The Business of Creativity

Houchin Consulting PLLC

The No-Plan Plan

Posted on | April 10, 2011 | No Comments

I decided to go into this year without a plan—goals yes, plan no. We’re a few months in, so it’s time to take a look at how this is working out.

There have been some major accomplishments including:

1. Completing the manuscript for my next book: The Secrets of Creative Leadership.

I’ve been working on this book for several years. I was frustrated because my understanding and thoughts kept evolving far faster than I could write and re-write. Finally, I had the break-through thought of shifting it from a focus on entrepreneurial business to a more inclusive approach to leadership (which is really what the book has been about the whole time). Then I took a day off during spring break and focused to get the whole manuscript ready to share.

I had not realized that some of my general frustration and discontent with something I couldn’t identify had to do with wanting to get that project finished to make room for the other things I wanted to do. I’m usually pretty good at finishing projects (even though I have a lot of projects going at once), so it shouldn’t have surprised me so much to be so relieved when I finished the manuscript. A project that stood in “open” mode for over 3 years is stressful. While it’s still not “finished” (which it will be when it’s published and on the shelves), we’re on the down-hill side of the project now.  I know it WILL be shared with the people who are interested, it’s not just sitting in my drawer waiting to be completed anymore.

That feels good.  It was a major goal, but I didn’t have a plan for when it would be finished this year. Each of the 3 years prior had me planning to finish the book, then failing to implement my own plans. This is one instance where it appears surrendering my plan actually helped accomplish my goal.

Let me know if you’re interested in reading the manuscript and perhaps providing a quote or publishing a full review.

2. Mediation Training

I’ve been wanting to move into mediation for a long time because I’m good at helping people reach agreements in order to avoid conflict in the first place, and to resolve conflict after it’s come up. I find myself coaching people in negotiation strategies almost daily. I also do a lot of multi-owner business start-ups where I find myself being “the lawyer for the deal” which is really a perfect example of using mediation techniques to minimize the potential for serious conflict before it has a chance to ignite.

I’m working right now to craft service offerings using these mediation skills in a few different categories:

  • Negotiation Skills Presentations
  • Negotiation Skills Training
  • Coaching (separate from representation) individuals/organizations in Conflict
  • Conflict Assessment: Analysis of Situations with Suggestions for Resolution Approach
  • Pre-Conflict Mediation: Facilitating Deal Negotiations at the Beginning of the Relationship with the Intent of Minimizing Potential Conflicts in the Future.
  • and, yes, actually Mediating Conflict.

I’ll be offering these services through The Space Between Center for Creative Spirit in Business rather than through my law firm, although the Coaching and Assessment services might sometimes fit into or require engagement through the law firm.

Of course I now have a list of blog posts about negotiation and mediation that I’ll be working through (probably over at lawyerist.com).

I’m also thinking of putting an unusual emphasis on the preparation and planning elements of conflict resolution and prevention, maybe going so far as to require everyone at the table to complete an enneagram personality assessment and share the results with me so that I can coach them more effectively relative to how they personally approach conflict, as well as how to use their strengths and weaknesses in the conflict at hand, and in future negotiations.

I like the idea of finding as many opportunities for growth in conflict as possible.  If you’re interest in this kind of approach to your next negotiation, please shoot me an email.

I did not have a plan for when this would happen either. In fact, I had hoped to take the certification course in January, but it was full.  So, my plan would have been ruined anyway – and if I would have had a full plan, I would have been attached to the outcome and gotten ticked off when the plan didn’t come together in exactly the way I wanted it to. So, in this case, not having a plan made my life easier because I didn’t get angry when I got the news the January workshop didn’t have a seat open for me.

3. New Space Between Center Program.

We’re looking at launching some new mastermind programs for entrepreneurs and lawyers starting in June and continuing through the end of 2011.  We’re still shaping the content, but of course it will include coaching on flat-fee/membership client engagement models for service businesses including law firms. I MIGHT come up with some programs specifically around interest-based negotiation approaches as a separate series of calls/webinars.

If you would like to be kept informed about what we’re doing at SBC, please visit the Center’s Website and join the mailing list.

So, in summary, the first few months of life after surrendering my former preoccupation with planning seem to have resulted in several major accomplishments that historically did not happen when I WAS planning. There may be a spiritual paradox unfolding around me—that planning might sometimes actually get in the way of accomplishing one’s goals.

Before you get all up in my face about about that last statement, know that I’m not saying one should never plan. I’m just saying that my experiment with focusing on the “what” instead of the “how” seems to be resulting in some nice progress. I still plan, but I’m trying to keep the plans flexible, and most importantly I try not to get attached to the outcome. That attachment to outcome seems (for me) to happen almost at the instant of planning. It may be different for you.

