Friday, March 17, 2006

Ended up with 209 entries in the NCAA pool. After the first round, I'm tied for 3rd. That's less impressive than it sounds. A lot of people are tied for 3rd.

I don't believe in ties. That's why I don't watch hockey. There should always be a winner, and, even more important, there should always be a loser. In sports, and in life. There's no glory in a tie. No glory in a settlement that works out for both sides. No glory in a work-life balance that both employee and employer are happy with. Someone has to win, and someone has to lose. That's the kind of world I want to live in. A decisive world. Where people are rewarded for excellence, punished for incompetence, and never have to share the spotlight in a "tie." And our clients should never finish a deal thinking that they didn't come out on top.

Not to dwell on sports, but I'm feeling a little angry about the United States getting eliminated from the World Baseball Classic. It's our sport. We invented it. And now we're getting shown up by second-tier countries like Korea and Mexico. It's as if some law firm from Charlotte or Detroit were to beat us out for a case. It wouldn't happen. We're better, and we'll always be better. I don't know how baseball could have let this happen, but the firm certainly won't. This firm's offices in top-tier cities will stay top-tier and won't be overshadowed.

My wife made me sit through American Idol again this week. At least there were no ties. American Idol knows what it's doing. They make examples of their losers. They make them suffer in public, and then they force them to sing the song that got them eliminated. That's compelling television. And the negative critiques of their performances are a joy to watch. We should do that here. Rent out a theater and do the performance reviews on stage, for everyone to watch. Shame the people who've done a bad job. Make an example of them. Let everyone know. You think I'm kidding, but the more I think about this idea, the more I like it. Public reviews. The entire firm, sitting rapt in an auditorium, one by one called up to the stage to get told what they should have done better and where they need to improve. We could even charge for it. I bet lots of associates would pay to see something like that. I wonder what a day of Simon Cowell's time costs. It would be a lot more entertaining hearing him read the report. Imagine -- "Your billable hours were down this year, and your work product was horrible. Simply horrible. Like something I would expect to find at any one of a thousand law firms in a city like Trenton. Absolutely terrible. You should pack your bags, because I expect we've seen the last of you. Dreadful. And you're fat, too."

We could take our bottom three associates, call them out to the center of the stage, and let them sweat it out while they wait to hear which one of them will be going home. And we could put together a little video to wish them off. It could be a whole big production. I love this. Next partner meeting, I'm bringing it up for discussion. Maybe we could even televise this. Law students would watch. I'm going to revolutionize the way we do performance evaluations. Just like the BlackBerry has revolutionized the concept of "out of the office."

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