• June 18, 2013 | 5:31 AM MDT
Step By Step Improvements
In the past couple of weeks, I’ve started to do a weekly run of the perimeter of Central Park. It’s a healthy 6.2-mile run filled with great scenery, more than enough hills—I hate the Harlem Hills . . . until I’ve conquered them—and an amazing amount of camaraderie.
On Sunday, quite by mistake, I ended up running along side the Portugal Day Race. Hundreds of runners set out on a five mile run through the park. As I arrived at their starting point, the last third of the group began to take off. For about two miles, I ran side-by-side with the registered runners. Shortly after we passed 100th Street West, they turned right, thereby skipping the Harlem Hills. By the time I rejoined them on the Upper East Side, I ran amidst the last 20% or so of Sunday’s racers.
For someone like me, a confirmed loner, it turned out to be a fascinating experience. I have long assumed the reason I like my long runs relates to the fact that it gives me a chance to go off on my own and think. However, on Sunday, I realized I enjoyed being part of the group. I had one of my best runs ever, made so, I believe, because I was spurred to run faster by the other people who opted to pound pavement that day.
Afterward, it occurred to me that Sunday’s run offered its own lessons for interns, summer associates and new hires. I’m all for aloneness. I understand the lure of tackling a project on one’s own, seeing the fruits of one’s labor and being able to take credit for all of it. However, I was reminded that a little interaction offers its own benefits, which sometimes including improved performance.
• June 14, 2013 | 8:32 AM MDT
Thank you! Thanks, Again!
Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to work with a group of summer associates in Atlanta. My summer associates, interns and students always come up with the best questions, and this week’s event followed that pattern.
Here’s the question one summer associate raised: “After a couple of senior lawyers take me out to lunch, I always thank them in person. When I get back to the office, I generally send them an email also saying thank you. Should I follow-up with a handwritten note?”
My reply went something like this: A summer associate should express thanks and appreciation for the meal, the time set aside for lunch and the insights the lawyers exchanged. However, following every verbal expression of thanks with both an email and a handwritten note may be a tad excessive.
I recommended the summer associate consider another approach. At the end of every business lunch or dinner, she should continue to thank everyone for including her in the meal. I also think she doesn’t do herself any harm by reinforcing her verbal thanks with a quick email sent at the end of the day. It could say something along the lines of, “Before I close down for the day, I wanted to follow-up and tell you how much I appreciate the information you shared about your vision for the practice group . . . .”
In terms of a handwritten thank-you note, it’s not essential to send one after every business-social event. However, I urged that summer associate to spend some time every Friday afternoon to think over the entirety of the business week that’s about to end and to identify one or two people who really made a difference. It might be one of the people who took to lunch. It might just as well be a person in the library who helped her complete a research project or a person in the mail room who helped her race a document to the courthouse. Whoever those people are, they deserve a handwritten note.
As I mentioned to the summer associate, this weekly contemplation and then expression of thanks will likely yield a huge additional benefit. I’m willing to bet she’ll quickly develop an attitude of gratitude. It’s an attitude that could benefit new and established professionals alike.