put you in a hard time and who wasn’t there for you during a hard time. Pay attention to all of these as you think about who you want in your life.

What can social media do for your law firm? An effective social media strategy can:

  1. Showcase your firm’s expertise and increase brand awareness for your lawyers and your firm
  2. Serve as a lead generation tool for prospective clients (all content should lead them back to your website)
  3. Give you the opportunity to generate your own positive buzz about your firm and lawyers when you’re not getting in third-party publications
  4. Help with recruiting (lateral, law student) and retention efforts and highlight firm culture
  5. Improve your SEO results on Google and other major search engines
  6. Highlight your thought leadership content
  7. Social media is here to stay especially due to how much the world has changed from social distancing

I can give you many more reasons why you should incorporate social media into your marketing and business development strategy – especially due to how much the world has changed as a result of the pandemic.

Clients and referral sources are much more social media savvy – from baby boomers to Millennials and the up-and-coming Generation Z – so it’s imperative that you not only understand how each of the social channels work but that you also leverage the ones where your clients and prospects are.

There’s no time like the present to start!

Michelle Friends​ is the Executive Director at Denver-based law firm Fairfield and Woods, P.C. where she oversees all aspects of the firm’s administrative functions. She is also very active in the Legal Marketing Association and is currently the Treasurer Elect of the International Board. Learn more about her in this Women Who Wow profile.

Continue Reading Women Who Wow: Michelle Friends

I’ve had a few one and two-year stints at various jobs and have found myself explaining why when I applied for other roles in the past.

I’ve often felt like it was the reason I was initially overlooked for a job, and there’s much more to me than the tenure of each role on my resume. Of course the time at which I spent at a particular company doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be a good fit for another role or mean that I will quickly jump ship.

I can’t really tell a hiring manager that I was pushed out of one job by a female boss who was threatened by me, or can I? Can I talk about the fact that I just made a mistake with another job and I forced myself to stick it out for a year? Or that my mom had passed away from cancer and I just needed a break from law firms for a bit?

I’ve had plenty of long tenures at companies too over my 20-year career, but it’s always the short stints that are called out.

So if you are in the position to hire employees, it’s time to reframe your thinking about someone moving jobs “too often” or having gaps on their resume or even staying too long in a job. All of these are completely okay now (and always should have been).

Instead of automatically seeing these as negatives, instead ask them:

This will be more of the norm especially as employees become younger – millennials and Generation Z are both more likely to move around jobs according to statistics.

Instead of automatically assuming the worst about why people have moved around jobs too often in your eyes, instead ask them:

  • How they navigated changes and adjustments to their career path and what they learned about themselves
  • The things they’re most excited about in this next stage of their career

Our careers zig and zag all the time for a million reasons. We are all human, so let’s not pass too much judgment on each other. You may miss out on an amazing candidate as a result. Let’s normalize the idea that our career paths are not linear.

We all have unique stories and we are so much more than the length of time we spent at a job and much more than what a resume says about us. I have pivoted as a consultant and a full-time employee a few times in my career and I’m proud of it – this is the new norm – especially after the pandemic. I promise not to judge your professional path if you promise not to judge mine.

I used to have no idea what I was doing on LinkedIn. Then I changed my entire strategy.

First I started listening. I looked at the posts of others who were succeeding on the platform and took notes on what they were doing right. They spoke from the heart. I started thinking about stories of my own I could share.

I asked my followers what they were interested in most. I looked at my metrics to see which posts resonated with my audience and which ones did not – but I did not obsess about the metrics. I didn’t let the lakes in the comments and the shares impact every single thing that I wrote about at first. I took that information into account but I didn’t let it overrule my gut.

I created an editorial calendar that was very simple and helped me track my posts enabled me to reuse and repurpose my content.

I learned that you always have to create content that serves your audience and not use it as a platform to brag about your successes.

Too many content creators – brands and individuals – get stuck in the mechanics and metrics. Successfully creating content on social media is requires:

  • Posting content of value consistently.
  • Sharing knowledge with your audience in mind
  • Not bragging
  • Caring about the intent of your content
  • Committing to be part of this community and supporting each other
  • Using hashtags and visuals

Without the human element at the core of your posts, I don’t believe that you will find true success on LinkedIn especially today after so many walls have come down after Covid.

I understand that many of you who follow me are in the B2B field and this is hard for you to do or imagine how it might fit into your own brand, but I encourage you to try it just once and see how it goes.

I was training a group of lawyers today and I encouraged them to write a different, more personal kind of post by thinking about a story from law school or from their first few years practicing law. Discuss an experience from then and relate it back to something in the present day. There are so many ways to take experiences that we’ve had and tell a story. And people really do like stories. They make us more relatable and human. Don’t underestimate the power of storytelling in your social media posts even on a professional network like LinkedIn.

Be more you. Be different. Be memorable. Be authentic. Be helpful. Don’t be vanilla. Don’t only post your successes. Have the courage to stand out and to share your experiences. Show up consistently and watch how your brand grows.

For more on this topic, on Friday, April 9 at 12pm EST, I will be presenting a free webinar with LinkedIn lawyer extraordinaire Frank Ramos on how to effectively use LinkedIn to build your personal brand and business. We will cover how to market yourself during all stages of your career on LinkedIn and how to use the power of storytelling in your posts. Register here.