Pat Whalen | Chairman and Managing Partner of Spencer Fane

Humility as the Foundation | Scaling with Operational Excellence | 200% Growth | EQ as Competitive Advantage | The Potential of Others | Harvard & Being a Lifelong Learner | The World’s Need for Leaders | Leadership Books | Gratitude


I interviewed Pat Whalen | Chairman and Managing Partner of Spencer Fane on Thursday, June 25th, 2020.

Our conversation began with Pat sharing the Spencer Fane story and what led to their tremendous growth over the past 5 years. We discussed how the firm drives value to their clients and their talent. We discussed how they are improving their profit margin while scaling through operational excellence. Pat shared the foundational value of humility and the other core values distinctive to the firm. Pat shared the importance for attorneys to learn emotional intelligence and how it is a competitive advantage. We then discussed the incredible growth Spencer Fane has experienced. He shared what makes a successful lateral hire in working with recruiters. We discussed preparation leading up to this year’s downturn. Pat shared his story and his passion for being a lifelong learner. Our conversation continued about leadership and the world’s very real need for leaders. Our final topics were his family, his recommended reading, and his system for information retention. 

Here are some highlights of my interview with Pat Whalen:

We had to be honest with ourselves, that in resisting growth because growth presents a risk, could be just as risky.

Execution is the hard part of the strategy, much harder than formulating a firm’s strategy.

We have grown and have scaled up each year; our profit margin has been enhanced so we think we are appreciating economies of scale, which then has allowed up to drive value to client engagements. 

Intellectual humility means we learn from others, engage in lifelong learning, seek to listen more than you talk, and treat others as good or better than you treat yourself.

Lawyers, as a population, tend to skew fairly high on IQ. But by an equal order of magnitude, we skew below average on emotional intelligence EQ. 

No matter what efforts you go through to try to integrate new talent, at a high level, you’re not doing nearly enough.

The essence of strategy is deciding those things you’re going to be strong on and then saying no to everything else.

Having humility as the core focus allowed us to make sure we did not engage in any wishful thinking and made us very disciplined about having data-driven solutions over things that were emotionally appealing.

Stepping into this firm leadership role, I knew I had to embrace both the privilege and the requirement of being a lifelong learner. 

Learning from the world-class faculty of Harvard Business School, and from business leaders from throughout the world, equips one with different frameworks, different perspectives, and really different ways to approach traditional problems.

It is the leader’s solemn obligation, first and foremost, to create a situation where folks are empowered and developed, in order to live up to their potential.

If you’re espousing a value and demanding something of somebody that you yourself are coming nowhere close to personifying, that exhibits the kryptonite of hypocrisy.

Links referred to in this episode:

Pat Whalen | Spencer Fane Attorney Profile

Pat Whalen | LinkedIn Profile

Harvard Business School | Executive Education

Clayton Christensen | Professor | Harvard Business School 

Clayton Christensen | The Innovator’s Dilemma

Clayton Christensen | How Will You Measure Your Life?

Nancy Koehn | Forged in Crisis: The Power of Courageous Leadership in Turbulent Times

Dr. Carol Dweck | Mindset: Changing The Way You think To Fulfil Your Potential

Bill George | Professor | Harvard Business School  

Bill George, Peter Sims, & David Gergen | True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership

Brené Brown | Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.

Subscribe to the Podcast 

iTunes  |  Stitcher  |  Google Play | YouTube | iHeartRadio

We Would Love your Feedback.

Click Here

to let us know who to Interview and the Topics that interest you most right now.

If you haven’t already,

Click Here

to leave a review on iTunes.

Audio Transcription 

***To Download the PDF Transcript, click here*** 

Greetings, friends. This is Chris Batz, your host of The Law Firm Leadership Podcast. In today’s episode, I spoke with the leader of an AmLaw 200 law firm. We discussed his passion for leadership, his love for lifelong learning, and how the firm’s foundational value of humility, along with a couple of other important factors, drove their recent incredible story of growth. 

If you haven’t already, please subscribe to this podcast and leave a review on iTunes. 

