Today is National Donut Day, and its been a quiet support day for the Success team, probably because everyone is looking for free donuts. In all honesty, I’m happy for the less chaotic days of summer so I can focus on longer term goals I have at LexBlog as well as reflect on the past and focus on the path forward.

Today is a life changing day for my family and I because we are moving into our first home as homeowners today. I know what you’re thinking, you bought a house in Seattle?? Isn’t the market there crazy??

Yes. It is.

Our journey began in December of 2017 when we met our agent wandering an Amazon campus looking for clients. Little did we know that our meeting would turn into 4 months of non-stop house visits, hours of daily research, hours driving neighborhoods, and hundreds of open house visits. Luckily, with our hometown advantage and a very early start in studying the Seattle market (we started seriously researching in November 2017) we only had to spend every weekend (all weekend) searching until our offer was accepted on April 1st 2017. With our rent-back period now over per our agreement with the old owners, we are finally moving into our home ending our 6ish month journey.

Getting your foot into the door in a real estate market like Seattle is definitely a battle, but looking back on the journey I’m happy we went to bat.

A huge thanks goes to our wonderful agent Marissa Natkin of Keller & Williams whose expertise, patience, and advice helped us find our dream home in a crazy, competitive, market. Also to my partner for keeping me going when I wasn’t sure if I could take anymore, and to my colleagues at LexBlog for cheering me on and listening to me talk about the housing market for the past 6 months.

Onward!

Just like donuts there are many preferred methods of customer service, as to what is most effective, company standards, the outlook and end result. What one persons view of successful customer service may be a complete fail to another’s, like a jelly donut. “Who in their right mind enjoys jelly donuts?”

Everybody in their lifetime has held a position that involves customer service, wither you were working retail focusing on a customer by customer basis or as a member of a customer service team to a broader audience. You maybe even give yourself a team name, the Success Team sounds pretty cool! With years and years of experience within customer service you may think to yourself that there’s never really anything new to pick up…make sure your customers are receiving the service you are able to provide and when something isn’t within your companies scope, to apologize and hope they aren’t too upset.

I guess the point of this post wasn’t to go into a step by step self improvement guide on how to better your career in customer service. More so that there is always room for improvement, something new to learn, a different angle or vision towards what you may believe to not be satisfactory but outstanding customer service. With our customer service, or “Success Team!” here at LexBlog we have had a reading assignment of late….”Raving Fans” by Ken Blanchard & Sheldon Bowles. It’s a nice excuse to take 30 or so minutes on a sunny day to get outside and have a read while improving your career and yourself as a person…Oh yeah! The sun is back out. I’ll take this opportunity to insert a quote, “If you want to shine like a sun, first burn like a sun.” – A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

There were many segments of this book that were appealing, some self explanatory while some being a positive reminder how much more we can offer each day. My favorite being the “last secret” revealed in the story being “Deliver Plus One”. To know that attempting to make a change drastically and expect immediate improvement in any aspect of life is setting yourself and your expectations up for failure. The thought of improving 1% a day is something that stood out to me in this book not just for a role in customer service but just life in general.

Finding just one task, goal, exercise to improve at a time sounds a lot easier than promising yourself a whole list of ideas towards growth. What can I learn to raise the service I provide to customers from good to outstanding? What can I study to make myself 1% better each and every day? So as this post can be work related, or just life and donut related, no matter how old or experienced any one person may be there is always different views to digest and room for growth in all aspects of life, even in something that may be viewed a simple and straight forward as customer service. I know one thing that makes customer service a little easier is being part of such a professional SUCCESS TEAM! WELP! ENJOY YOUR WEEKEND!

 

 

Our Head of Product, Jared Suldzdorf often says working at LexBlog.com requires wearing many hats. He’s not wrong, as a typical day may consist of dabbling in Business Development, Customer Support, and Design.

I spent part of my breaks in college doing administrative work for LexBlog.com, and I’m now just approaching my two year mark of working full time since graduating from college. The first year, I spent working as Business Development Coordinator, which consisted of researching inbound and outbound leads as well as prepping for meetings. I currently spend my time responding to technical support requests and launching blogs, but a regular old day may include things I’ve never done before.

