Episode 34 – Lessons in marketing for lawyers and law firms, with Jeana Goosmann

Jeana Goosmann, CEO, Founder, and Managing Partner of Goosmann Law Firm, discusses the rise of her firm and the role marketing played in establishing its reputation.

Participants:

Chip LaFleur

Jeana Goosmann

Questions Covered:

  • What was your vision when you started Goosmann Law Firm? What is the WHY behind the work you do?
  • What was your initial vision of how you wanted to express your law firm in terms of marketing? Who did you want to primarily target and serve?
  • Have you faced any unique pressures or obstacles in establishing your image and reputation?
  • Did you encounter any challenges with establishing your marketing plan when you were starting out? How did you address them?
  • How has your marketing changed over time and growth?
  • When you meet with new or long-term clients, do you see your marketing reflected in your interactions with them?
  • Do you feel your marketing has become easier over time? Have any new challenges arisen?
  • If you could go back to 2009 and give yourself one piece of advice for the future, what would it be?
  • Are there any books, podcasts, or other resources that have helped you reach your goals, marketing or otherwise?
  • What is your next big goal, and how are you striving to achieve it? What role may your marketing play?

Introducing Jeana Goosmann

Chip LaFleur:

Welcome to Legal Marketing Radio. This episode’s guest is Jeana Goosmann. She’s an attorney, CEO, founder, and managing partner of Goosmann Law Firm. Jeana is not just an attorney CEO. Her personal service as a general counsel to company presidents and corporate executives has also earned her the nickname the CEO’s attorney. She’s represented clients ranging from Forbes-listed billionaires and senators to local companies and family-owned businesses. Goosmann Law Firm was founded in 2009 and has since rocketed to success. The firm has been named multiple times to Law 500’s list of fastest growing law firms in the U.S. and in 2022, was named the largest woman-owned law firm in the Midwest. As an entrepreneur, Jeana has not only brought Goosmann Law Firm into being but shaped its image from the ground up. Today we’ll learn more about how Jeana’s marketing plans align with the business goals and what she’s done to position the law firm as a beacon to leadership in need.

Marketing is, of course, a topic near and dear to us at LaFleur. We’re a full-service digital marketing partner that helps law firms across the country develop their brands to grow their business. Every time we get to discuss the challenges and successes of marketing is another opportunity to bring new insights to the table. So why wait any longer? Let’s get started.

Jeana Goosmann:

Thank you, Chip. I’m excited to be here.

Chip LaFleur:

So let’s start out with the first question here around the vision because I think that that’s super exciting to understand, and that’s something that is very near and dear to the stuff that we’re in the process of going through right now which I’ll tell you about if you’re interested. But tell me about your vision when you started Goosmann Law Firm. What’s the why behind what you set out to do?

Jeana Goosmann:

We are a Midwest-based, women-owned law firm for trailblazers leading the way in America, and we work for visionaries who take action. I myself am an activator, and we want clients who are also activators. We give leaders the freedom to focus on what’s worth it, and worth it has been a key part of the Goosmann Law Firm mission from the very beginning. We help them protect what they work hard for and get what they deserve. As attorneys, we’re committed to stand for what’s right. Together, we are agents of change, making a difference for people.

Chip LaFleur:

That’s awesome. How did you get to that? I mean so like you set out to do this. You started out in 2009. Obviously, you’ve evolved. You’ve grown a lot in that period of time to become the largest women-owned law firm in the Midwest which is huge. Can you tell me a little bit about that journey, about that process? That’s a lot of work, and it takes a lot of—I know our topic here is kind of marketing. But like internally how do you frame up who you are? How do you motivate people to come in and continue to do the great work that they do?

