Tune in to hear David and Marianne discuss:
- Her unique mantra of growth through diversity, firm culture, and passion
- The importance of a pivot and hustle-oriented mindset
- The GALA approach to business development
Read Full Transcript
[00:00:00.170] – Intro
You’re listening to the Market Leaders Podcast, brought to you by PipelinePlus. Professional service firms use PipelinePlus to capture more business from their most important clients, prospects, and referral sources. PipelinePlus delivers the simplest interface in the marketplace, and in-app suggestions on exactly which actions to take to close the next deal. It’s used as a standalone app, in conjunction with business development coaching, or as a CRM companion for more effective sales pipeline management. To learn more, or schedule a demo, visit pipelineplus.com.
[00:00:39.290] – David Ackert
Hello and welcome back to the Market Leaders Podcast. I’m David Ackert, and today our guest is Marianne Talbot, who is the CMBDO, the Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer at Bailey and Glasser LLP. Marianne, great to have you with us.
[00:00:51.420] – Marianne Talbot
Thanks for having me. I’m really honored and excited to be here with you.
[00:00:54.720] – David Ackert
Well, you have a really interesting background and I can’t wait to unpack this for our listeners. You’re a lawyer, turned entrepreneur, turned CMBDO at a law firm. Tell us a little bit about that trajectory.
[00:01:05.970] – Marianne Talbot
So I probably have a little bit of a unique background in the legal marketing space in the sense that I was a trial lawyer for 14 years, and I worked with one of the world’s most famous lawyers. He won Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967), and he trained me as a trial lawyer. And so for me, it was learning how to step out from under his shadow and think about business development and marketing before that even existed in law firms. I ultimately also became an adjunct law professor at two law schools in D.C.. I moved back to Manhattan after 9/11 because that was obviously a big milestone and my mother was still there. And then I ended up founding my own company. So I became an entrepreneur during the first recession that started in 2008, and I really ended up getting what I call an MBA on the street, learning how to run a business, capture people’s attention before the days of massive social media, when you’d walk down the street and the stores were closing left and right. And then I became an adoptive mother, so that’s the hardest job ever, I was a stay at home mom for two and a half year. And then I went back in house to different and law firms and legal entities, including a commercial litigation funding company. So when I talk about business development and marketing, I know it from both sides. From being a practicing lawyer for 14 years, doing complex commercial litigation, very high profile cases, and then also from the other side supporting lawyers who are working on their careers in their firms and also pushing marketing initiatives. So, yes, and I’m now the CMBDO of a fantastic law firm, very entrepreneurial, very much out of, kind of the book that I came out of, and it’s called Bailey and Glasser LLP, and I’m working at there D.C. office here in Georgetown.
[00:02:39.340] – David Ackert
You know what I love about your story is it so demonstrates that you have the capacity both to hustle and to pivot. You’ve gone through all of these zigs and zags in your career, and I’m sure you bring that to your guidance at the firm as well, when it comes to business development. When you and I were preparing for this interview, we talked about some of these growth principles that you like to integrate into your conversations with the lawyers at your firm. And the first one was growth through diversity, which I thought was going to be one thing, but it ended up meaning something else. Tell us a little bit about how diversity plays into business development success at your firm.
[00:03:16.170] – Marianne Talbot
Thanks, David. It’s a great question. I do have to say I love that you said hustle and pivot, because those are like two major themes in my career, and in my life, right. I, in fact, have a sign on my wall about hustle nutrition facts. So it’s kind of a cute little…
[00:03:29.240] – David Ackert
Wait, hustle nutrition facts?
[00:03:30.920] – Marianne Talbot
Yes. It’s actually a nutritional fact poster. Serving size is one dream. It has all the ingredients…
[00:03:38.160] – David Ackert
So it’s like breaking down the ingredients of the hustle as though there was a recipe or as though it were something that…
[00:03:44.070] – Marianne Talbot
Like something on the side of a food product.
[00:03:45.100] – David Ackert
Yeah, that’s great. I mean, it’s so important, right. We recognize hustle when we see it, but I think breaking it down into its component parts can help people adopt it if it isn’t naturally a part of their MO.
