Introducing BlawgWorld 2007: get your free copy today!

I am excited to join the fanfare introducing BlawgWorld 2007.  (Download your free copy by clicking the image above or this link.)  This nifty eBook includes posts selected from 77 of the “most influential” legal blogs, addressing practice management issues, substantive issues, technology issues, and more.  I am honored that Life at the Bar is included.

If you need to know more before downloading your copy (and note, you’re not required to provide any information in exchange for downloading your copy), read the press release here.  This guide will introduce some new blogs for your perusal and give you a post that will help you decide whether to explore further.

In addition to the list of blawgs, the eBook includes a list of problems that law firms often face, which is further subdivided into specific FAQ-style questions.  These questions link to substantive presentations by advertisers, which give good information about their products or services without hyping them.  For instance, “Where Can I Find a Certified Trainer for Web-Based “Hands On” Software Training Specifically Designed for Law Firm Personnel?” leads to a infomercial (emphasis on the info) about a training company that provides training via the web.  It’s a nice way to get an introduction to solutions without having to face a sales representative until you’re ready to learn more.

BlawgWorld 2006 was downloaded over 45,000 times.  The 2007 edition will surely beat that.  Get yours today!

Creating “work/life balance”: 5 steps to success

I was in a Starbucks last week reading Beyond the Big Firm: Profiles of Lawyers Who Want Something More.  (Review forthcoming.)  A man sat down at the table next to me, carrying 3 or 4 bar review books, and looking somewhat frazzled.  He kind of nodded to me, and I nodded at his books and asked how he was feeling about the bar.  (In case, you’ve lost count, it ended yesterday in most states.)  As he started talking, out of habit I put my book down to listen — face down on the table, so the cover showed.  He noticed the title, and that’s when the conversation turned interesting.

After some pleasantries (Oh, you graduated from XYZ?  Which BigLaw office?  Oh, great people, great work, you’re going to love it there….) he asked why I was reading that book.  I explained that I’ve now transitioned to coaching lawyers, so I read books that may be of interest to clients or potential clients.  He looked a little worried and asked whether all my clients “want something more” and if that means leaving a big firm.

I crafted my answer carefully, because my clients do typically want more, but that more can be anything from BigLaw partnership to a part-time schedule with great work to leaving the law altogether, and plenty of points in between.  He told me that his friends were going to big firms with the plan to pay off their loans, save some money, get good training, and then move to a smaller firm or hang out a shingle, but that, following a terrific summer clerkship and lots of thought, he really wanted to stick it out and make his career in BigLaw.

And then he admitted that he was worried about balancing that desire with wanting to be an involved dad to his 2-year old and to keep his marriage strong and vibrant.  (Ya gotta love coffeehouse anonymity; it’s the next best thing to anonymous conversation on an airplane.)  I hope he sees today’s post.

Lawyers in firms of all sizes are interested in “work/life balance” (I’m still searching for a more accurate, less loaded phrase).   Steve Seckler of the Counsel to Counsel blog posted this intriguing suggestion last week under the title Getting Control of Your Hours:

The central career issue of our day is finding meaningful work which leaves time for our personal lives. Professionals who charge for their time know this firsthand. In the legal profession, where the pressure to bill more hours has never been greater, this is particularly true.

But choosing a career in law does not automatically require you to sacrifice your whole personal life.With some deliberate thinking and good career planning, it is possible to enjoy a measure of work/life balance even at some of the top law firms.

Fortunately, he then provides 5 excellent steps toward actually accomplishing this goal.  The tips (without his commentary, which expands and clarifies) are:

1.  Focus on work that has predictable flows.
2.  Early in your career, be a “yes” person and do great work.
3.  Build strong partner and client relationships.

4.  Find a firm where the culture supports outside interests.
5.  Learn some time management skills and learn to delegate.

Of course, as Steve points out, “getting control of your hours” or at least “enjoy[ing] a measure of work/life balance” requires forethought, planning, and careful attention.  I would argue that it’s never too late to undertake this process, though it’s likely harder to accomplish if not started early.