I’d love to have some more conversations about this in the comments section if you’re willing to share.

Thanks for reading this far.

 

Experience+Knowledge=Wisdom

Posted on | February 16, 2011 | No Comments

Here’s the video from my Ignite Fort Collins #7 talk. It comes down to this: Wisdom is only found when we share a combined experience with a mutually understood language. Those languages can be in any form, written, spoken, symbolic, etc. Engage the experience. Learn the language. Share the Wisdom.

Take a look a the other great Ignite Fort Collins talks while you’re on the site.

Really, I’ve not been slacking with blogging…

Posted on | February 11, 2011 | No Comments

I’ve been blogging a lot lately, just not for myself. I’ve been writing mostly for two other outlets. So, you can find my most recent written work over at:

www.lawyerist.com

and

www.thebillablehour.com/timesheet.php

Check out both sites.

Thoughts on Planning, Principles & Goals

Posted on | December 29, 2010 | 5 Comments

I have a habit of living in the future. I make big plans. I break those big plans into big goals with realistic deadlines, then into smaller goals with even more realistic deadlines.

Most of the time I reach my goals.

But, I’ve rarely felt fulfilled by those achievements.

Being a rational, over-achieving, lawyer – the thing to do was obvious.

Dream up bigger goals with UNrealistic deadlines and WORK HARDER.

Obvious. Rational. Logical.

Duh.  I’m right, right?

Well, maybe not so much. Because when I create unrealistic goals and deadlines, and work even harder to find that fulfillment in achievement, I fall short.  So, no fulfillment in achieving the realistic goals and no fulfillment in falling short of the unrealistic goals. This cycle leads to some outward success, but leaves a void inside.

Maybe you’ve been there. Maybe you’ve felt that void.

Now, I’m REALLY good a this. I’ve been practicing for about 25 years. It’s what got me through college. It’s what motivated me to work hard and get promotions & bonuses. It’s what drove me to law school and whipped me into passing a couple bar exams. This process helped me start my own firm, borrow too much money to go after a few too many unrealistic goals, fall short and go through bankruptcy. The constant feeling that setting better goals and working harder to achieve them caused a lot of damage in my life and it also created some great stuff. I’ve done some good things and I’ve helped a lot of people. So, I’m unwilling to stop creating goals

But something has to change.

I think there will be three primary changes:

1. I will strive to set fewer rather than more goals. After 25 years, I’m realizing that putting less pressure on myself just MIGHT leave room for more happiness.

2. The goals I DO set will always include an open top – in the form of either “at least” or “or better.” For example: “Average monthly revenue will increase by AT LEAST 15% for 2011.” or “Average monthly revenue will increase by 15% in 2011, OR BETTER.” This will allow me to set realistic goals, but not get trapped into limiting thoughts.

3. I’ll strive to live by a set of core principles (or maybe my “Guiding Values” – Accept, Show Up, Pay Attention, Irons in the Fire, Stewardship) instead of rules and goals in an effort pay more attention to the EXPERIENCE and FEELINGS of the present moment instead of always sitting in the future goal.

However, I’m not comfortable feeling “rudderless” and just drifting along (although drifting downstream takes way less energy than trying to paddle against the flow). At least I’m not comfortable with that YET, although maybe it IS the secret to enlightenment and daily happiness & fulfillment – complete surrender and faith in God….

So, all of my principles must be themed around what I understand to be my purpose in life – the reason God put me on the planet.

My understanding of my purpose goes something along the lines of helping people reach their potential by fueling their inner spark of divinity through creativity – more specifically, creative business. I’m here to help people align who the are inside with what they do in the world. First people need to recognize their inner spark of divinity, then it’s time to share that spark with the rest of us. The sharing is the fuel. The sharing, in our culture, CAN take the form of a business venture. When people create businesses that are motivated by the inspiration to share who they are with the rest of us, it becomes easy to do the things entrepreneurs need to do.

Are these the answers for everyone? Probably not, they might not even be the answers for me. What I DO know is that what I’ve been practicing to become very good over the last 25 years hasn’t been the answer either and I’m getting tired of that same old story of not being fulfilled by my successes or failures, so I’m going to turn some pages.

How about you?

Leave a comment. I’d love to get more input on this line of thinking.

2 New Fuel The Spark CLE Opportunities

Posted on | November 24, 2010 | No Comments

Need a Few Last-Minute Ethics Credits?

I’ll be doing two full 4-hour versions of my Fuel The Spark: 5 Guiding Values for Success in Law & Life CLE Ethics Programs in the next few weeks.

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A couple things previous attendees have said:

“A Massage for Your Career.”