We interview corporate defense law firm leaders, partners, general counsel, and legal consultants. You’re listening to Episode 46 of The Law Firm Leadership Podcast.

Chris:  Welcome to The Law Firm Leadership Podcast I’m your host Chris Batz with The Lion Group

Today, I have the pleasure of speaking with Pat Whalen, Chairman and Managing Partner of Spencer Fane. Since 2013, Pat has been focused on the development and execution of the firm’s strategy. For the past five years, Spencer Fane has been among the nation’s fastest-growing law firms. Previously, Pat was the Chair of litigation and a partner in the IP practice. Pat has received numerous accolades including being named one of the 100 Most Influential Lawyers in the Country by The Business Journals, and one of the best in the country at delivering outstanding client service to General Counsel of the world’s largest companies by BTI Consulting. Pat is active in charitable civic and industry efforts including board participation. Pat received his JD from the University of Texas Austin School of Law and MBA from the University of Texas-San Antonio.

Welcome, Pat, to The Law Firm Leadership Podcast. It’s great to have you on the show.

Pat: Thanks, Chris. I’m privileged to be with you and your listeners.

Intellectual Honesty & Humility 

Chris: Pat, would you share the more recent Spencer Fane story, and what was happening when you took the helm around 2013?

Pat: Spencer Fane traces its roots back to the 1800s. Like most law firms that have been around for that long, we’re really proud, and I use that term selectively. Certainly, we’ve prized our culture and our history, and we felt really good about our integrity. That was what kept many of us here. But we had to be intellectually honest about the risk we were facing being part of an industry that was going through disruption and continues to go through accelerated disruption. Being part of a community in the part of a country that was not thriving as much as other geographic areas, and then our own personal commitment to our culture made us very risk-averse to opportunities. Year after year, some of my colleagues were moving on to what they perceive to be greener pastures. We began to really be intellectually humble, objective, and introspective about why that was occurring, which led us to develop a larger strategic plan seven years ago. A significant component of that plan was growth. One aspect that is very important to distinguish, is we saw lots of organizations pursuing growth for the sake of growth with the notion that growth, per se, is healthier or optimal. We don’t subscribe to that notion whatsoever, but we also had to be honest with ourselves, that in resisting growth because growth presents risk, could be just as risky. 

So having a more nuanced approach, to deploy growth, in service to our culture and our clients was something we needed to be more open-minded about. So, we laid out a pretty detailed growth plan. We called it the 2020 growth plan. It had lots of different aspects to it, quite a significant methodology around it. And we put that into place and rolled through those objectives and completed the 2020 growth plan a couple of years early in 2018. That has allowed us in the last year and a half to promulgate a whole separate plan that really begins with the bedrock of revisiting and gaining clarity around our culture.

Driving Value to Clients and their Talent

Chris: Would you explain to my listeners, the three-legged stool of Spencer Fane and how it applies to the firm’s growth strategy?

Pat: Everything that we do is really based upon our value proposition for clients. And similarly, the value proposition for talent inside the firm. So, our three-legged stool, as you refer to it Chris is, number one, we want to be able to provide the very best service and value of any law firm in our markets. Number two, we want to be the law firm of choice for talent that shares our values. And number three, and really as a means to ensuring those first two objectives, we want to have a high level of operational excellence in how the firm’s run and how we drive value to our clients and to our talent within the organization. Really, everything has to channel through those three objectives.

Scaling with Operational Excellence 

Chris: In regards to operational excellence and partner time, one thing I noticed when speaking with you, was the firm’s intentionality of making sure partners were more devoted to their clients than actually managing the firm. Can you explain that and how that’s been a benefit?

