How Not to Use a Lawyer – A Personal Case Study (Plus: Protocol Marketing correction)

Ah, lawyers. It’s a love-hate relationship.

Just this week alone, I’m working with a literary attorney (publishing), an entertainment attorney (TV), and a corporate financing attorney (angel investments).  All three are great.

Yesterday, though, I received the threatening letter below from Protocol Integrated Direct Marketing, whose call centers I recommend in the 4HWW. WTF?

Click to enlarge…

But what did I say about Protocol specifically? Here it is, after an group intro where I indicate providers can also be compensated per-minute:

“Protocol Marketing: One of classic sales-oriented call centers. I’ve used them for years.”

I used them as a start-up CEO and felt the recommendation was valuable to readers. Blasphemer! Even if a correction were needed somewhere, the legal bitch slap isn’t needed.

My response was simple: I called the lawyer and told him I would both have the mention removed and also announce the correction to readers (that’s this blog post).

I suspect the CEO, Don Norsworthy, is not aware of this letter, as he would have no doubt approached it differently. He would recognize a few things:

[Postscript: Don got in touch within 24 hours after this post and here’s the scoop: the entire management team had been on an offsite while this transpired. When Don tracked down the e-mail thread resulting in this letter, none of the proper channels had been CC’d. He was a polite gentleman and even declined when I offered to publish a response on the blog, stating that he was calling to apologize, not to have anything published. It was precisely the best response from someone heading a $100-million+ per year operation.]

1. How you say something IS what you say.

Ever heard “it’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it”? I would go further: how you say something is what you say. A simple call or e-mail to Random House with “we’re getting too many calls for the wrong services; would you mind changing it to the following?” would have sufficed. Have a normal human conversation and don’t come off sounding like Robocop (video above).

But what if you need to be forceful? If someone’s motives are clearly bad? I’ve dealt with this as well. First of all, if their actions are done with obvious malevolent-intent or law-breaking, you can be more forceful. Second, for those cases that fall in the middle, it’s possible to be forceful and clear without being rude. For example:

“It’s come to our attention that [action your want them to cease in neutral terms]. I’m sure you are unaware, but this causes [negative consequences for you], which results in [other problems]. We thank you in advance for removing/stopping/correcting X as soon as possible [notice how less abrasive this is than ‘immediately’, but it achieves the same effect] and confirming when this has been done. Legal action is always a last resort, but if we do not receive confirmation within one business week, we’ll be compelled to take appropriate next steps. Your fastest correction and confirmation is both important and appreciated.”

2. It’s counterproductive to threaten someone until you determine their incentives to refuse compliance.

In other words, what do I gain by refusing to remove them? Nothing. In fact, it’s in my readers’ best interest to make it accurate or remove it. Threatening me with Darth Vader-speak like “compel compliance with [our] demand” just pisses people off, and I could have still been a strong proponent of theirs. Too bad, so sad.

3. It’s better to steer the golden goose rather than kill it.

If I’m sending them enough calls to “inundate” their phone lines (ironic in itself, since they’re offering call center services), it would be in their best interest to just make the description more accurate, no? It’s free advertising in a #1 NY Times bestseller to be published in 33 languages. How much advertising cost — or cost-per-acquisition (CPA) — does that save them if it’s accurate? Knowing the revenue model and having worked with call centers, I’d guess hundreds of thousands of dollars at a minimum. To save what? A few thousand dollars in filtering out mom-and-pop callers at $.90 per minute? That’s just penny-wise and pound-foolish.

4. Don’t mistake symptoms with root problems, or confuse correlation with causation.

There are no “income investment requirements” that I can find listed anywhere on their call center site. It strikes me that their main problem could relate to a system-wide issue with pre-qualification. The blurb in the 4HWW is just a symptom — any successful PR or marketing that brings people to them will produce the same filtering bottleneck. Fixing the root cause is better than threatening the person who makes the root cause come to the surface.

If they have a problem with “closer”, Protocol might also consider removing the following from the second paragraph of their main call center page:

Whether you need a salesperson to close deals or specialized technical support services, Protocol’s contact center services can help.

Confused? Me too.

