In today’s episode, Jim and Tyson chat with one another on this solo co-host episode! They dive into the mega benefit and detriment of owning your law firm. If you’re finding yourself in a place where unfettered freedom needs to become more fettered, check out this week’s episode.
3:13 EOS test
6:35 structure and attach
9:10 sitting in things
12:19 small firm owner
15:25 get the work done
19:36 formulate your package
Jim’s Hack: The real value of getting together with others at something like our mastermind is the conversations you have, including one that took place with Elise Buie, who runs her law firm remotely, with the subject being about culture and gift-giving. Remember to be generous and love on your team.
Tyson’s Tip: If you don’t always have everything planned out for your trips, check out the TripIt app. If you’re looking for a more organized trip the next time you travel, get the app, it’s free.
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Transcript: The Freedom To Do Whatever You Want In Your Law Firm w/ Jim Hacking and Tyson Mutrux
Jim: Welcome back to The Maximum Lawyer Podcast. I’m Jim Hacking.
Tyson: And I’m Tyson Mutrux. You sound a little different today. But what’s up, Jimmy?
Jim: I’m just thinking. I’m just thinking. Noor said, “What are you doing over there?”, when I was getting ready to leave this morning, and I said, “I’m thinking.”
Tyson: Yeah, it’s funny. I was talking to Amy earlier and she was like– it’s her birthday, by the way. I was talking to her. She was not comprehending anything I was saying. I was like, “Man, you’re stuck in the clouds.” She’s like– you know, it’s just like words. It was just words just going over her because she was in the middle of a thought, so the–
Yeah, that’s good. Thinking. Stopping to think is a good thing.
Jim: For sure. For sure.
We are here today, hot on the heels of our recent mastermind, and we’re talking about some of the things that we learned, some of the things that we’ve observed. And I think we’ve come up with a topic for today which is going to make a great episode.
Tyson: Yeah. I do, too. And it’s a position that everybody, listening to this podcast is– they face, they confront.
You want me to give the topic or do you want to introduce the topic?
Jim: Either way.
Tyson: It’s the mega benefit of owning your firm is that you have unfettered freedom and can do whatever you want. And the curse of owning your law firm is that you have unfettered freedom and can do whatever you want. That was your topic. It’s a good idea. I like it.
Jim: I mean, it was really interesting. You know, we were together with 34 other law firm owners. And, you know, I say all the time, you know, like when a new child enters the family, it changes the dynamic. When a new organism enters an environment, it changes the dynamic Well, at this particular mastermind, my law partner, and wife, and integrator, came to the mastermind. And in seeing it through her eyes, I saw things that I don’t normally see in that usually, when we’re all together, most of our law firm owners, in Maximum Lawyer and in the Guild, are visionaries and they’re sort of higher quick starts, maybe many have sort of someone diagnosed or diagnosed ADHD. We’re sort of idea generators and generally excited about things.
Amany, being an integrator, is a one quickstart. And she’s much more about implementing ideas. And her go‑to to implementing ideas are to cut them down in half and like saying no to most things. So, it was interesting because having her there, when I then listened in my group, and at lunch, and at the dinner the night before, was that a lot of our members aren’t lucky enough as I am to have someone like Amany to tell me no, right? And it was really when she came to the firm, and was able to tell me no, and that my unfettered freedom became a little more fettered, that we really started taking off. So, that’s sort of the genesis of where today’s topic comes from.
Tyson: It’s funny. I took that test, that EOS test, and it was– I was really high on both. I was 90‑something on one and 88 on the other one. So, I was like 92 and 88 or something like that. They were very high scores. And this was kind of weird to me. So, I kind of– I’m one of those people that’s like kind of falls in both categories. It’s kind of weird but–
Jim: I completely believe that about you because, Amany and I, we’re actually struggling to figure out which you were. And, you know, according to Gino Wickman, only 5% are both visionary and implementer or integrator and most people just say it as an excuse to not go find the other kind of person that they’re not. But with you, in particular, I know that you have very much visionary tendencies, that you’ve obviously grown your firm, and you have big goals. And I see the visionary in you every day. But it’s very easy to see between you and me that you’re much higher on the integrator than I am, like I am–
Jim: –being a 10 quickstart, you know, half the time you and Becca are asking me to do something and I’m like, “Yeah, whatever.” I didn’t even know what you’re talking about.
Tyson: Half the time, you don’t remember what we’re talking about. It’s like, “I don’t remember talking about that.” So–
Yeah, where are you on the scale when it comes to the integrator?