Pat: On the operations facing part of this, we want to bring business-focused management to all aspects of the firm. We believe in the notion of the highest and best use. And so, if somebody is particularly gifted in their strengths, or in a client service area and a practice area, they may not be quite as passionate or gifted about something in the back office or insurance services. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to divert that professional into something that’s not in her/his real strength, and that is a key piece of being operationally excellent. There are a variety of KPIs that we use to measure our operational excellence and things like profit margin, cost per lawyer overhead, etc., are indicators of how we are faring in that objective. The notion is to get the folks that have the training, the passion, and the strength on the business aspects of running a law firm, as opposed to filling a position because you need somebody from the partnership to fill that particular job. Using lots of different tactics, but having that commitment to operational excellence allows us to have one of the higher profit margins in the profession. And we’ve seen that year after year. And one of the things that we don’t ever want to become complacent in, but is a good data point for our approach, is that as we have grown and have scaled up each year, our profit margin has been enhanced. So we think that we are appreciating economies of scale, which then allows us to drive that value to client engagements.

Chris: So as you’re scaling, you’re not suffering your profit margin, you’re actually improving it?

Pat: Correct. It has sometimes been said that there are no economies of scale in the law firm business, and it’s certainly challenged us to do so. But with the types of business professionals that we have at the firm, with the stewardship that guides our approach, we’ve been able to buck that trend and show real margin improvement while growing almost threefold.

Humility as the Foundation

Chris: To grow like that and to execute it in the way that you’ve just described, it sounds like you really need to have a strong set of values that align with and that you can grow with. Can you describe some of those points?

Pat: At the core, there is a set of values that the firm lives by that we worked on throughout 2019. Little did we know at the time, Chris, just how vital it was going to be to do that groundwork, by getting everybody in the firm around tables. We began by being very clear about the values that drive us to this firm and that have kept us at this firm so that we can collectively and individually commit to those values, and then ultimately be held accountable to those values. 

The firm came together and collectively identified four key values. Whenever you articulate values, the challenge is not making them platitudes or buzzwords, because that’s what they sound like. We’ve been very clear that execution is the hard part of a strategy, much harder than formulating strategy. It’s much more difficult to personify and walk the values than to just promulgate and hang them on a bookshelf or a wall. We were very mindful from day one, that setting these values up and being clear about them was great, but the real importance would be being held accountable to those values. Those values that were collectively identified by everybody in the organization and which best summarized what it’s always been at the firm is an anchor theme of humility. That may best be viewed really through the prism of intellectual humility, and that manifests itself in all kinds of ways. One way is to seek to learn from others, engage in lifelong learning, seek to listen more than you talk, treating others as good or better than you treat yourself. Then, most importantly, knowing that we have to humble our needs and our priorities to those of our clients. We think that’s really the anchor value in the organization, and then there are four values that really flow from that.

Values that Define Culture & Strategy 

Chris: Would you share those four additional values?

Pat: The first is that we want to be highly collaborative. We want to be all about teams, and less about individuals. Within the organization, we talk about how that is not easy for attorneys to do, because when you look at the science on the lawyer personality, many of us specifically opt into law school because it offers more autonomy. Then, schools actually end up exacerbating that proclivity. I compare my experience in business school, which is largely driven by group efforts, group projects, and grading is based upon how the group performs, versus the typical law firm model, which is entirely individualized. Being collaborative at a high level is a key value. The next one is empowerment. Again, these can sound like buzzwords, but we want to be entrepreneurial. One of the things that drew me to this firm, almost 25 years ago, was an incredible meritocracy. Inclusivity is a bedrock value as well. Another key value in the shorthand would be resilience. Again, we had no idea how important that was going to be going into 2020, but it’s about being externally focused on having positive energy and gratitude. Because when you study the typical law firm culture, a typical characteristic of pessimism is not very conducive to being highly resilient. The final value was what we call a fierce resolve to win. That’s all about continually heightening expectations. There will typically be a gap between someone’s true potential, and then watered-down expectations. So, continuing to raise the bar on our expectations of each other and of ourselves, is what we call a fierce resolve to win.

EQ as a Competitive Advantage

Chris: You have spoken to me about describing the firm as a high EQ law firm, as an aspiration. Would you explain what you mean by that?