Jeana Goosmann:

I can take you back to when I was in school at the University of Nebraska. I was a business major. I studied finance and management, and I took a lot of entrepreneurship classes. And when they said, form a company, I was driven to figure out how. What does that mean, form a company? That’s really what drove me to go to law school. Then when I got into law school, I figured out, wow, this practice of law is exciting and fun and you get to help a lot of different clients and a lot of different businesses achieve their goals and be part of different deals. So then becoming an attorney, I thought, oh, this will be outstanding. I can be a partner in a firm. I’ll get to satisfy that entrepreneurial side of my passion. But what I found out is that not a lot of law firms really run like a business. And while we are absolutely professionals and must adhere to all of our professional rules and regulations, we are a business fundamentally, and businesses need leadership. They need business plans. They need great marketing, great finance, great human resources, all those different pieces. And I really set out to structure a firm like the business world and have a business plan and work off of those plans and goals and run like a business as a law firm.

Chip LaFleur:

We run across that all the time with so many clients of ours and potential clients that we run into. They are great attorneys, and they struggle so much on the business side. It’s just not something that’s covered in law school oftentimes. And so that makes them more vulnerable in the space I think to bad actors on one side and then also, just not necessarily prepared to face like the reality of things like cash flow, staffing, like you said, HR, all those different things. So how did you bridge that gap? So you went through that same process. How did you bridge that gap? How did you get there?

Jeana Goosmann:

I went to get my MBA at Dartmouth, and I got my CEO’s MBA I guess they call it. It’s a very truncated program. I was sponsored through WBENC, The Women’s Business Enterprise National Certification Council and through that process, got to attend that program. And it was an outstanding affirmation that I knew what I was doing. And in the beginning, when you’re an entrepreneur, you have to wear many hats, right? I was both the CEO. I was the attorney. I wore all the hats, and that’s very common in a law firm. But I knew that I wanted to grow the firm and have some scale so that we could hire experts in those different areas and have real leaders that have the education and background to run those different functions of the firm for the firm rather than just all the attorneys wearing multiple hats. So sometimes people ask me, why did you want to grow? What was the impetus behind that? And I think to really be great, you have to have some scale so that you can hire those experts to help you at your firm. So today we have a Chief Operating Officer. We just hired our HR Director which I’m super excited about. And we also have a Marketing Director and a finance team. And we’re working to continuously round out that group and make sure that we have all the different pillars of operations running. One of the things we did to kind of bridge before we could hire internally and have those leaders on our team was we would hire outside help, right? And hire consultants and third parties to contract with the firm to get us from point A to point B.

Chip LaFleur:

That’s awesome. So it’s a very interesting a little bit of a parallel. I mean we don’t practice law, of course. But I founded LaFleur in 2015, and unlike you, I did not have an MBA from Dartmouth. I actually have very little education. I got an associate’s degree from the community college in Grand Rapids. And then I got a job working for a marketing company. And so you have a lot of tools I think available to you that I do not have which I think is great. A little jealous maybe. But we’ve gone through that same process over the past six or seven years as we’ve like identified those roles, right? And so we’ve just brought on a finance person within the last six months or so. We are literally in the process of hiring HR and bringing that in-house. For us, we had to have a certain amount of volume in order to achieve that, right?

Jeana Goosmann:

Right.

Chip LaFleur:

And so those are not revenue producing roles generally. So when did you hit those milestones where you saw ahead and you had a vision and you said, okay, here’s when we could do this and here’s what it’s going to do for us?

Jeana Goosmann:

You bet. And I think I mentioned too, we used a lot of vendors before we could hire in-house. We still use a lot of vendors today. So we have over 200 different vendors that we work with at the firm today. It wasn’t that large when the firm was smaller. But I think one of the things I’ve learned as being the CEO and in this entrepreneurial role is just when you think you get it figured out, it changes. So when you do what is a constant analysis that you have to go through. And when we’re faced with the decision of should we hire this third party vendor to help us here or should we bring this in-house, ultimately, you’re weighing the pros and cons and the cost and can you afford this and where’s this fit in your business plan. But the final question we always ask is, is it going to be worth it? And that is why that’s been part of our mission and really how I ended up titling my book that I published in 2019, Worth It: Business Leaders: Ready. Execute. Deliver. And that’s the ultimate judgment call that you as the business leader have to make.