Jim: I was 48.
Tyson: Yeah. So, you’re really low.
I’ve got to say it’s kind of a curse to be both. It really is because it’s– I would love to be able to say I’m one or the other but it’s having your feet in both buckets. It’s like having your feet in buckets and trying to walk around sometimes because it’s not easy.
Jim: Well, that begs an interesting question. And the interesting question is, just because you have both high tendencies, does that mean you shouldn’t still go out and find an integrator? I would love to know what Gino says about that.
Tyson: That is a good question. Just my initial impression is, “Yeah, you should still go out and get.” I mean, that was– whenever Ryan Anderson spoke at MaxLawCon, I was– and I’m doing– I’m going to do this. I saw that. I was like, “You know what? We’re going to go hire an integrator.” Like, that’s what we’re going to do. I completely think that that’s what we should do.
But I want to get back to the topic a little bit. Because I think that when people start their law firms, they are really– they latch on to the freedom part of it, right? Like the mega benefits. Like you can do whatever you want. You could sit on your couch, in your office, and later– or just sleep all day, if you wanted to, but you really could, if it’s what you want to do.
But the most successful people, the Paul Yokabitus’s of the world, they go and they– they understand the risks of it, and they go in with an agenda every morning, and they go and attack. And I think that those are the ones that are the most successful. They know exactly what they should be doing every single day.
And most people do. Most people know what they should be doing every day. The difference, to me, is that they don’t stick to it. They don’t do it. They go into the office and they do everything but the things they’re supposed to be doing.
And I like using Paul Yokabitus because he is– we’ve kind of talked about this before. He is laser focused. I mean, that guy is a maniac and I love it. Like, he knows exactly what to do, he does it, and he doesn’t care, right? I just love it. It’s great.
So, I think we need more of that in our lives. And I think I would probably call it structure. You don’t like structure. But I think, if you have that structure, you put it in place and then attack, I think you’ll be in a much better place.
Jim: Well, I do think that, you know, over the course of time, we’ve seen some pretty wacky behavior by some law firm owners. You’ll recall the famous example of someone who spent the first part of COVID writing a screenplay. We’ve seen people– you know, everyone tells us how hard they’re working but then, at other times, we see that they’re sort of unfocused and undisciplined.
And, you know, one of the great things that my therapist/counselor sort of taught me is that it’s okay to have paradoxes. Like, you could say, “Oh, boy, it’s so great. I have my own firm.” And it’s just great. Everything’s great. Or there’s other people who would say, “Boy, owning my own firm, that was a bad mistake. This is terrible. Why did I ever do this?” But both can be true. And that’s why I framed it in the form of an and not a but. It’s both are true.
And you know, you’re right. I generally rebel against structure, but I’ve really come to see the value. And what I view it as, more now, are bumpers, right? Like bumpers, like to keep me in the– like, when we go bumper bowling with the kids. Like, it keeps me in the lane and not too far afield. And I need some people that are high fact finder’s or high follow through’s to help me not bounce three lanes over in the bowling alley like I very well could.
Tyson: What is that phrase, in Built to Last, that Jim Collins used? It’s something of the and. And I can’t remember what word he uses. But he talks about really embracing and – not or. So, I do think you’re right. Like embracing that and.
And whether it’s politics, whether it’s food, whether it’s sports, we always want to say or, right? But there can be and. Both can be true. And we do forget that sometimes. That’s for sure. I do think what you’re saying is 100% on point.
Jim: Yeah. I mean, I think we tend to be people of extremes. And so, something’s either the best or the worst. I mean, I know that, for the first 30 years of my life, I talked in that kind of a language a lot. So, sitting in paradox and living in the gray area can be a little bit unsettling, right? And so, it’s harder.
Tyson: Let me ask you something. What changed about you? Because I will say, whenever I first met you, 11 years ago – 12 years ago, you were very, “This is how it is. It’s black and white.” And something, over the last few years, has changed in a good way. You’ve been way less rigid, way more flexible about how things go. So, what exploration did you do to make that happen?
Jim: Well, my therapist and my business coach are both Buddhists. And we’ve spent a lot of time just sort of sitting in things. Just like when an emotion comes up or when an event comes up, just sort of sitting with that and trying to figure out what that’s doing internally. And, in doing that, I’ve seen that, like things can really be sucky and things can really be– you can find things that are good inside the suck.
