Diary of a Startup

How to choose the right career

Posted by on Apr 20, 2014 in Diary of a Startup | 0 comments

Back when I used to have time to watch tv, Dirty Jobs was one of the few shows that I watched. I love Mike Rowe and his attitude about the dirty jobs that he helped people work. Below is a post from his Facebook page, which you should probably “like” if you haven’t already, because it turns out that Mike Rowe is a pretty entertaining guy.   Hey Mike! I’ve spent this last year trying to figure out the right career for myself and I still can’t figure out what to do. I have always been a hands on kind of guy and a go-getter. I could never be an office worker. I need change, excitement, and adventure in my life, but where the pay is steady. I grew up in construction and my first job was a restoration project. I love everything outdoors. I play music for extra money. I like trying pretty much everything, but get bored very easily. I want a career that will always keep me happy, but can allow me to have a family and get some time to travel. I figure if anyone knows jobs its you so I was wondering your thoughts on this if you ever get the time! Thank you! Parker Hall Hi Parker My first thought is that you should learn to weld and move to North Dakota. The opportunities are enormous, and as a “hands-on go-getter,” you’re qualified for the work. But after reading your post a second time, it occurs to me that your qualifications are not the reason you can’t find the career you want. I had drinks last night with a woman I know. Let’s call her Claire. Claire just turned 42. She’s cute, smart, and successful. She’s frustrated though, because she can’t find a man. I listened all evening about how difficult her search has been. About how all the “good ones” were taken. About how her other friends had found their soul-mates, and how it wasn’t fair that she had not. “Look at me,” she said. “I take care of myself. I’ve put myself out there. Why is this so hard?” “How about that guy at the end of the bar,” I said. “He keeps looking at you.” “Not my type.” “Really? How do you know?” “I just know.” “Have you tried a dating site?” I asked.” “Are you kidding? I would never date someone I met online!” “Alright. How about a change of scene? Your company has offices all over – maybe try living in another city?” “What? Leave San Francisco? Never!” “How about the other side of town? You know, mix it up a little. Visit different places. New museums, new bars, new theaters…?” She looked at me like I had two heads. “Why the hell would I do that?” Here’s the thing, Parker. Claire doesn’t really want a man. She wants the “right” man. She wants a soul-mate. Specifically, a soul-mate from her zip code. She assembled this guy in her mind years ago, and now, dammit, she’s tired of waiting!! I didn’t tell her this, because Claire has the capacity for sudden violence. But it’s true. She complains about being alone, even though her rules have more or less guaranteed she’ll stay that way. She has built a wall between herself and her goal. A wall made of conditions and expectations. Is it possible that you’ve built a similar wall? Consider your own words. You don’t want a career – you want the “right” career. You need “excitement” and “adventure,” but not at the expense of stability. You want lots...

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Pancakes, steakhouses, and website updates

Posted by on Apr 6, 2014 in Diary of a Startup | 0 comments

Many years ago when I was little, I ate in a remote pancake restaurant in Yellowstone. It had decor from the 1960’s, but not like what you’d see at Ruby’s or Johnny Rocket’s. Nooooo…this was actually from the 1960’s.  Turquoise and chrome, giant U-shaped counters with stools so the waitress could take your order and bring you pancakes while she stood in the middle of the U. I’m pretty sure the pancakes were cooked in bacon grease. My mom was in a huge health food nut phase at the time and she was mostly making stuff like tofu pizza at home. Bacon grease pancakes were heaven. Who knows if it’s even still there – Yellowstone had a big fire after I’d last been there. This pancake house had been built in the 1960’s, and since it was so remote and Yellowstone has “weather,” the pancake house was only open 3 months out of the year. Since it was only open three months out of the year, it was like in cold storage for the rest of the months, so it only aged in 1/4 time. There had never been any reason to replace anything, since in the 1960’s I guess people were still buildings things to last. The washing machine my parents bought in 1968 was still working in 2003. That was when American manufacturing was great, people. That restaurant looked awesome. Not to far from my house, there’s this steakhouse restaurant from the 1970’s. It’s like someone built it in the 1970’s, decorated it thoroughly, stepped back, congratulated himself on a job well done, and then admired his work for 38 years. He’s still admiring it, because I don’t think the steakhouse decor has ever changed. The restaurant hasn’t fallen apart, but the 1970’s was not such a great decade for timeless style. So what does this all have to do with a legal startup? Two or three years ago when I was thinking through LearningLawyer, I had the concept that I’d get a website built for the business and then, whoa! There’s the business. Done. Right? So wrong. Things update at lightning speed. It’s tough to keep up and do this part time. I’d like to be the pancake house (except…open 12 months out of the year…), but if I let a commerce site sit, I’ll turn into the steakhouse. The legal industry itself has a lot in common with that steakhouse. Ponder that. Young people aren’t eating at that steakhouse…...