The reset button

One of the interesting things about coaching is that periodically, the topics on which I’m coaching someone will rise up and smack me in the face.  Pride may go before a fall, but working with someone else on an issue they’re facing seems highly likely in some bizarre cosmic way to raise the same issue for me.  Recently, it’s been around time management.  A client is known for being busy.  Frantically busy.  Ridiculously busy.  Productive, but busy beyond all measure of busy.  And he doesn’t like it, he doesn’t want it, and he’s ready to explore change.  Fortunately, after we explored some strategies that he created to meet his own needs and tendencies, things are improving for him.

Can you guess what my last week has been like?

I caught myself yesterday feeling as if I had so much to do that I’d never catch up (which may be true, but is hardly fatal) and bemoaning my lack of time.  Nope, can’t work out; I don’t have time.  Return calls to friends?  Not possible, there just isn’t time.  Post on the Life at the Bar blog on Monday morning as usual?  Not this week!

And then, two strategies came my way that have created a radically different experience for Tuesday than I had for Monday.  I’ll share them here in the hopes that they’ll help someone else.

First, eliminate the word “busy” from my repertoire.  I discovered that every time someone asked how things are going, I would reply “BUSY!” and immediately feel more stressed.  So, I’m practicing today with using other words: productive, effective, fruitful, joyful, full of accomplishments, etc.  (Thanks to Coach Kimberly for leading the way on this!)  Nothing has changed about my workload, of course, but my relationship with it has changed dramatically.

And second, at someone’s suggestion, when I felt that time was flying and I would never catch enough of it to get anything done, I stopped and watched the clock for one minute.  Have you ever noticed how long a minute takes when you’re just waiting and watching?  It was like being a kid waiting for summer break all over again, living in a state of seeming suspended animation.  Again, it didn’t change the items on my “to do” list, and it didn’t really even change the fact that I have more to do than I have day in which to do it, but that one-minute break helped me to realize that time isn’t really going so quickly, that just noticing it would make it slow down.

So, today I remain productive and cognizant that time isn’t actually flying by me.  I fully expect to hit “reset” again tomorrow by stopping myself from proclaiming my busyness and taking a one-minute break.  Will I get more done?  I don’t know.  But I will feel less pressured, which will make me less hurried, which will prime me to be less likely to make mistakes, which will make the day flow more easily.

Not bad for a small semantic change and a one-minute dance with time.  Would anyone else care to try it with me?

Recreation: a foundation of balance and productivity

It occurred to me this week that there’s (at least) one activity that, perhaps counterintuitively, is a foundation of work/life balance and productivity: recreation.

While coaching a client this week and introducing Stephen Covey’s Urgent/Important quadrant system for prioritizing and completing tasks, I explained that true recreation — something that’s re-energizing, that “re-creates,” rather than passive activities like vegging out in front of the TV — is a Quadrant II activity: not urgent, but important.  It isn’t urgent because there will never be a requirement to enjoy recreation.  No one will ever request you to “recreate” on their time schedule, and no law firm partner will ever drop by late in the afternoon and apologize for asking you to put in a few hours of recreation that night.  (Absurd image, isn’t it?)  But it’s vitally important.

What “true recreation”?  It varies from person to person.  Perhaps it’s writing, gardening, skiing, going to or performing in the theater, playing with children, doing volunteer work… Whatever it is that takes a person from his ordinary self into a state of flow, where time passes without notice and the end result is production of energy, enthusiasm, a rounded person.  The key point is that true recreation creates balance and energy, both of which lead to increased productivity in the office.  And that’s what makes it important.

For those of you who are inclined to try an experiment, give this a shot: if you typically eat lunch at your desk, try going out instead.  Spend 30 or 45 minutes at a museum, in a park, talking with a friend, whatever you enjoy.  And then see whether you’re more productive than usual when you get back to your desk in the afternoon.    Or take several hours over the weekend to engage in recreation, and notice the effects when you get back to work.

David Maister on business development

All writers have their favorite pieces, and while I wouldn’t necessarily elevate blogging to author status, I certainly have my favorite posts.  One of them is Relationship or one-night stand: how law firms view associates(and clients).  It’s a favorite for two reasons: first, it draws on an article about client development by David Maister to explore associate retention, and second, because I always chuckle when I see that someone has stumbled across this blog by searching “one night stand.”  Imagine what they must think!