5. If you threaten someone in a digital world, it might become what your prospective customers see first.

Principle one: Better not to threaten people whenever possible. Principle two: Google someone before you threaten them. If their PageRank and SEO beats yours, recognize that the public will see what they say first and foremost. Principle three: if someone is sending you business, and you threaten them because of a positive description (even containing inaccuracies), you are disincentivizing all partners, journalists, and customers from evangelizing for you if it becomes public. Given the new dynamics of personal branding in a digital age, being nice should be company policy, if not for cheap Google insurance.

Oh, and being rude sucks.

Be firm when necessary, but be nice whenever possible. Long-term, it doesn’t pay to do otherwise.

In conclusion: Protocol, I’m sorry for endorsing you and reflecting my experience in a positive description. I was wrong and you are right. Readers, please pull out your Sharpie and strike Protocol from pg. 201.

Ah, lawyers. Use them wisely or the problem you create could be bigger than the one you solve.

Anyone have suggestions for good call centers that won’t threaten me for recommending them?

To lighten the mood, a photo from the American Apparel factory, which I visited last Saturday. More pics here.

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 700 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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182 Replies to “How Not to Use a Lawyer – A Personal Case Study (Plus: Protocol Marketing correction)”

  1. @Brian,

    Please understand that I get more than 2,000 email per week, and that doesn’t count Facebook/LinkedIn/etc. messages. I have assistants filter for me, as I am physically incapable of replying to these e-mails all personally. Sometimes good emails are filtered out by accident, and this is an unfortunate side-effect of having systems in place – mistakes do happen. I hope you can understand my position, as I can understand yours.

    Pura vida….

    All the best,

    Tim

  2. I am looking at a picture of you in between Zan Perrion and Neil Strauss. Are you venturing into the seduction arts? I’d love to hear how you met them!

  3. It’s not just lawyers. In fact I often recieve similar correspondance from PR people.

    I publish travel guidebooks and a hostel review website and what could be a friendly email asking me to update a price or change some minor detail ends up as a rude and sometimes threatening demand.

    One very large hostelling organisation occasionally sends such rude demands to remove a hostel from our database when that hostel leaves their organisation. Never mind that the hostel in question continues to operate independently.

    Back to lawyers. In most cases I’ve found that lawyers are usually reasonable people but they’re just nasty because their clients pay them to write threatening letters. However the clients and employers of PR people are paying them to be nice so there is no excuse for rude and threatening behaviour from them.

  4. Mr Ferris,

    Please feel free to misrepresent any of my companies in any way you see fit in any future best seller books that you may publish.

    Once I am inundated with enquires I will create the product that you have described and we will both get rich.

    All the best.

    Steve

  5. Tim,

    Fair enough. I assume you know that there’s a reasonably good chance that this guy will file a nuisance suit against you. I think part of why the letter seems only minimally annoying to me is I see the asinine lawsuits that follow all the time, and they are much, much more annoying.

    Bob,

    I hope it’s clear I’m not endorsing the letter, and I would agree that transactional attorneys tend to write better letters, although I’ve seen terrible letters and outrageous bullying from lawyers of all stripes. So I’m not sure how deep our disagreement is. I was just trying to suggest that the extent of the client’s involvement in the decisions that were made after it hired a lawyer is unclear.

    If anything, I disagree that this is a good letter from a litigator’s perspective.

    From a litigator’s perspective, part of the problem is that people mistake the purpose of these letters. I have never seen a demand letter unaccompanied by a phone conversation *initiated by the letter writer* resolve anything, ever. Even the nice ones that I usually write. Letters define positions and document a communication of that position fpo establishing notice and/or demand. Period. But plenty of lawyers make the mistake of thinking that they can bully the other side into doing something. And clients, unfortunately, often demand it, thinking it will save them money if they can scare the other side into submission. Which isn’t usually how it works.

    Good litigators understand that their job is ultimately to resolve problems without spending too much of their client’s money.

  6. You are an artist that paints beautiful renditions of successful businesses and I love every minute of it.

    It is a very sad day when you save a company money and they get mad at you for it. Too much business is a problem many companies would love to have. Seems like someone needs to rethink their corporate strategy.

    Thanks for the continuous streams of humorous yet informational blog posts. I look forward to meeting you one day when I can finally apply all of the 4HWW principles in my life. Ciao 4 now.

