October 2010

The last several weeks have been big ones for my friend and client, Jeff Carr.  Jeff is the General Counsel of FMC Technologies.  First, Jeff and his fantastic team were named a Top 10 Most Innovative Law Department by Inside Counsel.  Last week, Jeff was named one of the 2010 winners of the Corporate Leadership Award presented by the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution.  This week, the Association of Corporate Counsel named Jeff this year’s winner of its Excellence in Corporate Practice Award.

These awards and the accompanying recognition are well-deserved.  For years, Jeff has been preaching the importance of value, of linking pay and performance, and of using metrics and business principles in the operation of the law department.  I’ve kidded him that like other revolutionaries, he has moved from wacko status to cult hero status, but unlike many others, he has done it while still alive and able to enjoy the respect and honor he has earned.

Congratulations, Jeff.  And stay thirsty, my friend.

If you care about the future, you need to watch the presentation at the Association of Corporate Counsel annual meeting by Brad Smith, GC of Microsoft, and Kent Walker, GC of Google.  Fascinating.  I can’t possibly summarize what was being discussed, but let me relay one factoid Kent Walker shared with the audience.  In all of human history up until 2003, mankind had created 5 exabytes of data.  Today we create 5 exabytes of data every two days.  The growth of information is just staggering.  But this will be a sound investment of 47 minutes.

Yesterday, my Mother called to say that she had seen Ron Safer interviewed on a Sunday morning program about a local legal matter.  Ron Safer has been my dearest friend for more than 35 years (we were best man in each others weddings, to give you a flavor), so this morning I did a YouTube search to see if I could find the clip.  My mother will be disappointed to hear that I did not find a copy of Ron’s television appearance.  But I was thrilled to find the clip that follows, because it is a fantastic explanation of the reason why diversity matters.

 

I have been an AT&T wireless phone forever.  Remember when cell phones were the size of Rhode Island?  I was a wireless customer then.  And since.  But change is a good thing, especially when a customer’s loyalty doesn’t count for anything.

In February 2008, I bought an iPhone.  To get the best price, I had to extend my contract for two years.  By the way, the sales person promised that if I didn’t like the iPhone, I could get the preferred price on a new phone.  A couple of months later, I decided I didn’t like the iPhone.  I went back and found out that the clerk’s promise was "not policy."  So I paid full price for a Blackberry Bold.

In the past few weeks, my BB Bold has been acting up.  So I went back to my local AT&T store.  The clerk told me about an acknowledged censor problem with the hardware that caused the symptoms I was experiencing.  Some might have asked to have the defective BB replaced at no cost.  Not me.  I was prepared to pay the lower price one pays when you renew your contract.  Was that good enough?  Nope.  Because my contract extension from my failed iPhone didn’t expire until February, I would have to be the "in between" price.  The fact that I was a forever AT&T customer didn’t count for jack.

So tomorrow, I will take my phone, my wife’s phone and my kids’ phones (we are power users) and I will go to visit a Verizon store and see what can be worked out.  I will spend whatever time is needed to send my lonely little message to AT&T.  I will "pay any price, bear any burden" to make these folks understand that customer loyalty should count for something.  And then I will never do business with them again.

Congratulations AT&T.  Your stupidity cost you one customer (the price difference in the hardware amounted to one month’s bill).  I can only hope someone else sees this post (or the Tweets I’ve noted) and decides to join me.