Maister’s thesis is that lawyers must decide whether they want to develop relationships and trust for long-term client development or whether they want to engage clients on a case-by-case transactional basis.  The former requires sincere interest in the client and builds a connection that leads to the lawyer’s status as (to borrow the title of one of Maister’s books) a “Trusted Advisor.”  The latter is more difficult to create and to sustain because there’s nothing supporting the engagement beyond the exchange of services for money.

The mindset that Maister explores constitutes a worldview that will color the approach of a lawyer or law firm not only to its clients, but also to its associates, partners, and staff as well.  What worldview do you choose?

Habit: the enemy of entropy

I’m not a physicist (I can barely spell the word) but as I remember it, the second law of thermodynamics is that entropy, which for purposes of this post only might be a synonym for chaos or disorder, tends to increase.  Another way of saying this is that systems tend to move from a state of higher organization to a state of lower organization.  I see that law play out, albeit in utterly non-scientific ways, in my life and in those of my clients.  A simple example is the level of order in my office.  At the beginning of the day, my desk is fairly tidy, and by the end of the day, it’s typically a mess; if I don’t neaten it at the end of the day, the cycle will just start again the next morning, with eventually disasterous results.  But when I do take the time to discard the things I no longer need, to stack papers, to return files and books to their proper spots, I have the pleasure of walking into a (relatively) orderly office.  And so, habit is the enemy of entropy.

Most of us have routines that allow our lives to function.  We typically brush our teeth in the same phase of getting ready for the day and for bed, we tend to drive to work or home in the same way, etc.  Professionally, the same kinds of activities keep our work lives on track: tidying the office, noting appointments on a calendar or PDA as soon as we make them, completing time sheets on a regular basis.  Although these tasks are in themselves rather small, they keep things running.  And that’s something to consider both in creating routines and in adhering to them.  Building a habit that supports you is a key skill for any lawyer.

Likewise, it’s worth noting that we all stray from our habits on occasion.  There’s nothing wrong with that, so long as we get back to the beneficial habit.  An example from my own life: last year, I joined a networking group and attended regularly.  If it was the third Thursday, I was at the meeting.  I enjoyed it, I made great contacts that produced business, and all was going well.  But then the group skipped a meeting.  And I was out of town for the next one.  Before I knew it, 8 months had passed, and I hadn’t been to the meetings.  Returning wasn’t hard, but it did take more effort than going as a part of my regular weekly habit.  I had to miss last month’s meeting, and I made sure that I’d made my appointment for the next meeting and that it was marked on my calendar in ink.  A part of suspending my regular practice is now planning to resume it — not because the habit itself is so important, but because it produces great results that I won’t get otherwise.

What habits or practices support you in being healthy, productive, happy, etc.?  Once you’ve identified them, pay attention when you stop following those routines.  There’s no harm in pausing; the key is to have a plan that will support you in resuming those patterns.  What’s yours?

Warning: first impressions linger!

I’ve been making a lot of calls this week, not only to lawyers and law firms but also to doctors’ offices and a variety of businesses, and I’ve discovered something disturbing.  On a distressingly high number of these contacts (including some in-person contacts as well as phone calls), the people who greeted me and who handled my initial inquiry did not make me happy I’d contacted their office.  Instead, I felt that I’d interrupted something important and burdened the staff.  And just in case anyone is thinking perhaps the less-than-favorable reception was because I’m a dreaded cold-calling service provider seeking business… Nope.  I was a client or customer of each business.

The most notable example of this behavior occurred at a doctor’s office.  I hadn’t been to this doctor in a while, and when I arrived for my appointment, the receptionist gave me new patient forms without explanation.  I told her that I had been visiting this doctor off and on since about 1983, and she asked if it had been more than 2 years since I’d visited.  Yes, I said, about 2 years and 2 months.  “Well,” she said as she turned away, “we purged your file after 2 years.”  Not welcome back, not we’re delighted to see you again, not even a throw-away “apology lite” for purging my file.  When I paid my bill after my appointment, I discovered that my previous patient information was printed on it, revealing that they hadn’t purged my information after all.  Fortunately, I still like and trust the medical staff and will return because of that, but next time I call, it’ll be with a sigh because I’ll have to deal with the front office first.

How’s your firm’s welcoming committee?

We so easily fall into the trap of thinking that we lawyers provide client service and that receptionists, legal assistants, secretaries, and other staff members provide administrative support that really doesn’t constitute client service.  While that may be true on one level, it’s wise to consider how much contact the average client has with your staff as opposed to with you.  Unless you’re a really sole practitioner or a third wave lawyer who operates without staff, chances are good that the first person your client speaks with is staff.  I assure you that the client will engage with you with that impression in mind.