  7. Wow. Some of these folks are nuts. Tim, you are a target my friend. You are hugely popular and now a celebrity. There are folks out there that want a piece of you. They want your attention, they want you to acknowledge them. Get a life guys. Tim has one, you should try it. I come here and read your blog because you’re wicked smart. Some of these guys want to skin you and make a suit out of it. Fatal Attraction? Seriously, you handled this legal matter properly. Don’t let an attorney (largely the most overpaid profession on the planet in my opinion) give you advice on how to “take” the letter. It was a sh*tty letter, and you handled it like it was as sh*tty letter. I don’t see any whining here, I see you slightly annoyed as you should be. As someone who respects the fact that you can’t give warm fuzzies to every fan out there, shake it off. You’re book is a huge hit and so are you. Ignore these nuts.

  8. A great (and often entertaining) book for how to deal with lawyers in business is THE TERRIBLE TRUTH ABOUT LAWYERS by Mark H. McCormack. McCormack himself was a lawyer who quit law to start the management company IMG (that made him a billionaire).

  9. Tim,

    I love the article! It’s funny, to the point, and polite.

    Interested in a little feedback on your writing style? While I find your books & articles a pleasure to read (both content & style), I find myself regularly wishing you’d use more plain English, more practical details¹ instead of the too frequent guru-wannabe over-styling of basically simple messages. While such a fancy sentence² can be fun, too much of it is too much. Reminds me of the professors I had at University, who seem to think that using complicated phrazing adds weight and credibility to their message.

    ¹ your “muscle gain” article, for instance is primarily intriguing and provocative where many readers would have loved to see more practical detail

    ² example from your article above: “1. How you say something IS what you say.”

  10. So, you’re voting for Obama. Very interesting considering that your advice on outsourcing work overseas for cheap labor directly contradicts Obama’s stance on the matter.

  11. Hi Tim,

    Great and humerous post.

    The further I read the letter, the further my jaw dropped as I marveled at the shooting-oneself-in-the-foot nature of it. Dumb, dumb, dumb!!!

    I didn’t read all the comments on this post, so somebody else may have already addressed it. If so, I appologize.

    Anyway, the following hypothetical occured to me:

    Suppose you are a competitor with a business that has been mentioned in a massively successful best-selling book like 4HWW.

    Suppose you wanted to do something to hurt your competition.

    How about creating a fake ridiculously threatening letter from a lawyer and sending it to the author of the book, in the hopes that he’d post it on his blog and thus make your competition look like A-holes?

    Tim, prior to posting this letter on your blog, did you take your own advice and give the Don Norsworthy a phone call to get his take on this matter?

    Oh, by the way, loved the book. Love the blog. etc., etc.

    Keep the great stuff coming!

  12. I wonder…

    By bringing this situation to light, we’d assume the company would lose business for their lameness.

    But I’m curious if it’ll actually be the case due to one famous phrase… “Bad press is good press.”

    We may never know, but I’d love to see if it’s true in this case. Will the company take a financial hit for the negative publicity? (I wouldn’t use them if I was in the market… rudeness is a deal breaker). Or will they actually get more business due to the sheer number of visitors they get from here. (I click on them). I may not give them business… but others may.

    I’ve seen business get killed due to something like this. But then Paris Hilton seems to thrive in bad press. I know, I know… apples and oranges 🙂

    We may never know how this will effect their bottom line. But I always wonder the impact of these kinds of things, especially in a world surrounded crappy business practices.

    A truly successful business is one that’s honest, open, and sincerely wants the best for their customers.

  13. When you google Protocol Marketing Inc your article comes up. They have really shot themselves in the foot.

    Jose

  14. Protocol’s response to this should have been straight out of the “Everything I need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” playbook. In other words – be polite. It is self evident that you paid a compliment to Protocol. Someone from Protocol should have called you, said “thanks for the compliment and free publicity, but we have had some difficulty with the traffic it’s generated, can you help us out here?” You would have responded accordingly by phone. Then Protocol should have followed up by a polite e-mail to which you would have responded. That would have been the end of it and you would send better referrals to Protocol.

