Welcome to the Join Up Dots Podcast with Nina Kaufman
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Introducing Nina Kaufman
My guest today on the Join Up Dots free podcast interview is, Nina Kaufman a lady who is on one hand a career focused business lady with a huge interest in law and on the other someone quite different..
Yes, she is the founding is a founding partner of Paltrowitz & Kaufman, and also a founder of Wise Counsel Press, which offers legal advice for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
Seems pretty standard doesn’t it, and if you are like me you already have an image of who we are going to talk to today.
But then how about if we tell you that she was also a stand up comedian, and loves nothing more than bringing humour into her work as a business lawyer?
Yeah, now you are interested aren’t you!
Receiving her Bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College (cum laude), her Master’s degree from the London School of Economics & Political Science, and her law degree from Boston University, she layered education on to the passions she had since a young girl to use the law to help change lives.
How The Dots Joined Up For Nina
She saw the film “To Kill A Mocking Bird” and quite simply the passion for helping change occur became something that she couldn’t deny.
But it seems to me that a key part to what has made he who she is today occurred in her first role straight out of law school
As she says in her own words “I was working with a firm that had a revolving door of attorneys and support staff. Employee morale was low. The partners were often verbally abusive; they yelled a lot. My first experience was one where I realized I was going to have to fend for myself and that I couldn’t really rely on all the old assumptions that I had gone through much of law school with. It’s one of the reasons I became much more entrepreneurial in the way that I handled my practice and the clients I chose and what I’ve done with my J.D. since then.”
Another black dot actually became the keystone to future successes.
So why was she driven to go into stand up comedy when her life was built around serious issues and high level business stress?
And is she now where wants to be, or is their even more dots to join up on the way to her final destination?
Well lets find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Nina Kaufman.
During the show we discussed such weighty topics with Nina such as:
How she manages to get both side of her brain of her working to bring maximum benefit to not just herself but her audience too
How as a young girl she loved reading stories, which has clearly been a part of what she has become as an adult.
What made her want to bring humour into the workplace in the first place, especially in an environment which is not conducive to having a laugh like law.
Why she now feels that she should have turned off her computer, shut the door behind her and escaped the world for a month when her business fell to pieces
How To Connect With Nina Kaufman
You can also check our extensive podcast archive by clicking here – enjoy
Full Transcription Of Nina Kaufman Interview
David Ralph [0:00]
Do you have a business that can’t get going or would love to create your own one that works whilst you sleep and is built around the things you love? Well, podcasters mastery is the place to go to learn the six simple steps to create a business that flourishes connecting with thousands of customers that tell you what products they want. podcasters mastery is the online route to business success. Check us out now. When we’re young,
we have an amazing positive outlook about how great life is going to be but somewhere along the line we forget to dream and end up settling. Join Up Dots features amazing people who refuse to give up and chose to go after their dreams. This is your blueprint for greatness. So here’s your host live from the back of his garden in the UK. David Ralph.
David Ralph [0:48]
Yes, hello world. How are we all ready for another episode of Join Up Dots. This is Episode 422 of the motivational powerhouse that has become joined up doors, and it has become a complete ride over the last few months. It’s funny when you start something, you will be putting so much work in at the beginning, and not seeing any rewards. But believe me, all of you that are following along and you’ve got the idea of a dream, and a business or a lifestyle, whatever you want to achieve, you can get it you can get it but for quite a long time, you won’t see any rewards at all, but it doesn’t mean it’s not coming. Well, that was a little bit of a rant to staff. I don’t know where that came from. Well, my guest today let’s introduce her because she is a lady who is on one hand a career focused business lady with a huge interest in law. And on the other someone quite different. Yes, she’s the founding partner of Poucher wits and Kaufman, and also the founder of wise counsel press, which offers legal advice to small businesses and entrepreneurs. So it’s pretty standard, doesn’t it? And if you’re like me, you probably already have an image of who we’re going to talk to today. But then how about if we tell you that she’s also or she was a standard comedian and loves nothing more than bringing humour into her work as a business lawyer. Yeah, now you’re interested, aren’t you? now receiving her bachelor’s degree from Wesley college, her master’s degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science and her law degree from Boston University. She laid education onto the passion she had since a young girl to use the law to help change lives. She saw the film To Kill a Mockingbird, and quite simply the passion for helping change occur became something that she couldn’t deny. But it seems to me a key part of what has made oh she is today occurred in her first role straight out of law school. And she says in her own words, I was working with a firm that had a revolving door of attorneys and support staff. employee morale was low, the partners were often verbally abusive by yelder law. My first experience was one where I realised I was going to have to fend for myself and but I couldn’t really rely on audio old assumptions I’d gone through much of law With it’s one of the reasons I became much more entrepreneurial in the way that I handled my practice and the clients I chose and what I’ve done with my JD since then, now another black dot actually became the Keystone to future successes as we see on Join Up Dots all the time. So why was she driven to go into stand up comedy when her life was built around serious issues and high level business stress? And as she now when she wants to be? Or is there even more dots to join us on the way to her final destination? Well, let’s find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Nina Kaufman. How are you Nina?
Nina Kaufman [3:34]
I am great. David, thanks so much for having me on the show.
David Ralph [3:37]
It is great to have you on the show because I love lawyers. I love all lawyers and they’re my favourite people.
Nina Kaufman [3:45]
Why do you get into trouble a lot?