It’s easy to identify and weed out those who deliver obviously unacceptable client contact.  The example that comes to mind is one I overheard a few years ago while waiting for a colleage to get off a call so we could talk: “Well, [Mr. Smith], I know you think you’re [lawyer’s] only client, but you aren’t!”  Fortunately, someone who would make a comment like that is generally either retrained or fired with haste.  What about the subtle effects of less-offensive but thoughtless behavior?  Have you ever stepped back to observe how non-attorney staff in your office interacts with your clients?

Here’s a counter-example.  Janette, a receptionist at a large firm in Atlanta, is a ray of sunshine.  Everytime I walked into this firm’s reception area, I’m embraced by her warmth and welcome.  One time, when I was waiting while the person I was to meet was stuck in traffic, I had the opportunity to watch her for a half-hour or so.  She engaged every person who walked in.  She knew returning clients, asked how their travel had been, and made them feel welcome.  When she met someone new, she exchanged a few comments with them — not the kind of chatter that can annoy someone already on edge, just some niceties that paved the way for further conversation if the visitor so desired.  Every person who walked in was greeted, made welcome, and appreciated.  I’m sure the clients and other visitors engaged with the lawyers they were meeting there with the effects of that first impression still lingering.  Janette is clearly an asset to that office, and (fortunately) the firm knows it.

What does the staff at your office contribute to client relations?  Notice what’s happening when your clients and potential clients interact with your staff.    If it’s a negative contribution, how can you help to create a shift?  And if it’s a positive contribution, do you acknowledge and reward it?

Maximum effect: change behavior, thought, or feeling.

Sometimes I work with clients who are caught in a pattern they want to break.  It may be a behavior that doesn’t serve them (for instance, not completing time sheets until the morning they’re due and losing the details that would yield more billable time), a thought that produces an action that doesn’t serve them (such as, I don’t have time to deal with timesheets right now), or a feeling that generates such a thought (the panic of too much to do in too little time).  It’s easy to say, just change the behavior!  And sometimes that works, and on we go.  But sometimes it doesn’t work, because the thoughts and/or feelings that produced the behavior are still present.

That’s when I introduce something I learned at the Georgetown Leadership Coaching program.  Alexander Caillet has created The Thinking Path, which holds that thoughts (including assumptions and beliefs) produce feelings, which produce actions, which produce results.  One interesting facet of applying The Thinking Path is that it’s possible to jump in at any point, so changing actions can result in changed feelings and thoughts; changed feelings can produce changed thoughts and actions; and changed thoughts can bring up changed feelings and actions.  But it isn’t magic; effort is required.

Here’s an example, drawn from one person’s experience:

Bob was having a great deal of trouble communicating with a particular partner who intimidated him.  He’d lose his train of thought and his presentation in describing a case and the controlling law just didn’t hang together well.  He tried making notes before going to talk with the partner, he rehearsed what he wanted to say, he anticipated the questions the partner might ask… But none of this really helped.  Through our conversation, Bob realized that his intimidation was self-reinforcing.  Because he felt intimidated, he didn’t present well, so he felt even more intimidated, as well as embarrassed and angry and incompetent.  I asked Bob to notice his thoughts as he was preparing to talk with the partner, and he discovered that his thoughts were negative and predicting poor performance: here you go again, you’re going to screw up just like you always do, why can’t you just do it right with this guy, you’re such a failure, you’re probably going to get fired.

Ouch!  Those thoughts, not surprisingly, made Bob feel embarrassed, angry at himself, and shamed.  So, Bob devised alternative thoughts that would be more geared toward success.  When he caught these negatives going through his mind, he substituted instead, I present the facts and laws well to all of the partners, including XYZ; I’ve done the research and I’m prepared to answer the questions; I have prepared well for this conversation and it’s going to be fine.  And, of course, he did prepare well, he was ready for questions, and he knew fully what was going on with his case, how it related to the caselaw he’d researched, and what the likely outcome would be.  Finally, he examined the belief that he was going to get fired because of his presentations and concluded that although poor performance certainly wasn’t advancing him, his performance was sufficiently good that his job wasn’t really on the line.  This isn’t magic; it’s doing the work and putting all the pieces in place to lead to a positive outcome.