    I have been a lawyer since 1993. I have been involved in the legal profession one way or another since 1986. My dad was a lawyer, a polite one. At this point, I am so soured on the legal profession that I have been easing my way out of it for the past several years. I use my legal training, negotiating experience and marketing skills to build businesses and business relationships. In my experience, lawyers are almost exclusively unproductive cost centers, not revenue drivers. This is anecdotal, but twenty two years of anecdotes. Lawyers typically are not solution driven. Instead, they are driven to foul things up and make things utterly unclear and contentious. For what it’s worth, I feel that Wagner’s letter to you was boorish, irresponsible, counter productive and counter intuitive. As I said, a polite phone call from Protocol, not the lawyer, followed up in writing from Protocol, not the lawyer. In order to be thorough, I would recommend that this be filtered through a lawyer, but I would not “lawyer up” immediately as this tends to put people on the defensive and kill relationships.

  15. protocol marketing is scratched from my book and will be looking for another company to handle my biz. How rude. I hope they haven’t used these antics with my customers.

  16. This is very sound counsel:

    “Be firm when necessary, but be nice whenever possible. Long-term, it doesn’t pay to do otherwise.”

    You might blow up on somebody and get your desired result for that situation, but you’ve quite possibly destroyed any chance of ever getting them to cooperate with you in future situations, much less stick their neck out for you when you’re in a bind.

  17. Heres one for you:

    I have read the book…loved it! Use to live my life like it. Travelled the world in my twenties now I am stuck. How can I apply these principles to my life when what i do for a living is a service to others that can only be done by me. I am a Ceritified Rolfer and Doula….what the hell is that your asking well look it up. As well I own three realstate properties and have 6 rental properties under my managment. I am a 32yr. old single mother of a two year old as well. I believe in this lifestyle, always have, sooooo my question for all you especially tim do i need to change my career??

  18. I believe this letter is actionable. Threatening someone with legal action– as they have if you don’t meet their “demand”– when the person being threatened has not wronged or otherwise violated someone’s rights is extortion.

    You have grounds to sue them, from this letter…. but they have no grounds to sue you.

    They have no legal case at all. You have the right to mention their company, even incorrectly, and the cost of doing business is that they have people calling or visiting their website.

    This lawyer has just opened them up to liability, and I really think you should forward this letter to their CEO.

  19. Hermano…que lindo culo el de la foto!!! ja,ja,ja…

    Che, soy argentino, vivo en España y hace muy poco me devoré tu libro…sí, magnifico!! . Hace años..pero años…estoy buscando la forma de trabajar solo 4 horas o menos y disfrutarla…pero, sigo trabajando como cualquiera…ahora justo me han despedido por lo tanto, es posible, si tengo huevos que siga tus consejos…Un abrazo enorme y que sigan tus exitos….

  20. These guys have no business sense.

    They should simply open a new business servicing the new market.. DUH!

    OR

    Refer the leads to another company who can handle them– And get a commission for each referral.

  21. Hello to everybody!

    This is a non-related comment, but I need to know what you guys think about this.

    I usually don’t comment on the posts but I really want to know Tim’s point of view and others as well.

    Has anybody (specially in the US) watched a movie called Zeitgeist?

    You can watch it online, simply google it and tell me your opinion!!

    Thanks!

    Ar

  22. Great Post. I just wonder whether the client saw this letter before it went out. In other words, who is the idiot here?

  23. @Ricardo,

    Te agradezco mucho por el comment y espero que nos veamos algun dia en Argentina o donde sea.

    Mucha suerte con todo y un abrazo desde San Francisco, che!

    Tim

  24. Letters like this are empty threats, made to make the person receiving it scared and compliant. Most of the time, they have zero legal basis, and are just written out of anger. There’s no way senior people in the company didn’t see that before it went out.

    It drives me absolutely crazy when companies use the legal system as a blunt instrument, and all of your points should be taken to heart by any quick-tempered CEO who reads this..

  25. Did you ever see that movie with Bruce Willis where he plays a general brought in to place martial law in a major US city due to rampant terrorist attacks? I forget the name, but he had a great quote in that movie along the lines of, don’t bring the Army in unless you want to decimate everything. They are not a scalpel, they are a bludgeoning maul that results in tons of collateral damage.

    Lawyers are the same way. And clearly the client who hired this one, either delegated the legal management to an idiot or is one himself. The lawyer is like napalm as a response; and your reaction via post and other actions show it.

