Startups, Turnarounds and Things...
Corporate Attorneys can learn 3 lessons from Jack Daniel's
A letter dated July 12, 2012 from Christy Susman, a senior attorney for Jack Daniel's has gone viral throughout the Internet. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Reddit, Digg, StumbleUp - it's being read by hundreds of thousands of people. Why? Because it breaks ranks with the typical harsh, "I'm going to bring you a lot of pain", tone that attorney's learn in law school. Ms. Susman writes with professionalism, humility and a tone of class which is being dubbed:
The Nicest Ceast-And-Desist Letter Ever Written.
I think you'll agree with me, most corporations would probably cring to see one of their cease-and-desist letters out on the world wide web. Several months ago I had this exact same discussion with an attorney on the other side who justified his asshole tone by saying:
"No hostility intended, but, sometimes I have to wear the hat as the company's counsel."
"No, you're just a prick and have no class Jason," is what I thought and moved on. For some of us, life is simply too short to engage in 7th grade behavior. I think most attorneys, especially outside counsel, immediately go hostile because they want to fight. They're incentivize to fight. Unlike a real fight, they have nothing to lose because they get to run up their client's bill.
Lessions Learned From Jack Daniel's
- Kill Them With Kindness - Nice guys, or in this case, gals, can finish first. Attorney Christy Susman took the high road, explained her reasons and offered a helping hand. She was respectful and very much, a gentlewoman. It demonstrates professional maturity with a mix of citizenship, yes citizenship, as in being a good neighbor. I hope you'll agree with me when I say, the world can use a little more citizenship and less pricks.
- Write every letter as if all your cusomers are going to read it - This letter has gone viral. It also has gone in the history books. It will forever live on the internet. Choose your words wisely as Christy did. It speaks to the corporate culture and character of the author and corporate brand. In this case, I hope you'll agree with me that both Jack Daniel's and Christy Susman are each a class act.
- Everyone is in Sales & Marketing, even your legal team - As I write this, I'm monitoring the Twitter Stream for "Jack Daniel's". It is streaming at 20 new tweets every 15 seconds. This act of professionism has likely generated more press than a full page ad in Cigar Aficionado magazine. You can't pay for this type of advertising, good will or brand association.
This story does have a happy ending. Patrick Wensink, the recipient of the letter said he was going to indeed compile with the letter and change the cover when his inventory runs out - which according to his website will be any minute. Seems there is a lot more interest in Broken Piano for President now. You can check out his full blog post by clicking here.
I hope all of you will join me to toast Christy Susman with a Jack on the rocks tonight! Please share this with your friends.