Chip LaFleur:

Yeah, yeah. That makes a lot of sense to me. How do you define—I mean I know that you’re the largest woman-owned law firm in the Midwest, right? How do you define your size? Like when you’re talking about the size of the firm, what are the metrics that you use to kind of say what that is? And then what are the milestones that you’ve reached that kind of made you feel like okay, we’re on the right path here?

Jeana Goosmann:

So we are certified WBENC as a women-owned business, and it was because of that certification process that we felt confident that we could declare we are the largest women-owned law firm in the Midwest. And they have about a nine-state area that they classify as the Midwest, and every year, we have to get re-certified to keep that credentialing. Through that process, they look at our revenues as well as the number of our employees. And based on our revenues and the number of our employees, that’s how they declared that we were the largest in the Midwest.

Chip LaFleur:

Okay. Cool. Do you mind telling, what is your head count? Do you mind sharing that?

Jeana Goosmann:

You bet. So we’re around 65 team members today with 32 attorneys and growing. I know we have a couple more attorneys onboarding in the next few weeks.

Chip LaFleur:

That’s awesome.

Jeana Goosmann:

The business journey really is fueled by the business development and the marketing of the firm. As a business leader, I think it’s so much easier to grow your top line than it is to control your expenses. And if you have a bigger top line, you can afford more. And so it’s because I have this dream and ambition of I want to C-suite of professionals. And like we talked about, you can’t have that unless you have scale, and the only way to get scale as an attorney is to grow your business and have better business development. And I think a lot of the fuel behind the Goosmann Law Firm, not just good systems and processes and excellent legal work, which I think is a given that you have to have to survive in the industry, but is that business development and marketing.

Chip LaFleur:

Yeah. I agree with that. How have you used different marketing tools to motivate your team and to kind of help them understand what the vision of the firm is?

Jeana Goosmann:

It started back in 2009. I think the weekend before I opened Goosmann Law Firm, I sat down and wrote our website. And if you’re going to write a website, you have to put copy on it. And when you’re putting copy on it, it better show your future and your plans and what you want to do and what you stand for as a law firm. So we’ve had a really strong backbone in that that I wrote as part of our original business plan and put out there. Luckily, we no longer have the website that I first wrote at Goosmann Law Firm. And it’s grown a lot. But we are very intentional with our messaging and who we are. Just this year, we updated our branding, and we launched our 2022 brand positioning statement. And I worked on this with my marketing director and her team, and I think going through the process of making sure it embodies both our mission statement, our values, and our business plan all the way to who are we and who is our target audience and what are those messaging pillars for the various practice groups. So I think when you have a really clear vision both for marketing and your business, and they have to tie together, that is inspirational. It should be. If it’s not inspirational, you need a different plan. And when you share that with your team and you get them all on board, it’s really exciting. And we just did an event that we call the Flock Fly. We play a lot on the Goosmann Law Firm name, and we call our whole team the flock. I think we talked briefly that our podcast is called Law Talk with the Flock. Well, the Flock Fly was us, last Friday, we brought everyone from all of our offices together to meet together for a day. It was really like a big assembly. I kicked it off with the vision for the year, reminding everyone where we’re going, handed out some great rewards and recognition, and brought the team together to rally for the day.

Chip LaFleur:

That’s awesome. How do you manage that growth, right? Because I mean as you go from a couple of people up to 60-some people, it becomes that they’re oftentimes perceived to be the need for some framework, for some structure to manage a team that’s growing. And we went through the process when we grew from five people to 20 people. It’s a very different organization like you mentioned, right? You have to make these decisions and figure out what you’re doing. Then when we went from 20 to about 30, that’s when we started to kind of interject managers in different roles which we have found has become pretty unsustainable because those are non-revenue producing additions to the team. They have a cost, and the cost is usually a little higher. And so we’re in the process of kind of flipping our model upside down a little bit and becoming more of like a team of teams structure. How have you managed that growth process?