    This company would have been far better off either 1) creating a new product/service to capture the benefit of this unexpected stream of potential customers, or 2) just modify the entry phone message to say if you don’t have $X to start with, we’re not interested in your business. And I bet the caller would have hung up then.

    But this reality in your post is a case study of stupid lawyer management all on its own.

  26. Curious!!!!!!! How many people contacted Protocol to complain about their lack of respect and professionalism. I did!!! And I did b/c I think that sometimes society tries to punish those whom go against the grain. Tell Protocol to close shop and join the Foreign Legion.

    Siempre……….

    Jose

  27. Dear Tim:

    I am very glad to read your article “The 4-Hour Workweek”. I benefit a lot from your book. It encourage me to think how to make my own live, and more important for me to think what I want to get in my life.

    Let me introduce myself: my name is Linda Liu, I am living in Shanghai now, and it is interesting that I do the same work as you—medical sales.

    I wish that I can get more advices from you about how to work 4 hours one week.

    Are you in China now? If so, hope I have chance to meet you.

    I am looking forward to your answers!

    Best Regards!

    Linda Liu

    2008/11/2

  28. Such wisdom, I just wish many more out there would listen to this line of thinking. It’s a shame to see the impact of careless negligence on a companies bottom line and more so their brand identity because they did not think before they spoke. I’m curious to see how it turns out or if you even receive a retraction or apology from Protocol.

  29. In my imagination, here is what a “sane” response from people who actually care about their work would have looked like:

    ———-

    “Hey Tim, You have a great book and we really appreciate that you listed our business on page 201. We’re getting lots of calls from potential customers and we put a link to your book on our web site.

    Would you please do us a favor: when you were a CEO and customer of our call center, our focus at the time was [describe here.] Now, our business model is more in the direction of [describe here].

    It would very much appreciated and helpful if you could look at making a minor correction [insert here] to how you describe our business in your next printing, which we are excited to see.

    When you are in our area, let’s get lunch and I’d like to introduce you to some key employees who have all read your book.

    Best Regards,

    Gracious CEO

    ———–

    Now, isn’t this a better way to solve a problem and SAVE AN OPPORTUNITY?

    JayH

  30. Normally I skim the highlights of a great blog and just a few of the delightful comments posted in response. Otherwise that darn work thing would be compromised. But not so with this entry!

    Tim, I read your post, then paused, thinking did I miss something? How in God’s name were they complaining about the phone ringing or the emails coming in? In today’s economy? They weren’t complaining, they actually thought about it and engaged their corporate attorney to come after you as if you stole their company’s intellectual property!

    Granted – few letters from attorneys are peppered with common courtesy, they are paid for results whether its one letter or 20. That is why this should have never made it to the office of the counsel. The CEO of Protocol should have picked up the phone and first thanked you for putting them in the public’s eye, and then shared with you his or her concern’s and gone from there.

    As it is, we all learn from our mistakes and hopefully this puts a new plan of action in place for them in how they deal with issues in the future. My guess is they’ll have plenty of time to hammer out a new contingency plan now that the phone calls and email tsunami has most decidedly subsided.

  31. Timmo – whatever happened to Rule #1 Investing, it was through Phil’s blog, which I signed up for after reading his book, that I first learned about 4HWW, and Phil’s been out of the market, “playing”, for quite some time now.

  32. Tim, great work on the book, I recommend your book to a lot of businesspeople in The Netherlands since it has come out in Dutch.

    This post made me send a reply…

    Your case here: this is the reason why I’d hesitate to do business in the US.

    You give out free leads and their ‘legal department’ tries to suck your moneypool dry.

    If the company was sensible, it WOULD start a branch for such described services, but they even quoted you incorrectly.

    My idea would be that new employees for my ‘large business owners services’ can test-drive on the start-ups. In that way little screw ups are tolerable.

    Readers, please ignore business from this immature company. Business owners, see such a ‘problem’ as a way to make money, now or in the future, by referring to the correct profile needs later on. Be polite and you will be remembered when the time comes!

  33. pmena, noted and agree. I think letter also just proves the tendency of (some, many, ?) lawyers to be arrogant arses.