[00:03:55.530] – Marianne Talbot
I like the word hustle because there’s a lot of leaders out there now saying, “well, I don’t want hustle and grind culture.” Right. “We don’t want that. It’s too hard.” But honestly, I think people don’t hustle enough, and it’s so easy for human beings to reach for different excuses why we don’t create what we could create. And they are: making excuses, getting distracted, procrastinating and blaming others. I feel that we should have more hustle culture because that’s where the magic is.
[00:04:21.190] – David Ackert
Well, like so many concepts and terms, a lot of it is the meaning that you bring to it, right. Some people might look at hustle and think, “oh, that’s too scrappy for us, we’re more sophisticated than that.” Some people will look at the word sales and say, “oh, my goodness, that’s a dirty word. We won’t use that. We’re going to dress it up and call it business development.” But at the end of the day, I think it’s much more about one’s relationship to the word and whether or not it has cultural resonance within your organization.
[00:04:45.130] – Marianne Talbot
That’s a very good point, because the language we use about the work we do, and who we are, and what we want in our lives can make all the difference in the world. One of my favorite quotes is from Muhammad Ali, and he says, “what you’re thinking is what you’re becoming.” And I think that when I work with lawyers in a coaching capacity––because not only do I do business development planning, I do the marketing side, I do marketing technology, the stacks, the strategies, I do everything from top to bottom here at the firm––you can have all the plans you want. But at the end of the day, it’s human beings that go out and execute on those plans. You want to have lawyers who feel supported, and excited, and passionate about what they do and why they do it. So it’s tapping into their whys. It’s tapping into what makes them different. So that’s kind of that diversity piece. So when I work with lawyers, I think, what is it that makes you different than other people, and then go in those directions. What makes you passionate about what you do? Why did you become a lawyer? It’s a lot of time and effort. It’s not an easy way to make a living. And I understand that very intimately, having practiced for so long. So I like to sit down with them and say, “what do you want to tap into?” Because when clients or prospects meet you, they want to understand why you love what you do. And at the end of the day, you work long hours, right? You keep track of it in six minute increments. Why are you doing what you’re doing? And then finding language around that that helps them brand themselves to have effective elevator pitches, to have them excited to go out and meet people and be of service, rather than dread the next networking session around the corner. I’m a huge fan of networking. My whole family came from my networking expertise. So I’m very passionate about having us tell our stories effectively and to get out there.
[00:06:23.120] – David Ackert
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And I like this approach of: how are you differentiating? What is your unique diversity in the marketplace? It’s so important. And I don’t think this is unique to lawyers. I think it’s true for anyone. If you don’t know what to say when you meet people and they ask you what you do or they want to get to know you, if you don’t know how to say something that’s ultimately going to make you sound smart and have you ultimately put your best foot forward, then as you say, you dread the exercise, you avoid the opportunity, and you ultimately play against your own objectives.
[00:06:56.270] – Marianne Talbot
Yes. So when you talk about yourself, you should speak from the heart. When you talk about what you care about, why you’re a lawyer, what firm you are with, if you’re a junior lawyer or not, talk about your team. You work with a fantastic team that loves the clients they work with. When you’re talking from your heart, they can hear it. If you’re talking from your head, trying to find the right clever elevator pitch or something like that, people can sense that. When I work with lawyers, I really try to get them to say what’s the basis? Why do you love what you do? And say, “how can I be of service?” “How can I help you?”
[00:07:26.050] – David Ackert
Well, let’s transition into that, because you’ve just touched on this second growth principle, growth through passion. How do you help lawyers articulate and really crystallize for themselves what they love about what they do?
[00:07:40.390] – Marianne Talbot
That’s an excellent question. And that really is the key, because every lawyer has different desires. Every lawyer became a lawyer for a different reason. It could be because, like me, I wanted to become a civil rights lawyer and change the world. It could be people wanting to make a wonderful living for their family. It could be people who want influence and power. It could be that they just didn’t want to go to med school or grad school, and they wanted to become a professional, and lawyering seemed to be a good thing. I know people across those spectrums from law school and beyond. And then you ask, what is it that they want? Right? That’s the key, because you can’t create a plan to get what you want without knowing that. And I’ve had lawyers, I’ve asked them, “what do you want?” And it gets them upset because we’re not taught to think about our goals, and you can’t get to your goals without creating an action plan around that. So the bottom line is kind of, think about what you want and then write it down. That’s the most simple step that I can do, is say, like, decide what you want and write it down.
