CRAZY NOT TO OBTAIN AND READ EXHIBITS AND REFERENCED DOCUMENTS IN EMPLOYMENT CONTRACTS

By G. A. Finch

 

It is commonplace for an executive to ask for my legal advice when the executive is contemplating leaving an employer or the executive has been terminated. Of course, I ask for a copy of the executive’s employment agreement, if any, to analyze the rights, duties, and obligations that the executive and employer respectively have under the agreement.

Lo and behold, there are times that I get a copy of the agreement sans some or all of the exhibits or referenced documents.  It becomes obvious that the executive did not have an attorney review the executive’s offer letter or employment contract and ensure all the exhibits and referenced documents are accounted for.

Many employment offer letters or employment agreements contain critical, substantial exhibits, or documents that are incorporated by reference.  Typical ones include provisions pertaining to restrictive covenants like non-competition, non-solicitation and confidential/proprietary information.  Other provisions may pertain to an arbitration requirement, an assignment of intellectual property and inventions, conflicts of interest policies or references to a company’s rules, policies, procedures or handbooks.  In any event, the executive does not have the exhibits or access to particular policies and would have to ask the company’s human resources department for copies.

Not having the relevant exhibits or documents puts the executive in an awkward position as well as disadvantages the executive.

More importantly, an employment agreement without exhibits and referenced documents means the executive has an incomplete document and the executive does not know to what all the executive has agreed.  The executive should not sign an agreement under such circumstances.  It is like “buying a pig in a poke.”

 

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Upfront diligence and thoroughness prevent back-end problems.

 

 

Copyright © 2020 by G. A. Finch.  All rights reserved.

 

RE-IMAGINING YOUR WORKLIFE

By G. A. Finch

There are two phenomena that are occurring at both ends of career trajectories.  One is the FIRE Movement and the other is the substantial time extension of workforce participation.

FIRE” stands for Financial Independence, Retire Early.  Its adherents are usually younger workers who, through extreme frugality, intense saving of money, aggressive investing and diversification of income streams, aim to retire in a 10 to 20 years’ time frame, living off the sums of money accumulated through their abstemious habits and delayed gratification life styles.   There exists a sizable do-it-yourself/self-improvement industry of authors, podcasters, social media influencers, bloggers and speakers devoted to inspiring and educating FIRE aspirants and practitioners.  Because of the Coronavirus Pandemic and massive economic disruption, some FIRE adherents may have to delay or restructure their retirements.

Then there is delayed retirement where a substantial percentage of older workers, by desire and design, or necessity, is working past the minimal Social Security retirement age of 62 well into their 70s and some past 80 years of age.  We see that septuagenarians currently dominate our domestic political and governmental leadership: Joseph Biden, Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Anthony Fauci among many others.  According to the blog DQYDJ by PK (updated: November 14, 2019),  “[r]ecently retired healthy individuals most commonly chose to work until 70.”

Small Book CoverIn my book, the Savvy Executive: The Handbook Covering Employment Contracts, Compensation, Executive Skills and Much More, my good friend, Craig, observed in the excerpted section below, AGE IS JUST A NUMBER:

 

 …“People are living much longer nowadays. Look at our own
long-lived family members. Medical advances and nutrition
make the odds of our living to be at least 100 years very high. That
means, G. A., we have to rethink how we approach the arc of our lives
and what we do with it. Our lives have three chunks of active, productive
time or phases: zero to 30; 31 to 60, and 61 to 90. Our children can
have three separate, different experiences in their lives and you and I
have one more major one left. Isn’t that great? We have much more time
to do and experience different things, including work.”

 

As workers –  whether younger FIRE types or older purpose driven careerists –  grapple with their futures, my esteemed friend, Dr. Gregg Lunceford, has spent some time considering options surrounding work including kinds and degrees of exits.  In his book, Exit from Work: What Will the New You Look Like?, he sets out exit options of “Going Back to College,” “Internships or Returnships,” “Peace Corps,” “Entrepreneurship,” and “Restructuring Work.” The current Era of the Coronavirus instructs us that work restructuring can and will occur.  The current massive number of people who are working remotely from home proves the point.  Would it not be prudent to contemplate how to shape and influence the restructuring of your work?

Lunceford BookI had the honor of collaborating with Gregg on the RESTRUCTURING WORK section of his book excerpted below.   It has utility for those who wish to continue to work for whatever reason or motivation: 

 

Maybe you love what you currently do but want to do it differently. Renegotiating and restructuring your current role may be the change you want and need. It may also allow you to exit the workforce gradually if you can negotiate the terms you need. According to a survey by CareerBuilder, 30% of U.S. workers age 60 and older plan to work to age 70 or older. The question is, “How do you negotiate terms that uniquely represent your needs and also provide an ongoing benefit to your employer?”