David Ralph [3:47]
No. I just wanted to say that to see what reaction reaction you get because because lawyers are one of those kind of beasts, aren’t they? That we’re we’re all a bit frightened of Really? Did you find that when you say that you’re a lawyer. People are kind of slight edge or do they just ask you for freebie advice all the time.
Nina Kaufman [4:04]
It’s kind of a mix. There are times I will go into networking events and mentioned that I’m a business attorney and business owners will say, Oh, I’m really happy. I’ve never needed one of you before. To which I wonder, Well, what kind of business could you possibly have? If you haven’t needed me before?
David Ralph [4:22]
But then we only need you really, because it’s a minefield out there, isn’t it? We sort of trip along and we we see it time and time again, when these businessmen go to prison for something. But when you look at it, it’s kind of wasn’t something they really knew about, but they still got into trouble for it.
Nina Kaufman [4:37]
They did. And I’ll say that with lawyers, and in particular, because I work with business owners, there is so much to know about business. And I will even say as my own as a business owner myself. There’s so much that I don’t know that to surround yourself with a team of people who know, especially those specialised areas that Yeah, you just may not and are not Certainly a core part of your business, like any other part of your life, having a really good support team of people who have an expertise in areas that you just may not be strong and really very wise because you can’t know it all. And it does help to get that feedback.
David Ralph [5:15]
Well, you come, but certainly in the early days of an entrepreneurial journey, I think one of the things that people beat themselves up for is the fact that they don’t know it all and they work 24 seven to try to fit in every gap in their armoury. Are you very aware now that if you need answers, you’ll pay for them or you’re no somebody to get them for you more than just googling for hours on end.
Nina Kaufman [5:41]
Oh, gosh, I think and now after so many years in business, I recognise that and it was actually funny to hear your introduction because you mentioned the name of my old firm, which kind of went down the toilet. So talking about dots and things joining up I really got that lesson about knowing who else to speak to and who to bring in to grow my business and to look more objectively at my business understood that once that business partnership folded and I reemerged with ask the business lawyer calm so. So absolutely it my I’ve grown to value myself and my time even more, that it’s worth it to pay someone else it’s worth it to consult with someone else instead of me doing all the research.
David Ralph [6:34]
Now the million dollar question is, can you afford to pay for the research at the beginning? Or can you not not afford if you can have not not? Should you at the beginning, make sure that you’ve got a little nest egg to pay for stuff so that you don’t actually literally have to bootstrap it all the way through? Would that be the prudent way of doing it?
Nina Kaufman [6:53]
Well, you know, there’s that old expression you get what you pay for. And you want to think carefully about Well, you know, what is the quality of advice you’re getting? If someone’s giving it to you for free? Are they really going to be focused on the issues? Are you getting a a deep treatment of what you need to get? I mean, for example, if somebody came to me and needed, in depth legal advice about their particular situation, my licence is on the line. And also because and it gets very specific to lawyers, not necessarily other consultants. But also I’m then hampered if you will, by conflict of interest rules. So if you come to me and want my services for free, and then it means I can’t work with, you know, possibly someone who might conflict with you. Who might say, Nina, I’m ready to pay you 10 grand, wow. That’s not only sort of curtailing opportunities, but also you know, limiting myself ability to serve others. And I think also, you know, in our business and in the world of business, we show what we value by paying for it. I mean, think of how many times you’ve signed up for a webinar or course and it’s free. Versus, you know what, you paid 50 bucks or 50 pounds or whatever it is, you’ve put down a little something so you have skin in the game. Don’t you feel differently about it?
David Ralph [8:28]
Well, I think so. And that’s one of the things that I try to get my my clients who I coach to understand when you start off you should literally be having the mindset that you have been out there for five or six years and you are knocking it out of the park all the time. Because people are buying your experience even at the beginning, but they haven’t got so you don’t have to trip trip around giving out freebies and trying to sort of be nicey nicey you can pretty much charge what you want. I see that all the time. If you do get something for free, you just don’t use it, do you? And even if it’s like $45 or something, I’ve done that numerous times I buy it and I just don’t use it for hundred dollars or thousand dollars, I’m gonna get every ounce of value out of that product.
Nina Kaufman [9:15]
Absolutely. And I think you touched on something important. It’s very important for business owners to have and forgive me for getting woowoo and non legal here to have a prosperity consciousness. And the more we stay in, Oh, I can’t afford it. I can’t do this. I’m only just starting. I don’t have any money. Well, if you’re going to go into business and suddenly make a splash, how are you going to do that? If your foundation is? Oh, I don’t know. I don’t have any money.
David Ralph [9:43]
Well, you can’t Yeah. It really is. The weird thing about you, Nina and I’ll be weird.
Unknown Speaker [9:51]
It is weird. And I’m gonna
David Ralph [9:52]
say this quite openly and it’s recorded. So it’s gonna be here forever and the dog is on I can’t quite under And how you can be a lawyer, but be very entrepreneurial and a stand up comedian, because that’s totally different sort of mindset, isn’t it? The fact that you were saying, well as being a lawyer, you’ve got to be sort of aware of conflicts of interest and the rules and regulations and play a straight battle over time. But on the other side, entreprenuer was very much about making up as you go along. I would be the world’s worst lawyer, I can’t bear to stick to rules and regulations. How have you managed to sort of get those two sides of your brain working?