Yesterday, I started with Technical Support Requests. The first request was due to the top navigation bar appearing as two lines. After investigating we found out it was happening because of the font kit ID. In the end, we had to confirm the client had registered the domains on fonts.com and ensured the site had the correct identification number from fonts.com.

In the afternoon, we had a “Sales Review Meeting” which is setup by our Business Development Manager, David Cuthbert. Our goal is to review an existing or potential client to figure out how we could better serve their needs. We run through their content on Jdsupra.com, Lexology.com, and firm site to determine if the quality and consistency of the content is worth exploring further. We also then look at any connections (professional and personal) in which we may have with the firm. Once done, we then review if the firm has any blogs, and what makes their blogs better or worse (typically).

In the evening yesterday, I spent my time “customizing” law school blogs for students. In the process, I design the site in a way that the colors of a school match the logo, buttons, and text. If you go to the site of any college, you will quickly notice that they’re using many shades of their primary colors, and often colors they wouldn’t otherwise use. So it is my responsibility to ensure the colors of a school, match the content and theme of the site, without taking away from it.

In the end, that was only three minor parts of my day. Next week, I’ll likely be launching and migrating blogs, as well as calling clients and prospective customers.

Growing up I have always wanted to go to Europe and visit some of their amazing attractions. Luckily for me LexBlog has an open PTO policy and my dreams are finally coming true!

This fall my girlfriend Molly and I will embark on our Euro trip.

Our plan is to fly into London since we found a non stop one way flight from Seattle for less than $400 which seemed like a very reasonable price to pay.  We will spend a few days in London checking out the must sees from Big Ben to Buckingham Palace and maybe even a wax museum.

From London we will fly to Athens then take a ferry to some of the Greek Islands like Mykonos and Santorini.

From Santorini our plan is to head to Italy to drink some fine wine and eat a ton of pasta. Some of the cities we plan to visit are Venice, Florence and Rome.

I am looking forward to seeing the sites such as the Vatican, the Colosseum and the Pantheon.

If you have any suggestions on must sees feel free to shoot me a note at david@lexblog.com

 

This is the format of an ideal blog post. The most important part of writing an ideal blog post is to, you know, actually write it. Your thoughts are brilliant, I’m sure, but when you keep them within your head you miss out on the discussions that your ideas could generate, that could subsequently help shape your own thoughts further.

The topic can be anything – if you look at our Top 10 in Law Blogs posts you’ll see the subject matter ranges from cryptocurrency regulation to a monkey selfie lawsuit. Sometimes, if you’re having trouble narrowing down a focus, or want to generate more attention with your post, it can help to write about something current in the news.

Well-written blogs are clear, concise, and don’t take too long to get to the point. The cool thing about blog posts is that they can be as long as you want them to be, or as short as you want them to be; an amuse-bouche of insight, or an entree analysis . If your blog is on the LexBlog network, and you want it to be on the front page, it may be good to write at least 250 words for your posts. We’ll put shorter posts on the front page, too though, especially if they’re covering breaking news.

Other tips for creating an ideal blog post:

  • If you’re having trouble getting all your ideas to flow, go ahead and use some bullet points!
  • Always include some sort of title image – it will show up when you share your post on social media, and a number of social media studies have shown that you get better engagement when you include images.
  • Read over your draft before you publish – typos, or other minor grammatical errors take away from your good writing and ideas.

Last but not least, the biggest key to writing good blog posts? Be consistent. Writing blog posts, much like anything else, can become habitual, but at the beginning you’re going to need to make a concentrated effort to push yourself to write with regularity. That consistency is worth it, though, because it’s key in building up your blog and your personal brand.

Donuts are such a big deal at LexBlog that we name our products after them. Apple Fritter is not just a sweet sticky treat to us. Heck this post is on donuts.lexblog

An interesting article regarding remote workers found its way into my Facebook feed yesterday about how remote workers outperform office workers.

