084: Navigating Your Career Climb with Jolene Blackbourn, Esq.

By November 11, 2016Podcasts

 

Lawyer and mentoring enthusiast Jolene Blackbourn makes the case for helping others to help ourselves.

You’ll Learn:

  1. What you think you know about your job, but you actually don’t
  2. How not to add a task to your to-do list
  3. A drag and drop tip to collecting praise

About Jolene
Jolene has been an in-house attorney with a major insurance company for almost 10 years. She serves as a mentor to many new attorneys and helps prospective law students determine whether law school is right for them. She also coaches a youth soccer team.

Items Mentioned in this Show:

Jolene Blackbourn Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Jolene, thanks so much for joining us here on the How To Be Awesome at Your Job podcast.

Jolene Blackbourn
Thanks for having me!

Pete Mockaitis
Well, it’s so fun, I’m so glad that you submitted through that little form when I was looking around for guests because, we’re just saying that you are kind of unique, you just genuinely love mentoring folks and would like to talk about it. As opposed to you have mentorship program, or book or something to promote which is awesome.

Jolene Blackbourn
Yeah, I absolutely have always kind of had a mentoring bug and started I think back in elementary school, the more I thought about it and it’s just always followed along with me. I currently do it at work and I try to help as many people as I can so when I saw your podcast I actually thought this was a perfect match.

Pete Mockaitis
Fun! Well, I’m glad to have you here and so maybe if you get, orient us first and foremost kind of, what is your background and where are you positioned in the world of work right now?

Jolene Blackbourn
So, I’m a lawyer. I’m a Los Angeles lawyer and I’ve been a lawyer for about thirteen years, I’ve been in my current field for about ten years and with my current firm for about eight. I’ve definitely worked my way you know, at the ranks of my own firm and like I said, I’ve mentored a lot of people in my own firm.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, so then tell us now one thing that’s interesting, to position things, well we’re gonna be chatting with a professor at Pepperdine about this very topic a bit later. Okay so you’ve been offered management positions in number of times and you said “no thanks, no thanks, I wanna be” quote “just a lawyer.” What’s the back story there?

Jolene Blackbourn
Yeah, and that’s true, actually, even before I became a lawyer, that I’ve always just kind of want to stay a little bit out of that. First of all, I feel like I can do more when I’m not part of management. I feel like management often is tied to certain rules that you know, that of course, there’s always you know, anti-harassment and that kind of thing which everyone has to comply with. But I feel like as a lawyer, that’s just outside of management that I can just, I guess be a little more personal and it’s not like management is telling my co-worker you know, “you need to be doing this, this is how you should be doing things.” It’s more a, a friend you know, a comrade telling somebody, “look, this is how I do things, it works very well, management really appreciates it, you might wanna try it.” So I think it goes further. I think it’s more appreciated. And as likewise even outside of the law but especially with my current position, I like to do it that way.

Pete Mockaitis
And so, this also kind of ties in to that whole sort of love of mentorship piece, is that if you’re in management, it would alter this special dynamic that you really treasure.

Jolene Blackbourn
Exactly. Management definitely has their own, you know, they have to watch after everybody, they’ve got their own agenda and as a just a worker, when I’m doing a good job, I can share that good job, I can share that praise that I’m getting with other people and say, “okay, if you wanna be in the same kind of limelight or the same position as me, you gotta work your way up and here’s how you do it, and here’s how you can do the job more effectively, more efficiently, or at least that’s how I have been able to make my job more efficient and effective.” And I try to help people you know, kind of reach where I’m at and you know, everybody’s a little bit different and not all works out for the same but if I give them one way to succeed, they at least have a path they could follow.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well so, if mentorship is indeed your thing, your jam, your specialty, I’d love it if you could just sort of open it up for us. What are some of the maybe key nuggets of advice you find yourself saying again and again and you find others receiving with transformative gusto?

