Women’s Initiative Team 04|2013
The Upside
of Failure
uppose you have two products,
a mobile phone and a vacuum
cleaner. And let’s say one of
them—the vacuum cleaner—
works great. It sucks up all the
dog hair and dirt in your house
and never gives you a problem.
The phone, on the other hand,
starts giving you problems a
couple of weeks after you buy
it. So you call the manufacturer,
explain your problem, and the manufacturer sends you a
replacement phone that arrives the next day.
Now, which manufacturer are you most likely to praise to
your friends: the one that made a reliable product that didn’t
give you any problems or the one that sold you a glitchy
product but fixed it immediately? If you’re like most customers,
you’re probably happiest with the phone company, despite
the fact that it caused you significantly more trouble than the
vacuum company.
That’s the upside of failure: it can give us the chance to
impress more than if we hadn’t messed up in the first place.
Failure, and how we respond to it, highlights a whole host of
positive attributes, including resilience, adaptability, intelligence
and stamina. Everybody may love a winner, but almost all
winners experienced dozens, if not thousands, of failures before
they found a winning formula. Sir James Dyson, the inventor
of a best-selling bagless vacuum cleaner, claims to have made
5,126 prototypes before he finally found one that worked.
In this issue of Straightline, we’ll show you how failure, while
it can be humiliating and demoralizing, isn’t the career-ender
it can feel like. In fact, it is literally a necessary part of life. So
ignore those motivational posters declaring that “Failure is not
an option.” In order for us to grow and evolve, failure must be
an option.
The consequences of failure are all around us. In fact,
every living species is here today because their ancestors
unwittingly tried, failed and ultimately succeeded (based on
those failures) to adapt to their surroundings. Each failure
was followed by another adaptation that either failed again
or helped that species survive and reproduce.
A healthy acceptance of
failure, and the knowledge
that it’s not the end of the
world, can inspire us to
become more resilient and
take more and smarter risks.
Without failure, evolution simply can’t happen. Tim Harford
even argues in his book “Adapt: Why Success Always Starts
with Failure” that the Soviets’ intolerance of trial and error—
and the adaptations and improvements that come out of that
process—was one of the main reasons communism collapsed.
A healthy acceptance of failure, and the knowledge that
it’s not the end of the world, can inspire us to become more
resilient and take more and smarter risks.
It can also boost creativity, because knowing what doesn’t
work can put us one step closer to finding out what does work.
And, just as important, acknowledging the possibility of failure
helps us to become better prepared and have a Plan B or even a
Plan C ready to go should our Plan A fall apart.
The instructive genius of failure doesn’t lie in accepting
its inevitability. It lies in how we react to it. If we don’t adapt
and learn from it, then we’ve missed the point.
The first step is to acknowledge the failure and put it in
perspective. Did it put you behind on a project? Did it harm
your strategic position in some way? If so, can the immediate
impact be mitigated? You may need to do some repair work,
but even that can be instructional.
Don’t be too focused on “trying to find the positive” and
ignoring the negative about what happened, because that
limits your ability to learn from what went wrong. (As a side
note, if you’ve made a mistake that impacts others, such as
©2013. Produced by Andrews Kurth’s Women’s Initiative Team.
Welcome to
Straightline is a publication from Andrews Kurth
for women, by women. We will give you the
bottom line on women’s issues, be on the front
line for timely substantive legal topics and serve
as the hotline for firm news. We’ll introduce
you to fresh faces at Andrews Kurth, provide a
pipeline of topical legal updates, and promise
to infuse some fun features, facts and resources
along the way. So join us for what promises to
be Straight Talk on women’s issues. No lawyerspeak. No double talk. Just the most direct line
between you and our women lawyers.
clients, colleagues or shareholders, by all means, disclose the
mistake as honestly and as soon as possible, or else the error
becomes compounded by delay and dishonesty.)
Look for causes of the failure, but not blame. Was there
a breakdown of communication? Did a vendor not come
through? Whatever the cause or causes of the failure were,
develop a plan to avoid those issues next time. This is most
likely not a one-person job. If the failure was on a team project,
the analysis and regroup should also be a team effort. If the
failure was more personal (a job loss, a break-up, etc.), seek
the honest advice of your closest friends, a mentor, or even a
life coach or therapist.
