The Community Club

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Shale

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The core task of innovation: relationships

I spent last week sitting in on the Clio Conference. In 3 days, I felt a surplus of inspiration from legal innovators, lawyers, non-lawyers, justice seekers, book authors, business CEOs, and more. When choosing which courses to sit in on and which to opt out of, I noticed a common trend. To name a few, the sessions I sat in focused on next-generation leadership, forward thinking, growth through adversity, creating mission-driven firms, and exploring the science of success.

The theme of all these? I see community at the forefront. The core of it all: people inspiring one another, people helping one another, and people growing with/ alongside one another.

I asked myself to return to the foundation of what brought me here. To this industry, sitting in these sessions, with world-changers and passion-invokers. When thinking about growth, mission, purpose, success, leadership – what comes to mind are the people leading the charges. I think about the individuals who decided to share their idea and collaborate with the encouragers as well as the challengers.

I think about how it took one thought leader to sit in a room with their peers and colleagues and say, ‘I don’t see this working. What if we tried this instead?’ Behind them, a group of hands pushing their rock up the mountain. Behind these ideas, I envision countless communities coming alongside one another, and, the bi-product of bravery from person to speak up and look at things differently, a whole room of inspired individuals now more likely to innovate alongside them.

Angela Duckworth put it perfectly when she wrapped up her talk on grit by saying, “Be the person who doesn’t let the people you love quit on a bad day. Help cultivate grit in others too.” Our job is to not only do our jobs well, but to pull those around us up as well – to be the hands that keep reaching. Grit, passion, innovation, when paired with a community of dreamers and helpers, is an unstoppable train.

Brian Cuban also had many touch points on this thought, but my favorite had to be, “How do you empower people? By giving them a voice.” How does an industry crawl to the top of the ladder? By rallying and empowering the top employees, filled to the brim with ideas and passion, then giving them the freedom to try and fail and picked back up by the hands of their colleagues. The dreamers and the failers, quite frankly, are the people I want to be stuck in an office with. You can only get the wrong outcome so many times before the breakthrough happens. If you’re passionate enough to fail, in a space where hands are readily there to pull you back up, you cannot not succeed.

Or Bryan Parker, when he states, “When we are making these [diversity and inclusion] changes, it can’t be the old top-down leadership, we need to engage the groups that we are trying to benefit.” If we are not engaging, there will be no movement. The old hierarchy of seniority has to be done away with, and we need to start engaging each other from the start of an idea or process until we see it through. Until completion.

Take a look at Ben Crump’s hour-long session as well, he couldn’t emphasize the importance of advocating for people of color, for the children, for the oppressed – capitalizing on the idea and belief that only when we learn to rally and fight together, make changes together, then we will see sustainable movements succeed. One thing I wrote down from his speech was, “If we [lawyers] don’t stand in the gap for them [children of color], who will stand in the gap for them?” It’s not only our job and responsibility, it’s our calling and utmost obligation.

All of these speakers understood the same catalyst for momentum and lasting change: we need to be the hands that support and we need to surround ourselves with the hands that support.

Jack Newton sums it up elegantly when, in his keynote speech, he left us with this: “ClioCon is a community, not a place.” This industry, these leaders, this tsunami of innovation, it’s a community, not just a career.

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