So, like, when my dad died, obviously, I was sad. I was– you know, those are sort of extreme emotions. But I was also, you know, looking around me all the time for things to be grateful for. I was grateful for his friends who came to the wake. I was grateful for the time that we had with him. So, I just think it’s been a lot of work. And also, just sort of giggling at the absurdity of everything, right? Like I thought I knew everything. And I thought I was always right.
And even in the history of my law firm I’ve been kicked on my ass. I’ve had to, you know, drain my 401k. I don’t know everything. And I’m going to write a blog post this morning and send it out on our email list about dumb mistakes that I make, you know? I mean, it’s all okay.
And I think that that’s one of the great things about The Guild and about the mastermind, in particular, is that– you know, we say this all the time, that owning a law firm can be very isolating but nobody really understands the pressures that you’re under except fellow law firm owners, especially those operating at a high level. And that just being together with each other, you know, you get to see the absurdity of things and sort of life is too complex to cut it down to black or white.
Tyson: Yeah. I, 100%, agree.
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Tyson: So, you said something about– basically, you and I have always taken the position like we’re not experts, right? We’ve always said that, from the very first episodes, we’re not experts. We’re just two people running law firms. That’s what we are. And you mentioned/hinted at that, whenever you’re just talking.
And one of the risks when you’re talking about, when you have all this freedom, sometimes someone will come along, like they’ll pretend to be an expert on something and everything’s black and white. And I do think because we have so much freedom in our firms, like if you were a part of the big corporation, you wouldn’t just latch on to that individual. But because we run these smaller firms and because we have unfettered freedom, I think sometimes we tend to change everything that we’re doing and follow a person. You know what I mean? Like there is that real risk of doing that. And we’ve seen a lot of that where like someone will come along – they’ll come and go. A lot of people come and go. They’re an expert. And the next thing you know, they’re just– you know, it’s a complete, you know, scam or whatever it might be.
So, there is a risk of that. And so, you have to be careful with decision making when it comes to being a small firm owner. You really do because what you decide could completely change the course of your firm – will completely change the course of your firm. So, you have to be really careful with the decisions you make, right? Like you can’t just go willy‑nilly all over the place. I mean, you really have to be calculated. You’ve got to make sure you know what your vision is and make sure you put things in place to get you towards that vision and not just change course on a dime.
Jim: Getting back to that first point you made about us not holding ourselves out as experts. You know, I was listening to podcast the other day. I don’t remember who it was. It might’ve been John Irving. It might have been Jon Acuff. But one of them said that they wrote the books that they needed for themselves, right?
And so, I thought about that. And this podcast– we created this podcast because we needed it ourselves. We wanted to have a space where we could talk about sort of the high’s and low’s of owning a law firm and we didn’t really feel like it was out there. We thought there was content. It was sort of spread out all over the place. And we thought there were cool things that people were doing but we sort of wanted to center all that in one place. And then, we started the Facebook group because we wanted to sort of find other like‑minded people. And then, when the Facebook group got too big and unwieldy with, you know, 5000‑whatever members there are, then we created The Guild because we wanted to get back to that sense of intimacy that we had. And then, we had the conference because we like to have parties, and we like to be with our friends, and we like to highlight the successes of the cool things that people are doing. That’s really the natural progression of what we’ve done.
So, yeah, we’re not experts but we’re doing what we need to do for ourselves. I mean, we benefit all the time. And as far as the second point that you made about sort of people holding themselves out as experts and, you know, how we sort of– and especially, Jim sort of jumps out and says, “This expert is great. I’m going to follow him.” And, you know, we had our David Neagle phase where we were all excited about David Neagle. And he’s great – still great but, you know, at the end of the day, listening to experts can be a crutch. And bouncing from thing to thing can keep us from doing the real work that we need to do.
And so, again, that’s getting back to bumpers and unfettered control is that, you know, sometimes a distraction is truly a distraction. And, you know, that’s why you have to get to your core values. You have to know what you want. You know, we spend a lot of time talking about this in Maximum Law in Minimum Time, especially in stage, sort of, two where people are trying to figure out, you know, “How do I get from stage two to stage three?” And that’s sort of where we get to our old favorite question of, “What do we want? What do we want?” And so–
Yeah. So, the good stuff.