When gathering information, the most important thing
to do is listen. Don’t explain or make excuses. Chances are,
if you’re getting honest feedback, you’re going to hear some
criticism of your skills or behavior. Try not to get defensive or
tune out your critics. Take notes and be open to the prospect
that some or all of your early assumptions and subsequent
actions were wrong.
Once you’ve analyzed your failure, refocus your efforts and
take action. There’s no guarantee that your next attempt will be
a success, but it’s sure to be an improvement over your last effort.
Continued on page 2
Andrews Kurth was ranked 23rd among the top 100
fundraising teams for the 2012 Houston Race for the
Cure, raising over $12,000. The Firm jumped 13 spots
from its 2011 ranking of 36th. Additionally, Andrews
Kurth maintained the title of top law firm fundraising
team in Houston.
On January 10, 2013, Andrews Kurth hosted “Briefing
the Board: 2013 Annual Disclosure Seminar.” Many of
the Firm︐s top clients, including many Andrews Kurth
alumni, came to hear the seasoned advice and latest
updates about annual disclosure changes and trends
from a panel of corporate partners including Melinda
Brunger (Houston).
On January 25, 2013, the Center for Women in Law
(the Center) at The University of Texas School of
Law unveiled the “Wall of Founders.” Among the 52
Founding Members included on the Wall of Founders are
Terri Lacy (Houston), Meredith Mouer (Houston),
Shemin Proctor (Washington, DC), Robin Russell
(Houston) and Kathleen Wu (Dallas).
Andrews Kurth has selected Partner Kelly Sandill
(Houston) to participate as a member of the 2013 class
of Fellows, a landmark program created by the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD) to identify,
train and advance the next generation of leaders in the
legal profession.
Partner and Chief Diversity Officer Elizabeth
Campbell (Houston) has been named one of
“Houston’s 50 Most Influential Women of 2012”
by Houston Woman Magazine.
Andrews Kurth attorneys Lydia González Gromatzky
(Austin), Meghan E. Griffiths (Austin) and Courtney
E. Ervin (Houston) have been elected to membership
in the Fellows of the Texas Bar Foundation. Fellows
of the Foundation are selected for their outstanding
professional achievements and their demonstrated
commitment to the improvement of the justice system
throughout the state of Texas.
Kathleen Wu (Dallas) has been selected for the second
consecutive year to serve on the Dallas Regional Panel of
the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships.
The prestigious panel is a mix of hand-selected Dallas
civic and private sector leaders appointed to help select
the year’s national finalists for the White House Fellowship
program. Founded in 1964, the White House Fellows
program is one of America’s most esteemed programs
for leadership and public service. White House
Fellowships offer exceptional young men and women
first-hand experience working at the highest levels
of the federal government.
The Upside of Failure
Continued from page 1
Being fired is a special category of failure, since it’s such a
personal and life-altering failure. And, unless you’re independently wealthy, it usually means the loss of your livelihood.
Still, most successful people today can recount at least one
time they were fired, and many will insist that although it was
a soul-crushing experience at the time, it was ultimately
positive because it was a catalyst for positive change. Getting
fired can spark self-analysis like almost no other event in our
lifetimes. It can cause us to question the assumptions we
make about ourselves, including our skills, our work ethic,
and our character. It can also be the kick in the pants we
needed to change careers or open the business we’ve only
ever dreamed about.
Before you do any of that, however, it’s time to wallow.
Former Cosmopolitan editor Kate White, author of “I Shouldn’t
Be Telling You This: Success Secrets Every Gutsy Girl Should
Know,” says the recently fired should take some time—a couple
of days at most—to be depressed, catch up on your Netflix
queue, and spend some time with Ben & Jerry. A day or two
in sweatpants is crucial to jumping back in the game with
renewed energy, if only because you realize how little you
truly enjoy spending your days on the couch.