    Laidlaw, actually me thinks it reflects the number of lawyers unhappy in our profession. Us human ones seek something more in life than the constant antagonism and stress that accompanies this career. I for one have been in business while practicing law, as well as teaching, and move more and more away from law and into entrepreneurship. I have been successful in last 12 years working virtually (I started in 87, but took some time for technology and client acceptance to allow remote work). Easier since I do international transactions, off-shore corporations/trusts, import/export, immigration – a strictly federal practice, so not shackled to state admitted to like those that practice RE/Criminal/Family, etc. This was conscious decision I made while in law school since new I wanted to be mobile one day. Now I can work anywhere in the world – now live in the mountains for skiing and outdoor activities, but thanks to inspiration from Tim’s book looking at moving overseas in near future, or maybe become a PT mouse. At this point, my entire office virtual and implementing tips from Tim’s book and blog, along w/ lifehacker tips on software, etc. has improved efficiency.

    Tim, an interesting side note on 4HWW and lawyers. The Florida Bar just issued ethics ruling on outsourcing, and allows it to some extent w/appropriate supervision and protection of clients confidential information. Let me know and I’ll scan and send you the article, might be useful for future book/blog.

  34. Tim, if you “suspect the CEO, Don Norsworthy, is not aware of this letter, as he would have no doubt approached it differently”, why didn’t you just ring up Don and fax him a copy of the letter? Who knows, maybe the legal weasels would have sent you another high falutin’ letter asking you to disregard the first letter with an apology.

    For a darker example of the use of a litigious letter, with an outstanding response, click on my name “Mikey” (will link you to a related Huff Post article).

  35. As someone who’s a bit of a late adopter when it comes to books, I’m currently reading the 4HWW, specifically jotting down the names of the companies to investigate for my own needs. This post is an eye-opener, and I’m sure it will be helpful to people like me. It’s the bullying I dislike as well. Are we to feel for them because they made the mistake of bullying a very influential person rather than mistreating someone else? We’re to excuse them because this is typical lawyer tone? I don’t think so.

  36. I think this company just showed it’s ass to the world. . .

    too much business. . .a good thing in my book.

    Too much of the wrong type of business. . .So what? Adapt your business model.to the need of startups!

    Jay H, I think you should work for Protocol. Nice Letter, but I like Tim’s response. It makes for a great blog post.

    Morale of this story: Don’t put in print what could be blasted on the net. I wonder if the CEO will write back.

  37. @ Brian that thinks this letter from the lawyer equals to an automated response to be more productive … are you f*ing serious?

    A lawyer charges its client for a service, it is therefor the lawyers prerogative to give it a level of service that meets the requirement of such a charge. One thing is to receive an Inbox full of emails and be productive to deal with the responses, another is to engage with a client and agree to provide a service that is unique and requires attention that will pay you.

    I am just at a complete loss on your response above.

  38. That’s a pretty harsh letter. I’ve gotten them before and they are never fun. I also get them from people when I contact them asking if I can help them promote their business – for free. Odd, that.

    Don’t worry, Tim. If you’re looking for people to mention, feel free to talk about me. I’m all for a good inundating.

  39. Hi All!

    An update on the now infamous Protocol Affair:

    Don Norsworthy, the CEO of Protocol, got in touch with me within 24 hours after this post and here’s the scoop: the entire management team had been on an offsite while this transpired.

    When Don tracked down the e-mail thread resulting in this letter, none of the proper channels had been CC’d. He was a polite gentleman and even declined when I offered to publish a response on the blog, stating that he was calling to apologize, not to have anything published. It was precisely the best response from someone heading a $100-million+ per year operation.

    Their mention is still coming out of the book, but this was an excellent example of proper damage control following an employee flub that didn’t track the proper approvals.

    Case closed — hope you enjoyed observing it!

    All the best,

    Tim

  40. Most of the damage was probably done within that first 24 hours, but you had a reasonable response nearly two weeks ago. I hope the delay in the followup wasn’t just to give the story more time to spread before announcing “case closed.”

  41. I wonder if there hits are up or down after this post? How many of you when to check out their site in curiosity after the post?

    C

  42. Tim, I don’t know, it seems a stupidity move otherwise.

    How to translate it in English? “Falem bem ou mal de mim, mas falem de mim…” or in German somehow like “Wer da spricht!”