Nina Kaufman [10:30]
I’m schizo phrenic. No, I’m sorry, that that, I guess, now that that’s it for posterity, that probably is mean to people who have schizophrenia. I mean, I there are two very different sides, to me and to my personality. And one of the things is you alluded to what I saw in the course of my career, is that the opportunities that I wanted that I thought were going to come from the legal profession, they weren’t coming. You know, I wasn’t getting trained. to do more sophisticated litigation skills I wasn’t being given the instruction on or the encouragement to bring clients into the firm. And what I did see very quickly was that the only two ways that you’re going to have job security and earn the big bucks are to be, you know, a powerhouse at the top of your game with a skill set have an unusual area of focus, like I don’t know space law or something like that, which I did not have, or be able to bring in clients actually email
David Ralph [11:31]
it just made that
Nina Kaufman [11:33]
I kind of know what I shouldn’t say that I once dated a guy I think he referred to it as space law. So if you have a let’s say, you have a satellite that’s up in outer space and it was a joint venture of the US and the Chinese and a piece of it falls off and hits South Africa.
What you know what happens? What are we gonna say was the rock
who cleans Up who’s responsible? I mean, all those kinds of things. So
I don’t know, maybe there isn’t really a space law, but I thought it was spaceless. Anyway, so, but you know what I’m saying if there was a specialised area, that wasn’t, that wasn’t my background. So I saw very quickly that I was going to have to create my own opportunities, not just rely on other people to provide them to me.
David Ralph [12:23]
But don’t you still see that as weird? I know, I use the word weird. And it is weird that you can do that because as I say, I know quite My daughter is a lawyer. And if you tell him a joke, she can’t understand it just goes past her. She’s got such a straight brain for text and rules and regulations and contracts and all that kind of stuff. She’s just got no flexibility of thought. She’s, in many ways. She’s the most amusing person. She laughs at alone jokes. She has a joke, which is funny and she’ll laugh hysterically like it’s the best thing ever. But anything else she could just kind of get that side of her brain working, sort of But you can do both. That’s it. That is weird, isn’t it?
Nina Kaufman [13:03]
It probably is more unusual I happen. And in New York City, there are so many different lawyers of different stripes. So I’ve met a good number who are entrepreneurial and sync with both sides of their brains or have other interest in their lives. Or maybe it’s those other interests that are really primary but feel they have the training in law, and they’re pretty good at it. So they’ll stay with it. So I know people who kind of straddle both sides of the fence. So to me, it’s it’s not that strange, but you know, now that you say at most, you know, what we think of as most lawyers, it’s the, you know, Perry Mason or straight laced or warm in the courtroom. But no, there are a lot I mean, so many lawyers who are of service in many different ways in the community that would not necessarily fit the stereotype. So
David Ralph [13:55]
if we take you back in time to the young Nina, there’s the little Nino running Around the day, even the one before you saw To Kill a Mockingbird. Oh, what would have been your passions, right? In the early days? What would you your path have been set out to be going towards,
Nina Kaufman [14:11]
um, let’s say in diapers my my passion would have been the next bowl of oatmeal.
Something like that. You know, I had,
as I say, I think I have a difficulty thinking about No, I shouldn’t say that. I remember ballet classes. There was a short, brief shining moment in time when I wanted to be a gymnast. And not being able to do a cartwheel is kind of a problem.
David Ralph [14:42]
Can you do it now? No, no, no, you’re never gonna make the Olympics. You’re
Nina Kaufman [14:48]
gonna make the Olympic at least not in gymnastics. Definitely not in gymnastics. So I’m the family that I grew up in. There were certain ways in which we knew we were gear that they were it was either as a career path, either doctor or lawyer or something in business. And my focus was on studies I was always a bookish kid always loved, loved, loved to read. And that has always stayed with me because to me, it just I, my, I grew up with a father who had a real love of words. So, to me storytelling, and maybe that’s where the comedy comes in. storytelling, love of words, companionship,
that all fits together. When I think
David Ralph [15:35]
he does, doesn’t it it shows you about the person that you are now is literally the person that you were born to be. You just have to fine tune those talents is what we talk about all the time on the show, is if you’re starting a business idea, look closely to yourself, don’t go out there thinking, right I’m going to solve this problem just because you’re guessing that it’s it’s needs to be solved. First of all start with a blank canvas. inside yourself, find the things that you love doing on a daily basis and then start from there. And that’s pretty much what you’ve done, isn’t it?
Nina Kaufman [16:07]
It is, I think also allowing for new and different experiences to come in that I would not have expected when, when I went to law school, I thought I was going to take that I didn’t know I was going to take an entrepreneurial route, I thought I was going to get a job in a big, firm and earn big salary. And what happened in the United States is that the bottom dropped out for lawyers. And we were all sent scrambling, and it was that I don’t want to use the word traumatic, but it was that paradigm shaking experience that just sort of shoved me on to a completely different track of being more entrepreneurial and having to be more entrepreneurial. Instead of taking the more traditional Well, let me just keep looking for another job.
David Ralph [16:51]
And was that a good thing? That traumatic period when you’re going through? Oh, come
Nina Kaufman [16:55]
on going through it. It was horrific. Are you kidding, but now
David Ralph [16:58]
Oh, well, when you look Back on it. Do you go? Yeah, even if it happened again, I wouldn’t change it.