Jeana Goosmann:

I am a big believer in the book, Traction. It’s a book written by Gino Wickman who I’m a major fan of. And he has created the Entrepreneurial Operating System or EOS. I learned about EOS probably eight years ago now, and we’ve been striving to be attraction-based organization since that period of time. I’m also active in an organization called Vistage which is for CEOs, and once a month, I go and I learn and I get training and development and I have a peer board where we talk about issues and really to continuously grow as the CEO and leader of the firm. I think how you structure your organization does need to change as your firm grows. You need different people with different skillsets at different points in time, and the team that got you started probably isn’t going to be the team that will get you to that next point. I know on day one at the Goosmann Law Firm, it was me, and I had hired my personal trainer to be my assistant. And so while her and I are still friends today, she is not my right hand running the firm today. I have an actual Chief Operating Officer that has education and training and work experience in that seat. So those are some of the tools I’ve used in order to help us go through those transitions. And it can be hard to transition and a little bit messy and a little chaotic. And as you grow, you’re bound to break things and need to implement new processes and procedures.

Chip LaFleur:

Yeah. For sure, for sure. I think that you touched on a quality that sounds like that you have a lot of which is unusual in the seat that you’re in, which is having some humility around filling those seats with people that are very good at the thing that they’re good at. Because I don’t think that you look to those needs as strongly when you feel like you can do everything, right? And so can you tell me a little bit about your kind of mindset and your perspective? It sounds like you identified that need very early, right? And so how do you balance out you’re very successful, you’re running a great firm, you’re doing great work, you’re obviously capable of doing what you set out to do, but you still saw a need or at least an opportunity to say, I don’t have the capacity to do these things so how do we pull that in?

Jeana Goosmann:

Well, the great equalizer for all people is time. You only have so much time, and you cannot do it all. It’s absolutely impossible. So you have to find great people to support you and buy into your vision and help you get to where you want to go. I think for me as an attorney knowing the billable hour as the core of all legal practices, right? Not that we only work on the billable hour today, but that really puts in perspective how much time you really have in any given year. I myself still practice law. That is the majority of where I spend my time. People ask me all the time, are you still practicing law? I say, absolutely. And that’s also been what’s required us to hire more talent and build our team on the administrative or executive side of Goosmann Law Firm. Because for me to serve those other CEOs and handle complex commercial litigation cases, I have to have the time to focus there.

Chip LaFleur:

That makes sense. What a breath of fresh air though it has to be to work with you because as a business owner, explaining the ins and outs of how a business should run or how our business runs can be challenging when you work with an attorney who—we have a great attorney. We love him, and we work with him very closely on a lot of things. And that was even a transition for us because you start out, you can’t afford an attorney to do stuff as a small business. And then it just becomes a time in the trajectory of your business where you cannot afford to not work with a great attorney. We reached that point a couple of years ago, and I feel like I’ve got three or four best friends: our attorney, our CPA, our insurance person. And those are the external resources that we go to. But I have to think that that’s a breath of fresh air for business owners who work with you. How do you market and merchandise that in a way that doesn’t sound cocky or overconfident?

Jeana Goosmann:

I think that the listing that we’ve gone with is the CEO’s attorney, and really where we came up with that was when I look at who are the majority of my clients that call me and ask me questions or for me to handle legal matters, they tend to be the CEO or in the c-suite of an organization. And then some of the larger companies, obviously, they have in-house legal departments, and then your clients are actually lawyers working for the company. But if it’s not a corporation that has a whole troop of lawyers on their team already that’s hiring you, it tends to be either the CEO or the CFO that calls to engage me and my team and the firm. And when I’m a CEO myself and I understand cash flow issues and personal issues and I can really relate firsthand to a lot of the things that they’re struggling with and some of those different problems and just being in touch with what they’re going through, I do think helps give a competitive advantage.

Chip LaFleur:

I think so too. But you didn’t have that always, right? And so on day one, it’s you and your personal trainer who is your assistant. And you didn’t have that story, right? You have that story now. How has your messaging evolved? And I think a lot of our listeners listen to this podcast because they want to learn how to grow and they want to learn how to move their business forward. So how did you start out messaging that? When did you pull in a marketing director to help you with that part? And then how has that kind of evolved over time?

