Blogging (even a wee bit) may help curb your technology fears.

Blogging (even a wee bit) may help curb your technology fears.

We’re midway through November, and I thought I’d share my wish (early New Year’s resolution?) regarding courage and technology.

That’s what I wrote about in the November Arizona Attorney Magazine, and I’ve posted my column below.

You can read the whole terrific issue here.

Someone—or someTHING—at ASU knows my name.

That was my somewhat disconcerting realization as I strolled through the new ASU Beus Center for Law and Society last month. Besides being filled with real, live humans, the building also has impressively sized screens scattered throughout, which offer information—often personalized for those who downloaded a free app.

Seeing your name appear on a screen as you approach falls somewhere on the creepy scale, let’s admit. My first impression was like something out of Blade Runner—Siri with bad attitude. But I had to admit that the ’tude was all mine. In fact, I came to be charmed by the devices, created by New York-based interactive design firm Unified Field.

Remember how odd GPS seemed, and now we can’t live without it? These screens are like that, HAL minus the antisocial personality.

Tomas Rossant, Ennead Architects, and Tom Williams, ASU, demonstrate an interactive screen in the ASU Beus Center for Law & Society, Aug. 10, 2016.

Tomas Rossant, Ennead Architects, and Tom Williams, ASU, demonstrate an interactive screen in the ASU Beus Center for Law & Society, Aug. 10, 2016.

Those screens are one of the things I spoke about at the California Bar Leaders Conference in September. Tasked with discussing communications beyond 2016, I also mentioned wearable technology, cloud services, Big Data, and more. I even snuck in a suggestion to get blogging.

Ultimately, though, I said that what I was really discussing was not tools, great as they can be, but a futurist outlook. Not video options, but experimentation. Not social media, but fearlessness. To convey my point, I shared more than a few photos.

One photo I snapped at Chicago’s Midway Airport. A narrow hallway, more of an alley, could easily be missed in the blink of an eye. The 40-foot dead-end meandered off the concourse, and what it held was an archaeological dig, of sorts—the airport’s land-line phones, a bank of telephone directories, and newspaper dispensers, for good measure.

The alley’s sole occupant sat at a telephone. Based on attire and brief-bag, I’m guessing he was an attorney—the only one who would partake of the mausoleum of ancient technologies. Is anyone surprised?

Advanced thinking is not what draws you into Midway Airport's Mausoleum of Ancient Technologies.

Advanced thinking is not what draws you into Midway Airport’s Mausoleum of Ancient Technologies.

Another photo I shared was snapped by my older daughter Willa when she was 3 or 4. She was so pleased by that picture of me—though she did cut my head off.

Both photos enliven the futurist impulse and remind me of technology advice from UC-Berkeley professor Richard Hernandez: Start even if you feel you’re not ready. And when it comes to cutting off heads in photos—and tech generally—the imperfect but genuine trumps the perfect but robotic—every time. Let’s get fearless.

A sans-head portrait of me by my daughter, circa 1999.

A sans-head portrait of me by my daughter, circa 1999.

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lawyer fear aba journal

Managing fear is simply part of a person’s life, experts say.

As we enter the most joyous—and most pressure-filled—time of the year, I hear from a lot of attorneys that their stress levels are reaching peak levels. As the end of the calendar year races toward us, so do obligations and deadlines, professional and personal.

To help counter that, today I share an ABA Journal article titled “How Lawyers Can Turn Fear Into an Ally.”

The piece by Kevin Davis includes these eye-opening sentences:

“Lawyers often are imprisoned by fear. They’re fearful that their cases are out of control. They’re fearful of looking foolish. They’re fearful of negotiating. They’re fearful of appearing weak. Even continuing legal education courses can contribute by making lawyers fear that they are not up to date on current practices or wary of the myriad number of things that can go wrong.”

Among the resources cited by Davis is a piece by John Lande titled “Escaping from Lawyers’ Prison of Fear.” It’s worth a look.

I previously shared a guest post by John, who is a law professor emeritus at the University of Missouri School of Law.

John Lande

John Lande

Here’s hoping these resources, and others, can keep the holiday fears at bay.

On Wednesday, I was asked to present next week on the topic of public speaking. Because I am foolish and enjoy getting out of the office, I said yes.

Upon reflection, however, it occurs to me that I could use your help. But first, some background on this Change of Venue Friday.

The group I will address next Tuesday will be comprised of high school students. So right off the bat, you know that they will be attentive to the musings of a middle-aged magazine editor. (Here’s hoping they even know what print publications are.)

I have some confidence about my audience, though, having had the chance to meet their cohorts last year in something called the Asian LEAD Academy, hosted by ASU. You can read more about the program here.

And last July, I wrote about the group’s work putting on a mock trial at the Phoenix Municipal Court. They were terrific.

So I suspect these will be great kids. But delivering an hour-long program on public speaking? Hmmm.

Public speaking is one of those things I’ve done a lot, but never taught about. But maybe I can draw on some experience I had this past month. In early April, I was tapped to emcee a portion of a nonprofit organization’s annual banquet. That portion was actually a talent competition. The five participants were incredibly talented, and my job was to keep things moving and to encourage the audience to contribute (a lot of) money to the envelopes on their tables.

Opera has seen better days.

Somewhere in the days leading up to event, I came upon the foolhardy idea of including a goofy get-up in every one of my “bits” between the acts. I figured that I had to keep the audience engaged and reaching for their wallets. And what can be better after a world-class opera piece than me in a Brunhilde helmet? (Well, quite a bit, probably, but walk a mile in my shoes.)

John Travolta is retaining counsel as we speak.

So that was fun, and raised a lot of money for the nonprofit group. But that still leaves my list of public-speaking suggestions pretty Spartan. Tools, man, I need tools to recommend.

I would appreciate your thoughts:

  • What is your strongest piece of advice for someone who is hesitant to speak in front of a group?
  • What was your biggest obstacle to public speaking, and how did you overcome it?
  • What is your worst public speaking disaster story? And were you able to right that capsizing ship, or to learn something from the experience?

Thanks! I will report back on the lessons I shared with the high school group—and the lessons they inevitably will teach me.