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Switching to Cloth Diapers For Potty Training

Posted by on Mar 9, 2014 in Diary of a Startup | 0 comments

When I looked in to cloth diapers for my oldest 7 years ago, the cloth diapering world was a lot different. It wasn’t nearly as big or trendy as it seems to be now. It wasn’t as mainstream and practical, either. There were only a few reliable choices, and everything seemed really expensive. Disposable diapers were cheaper back then, too. I did the math and it would have cost me more money to cloth diaper back then, unless I went with prefolds and homemade covers (and the prefolds that were readily available were Gerber). I had never head of a Snappi diaper fastener, flushable liners, or a diaper sprayer, either. The cost of a pocket diaper back then was at least $15, and still went up over $20. For one diaper. You need like 30 cloth diapers or you’ll be running out and buying disposables while you wait for the diapers to dry…at least if you’re like me. You have to factor in the cost of buying soap and heating and using water, and drying, too. Back then I could easily get a jumbo back of Pampers or Huggies diapers for around $3-$4 on sale, with coupons. I stocked up on cheap disposable diapers and never paid anywhere close to retail. If I had to pay $6/jumbo pack I thought it was insanely expensive. As time went by and I had more kids, the deals on disposables became harder to find, and I got a lot busier, and pretty much the best I can do is order diapers in bulk from Amazon and use our Prime membership. I think it works out to somewhere around at least $8 for the equivalent of a Jumbo pack. Back then, I was still in law school and I wanted to save money. I quit teaching when my oldest was born and we were down to one income until I passed the bar. Cloth diapers weren’t going to save me money back then, at least not the ones that would be pleasant enough for me, my mom, and my husband to agree to use. So why did I get it in my head to revisit cloth diapers? There are a lot of reasons for me to not cloth diaper. I don’t have time for cloth diapers. I already have way too much laundry. I prefer to minimize my close contact with poop. Here is the reason I am switching to cloth diapers: Potty training. Using some cloth diapers is what finally worked for the last kid, so we’re doing it whole hog for this one. Also, I switched over the cloth for swim diapers and they’re much nicer than the disposable swim diapers. I just want to contain the wet and minimize the amount of times I have to use my carpet cleaning machine. The children have seen the carpet cleaning machine enough times that they have named it “Big Boy.” I suspect that potty training when you’re a working mom is harder. I finally really pushed potty training with my oldest when I was on maternity leave with my second born, because before that it was impossible to have my oldest establish new potty habits because no matter how hard I tried, things were different with me than without me. My second born was much easier to potty train because I only worked part time, but there were still a lot of interruptions in the routine. I am still going to have to deal with interruptions in the routine because I still usually leave my kids one or two days a week...

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Helping new lawyers

Posted by on Mar 6, 2014 in Diary of a Startup | 0 comments

So, I have said before that I started LearningLawyer because of the frustrations of trying to train new lawyers. Non-lawyers seem to have this idea that law school actually teaches people how to practice law. It doesn’t. I don’t even think it’s supposed to. Law students and lawyers are supposed to get practical experience in the profession by learning from other lawyers. There are a lot of big problems with that. One is that the type of person who goes to law school and succeeds is usually pretty competitive. This equals  a type of personality that is “not good at sharing.” Two is that law school is graded on a hard curve, so the worse your classmates do, the better you do. This equals an environment that fosters the side of people that is “not good at sharing.” Example: One time during law school I had someone promise to exchange outlines and notes with me. I sent him all my stuff. He sent me his stuff an hour before the final. Whatever. I found other people there…a few other people…who were more willing to work together. I found a few really awesome people, too. But still, overall…not good at sharing. Three is that law jobs are in scarce supply relative to the number of law students graduating and passing the bar. I know law students who graduated at the top of the class who have never gotten a job as a lawyer. This equals broke people with high student loan debt who are “not good at sharing.” Law looks deceptively simple. I’ve lost count of people who tell me that “Immigration law is easy, you just do paperwork.” That’s like saying that understanding gravity is easy because “What goes up must come down.” Basically what I’m saying here is that people do not know what they don’t know. The best way to learn law that you don’t know (practical law), is by learning from other lawyers. But many lawyers are not good at sharing. You can see how this can be a difficult situation. I think this situation will inevitably change. We have been living in the information age for a while now, and eventually law will catch up. I can see this happening with LearningLawyer.com. We started with more immigration law stuff, but now I’m seeing more in other areas, like some family law stuff. There are these big Family law packs on Custody and Child Support. This is the kind of basic information that all lawyers should be able to get access to in an efficient...