Jolene Blackbourn
Well, I think there is three kind of key areas that people don’t, it’s so simple in some ways, that people don’t really see it. So the first step or level that I recommend for people and it might sound almost condescending is to know your job.
And it may just sound so simple but a lot of people that go into places and whether it was training or not, they feel like they have to figure everything out and they have to maybe just kind of bulldoze ahead, they don’t really stop to maybe ask questions or afraid of how questions will be perceived. And then they do a couple of things wrong with that. One is the probably make more mistakes than they need to and thereby also take longer to learn things than they need to. But they also don’t get to know their co-workers very well. And if they’re asking questions especially in the beginning, people expect questions.
If you take time to ask each person a different question, you have a million questions and you just go from person to person, you’ll find out who’s personable, who doesn’t like to be bothered, you get to know what they know, and just what they’re like. And by that route, you are really placing yourself in that company. You’re really learning when you do have a real problem, who you can go to, who you shouldn’t bother. And you get to know the atmosphere really well. So it just really secures your place in the company and it also makes sure you’re doing your job right.
And even for people with experience in their field, when you change companies, when you change law firms, everyone does something different. You need to know how your new company handles different problems and so you still need to be going person to person, asking for that advice and making sure you’re doing your job correctly according to your company.

Pete Mockaitis
And could you maybe open that up a bit. When it comes to, you know your job, and it sounds like “yes, that is definitely something that we should do, we should know, we should tackle.” So what are some ways you see folks sort of fall down on this? It’s like you think they would know their job, but in fact, there are some gaps because they’re making some key missteps. Yeah, what are those?

Jolene Blackbourn
Yeah, so some of the missteps I see is, people, first of all, they don’t attend training that may be provided, you know, it’s presented perhaps as optional, and so they think, “I’m busy,” you know, “I’m still learning the ropes, I do not have time for that.” Or even you know, “I’ve been here a while, I don’t need that.” But what they don’t realize is a lot of times that’s really where you again, not only learn more, but it’s that key in our action with other people and you find out who knows what.
I think that’s really where people kind of fail to learn is you need to know who knows what. You know, if you assign some kind of mentor to kind of help you with your onboarding and that kind of thing, that person may not be the best person for you to communicate with, you may not have the same style. And people start to feel stuck, they don’t feel like they’re fitting in, they feel like they have no one to go to when they do have questions.
You really need to branch out and people don’t do that very often. And so one way to do that is to attend different training sessions, things like that, meetings, to find out what does that person know versus that person, and in really that way you get to know you know, where the skills lie, and then that way if you have a certain problem you know who you can go to, who the best person would be to go to.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, so you’re saying, “know your job” is bigger than executing the task to be, in front of you, but rather having a robust understanding of the whole kind of ecosystem of characters and players and what they know well, and what they don’t know well, who you should go to, under what circumstances, and that is an essential thing to be developing along the way instead of up little training opportunities like “oh no, I’m too busy for that.”

