A Different View of Success


I love to visit historic places and hear the stories of people who lived and died there over the centuries. Every time I do this, it strikes me what a huge role external circumstances can play in a career. You might be the best, most skilled, most experienced cardinal, stonemason, warrior or queen, but if the French Revolution intervened, or you were Scottish, or your boss (or worse still, husband) was Henry VIII, it may all come to naught in a pretty sudden and dramatic fashion.

It’s not just about famous types like Mary Queen of Scots, William Wallace or Cardinal Wolsey, or even about big dramatic events like the French Revolution or the Great Fire of London. None of us ever have total control over our careers (or anything else, really…). So, even in the legal profession, relying solely on the external world to bring you success could well prove to be a tricky strategy.

This connects nicely with the ideas of American creativity expert Robert Fritz. One of his pet topics is about the dangers and even futility of having goals based on the desire for ‘success’. 

Fritz says we should stop obsessing about external markers of success (which are generally about our identity or ego – in the sense of ‘being’ a success or having ‘arrived’) and focus instead on thinking about what we want to create in the world and how we can take steps towards making it real.

I love this distinction, as it’s value driven and about what you can create – and not who you want to become. As Fritz says, it is generative, and not reactive. It may need a bit of reflection to see the distinction, but it’s time worth spending.

Whatever our external circumstances, we can still have internal markers of success, we can still be creative, we can still get excited and make stuff. (OK, maybe not if your external circumstances include having your head chopped off, but for most of us, that’s not our biggest worry…)

Why not reflect on this question: What does success mean to you? What are the elements of a happy (or satisfying, or meaningful, or complete) life for you? 
As you move through your working day, it is a good idea to keep these questions in mind. Or you can set aside some time one weekend to think about the elements of your satisfying life – work, family, community, friends, travel, finances, health, purpose, whatever it is for you. There’s no right or wrong here, but it’s worth spending a bit of time thinking about the elements that you need to have in place, even if some of them haven’t happened yet.

You can also think of this in connection with your values. For example, think about which of these would make you the most excited:

  • making $1 million
  • receiving an Order of Australia or other award
  • becoming famous or a celebrity
  • gaining the respect of your peers or community!

By the way, setting goals and hard work and persistence are still really important – so watch out for some goal setting tips next post.

Joanna Maxwell
Work in Colour

To learn more, visit workincolour.com.au or call (02) 9994 8020.


How To Negotiate A Pay Rise


Salary Negotiations

For many in the profession, annual performance review time can be the most daunting and stressful part of the employment calendar. Excluding promotions, it is the one chance you have in the year to present your case and secure a better than average salary increase.

Performance reviews are exactly that – a review of your performance.  Taking a cap in hand approach to annual reviews, and hoping that the goodwill you’ve cultivated throughout the year will be enough to get you more, is rarely a successful strategy in salary negotiations.

Equally unsuccessful is using your personal circumstances to try and justify a raise – it is not your employer’s concern if you’ve suddenly got a bigger mortgage, your rent was increased or day care costs skyrocketed.

Playing this card draws heavily on the emotional currency you’ve banked with your employer over the year, and puts your relationship before your performance. It immediately places strain on your relationship and, even if granted, it can take a long time to get your account back in credit.

You need to have a plan and strategy in place if you want to negotiate a better than average salary increase.

Gather Data To Support Your Case

Every commercial organisation in the world, whether it’s a law firm or retailer, is in the business of making money, and every employee is hired to solve a problem.

Knowing what problems you solve and what you have achieved in this area is key to understanding how to negotiate a pay rise.

People in sales rarely have difficulty when it comes to annual reviews as they are usually aware of their sales figures and the commercial impact that they have on the company. For example: ‘I was no.1 sales rep’, or ‘I grew market share by 250%’, or ‘I exceeded my budget by $500k’. When presented to management successes such as these are hard to argue against.

Similarly, those in private practice can look to billable hours as a simple way to measure their performance and impact on the firm. Lawyers who smash their budgets out of the park are rarely backward about coming forward regarding their figures when it comes to appraisals.

But what if you don’t work in private practice, or your billings aren’t what you’d hoped? What if you work in house and billings are not a measure of success?

You can’t rely on personal sales data, so you need to look for something else. More often than not it’s a simple matter of changing how you look at your work.

Everything’s Measurable

Take time before the meeting to review the projects that you have worked on or initiatives that you have participated in throughout the year. All of these will have a ‘results’ orientation and you need to identify and focus on the commercial outcomes of these projects.

Measurable figures that have an impact on negotiations are monetary, percentile or numerical values. These highlight the impact you have on the business.

Steer clear of the emotional and goodwill aspects of your work. This is largely intangible and emotional goodwill is hard to translate to hard cash in a salary negotiation. It is the results of goodwill and the impact on the workplace that you need to report on.

For example: overachieving budget by $100k or 130%; growth in your client base or risk mitigation or cost avoidance, etc…

This kind of information is largely accessible and is the kind of information you need to be thinking about when it comes to your appraisal.