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DIY Anna Frozen Cape

Posted by on Mar 5, 2014 in Diary of a Startup | 0 comments

PrincessSpitfire pretty much wears a princess dress every day. My mom buys most of them at Goodwill. Seriously, people just donate these dresses that their kid clearly didn’t even wear more than once. Princess LIVES in these dresses. She wears several of them every day. I don’t really care what she wants to wear, except that these princess dresses do not provide much warmth, and it’s like 15 degrees outside. There is snow on the ground and she’s twirling around in a single layer of satin. She refuses to wear a shirt or pants under any dress, reasoning that real princesses do not wear pants or a shirt under their dress, and thus, neither will she. I bought her the Anna princess costume from the Disney store, and she firmly believes that since the dress kept Anna warm in the snow, it will also keep her warm in the snow. Daily, it disappoints her. She weeps when I am leaving for work on the days when I work out of the house, because this  means that she will have to put on something other than a princess dress so that she can go to my parent’s house. Before I became a mother, I could never have imagined the weeping over princess dresses. I was happy to wear hand-me-downs from my brothers, myself. Anyway, this has made leaving for work into a big production, with a lot more drama than I like in my life. All part of life as a working mom. When I left the kids with my parents 40+ hours a week, there were hardly ever tears…now when I leave them once a week, there is major weeping going on from PrincessSpitfire. Ugh. Finally, I found a solution to the dress issue, so that has provided at least a little relief. I was able to convince her that although princesses do not wear Land’s End purple jackets, they do wear capes. I copied the Anna cape from her costume and made a couple of long semi-circular capes out of blanket-type material and satin. I made sure to include the white fake fur, because Princess informed me that princess capes HAVE to have white fur. This cape was well received. I just finished a second cape that’s backed with satin and uses a rainbow blanket binding for the neck area…no white fur since I didn’t buy enough. I’m holding my breath that it will be accepted. Since I made PrincessSpitfire a cape (two capes…), TheBarbarian has decided that he also needs a cape/cloak/Jedi robe. Now I’ve got to make one of those post haste or have to deal with super jealousness. And this is what took up two evenings and an early morning, all time that I would have spent working if my sewing skills had not been urgently needed for some princess...

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Preparing for Maternity and Family Leave as a Solo Practitioner

Posted by on Mar 3, 2014 in Diary of a Startup | 0 comments

We have been considering trying for a fourth baby. I love children but it’s tough to be barefoot and pregnant with the esquire thing goin’ on. The prospect of maternity leave as a solo attorney terrifies me. Well, kind of. I mean, I “walk by faith” so I believe that God will provide the things that I need to deal with the stuff he sends my way. I’m still half terrified. When I was working at a Clinic, I didn’t usually have anyone who could do my work, so I basically wound everything down as much as possible before maternity leave. Still, there was someone there to answer the phone and check the mail. I didn’t actually take a real break when I had maternity leave, because I checked email pretty much daily and dealt with whatever was coming up. I’ve learned – the work is not going away. Doing certain parts of the work on time, myself, can prevent future disasters. Even with this, I felt comforted that if there were a big disaster (like a very premature baby), I had co-workers. Also, while I did not have paid maternity leave, I had “vacation pay.” This is a thing that self employed people do not have. No workie, no money. Considering this prospect as a solo is a whole new thing. I found a couple of posts from other people who have had to do this, and I thought they were interesting: This one is from Alison Silber Oh Baby! Preparing for Maternity and Family Leave as a Solo Practitioner . She has good experiential advice about what she did for scheduling, finding backup, returning to work, and for providing herself with “maternity leave pay.” This one is from  Alexis B. Kaplan Oh Baby x2! Preparing for Maternity and Family Leave as a Solo Practitioner. She goes into a little more detail on how she networked to find backup help. With LearningLawyer.com, I’m not really worried about maternity leave because the time I put in is so flexible. It’s a lot of work each week, but it’s not like I have scheduled court hearings and adjudications to deal...

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