Pat: It’s a little bit of what I referred to is when you study the lawyer’s personality. We, as a population, tend to skew fairly high on IQ. But by an equal order of magnitude, we skew below average on emotional intelligence. We think that based upon all the research we’ve done in client acquisition and client retention, that many of the reasons why law firms score so low with their clients on service relates quite directly to the lower emotional intelligence that we have as lawyers. Raising self-awareness is something that we think has helped us bridge and will continue to help us bridge the gap in terms of the emotional intelligence that high-performing lawyers really need to have in order to bring world-class service to our clients. Also, it’s equally important to make it a world-class culture. Inside a firm, you’ve got to have above-average emotional intelligence.

Are you an Employer hiring Legal or Compliance talent in the next 12-24 months?

We should talk.

Text “Headhunter” to 44222 or Click Here and Complete the Web Form.

200% Growth with Laterals

Chris: Would you share what the headcount at Spencer Fane was, historically, when you took the helm to give my audience some perspective about the firm’s growth? 

Pat: So, we are a little bit more than three X. We were just over 100 attorneys in a handful of markets. We’re now well above 300 attorneys and 19 markets with revenue going up accordingly.

Chris: That’s outrageous growth, growing 200%, adding 200 attorneys. If I understand correctly, you’ve grown by lateral acquisition?

Pat: Almost entirely. We’ve done a couple of combinations in a couple of our markets. There have been a handful of firms that we’ve combined with that were smaller firms from the size of 9-25, but the bulk of it has been individual laterals.

Chris: Next question, what are some of the takeaways you’ve had from that tremendous growth?

Pat: Lots of takeaways, and then continuing to assess and digest and evolve on those takeaways. As we’ve grown, we’ve learned that there is an enormous appetite in the talent market for our vision. And I’m not suggesting that we have it all figured out and that we don’t have to make even more significant improvement. But I think our vision, along the lines of the culture that we talked about, in which we think we can and are world-class on the talent value proposition and on the client value proposition can resonate at a very high level. That has certainly been gratifying. No matter what efforts you go through to try to integrate new talent, at a high level, you’re not doing nearly enough. So, continuing to really build out systems and structures around integrating new talent is an even bigger challenge than I anticipated.

Chris: As the firm has grown by the assistance of recruiters, what are some of the things you’ve appreciated recruiters have done and some things that recruiters can improve on?

Pat: Well, I don’t have much criticism as it’s probably not my place. What I’ve been impressed by, Chris, is individuals that take the time to make sure that there’s a potential fit. No one can ever be certain. But understanding the candidate, understanding the firm, and knowing that no matter how good the firm is, on certain dimensions, they’re going to be weaker. Really, the essence of strategy is deciding those things. Things that you’re going to be strong on and then saying no to everything else. So, making sure that there’s alignment between those dimensions in which a lateral is particularly focused on, and the firm is critical because no firm can be all things to all people. Taking the time, as I know you do, to deeply understand the candidate you’re working with. To understand the things that are high on her/his list of priorities or those things that aren’t as important, and then matching that up with the firm takes a lot of time, conversation, and a lot of objective studying. Recognizing what things a candidate is really passionate about, and how that fits with the firm. Knowing enough people in the firm, their strong dimensions, but also knowing their weak dimensions to make sure there’s an alignment on the priorities of talent.

Advice for Partners Considering a Move

Chris: What advice would you give partners who are in the market and are starting to wonder if they should talk to another firm?

Pat: It goes back to what I mentioned about understanding truly what you’re looking for. If you write out your top 10 attributes as a lawyer that you want in a firm, there are firms that may tell you that they’re top chair on all 10. But like with any business strategy, if they’re saying that, they’re probably pretty mediocre on all 10. Know the key attributes you’re looking for, and make sure that there are proof point data points, and it’s not just advertising. Make sure that the firm has those two or three attributes that you think are most vital, and know there are always compromises and sacrifices. Some of the other things on your top 10 list are not going to be tremendous. But with those non-negotiables, make sure that the firm can prove and has a track record of living up to those attributes. There’s a reason why the studies in the surveys always demonstrate overall weak percentages of success with laterals, and I think it’s not having alignment on the priorities and the attributes.