[00:08:33.400] – David Ackert
That makes a lot of sense, because I think one of the things that might be upsetting or frustrating about that question for someone that’s billing two thousand hours or whatever it might be, is, “I don’t even have the time to stop and think about what I want, let alone come up with a plan or dedicate the effort that would be required to get that thing” right. So it’s almost like, don’t even bring this up. I’m too overwhelmed just putting out the fires and dealing with what’s expected of me just to get through the year and satisfy hourly quotas.
[00:09:02.230] – Marianne Talbot
And that’s the reality for a lot of lawyers. So when that is the case, what I do is I ask them to consider taking ten minutes, three times a day, or two times a day to carve out some time for themselves. That could include them waking up earlier in the morning. I’m a big fan of the 5:00 A.M. club. I wake up at 5:00 a.m. on the regular, and I work on my personal projects and my goals and my other pieces. And then when I get to work, I’m fully engaged because I took care of myself. I start my day by pursuing my dreams and when you put it that way, thinking, what is it that you want? Then they can wake up with a little bit of energy to focus on that, even if it’s meditating for ten minutes or dancing for 20 minutes or whatever they want. I also have a weekly worksheet that I give a lot of the lawyers I work with and say “take ten minutes a day just to carve out some time for networking, some business development.” And that could be just simply going on to LinkedIn for ten minutes and writing really nice things to people.
[00:09:52.360] – Marianne Talbot
The more you say nice things to people, the more they’re going to appreciate it, and then you’re left feeling really good. So these are very easy ways of making a difference. And again, trying to identify: are we getting into procrastination, excuses, blame, or distraction? So 20 minutes a day for ourselves is something I think most people can carve out, and if they don’t, there’s a reason for it.
[00:10:12.500] – David Ackert
One of the things that occurs to me as you’re talking through these growth principles and this notion of asking, “what do you want?” And really clarifying the thing that drives someone is that the common theme is putting yourself first, or at least making some time for yourself in all of this. I think in the professional services world, we are oriented towards serving our clients and making sure that our clients are taken care of. We have a lot of pride around that. We put a lot of emphasis on that. We identify with that. And what we perhaps forget is that we’re not a part of that equation, really. It’s like kind of a codependent relationship, or a career of servitude. And our own needs, to the extent that we’ve clarified them for ourselves, may not necessarily find their way onto this busy calendar that is jammed up with other people’s priorities.
[00:11:00.190] – Marianne Talbot
Excellent point. And you add into that differences in gender where women are taught to offer more things, we’re asked to do more things that are not necessarily the high profile things, no matter, whether you’re a lawyer or on the professional services side. So when you start adding in all these different pieces, you have to realize that a lot of people go through life just keeping their fingers crossed and hoping it’s all going to work out. No one’s going to give you anything simply by being nice, right? It’s important to keep your eye on the prize. And that’s why I love being an entrepreneur. I started my own company in 2007 because I wanted to make a difference in a different way. And learning how to run yourself like a business, learning how to run a business, setting the goals, continuing to learn, you can’t just sit back, and so it’s a very empowering thing to do. So when I talk to lawyers, sometimes I say, “Put together a business plan. What’s your BD plan around this new initiative you want to do? Brand it, have fun with that.” Because the more you understand the steps in building a business, the more you can think about yourself as a business, within your law firm and within your life. There’s so much inspiration to be had from reading and learning about entrepreneurs who have done really well, and there’s a sense of power and control that you can take from that. And so I love empowering lawyers, wherever they are in their careers, to think about themselves as a business, and then educating and inspiring themselves to continue to think bigger and bigger. I have a sign behind my desk here in my office that says, in order to have more, one must become more. So you have to continue becoming more the person that you want to be. Another great quote from Damon John is, “if you aren’t willing to work for it, don’t complain about not having it.” So in some ways, it’s having that inspiration, but also realizing that that sweat and that work is where happiness comes from, because, you know you really tried and you really did it. And that’s very exciting for me to be able to share with people.
[00:12:44.310] – David Ackert
Yeah, absolutely. All right, so we’ve talked about principle number one, growth through diversity and differentiating yourself as someone with something unique to contribute. We talked about growth through passion, identifying what it is that you love and what do you want, what do you ultimately want to achieve, and making sure that you document that into some sort of business plan so that you can really pursue it. There’s the third growth principle, and you alluded to it earlier, you talked about the team, right? That there’s a great team or a great culture that your lawyers get to work with and engage in. Talk to us a little bit about that at Bailey and Glasser.
