In this episode of Civilly Speaking, host Sean Harris talks with Micheal Mogill, founder and CEO of Crisp Video. Michael founded Crisp Video in 2008. His business quickly became successful, but not without challenges and growth pains. From those experiences, Michael figured out what was needed to take his business to the next level. Today, Michael works with thousands of law firms and in this podcast, he shares insight on ways attorneys can also take their businesses to the next level and stand out from competitors.
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Sean: Hello, I’m your host, Sean Harris, and this is episode 55 of Civilly Speaking brought to you by the Ohio Association for Justice. Today is January 23rd, and I’m here with our guest, Michael Mogill from Crisp Video. Michael, thanks very much for joining us here on Civilly Speaking.
Michael: Thank you for having me.
Sean: Our topic today is a wonderful topic, and that is what got you here, won’t get you there. And in the business of the practice of law, what does that mean?
Michael: Yeah. So this is something that, you know, even us with our business, we’ve experienced firsthand. But I guess the gist of it essentially is that over the years, as we’ve grown our business and we went from, you know, basically a boot startup company, 500 dollars, you know, to my name when I started it so growing that, you know, 2012 and doubling every single year and every, you know, in every aspect. In team size to revenues to the number of client and, you know, working now with over a thousand law firms and working with those firms, we saw that the same growth pains and challenges that they would experience as a group really as their practice grew and anything in the way of additional team members, clients and so on, as they were introducing new complexity that they would experience new challenges and almost like new plateaus, that they’d have to break through and given that we were growing, over the last three years, at thirteen hundred percent, we’d learned a lot of these lessons ourselves firsthand. So, this is something that we then started sharing with our law firms to really help them in a way that not only just empower them, but to potentially remove some of the suffering and the challenges that come with, you know, once you grow your business to one level and you want to go to the next level. What are the things that ultimately need to change within the business? You as a leader, division, the team, the culture to get to that next level.
Sean: And I know you talk about having a vision for your organization and a long-term vision. What is that and why is it important?
Michael: Yes. So, it’s always important to have clarity and a clear target as to where you want to go and then the reason for this is just that, you know, if one if you don’t have it, it’s very difficult to get there and then also it’s very difficult to have an align team when there’s no clarity or unified goal. So, the way to answer this is really if we’re if we’re talking about, let’s say, more longer term as an example, if we were having these conversation five years from today, what has to have happened within your firm for you to be ecstatic with your progress and what, what is the firm look like? What types of clients do you work with? What is the case count? How large is the team? How are you spending your time, net profit, all those different things and all those different measures and having that clearly defined. But you could also I mean, I’ll give me an example, like our vision is by 2024, so in the next five years we want to have helped a thousand law firm owners grow their business by at least 1 million each so it’s a billion-dollar impact. We spent a lot of time thinking about this in terms of, you know, really getting it down to articulate what I just said. But ultimately, how do we make that greatest impact? Just, you know, basically across the US for a law firm, it may be, you know, a vision tied to an impact we want to make within their community, whatever that might be. But in the absence of something like this, it’s very, very difficult to not only achieve a goal or a target when you don’t have them, but also to weather the adversity and the challenges when you don’t have a clear destination and when you also don’t have a why behind it.
Sean: And is there such thing as a good vision and a bad vision?
Michael: That’s a great question. So I don’t know that there’s a good vision or a bad vision in the sense that your vision is really your vision and that, you know, as we tell people like your goals, your goals and, you know, one law firm owner may want to want to run practice a hundred attorneys and be working nationwide, whereas another firm may want to remain, you know, small in terms of team size, work primarily on catastrophic injury cases. So it really just comes down to what it is that you want and so long as that is something that aligns with your values, that it’s something to get you excited, then I believe it’s a good fit. But the reality is, the vision should always be something that aligns with you, because if you’re not sold on, it is very difficult to sell it to anybody else, particularly your team.
Sean: You also talk about the idea of a mindset, and we’ve all heard the idea of a growth mindset. What is that and how does that impact the success or failure of a business?