Jolene Blackbourn
Absolutely! And what I find is, having practiced for several years, I’m still learning, it’s always you know, a developing thing. And what I find is, even just something as simple as you making sure you say “good morning” to people and stopping by to know you know, what they did that weekend, and enough even that, you again get to learn what the person is like and sometimes you divert into work-related things and again you learn who you’re gonna go to for certain types of problems. It really can help you just accelerate your knowledge and obviously then your position eventually because you have the inside track on well this person has experienced in this versus that person has experience in that.
And if more people come to you for advice at some point, you don’t know everything, there’s nobody that knows everything, and so for example in my field, if there’s a claim that involves the death of somebody, I can say “Hey, I haven’t dealt with that but I know that Mike has and you should go talk to Mike.”
And so just even knowing where to refer other people, people remember that. they appreciate that, and they know “Hey, she knows who do I refer me to. So she might not know everything but then she can refer me out. She knows who knows what.” And that’s a skill in and of itself.
That’s the base level. That’s the very first thing. It’s know your job, don’t try to bulldoze your way through, really do talk to other people.
I would say the next thing that, that people kind of overlook is the importance of the relationship with the people below them. There’s a set distance, maybe even the front desk person, anyone that is there to support your position is really key in you being good at your job. If you have a direct assistant, somebody like a secretary, again, building that relationship of “Hi, how are you? What did you do this weekend?”, first of all it creates the goodwill.
The next thing you need to do is kind of figure out what they do. You know, if they’re getting, setting up appointments for you, when you set that task for them, what can you give them that makes that task easier and more efficient?
If they’re able to do their job more efficiently instead of going back and forth with you, they’re gonna appreciate it more, they’re gonna speak more highly of you, you know, ”she makes my job so easy, she helps me get more done, that makes her look good.” And so you, you know, in the secretarial pool, you’re gonna be praised. So then other secretaries are gonna hear this and they’re gonna think “Wow! I wanna work with that person. They sound so easy to work with, they sound great!”
So again, that just makes you look good. And you know, whenever they’re your assistants, review standards are if it’s how many tasks they get done per day, or you know, how fast they work. If you’re helping them accomplish that goal, they’re gonna remember that. They’re gonna go the extra mile for you. They may even you know, sing your praises to management and while that may not be your manager, it’s gonna be known by the management team that you make you assistant’s job better.
So people I think often overlook the simplicity of just helping their assistant look good. So yeah, I mean, if you don’t know what your assistant really does, I mean, spend some time “Hey, how can I make your job easier?”, “Hey, I gave you that task. Is there a way you prefer to do that in the future?” Anything like that can really just go a long way towards your own development as, in your position but also in the company because the company will really you know, thank you for just making the company run smoother.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Very good, thank you! So I guess, speaking of this efficiency point, so you do a lot of training with newer and experienced lawyers to help them boost their efficiency, so what are some of the key tips and tricks that you have shared that really make the difference for them?

Jolene Blackbourn
Well, with respect to, let’s see, as far as working with the assistant and managing the efficiency on that level, clear and concise tasks with as much information as possible. You know, again finding out what their job is, going back to your own job, sometimes talking with other attorneys about their relationship with their assistant and how they work, I found that some attorneys for example, they set every single task for their secretary to be for the next day. Well it’s not possible for the assistant to do everything within twenty-four hours.
And for example, my company, we have it all networked. So management can jump at any time and locate your task and see how far behind you are. Well, if you have twenty tasks to do you know, every single day, you can’t get to them all. So, the secretaries can start looking like they’re behind. And that doesn’t make them look good, that’s not gonna make them happy with management.
So when I discovered that one attorney was doing that, I told him you know, “they can’t do all that, so you need to give them different timeframes.” They might be able to mail a letter within twenty-four hours, but you know, if they have an ongoing project like, setting an appointment that requires calling multiple people and is gonna take several days ‘cause not everyone’s sitting at their desk, you know, it’s already gonna be past due almost the moment she starts working on it. You need to get her you know, a week or two weeks to get that set. And if it’s really urgent then you need to also communicate that. But if it’s just a typical setting of appointment, you need to get her farther out deadline.

Pete Mockaitis
Now that’s interesting. So are you kind of working with a particular sort of like a task management or coordination application there in which it asks for a field you know “Do” and when you started to take it you say “Now” or they actually say “Do this now” “Do this also now” “Do this also now” or how does that kind of get mixed up in the mix?

Jolene Blackbourn
Right, yeah we have an internal system that’s created just for us and it is, you set it for you know, whoever your assistant is and it has, you can pick your due date, and yes, so and then you just tell it what you need. So most of us, we have been around a while, and especially those of us who were secretaries before we were lawyers and really understand what goes into these task, we’ll give them ten days, is the typical amount of time. And they may not be able to accomplish it in that amount of time but it’s a fair amount of time.
And then, like I said, things that are simpler like just mailing something out may be a day or two. And, but it’s there for everyone to see, and you know, the managers do go in and check and see how the secretaries are doing, are they doing enough tasks per day, that they are actually working, and you know, are they getting things done on time.
And yeah so, I guess you know, it is a little bit part of our training when we bring people on but I think some people kind of miss it, and so they just aren’t thinking and they just think “okay well, you know, tomorrow, tomorrow” And it’s like, no, no, no, no, no, you really need to –  And you’re not creating that goodwill because your secretary’s stressed, everything’s due tomorrow. What’s really a rush versus just you randomly picked tomorrow to be done.