Nina Kaufman [17:04]
Yes, I agree with you. What I’m fond of saying is that nothing is wasted. There is something, some kernel that you get out of all of those experiences. For example, in my first law firm, I had started to develop a specialty in business partnerships and strategic alliances, and had even written a book on the subject and just as I’m about to release the book, my own partnership is imploding. And, oh boy, did that completely changed my world. But it made me once I rose from the ashes, it made me a much better advisor, and then was able to write the the next iteration of the book called the entrepreneurs prenup, which really looked much more carefully and wisely at all of the different aspects of business partnerships.
David Ralph [17:56]
And how did you manage to rise up and how long did it take you? Did you go into a period of mourning where you laid on the sofa in your dressing gown for days with the curtains drawn? Or did you just fight back instantly?
Nina Kaufman [18:09]
I went through repair. I think before the breakup, I was going through a period of what I call the silent screams, I would wake up regularly at about three o’clock in the morning, I would go into the bathroom, and I was so angry and just so angry, just Ah, you let it all out into the mirror. But because I didn’t want to wake my husband. I didn’t want to scare the neighbours I didn’t want the police called you don’t let the sound out. So your whole body is wrong and I look like a deranged goldfish. Your whole body is writhing with anger. And after a few months of doing this on a regular basis, I said all right, we need to do something a little healthier with an outlet so I started writing what I call the transformation Chronicles just to get it up and out of my system and identify all of the areas that I was unhappy and what I wanted to change. And from there started to develop internally that sense of Alright, you bitched and moaned for a while girlfriend. Make a plan, plan A, Plan B, Plan C, what is your next step? Just choose one. What’s your next step? Okay, next step is I’m going to talk to a colleague who deals with business breakups. And just we’ll have coffee and go from there. So it just one step after another. And then once we made the decision to close the firm, it became a lot easier to say, all right, what are the steps we need to take to make sure everything is wrapped up so I did not allow myself a mourning period. I kind of wish I had just taken a month and gone travelling. That would have been smart, but I did what they call a lateral arabesque. I closed my doors on December 31 2007. And on January 2 2008, it was the law firm of Nina Kaufmann.
David Ralph [20:09]
I think there’s nuggets of gold all the way through this episode already, though, the fact that we’re talking about not playing small and expanding financially right at the beginning and paying the key advice. If anyone is out there listening to this, there is a real blueprint for success here. But what interests me Ivanka and I’m going to play some words of Oprah because it really emphasises what Nina was speaking about, was the fact that you didn’t freak out about the big picture. You thought about the next step. What is the next step and that is the actionable tasks that you can do? This is Oprah Winfrey way
Unknown Speaker [20:43]
through the challenge is to get still and ask yourself what is the next right move? not think about, Oh, I got all of this stuff. But what is the next right move? And then from that space, make the next right move and then Next right move, and not to be overwhelmed by it. Because you know, your life is bigger than that one moment, you know, you’re not defined by what somebody says, is a failure for you, because failure is just there to point you in a different direction.
David Ralph [21:15]
Which is exactly what you were saying. So when you look back on it now, do you think that the next right move would have been to take a month off and and just recharge yourself and come back with clear fresh eyes?
Nina Kaufman [21:31]
You know, I pause for a moment. And it’s a really good question, David, I part of me is also kind of reliving who and where I was at the time and that fear that Oh, if I take a month off, and I’m out of communication with people, what does that mean? Are they going to completely forget me? And the answer is no, because they’re in their own little worlds for that month or two months, or maybe even it was six months. There were people that I, you know, I reconnect with all the time. Oh, yeah, it’s been a couple of years It feels like like no time has gone by. So yes, in retrospect, I, I deserved and I probably should have taken a month off, but, you know, I honour myself for where I was then and saying, it just it was more important to me to feel that sense of continuity standing on my own two feet, and not running away, you know, wanting to stay in the fight, stay visible in front of the clients and the contacts that I had, and just do it in a new way.
David Ralph [22:41]
So if your husband come into the room now, and he’s got two suitcases packed, and he said, look surprised I’ve been planning this. We’re going away for six weeks. Just turn off your computer, put out of ours message on your email. would you do it? Or would you freak
Unknown Speaker [22:59]
Oh, I’m completely
Nina Kaufman [23:03]
Because I am controlling and so the first thought is, Well, okay, what you know, who do I need to tell so that I’ve got coverage for my matters? What are the other projects that are in the hopper right now that I would then need to put on hold if I’m not allowed to be on the computer? I, I will confess to being a little bit of a technology junkie so the idea of at least right now of saying you can’t be near any computer device, no smartphone or computer and a laptop, no iPad. I get a little jittery. But I will tell you about a week into that trip. When all I have are my paperback trashy murder mysteries. I’m in hit Pog heaven.