Bob had projected that his substitute thoughts would make him feel more confident, more calm and less jittery.  And sure enough, that’s how he felt when he approached the partner for the first time after this exercise.  I’d love to write that the conversation was perfect and Bob didn’t stumble once, but this is real life and not magic.  He stumbled, but his performance was much better than it had been, particularly because when he stumbled he stopped the failure thoughts and substituted thoughts that encouraged him.  And now, after plenty of practice, he interacts beautifully with this partner.  Is he intimidated?  Yes, a little, but he’s confident in his own abilities and doesn’t dwell in that intimidation.

How might you apply The Thinking Path?  What thoughts, feelings, or actions can you identify and change as your entry point to creating a different result?

Finders, minders, grinders, and binders

Have you heard this old saw?  People used to say that law firms need four categories of lawyers: finders, minders, grinders, and binders.  It’s still true to some degree, though today’s atmosphere requires lawyers to develop their skills in each of these areas, rather than simply selecting the most comfortable skill set and roosting there.  So, let’s unpack what these labels mean… And then we’ll explore how a lawyer can identify her natural inclination, lead from that strength, and develop at least rudimentary skills in the areas that perhaps come less naturally.

First, definitions.  Finders are those who find the work, better known today as rainmakers.  Minders are those who perform administrative tasks and coordinate the efforts of the finders, grinders, and binders to be sure that the firm will run as a cohesive whole; examples include managing partners, the executive committee, team leaders, etc.  Grinders are those who grind out the client work, and binders are those who bring the members of a firm together by (for example) inviting a small group to lunch or recognizing achievements of the firm’s lawyers.

Chances are that just reading these definitions is enough to let you identify your area of strength.  If not, consider this brief list of questions.

*  Imagine a great opportunity for your firm.  Is the opportunity you thought of more in the practice, marketing, administration, or social area?

*  Do you feel that you’re acting in the highest and best service by being out in the world meeting people, billing time, or working on firm matters?

*  When you think you ought to drop by and congratulate a colleague on bringing in a big new client, winning a case, or receiving some award, do you actually do it?

*  Would you gladly trade billable hours for working on administrative matters?  Is administration important enough to do you take on both tasks?

*  How skilled are you at signing new clients?  Does your marketing tend to yield results fairly quickly?

Answers to these questions will point you toward your area of strength.  Although most of us tend to spend time shoring up our weak areas and working to improve them, studies show that people are much more effective when they spend development time making those strengths even stronger and figuring out how best to use them.  (This is the thesis of Now, Discover Your Strengths by Buckingham and Clifton, among others by Buckingham.)  Accordingly, it’s critical to recognize and leverage your natural abilities.

As recognized in this Altman Weil report, a lawyer today likely doesn’t have the luxury of  existing in only one dimension of the finder/minder/grinder/binder quartet.  (The report is directed to partners, but equally applicable to associates and sole practitioners, albeit in a different context.)  Though exceptions may exist by agreement of the members of a firm, each lawyer is asked to put each of these skills into play.  Though it isn’t necessary to become a virtuoso in each area, it’s critical to have some level of skill.

Frederick Shelton, a legal recruiter, argues persuasively that lawyers acquire these skills at different stages of their development in this article.  (It’s worth noting that Shelton considers minders to be those with responsibility for client contact — a reminder to check definition when somewhat arbitrary terms are being used.)  Although seniority does bring opportunities to develop these skills, even the most junior associate can begin developing them today.  How so?

Being a grinder is the expected role for a new(ish) lawyer, as the first few years out of school are focused on developing the craft of lawyering.  It’s important not to skimp on that stage.  However, there’s every reason to begin networking, which will lay the ground for development of finder skills.  Likewise, it’s never inappropriate to congratulate others in your office on their accomplishments, to send a note when a family member dies, or to take on the other “binder” tasks that create a collegial sense.  Finally, though it’s difficult to take on administrative tasks as a junior associate (though more possible in smaller firms), it’s incumbent on each lawyer to learn the business of the firm, which is step one toward acquiring the skills of a minder.  Other opportunities for developing these areas will arise, particularly if you’ve trained yourself to be aware of them.