Private Practice vs In-house And How You Can Measure Your Impact

Private Practice:

  • Billable Hours: Achievement of target, or comparison against others in the practice group
  • Client Growth: Increased customer mix de-risks a business if there’s a downturn
  • Client Retention: Ever been handed a disgruntled client and manage to turn it around? Retention of client = retained revenue / loss avoidance.
  • Referred Work: Value of business you have referred to internal practice groups. Would they have it if you didn’t bring it in?
  • Client Satisfaction: Happy clients come back and spend more. Do you have repeat business?
  • Marketing: Market share, increased client awareness, new business won or limited competitor activity in your field.
  • Building the Brand: Public speaking, press and networking events are all good PR vehicles for the firm to build their brand. Have you secured work because of your efforts here?


  • Risk Mitigation: de-risking contracts reduces exposure, and results in lower insurance premiums. Can you find out by how much?
  • Cost Avoidance: negotiating contracts to shift costs to 3rd parties equals bottom line savings.
  • Capital Raising/Grant Funding: In-house counsel provide invaluable advise in capital raising activities. Did you help secure investment funding?
  • Commercialisation: Spin out a new product / company? Negotiate trading terms? What was the value of the deal for the business?
  • Procurement: Negotiating terms with suppliers to reduce costs / improved supplier quality.
  • Productivity / Efficiency: Improved time to execute tasks / number of deals increased in a given year.
  • Compliance: Were you successful in securing compliance / concessions from government on particular matters? Impact of this – what was the resulting commercial outcome?

Calculating Your Value

While it helps to have access to budgets and expenditure data, it is not essential. If you can work out the approximate impact on the organisation through some simple mathematics you are well on your way to building a strong argument to support your case.


In-house: You could have led a project at work – let’s say there were 5 people working on the project at a cost of $1,000 per person per day. If you deliver the project one week ahead of schedule you have saved the company a significant amount of money on wages cost and productivity to the value of $25,000 ($1,000 x 5 people x 5 days).

Conversely, if in private practice working on a similar matter you might have noticed a key issue with the case, resulting in more time going into the matter than was estimated to ensure the client was properly protected. More time equals more revenue for the firm.

Another example could be in contract negotiation for trading terms for a client’s product. Improved delivery or distribution time has a positive effect further down the supply chain, leading to faster turnaround times or access to market. If a product hits the shelves two weeks faster than normal try to calculate the $ value in sales per month. Divide this by half and you have the rough value of the impact you’ve had at work. Chances are it’s worth thousands, and either the client or internal stakeholders will be happy with the outcome.

The amounts do not need be exact figures, just approximate amounts that demonstrate you are actively thinking about the business and the commercial impact of your role.

During the Review Meeting

If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

That said, it is better to wait for the question of salary to be brought up by your employer rather than raising the matter straight away. Being too keen or being anything other than objective is only likely to bring on a confrontation about the matter. Confrontations rarely end in win-win for both parties.

Remain objective. Avoid emotive words and sentences like ‘I’ve worked hard all year and I feel I deserve a raise’. Instead use phrases that speak objectively – for example: ‘my contributions in the past year have had a significant and positive impact on the business, and I believe that merits a review of my salary package.’

This will then trigger a question asking you to justify your position. If you’ve done your sums correctly, and they show that you’re having a positive impact, then you will be presenting some solid data that supports your case and this will be hard to knock back.


Be reasonable. Shooting for the stars with a 25%-50% salary increase is unlikely to be awarded. Employers have budgets that they need to stick to and going far beyond that is very hard to justify unless you’re working miracles every day.

For most employers 3-5% is an expected increase during annual reviews due to Consumer Price Indexing. Aim for a mid-point of double this (around 8-10%). It doesn’t create an unrealistic expectation for your employer, and doesn’t place too much pressure on you for the year ahead.

Good luck!

 by Diarmuid Sexton



Australia propels supplier diversity to a new level


In most countries where policy and strategy on diversity and inclusion in the sphere of employment is common practice it has been accompanied for some time by the implementation of some form of supplier diversity.

In the United States, the first Federal Government-sponsored program on supplier diversity began in 1969. Since then an increasing number of large US businesses have committed themselves to purchasing a significant proportion of their procurements from smaller suppliers owned by women, veterans, minority groups, members of the LGBT community and disabled persons. In 2001, the Billion Dollar Roundtable was created to recognise and celebrate US corporations that spent at least $1 billion with minority and women-owned suppliers.

Supplier diversity was initially positioned as an ethical form of corporate social responsibility and an expression of social solidarity, as well as a way of boosting businesses owned or controlled by previously disadvantaged groups, with little thought given to the positive business consequences for the organisation doing the purchasing.

More recently a number of Governments and large organisations in industrialised countries have recognised that substantial economic benefits will accrue through a comprehensive diverse supplier strategy which is systematic, benchmarked and quantified. Acknowledging the benefits flowing from enhancing supplier diversity has arisen in such instances from an understanding that customer-bases are now more heterogeneous, and markets are more segmented. This in turn inevitably requires that businesses wishing to secure a competitive advantage from changing customer profiles need to ensure that supply-chains must materially reflect these new realities and so these businesses have begun to direct their purchasing towards female-owned and minority-owned suppliers.

A different model has been adopted however in South Africa where previous economic inequality had been entrenched by law. Remedial legislation has been passed to implement the policy of Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) designed to kick-start the rapid integration of business owned by previously disadvantaged racial groups. This policy requires Government agencies and private organisations wishing to do business with the state to give business preference to enterprises owned or managed by members of previously disadvantaged groups.