Preparing for the Worst

Chris: We’re all in the thick of COVID right now and no one ever was truly prepared for a pandemic. But how have you as a firm managing partner & chairman prepared for the next downturn?

Pat: Our approach in thinking about this was really fortunate that we were structured in a way that we could be as prepared as anybody could be for this type of downturn. We’ve been projecting for some time now that a downturn is coming. Of course, nobody knew it would be anything like this, both in terms of the type and the depth. But building a firm in good times is one thing while being able to sustain it is another. If you go back and look at ‘08, a lot of firms that went into that in growth mode did not fare very well. So for the last several years, we’ve been mindful that we were likely to encounter, at a minimum, a pretty good-sized recession. That’s why we did not want to overextend ourselves or over-leverage ourselves. Coming into this, with that strategy of sustainability certainly benefited us. Having that core focus of humility, allowed us to make sure we did not engage in any wishful thinking and made us very disciplined about having data-driven solutions over things that were emotionally appealing. We developed a set of principles that were going to guide our approach and promulgated them in early March. These principles are our north star during this time. One of those principles I mentioned earlier was that we didn’t want to just simply survive. We want to make sure that we continue to pursue our long-term strategy, and that we emerge from this stronger both culturally and strategically. Those are some basic principles that we developed that have helped us navigate through the uncertainty of COVID.

Chris: Has your firm gone back to the office yet?

Pat: We are doing a very mild tier 2 approach where everybody’s encouraged to continue to work from home. We were able to do it seamlessly, not that there aren’t always some bumps. But if you would have told me six months ago that we’d all be working remotely, I would not have thought we would have been able to succeed the way we have. And so we remain very, very cautious and have a pretty rigorous protocol for when folks do come in. But for most of our markets, very few folks are coming in and typically folks are only coming in for a couple of hours at a time.

Pat’s Story

Chris: Let’s pivot to your story. Was it always your aspiration to be a lawyer?

Pat: I would say that crystallized when I was in college. I knew enough folks that were older than me who had gone to law school and enjoyed it, started to practice and tended to enjoy it. I thought I had a lot in common with those individuals. The idea was really not a thought prior to that. I didn’t have any lawyers in my family, and I didn’t really know any lawyers growing up. So, it was not until the later stages of college that I thought about law school.

Chris: I noticed the MBA degree as well. So, do you have a real fascination or appreciation for business?

Pat: They are dual passions, business, and enjoying the challenges of a legal practice. In terms of the preparation, the advocacy is something I’ve always had a passion for those pieces of the practice. But then having an equal passion for business, it’s fair to say are dual passions that I’ve had since the early days of my youth.

A Passion for Lifelong Learning

Chris: When you took the leadership role at Spencer Fane, you sought additional education at Harvard Business School. Would you share with us your thought process for why you did this?

Pat: It comes down to a passion for lifelong learning in order to be a really effective leader that is able to sustain a high-level performance in multiple roles and over a long period of time. To think that you’re done learning when you’re done with grad school or law school, or after a few years in a role is something I’ve not seen work with very many effective leaders. So stepping into this role, I knew I had to embrace both the privilege and the requirement of being a lifelong learner. The Harvard Business School Executive Education program is world-class. Being able to go there, each of the past several summers, and study with people all over the world has been so helpful. You study with business executives from literally all over the world, and the last one I went to had 75 countries represented. They had phenomenal faculty, leading the discussions that help you learn from other leaders, which is incredibly powerful. It gives you different frameworks to approach new problems. 

I have always thought, Chris, that the legal field or what I call the business of law has really been badly under-theorized. When you study other industries, there’s a set of frameworks and theories that can guide one’s thinking that have been empirically tested and studied. We’ve really missed those frameworks and those theories in the legal industry. Up until ‘08, demand just organically grew, and there was largely a monopoly. We didn’t really need to have as rigorous of business discipline in the industry, as we now need to and certainly will need to in the future. So going to a program like the Executive Education program, where you’re learning from world-class faculty, and from business leaders from throughout the world, equips one with different frameworks, different perspectives, and really different ways to approach traditional problems.