Then get busy. If your company provides outplacement
services as part of your severance agreement, take them up
on it. In fact, ask them for more than they initially offered.
Finding out what went wrong is crucial, even if you fear it
may be awkward or uncomfortable. You may have already
learned this during the termination process, but if you didn’t,
contact your old boss or your former colleagues to see if they
can lend any insight. Were your work habits not what they
should be? Was the quality of your work lacking? Were you
lacking in some critical skills?
Put the information you gathered to good use and be honest
with yourself. You may learn that your strengths don’t lie where
you think they lie. Or maybe you need to dedicate yourself
to becoming a better writer or public speaker. Whatever you
learn about what went wrong, do what you need to do to
address those shortcomings.
Most importantly, don’t burn any bridges. Don’t rant on
Facebook or bad-mouth your former employer or colleagues.
A classy exit (such as Ann Curry’s from the “Today Show”)
earns fans and can help open doors.
Acceptance of failure—whether it’s being fired or botching
a presentation—as a natural phenomenon doesn’t mean
that failure is the preferred result or that success is somehow
undesirable. It simply means that failure isn’t the end of the
world. It is a necessary part of the world we all live in, and
by accepting that, it means success isn’t as unattainable as we
think it is.
Brighten Your Day
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Andrews Kurth is a proud sponsor of Dress
for Success Houston. Their mission is to promote
the economic independence of disadvantaged
women by providing professional attire, a network
of support and the career development tools to
help women thrive in work and in life.
The firm participated in the “S.O.S” (Send
One Suit) Suit Drive from March 18–28, and collected 126 suits and $7,745 in monetary donations,
equals 229 suits. The firm also supports the
organization through membership in their
Corporate Guild, which is a group of corporations
in Houston that pledge their support to Dress for
Success throughout the year and attend various
networking events with top female executives.
The firm was also a contributor to the Capital
Campaign for Dress for Success that allowed
the organization to become the first affiliate
©2013. Produced by Andrews Kurth’s Women’s Initiative Team.
Makes you attractive
Changes your mood
Is contagious
Relieves stress
Boosts your immune system
Lowers your blood pressure
Releases endorphins
Makes you seem successful
Helps you stay positive
Lifts the face and makes you look younger
Top of the Line
Gifts for every mom in your life, whether you are buying for your mom or a
friend who is a great mother, or perhaps you just need a list to give to your kids.
Side Guide
1. Bag
& Purse Organizer
From $38 at etsy.com/shop/DivideAndConquer
Organize and keep track of your personal belongings when you︐re on the go. And when you want
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2. Classic Cotton Pajamas:
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A green trim adds just enough detail to the
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he Pioneer Woman Cooks:
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Filled with delectable recipes that show us
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4. B
otanical Coaster Set
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What every woman loves: something pretty and
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mbossed Leather iPad Case
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It︐s something to look at, opened or closed.
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Sturdy and stylish. This set of two is imported
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tella McCartney for Adidas
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Ladies, sweat it out in style. These designer
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Made from 100% Mongolian cashmere, this
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9. Monogram
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This chic lacquered jewelry box is velvet
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Promo code: AndrewsKurth15 for 15% off.
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Relax, energize and balance. Lessen life︐s
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11. M
aya Brenner Letter Necklace
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An understated way to show some love. Choose
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Necklaces are available in yellow and white gold.
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armhouse Fresh Whoopie! Cream
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A jarful of joy! Don︐t resist starting a morning or
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P Bracelet by Jawbone
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The wristband and app that track everything
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14. Fitness Carryall
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This bag boasts oodles of pockets and compartments, perfect for carrying your items, big or small.
And it comes in 11 vibrant colors.
Indicates female-owned business
©2013. Produced by Andrews Kurth’s Women’s Initiative Team.
Estate Planning Basics
A quick guide, recognizing April as National Financial Literacy Month
by Terri Lacy, Partner
state planning is nothing more than
developing a process to identify and
transfer your property, whether
during your lifetime or at your
death. Anything that you care
about—from an old rocking chair
that belonged to your grandmother
to a cabin where your family spends
its vacations—is important enough
to justify estate planning. If you have
a minor child, you have estate planning concerns. Who will raise your child if you are unable to
do so? Who will manage any assets your child might inherit?