Whilst understandable in the South African context in an effort to remedy 40 years of institutionalised exclusion of Blacks from the mainstream economy, there are inherent limitations to this type of approach. For diversity to be accepted as a fundamental norm it must be embedded in the culture of organisations and diffused through all its activities including procurement. It needs to be more than an ad hoc or specialist programme designed to bring benefits to targeted individuals groups or organisations.

Aligned with a more broad based approach to driving the diversity and inclusion agenda, progressive Australian companies have now propelled the notion of supplier diversity to a new level. In October, 2013 a select group of Australian Companies headed by CEO’s belonging to the Male Champions of Change (“MCC”) announced their ‘Supplier Multiplier initiative’. The stated objective is to ensure that principles of gender equality not be limited merely to employee composition but also be reflected in Supplier Standards and Codes of Practice.

Extending the now widely-accepted premise that diversity in employee demographics serves as a springboard to innovation and enhanced productivity these organisations are now using the self-same principles to encompass their existing and prospective suppliers.

These requirements are being spelled out explicitly by large organisations in a number of industries – nowhere more so than in the demands clients are placing upon law firms supplying them with legal services. In a Lexis Nexis White Paper published in 2009 on impending changes in the legal profession. It was noted:

“Expert advice from professionals with inherent background knowledge of a client’s language or culture is becoming a prized commodity. Ethnic groups are starting to become heavily represented in the corporate world and law firms must keep up with this trend.”

In 2011, General Counsel Gail Stephens, for Luxottica Asia Pacific Region, the world’s biggest eyewear company, stated that an important criterion in choosing a law firm is the firm’s diversity policy. Questions she puts to a new law firm are:

“How many women are in your firm? What does your firm do to promote women to leadership positions?”

And Natalie Allen, General Counsel, Mirvac echoed this sentiment when presented with a prospective law firm that had no women on the team.

“We want a team that mirrors our team”

Supplier diversity in Australia is thus currently being driven by governance AND performance requirements, fuelled by the belief that the espousal and implementation of diversity by suppliers across the board will lead to greater innovation, flexibility, sustainability and dynamism of the supply chain and will generate multiple economic benefits.

To realise the goal that women and minority groups are able to assume their rightful degree of participation at all levels of leadership, management and employment, Australia’s businesses have begun to engage a broad range of suppliers to become joint-participants in this enterprise. The ultimate business benefit of this change in mindset goes beyond simply better matching suppliers with one’s consumers and markets. The purpose of this engagement is to create a combined effort to expand business opportunities across the broad economy for women and other previously disadvantaged groups. According to the MCC the commitment, which 14 of Australia’s largest companies signed up to in November 2013, has the potential to impact 54,000 suppliers and $30 billion of procurement spend across all companies represented by their group in Australia.

This new phase in embracing supplier diversity as a fundamental way of doing business is to be welcomed as a further step in leveraging the best skills and services that all Australians have to offer.

As Mike Smith ANZ, CEO, one of the leading champions of change has said:

“I imagine if the ingenuity of all business partners across our networks could be harnessed, the pipeline will increase diversity of perspectives which will help innovation and better decision making”


Did you know that a pot plant helps your productivity?




Where we work and what it feels like has a measurable impact on our mood, job satisfaction – and ability to think well.

A Scientific American Mind article (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=building-around-the-mind&sc=WR_20090428) some time ago told the story of Jonas Salk struggling with his work and so going to spend time in Assisi at a mediaeval monastery, where he had the breakthrough that led to the oral polio vaccine. Of course, it might not have been the lovely surroundings, but Salk himself credited the space with the return of his creativity – and because of this, he teamed up with a renowned architect to build the Salk Institute in California, designed as a scientific facility that would stimulate breakthroughs and encourage creativity.

There have now been a number of research studies examining what it is about certain spaces that fosters productivity, good thinking and creativity. While most of us cannot build our own ideal workspace, we can generally have some control over our immediate surroundings. Read through this list for some inspiration:

Greenery: This makes an enormous difference, whether it’s a view of nature from your window, or bringing a pot plant or flowers into your workspace. When I moved into my current office, I rented two big plants to keep me company. I didn’t know about the research, but did know that I need to feel connected with nature.

Light: Natural light is great, neon light is not (you already knew that, right?). Brighter light is good for focus, and dimmer light for conversation and creativity…there are also different kinds of light that tap into our circadian rhythms and keep us either awake, or help us feel sleepy. This is a VERY big subject, so search online for more information if you’re interested.

Ceiling Height: A 2007 study found that higher ceilings encourage creative thought, while lower ones are better for focused, detail work. (This is probably something you have little control over, but it is interesting anyway…)

Personal Stuff: Having your own things around is relaxing, and it can also stimulate productivity and better thinking. One of my essentials is shelves of books, another is one or two treasures collected on my travels. The opposite of course is also true – a sterile, impersonal, bare or institutional space is not good for anyone.