Pete Mockaitis
So you’re saying, if you’re randomly picking a day, pick it ten days out.

Jolene Blackbourn
Yeah, give the person some time. You really need to figure out, and that’s where people don’t realize. “What is my secretary’s job?” They’re not really thinking about it. So you know, if you have to have a conversation with your secretary, talk to them. Even if it’s front desk and you’re asking front desk to do stuff for you.
You know, there has been times when I’ve called from outside the firm and I’ve asked the front desk “my secretary’s not at her desk, I need to talk to somebody, you know, can you just hook me up with whoever’s at their desk?”
You know, that takes a moment for them to find somebody. But, you know, if you don’t really understand what the front desk does, I mean, they take a lot of incoming calls, and they’ve gotta address all kinds of things, and they’re constantly under pressure. You don’t want to just start a conversation with them “Hey, here’s what I need. Can you look this up for me? Can you do this?”
The front desk is not your assistant. They’ve got a different job. They can’t answer incoming calls if they’re doing some research on the network for you.
So you know, it’s really a matter of understanding the world around you and understanding where to go when you have a problem. And everyone else is going to appreciate that. They are probably not going to complain too much, they might be afraid to complain too much, but they will note if you are considerate of them.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. So that’s on the administrative and management side of things, of lawyer productivity. What are some other best practices on, because I’m thinking in terms of you know, being prolific turning out those briefs and those motions and all the writing lawyers do. What are some of your pro-tips when it comes to thinking and communicating at a high velocity?

Jolene Blackbourn
So definitely, you should always have a database of forms and whether it’s forms that you’ve created in the past or your firm’s forms, and anytime you start at a new firm or any company again where you have to write some type of you know, proposal or something, you should always ask if they have a database and if they don’t, you should ask a co-worker if they have some forms you can you know, use as a template. So that’s the first step.

The second step with managing files is, just to always make sure that every time you touch a file, that you are setting yourself a task for the future. So if I sent something out to the client, I don’t just set a task you know, “the client respond” or “follow up the client,” I set a thorough task of “The client response email of you know, March 3rd , 2006 regarding these two issues.” And that way, I don’t have to dig through the whole file, “What was that email about? When did I send it? Which email am I talking about?” It’s all right there, one little task. And I may not remember exactly the details but then I can just kind of go search in maybe my inbox, it’s a little full. So okay, look through my inbox, “do I have an email on this file regarding these two issues?”

Pete Mockaitis
Oh that is so handy.

Jolene Blackbourn
Yeah, it’s much more efficient and especially because half the time the client will respond on one issue but not the other. So then, if you didn’t put with the subject words into tasks, you’d think “oh, they did response to that email” and you mark it off. And for months you don’t realize that they didn’t response to the second issue. And you’re just so busy you just kind of move forward with the one thing. And so I make sure I ask these two questions. They only answered one so the I’m gonna respond “Hey, what about that other one?”
And that’s what I think slows a lot of people down, is they don’t efficiently set tasks for themselves for every little thing they do. And I do that also for my secretary. If I tell my secretary to do something, you know, obtain these records from these three locations. Then I set a task for myself maybe a month later. Did the records come in from these three locations? And I can look “Okay, one little location came in so we’re still waiting for two more,” so I erase the one, review and do what I need to do with those records, but I still have a task for those two sets of records that I’m waiting for.
And that’s another thing that people aren’t efficient with, is properly documenting what they’ve done and what the next step is. They just really have to relook at the file every single time they touch it. And it’s not efficient. And it can lead to things falling to the cracks and just you know, errors.
So you know, and everybody’s system is a little bit different whether it’s through paper or electronic, but you definitely need to, within whatever your company system is, constantly set tasks, you know, follow up with this client regarding you know, X, Y and Z. And the more detailed you are, the more effective you’re gonna be.

