The Mentorist


A Legend in His Own Mind: How to Write a Self-Appraisal

Apparently, I’d hired Alexander the Great.

Working incognito as one of my staff lawyers, he’d chosen to write a self-appraisal that would blow his cover:  This guy was God’s gift to men (and, to the extent they touched his career, women).

His delusions of grandeur annoyed me.  Big time.

More importantly, I wondered how someone so far down on the self-awareness scale could ever hope to overcome (or, at minimum, work around) his weaknesses.

Shrinks have been telling us for years that acknowledging the need for change is the first step toward getting there.  Applying that notion to the business world, you realize why people who present themselves as perfect tend to have bumpy trips to the top (if they don’t stall out from the get-go). Continue reading

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In-House Lowdown: Proving Your Worth When the Waters Are Calm

‘In-House Lowdown’ is a series of blog posts designed to help lawyers navigate the in-house world.  Its observations are based on my 20+ years as a General Counsel, spent managing legal teams and herding assorted breeds of corporate cats.

I miss Dan Quayle.

His loopy pronouncements meant anyone could write good stand-up comedy.  Better yet, a Quayle quote could so perfectly nail a work frustration of mine that I simply had to step back, laugh and gain some needed perspective.

A case in point:  One of the most difficult political aspects of being an in-house lawyer, I’ve found, is figuring out how to get credit from your business people for legal fiascos that didn’t happen on your watch. Continue reading


May We Have a Little Mood Lighting Here? What to Do When the Salary Question Comes Too Soon

‘Hiring someone is essentially a romantic process, in which the job interview functions as a desexualized version of a date’ –- or so Malcolm Gladwell wrote, not that long ago.

Ah, I remember those days.  First interviews — while, on the surface, spent discussing the interviewee’s qualifications for the job at hand -– were about figuring out whether the ‘chemistry’ was right.  The other ‘c’ word –- ‘compensation’ –- never came up.

No more.  Today it’s typical for job candidates to be asked upfront, ‘What salary do you expect to make?’

Good-bye, first date.  Hello, arranged marriage. Continue reading