So, I want to say something about what you just mentioned. I’m going to mention Paul Yokabitus again. He’s in my brain for some reason today. But if you compare him to Joe law firm owner, right? Joe law firm owner will go to take CLE, after CLE, and watch online course, after online course. But Paul Yokabitus, you know what? He does the work, right? He sits down and does the work. And that’s what– I think that’s what’s really cool. We can use those experts as crutches, like you’re talking about, and just not do the work. And, ultimately, what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to work on the business and get the work done. So, don’t use those things as crutches. Get the work done.
Jim: Yeah. I think Gary Vaynerchuk calls it entrepreneurial. Like, it’s like– or like– or entrepreneurial junk food, right? It’s like you sort of are playing the game and you say, “Oh, I’m really doing something. I’m listening to Jim and Tyson. Or, I’m really doing something. I’m taking another course.” Right? And that’s really just to keep you from having to do the work.
Now, at the mastermind. We did hear from lots of people who are working real hard. And then, that gets to, you know, “Am I working hard on the right things?” That’s sort of the next thing, is that, “Am I working hard on the correct things?”
Tyson: Really good point, it really is, because there are people that are putting in the work and they’re still struggling. For sure. No question.
The mastermind was so cool. I don’t think that there was one person in my group that had the same topic. I think every single– and that’s not common. You know, I’ve been to masterminds before where you see like five people out of 12 have the exact same topic pretty much. Really, it’s closely related. It was– I’d say that every single person, out of the 12, in my group, different topic.
It was so cool. On one person, we got three things resolved. I was like, “Okay. We solved that problem. Now, let’s move on to the next thing.” It was great. So, I had a lot of fun. It was such a good group.
Jim: Well, I remember, back in the day, when we first started talking about doing this, you know. And I think there’s always a debate, within masterminds, of “Do you want to have, you know, people at the same growth level in the same groups or do you want to mix it up?” And so, my group, I would say, is generally, you know, maybe three‑ or four‑employee firms. And most of the people are, you know, an attorney and a couple of VAs. And I know you had Brian in your group. And, you know, he comes from a big firm. And, I think, one of the great things is being able to just hear from different people because you, know, you can always learn something from anybody, even if it’s just listening to their struggle and saying to yourself, “Well, I’m glad I don’t have that anymore. Or, I’m doing that exact same thing,” right? And that doesn’t matter on the size of the firm. It’s much more about the mindset.
Tyson: Yeah. I remember the first mastermind I’ve ever been to in my entire life was John Fisher’s mastermind. And you had multimillion‑dollar attorneys in the same room with me and Mike Campbell, you know. Like, it was– I had no employees at the time. Maybe, I had one employee at the time. But it was basically just me and one other employee. And then, Mike Campbell, I think it was just him. But you had like– I think it was Michael McCready. You had Harlan, John Fisher.
Jim: Craig? Seth.
Tyson: Yeah, Craig. Seth was in there. I mean, it was you’re talking about like some really big hitters that were there. Oh, Bill Umansky was in that group. So, you had a lot of big hitters. But I thought it was obviously great for me. But I also think that they got some good pointers from me and Mike, like smaller firms because sometimes you do have to be reminded that sometimes it’s better to be small, like to think small and not be small necessarily, but think small. So, I do think that– and we were the youngest people in the room. So, I think that that also helped. We were talking– or I was talking a lot about automation and that’s something that those firms really weren’t talking much about. It was great though. That was–
So, I do think that having a mix is probably better. But I also see the value in sometimes doing only being with, you know, in whatever class you’re in.
Jim: Yeah, for sure.
And so, in our group, when I talked about my topic, it’s sort of working with our associates and sort of developing an associate training program. And so, with that group, you know, a lot of them had worked for firms before, some big, some small. And just hearing their feedback about when they were associates was exactly what I needed to hear for what Amany and I are working on, as we sort of now have a supervising attorney between us and the front team associates doing the actual legal work. So, you know, if you’re creative enough, and open enough, and receptive enough, you can really learn something anywhere.
Tyson: I wish I was in your group because we want to do an intern program that we hope would lead to associates. So, I think that it’s very similar. I think I can learn from that.
My topic was about– it was a perfect room to do it. It was about– because we’re expanding. You know, our BHAG is to be in every State by 2032. And I basically want to say I was asking them, “What are you looking for? Like what package, what benefits are you looking for if I were to come to you and say, “Hey, I want to partner with you in a State.” And it was great to get that feedback so that we could formulate our package so that, when we go into the States, we offer them something as a partner and not as, you know, we’re going to come into your market as competitors. So, it was great. It was great for me.