Jeana Goosmann:

Marketing and business development definitely is a passion of mine, and my marketing development director today, she started as my personal assistant right out of college. She was a year out of college. She’d worked in one other job. But she went to college for marketing, and it was apparent when she started working for me as my assistant, but everything I had her do really related to marketing for the most part. So we quickly moved her into a marketing coordinator role and hired me a new assistant. And then from there, I got her some other great mentors through the American Bar Association and then I think she joined LMA, Legal Marketing Association. And it really just helped her grow in her skills over time so that she wasn’t relying on me, but now she’s bringing me the advice and the recommendations and the plans which is just a really fun flip to see her grow and develop as well.

But back to your question on how did I get going and how did I get started and some of the advice I’d have for people is to think about what you want to do, not necessarily about what you are doing today and market for what you want to do and begin to speak as though that is what you do. And become an expert in those issues and you’re going to have to do some studying and you’re going to have to do some training and you might need to seek out new CLE or whatever it is. But if you don’t focus on what you want to do, you’re going to just be reacting all the time. So really be proactive and think about what you want to be doing. And I think that goes back to lawyers’ success and if they’re happy in their career too because if you’re not intentional about what you are doing and you’re just taking what’s coming in the door, and I see this a lot in family law, I’m just going to say that, and some people really love being a family law lawyer. The two family law lawyers that we have on our team, that’s what they went to law school to do, and that’s what they wanted to be. But so many times, I think the phone will ring for family law. You don’t have to put a lot of work to get your phone to ring for some of those cases because it’s just so prevalent out there. But if that’s not what you’re happy doing, I think a lot of lawyers can get disgruntled quickly, and then they’re not happy being a lawyer and that leads to a whole host of other problems. So I do think being intentional about it is so key.

Chip LaFleur:

Yeah, I agree. How do you measure the success of the messaging of your marketing?

Jeana Goosmann:

First of all, if it resonates with the people that end up calling in and are you getting your ideal clients as perspectives calling the firm. And if you’re not getting the ideal clients and perspectives calling in and creating new matters, then something’s off, and I think you have to look back at is your message speaking to your target audience.

Chip LaFleur:

You tend to look at a more microscopic level or on a more macro level when you are trying to get a feel for what’s working and what’s not working?

Jeana Goosmann:

So we do a lot of different things. We have a lot of different levers that we’re pulling at the same time, and it can be tricky to see what is the ROI in this particular campaign or something in that regard. But I think also speaking with existing clients as well. We did a focus group at a retreat last summer where we brought four or five clients together, and we had a roundtable discussion with them and asked them different things about the firm or what they knew or didn’t know. And it was great to hear their feedback directly. So if you really want to hear is your messaging working, that’s probably the best thing that we’ve done to figure that out.

Chip LaFleur:

That’s awesome. I would quantify that as like a very brave thing to do, right? And I think that there are so many companies that are unwilling to do that, so many organizations, attorneys or otherwise, that are petrified to ask their clients whether they’re in the PI space or business law, any practice, like how did we do and have that really honest conversation, what could we have done better. And that indicates to me that you’re willing to take a critical look at the way that you do things to make them better. I don’t know how to frame this as a question. But like what a cool thing to see in the market that someone is actually doing that and spending the resources to have a focus group so that you can find out how you can be better, so that you can find out whether your messaging aligns with a person’s experience. Because if those two things don’t line up, then that’s obviously problematic. What advice would you give to an attorney that’s starting to grow? Maybe they can’t afford to do a full-blown retreat focus group. How did you start that listening at your earlier stages? And then you kind of explained a little bit how that’s evolved and what you’re doing now. But how did you dip your toe in that water?

Jeana Goosmann:

I’m fortunate. I have a lot of small business owner friends, and a lot of those friends are also clients. And we talk about business together a lot. I think I also mentioned I’m on Vistage which is a CEO peer board. You have to ask other people what their opinion is and get feedback. And you can do that in informal ways. It doesn’t have to be a formal focus group. And so constantly talking to other people about it and getting their input, seeing if you’re on track. And then what do you hear as feedback? You’re going to hear stuff. And I will say from the very beginning, we’ve had a lot of commentary on our business development and our marketing efforts and that we do a good job with it, right? And when you get positive feedback, what do you do? You do more of it. So I do think that getting feedback even unsolicited will give you some indications. And if nobody talks about what you’re doing, you’re probably not doing it very well.