The Potential of Other People 

Chris: How do you define leadership?

Pat: Leadership is really about serving others so that they can live up to their potential. I’ve always thought one of the most tragic things we see play out day in and day out in our society is folks not living up to their talent or their potential. It is the leader’s solemn obligation, first and foremost, to create a situation where folks are empowered and developed, in order to live up to their potential.

Chris: Who has served as examples of leadership for you in your journey?

Pat: It actually dovetails with your last question, Chris. The person whose story I’ve been inspired by is someone I got to know when I was going up to those programs. Unfortunately, it’s somebody that we just lost earlier this year, Clayton Christensen. Professor Christensen was a professor at Harvard Business School. For decades prior to that, he was a business executive, and he wrote one of the most influential business books ever written. But what was more compelling to me than his epic book on business called Innovators Dilemma was a separate book he wrote called How Will You Measure Your Life. And so getting to know him in that program, being a voracious reader of everything he has written, and all the programs that he spoke at, and seeing both his excellence as a brilliant business mind, truly groundbreaking insights and research, but also seeing how he personified that as a teacher, as a parent, a spouse, and a member of the community, it’s hard not to be influenced by someone like that. That’s been a powerful reference that I’ve kept. In my mind, there have been countless others, both within Spencer Fane and in my family. But the thing that resonated with me when I first got to know Clayton, four years ago, was the true personification of world-class brilliance, but utter humility, which again goes back to the values that my colleagues have identified as core to this firm’s culture. And also, I think, the true north star of any effective leadership is about authenticity in humility.

The World’s Crisis for Leadership

Chris: This year has presented unique challenges related to COVID-19, and a very real, very relevant crisis of diversity and inclusion in our country, to put it lightly. Would you speak to the need for good leadership as a reality for what’s happening in our country and in the world right now?

Pat: It’s fair to say, wherever one sits in viewing the public health crisis, the economic crisis, the racial inequity crisis, and any number of other challenges that leadership has never been more important without being too provocative or controversial. Wherever one sits on a political spectrum or wherever one sits as an observer, there is, unfortunately, a truly epic need for great thoughtful leadership. And at the same time, there is a dearth of leadership, as we’ve gotten more polarized on virtually every issue, as a country, and really, even as a world. There is then insufficient leadership where folks can come together, with different philosophies or different views at solving these once in a lifetime type challenges. And I continue to see an asymmetry between the need that we have for leadership, and the kind of leadership we’re seeing in all aspects of our society.

Chris: Where do you see hope right now or glimmers of potential solutions to the gap of leadership?

Pat: Where I see hope, Chris, is that as a country and as a world we’re going to have a different paradigm on leadership. The things that people have traditionally viewed as important to leadership are going to be devalued. And the types of things we’ve been talking about in terms of servant leadership, truly viewing yourself as the servant for the larger good, and not about individual resume building or individual achievement will take hold. We will be rigorous in making sure that leaders of organizations and those in public leadership are in it for the right reasons. And it becomes incumbent upon individuals who would typically say, “Why would I want to expose me or my family to that?” We need to be more skeptical of those views because I think that’s the paradox we’ve gotten into. The very people who would be the most effective leaders, and I’m talking about at any level, within any organization, private or public, as I think recently, have been very cautious, and negative about pursuing leadership. That’s created this void that I think we’re suffering from right now at almost every level.

Family Life & Practicing Gratitude

Chris: Let’s transition to more personal content. I understand you have four kids, correct?

Pat: Yes, I’ve got a recent college graduate who’s navigating COVID in his own way, a college student, and two in high school, and everybody is home now.

One of them is out and about, and the other three of them are at home. So, we are staying healthy and practicing a lot of gratitude. Because the fact that we’ve stayed healthy and have been able to have this time together is a place that we can focus on the positive and fill our heads with gratitude instead of despair, which is easy to do in times of crisis.

Chris: Are you guys going to get away this summer?