David Ralph [23:53]
So you could do I couldn’t do it. Oh, yeah, let’s let’s do that. Nina, let’s run away together. And let’s not tell ya But I’ll bring him as well. That’d be fun. Because I was speaking to a guy the other day on the show. And he I’ve been speaking to there’s two that really sort of affected the way I think about things. And the first one was a guy who basically has clients. And he says to them, VAT between July and September, so he October, so end of September, you’re not going to get me at all. So anything that you need to have done before that it’s got to be organised. And after that, you’re not going to get me and he used to sort of take his laptop around on his travels. But now he doesn’t. He leaves it behind. And he goes on, like these mini retirements and these clients have bought into that. And when he’s new clients, he takes on board he says, Yeah, I will work with you. But you’ve got to realise that between these months and these months, you’re not going to get me at all boom, and it seems to work well. Then this can be a day said, Oh, I don’t even do that. I just decide one day but I’m going to be off. And I said to him, Well, how do you arrange that with your clients or whatever. And he says, I set out these these have hours emails, and he says if it’s urgent, then there’s a learning curve for us for when I get back, this is what we will work on. If it’s not urgent asked me when I get back. And if it’s really, really urgent, then just relax because it’s gonna go to hell, and then we’ll work out what we can do. And he has like these three key questions that he sends back by email. And he says, By switching it off, suddenly, he trains his clients quicker by what he could do if he was actually there. 24 seven, Does that kind of make sense?
Nina Kaufman [25:34]
It does make sense. I think some of that depends on the business, and that people come to rely on lawyers in a different way than they might on consultants or other kinds of professional service advisors. So often, if a client is calling and they feel it’s kind of urgent, then actually not going to wait three months because they may be dealing with a lawsuit or Something that could easily turn into one. So if I’m not the one serving, then it’s important that there there’s coverage somewhere so that the needs can get met. But I do appreciate the the importance for for the business owner to be able to say you know what, this is my time to to recharge. Because if you don’t have any of that, then then you absolutely burnout.
David Ralph [26:26]
Yeah, I went off on holiday last year to Spain with my family and I couldn’t leave the show behind and I basically walked around from dodgy bar in Spain to dodgy bar, trying to find Wi Fi. And I will never do that again. I will just switch off and I’m I’m not very good at switching. I’m fortunate that I have no mobile devices. And so I have a stand alones or a PC, you know, an old desktop one that I operate on. And when I turn that, that’s it. No one can get me in any shape or form. But I still had that as you say that addiction twitchiness to know if things were going wrong. And it wasn’t going to go wrong. Really? What’s gonna go wrong, then the show doesn’t get released for two weeks. I don’t think people are gonna dive at my voice isn’t coming to their ears for two weeks. Oh, oh, I think I think we can pretty much say that. If it was john Lee Dumas they’d all be shooting themselves but not me totally different. But I still had that sort of twitchiness of trying to make sure that it’s all organised and stuff. And it was a big learning curve for me. And I think it’s a learning curve for all of us out there listening to these shows to be out to go, let it happen. Let’s see what the bad things occur. And then I can deal with them afterwards. The old Tim Ferriss kind of method, isn’t it?
Nina Kaufman [27:39]
It is I had a colleague who referred to it as succession planning hooky. And I said what what does that mean? She said, Every once in a while she would just play hooky for the day she go to the movie, she’d spend the day with her kids, she go to a day spa, whatever it is, so that her team could just step up and help handle whatever it is. She wasn’t there. She wasn’t there to answer the questions, they had to make the best decisions possible. And then when she came back, they went over what happened? What were the issues? How did you make the decision? Might there have been a better way to make that decision? But without giving her team the opportunity to develop those success muscles? If you were they were never going to learn it. It’s like, you know, the parent who insists on constantly cutting their parents their child’s food. When are they going to learn to do it? They only learn to do it when they have to learn to step up and do it.
David Ralph [28:37]
Yeah, but I’m 45 and I still like little pieces. It would be great. If my parents were still cutting out my food, you could eat quicker, couldn’t eat and have to chew just to sort of blend it even better.
Nina Kaufman [28:49]
in a blender, use your fingers if that’s what you want to do. You don’t have to wait for somebody to cut your food but you know what I’m saying. So giving her team that opportunity to to take responsibility, but also to try new things encourage the spirit of innovation but also responsibility within the firm and, and also the employees didn’t feel like they were as much a sort of a cog in the wheel, they felt important to the process.
David Ralph [29:15]
So you said something quite profound earlier and I’ve let it go for a while. I’m gonna jump back on it. And you said when I said about your husband coming in, you went, Oh, no, no, I don’t like that. I’m I like to be in control. When you are a stand up comedian, in many ways, it’s the last thing that you are in control. You might have your content, but you don’t know whether it’s going to fly or whether you’re going to be heckled or it’s going to go up and down. How do you take that element of risk and bring it into your environment, but you you’re just not going to be in control is going to be different every night?
Nina Kaufman [29:48]
That’s a great question, David. I think part of it and part of why I started dabbling in stand up comedy was not to give up my day job. It was that I was giving more presentations on Business Law issues which frankly can be dull as dirt, or really overwhelming for business owners. So I needed to find some techniques some way to bring humour into the situation and to lighten it up a bit. Because you’re right, we lawyers can get really serious. And sometimes these issues are pretty dire. But you want to find a way where people are enjoying the learning process. They’re in that they can see a light at the end of the tunnel, and that’s where laughter comes in. So that’s why I went into the the stand up comedy. I think the first thing that it really helped me do was to learn not to take myself so seriously because I was often the butt of my own jokes. Yeah, so that was helpful that I’ve heard comedians say that they do stand up comedy because it’s cheaper than therapy. And
Unknown Speaker [30:51]
from some of the routines I heard, I’m not surprised.