If you do not have an estate plan, some states (including Texas)
will determine what happens to your estate, and it might
not be what you would want. Consider the following estate
planning tools.
A trust is a common estate planning tool that can be created
during lifetime, such a trust being referred to as an inter vivos
trust, or under a Will, such a trust being referred to as a
testamentary trust. A trust requires the transfer of property
to an individual or corporate trustee, who then manages and
distributes the property for the beneficiaries according to the
terms of the trust. An inter vivos trust can be revocable or
irrevocable. With a revocable trust, the grantor has access to
the trust property. With an irrevocable trust, the assets of the
trust no longer belong to the grantor but are owned by the trust.
21% of Americans have a
trust arranged
source: Lawyers.com survey via Forbes
A Last Will and Testament, or Will, is the cornerstone
of all estate plans. A Will is a personal declaration of your
intentions about the distribution of your property at death,
and everyone should have one. By making a Will, you can
decide who will receive or benefit from your property, how
much each beneficiary will receive, and when each beneficiary
will receive his share. If you die without a Will, your property
may be distributed according to state law and without any
specific direction from you about who receives your assets
and in what proportion.
The reasons for creating trusts are varied and may include:
• Ensuring professional management and investment of the
trust property.
• Minimizing estate and gift taxes.
• Distributing assets efficiently without the expense and delay
of probate.
• Placing conditions on how and when the trust assets should
be distributed, and when the trust should terminate.
35% of Americans report
having a will
source: Lawyers.com survey via Forbes
In addition to directing the distribution of your property,
your Will appoints a personal representative, called an
executor, of your estate. The executor is responsible for
overseeing the management and distribution of your estate.
Some assets, such as IRAs and life insurance policies that
may constitute part of an estate, are paid directly to the
designated beneficiary of the asset and are not part of the
disposition of property under a Will.
Because a Will is not legally enforceable until your death,
it may be changed at any time during your lifetime if you
are mentally competent. A Codicil is a separate document
that adds to or amends the terms of your Will. A Codicil is
best used for minor changes rather than a complete overhaul
of a Will. The execution of a Codicil requires the same legal
formalities as the execution of a Will.
It makes good sense to review your Will periodically to
confirm that the terms of the Will are consistent with your
intentions. Everyone’s circumstances change over time. For example, a parent may execute a Will when a child is born and the
parent’s intentions for the child’s inheritance may change as the
child grows, making it important to review and update the Will.
It’s estimated that over
120,000,000 Americans do
not have up-to-date estate
plans to protect themselves
or their families.
source: estateplanninganswers.org
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A Directive to Physicians (commonly known as a Living Will)
expresses your wishes, based on your own personal beliefs and
values, regarding the continuation of artificial life support in the
event of certain terminal or irreversible medical conditions. The
decision about life support is made by you as a competent adult
so that your family is not left to make the decision at a later date.
Estate planning is not only
valuable for the individual
considering the plan, but it
also eases the burden of
decision-making for those
who are left behind.
A Medical Power of Attorney allows you to appoint an
agent to make health care decisions for you, including life
support decisions, in the event you are physically or mentally
unable to make medical decisions for yourself.
With much excitement, we welcome these
new lawyers to the Andrews Kurth team.
Dianah Brown, Dallas
Dianah Brown joins the Dallas office as a
Senior Attorney in the Corporate section.
Dianah︐s practice encompasses a variety
of corporate and transactional matters,
including mergers and acquisitions,
negotiating license agreements, and various legal
issues related to software licensing and intellectual
property. She also has experience in matters relating
to trademarks, copyright registration and protection,
franchising services and licensing. Dianah earned her
J.D., cum laude, from Tulane University Law School in
1998. In 1994, she received her B.A., cum laude, from the
University of North Texas.