Pat: We were planning on traveling abroad at this time because we’ve never traveled as a family abroad. With my son’s college graduation, and my wife and I celebrating our 25th anniversary, we thought this would be a perfect time to go on a lengthy international trip. I was actually going to meet the other five in Europe this week. Obviously, that got scrapped, so we are going to keep our powder dry. We don’t have any travel plans in store, but hopefully, after we get a vaccine and herd immunity develops we’ll be able to take this trip. If not next summer, the summer thereafter.

Book Recommendations on Leadership

Chris: I know you’re a passionate reader, please share some recommended books for my listeners.

Pat: Yeah, I’ll share some on leadership since that’s a lot of what we’ve talked about today, and it’s where I spend most of my time reading. I mentioned the two books from Clayton Christensen, How Will You Measure Your Life? which is a great cautionary tale for lawyers and law firm leaders because we generally are wired to be high achievers. He does a magnificent job of cautioning folks, that when you make that daily decision to always pursue achievement, you can look up with some significant regret 20 years down the road. So, I would recommend that for every professional. Nancy Koehn, another HBS professor, has an incredibly timely book that she wrote a couple of years ago called Forged in Crisis. She profiles some epic leaders, from Lincoln to Frederick Douglass and others. I highly recommend that book. I’m a big fan of the book, The Mindset, that’s written by Carol Dweck, who’s a professor at Stanford. Bill George, a former Medtronic CEO, has a book called True North about authentic leadership that is fantastic. And then somebody who’s taken on a lot of popularity in the last year or so is Brene Brown. She has a book that’s just fabulous called Dare to Lead. Those would be ones that I can confidently say won’t disappoint any professional or leader who’s interested in leadership, leadership in crisis, and just making sure you stay on track as a professional.

Pat’s System when Reading 

Chris: Pat, how do you typically digest the content? Are you a Kindle reader or do you prefer paper?

Pat: It’s pretty geeky. What I’ll do is I will read on my Kindle, and for those listeners who do that, you know, you have a highlighting function and can make your own notebook. So, I’ll create those notebooks for each book I read, and print those out. Then, to be able to distill it at another level, I’ll take the printed notebook, which is the highlights from the book, and I’ll put that in a separate notebook of other similar content. So it’ll be distilled down many levels, because if you just read a book, the likelihood that a reader is really going to digest that, and truly apply it in just one reading is pretty remote. That’s why I go through that process, starting with the Kindle, and then working through my own personal notebook.

Superpower vs. Kryptonite

Chris: The last question, and it’s two parts. First question, what is your superpower?

Pat: It’s gonna be the ultimate paradox, Chris, but brag. That’s something we’ve talked about internally. How can you promote one’s humility or be intentional about humility? And again, I know there’s a lot of irony and a bit of a paradox there if I were to ever call it a superpower. But I guess what it allows is knowing that we all have dramatic limitations and blind spots, and that’s probably the superpower. Knowing that there’s a lot that you don’t know you don’t know is about as powerful an attribute as one can have. Because then you’re committed to humility and lifelong learning and treating others with the same type of mercy and respect that you would want of a loved one.

Chris: And the second question in tandem, is what is your kryptonite?

Pat: I think the counterpart of humility. My kryptonite is something that we’re probably all vulnerable to, the exact opposite of humility which is hypocrisy. If you’re espousing a value and demanding something of somebody that you yourself are coming nowhere close to personifying, that exhibits kryptonite. That’s the very worst type of behavior attribute. For superpower and kryptonite, I’d go with humility and hypocrisy. Hopefully, I displayed more humility than hypocrisy. But we’re all likely to go down the road of hypocrisy way more than we should.

Chris: It’s been an honor and a pleasure. Thank you for your time today.

Pat: I really enjoyed it, Chris. Thank you.

Thank you to everyone who listened to this episode of The Law Firm Leadership Podcast.

***To Download the PDF Transcript, click here*** 

We Want Your Feedback!

Click Here to share ideas on who to interview and what topics interest you for future episodes.