Pete Mockaitis
Hm, that’s so handy. And once again, it’s bringing me back to Episode 15, David Allen, of Getting Things Done fame, and it’s like, if your to-do list just says “Mom” it’s like you don’t really know like what that means, you have to go through the work of remembering or re-referencing things as opposed to “Called ballroom dancing place about getting a gift certificate for her birthday.” It’s like, okay!

Jolene Blackbourn
Right
Pete Mockaitis
That’s what has to happen, and while you’re at it, through the phone number on it, and then if you have two minutes and a phone you know, you can pull it off and get it done. So that’s so good, is that it’s not just follow up with a Rick.

Jolene Blackbourn
Right

Pete Mockaitis
That’s like, make sure Rick sent the proposal or whatever that specific things is, so you don’t have to pull the paper up again or even do a search in your digital files. I’m finding that as I accumulate more and more files, the little Finder function is not as zippy and dead on as it was when this you know, computer was a fresh spry into your hard drive.

Jolene Blackbourn
Yes, well, and for a lot of lawyers you know, each company is slowly converting into paperless and so it’s a really difficult conversion because if you were just to flip into your files through paper, and you’ve got a diary system through that, or you just leave a top sheet in your file you know, “this is the next thing to do” it’s pretty easy in that sense.
But when you switch over to electronic, people feel like everything’s in there. It’s just, “Where do I find everything?” It’s just kind of, it feels a little looser than, on the right side of my file is this, on the left side of my file is that. I open up the file and there it is. It’s there’s tabs and there is just, it gets confusing.
And so, definitely learning how to keep an accurate task management or diary system is really key to converting into a more, more paperless world.
It definitely is a difficult conversion for a lot of people you know, and even the more technologically masked people just clicking to find those documents, like you said, the searching stuff like that can be very difficult so you try to avoid searching at all times. Just have one place where you go for your task and that can hopefully avoid you having to dig back through each file, each you know, system and trying to find what went on ‘cause yeah, it is very difficult.
Another one of those key levels is, talking to your boss and making sure that you are doing what your boss wants you to do. Would you, again I dunno, it sounds so simple to me but a lot of people kind of miss out on that, that issue stated.
I think that some people don’t want to talk to their boss. Or they’re afraid to maybe admit that they don’t necessarily know what they should be doing. Which is not a surely case when you talk to your boss “Hey, am I doing everything alright? Or do you want anything else out of me?” Your boss will love that, they’re not gonna think that you don’t know what you’re doing.
You know, and a lot of times, it’s really simple stuff like “Hey, we’re having visitors we’d might like the office space to be clean.” “Okay, then clean your office. You know, clean your desk, make sure you look presentable.” You know, if that’s what’s really important to your boss then the next time they say “We’re having visitors” you should automatically know without being told “Okay, everything needs to be tidied up.”
You know, and if your boss has a certain statistics to meet, you know, find out what they are. I mean, they may share that exactly in detail with you but if your boss has something that they need to accomplish, whether, like in a law firm they need everybody to reach certain billable hours, or they need to see cases moving at certain speed, or again with sales, you know, certain amount monthly value of sales, you know, find out exactly what your boss has to report or accomplish and help them meet those goals.
I mean, you can’t necessarily compensate for other people who are, you know, dragging the team down, but is there something you can do to help move the team up. And then, I get that’s kind of where I come in with my firm is, you know, I do what I need to do, but then I also try and help others, and I don’t know if they dragging or not, I don’t really ask them with their standing but I do offer “Hey, I’ve learned an efficient way to task my files, I have learned a faster way to review mail. If you guys wanna learn about it, let me know and I’ll come to your office and show you how to do it on the network.” And that’s just something that, you know, helps my manager reach her goals, by helping everyone else reach their little mini-goals within her overall goal.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, very good. So, you are talking to folks about promotions, and they wanna get their promotions, and is it, I’m guessing you’re gonna say, “It boils down to just a lot of these sorts of activities. If you do them and you’re more likely to get promoted, don’t do them and you’re less likely to get promoted.” Is there anything else you wanna covey in the kind of progression game that you learned?