Chip LaFleur:

Yeah, that’s accurate. That’s accurate. You mentioned Traction which we’ve used a very similar model to grow as well, and that’s been very good for us. I know that the Traction model really kind of caps out at 100-150 employees I think is kind of what, if I recall correctly, is what their model is designed to be built around. We’ve found that once we get close to about 40 and as we creep up towards 50, it’s still a good framework, but we’re starting to deviate from that a little bit. What do you see as kind of the future of the firm in terms of what that structure looks like? Do you see that model continuing to work and being good until you grow to 150? Or is that the vision? And then if it is, what do you see kind of as a future state as you continue to grow?

Jeana Goosmann:

Great question. I think you have to constantly evaluate is what you’re doing working and work on your business, not just in it on a regular basis. So that process of thinking about okay, are these meetings working, do we have the right people in the meetings today, is this getting to be too big of a group. Really thinking about those things and then making change as you grow, that change process is really the critical component. I will say today we are just in the midst of that right now where we have too many people at our quarterly resets. We’ve got the firm partners and then our executives are there, and today that’s a group of about 13. We’re looking at it going, huh, that’s kind of a clunky group now. It’s growing and we’re adding more partners and as we add more partners, soon we’re going to have 20 people around that table. Like that’s too many people. So how do you go about making sure everybody still has input which is so important and has a voice while you scale? And I think constantly adjusting that and working on it is really the key to success. And how do you make sure you have a culture where people do provide that feedback and you get that input? And that’s something that as leadership you can’t isolate yourself from the team. Because so often, the people with the best ideas are on the front lines.

Chip LaFleur:

Mo, I agree with that very strongly actually. And I mentioned we have been using that kind of Traction sort of framework internally ourselves. We work with some consultants with the state of Michigan through a program in Michigan that they have to help businesses like ours grow, and they helped us implement that structure. What I’ve run into, and I know there’s a little bit of a segue out of what we’re talking about, but what I’ve run into is that because of the default hierarchical authoritarian structure of a business, it gets harder and harder to keep that ear to the ground and listen and really hear what those issues are. Because I know when people come into my office to talk to me, their preference is to give me good news, talk about the good things that are happening. And I’m interested in that. I care about that. Like I think that’s exciting. But I really want to hear the bad news, right? Like what are the problems? What’s the client that just isn’t happy? How do we fix that? What’s the employee that sees that there’s a problem? Like how do we go in there and fix that? How do you address that? How do you still keep your ear to the ground? I mean a group of 60 people is a lot of people. There’s structure in there. There’s layers to go through. There’s employees who don’t want to leap frog over their manager. So how do you address that?

Jeana Goosmann:

Well, there’s different ways. I don’t think it’s any one particular thing. But I will say I’ve built relationships with some of the team members throughout my whole entire organization. And just last week, I was preparing a CEO for a deposition with one of my associates in a different office. Her and I went to dinner together, and I got to have a first-hand account from her kind of what’s going on from her perspective, and that’s really helpful. I know that my executive assistant, she’s tight and tight with some of the other staff members, and she’s a source to me if there’s something going on that I need to know about. Having that trust with her is really key as well. Then creating those opportunities for people to share with you in more of an informal environment I think really helps. And a lot of it comes back to having good relationships and trust. How do you have that culture where people trust that they can share with you is really the most important thing.

Chip LaFleur:

I agree with that. I think that that personality, those qualities, then I imagine—correct me if I’m wrong—but I imagine those are then reflected in some of your marketing and some of your messaging whether that’s messaging that’s meant to face potential clients or messaging that’s meant to meant to face new recruits, new talent, and your existing team. So I don’t think we covered this. But how do you manage that messaging kind of across the entirety of the organization?