Today, identify your area of strength as a finder, minder, grinder, or binder, and then notice over the course of the week whether (and how) you perform tasks in the other areas.  That’s step one in expanding your skills.

The Power of Nice

I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading lately (a by-product of not being able to work using my own computer) and I’m enjoying the diversity of ideas that are coming through my selections.  From the point of view of the stereotypical lawyer or law firm, the most subversive of these books is The Power of Nice, by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Korval.  The subtitle is, “How to Conquer the Business World with Kindness.”  Makes you feel warm and fuzzy, doesn’t it — or is that the cold grip of skepticism?

The book’s rather unsurprising premise is that business success is facilitated by being nice.  (I prefer the word kind to nice — perhaps because nice has become almost a backhanded slur.)  The authors are in advertising, creating the campaign for the Aflac duck, among others.  They offer 6 Power of Nice Principles:

1.  Positive impressions are like seeds.  In other words, being nice prompts a variety of untraceable positive effects.

2.  You never know.  You never know when being nice to a stranger will pay off — such as holding a door for someone as you’re both entering a building, only to discover that the person is your potential client.

3.  People change.  Be nice to everyone, regardless of social station or power.  This principle is commonly known as, the feet you trample today may be the ones you have to kiss tomorrow.

4.  Nice must be automatic.  The story provided to illustrate this is that of a client who didn’t hire a particular consulting firm because an executive in the firm didn’t help her with her heavy bags when she arrived at the airport.  Had nice been automatic for this guy, the authors argue, he wouldn’t have needed to remember to help a client but would have done for her what he would have done for anyone.

5.  Negative impressions are like germs.  This is the flip side of Principle #2.  Nastiness begets nastiness.

6.  You will know.  Whether you’re nice or nasty, you face yourself in the mirror every morning and every evening.  What do you want to see when you look into your own eyes?

So, perhaps none of these principles is rocket science.  The remainder of the book provides tips on how to be nice without compromising what’s best for your business, plus “Nice Cubes,” which are small exercises designed to help the reader be nicer.  One unintended benefit of reading the book is a reminder of the importance of story to getting a point across.  When I sat down to begin writing this post, I had to look up the principles, but I could quote several of the authors’ illustrative anecdotes.  Litigators, take note.

After I finished reading (which was only an hour and a half or so after I started, since the book is just over 100 pages), I started thinking about how the principles might apply for lawyers.  It’s important to be nice to potential clients, and even more important to be nice to current and former clients, but that’s pretty much a no-brainer, right?  (But what does nice entail here?  Your answer is part of your “brand” as a lawyer.  It’s worth some thought.)

What about being nice to opposing counsel?  I hold that a lawyer may be nice/kind/amiable with opposing counsel without weakening his position.  And fortunately, many lawyers have that skill.  It’s the lawyers who don’t have it who make practice unpleasant.  What would your interactions with opposing counsel look like if you were being nice without being weak?

Perhaps the most overlooked place for niceness is in interactions with our familiars: colleagues, staff, and even our own families.  We justify being sharp and even rude because we’re pressured or stressed.  (And I promise, I’m saying “we” because I do it too!)  Some consultants and lawyers advise the use of an advance blanket apology (“when I’m rude later on this week, please know that I’m just stressed”), but I would suggest that’s a cop-out.  Working relationships are improved by limiting the rudeness and by genuine, specific apology when necessary.  Failure to take either of those steps damages working relationships.  Being nice (which can be anything from saying “thank you” for a job well done to bringing in bagels for the team on occasion) builds relationships. It isn’t a panacea, but it helps.

And finally, I suggest that nice matters especially to job applicants.  I’ve been rejected by a huge number of potential employers, and some of them stick out in my mind.  I can almost list the law firms that didn’t even acknowledged my submission; I can definitely list the would’ve-been employers who were particularly kind in their response.  And when I crossed paths with the hiring lawyer who wrote a rather nasty rejection letter, it was a real challenge to put aside that memory and to interact with her from a clean slate.  She has a reputation as a good lawyer, but I have never and would never refer a case to her because I don’t trust that she would treat the client any better than she treated me.

It’s probably worth it to read The Power of Nice; it’s absolutely worth some reflection for each of us to consider how we might be nicer.  I suspect that members of The Secret Society of Happy Lawyers harness the power of nice on a regular basis.  How about you?