Zones: it is great to have a mix of communal and private spaces, so people can move in and out of different zones for different activities or states of mind. Even in my small office, I have a table and chairs set up at one end, and comfy red chairs by the window. I move in and out of both spaces, on my own as well as when I have clients there. Studies also consistently show most of us prefer round edges (the thought is that we are hardwired to associate sharp edges with danger…intriguing). The shape of your furniture and office layout may be determined by others, but can you move to your firm library to do some tasks, or slip out to a café or take a short walk around the block sometimes? It all helps…

What could you do to make your workspace more conducive to productivity and clever thinking?


Joanna Maxwell is a lively and inspiring keynote speaker, accredited coach and trainer, who has long been fascinated by the power of creative thinking and how to harness it to help individuals and businesses. After recovering from her first career as a corporate lawyer, Joanna decided to use the rigour and analytical skills she had learned in a more creative and unstructured environment. She founded her business, Work In Colour, in 2002.

Joanna has survived walking on fire and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, and while she wouldn’t necessarily want to repeat either of those adventures, she is a keen traveller with journeys through the Middle East, India, Africa, Borneo, Burma and Tibet under her belt. She is hopelessly addicted to obscure sci‐fi shows like Jericho and Firefly.



Kate McCallum


What if you had to wait 4 more years to retire?


How much do super fund fees affect retirement income? The short answer: A lot. Most investors could be losing 4 to 7 years of their retirement income to fees, according to our analysis. What would that mean to your retirement plans? Many individuals have their super in their employer’s default fund. And if you’re like most people, you have collected several funds as you have progressed through your career. However, few people have considered the importance of the critical factor of fees in determining whether they will achieve the ultimate goal of their super – to retire when they wish with sufficient money for a comfortable life.

What are typical super fund fees?

According to consulting actuaries, Rice Warner, when looking at all super fund types, the average fees charged for a super fund, was 1.2% of fund assets. However, while the average fees seem reasonable, the detail of the report proves that super fund fees can vary markedly between super funds – with some category averages as expensive as 2.3%. We repeatedly see clients paying more than 2% in super fees. And if you think a Self Managed Fund is the answer, you may need to think again. Typical fees for an SMSF, according to Rice Warner, were similar to that 1.2% average. And interestingly, even industry funds – which market low fees as a key differentiator – are shown by Rice Warner to have have fees in line with the average of 1.2%.

What is the impact of fees on retirement income?

To measure the effect of fees, we considered three price points as reasonable representations of what most people are paying each year: a low fee of 0.70%, a mid-range fee of 1.35% and a high fee of 2.0% – in each case a difference of 0.65%. Let’s take a hypothetical investor, Lindsay. She is age 45, plans to retire at age 65 with an annual personal income of $60,000 each year. She earns an annual salary of $200,000 and has a balanced portfolio returning average returns each year of 7%. In the first instance, we have assumed Lindsay has contributions of super guarantee only (currently 9.25%). If Lindsay had a super fund with mid-range fees, the additional 0.65% difference over the low fee rate would reduce the amount of her retirement income by 4 years. However, if Lindsay had a super fund with 2% per annum fees, the fee difference of 1.35% (compared with our low rate) eliminated almost 8 years of retirement income. That is a very material loss of retirement assets and lifestyle income – and it is solely due to fee erosion.

Save more, pay more

Now, if we assume that Lindsay is a high saver – and each year salary sacrifices to the maximum limit (which will be $30,000 from 1 July 2014). In this case, paying mid-range fees means that Lindsay loses 7 years of retirement income. Pay high fees of 2%, and Lindsay loses another 5 years again – a total of 12 years of retirement income lost to fees. So, despite diligently squirreling away savings for many years, paying unnecessary fees creates a significant reduction in retirement assets and lifestyle income.

Don’t risk losing years of retirement income

If you would like to review your super, please contact us (02 9262 6045). It’s worth achieving lower fees and reclaiming years of valuable retirement income.

Rice Warner Fee Report (2012), reported in “FEEding frenzy: how much does your super fund cost?” Trish Power – September 12, 2013


Let’s have a conversation about success

It seems that all around me at the moment, people are rethinking their assumptions about success. Is it making a certain amount of money? Holding a certain level of seniority? Driving a certain type of car? Owning a home?  Or is it more about feeling well? Being content in your personal relationships? Or finding balance in life?

I’ve noticed a significant shift in the way that my clients are defining their own success, and a sense of frustration with the historical norms of money, power and possessions. Today, our careers are taking a far less linear progression, and yet we’re still influenced all too often by what others suggest our success should look like.

Certainly the idea of success as a destination is losing it’s relevance: more and more, success is morphing into a state of being and it’s definitely in a constant state of flux.  Understanding the shifting goalpost is absolutely essential in order to plan a pathway toward it.

This has prompted my analysis of success across many recognised business people, entrepreneurs and community leaders.  The result is a values-driven success model for defining success, that may be helpful in focusing your own efforts in setting work and life goals.

This approach begins with understanding one’s core values, or those beliefs and expectations that drive all your work and life decisions and become the single source of truth in all your life’s endeavours.  Get it right and you’ll find alignment and purpose between your values and all the activities you pursue; get it wrong and you’ll feel a state of conflict and tension that cannot be ignored.

I encourage my clients to define their core values in the form of three key words: those words that describe them better than any other.  As a process it can take quite some time to disseminate all of your being into just three words; but the clarity and focus that results will be worth the effort.

