Trust your sushi chef – and marketers.

Trust your sushi chef – and your marketers.

[2017 update] I was in beautiful Vancouver, BC speaking to the Managing Partners’ Dinner of the BC Legal Management Association.   After the program, one of the managing partners came up to me wanting to discuss his unsatisfactory experience with his marketing committee and their outside consultant.

It sounded like every committee member had his/her own personal agenda, and they trusted neither each other nor their outside expert.  I turns out that I knew their consultant; he was a nice guy, both skilled and experienced, and I’d seen him help his clients become more successful.  However, it quickly became clear to me that their lack of trust in him will make it nearly impossible to achieve any sort of gains.

[Fast forward a few hours.]

That evening, I got a hotel concierge recommendation for a nearby sushi restaurant, Kamei Royale.  When eating sushi alone, as I often do while traveling for work, I make a practice of sitting at the sushi bar which is where I’ve had most of my best sushi meals.

I arrived early and saw the head sushi chef skillfully preparing the basics, getting ready for the evening rush.  The menu looked great and I started with a special roll straight off the menu.  I’d struck up a conversation with the chef named Uda who was both interesting and charming, which is fairly typical for the sushi chefs I’ve met.

I always request something special, whatever the chef enjoys making or thinks I’d like — a personal specialty that isn’t on the menu.  I explain my general food preferences, then place myself in his presumably capable hands.  They always seem to enjoy the challenge and having someone trust their judgment and artistry.

Uda first prepared a tuna sushi, uniquely seared with a blowtorch then a dab of spicy sauce. He later offered a salmon-roe sushi which was wrapped with a beautiful strip of salmon instead of seaweed (pictured).  In 30 years of eating sushi, I’d never seen it prepared that way.

Everything was sensational.

So here’s my point.

I love sushi, but I’m not an expert sushi chef.

I want a good result, but I don’t presume to know how to get there.

Therefore, I carefully select the best expert I can afford, explain the result I want to achieve, then place myself in their well-trained hands.  Then I expect them to use their expertise to achieve my objectives. I don’t micro-manage the preparation of each bite of sushi.

If they fail to perform, I try to figure out what went wrong, and see if they require additional guidance or support; perhaps I had failed to explain my needs clearly.  If after ensuring that my instructions are clear they still cannot or will not perform as required, then I fire them (i.e. I don’t return to that restaurant).  But if I’m not the expert in whatever scenario then I will initially try to trust them until I learn that I shouldn’t.

I’ve found that if I let the experts do their job, I can get great results.

It’s the same with lawyers regarding their marketers.

Hire the best professionals you can afford and ensure they understand clearly your goals and objectives, then trust them to do their job.  Listen to their advice and give them the benefit of the doubt.  Then, if it’s not working, get different (or better) experts.

As I’ve said many times elsewhere, “Law firms get the marketing they deserve.”

“Uda” at Kamei Royale sushi is in downtown Vancouver, above Tiffany’s (604) 687 8588.

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Looking for a speaker for your upcoming retreat, CLE, or marketing training? Give Ross a call at 847.432.3546.

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Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Susan Van Dyke says:

    Ross, thanks for the plug for our beautiful city and one of our favourite restaurants. Is it any coincidence that “Fishman” enjoys sushi?! So glad you enjoyed yourself.

    I enjoyed reading your post and am delighted that Vancouver Managing Partners benefited from your wisdom.

    Your post made me think about what it takes to be an effective consultant. In many respects, a legal marketing consultant is a change agent and we undoubtedly find ourselves in situations where we are challenging the status quo. Experience and skills alone are not enough to effect change. It requires the trust of the client/marketing committee/firm, as you’ve stated, and I also believe it’s incumbent of every consultant to be honest and transparent about what it will take to achieve the firm’s goals and objectives. It is then that trust starts to be earned.

    Looking forward to your return to Vancouver, Ross.

  • Barbara S. Kaplan says:

    Great post. Real-time observations, experiences and practices can give law firms a new perspective and valuable lessons on revenue generation, client service, management and marketing. Good example!

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