Nina Kaufman [30:56]
But I think that part of what it helped me do is it was two things. It helped me learn to get off of the perfectionism train and into a healthier attitude of correct and continue. So if I try a joke several times and you know, it’s just not going anywhere, Well, okay, it doesn’t mean that I’m a terrible person. It doesn’t mean that I’m the lousiest comic on the planet. It doesn’t mean that I’m a complete failure. It just means that joke wasn’t quite working for that audience. So maybe there’s a better word, maybe there’s a better way to tweak it. Maybe I just need to leave it out altogether.
David Ralph [31:38]
And but what about those ones when you just say something off the top of your head and the whole room laughs because I used to be a public trainer. And I used I go exactly what you say. I used to do a lot of content which was very boring. So I knew that kind of the education came second. It had to be the the way I made the room bill. And the way I got them engaged, that was the learning part. And then the, what they took out of the room at the end of it was was hopefully they could bring 30% back out, that would be good. But sometimes you would have a joke that you’ve used, and it works. And so you use it again, it keeps on working. So that’s good. You still have it in your armoury. And then other times you might say something and you don’t think it’s funny, but whole room laughs anything that’s interesting, and then you use it again, and it still laughs But you can’t actually understand what’s making that room laugh to those words. Do you then bring that into your armoury? Or do you like that element of control of knowing why it’s working?
Nina Kaufman [32:36]
I think it’s, um, it probably depends on what it was, and do I feel it really fits within the routine. So I won’t discard it simply because I didn’t go through a deep thought process about it. Obviously, it came out of my mouth, so they don’t in some way. I was getting Connecting with the audience whether it was an instinctive process or something that I plotted out and I wrote down in a, in a routine. So I think there it’s it’s just trying to see how does it all fit together. And I think if you listen to a lot of the great comics, they they are essentially storytellers where the story is punctuated by, by jokes and just unusual observations. So to the extent that that all fits within a theme, and makes sense for a coherent routine, great if it’s a really strange off the cuff thing that ultimately doesn’t fit. I may not continue it, not just to be a control freak, but to have a tighter routine that overall has more coherence. And that’s some of the things that kind of comedic persona. Those are the things that the club managers like and That’s why they asked you back.
David Ralph [34:02]
What seems to come across with yourself, Nina, is that you are about making connections. That’s the key element to your essence you like to tell a story or you like to express information in a way that people understand, which then builds that connection with you. Do you think that’s a key part of what’s made you successful?
Nina Kaufman [34:23]
I think it is. I think it’s also not just wanting to communicate it, but also to glean the information as well. One of the things that I’m working on now is not working on, it’s launched. It’s a podcast of my own called Business Breakthrough, where I’m interviewing service business owners and advisors who are kind of cracking that code to how do you scale a service business, not just a tech business but a service business, so that it can scale and and business owners can create as you talked about, that kind of freedom to you know what unplug for next weeks because my husband, my wife, my significant other just walked in the room and said, That’s it, we’re off to Paris or Tahiti or wherever it is for six weeks. So one of the things I love and it may come from being a lawyer and researching is also asking good questions. So it’s a form of communication because I want to know what’s in your head. I want to know what makes you tick.
David Ralph [35:29]
So you are by essence a people person, but take away all your education. That is what Nina is.
Nina Kaufman [35:37]
That’s interesting. I would have said I’m a book person. But But now that you say it, yeah, go go go with people. Oh, no. And,
David Ralph [35:45]
and do you find that once you actually crack the code of understanding people being out to engage with all walks of life, you really have a head start building a business and success into your life.
Nina Kaufman [35:59]
I I think you have certainly have a head start in terms of just having a happier disposition and when you when you realise that there is a great diversity of people and types and personalities and you know a lot of things that you’re just not going to like but you can accept that they are there and they’re in your life not just to support you and cause problems but to be learning opportunities for you then, and I’m sort of saying now what I kind of need to learn for myself. I
David Ralph [36:35]
in family, you say Oh,
Nina Kaufman [36:36]
yeah, I think that you guess you go a long way to being wiser and just happier in your path.
David Ralph [36:46]
Are you aware of it when when you speak to people that you are actually speaking with knowledge that you need to learn?
Nina Kaufman [36:53]
Sometimes, sometimes I am sometimes I I realised that they may not be looking for advice. They’re looking for More for support. So I know in my role as business attorney or friend or whatever it is, we become part therapist in our way. Just a supportive listening space a sounding board. And at other times, yes, I find that I am saying or articulating something that I need to hear a remind myself of.
David Ralph [37:28]
Because I do that every single day I will be talking and before we started recording, I said to you, I don’t know anything I’m going to say until I press record, and sometimes it’s great. And sometimes it’s complete rubbish that comes out my mouth. But there’s times when you listen to yourself, and I’ve had this when I’ve been public speaking, but you almost have an out of body experience and start listening to yourself. And you think, wow, I don’t even know how I know what I’m saying there. But it’s kind of coming out of me. Where has this come from? And I find that fascinating when that kind of hits so Certainly in the podcasting, well, because a lot of it, you are speaking really off the top of your head and trying to build connections with somebody. But until you press record, you’ve got about two minutes to build that connection. But do you find with the podcasting, it’s taking your skills to another level, because you haven’t got that engagement of the person sitting directly opposite you more often than not, you really are trying to build that connection on sand.