Using these values, you then overlay an appropriate attitude and awareness of your strengths and how to can play to them.  Sheryl Sandberg addresses this in her book “Lean In: Women, Work and The Will To Lead” and Marcus Buckingham also offers some great tips in his book “Find Your Strongest Life”.  It’s about understanding your unique value proposition, and then backing yourself to the end.

The next layer is about prioritising and reprioritising your efforts and activities.  This may be imposed upon us by competing deadlines and external factors; while at times it will be driven by personal choices like a desire to learn new skills or redistribute our attention, change career path or devote more time to caring responsibilities.  Either is valid and learning to work within a state of ambiguity can be extremely beneficial to your overall satisfaction levels in the longer term.

Once your priorities are understood, it’s important to position yourself to take best advantage of opportunities.  Get clear about what you need to realize your goals, and think actively about who or what can help you achieve this.  Then take a risk and ask for the help that you need.  As the late Steve Jobs said, “I’ve never found anybody that didn’t want to help me if I asked them for help. Most people never pick up the phone and call, most people never ask and that’s what separates sometimes the people that do things from the people that just dream about them.”

Finally what most “successful” people have in common is that they celebrate their wins.  They understand the power of positive psychology and the benefits of positively reinforcing their achievements.  I wrote about this in my book “Little Wins for Working Women” and it is reinforced by the work of Martin Seligman and others.  I really believe that acknowledging all our wins can help us to create more.

These themes and more were discussed at my recent Inspirations Before Breakfast event.  If you would like to explore your own feelings of success and future direction, I am offering a free 15-minute phone consult for all members of the Women Lawyers Network.  To book in, please email me at jen@jendalitz.com and quoting the code WLNMAY.

About the author | Jen Dalitz is a transition coach, author and speaker on women, work and leadership.  Beginning her career in finance and management consulting, she shifted to the entrepreneurial arena a decade ago and has since launched three thriving businesses. An acclaimed businesswoman, Jen is a regular commentator in television, print and social media and blogs to a global following at www.TheSheEOBlog.com

Flexibility, Uncategorized

“Let it go” at Hive

Have you ever wondered why the song ‘Let it go’ from the Disney film Frozen resonates with many women? Is the idea of releasing our power appealing (even when there are serious consequences – as in the film)? Is it because some of the lyrics remind us of our own experiences? As lawyers, do we relate to feeling confined and controlled – oppressed by old fashioned expectations of the perfect (girl) lawyer? [Be the good girl you always have to be].

Lawyers are knowledge workers, but the inflexibility of traditional law firms with their narrow range of acceptable work practices can stifle our creativity and prevent us from performing at our best [Conceal don’t feel]. At Hive Legal we want our lawyers to regain their love of practising law and our clients to receive the benefits of that.

We believe that empowering and enabling the intellectual and emotional capital of knowledge workers through our contemporary model will lead to better quality outcomes for clients and a more natural and sustainable work environment for our team [Can’t hold it back anymore].

What we have done is started with a clean slate and designed a firm for today and the future that does not shackle lawyers to desks and timesheets [The fears that once controlled me can’t get to me at all]. We believe in working anytime anywhere NOT working all the time everywhere.

I have been asked to write about how Hive Legal is different to other law firms. I think the main source of difference is that we have challenged ourselves to rethink some of the practices and beliefs that can seem embedded in traditional firm culture [It’s time to see what I can do – to test the limits and break through]. Below we have set out some of the points of contrast.

Traditional – Flexible working is sub optimal
Hive Legal: Flexible working is both optimised and optimal. Happy people do better work. Our secure workspace and home office set up have been specifically designed to facilitate remote working, so that people have many choices of workplace. We value results not hours. We do not require time recording. At Hive skilled performance as an agile worker will be career enhancing not career limiting.

Traditional – Time recording drives productivity
Hive Legal: Time recording and hourly billing reward inefficiency. Knowledge work is not defined by quantity, but by quality – not by its costs but by its results. Its value cannot be measured in 6 minute units.

Traditional – Matters must be resourced from within the firm to the greatest extent possible
Hive Legal: We match skills and capacity to each matter from a wide pool of qualified and trusted resources. Because we do not have a large inflexible workforce to support at a high fixed cost to us, we can provide more tailored solutions and better value to clients who can choose the shape of their legal service.

Traditional – Command and control is the best way to manage lawyers
Hive Legal: Knowledge workers need gardeners not engineers. We aim to create the environment in which people have the right tools and know enough and care enough do their best work, without micromanagement.

Traditional – Law firms cannot properly serve their clients without adversely impacting the wellbeing of their employees
Hive Legal: Our model can provide better outcomes for both clients and employees, instead of favouring one over the other.

Traditional – Sustainable working practices are incompatible with client requirements
Hive Legal: Clients care about results and value, not the internal workings of law firms. It is perfectly possible to run matters with teams working flexibly without compromising on client outcomes. Yes people will need to work very hard at times but with proper resourcing this can be the exception, rather than the rule.

Traditional – Ownership is limited to partners
Hive Legal: As we are an incorporated legal practice employees can be owners.

Imagine if you were free to advise your clients in the best way you can without the pressure to leverage a high fixed cost base and manage conflicting expectations internally. Hive is a place where clients can access the kind of service they actually want at genuine value pricing and our team can use their professional skills and do the work they love.