[00:13:19.410] – Marianne Talbot
Bailey and Glasser is really unique in the sense that they’re very creative, they’re very tenacious, they’re very down to earth, they’re very can-do. There’s a roll up your sleeves and get to work attitude. Across the firm, we have 93 lawyers now in 18 offices. And one thing I love about this firm is that the partners talk about wanting young lawyers to learn the ropes. So whether it’s jumping in to handle a complex deal and learn those pieces, or to jump into a trial, we have a lot of trials. Our lawyers are not scared to go to trial. And saying, “Okay, who wants to volunteer for these trials and learn what it takes to choose a jury, and handle motions, and handle objections at the bench, and all those different pieces?” So there’s a real can-do attitude, but there’s also the grace that’s provided by saying, “not everything works out, but that’s how you learn from it.” So there’s that kind of tenacity and graciousness and generosity in sharing the information. And so I think that the lawyers here are very empowered to understand not only the nuts and bolts of building cases, of building big corporate deals, but then also the business of law. And it’s something I have not seen in any of the other law firms that I’ve worked in. So there’s kind of a transparency and an empowerment here at the firm.
[00:14:30.410] – David Ackert
One of the things that I’ve seen working with law firms for more than 20 years now is that law firms, and lawyers in particular, can be very proud, right. And there’s a lot to be proud of. They’re proud of their JD, they’re proud of their practice, they’re proud of their expertise, they’re proud of their accomplishments. But there’s healthy pride, and there’s unhealthy pride. If you become so proud that you aren’t willing to look at and learn from your mistakes, because we all make them. And if you’re so proud that you are no longer coachable, then you really miss out on the opportunity to continue to improve upon what you’ve built. And it sounds like there’s a very healthy sense of pride at your firm.
[00:15:07.500] – Marianne Talbot
Yeah. And what’s nice is that we have the most incredibly experienced trial lawyers who…I’ve never worked with lawyers of the caliber as working with Phil Hirschkop until I came to Bailey & Glasser. The lawyers here are so spectacular and so good at what they do and so generous in sharing the information across the firm and wanting to train up the junior lawyers. So that’s very unique. In terms of other firms that I’ve worked at and lawyers I’ve worked with, I think a lot of that sense of maybe not being as coachable or open to learning different things is because it may be a sense of insecurity. But I think it’s nice having people who are curious, who want to grow, who want to go to new places, who have big dreams, who want to help a lot of people. And those are the people that are very coachable. Because they want tools, they want to learn new things. And so I work all the time: I’m always learning, I’m always reading, I’m always listening. I’m listening now to the biography of Muhammad Ali, which I’m listening to as a treat when I come home from long days at work, and you know, you can learn so much just from being inspired in your own life by listening to other people. When you can learn from other people and you’re open to that and you want to be inspired by that, that can just create incredible magic.
[00:16:13.690] – David Ackert
Well, that’s what we’re trying to do here. And I’m sure people who are listening are learning from you. Tell us about the acronym: GALA.
[00:16:21.200] – Marianne Talbot
Oh, yes. Well, I love a great party, and I think it’s really important for people to realize that our lives are really our parties to plan. And so I came up with this acronym because it really is the way that I approach the work that I do. And it gives people a little spark in their eye, a little, “oh, that sounds great,” you know, approaching it from a different way. So I feel that sometimes business development professionals come to their lawyers and say, “okay, do this plan.” And it’s very very serious and all that, which is great because it is serious. It’s your career. It’s career development, right? It’s not just business development, it’s your career, it’s exciting. But the way that I approach it is I like to engage with people in this way. So first, G is setting your goals. So what is it that you want? And when I ask about goals, that also needs to dovetail, where appropriate, with your practice group goals, right. What are the goals of the firm? So that is step one. Step two is action. So little action steps, big action steps. What are small things that we can do to get you where you need to go. And breaking it down into very manageable chunks so it’s not overwhelming. The L stands for learning, always continuing to learn. So spending ten minutes a day reading new articles, Harvard Business Review––Fast Company, I think is fantastic––because it really gives you ideas about other industries that you may know nothing about. Autobiographies or biographies on the way home, professional development on the way, it’s travel, university, right? You can always continue to learn. And then the last A stands for adding fun. And that’s the key. Lawyers I work with say, fun? I didn’t think about that. So I say, what can we do to make this more fun? If you’re going to a networking event, maybe you’re nervous, and you’re bored, and you don’t know what to do. So bring a wing person with you, plan a wonderful dinner afterwards, say, “I’m going to meet one person at this event.” And again, you never know the magic that comes from networking and business development. And if you don’t mind, I’d love to share a personal story about why I’m so passionate about this.