Jolene Blackbourn
I think people don’t document properly the praise that they receive throughout the year. And so if you have annual reviews, or just sporadic reviews, people aren’t necessarily prepared to fully fight for the raise, the promotion, the money.
What I do is, I have an email inbox, I title it every year “Praise 2015” “Praise 2016” and each year I drag and drop into that folder all the praise I’ve received. So if I had a good trial result, or an excellent settlement, our trial results are reported to management so they might say “Yes, good job!” whatever, I save it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a really simple “Good job” I don’t care, I put it to the Praise.
If I have an amazing settlement, I sometimes flat out, shamelessly share it with management. “Hey, I just want to share this amazing thing that happened.” And again, if they just say “Good job” whatever, I drag and drop it. If, you know, sometimes they’ll send it to their managers and that kind of thing, any praise I get on that chain I send it to that Praise folder.
I also try to encourage both with the clients and with the other people here whether, again my assistant or somebody who’s helping me out on a file, I constantly send praise emails to management. And I just say that “this client really went the extra mile, I really appreciate what they did, you know, because of them I was able to do X, Y and Z.” “Hey, my assistant, she dropped everything and helped me today, it was a rush, I just couldn’t control it and I know she was really busy today but she really came through.”
And I constantly praise people to the management. Again, it keeps a positive rapport throughout the office, it also makes them more likely praise you. So if somebody helped me “Hey, I you know, why can’t we stick ahead a leave, I have a hearing in the afternoon I couldn’t go, and to pick up my kid,” this person at the last minute agree to take that hearing for me so I can go and pickup my kid, you know, that’s a praising well. And then, they’ll remember “Hey, Jolene jumped in and helped me with my thing” and they’ll reciprocate instead of just it being between the two of us, it’s now between us and the management.
And so again, I just drag and drop all those emails and then when it comes to review time, I’m able to list, you know, I received praise from a really difficult client on this one case, I received this positive reviews from upper management on these trials, you know, my secretary praised me for you know, whatever.
And so it just adds to the list. And you know, some of them might be kind of silly even but I just throw it all in there. You know, they can roll their eyes at it if they want to, that’s up to them. But you know, I do have obviously my good work deeds but then I just throw in all the praise and that way I don’t forget any praise.
And if the praise is verbal, I will email it to myself. I will say, “This person said on this day, this thing.” And it’s, yeah, it’s completely ridiculous but I never forget any praise. I just drag and drop it into the folder. And if I feel like I can use it any way, I just throw it in there. And I’d leave it up to them to make that decision if, “yeah, that’s kind of silly” whatever but, you know, I don’t share those emails, I just list the things. I, ‘cause yeah, it would be pretty silly to share my own email to myself but..

Pete Mockaitis
But you probably could selectively quote them, I imagine, as you’re compiling that.

Jolene Blackbourn
Yes

Pete Mockaitis
Like so and so was very pleased and said “Wow! Jolene, you blew my mind!” or whatever.

Jolene Blackbourn
Yeah, exactly. Yeah, and I do, and again, another reason to keep those emails is that, you know, if they ever did want proof of anything, I mean, a lot of times they are on half of those emails but know, if they ever want proof of anything, I do have it. But, but yeah, I just more generally at least for our company I can just state “these people praised me for this and that.” But yeah, always keeping proof.