Michael: So, growth mindset comes from really a book and studies by Carol Dweck. She wrote a book on this in the sense that they studied the children in school and they later even extrapolated the research to Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 CEOs and so on. And it’s basically the idea. So, if you have an example, it’s a fixed mindset. You believe that you were born and ingrained with a certain skill set and certain level of talent and that, you know, essentially you have the you’ve been dealt the hand that you’ve been dealt and that debt is not malleable in any way and that cannot change in any way and ultimately, you are where you are. So, it’s in a way it’s kind of like a victim mindset per say, but it’s also just the belief that you can’t drive that change versus with a growth mindset, you approach things from the standpoint that skills and capabilities are ones that you can develop that you can learn and grow. So, this is important when it comes to facing any sort of challenge. So, somebody with a fixed mindset faces a challenge, they mentally believe that, well, that’s unfair or I will never be able to achieve this or what, you know, this business owners achieved where somebody with a growth mindset can look at it is a standpoint of I have to gain the capabilities that they have to get to where they are. So, growth mindset is just really how you approach every aspect of your life. And again, great book by Carol Dweck anyone’s listening and wants to check it out.
Sean: By the way, have you found that lawyers and the lawyers law firms that you work with come to you with one mindset over the other?
Michael: So, this really depends upon and a lot of times I think we formulate these mindsets based upon the environments that we surround our self with so that, particularly the people that we surround yourself with. So when law firm owners are around other ambitious growth minded law firm owners, they have a growth mindset and when they’re not or, you know, they’re around, you know, a lot of firms that will say we can never be successful because of these other firms in our market and, you know, we don’t you know, it’s the economy, it’s this, we don’t have the opportunity to succeed and so on that can foster itself as well. So, it’s really split, to be completely honest, making that mindset shift can be one of most powerful things and actually making change and I don’t mean this in a way to be cute or anything. I don’t want to sound like the secret, like if you think it and so on, I’m not, I don’t mean in that sense, but they’ve actually scientifically shown that, you know, that having the perspective of having a growth mindset and taking complete ownership over all of the decisions and outcomes in your life is a much more empowering way to be and can actually drive change.
Sean: Are there ways that people or firms that are stuck in a fixed mindset can overcome that?
Michael: Yes. So, the first step with anything like this is just awareness. So, you know, you can I don’t know that you’re always one or the other. I think sometimes you can be growth minded, but then you reach you’ll be in certain situations where we can look at it from a fixed mindset perspective. But the most important thing is just to be cognizant and aware of how you’re responding to certain things and how you view situations and so on. And then, you know, considering it from a different outcome and a different perspective, perhaps. So, you can build a lot of confidence once you’ve ultimately gained certain capabilities. So that is kind of like this loop that you have where if you are where you are today and you have a goal of getting to somewhere else, let’s say you’re running a law firm, you’re under a million, and your goal is to get to a million and you’ve never done that before so you don’t know how to do it yet, but you do have a target in mind of where you want to go. Everything that happens in between is gaining the capabilities to get to that destination. And once you’ve done that, let’s say you get to a million. Now you set a new goal, but you’ve now built confidence from having achieved the prior goal. So a lot of this is in that feedback loop and in building that momentum, but it really just starts in having the awareness of how you respond to certain situations.
Sean: Another one of the buzz words that you use is non-negotiables. What do you mean by that?
Michael: Yeah. So, if people want to come away, one take away from this whole thing, this is probably one of the most impactful. So, I believe that we make progress in life through the non-negotiables that we set. So, meaning that the making progress through not putting up with something or someone and non-negotiable is a way to think about this is almost like minimum standards. In the sense that this is how, you know, things will be in your life or this is what you will and will not tolerate, let’s say, in your organization. So, I’ll give you an example. If every day starts and say at eight fifty-five and you say that that is a non-negotiable, that we all start together, we do like let’s say a morning stand up at eight fifty-five and somebody comes in at eight fifty-six and you allow it, then that’s not really non-negotiable. But if it is something where that is what it has and it’s addressed, then that it truly is. But non-negotiables are really necessary in the sense of not just so much outlining what you will do, but more important what you will not do. As an example, you know, when my daughter was born a little over a year ago for me a non-negotiable was being home for bath time every single night, so that if I was not able to be home by 6:30 every night, then the rest of all the stuff was just not worth it to me. So in that sense, we built up a larger support team and so on. The team was aware that that was a clear, non-negotiable. So, if somebody was not in line with their accountability causing me to go, you know, get outside of my lane and I ended up having to stay late and miss bath time, then that non-negotiable would be broken and we would address, we would clearly address that with that individual and in determining whether they would still be with us in our organization because it was that much of a non-negotiable. The other saying is that, you know, you can have standards, but if you see something that is below standard and do nothing, well, then you’ve established a new standard. Right? So non-negotiables, you know, truly mean exactly that. And we are where we see most law firm owners really grow is that each year that list gets longer and you don’t have to start with this long list so this is not about entitlement in any way. It’s not about like I will not take out the trash. It’s nothing like that mindset, it’s just what are the minimum standards that you expect from your team and your organization and that you are reinforcing continuously.