G. A. Finch is an attorney who focuses on negotiating executive employment agreements and providing strategic career advice. He is the author of the book The Savvy Executive. According to Mr. Finch, each situation is unique when negotiating terms for modifying your employment, and therefore, you should seek credible guidance before doing so. In general, here are a few things you should consider:

  • Always view your relationship with your employer from the perspective of how it would benefit him or her. At the risk of stating the obvious, remember that your employment is an economic relationship, not a charitable one.
  • Suggest to your employer that the newly configured role could be on a trial basis. This may minimize the risk to the employer and make your proposal of a modified role more palatable.
  • Get imaginative about the mechanics and scope of the proposed arrangement, e.g., be willing to do part-time work or telecommute. These have a more limited or expanded scope of work. You can be available on an as-needed consulting basis, or serve as a pinch hitter for emergencies.
  • Offer additional, different or new services to the employer such as mentoring, blogging, doing business development, recruiting talent, doing neglected research, training employees, or leading a new business initiative.
  • Suggest trading or adjusting your salary for performance-based equity or cash bonus awards, more time off, time for charitable service, time for a personal entrepreneurial endeavor, tuition reimbursement, private club dues, –your suggestions are limited only by your imagination.

The surprising upshot here is that you may end up enjoying an extended tenure at your present employer.

   

During this Era of the Coronavirus with its shelter-in-place restrictions, many of us have more  time to think.  Whatever our ages and circumstances, our cogitating about the nature of our work and making meaningful adjustments cannot help but be a profitable investment of our time.

Thinking Man

 

 

 

Copyright © 2020 by G. A. Finch.  All rights reserved.

PERSONAL LEGAL PREPARATIONS IN A TIME OF CRISIS

By G. A. Finch

Although we all have an expiration date on this earth, most of us do not like to contemplate our deaths.  Consequently, many people do not have their personal affairs in order at the time of either their disability or death.  This neglect of one’s medical, legal and financial affairs can wreak havoc on one’s own care as well as on family and business colleagues.  We all should act responsibly.

This inattention to one’s affairs is not defined by any particular class of people or a person’s circumstances. Yes, there are even highly educated or high-net worth individuals who do not have basic estate planning documents such as wills, revocable trusts, and powers of attorney for health care and property.   There are families who have not created special needs trusts for a disabled child or family member.  There are business owners who do not have a succession plan or exit strategy for their closely held businesses.

Hospital

Although ideally, one should prepare all of one’s legal and financial arrangements well before the time one would need them, preparation must occur.  A crisis like the COVID-19 Pandemic should be a sobering jolt to obtain professional advice to put you and your family’s legal and financial affairs in order.  For peace of mind, endeavor now to be able to mark “done” on your TO DO LIST for the items: estate, financial, and business planning.

 

Copyright © 2020 by G. A. Finch.  All rights reserved.

 

 

 

LEADERSHIP DURING THE TIME OF DYSTOPIA AND FOREBODING MIASMA

By G. A. Finch

In the month of March, in the year of 2020, in the world, in the United States, the Era of the COVID-19 Virus has unequivocally and rudely arrived.   Many times, as executives or professionals, we have recently heard the exclamations from friends, families, neighbors, colleagues, clients, customers, and patients: “These are weird times!”  “It’s a crazy time!” “It’s scary!” “The worst is yet to come!”

We hear complaints of either too much happy talk and misinformation or too much Chicken-Little-like-“The sky is falling” negativity.

All would agree that the world and United States are laboring under extreme adverse circumstances both medically and economically.

We are experiencing an historical moment, and it seems surreal with all the empty streets, closed schools and businesses, sanitizing of surfaces and objects, and social distancing.

From conversations with my executive and professional clients and colleagues across the country, I have come to believe the following: In these kinds of circumstances, a leader must a) understand context, b) discern a proper perspective, and c) choose the right attitude.

Context

We must understand those facts in which a certain event occurs.

We live in a highly integrated, global world.  We are not insulated and major catalysts can happen instantaneously — in this case, rapid disease contagion and economic dominoes.  What happens in financial or regional food markets abroad can and does have immediate effects on every American.

Human beings on this planet are inextricably connected and interdependent.

As  the 1918-1919 Flu Pandemic ought to have taught us, our living in an impenetrable bubble has always been a figment of our imagination.

Perspective

We must discern all of the relevant information to establish a meaningful view point.

The United States has had epic catastrophic events before and has survived, becoming stronger: Civil War, two World Wars, Great Depression, 9/11, Great Recession and other monumental challenges.

This corona virus calamity, too, shall pass.

Attitude

We must choose the right orientation.  Optimism and positivity are actionable choices that individuals, teams, groups, and nations are free to make.

There are no short- or long-term positive returns on individual or collective pessimism.  Our expecting and working toward an eventual positive outcome has both immediate and deferred benefits.