Pete Mockaitis
And it’s also, it’s also good. That also remind me back in Episode 23 Michael Kerr was talking about having a Humor for his aid kits for, but now you also have a Praise for this aid kit. If you’re like, “No one appreciates me in this job and it sucks and rrrrhh.”

Jolene Blackbourn
Yeah. Definitely, you gotta have your little humor box too because you know, people who’ve been around a while, they really do appreciate “Ooohh” and you know, people come and go, and say “Oh I remember that person,” And it’s just, it’s a lot of fun. Yeah, definitely a Praise inbox, and then the, yeah, a Humor inbox as well.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh that’s so good, thank you. Well, and so, now you tell me, is there anything you particularly share in terms of quick tips when it comes to giving and receiving mentorship?
Specifically, when someone says “will you be my mentor?” or you know, often more subtle seek “oh, hey, I’d like to bounce a things off with from time to time.” What are some key things in terms of Dos and Don’ts both on the giving end and receiving end of mentorship?

Jolene Blackbourn
So definitely when you’re asking for advice, first of all make sure they’re available. Ask if now is a good time or when they would be available.
Also, don’t, even if the company kind of offers “Hey, we’ll have somebody handle that for you so you can see how it’s done,” don’t presume something like that.
Ask “Hey, I have this thing I need to do, I’m not sure if I’m ready to handle that or not. Can you look at it with me and help me?” Then they can offer “I can also do it for you but I think you’re ready so here let’s talk about it.”
I have had people, yeah, just tried to dump it back on me and I just know, I absolutely, that is one thing that I will not accept. I will spend a million hours helping you prepare for it, I’ll go with you and watch and make sure you’re doing something right. But I, if you just try to say “I’m not ready for this, can you do it?” No, no, no, I will not do it.
So, and I’ve gone all the way up to the management on that before just saying “I’m sorry I don’t accept that.” And so, I do have the reputation of a mentor, I have been able to get away with saying “no.” But yeah, so just definitely when you’re on that asking end, you have to be very humble and make sure that you understand you’re potentially wasting this person’s time. So, you need to cater to their timeframe and their availability.
And then as a mentor, it can be difficult when you’re really busy but you really need to have an open-door policy. I mean, almost at every time, there are times when you know, the day before trial you might just have to tell people “no.” But for most times in most companies, almost any day, you should be available and willing to share your expertise.
And I think some people are afraid of saying “I don’t know” and that doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t mean you’re not an expert in your field. It just means you don’t know the answer to that question. So mentors should never be afraid to say “I don’t know.” They should be willing to say “Let me find out for you,” or “Let’s go over here and ask so and so, maybe they’ll know.” It’s never wrong to say “I don’t know,” it’s definitely wrong to give a wrong answer, so.

Pete Mockaitis
Well that’s so good, thank you. Well, you tell me, Jolene, is there anything in sort of this last minute here so, that you’d like to convey before we shift gears and talk about a few of your favorite things.

Jolene Blackbourn
I think that’s about it. Just really know your job, know the job of those around you, above and below, and try to help everybody out. The more you help out others, you really will be remembered in a positive light and that really is a step in the right direction towards promotion and raises and things like that.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, well then let’s just take it off. Could you us a favorite quote to have the new fans inspiring?

Jolene Blackbourn
So going a lot, I love quotes, but going along these lines, this one, it says “Life is an echo. What you send out comes back.”

Pete Mockaitis
And how about a favorite book?

Jolene Blackbourn
As far as, I definitely think that people don’t read enough fiction. A lot of people like this self-help stuff which is great. For fiction, I love Dracula. It’s a great book, I highly recommend it.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh fun, thanks. And how about a favorite habit? A personal practice of yours that has been really handy.

Jolene Blackbourn
You know, a totally different, shifting gears but a few years ago, I discovered essential oils and that is something that my family, we use and has completely shifted our lives. It’s, I use it to destress when I’m overworked and it really does help me focus again on my work. And then we also just use it kind of to, for allergies and like to boost our health. So, I highly recommend checking out essential oils.