Jeana Goosmann:

One of our core values, to hit on what you just talked about, is culture, and that does center around having a team-based culture. A lot of law firms are all individual silos. Like all your performance is based on your own individual performance. And at Goosmann, to advance and become a partner, you have to lead at least one other attorney. So we really promote leadership as well as great legal work in order to advance at the firm which I think is very different than just saying you have to be an excellent attorney. We want excellent attorneys, hands down, and there’s room for people that are excellent attorneys. But they’re going to be a senior attorney at the firm, not actually working on the business as a partner. So that’s one of the core differences is really creating teamwork as part of the leadership advancement structure. Then where do we go to make sure that we’re helping people do that? We do a lot of leadership development, a lot of managerial coaching and training. I have systems and processes in place at the firm to help people make sure that they’re having regular one-on-ones with their team members, intentional with an agenda before you just sit down. And it’s not just meeting in the hallway of hey, how’s everything going? Okay, sounds good. Talk to you later. Also, everybody has written goals at the firm, and then those goals tie into higher goals for the practice area group as well as the firm and making sure that we meet and talk about and review those on a quarterly basis.

Chip LaFleur:

That’s super interesting. So you have a little bit of that kind of team of teams approach which is the shift that we’re in the process of making ourselves. When I started this company, I wanted to create like a very positive work environment, right? I’ve worked in marketing for a long time. I worked for a number of different agencies. Mostly good experiences but some that were just kind of grating, right? It’s 60 hours a week. If one week you get 38 hours, you’re having to sit down, right? And you’re like, but last week and next week.

Jeana Goosmann:

What have you done for me lately?

Chip LaFleur:

I know. So like we have a structure where we ask people to not exceed 40 hours a week. We have very few exceptions to that. We have had occasions where we’ve had to really hammer down and get some things done. I’m of the belief that when you give people space to live their lives and do their jobs, they will do their jobs 10 times better and more efficiently. I think at the average organization people work two to four hours a day, and they’re stuck in a seat for the rest of the time and it’s wasted time. But if you give people the freedom to work where they want and when they want and how they want but measure output instead of hours, then I think it’s much more effective.

So I set out originally to create the opposite of the bad experiences that I’ve had kind of built on trust and belief in people and saying like, there’s a small percentage of people that are not going to work well, and no matter what structure you put them in, they’re going to be a drain on your organization. I don’t want to design the organization in order to weed out those people. I like to design the organization around the 97% of the people that do good work and that don’t need someone sitting there with a stopwatch. And so as we grew kind of closer to about 30 people or so, that’s when we started to implement some more traditional management structures. We went through with the SBDC here in Michigan kind of attraction model. It’s slightly different than that. But that worked out really well to help us kind of continue to ramp up, but we started to get away from that kind of vision of babysitting, right? And of not babysitting. We started to babysit, right? And then we had some staffing changes at some higher levels within the organization, and I saw that as an opportunity to really hit reset.

And so I actually went down and met a friend of mine down in Turks and Caicos for a week and brought this book with me which I had stumbled on through an article in Harvard Business Review. And the book is all about turning the hierarchy upside down and creating a team of teams where you have this radical transparency around the organization on your finances, around what people can earn and salaries. Then you create these small entrepreneurial teams of no more than 15 people, usually it’s around eight to twelve, and then you empower those teams with your core business functions like HR, admin, finance, operations, all those things. So that’s a small team. And then you do away with that middle management structure. A lot of what you’re talking about, a lot of the growth that you’ve experienced reminds me of some of the concepts within that book even though you haven’t looked at it yet. But I think you’d love it if you get a chance to read it. It’s really about bringing progressive structure to the table where that manager/middle manager structure worked great for manufacturing for so many years. It’s not the world we live in anymore.

So to kind of kind of bring it back on track a little bit, like that vision that you set out, getting true buy-in for that vision from your team it seems like is such a necessary part of achieving the type of growth that you’ve achieved, right? And so I know we’ve talked about how you’ve messaged that internally. We’ve talked a little bit about how you’ve grown that. Do you have any other books, podcasts, any other resources that you point your clients to, your colleagues to, your employees, friends of yours who run small businesses? What are your go-to sources for where you should go and kind of how to grow and build upon what you’ve built?