The argument was made that remote workers were more productive than office workers. Remote workers also make better teammates and have fewer absences.
The article does makes a great case for working remotely and even makes the point that companies may be wasting resources on in-office perks. There is some truth in that but what about the donuts!!!!

When Josh sends out an email announcing the arrival of a sweet dozen from Top Pot everyone takes note and makes a mad dash for his office. Unproductive time or a fun break to get your daily sugar fix and have a brief chat with your fellow coworkers/donut junkies?

I think the jury will be out on working remotely for some time to come. It works well for some individuals and perhaps not so well for others. Some organizations will be able to accommodate employees who wish to work remotely while others may not.

At Lexblog some of our team live out of state, while others work remotely periodically throughout the work week. This kind of flexibility is just one of the things that makes LexBlog a great place to work. Flexibility, great coworkers, great customers and DONUTS!

Some years ago when I first interviewed with LexBlog, the CTO reiterated several times that he really wanted me to be fluent in plugins, in addition to themes. I knew my way around plugins generally, but I liked the vibe I got from the interview and I wanted the job to work out well, so I stopped at Barnes and Noble on the way home:

A career.

This book changed my working life profoundly. It’s no exaggeration to say that the reason I have a career, a home, a family, is this book. What’s funny too, is that it still holds up incredibly well. Very few concepts in these pages have fallen by the wayside or require significant updating in order to use today. I don’t think you can say that about many technology books.

I’ve probably recommended this book to dozens of people. My own copy is dog-eared and duct-taped. Recently when I moved my family from Alaska to Maine and was cutting down on my material possessions, this book made the cut. It traversed the western hemisphere!

Last month LexBlog opened its aggregation service to the outside world. This is something we have wanted to do for a while, but it has taken us a while to get to a place where we are comfortable.

Our philosophy behind this was pretty straightforward, a rising tide lifts all boats.

The more publications we have, the greater exposure we can bring to publications on the network. A month in and that seems to be working and more people are contacting us to join.

And the timing is great. Very soon we are going to be launching a new LexBlog, built upon a more solid technical foundation. Everything seems to be coming up LexBlog, but sadly we did not anticipate something. Immediately upon opening the doors, we hit up against an issue we should have considered.

What are out criteria for accepting publications? Do we reject people? If so, how do we do that without sounding like jerks?

At first, we thought, let’s just bring everyone into the fold. This sounds wonderful in theory, but as you might guess, when you try to be truly open you attract a lot of people whose content is at best advertising and at worst, SPAM.

Very quickly we realized we needed to have more strenuous review criteria. This has fallen upon our Publisher & Editor-in-Chief, Bob Ambrogi to figure out.

Throwing humans at this problem is not ideal. If we really want to expand LexBlog, we need a better solution. One that doesn’t need to consider the publication or even the author, but instead reads the actual post. This means machine or deep learning.

So, will future iterations of LexBlog know good content from bad content without human oversight? Is that even possible? I am an optimist and a fan of technology, so I am going to say, “yes.”

Whatever we do develop to solve this problem, it will be more compelling than having humans do it. More importantly we will learn from it while continuing to make mistakes. Doing so we will sharpen our technical chops and at the same time grant us a deeper understanding of the core nature of legal publications that will enable us to help improve them.

That is why everyone here signed onto do this and so onward we go.

A company’s website can be an amorphous thing. A place that tries to be something to everyone that visits.

Most product-based websites are attempting to sell you something. Whether that’s a dream, a physical object, a service, or a piece of software the goal is to take you from visitor to lead to customer. This process of conversion is well-studied and cottage industries have grown around helping businesses convert website visitors to leads.

For a time, LexBlog’s website tried to act as this funnel using relatively standard techniques. Early iterations had clear calls to action for purchasing something. Later, “more sophisticated”, approaches had landing pages for different personas and extensive product tables.

Today’s version is the closest version to what I’m comfortable with as a LexBlog employee. We’re no longer pushing LexBlog and our products through our website. Instead, we’re shining a light on our customers and the people that want to join us in our mission to broaden the discussion of the law online and make that discussion freely available to anyone that is interested.