SunriseLeadership

We are all leaders, whether you lead in a family, an organization, a team or a government.

Effective and memorable leaders, although mindful of being realistic, pragmatic and diligent, choose a vision of prevailing and winning.  Defeatism is not an option for such leaders.  How will you choose to lead?

 

Copyright 2020 by G. A. Finch.  All rights reserved.

 

CBA RECORD REVIEW OF THE SAVVY EXECUTIVE: THE HANDBOOK COVERING EMPLOYMENT CONTRACTS, COMPENSATION, EXECUTIVE SKILLS AND MUCH MORE

Gratified to see Judge E. Kenneth Wright, Jr.’s review of my book, The Savvy Executive, for the Chicago Bar Association’s magazine, CBA Record.

CBA Record Magazine September/October 2019         – Judge E. Kenneth Wright, Jr., Editorial Board Member, writes:

“If you represent corporate executives, or professionals, you should read The Savvy Executive by savvy Chicago corporate lawyer and [Chicago Bar Association] member,     G. A. Finch.  … Finch knows of what he writes, and imparts prudent advice. … Finch provides a compelling, interesting, and challenging source of insight and information on the corporate world and its executives. … The Savvy Executive offers solid, accessible, and practical answers to questions that corporate managers and their lawyers need to know.”

  SavageExecutive                             #savvyexecutive

 

 

 

 

 

ELEVATOR SPEECH

BY G. A. FINCH

An executive and fellow author I know had suggested that I write about “elevator pitches” in my book, The Savvy Executive: The Handbook Covering Employment Contracts, Compensation, Executive Skills, and Much More.  It was a practical suggestion but I needed to set limits on the length of my book.   I am making up for this omission by this blog post.shutterstock_734738725

I personally have two elevator speeches that, admittedly, I do not use as often as I should.

For those readers who are not familiar with the concept of an “elevator speech,” it is having a ready-made quick response to someone who asks “What do you do for a living?” or “What business are you in?”  The idea is that on an elevator you may have approximately 30 to 45 seconds to tell what you do before you get to the floor where you, or your interlocutor, or both of you have to get off and go your separate ways.  The point is to inform the person asking about your business or profession in an interesting, memorable way so that a connection might be made.   With an effective elevator speech, ideally, the person listening will feel compelled to either take time to ask you more questions or ask for your business card to follow up, assuming such person has a need for the services or goods that you  have to offer.

The term “elevator speech” is a shorthand way of saying that you need to be able, in any setting, to tell someone what you do for a living in a way that is informative and engaging.  For example if someone were to ask me at a reception “What do you do?,” and I respond “I am an attorney” or “I am an author” or “I am a partner at the Hoogendoorn & Talbot law firm,” then such a response does not tell them much of anything and I may have missed a business development opportunity.

So there is utility in having a succinct, pithy description of what you do for a living.  In most situations, you will have more time than 45 seconds to talk about your work or business.

The elements of an effective elevator speech in my view:

  • Short
  • Illustrative of the kind of work you do
  • Memorable enough to differentiate you

My two different lawyer-oriented elevator speeches depend on the audience and context:

1) “I represent executives and professionals who are being hired or fired, or advise companies or organizations that are hiring or firing executives.”

2) “I am a business attorney who makes it possible for executives and entrepreneurs to sleep well at night.”

My first elevator speech’s punch line is the notion that I represent clients when executives are being hired or fired.  The subject matter itself catches people’s attention.

My second elevator speech’s punch line is the notion that my business counseling will fix problems and ease the legal stressors for my clients.  Relief from stress is always an attractive proposition.

If I am asked for more information, then I will provide a brief description of my law firm (history, size, practice concentrations and location) and maybe an example of a matter that I have handled.

Here are two other elevator speech examples that two intrepid executives have volunteered and subjected to my few tweaks –  I have made these executives and their companies anonymous:

A) “We enhance high performing management teams in middle market companies to create the greatest value for private equity investors. I do this at ‘Acme XYZ Company’ where I am managing partner and can bring a lot of resources to each relationship.”

B) “I am with ‘ACE ABC Partners.’ We do executive search and staffing for the      insurance industry.  We utilize our specialized expertise to find the right talent for our clients so they can remain focused on executing their strategic initiatives.”

You should try out different versions of your elevator speech and ascertain which one seems to elicit the most interest.

What’s your elevator pitch?

 

Copyright © 2019 by G. A. Finch, All rights reserved.

 

BRANDING, RESUMES AND GETTING HIRED

SELLING YOURSELF

ARE YOU A BRAND?

Coca ColaWhen we think of brands, what comes to mind?McDonalds

Are the Kardashians a brand?  You think of them in a certain way and they are distinctive.