Jeana Goosmann:

You bet. So I pulled four other books besides Traction getting ready for this today, and I think I did mention that I wrote my own book in 2018. So if you want a lot of my advice and thinking, it’s called Worth It: Business Leaders: Ready. Execute. Deliver. But some of the ones that I’ve also used throughout the years to build our practice and stay motivated as well is The E-Myth Attorney which is Michael Gerber’s book. I think that’s also great, especially if people want to think about a niche practice and how to really build on a niche and that sort of platform. And then in the past, I was a part of an ABA project for a book called How Did She Do That? Marketing Success, and that’s a book that the ABA Women Rainmakers put together. I think I get a lot of motivation out of that if I read those different chapters that the women wrote, and it’s also a reminder that there’s no right one way. You really can create your own path of success in this world. And then my final one I wanted to bring up was StrengthFinders 2.0, Tom Rath’s book, and we use that and have used that from the beginning of the firm when we interview people and decide who we’re going to hire. It’s not the only tool that we use, but it can be a deciding factor if we get down to two or three different candidates and we have thought about what are the top strengths that this role could really use. We will go with the person that has those strengths and alignment.

Chip LaFleur:

So that’s pretty wild because I mean Traction, The E-Myth, not the third one that you mentioned. I have not read that one yet, but I’m interested in it. And then StrengthsFinders, those are things that we have used in the course of our operations as well and we’re a pretty quickly growing firm. Then it’s interesting to see those parallels, right? Like the type of thinking that can help grow a law firm is the type of thinking that can help grow a marketing company like ours. I think it’s very reaffirming to hear that those are some of your go-to’s. Those were some of our go-to’s through the years that we’ve been in operation too. And now with the addition of Corporate Rebels to say like, okay, here’s how we can take this and scale it to the next level. But I love that. I’d love to read your book. I’ll have to take a look at that. I think that’s incredibly exciting. So you you’ve achieved a great deal. You’ve reached a level of success that I think is very unique that most people can’t put a pin on and say, hey, I can do that also. But what is your next goal? Like where are you going? What is your next big goal? What’s next for you?

Jeana Goosmann:

We’re constantly working on what’s next. So I think that knowing where we’re headed, we’re going to continue to grow at the Goosmann Law Firm and continue to get even better at what our existing services are. And we’re working on innovate this year. We have invested a lot in even more technology. We have a new platform that we’re running through at the Goosmann Law Firm and really want to make sure that we are doing what we do as efficiently as possible for our clients and really staying at the cutting edge of innovation in that regard. We’ve historically been at the forefront, and we want to work hard to stay there and also, make sure that the entire team is really trained up in all of those innovative tools. And I think the whole world is maybe feeling this right now, as am I, that the technology and the tools available are changing more rapid than ever, and you’re going to have to focus on it if you want to stay up to date. And we feel that as a law firm, we want to make sure that we’re leading the way there.

Chip LaFleur:

That’s awesome. I love it. Jeana, thank you so much. This has been incredibly informative. I appreciate it. I’m sure our listeners will appreciate hearing your perspective too. I know we deviated a little bit from our listed topic. But what you’ve been able to accomplish, what you’ve been able to do is so outstanding. I couldn’t help but want to learn more about that. So thank you for taking the time with me. I really enjoyed the conversation.

Jeana Goosmann:

Thank you for having me on as your guest today, Chip. I’m very humbled by your comments and appreciate the opportunity to share.

Chip LaFleur:

That’s it for this episode of Legal Marketing Radio. I want to thank Jeana Goosmann from Goosmann Law Firm for coming on our show and sharing her story. To learn more about LaFleur, check out our website at the LaFleur.Marketing. That’s L-A-F-L-E-U-R.Marketing. There you can find other episodes of our podcast as well as eBooks, blog posts, and webinars that can fuel your knowledge of digital marketing and help your law firm grow. As always, if you have a suggestion or question for the podcast, just send an email to [email protected] I’ll read what you send and either address your question on the podcast or possibly do an entire episode about the topic you suggest. Thank you for tuning in. We’ll see you next time on Legal Marketing Radio from LaFleur.

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