All right. Before we wrap, I want to remind everyone to go to the large Facebook group, if you’re not already in there. A lot of great information every single day. I highly recommend it. And if you want a more high level conversation, join us in The Guild at maxlawguild.com. Remember to get your tickets to the conference. Go to MaxLawCon2022. Also, if you’re in The Guild and you want to join us for the Atlanta Mastermind, those tickets are on sale so make sure you get those.
All right. Jimmy, what’s your hack of the week?
Jim: As is so often the case, sometimes the real value of getting together with other people at something like a mastermind are the conversations that you have, around the dinner table, the snack bar, or wherever – the gym. I was lucky enough to sit with Elise Buie at the party we had the night before the mastermind and one of the things that she talked about is, as a law firm owner that is entirely remote, the whole team is remote.
She spends a lot of time talking about culture and working on culture. But mostly, the main takeaway I had was that she gives lots of gifts. Like, she’s always thinking about things to give to her team to sort of build the camaraderie, build the loyalty, build the connections, and to be generous, right? And so, just remember to love on your team. Think about the things that are important to them, the things that make them happy or bring them joy.
It was great because we went shopping in Scottsdale the day after and I found this huge illustrated Alice in Wonderland book which is a Adela’s favorite book. It’s The Annotated Alice. Noor and I wrapped it last night. And I’m going to go give it to her as soon as this podcast is over.
Tyson: I like that. I’ve got to tell you this interesting story. It is about gift giving. About three weeks ago– we have a fairly new case manager and we had this person that we’ve not been able to serve. His name is– I think it’s Jesus Sanchez. There’s a lot of Jesus Sanchez’s in the country.
Tyson: And so, he’s been really, really hard to find. And he’s a no bat. So, it’s been very, very difficult.
Well, I was explaining it’s kind of like a geode, right? Do you know what a geode is?
Tyson: Okay. So, there’s a thing of like, you go geode hunting, right? And you go and you find these rocks. And you chip away, you chip away, you chip away, you chip away at it. And sometimes it breaks open, there’s nothing in it. But sometimes, magically, what happens is you keep chipping away, it opens up and there’s a bunch of beautiful crystals inside.
And that’s kind of what it’s like whenever you’re trying to find someone, right? Sometimes, you keep chipping. You open it up. It’s just a rock. Sometimes, though, it takes some time, it takes some chipping, but you eventually get it and you get the crystals, right?
So, we were at the airport and we were just– we’re like one of those, whatever those shops are– this is a TripAdvisor shop. And over the corner were these $5 each little bitty geodes. And so, I bought one of those geocodes for each of our case managers so that– just– it’s like a little thing they can put on their desk, so. Anyways, that was kind of fun. But that’s not my tip.
My tip is–
Jim: I was just going to say it’s ironic that you brought up geodes because, when I think about geodes, I think about Hank from Walter White and he’s just about to buy the farm. I’ve got three episodes left, watching it the second time. And, man, I feel bad for old Hank.
Tyson: Oh, me too. I mean, everyone loves Hank.
Jim: I love Hank.
Tyson: Hank was so great.
So, if you’ve not seen Breaking Bad, sorry. I just re‑watched it. And Jim’s re‑watching it, so. I started re‑watching it after Jim started re‑watching it.
Jim: I’m just getting ready for Saul. You know, I’m just excited about Saul, so I am going to write it. I’m going to watch El Camino which I’ve never watched. And then., I’m going to do Saul.
Tyson: Oh, nice. So, you’re doing the whole thing. I like it.
My tip of the week is– so, I don’t know about you, Jim, but like whenever I go on like vacations or other trips, what I hate doing is if I get to the place and I don’t really have everything planned out so I’m kind of sitting around thinking like, “What the hell am I going to do next?” kind of thing. I downloaded this app called TripIt and I had an agenda for our entire trip from New Orleans to– so, from Columbia to New Orleans, New Orleans to Scottsdale. Then, Scottsdale home. I completely mapped out dinners and everything. And it was really cool because it includes the addresses and everything else and it links to those websites. It pulls in the information. So, it was nice having a little agenda like okay. Amy’s like, “What are we doing next?” Okay. I went to my app and had it all right there for me.
So, I mean, if you travel a lot or if you don’t travel a lot and you want to have a more organized trip, I recommend it. Tripit. It’s free. So, check it out.
All right, Jimbo. That was fun.
Jim: Awesome, bud.
Tyson: And we came in just at time. Look at that. Perfect.
Tyson: Nicely done.
All right. See you, buddy. Have a great day.