[Rise like the break of dawn].

Traditional firms are captives of their history – at Hive we have no baggage, no legacy and nothing to defend. We are free to look after our clients and our team – to ‘let it go’.

Let it go [at Hive].

Mitzi Gilligan is Principal and Founder at Hive Legal

After 25 years working in traditional law firms, Mitzi was looking for a more meaningful way to work: for clients and for lawyers. She spent over thirteen years as a partner managing complex projects with teams in diverse locations, many of whom were on flexible work arrangements. Mitzi was inspired to become one of the founders of Hive Legal by the opportunity to use that experience in a different model. Mitzi wants to match the needs of clients with top quality legal advice from highly skilled and experienced lawyers, without the constraints of large law firm history and infrastructure. Email: mitzi.gilligan@hivelegal.com.au

*Acknowledgement: the ideas on which Hive is founded build on the work of many others. Particular influences for the content of this blog come from the published works of Mitch Kowalski, Alison Maitland and Ron Baker.


Have You Been Seduced By The IKEA Effect?


Do you tend to overvalue your own work? Or do you in fact think it is worse than it really is? These questions are examined in an excellent TED talk by Dan Ariely. It is full of great stats and stories about how we value our work, resulting from his very serious research using origami cranes and frogs (truly…). It’s really interesting stuff, worth a look. He is also very entertaining, which is always a bonus when it comes to talking about very serious research.

The thing that hit home for me was the bit about what he calls ‘the IKEA effect’. (Mercifully this did not involve online demos using Allen keys and white particleboard, or even the origami frogs…). It turns out that we (over) value work we have put blood, sweat and tears into, even when it’s flawed – think that lopsided table, or the IKEA bookcase where the back panel is upside down and back to front. 

In the writing world, this is linked to the aphorism known as ‘murder your darlings’- the need to cull precisely those sentences in your writing that you love the most. You know, that brilliant turn of phrase, or that screamingly clever little paragraph. My thinking about this has long been that it’s because they make the rest of your writing lopsided, and also they are all about you (and your extraordinary talent) rather than the story you are supposed to be telling. I guess Dan Ariely might gently point out that it may also be necessary to murder your darlings because they may not actually be quite as brilliant as you believe. Sobering thought.

At work, the IKEA effect might include the totally brilliant advice you slaved over for days and days, or that truly great idea you had about solving your client’s case.

I love the idea of the IKEA effect, and I can quite see its application to the workplace. But I want to have a chat to Dan Ariely about one thing that seems to run counter to his research.

It’s this: Some people have a tendency to be harshly critical of their own work (never me, of course…).  This can lead to perfectionism and never being satisfied that a piece of work is finished, or good enough to be sent into the world. It can also mean that we overvalue the words of ‘experts’or others in our lives, and assume that almost anyone knows better than we do.

For me, all this also links into the inner critic. You know, that voice that speaks inside your head, telling you that your work is awful, or that everyone will laugh at your great idea, or that Susie is always better at this stuff than you are, so what’s the point…

So, maybe some of us lean towards the IKEA effect, and others go the other way? Or maybe we are seduced by our own work in areas where we have some confidence, and subject to attacks by the inner critic when we try something new, or which we really care about? Or, are Americans more prone to overvalue their own work and Aussies to underplay? I’m not sure, but it’s intriguing. And the thing that is really important is that you learn to see your work as others see it, whether that requires an adjustment one way or the other.

What do you think?


Joanna Maxwell is a lively and inspiring keynote speaker, accredited coach and trainer, who has long been fascinated by the power of creative thinking and how to harness it to help individuals and businesses. After recovering from her first career as a corporate lawyer, Joanna decided to use the rigour and analytical skills she had learned in a more creative and unstructured environment. She founded her business, Work In Colour, in 2002.

Joanna has survived walking on fire and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, and while she wouldn’t necessarily want to repeat either of those adventures, she is a keen traveller with journeys through the Middle East, India, Africa, Borneo, Burma and Tibet under her belt. She is hopelessly addicted to obscure sci‐fi shows like Jericho and Firefly.


We provide the creative thinking tools for individuals and businesses to switch from working in black & white to colour. Whether you are a large or small business looking for fresh inspiration, or an individual seeking a creative look at your career, a Work In Colour creative thinking program is your edge.Our services include:

Juicy thinking workshops – public and in-house

Juicy thinking facilitated idea sessions

Career programs – Escape Hatch, Career GPS, Second Act and more

Abilities and strengths training

Executive coaching

Small business programs

Keynote speaking

Books, cards and other products


Check out http://workincolour.com.au to see how we can help you flourish at work.

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Talented female lawyers in Australia are leaving the profession – It’s the profession that needs to change

The legal profession in Australia, like its counterparts in other advanced jurisdictions, is facing a period of disruption and radical change.  Unlike many businesses and other professions the legal profession has been slow to respond to or even acknowledge the seismic shifts that have already taken place.

Bruce MacEwen, a leading U.S. writer on the changing structure of the legal profession has said:

“Lawyers are in denial about the fact that changes to the industry are permanent. They want to believe its cyclical when its structural”

Working with some of Australia’s leading legal firms, Symmetra has been assisting them in identifying and addressing some of the unique challenges that are already apparent as well as those that lie ahead for the legal industry.