Sean: Yeah, I could see that very applicable when it comes to both types of cases and types of clients that a law firm chooses to accept.
Sean: Talk to us about training and development. Why is ongoing or continuous training and development important for the growth of a business?
Michael: So, training and development is one of those things where it is always fascinating to me. So, if you go to any fast food restaurants, let’s say like McDonald’s, before the person is allowed, let’s say the fry cooker is allowed to cook fries they get training on the fry cooker and in really every single role. But when you look at, let’s say, a law firm and most businesses, how much training and development is taking place before that person is allowed to engage and interact with clients before they’re allowed to function in their role. And it’s you know, it’s fascinating to me that sometimes someone can have more training and development at McDonald’s than they would in a law firm and that seems to be, that should be flipped. So, training and develop is one of those things where as you grow your team, it’s one of most leverageable things in ultimately impacting our why and the return that you see from them. So, because, you know, as you have a larger team size, the more capable that they are and the more impactful that they are, and there’s ultimately more of them, the more of an outfit you can see from them. So, this can be, let’s say, you’ve got an intake staff and you invest and train that intake staff so that they’re not only more capable on the intake side, but there’s a let’s say a 20 percent higher conversion rate. What does that look to you? And they’ve done studies where they really show that training and development on a team can impact the return you see from those team members by upwards of 300%. So oftentimes you see in law firm owners and even ourselves as leaders, we invest in CLE’s and workshops and courses and you know, and really even coaching. But how impactful would it be to also do that for your team? The question that we sometimes see is that well if I invest all this money in training and development for my organization, well, what happens if these people leave me? I mean, the response that I always give is like, well, what happens if you don’t do these things and they stay, right? So, training and development is something that we’re seeing from the fastest growing firms, investing a whole lot more into and making sure that whether it’s every month or every quarter, they’re team members are investing in their growth and it’s putting that pathway as well. So, it also helps on the culture side. People want, you know, for their organizations to be invested in their growth, but there’s really very clear business applications, too. The final thing I’ll say on this is if we were let’s say we’re talking about two different law firms, one, invest in continuous training and development for their team every single month, and then the other law firm does no training and development. If you were to fast forward one year from today, not knowing anything else about the firms. Which one do you believe would be, would have grown faster?
Michael: So again, it’s one of those things that not as often discussed, but is, is this something that you can really significantly impact the output of your team and ultimately from a business standpoint the more confident you are in your team, the more that you invest in your business. So if you know that your intake staff is impeccable, that your attorneys are phenomenal, then why would you invest more in your marketing to drive more leads and more phone calls?
Sean: Anything else that we need to add?
Michael: So we have gone as far as, I will say that in our organization as even having a, this is one of the best things we ever did. And I’m surprised it took this long. But training and development is something that we take so seriously that we now have a full-time company trainer. So, we have a team member, their full-time role is in terms of not just onboarding and training for new hires, but continuous training development for each team in each department. And this has been one of the most impactful things we’ve ever done. So, depending upon how committed you are to it, I will say that the better the team, the better the organization and the growth really comes from, the team gets better and then the organization grows versus, you know, the organization grows and then the team gets better. So, it’s always looking at it, how do you empower them first?
Sean: Michael, this has been fascinating. If our listeners want to learn more information about this, where can they find that?
Michael: So, we have a book and the book is called The Game Changing Attorney. It’s on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Audible. You can check it out in outline, not only in a lot of the marketing strategies from the fast-growing firms, but more important like business development and mindset and things like that. And if they want to check out more about our company, they can go to crispvideo.com.
Sean: Well, Michael, thank you very much for being here today on Civilly Speaking. We appreciate it.
Michael: Thank you for having me.
Sean: And thanks to all our listeners out there. If you like our show and want to learn more, check out civillyspeaking.com and please leave us a review on iTunes. And we’ll see you here on the next episode of Civilly Speaking.