Nina Kaufman [38:27]
I think it does really help me in the realm of what I call deep listening. That as the way you’re handling this podcast as well, it’s not like you have a set series of five questions and all you’re going to do is ask those five questions. What you’re doing is both listening to what I’m saying, filtering it through, what are the nuggets here? What do I want to explore more? What do I think is also going to be useful for the audience and then coming back and having that be the the Question or the way that you’re continuing the conversation in a way that isn’t completely disjointed. But But it all flows. And I think doing the podcasting has really helped me in in those particular skills of truly listening to people, instead of being in my own head saying, All right, what what’s the point that I want to get across?
David Ralph [39:22]
Which is the whole thing of business, isn’t it, not having your own agenda? It’s dealing with the agenda of the other person? Well, we’ve got a thing called podcasters mastery that we talked about at the beginning. And we’ve got people in the community and we grow a business based around using podcasting. But effectively, podcasting is an engine to be able to ask questions across the globe and connect with people and build loyalty. And one of the things that most of the people come to us with is a fixed idea of what’s going to work in the marketplace. And we say how do you know that and they go, Well, it sounds like a good idea or me and GM sat in the pub last night. And he thought it would be a good thing. So that’s what I’m gonna do. And we say, No, you don’t you you, you work from an area of passion of knowledge, and then filter it out. And Canvas opinion, Canvas opinion all the time. And then that’s how you get an understanding of how a business is going to fly or wherever it’s needed. It seems bizarre to me, but you see it more often than not that people come with an idea of a fully realised business. And they and they’re not out to have that flexibility, and being able to pivot as you talked about earlier.
Nina Kaufman [40:34]
And it’s not just the ability to pivot, but they have this fabulous idea for business, but they have no clue about the financial model. They think it’s a billet and they will come and that that’s beautiful for Kevin Costner in the movies, but that doesn’t necessarily work for business. So to your point, absolutely. It’s, the idea is that you need to solve an urgent pervasive and ideally expensive problem that your market needs solved. So, if I’m coming up with Oh, I don’t know, you know, the next iteration of the pet rock, is that a problem that needs to be solved? Is there a lack in the gift industry? You know, the goofy gift industry that, that people really need the next pet rock? And the answer is probably no. That time is gone. So I made an ad in the first place. Did we really, I don’t know. But you know, it was it was goofy. It was unusual. It was that that uniqueness? That quirkiness, it, just it hit the time of the day. But if you and I are in the pub, and I’m saying Hey David, how about pet rock part two, and you’re like, wow, we’ve had a few. Let’s do it.
That does not make a business.
David Ralph [42:00]
So how did you know about asked the business lawyer was a business? How did you know that that was that there was a requirement for that?
Nina Kaufman [42:08]
I knew that there was a requirement because I, first of all saw the statistics on the number of business owners in New York. And I saw the number of business networking groups that were there. God only knows how many laws are on the books. So there’s a whole wide range of issues, legal issues that business owners need to deal with, both from how do you get started to what’s in your contracts, employment issues, social media, online issues, websites? can spam axman all I mean, there’s just Unfortunately, no end, no end to law. So there’s, it was clear to me that there was a need and the question is how can smaller businesses be served adequately and with care. recognising that a small business is not just a major corporation but but tinier, that there is a different dynamic, there are different things that they need from their attorneys. They don’t just need someone to say, Well, this is a risk and that’s a risk and the other things are risk. They also need your strategic guidance to say, Okay, I’ve got all the risks. I think I’ve got this covered. Please don’t blow this deal for me.
David Ralph [43:32]
So you start this business, and this is like a double question. You start this business because you see a requirement out there. Did you get to the point where you suddenly thought, Oh my God, this might be too successful. How the hell am I gonna deal with it? As I ever come into your because there’s two levels of fear, isn’t it? There’s fear that it’s not going to work in the first place and there’s a fear but it’s going to become too successful. That cross your path bows,
Nina Kaufman [43:59]
and the First, we’ll certainly the first fear of Oh my God, is this going to work that that was certainly the reason that I didn’t take the month off in between the end of valtra with Calvin and starting my own firm Calvin law and as the business lawyer. But what I found over time, is that my own personal issues and passions moved have moved in a slightly different direction, in that I’m not so worried about Wow, is a law firm going to be wildly successful? It’s saying through that experience that I had, and also seeing what other business owners are dealing with, it seems like an even more important issue is the fact that you’ve got so many entrepreneurs who are putting in, you know, 6080 hours a week and they keep hitting an upper ceiling and they don’t know how to scale their business. And that, to me has become more urgent than just How do you make sure you’re giving good solid legal advice because there to me there’s a bigger picture so I think it’s recognising that your your dream your passion your path may change from what you think it is at the very beginning but
David Ralph [45:16]
as that’s one of the things I say isn’t it you What’s it um you will get lost on the way to a dream and then find a better one or something like that I say
Nina Kaufman [45:26]
okay all right. I’ve heard sometimes we need to let go of the life we have planned in other to live the life we were meant to have.
David Ralph [45:39]
I’ll give you another one. Okay, only bows But dad to go too far can possibly find out how far they can go. What about her?
Nina Kaufman [45:47]
Okay, how about you can lead a horse to water but you can’t stick his head in it.
David Ralph [45:52]
I think you bounce gold. I don’t think I can beat you on that. So where is asked? The business lawyer going to go is it going to be a purely online scalable business? Or is it ever going to lose the personal aspect of one to one clients?