Symmetra’s research and experience in this field indicates that the forces which are currently impacting on the Australian legal profession are global and local, economic and social. They will inevitably bring about observable structural changes.

Already there is an observable push to reconfigure the gender and ethnic constitution of the profession. The lopsided gender make-up at senior levels and the propensity to propel men to the top cannot be sustained. The profession cannot advance and be a positive element in the social and economic fabric of Australia if a vast pool of skilled and talented graduates is side-lined. Moreover clients, both corporate and individual will increasingly demand that professional lawyers at the senior levels are not all drawn from a single monolithic source represented by Anglo-White males. 

In line with increasing economic competitiveness in many fields, lawyers will be pressured to reign in their costs. Consumers of services have greater access to information enabling them to monitor and evaluate the cost, quality and effectiveness of the services. Power is shifting from the suppliers to the purchasers of legal services who are becoming more cost-conscious and discerning. Billable hours will become a rarity in time and large corporations, in particular, will use their financial muscle and the knowledge of their in-house counsel to get the best deal.

Legal services of a fairly routine or non-complex kind will increasingly become commoditized. They will be supplied by other businesses or professionals. High-end and complex legal services will continue to be delivered by trained lawyers, but lengthy legal processes will be broken down into smaller and discrete tasks with the simpler elements being outsourced.Supplies of legal services will extend beyond local jurisdictions. Some legal services will continue to be restricted by regulation to locals but this could be vulnerable to internationalisation as foreign firms merge with or take-over local firms or simply enter the local legal marketplace.

A rapidly advancing technology will reconfigure the legal profession. Some of the likely adaptations will include: Online dispute resolution and artificial intelligence – Many legal problems will be solved through computerisation and increasing use of social networking by legal service providers. As the market for legal services becomes less constrained by formal barriers and more transparent, competitors from non-traditional sources will undoubtedly emerge. Accounting firms, for example will increasingly broaden the range of their legal offerings.

Of all the challenges the one that is the most acute in Australia is the pressing need to accommodate the evolving talent pool from which its resources will be drawn. In particular, while women are entering the legal profession in significantly greater numbers than men (61% of all solicitors admitted in 2013 and 58% of those admitted in the past 10 years), the current make-up of the profession in all its sectors – solicitors, barristers, legal counsel and the Judiciary – is manifestly distorted with weighting in favour of males particularly at senior levels.

The attrition of women from the profession is a well-recognised phenomenon. This fact is not only disturbing in itself, it also accentuates many of the difficulties which arise from the external pressures set out above.  A legal profession which shows itself to be cognizant of and adaptable to the needs of women is more likely to be able to adapt to other emerging challenges.

While most women enter the profession with considerable enthusiasm and ambition they are often faced with antiquated attitudes and embedded biases which hinder their advancement. According to a report released by the Law Council of Australia in March 2014 more than 1 in 3 women in the legal profession is considering moving to a new job within the next 5 years.

It is clear that an out-dated business model and a fundamentally rigid approach to recruitment, promotion, mentoring, and the lack of flexible work arrangements and widespread harassment, bullying and bias are engendering considerable disenchantment.

The Law Council Report indicates that men also are dissatisfied with legal practice, although to a lesser extent than women.

All the pressures on the legal profession offer great opportunities as well as challenges to existing legal practitioners and institutions. Those that grasp the nettle can certainly grow and prosper. Law firms have to be more business-like and more responsive to the needs of their clients. This means that lawyers will leverage the skills of flexibility and adaptability rather than insist that clients simply accept systems which the legal profession regards as unchangeable. Legal institutions will do well to strive for a diverse representation of ethnicity and gender within their ranks which will promote diversity of thought and different points of view as a positive benefit. This will inevitably improve the breadth of advice which can be offered to clients and also create opportunities for entirely new and untried solutions to existing problems.

Understanding the need to acknowledge that client interests and wants are not a burden but the rationale for the services which lawyers provide will open the way for the legal profession to be seen as more constructive and a committed participant in addressing socio-economic issues in Australia as well as being a pro-active rather than a reactive problem-solving profession.

Heather Price
A dynamic businesswoman, Heather Price established one of the first and most successful diversity consultancies in South Africa during the dismantling of apartheid. She later established Symmetra in 2003 which, under her leadership, has grown to become a highly respected diversity and inclusion consultancy amongst many of the world’s largest companies.
With over 25 years’ experience, Heather has cemented her reputation both locally and internationally as a leading expert on diversity and inclusion. She is engaged regularly to work with the C-suite on creating diverse and inclusive companies and on counteracting unconscious bias in the workplace


Department: Marketing Yourself. Budget: Unlimited

“Sell myself”. “Indulge in shameless self-promotion”. “Push for what I want”. “Be aggressive about going after what I want”. “Climb the corporate ladder”.

These phrases are just a sample of many I hear from the mouths of my female lawyer clients. And most of them are usually preceded by the words “I’m just not the type of woman to…”

There are many clients who come to me with serious pre-conceptions about what “type” of professional woman you have to be to get ahead in your career. The truth, and the good news, is that there is no such thing as a TYPE of successful woman (or man for that matter). There are however many traits and behaviors that successful people exhibit, and these are all things that we can learn too.