This shift has not been without it’s struggles. To get to where we are today, we had to first take the website formerly known as LXBN and put a better dress on it. This included not just updating the design of the site, but bringing it into out platform in a more formal fashion by opening up subscription options to publishers on our platform. We then had to move LXBN to become the new LexBlog.com. We did this almost under the cover of night last winter with our CTO, Joshua Lynch, working his domain magic to get the hardest parts done.

While we’ve come a long way, the version of LexBlog.com that you see today is full of warts and issues. These are things that perhaps only I can see, but that if we’re serious about our mission, everyone will see sooner or later. The tools we use to aggregate our customer’s content are the same ones that we used in 2011 when LXBN.com was launched and I can only describe them as lossy. We can and should do better, which is why the product team at LexBlog has, over the course of the past several months, been working on more advanced and faithful ways to pull content into LexBlog.com and treat it in a way that respects our publisher’s actions on the platform, and provides greater context to readers that come to the site.

In layman’s terms this means better post attribution, better organization by source (i.e., by blog) and by membership (i.e., the organization – be it a law firm or legal company – responsible for publishing), and a foundation for future iterations around search and subscriptions.

In technical terms, this has meant a deep dive into the WordPress REST API by Scott Fennell and Angelo Carosio – LexBlog’s dynamic developer duo – so that we can keep our network of 1000 blogs, 15,000 publishers, and nearly 400,000 posts in synch with LexBlog.com. This has been no easy task, and in many ways, the core WordPress work of building out custom REST endpoints has been the easiest. The real trick has been looking at the tools we’ve layered in (additional profile meta, content reassignment tools, etc) that our publishers have access to, and making sure that when they take an action, it’s reflected over on LexBlog.com.

Practically, this means when a post is updated on Kevin, our CEO’s, blog, a request is sent to LexBlog.com to update the corresponding post there. Or if Bob Ambrogi, LexBlog’s editor-in-chief, posts a new article on a piece of technology he’s interested in on his LawSites blog, that post goes right over to LexBlog.com – in full – and is properly attributed for the audience there to read.

This is all still a work in progress. We’ve only just come to a point in the project where I feel comfortable talking about it out loud instead of in a company Slack channel after getting through some of the more complex bits of debugging that we’ve had to endure at LexBlog. To take this from a project in the LexBlog lab and move it into the light is going to take some serious elbow grease. While we don’t have a set launch date for this project quite yet, I’m continuing to be optimistic that we’ll make significant progress before we’re too deep into the Seattle summer.

But what will the finished product look like? Ultimately, it will be similar to what you see today. A place where we continue to highlight the best legal content on the web and bring together opinions from all over the globe on the shifting landscape of the law. A point of pride for me as a LexBlog employee has always been the level of care we have for our client’s work. The company that we are today is because of them. It feels good to build LexBlog.com as a vehicle for their work, not ours, all in an effort to bring the law online.

Per an Economic Impact Report out from WeWork last week, small businesses are thriving as a result of locating in WeWork, not just because of the concept of “offices as service,” but because of the networking being done by their employees.

And small businesses are not alone. Twenty-two percent of the Fortune 500 are WeWork members because of the opportunity to secure top talent combined with the entrepreneurial environment and culture.

This Thursday WeWork is having a networking happy hour here at Holyhoke.

LexBlog team members should give some thought to taking part. Personal networking can be tougher than online when you’ve already met folks via WeWork’s chat, blogging, Twitter, Facebook and the like, but obviously it can be done – especially here, where people in entrepreneurial companies are wired to network.

  • Where are from originally?
  • Who do you work with here?
  • What does the company do?
  • What do you do?
  • How long have you been there?
  • What do you like most about it.”

LexBlog is here at WeWork, in part because of the networking opportunities that serve you, personally, and our company. As a company founder and CEO, it is my responsibility to help you grow as people, and professionally. And the way you grow is in large part based on who you meet, know and perhaps mentor with.