Nina Kaufman [46:09]
No, I don’t, I don’t know that that’s ever gonna lose that part of having the online presence was to create alternative income streams. But the the essence of professional advisory services often does come down to that personal one on one contact. So so that will always be a part of it. What part of what we’re doing now is rounding out to create a wider team of lawyers who have specialty areas that our clients need, for example, unemployment and intellectual property law and things like that. So that, again, we just have a wider footprint and ability to serve.
David Ralph [46:55]
And do you still enjoy it? Do you still wake up every morning and go? Yeah, this is This is really my thing or are you he to move on to something new?
Nina Kaufman [47:04]
I am. I’m not waking up with it with the same passion, which is one of the reasons that I again, I have the Business Breakthrough podcast and I’m looking into that issue of how service businesses scale through a new company that I started called business exponential. And I think that, again, recognising that my my own needs have changed over time that the things that I’m enjoying now one of the reasons I’ve loved the podcasting, for example. And going back to connecting dots, is that when I was in college, I was a DJ on the radio station. And even then, I was interviewing local authors and minor celebrities and things like that, which I loved to do, and I remember loving, loving, loving being in the studio. So it brings me back to those days and I just I kind of giggle because nothing, nothing is wasted. All right, my business partnership didn’t work out. But it I work now better with business partnerships as a lawyer. I was a DJ in college. What does that have to do with anything? Well, it has to do with podcasting. So you tend to find that you want to welcome in a variety of experiences, because they can also help you lead to that next thing or help inform your passion or really give the new business legs.
David Ralph [48:35]
Well, let’s change those words that you’ve just said and put a man’s voice on it. And these are the words that Steve Jobs said, but he pretty much said exactly what you just said Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs [48:45]
Of course, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college, but it was very, very clear looking backwards. 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So You have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path. And that will make all the difference.
David Ralph [49:20]
So what is your big dot? When you look back on everything? Where is the the key area or the moment or a situation that has led you to where you are today?
Nina Kaufman [49:30]
Well, from the time I was probably out of diapers, I said I was going to be a lawyer didn’t know what that meant. I didn’t know what they did. But as you mentioned in the introduction, I’ve watched To Kill a Mockingbird at a young age and I wanted to be that wise, trusted counsellor. And I think that has that has brought me through and then again, when my business partnership imploded. I had what I call the The donut moment I was sitting with a business valuation expert, and showing him all my my plans and my you know, the graphs and the numbers and all that stuff. And he said, if you want to get out of this business, the fastest and easiest ways to close your doors and I said, Well, you know, what’s the business worth? And he held up his his breakfast pastry and he said, You see this donut? I said yes. He said, What do you got his little hole. And that was my first introduction to realising that I had essentially built a job for myself not a business, and that they are two very different things. So I think though, those, those two with the arc of, again, just wanting people to enjoy the entrepreneurial journey, to be safe while they do it and to to reap the rewards of the personal and financial freedom, which is why we go into business for ourselves largely. Other than my boss was an idiot.
David Ralph [50:59]
Well Generally, aren’t they and my wife always says to me that she was my boss at one stage. So I’ll play that too. I will play those comments and I say, Nina said that you’re an idiot why you’re an idiot. Um, let’s send you back in time now, because this is the part of the show that we call this sermon on the mind, we send you back in time to have a one on one with your younger self. And if you could go back in time and speak to the young Nina, what advice would you give and what age would you choose? Well, we’re gonna find out because I’m going to play the theme, and when it fades you up. This is the Sermon on the mind.
Unknown Speaker [51:38]
With the best bit of the show, man, my man
Nina Kaufman [51:54]
the first thing that I want to say to the younger me is You are worthy, and you are talented, supremely talented. And I think that that’s that sense of being anchored in myself. Really, really important because I feel like there were a number of years and still dogged me every once in a while, where I would just worry too much what other people think. So stop worrying what everybody else says. You’re worthy, you’re talented, you’re a good person. The The other thing I’d say is that mistakes are not fatal. Mistakes are not final they are simply a mis take. So the same way, you go onto a film set and you got take one, take two, take three, take four take 172 that’s really what life is that these are all wonderful learning experiences. And they may not have gone as you intended, but think of it as a grand grand experiment. And, and that they are all things to learn from these are not things to be ashamed of, or things that make you less than or things that show you up to be a failure are somehow inferior.
And I guess the the last thing is just to be open and and know yourself that this is, at least in this incarnation, this is your your one journey and let it be yours. Don’t be living somebody else’s. Somebody else’s life. So make your own decisions. recognise that your dreams and your journey may may change along the way. But that’s what’s going to make for great war stories when you’re sitting with David when the pub closes
David Ralph [54:00]
Absolutely join us. I’ll always be there in the corner. Nia, what’s the number one best way that our audience can connect with you?
Nina Kaufman [54:08]
A number one best way is through my website, ask the business lawyer.com. Again, ask the business lawyer calm. And the other I’ll just give you just a hint because that’s where my podcasts are. It’s business exponential calm. So if you want an exponential business, you got a business exponential.com. So those two websites
David Ralph [54:31]
will check out both of them. Nina, thank you so much for spending time with us today. joining up those dots. And please come back again when you have more dots to join up. Because I do believe that by joining up the dots and connecting our past is the best way to build our futures. Nina, thank you so much.
Nina Kaufman [54:47]
Thank you, David.
David Ralph [54:51]
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