There are multiple articles on the traits of successful people and what I want to talk about here is one of the most important traits they all have – they know how to market themselves.

You might have heard this called Personal Branding. It’s one of the latest buzzwords in career development right now. And for good reason. With the rise of linkedin and social networking, our professional profiles are more prolific and prominent than ever before. Our opportunities for self-promotion (positive and negative) are greater than ever at any other time in history. Linkedin is widely tipped to be as big, if not bigger than Facebook, and with over 225 million users (and over 4 million in Australia), who are we to argue?

We are also in a highly competitive career market. With influences such as an increasing number of services being globally outsourced and a tough economy, it is more important than ever that you are able to take control of your own career destiny and not become a casualty of war. One of the best ways to do that is to learn how to market yourself more successfully.

Now the best news of all is that, unlike a multi-national corporation, you don’t need a multi-million dollar budget to be able to market yourself effectively at work.

Here are 4 things you can do to increase your star power at work and ensure your career is a currency that allows you to do what you want with your life.

1. Understand What YOU Want

The pressures and expectations of family, peers and society often result in many of us following careers and, ultimately, living lives that we don’t even really want. Many of us are not even aware of what we do want and what will make us happy. See my recent blog on this topic.

The very first thing I therefore suggest you do as Head of Department Marketing Yourself, is work out exactly what you want from your career. Ask yourself these questions:

• Am I generally happy to go to and be at work most of the time?
• Do I work with people who inspire me to be and do better?
• Do I feel like I am growing professionally and personally as a result of my career?
• Am I given the opportunity to use my strengths and natural talents every day?

Once you have answered these, you should be in a better position to decide whether your chosen career path is actually the right one for you.

Then you can ask questions such as:

• Where do I want to be in 5 years time?
• What do I need to do in the next 12 months, to help me get there?
• How do I really want to be perceived in my role?
• What do I need to do differently to make sure I actually move forward the way I want to?

If you feel you are on the right path, work out where you want to go next. Stay in law, but with a different firm/company? A promotion within your existing firm/company? Moving off and setting up your own practice?

If you realise you are actually at a career crossroads then you have some decisions to make about your future. And Marketing Yourself takes on a different meaning if you are actually going to be reviewing your options and looking for a new career path.

2. Understand What Makes You YOU

“Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality.”
― Beatrix Potter

Anyone who knows even a tiny bit about marketing gets that you have to understand the product you are marketing, and the benefits it will bring to its end user. Let’s think about that in the context of marketing yourself.

If you don’t know what motivates you, how can you expect your manager to know?

If you don’t know what you are really good at, how can you expect anyone else to know?

If you don’t know what you truly love doing, how can you expect to be able to do more of that, and less of the things you don’t love doing?

My clients know I bang on about this point obsessively – in short, you absolutely have to understand yourself better to be able to perform at your best, and market yourself in a way that you want to be seen.

How do you do that? Here are 3 suggestions to get you started:

• Work with a coach or mentor to highlight your key strengths.
• Learn about your communication style through behavioural profiling – a fantastic tool to help you understand yourself and others, better.
• Be honest about the areas you love at work: create a simple Love and Loathes list and look for the patterns of what you love doing and don’t love doing. This will help you delegate what you can, and do more of what you really love. There is a strong correlation between what we love, and what we are good at.

Once you have done all of this, you will be in a much better position to understand who and what (ie YOU!) you are actually marketing and create a knock-out strategy to get the best bang for your personal marketing buck.

3. Create a Personal Marketing Plan

If you look after a team, the chances are you have to create a business plan and in some cases you may also be responsible for a marketing plan for your part of the business too.

So surely it makes sense to create a personal marketing plan for yourself while you are at it. Here are some suggestions on how to make a Personal Marketing plan work for you.

• Work with a 6 or 12 month plan, then break it into 90 day periods
• Have a theme for each 90 days such as “New Connections” or “Increase Visibility”. Each activity in the 90 days should be directed at the chosen theme.
• For example with a theme of “New Connections” you might include a target of the number of networking events or meetings you will have, and list what those will be (with dates); or you might include the number of new connections you will make on linkedin.
• Like any form of goal setting, your actions should be achievable and measureable.

4. Take Action!

Now that you understand where you want to go in your career; you know yourself and what you are marketing; and you have a plan to do it, the next part is the really crucial element.

You must take ACTION!

We’ve all written strategies and plans that gather dust in the great drawer of life. This one is different in that you, and only you, can make this plan work.

Yes – you can engage and persuade others to help you along the way, but ultimately your marketing success relies on you and the consistent actions you take.

Start small. Do one thing today that will move you forward tomorrow. You are in control of your own personal brand, what people think of you, and your career success.

And, as the great Don Draper said in Mad Men “If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.”

Fiona Craig is a specialist in helping lawyers get the direction, skills and confidence they need to create a career that brings them the success, fulfillment and reward they deserve. Fiona uses her 20 years experience of working in and with the legal industry to bring a deep understanding of the challenges facing lawyers in their careers. Through speaking, coaching, mentoring and training, Fiona ensures that her clients have the career vision, confidence and positioning they need to truly excel.

You can connect with Fiona on linkedin, follow her on twitter or Facebook and get her weekly Career Confidence tips by clicking here.