– ABA Annual Meeting Program Participant.

“The Best CLE Program I’ve Attended in 27 Years.”

– Program Attendee, Reno NV

If you’re in Northern Colorado, attend:

Friday, December 17th, 2010

8:30am-1:00pm

General Credits: 4.0

Ethics Credits: 3.5

Jury Assembly Room, Larimer County Court House

$60 in Advance. $75 at the Door.  All proceeds go to the Larimer County Bar Association Young Lawyers Division.

(Compare to $199 CoBar Home Study CLE Program)

REGISTRATION:

Young Lawyers Division, Larimer County Bar Association

c/o Josh Dart, Esq.

19 Old Town Square, Ste. 238

Fort Collins, CO 80524

For more info:

email: josh@dartlegal.com

phone: (970) 407-0090

NOTE: The Jury Assembly Room only has space for 50 people, so you’ll want to reserve your seat early. Tickets will go fast.


If you can’t attend in person, you can join online via a Webinar hosted by my friend Kendra Brodin and her Women Lawyers Online group.

Dates: December 8th & 9th @ 3:00-4:30PM EASTERN

Location: Online

Fee: TBD

Credits: (3-4 General & Ethics – will have final details soon)

Registration Information: kendra@kendrabrodin.com


All Participants will receive:

  1. 1. A copy of Kevin Houchin’s most popular book: Fuel the Spark, 5 Guiding Values for Success in Law and Life.
  2. 2. 40-Page Fuel the Spark Action Guide to help you integrate the content into your practice and life.

Program Description:

Sometimes we all need to look at things from a different perspective. This applies to both our personal and professional lives and how they blend into a successful and fulfilling legal career. Join Kevin Houchin for this nationally recognized Ethics program devoted to finding a more balanced perspective on the rules of professional responsibility and how we can put the rules into an easy system for finding more success in our practice and our lives. This intensive interactive workshop could be the best 3 hours you’ll invest in yourself this year.

Topics

The most profound choice any of us make is either to accept things the way they exist, or to accept our personal responsibility to change them.

PR Rules:

1.2: Scope of Representation

1.7 & 1.8: Conflict of Interest

1.13 Organization as Client

1.18 Duties to Prospective Client

Many successful people have found the simplest rule to success in anything is to “show up.” However, deciding where to show up and how to manage yourself when you get there can be a challenge.

PR Rules:

1.4: Communication

7.1: Communication Concerning a Lawyer’s Services

7.2: Advertising

7.3: Direct Contact with Prospective Clients

7.4: Communication of Fields of Practice

One of the hardest things to do in legal practice and in life is to truly pay attention. We get pulled in so many directions, so how can be do a better job of staying in the moment and how does that help our clients and colleagues?

PR Rules:

2.1: Advisor

5.x: Series

It’s easy to get bored and it happens to us all, so how can we avoid boredom and stay sharp? The answer is to keep multiple irons in the fire at once, paying attention to each in turn.

PR Rules:

1.1: Competence

1.3: Diligence

True fulfillment in legal practice and in life comes when you take the time to give back. Stewardship is the combination of giving ones time, talent, or treasure. This portion of the program helps define how you’ll make your greatest contribution.

PR Rules:

6.1: Voluntary Pro Bono Publico Service

6.2: Accepting Appointments

Faculty

Kevin E. Houchin is a different kind of lawyer. First, he has a fine art degree in graphic design and a dozen years of brand development and small business consulting before going back to law school. He uses both his marketing and legal skills every day in his efforts to help creative people reach their potential.

Kevin counsels creative people about how to maximize their creativity, build their businesses, and protect their intellectual property. Discussions tend to turn toward relationships and creative collaboration often, so sometimes Kevin plays the role of business and life coach in addition to attorney and marketing consultant. He truly enjoys the role of trusted advisor to his clients.

Kevin is the author of the book Fuel the Spark: 5 Guiding Values for Success in Law School and Beyond (March 2009). He is also the author of the forthcoming book The Secrets of Creative Business. He contributed a chapter on the legal issues of social media in the best-selling book Twitter Power, and is featured in KaChing, both by Joel Comm, published by Wiley Brothers Publishing.

Kevin is expert at helping people reach their creative potential, whether as an entrepreneur or as an attorney. He is the Founder of The Space Between Center for Creative Spirit in Business – an organization to helping entrepreneurs including attorneys align who they are with what they do. In addition to working with clients, Kevin writes a regular column for the leading business journal in Northern Colorado, blogs regularly at his several sites, and enjoys one of the top legal followings on Twitter.com. He speaks regularly for creative entrepreneurial business, continuing legal education, and law school audiences throughout the United States.

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