A New Series: Practical Advice for 2017: One – Thinking, Listening, Showing Respect and Reading (plus recommended books).

A New Series: Practical Advice for 2017

With the exception of Immigration enforcement, I doubt that we will see as vigorous an increase in new employment law requirements and enforcement under the Trump Administration as under President Obama’s tenure. Therefore, I’m returning to the practical day to day subjects which continue to generate employer legal and safety claims or to increase profitability and success … depending on whether one in fact utilizes not-so-common sense.

Most of this series will focus on specific employment law and safety strategies, but I’ll exercise the author’s right to ramble a bit and also deal with more philosophical or plain damned simple ideas as well. It’s that wonderful quiet week between Christmas and New Year and today’s post will hopefully be fun to read.

I do not like some of the self-help books or motivational quotations, but I do enjoy classic preferably snarky quotations, so here are a few to set the tone.

The Importance of Thinking.

The most decisive actions of our life – I mean those that are most likely to decide the whole course of our future – are, more often than not, unconsidered. Andre’ Gide.

Which leads me to several points, such as the need to Think and be thoughtful, before acting and as a daily practice.

It is human nature to think wisely and (still) act in an absurd fashion. Anatole France.

Embrace Learning.

Preferably before you screw up, but certainly learn from your mistakes. Even better, learn from others’ mistakes, which is why I write about safety, labor and employment law screw ups and successes.

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom. William Blake.

Try again. Fail again. Fail better. Samuel Beckett.

Practice Listening.

Genuinely listening is a problem for me and for many other attorneys. We are so eagerly planning our own no doubt profound comment that we don’t learn and listen to the other person’s words. Moreover, we waste opportunities to learn from normal people in our everyday life. My Will Rogers-like Uncle John Alsup lived by the belief that every person, no matter how humble or uneducated, has something to teach you.

When you know how to listen, everyone is the guru. Ram Dass.

Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t. Bill Nye, the Science Guy.

When people talk, listen completely. Don’t be thinking what you’re going to say. Most people never listen. Ernest Hemingway.

Showing Respect.

Which leads to Respect … a virtue in scant display during the last year’s political battles. Many hot comments are made to impress oneself and one’s likeminded friends and have no persuasive value whatsoever. Likewise, both parties learned what happens when you appear to look down upon others and their beliefs.

The Importance of Reading.

I’ll close with one of my favorite practical beliefs – that one should continuously Read. And not solely business, industry and trade-related books. In fact, I believe that one should purposely read good fiction and non-fiction works.

For me, I love history and narrative non-fiction and periodically pick different periods of history, depending in part upon whether a new book has been released where the author made the history readable. I am not disciplined enough to force myself to read very many dry tomes, no matter how important the content. I regularly track Best Book Lists, including British periodicals such as the Guardian and Telegraph. I also enjoy lists of books read by successful leaders and business people, especially when the lists are not limited to business texts. Best of all, I am blessed with adult children who routinely turn me on to great fiction, often before a book becomes a best seller. As an example, my son got me to read The Martian long before the book became famous and was targeted for a darned good movie.

While it is very much not the same as “reading,” much of my recent book consumption has been by listening to Audible recorded books while endlessly driving, even around Atlanta, walking and hiking and while doing mindless tasks such as cleaning my office or washing dishes. I often purchase a hard copy or an electronic version and alternate listening and reading. I also partake of the “Great Courses” through Audible.

I’ve noticed that even reading good fiction subconsciously affects my writing style and improves my vocabulary. Unfortunately I may use words that I’ve read but not heard, and sometimes pronounce new terms in a way which causes my overly intelligent and wonderfully snarky son to collapse in laughter.

Below are some recent lists of books from which to choose.

 

 

And here are a few of my recommendations (reflects my own reads and does not reflect every worthy genre).

  • “You will not read a more important book about America this year.”—The Economist
  • “A riveting book.”—The Wall Street Journal
  • “Essential reading.”—David Brooks, New York Times
  • Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, Ashlee Vance (My favorite Bio for 2015-2016).

 

 

About mavity2012

I am a Senior Partner operating out of the Atlanta office of Fisher & Phillips LLP, one of the Nation’s oldest and largest management employment and labor firms. My practice is national and keeps me on the road or in one of our 28 offices about 50 percent of the time. I created and co-chair the Firm's Workplace Safety and Catastrophe Management Practice Group. I have almost 29 years of experience as a labor lawyer, but rely even more heavily on the experience I gained in working in my family's various businesses, and through dealing with practical client issues. Employers tell me that they seldom meet an attorney who delivers on his promise to provide practical guidance and to be a business partner. As a result, some executives probably use different terms than “practical” to describe my fellow travelers in the profession. I don't enjoy the luxury of being impractical because I spend much of my time on shop floors and construction sites dealing with safety, union and related issues which are driven by real world processes and the need to protect and get the most out of one's most important business assets ... its employees. That's one of the reasons that I view safety compliance as a way to also manage problem employees, reduce litigation and develop the type of work environment that makes unions unnecessary. Starting out dealing with union-management challenges and a stint in the NLRB have better equipped me to see the interrelationship of legal and workplace factors. I am proud also of my experience at Fisher & Phillips, where providing “practical advice” is second only to legal excellence among the Firm’s values. Our website lists me as having provided counsel for over 225 occasions of union activity, guided unionized companies, and as having managed approximately 450 OSHA fatality cases in construction and general industry, ranging from dust explosions to building collapses, in virtually every state. I have coordinated complex inspections involving multi-employer sites, corporate-wide compliance, and issues involving criminal referral. As a full labor lawyer, I oversee audits of corporate labor, HR, and safety compliance. I have responded to virtually every type of day-to-day workplace inquiry, and have handled cases before the EEOC, OFCCP, NLRB, and numerous other state and federal agencies. At F & P, all of us seek to spot issues and then rely upon attorneys in the Firm who concentrate on those areas. No tunnel vision. I teach or speak around 50 times per year to business associations, bar and professional groups, and to individual businesses. I serve on safety committees at three states’ AGC Chapters, teach at the AGC ASMTC
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