Michelle Kwan, Austin
Michelle Kwan joins the Austin office
as Of Counsel in the Corporate/
Securities section. Michelle︐s practice
focuses on corporate and securities
matters, including U.S. and cross-border
mergers and acquisitions, equity financings, and private
placements. She also regularly counsels companies,
entrepreneurs and investors on forming and operating
businesses, raising capital through private and public
offerings, buying and selling companies, and complying
with the periodic reporting requirements of the federal
securities laws. Michelle earned her J.D., with honors,
from The University of Texas School of Law in 1995.
In 1989, she received her B.S., cum laude, from the
University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business.
Team WIT
Bob Jewell, [email protected]
Meredith Mouer, [email protected]
Tammy Brennig
Elizabeth Campbell
Marty DeBusk
Deborah Grabein
Amy Hancock
Donna Kim
Kendall Lowery
Thomas Perich
Shemin Proctor
Robin Russell
Michele Schwartz
Lisa Shelton
Laura Trenaman
Kathleen Wu
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability
Act (HIPAA) was enacted to protect the privacy of medical
and health information; as a result, the release of medical
information is strictly guarded. With a HIPAA release,
you may authorize your health care providers to allow one
or more designated agents to have access to your medical
records and information.
You may designate a future guardian for yourself or for
your minor children. In the event you become incapacitated,
a guardian of your estate manages your assets and a guardian
of your person takes legal responsibility for you as an individual.
An individual may act as both guardian of the estate and of
the person, but it may be advisable to separate the responsibilities in order to establish a system of checks and balances.
In a document designating a guardian, you may also specifically
disqualify certain persons from serving.
Although there are many options to consider when deciding
on how to transfer your property or plan for your future
needs, the tools listed here describe some of the key aspects
of estate planning. Estate planning is not only valuable for the
individual considering the plan, but it also eases the burden
of decision-making for those who are left behind.
Courtney Culver Stakem
Kelli Dinneen
Kathleen Wu, [email protected]
Donna Kim
Shemin Proctor
Laura Trenaman
For more information, please contact
Courtney Culver Stakem at 214.659.4689
or [email protected].
600 Travis Suite 4200 | Houston, Texas 77002 | Tel: 713.220.4200 | Fax: 713.220.4285
©2013. andrewskurth.com
Adapt: Why Success Always Starts
with Failure
I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This: Success Secrets Every Gutsy Girl
Should Know
It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How
Good You Want To Be: The World’s
Best-Selling Book
By: Kate White
By: Paul Arden
Kate White reflects on her career
running five major magazines, including
one of the bestselling women︐s magazines in the world, Cosmopolitan, to share
her secrets to success. Her book tells
us how to break away from the pack,
master ever-changing learning curves,
make bold moves, and go after the career
we︐ve always lusted for!
Make the unthinkable thinkable and
the impossible possible with this
handbook on how to succeed in the
world. Paul Arden gives us wisdom on
how to best play the cards we︐ve been
dealt. He shares unique insights into
the world of advertising, and gives us
ways to apply what he︐s learned in our
everyday lives. If you want to succeed
in life or business, it︐s a must-read!
Tips and tools for getting things done.
This site shares real-world knowledge
on all things personal and professional.
Topics run the gamut from how to
remain productive when you travel to
the five kitchen skills you need to make
your life easier.
Find something interesting but don︐t
have time to view it? Put it in Pocket.
Once saved to Pocket, your content is
visible on any device—phone, tablet
or computer. It can be viewed while
waiting in line, on the couch or during
commutes or travel—even offline.
Looking for a funny anecdote or ways
to balance work & life? This site is a
great place for the working woman
to go to share their amusements, gain
career & life advice, and learn how to
survive as they move up the ladder.
By: Tim Harford Renowned economist Tim Harford
shares the ingredients required for
turning failure into success. He gives us
an inspiring approach to solving today’s
challenges and argues that they simply
cannot be tackled with ready-made
solutions and expert opinion. Instead,
he outlines the importance of adaptive
trial and error, which fosters innovation
and creativity in our everyday lives. andrewskurth.com
Sweat the Small Stuff
etails matter, particularly
when you’re the intended
audience of whatever’s being
presented. Typos, misspellings,
out-of-order pages—all are
infuriating, and all serve as
red flags to a potential client
or boss who may be thinking
“if she can’t get the small stuff
right, I can’t trust her to get
the big stuff right.”