[00:18:10.110] – David Ackert
[00:18:11.040] – Marianne Talbot
My family came from networking. So I had my own business for a number of years, and people knew that I belonged to a networking organization in Manhattan at the time. And people knew I was trying to adopt with my husband. And it wasn’t working. It was very difficult. People didn’t want to adopt to a couple in Brooklyn, New York, where we lived. And someone around the table in my networking organization knew somebody who knew someone who was having a baby. And the reason I have my daughter, who’s now eleven and a half years old, is because of business networking. Because somebody had a marketing mindset, shared that she knew somebody who was trying to have a child, and could not adopt and could not find a way to do it. Then six weeks later, I had this newborn baby in my arms. So when I talk about business development and networking, I know from my own life what you can create if you share yourself effectively, if you share what you want, if you connect with people in very authentic ways, you just never know what’s around the corner. So when I talk about business development and I work in my role here at Bailey and Glasser, I bring my love and my passion from being an entrepreneur, from being a lawyer and a career that I loved, being a lawyer in the cases I worked on, from being a mother who became a mother because I was able to connect with someone who was able to give me her beautiful daughter to adopt as a newborn. So I bring all those pieces to the table and so I’m very passionate about it and I really connect to the people I work with and I want them to have the kinds of careers that I’ve had, giving them all the tools I possibly can to do that.
[00:19:37.920] – David Ackert
Well, that’s such a great story and a great illustration of how at its heart, business development is really just building connections with other people for mutual benefit, and how wonderful that that happened to result in a life changing event for you.
[00:19:52.760] – Marianne Talbot
Indeed. And now, like I said, I was a stay at home mom for two and a half years, so I understand that. And that was the hardest job I’ve ever had.
[00:19:58.930] – David Ackert
Yeah, I’m sure. Well, we’re almost out of time here, so I want to give you an opportunity to talk a little bit about some resources that you’ve offered to share with our listeners. There’s a book that you’ve written, there’s a tip sheet, there’s other stuff, so walk us through it.
[00:20:13.920] – Marianne Talbot
Thank you for that invitation. So I have a book called Balance by Design: A Planner for Women Lawyers With a Life, that came out about three years ago, right before COVID hit and all that craziness happened. And it’s really a guide for women lawyers. It’s a planner throughout the year. It’s broken down by month, by quarter, specific goal lists, resources, business development ideas, etc., and that’s available on Amazon. It took me three years to write and design. Again, I did it on the side, because I wanted to put in one place everything that I’ve learned, in a place that would be very supportive of women’s personal and professional lives. So it covers checklists for personal and professional and it’s really beautiful. So much love has gone into that. The second thing I’m working on is a platform that will launch in 2023 called Gen Expertise, and it’s a platform by Gen Xers for Gen Xers. And it’s really designed to be a supportive, educational place with, again, all these types of resources to help Gen Xers as we get older, as we need to pivot, as we need to hustle, those words that I love so much. And we’ll have a lot of resources moving forward, but that’s going to be genexpertise.com, and that’s going to be launching in a bigger way in 2023. Again, I work on it on the side, so it takes a little time. And then last but not least, I’m creating a special template for all the listeners who are listening to this podcast to help them identify their goals and beginning to create those action steps using the party planning approach, the gala approach, and I’ll provide some resources and some checklists and things like that. So that will be something that’s available through the show notes. And I hope that you find it useful because I was really grateful to be asked to this and I really want to share what I know with anybody who would find it useful.
[00:21:53.240] – David Ackert
Well, we so appreciate it. That template will be available on our website for this unique podcast episode. Marianne Talbot’s book can be found on Amazon, and Gen Expertise will be streaming wherever you listen to podcasts later in 2023. Marianne, it’s been such a pleasure to spend this time with you and to learn about you and learn from you. Thank you for sharing your time.
[00:22:15.400] – Marianne Talbot
Thanks for having me.
[00:22:17.130] – Outro
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