Yesterday, on the way from work to a holiday event, I got in a car accident. Everyone involved was unhurt and my car suffered blessedly minimal damage such that I could drive away after all of the accident reporting was complete.
I was uncharacteristically calm throughout the whole ordeal. If anything, I was absolutely overcome with gratitude that everyone was OK and this accident was not going to send my family into a financial or logistical tailspin. I remembered with incredible clarity an accident I had while I was in law school in California. I recall freaking out about finding someplace to get my car fixed, paying the deductible, getting to work and school while I was carless, etc. I am grateful for the lessens I learned through that experience and oh so grateful that I am where I am now.
And so begins my annual Thanksgiving gratitude list.
This year I am grateful for so very much. My family for sure tops the list, but this is a professional blog so I am going to focus on that part of my life.
This was the Year of Connection for me. In addition to hosting our weekly high school student dinners, I began hosting Girls’ Dinners for some of my personal and professional friends that I felt needed to meet each other. It has been deeply rewarding to get to know these women better and to watch new relationships form between them. And what a blast we have had in the process!
I am grateful that I was selected for Leadership Birmingham this year after four years of applying. When I met my classmates at our orientation retreat, I understood completely why I had not been selected earlier. These people are World Changers. I am so grateful for each and every one of them and the experiences we are sharing learning about our city, its challenges and its opportunities.
The Powerful Women of Legal BD
This year, I met some wonderful people in the world of legal business development — my self-professed passion pursuit. Jill Weber generously shared some of her impressive knowledge garnered through years of being the Chief BD Officer at Stinson LLP. Jenna Schiappacasse of Rosenberg Martin educated me through the many articles she has written and a podcast on which she spoke and then even gave me an hour of her time to answer my many questions and let me pick her brain.
Andrea Maciejewski with Levenfeld Pearlstein continues to be my law firm marketing sensei. She is incredibly generous with her time and knowledge. And she is a marketing genius. Just Google LMA awards and her name and you will understand why I make that statement.
While in Los Angeles, I reconnected with a law school friend who is now the CMO of Stradling Yocca, Robin Gerard, and she has been such a great resource on that community, helping me identify conferences worth attending and people to learn from.
As in years past, I am grateful to the architecture community. Steve Martin with Gensler will always be the bellwether for thoughtfulness and generosity within this profession. I planned a trip to DC earlier this year and he kindly set up a morning of tours of the most interesting law firm build-outs in town. And then he brought a nice bottle of wine along for the executive directors of each firm to thank them for letting him show off their space. I could regale you with other stories of his thoughtfulness but I would have room for nothing else in this post. If you run into him, however, ask him about the wedding cake or the flag!
I also traveled to Minnesota and Los Angeles this year, and an assortment of architects, law firms and business people generously allowed me to tour their spaces as they shared the stories behind each build out. My friend Mark Hanson of Irell & Minella both invited me to speak on a panel to West Coast law firm leaders and helped me set up tours of progressive new law firm spaces in Los Angeles. Like Steve Martin, Mark’s generosity is storied: ask him how many kids besides his own he has put through college!
Magic City Woodworks and the Birmingham Education Foundation
I am grateful that I was asked to join two boards this year: Magic City Woodworks and the Birmingham Education Foundation.
If you have followed this blog for the last year, you know how passionate I am about both causes. And as much as I value the service opportunities, I also have a ton of fun because the fellow board members I serve with are top notch. These are both truly “working boards” and absolutely everyone pulls their weight. And don’t get me started on the generous souls that lead each organization, Lawrence Sheffield and JW Carpenter; I’ll be in tears.
My Client Friends
Last but certainly not least, I am grateful for the many clients I also have the pleasure of calling friends. Especially the ones with whom I can be 100% authentic. I learn from them. I fight for them. I have fun with them. We are on the same team. What more could a person ask for?