Is Donald Trump a brand?   As an up and coming young real estate developer and entrepreneur, President Trump was branding himself even before the term “personal brand” was coined.President-Trump-Official-Portrait-620x620

WHAT IS A BRAND?

  • How you are viewed by others
  • What qualities and attributes do they associate with you
  • What kind of emotional connection or reaction do they have when they see you, your name, or your image
  • What are their expectations about you

WHEN YOU THINK OF MCDONALD’S, WHAT COMES TO MIND?

  • Inexpensive food
  • Fast
  • Predictable
  • Easy to Find
  •  CleanMcDonalds Meal

Its typical fare is flavorful with all of its salt, sugar, oils and fats that humans naturally crave.  Customers know exactly kind of experience that they will get.

WHAT ABOUT TIFFANY & CO.?

  • Expensive
  • High quality
  • Distinctive
  • AuthenticTiffany Ring

It makes you feel a certain way knowing that the ring you are wearing is from Tiffany.

YOU ARE SELLING YOURSELF EVERYDAY

  • When you ask for something, you are trying to persuade
  • When you ask someone to do something, you are trying to persuade
  • When you ask someone not to do something, you are trying to persuade
  • When you try to get someone to like you, you are trying to persuade
  • When you try to get someone to buy something, you are trying to persuade
  • When you ask someone to vote for you, you are trying to persuade

We sell every day, all day.

HIRE MEWoman being interviewed

*Looking for a job is selling yourself*

How do you differentiate yourself from other applicants?  You don’t necessarily have to be the best, but distinctive.  You want to stand out.  When all is said and done, an employer is buying you and your bundle of attributes.

EMPLOYERS LOOK AT YOUR PERSONAL BRAND

Flying Woman

Employers evaluate you by your personal brand and then make a decision about you.

IT IS NOT ABOUT WHAT THE EMPLOYER CAN DO FOR YOU

  • What do you bring to the employer’s table?
  • How do you add value?
  • Are you a team player?
  • Are you conscientious?
  • Are you punctual?
  • Are you a hard worker?
  • Do you follow through?
  • Are you helpful?
  • Do you have a good attitude?

Let me repeat it another way: When looking for a job, it is about what you can do for the employer.  Please remember that the prospective employer does not “owe” you a job nor do you “deserve” a particular job.  A job is first and foremost an economic relationship and transaction.  The employer seeks the benefit of your services while you seek the benefit of compensation.

The Employer is not going to pay you for nothing or for little in return. The Employer seeks value.  The initial assessment of  your value is in your brand.

A RESUME IS AN ADVERTISEMENT FOR YOUR BRAND

Billboard

Your resume is your mini billboard.  It is to tell the employer customer who you are and what you have to offer and why the employer should buy your services.

EMPLOYERS WILL USUALLY SEE YOUR RESUME BEFORE THEY SEE YOU

  • Resume is the first impression you make and may be your only opportunity
  • Resume is gatekeeper for first interviews
  • Resume counts a lot
  • Must get resume right

SHOULD TELL A STORY

  • Deep bucket of experience or expertise: For example – computer networks
  • A Leader: For example – you held officer positions, led teams, executed initiatives, solved major problems, generated creative ideas, or organized events
  • A service oriented person: For example  –  raised funds for charity, tutored kids or mentored individuals

Everyone has a story.

You want yours to be  readily understandable and compelling.

ELEMENTS OF A RESUME

  • Concise, not wordy
  • Major accomplishments (not a ribbon in second grade for having the neatest desk)
  • Use examples: “I supervised the acquisition and installation of a  new computer network for my company.”
  • Use active voice: “I prepared corporate tax returns” and not “the corporate tax returns were prepared by me.”

TAILOR RESUME TO EMPLOYER

  • A resume to be a managing director at a management consultant firm is going to look a lot different than a resume to be a CFO for a technology firm
  • One size does not fit all

Think  carefully about who your employer audience is and what they want to know.  Your having a boxed paragraph detailing your direct, relevant experience for the particular job is extremely effective.

CAVEATS

  1. Triple check for typos, misspellings, punctuation and grammar; better yet, have another person copyedit your resume
  2. Formatting should be readable and neat
  3. Use good paper if mailed or hand delivered; it’s called bond paper  (not copy paper); using bond paper is more elegant than copy paper and a sign of respect
  4. No smudges, smears or fingerprints
  5. If emailing resume, convert it to a PDF
  6. Use month/year for start and end dates for previous jobs: May/2016 to June/2017
  7. Always send cover letter with resume briefly highlighting why you want and are qualified for the job
  8. No photo
  9. Use key words in your resume that are obvious criteria in the job description so that your resume gets past automated screening

In sum, work to develop a brand and capsulize it in your resume.

 

Copyright © 2019 by G. A. Finch, All rights reserved.

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