On the other hand, exceptional thoughtfulness can help
win over even the most hardened critic.
American businesses that obsess over the small stuff stand
out, and they earn customer loyalty. The late Steve Jobs
was known for his obsession with detail, a fact that certainly
made him a demanding taskmaster but that also created
beautifully designed computers, phones and tablets that
have done nothing less than revolutionize our daily lives.
And anyone who has been to a Disney property can attest
to the special touches that make their parks destinations
that families travel from around the world to see, often on
an annual basis.
Apple and Disney prove that customers are willing to pay
a premium for a high-quality product. Likewise, companies
that do a poor job of sweating the “small stuff ”—order
fulfillment, customer service, sanitation, etc.—usually find
that customers soon grow tired of being taken for granted.
The same holds true for individuals. People who deliver
high-quality work that shows, not just an attention to detail,
but a commitment to knocking others’ socks off, are highly
valued and sought after. And those who turn in sloppy work
and show up late, covered in dog hair, generally don’t sweat
the small stuff and are seldom on the A Team.
Of course, cultivating an attention to detail can do more
than just win fans in the workplace. Noticing the details and
finding ways to make your work the best it can be requires
slowing down, asking yourself “how can I make this better,”
and pushing the bounds of your own abilities. The results
of those efforts are far greater than can be measured in a
raise or annual review.
So how can you bring a healthy obsession with detail to
your work? We’ve compiled several suggestions, at least some
of which you (hopefully) already do, plus a few new ones:
Anticipate others’ needs
Find ways to say “I took the liberty of coming up with a
Plan B” or taking some other action that anticipates and
fulfills your colleague’s, client’s or boss’s needs.
Communicate more than you need to
Don’t leave others guessing about what’s expected of them
or what they need to know before a meeting. If members
of your team ask you a question you think you’ve already
answered, assume the rest of your team also has the same
question and affirmatively answer it for them.
Be a Girl Scout
She’s always prepared, does a good turn daily, and always
leaves a place cleaner than she found it.
Don’t point out problems
Don︐t point out problems unless you have at least the
beginnings of a proposed solution, then aim to gather
some colleagues for a productive brainstorming session.
Clean your desk
Stacks of papers, dirty coffee cups, and overflowing trash
bins don’t say “eccentric genius.” They just say “slob.”
Clean out your email inbox
Chances are you get too many spam emails anyway, so
unsubscribe from those emails you never read. Spend some
time clearing out and processing what’s left. Once you
have a clean (or nearly clean) slate, resolve to respond to
those emails that need a response within a day, and delete
or archive the rest. Same thing with your voicemail. Don’t
let your callers receive a “mailbox full” message.
Look at yourself as others see you
What do they see? Professional or frantic? Clean desk or
Superfund site? Take a moment to evaluate yourself, your
home, your work environment through the eyes of a stranger.
If what you see is alarming, commit to changing it.
Treat deadlines as immovable
Create a timeline and mobilize your team to finish your
projects a few days early, to allow time for the inevitable
last-minute crises.
Ask “how can we make this better?”
Time and budget constraints may prohibit your making
more than minor tweaks, but sometimes just changing
fonts and improving the layout of a document can make
a dramatic difference.
Notice what gets changed
Once you turn in a project, chances are it goes through a
few revisions before it’s final. Take the time to notice what
was changed. You may be making the same mistake each
time and making your colleagues more and more frustrated
by the day. This is a simple way to improve your skill sets.
Don’t send an email, memo, letter or report without proofreading it. Remove abbreviations and language that is too
casual for professional communications. When necessary,
have a colleague with “fresh eyes” proofread it.
Imbue your team with an “attention to
detail” mindset
If they see you not settling for “good enough,” that will
become the rule. And vice versa.
Taking a few extra steps to ensure you’re giving others your
best is a worthwhile habit to develop. You may not become the
next Steve Jobs, but you’ll be painting a professional portrait
of yourself that will pay off many times over.