Pete Mockaitis
And what is the best destressing oil in your opinion?

Jolene Blackbourn
There is one, it’s a blend. It’s called Serenity by doTERRA and it’s lavender mixed with like vanilla. And I literally have found where there are times where I’m, I can’t make a decision, “do I work on my hearing for next week,” my mail, my email, my voicemail. I can’t make a decision, I literally am stuck. And every time I make a decision, I then decide “no, it’s a wrong decision” and my brain is just scattered and so I have sniffed some of that and all of the sudden I can just know I must prepare for that hearing, and then I can work on other things. And it’s, it’s weird but it really does work.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh now, sorry I gotta ask, now does that make you sleepy though? ‘Cause lavender is the same essential oil they recommend right before bedtime. So, “I don’t wanna be sleepy, I just wanna be destressed and focused” So, can I have my cake and eat it too or what’s the story here?

Jolene Blackbourn
Absolutely, it’s just a relaxer so you know, unlike a sleep medicine or something like that, you can use it at night time, it won’t conk you out but it will help you relax enough to sleep, and the same thing, it will relax you enough to slow your wheels in your brain and just focus on what you need to do.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And, and, okay, I gotta, one more, if I’m sleepy in the middle of the work day, and I don’t wanna be, you have an oil for that, too?

Jolene Blackbourn
Yeah, definitely. Peppermint is a good one to wake you up. I love a combination of peppermint and orange, it’s really, it’s really uplifting, the combo.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, very good, well thank you. And what would you say are some of your favorite tools other than essential oils that also are pretty helpful for you.

Jolene Blackbourn
I have recently been using an app called Overdrive which is basically your local library, whether it’s you know, LA public library or whatever, and you can check out any books you want on your Kindle or your phone, whatever and is great because I have a tendency to not return my books on time. So this automatically returns the books in twenty-one days. So you can just read anything you want and, and just, if you can just try it manually or it will do it for you but literally the whole library is open to you.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, thank you. And would you say you have a favorite little nugget or tidbit that when you share, folks really seem to nod their heads and take notes and take it to heart in your mentoring conversations?

Jolene Blackbourn
There are a couple of key, I would say more, I dunno, theories I guess, or different pieces of advice that have been more popular than others I would say. You know, aside from what I actually do at my work, outside my work, I have given many people advice on whether or not they should go to law school at all, and whether they’re choosing the right law school for them. And a lot of people fail to really take the time to address that.
When you’re gonna spend about two hundred thousand dollars, it’s amazing how little thought people have before they go to law school. They just think “well, I want a high-level career and I want prestige and I wanna make good money, and I’m kind of interested in law, and so I wanna help others.” And so they just think “I’m gonna go to law school!” And they don’t really think about all the factors that go into it.
And so, I’ve actually helped quite a few people with that decision. So that’s something I’ve done outside of work that’s been interesting because people are really taken aback by some of the advice that I gave them on that.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, interesting.

Jolene Blackbourn
Yeah

Pete Mockaitis
Would you say also if folks wanna learn more about you or get in touch, where would you point them?

Jolene Blackbourn
I’m on Twitter, I think that’s a good place to find me. On Twitter I’m @JoleneAndOils. And then I’m also on Pinterest, I love Pinterest, I’m jolene1209. Or if anybody ever wants to email, if they have you know, in need of advice I’m totally open to that, and my email address is abetterlife05@gmail.com.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, thank you. And, do you have a favorite challenge or call to action that you’d issue forth to folks seeking to be more awesome at their jobs?

Jolene Blackbourn
Yeah, I would say “practice selflessness.” Just stop thinking about what you need to do to get ahead. Start looking around at who needs help and help them. If you, you know, if you help others, they’re gonna help you.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, Jolene, thanks so much and good luck to you. This has been fun.

Jolene Blackbourn
Thank you so much.

The Gold Nugget

The Gold Nugget

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