    It seems otherwise maliciously calculated from them. Their attorney bullied you, and you came to react with more free marketing for their name. It took a central point at least for this blog, even though, a negative one. Good or bad, it is marketing again.

    Though, I like the emphasis highlighting that they’re a call-center that could not handle demand, consequently it reveals an obvious internal lack of feasible plans for scalability. I do not mind much bullies sickening a company “short-term” until caught and laid off, but it hurts reliability in a service, anyway. I would not trust them again.

    Whether their attorney antecipated things or not, the real ugly side has been exposed through it, and it would happen soon or later.

    Apologies? Apologies after all? Too late, huh? I remember… I also apologize, but first after I punched…

    Bis denn

    Até mais

    Love you

    Lou

  43. Too many people rush for their lawyer at the slightest hint of trouble. What ever happened to sorting things out yourself!

  44. Tim, Thanks for taking this stand! Lawyers need to get that business as usual where they abuse power and knowledge for $$$$$$ just isn’t going to fly anymore. I’m sure they were being paid by the word. Yes, we need attorneys at times but representation doesn’t have to mean recklessly pull out all the stops. I read recently in the news where more attorneys are looking for work these days and that the market is saturated with lawyers now. Probably due to lack of cash in the economy but I hope there is transformation in the works if people continue to take a stand and get the word out.

  45. Are you keeping them out of the book because of the headache it caused or because they the CEO still did not want to be published?

    Thanks

    Jose in Dallas Tejas : )

  46. Tim: On the issue of how you say it…. you’re on the money. Any compliment offered with a sarcastic or cruel tone is no compliment. And an apparently snide remark offered in a sexy or seductive tone of voice is well just sexy and seductive. But this carries over to more than tone of voice so we should watch not just what we say but how, what medium we use etc. Those factors are more important than mere choice of words.

    On the related issue of business behavior, we all need to take a lesson from this. Try cordial business intercourse first and maybe again before resorting to threats of litigation.

    As a lawyer an communications expert I say let’s cut one another some slack and see if we don’t feel better and make more money.

    David M Frees III, Esquire

  47. The other lesson to learn here is: if you find a good lawyer – hang on to them! The vast majority of lawyers I have met are really bad at their jobs, and this is one example. Sure, you can run to them when you need some boilerplate language slapped together in their word processor for $250-$500 per hour + $1.50 per photocopy (and what other profession charges for office expenses like photocopying?).

    Unfortunately the entire legal system was developed by lawyers to keep them employed. You can do hardly anything legal without the help of someone who is entirely overpaid.

    If you can find a lawyer who can think on his or her feet and actually looks out for the best interest of your company – there’s a winner.

  48. It would seem that they should start a branch of their business that catered only to the callers from your book. If Protocol Marketing is reading these comments: I’ll run the department for you and make you millions. Email me through my website linked through my name.

    -Brad

  49. It sounds like they need to read your book in it’s entirety. Then they would know how to scale up and down on the fly. Geez, want some cheese with that wine….Waaaaaa!

  50. Hey Tim, that is insane! Who wouldn’t like to have free advertising? We offer contact center solutions to small business and entrepreneurs. I would love to have their problem, too many people calling?? Feel free to put us in your book =)

  51. Keep up the good work, Mr. Ferris. You are rapidly becoming a far more indispensable resource than I ever thought possible.

  52. This proves the old addage: If you are gonna be stupid you better be tough.

    Rule number one in using lawyers: They are the servant, NEVER the master. Make certain they know their boundaries and stay under your control.

  53. Mr. Preston,

    I doubt that lawyers appreciate being treated as slaves. I would prefer to know my lawyer, his limitations and his strengths intimately.

    Thank you Kindly,

    JC

  54. The important take-away from this post is that every time owners use outside service providers, they place their reputation in someone else’s hands. As “outside counsel” for many smaller companies, I consider myself entrusted with a company’s reputation every time I send something out on their behalf. My tone and civility is directly atrributable to my client and I should be held responsible and accountable for the effect of my actions on their behalf. The demand letter Tim received is an old-school form letter that I abandoned within the first year of my practice. Mr. Wagner appears to have been practicing for about 32 years and his letter reflects an approach that was in style about twenty years ago. These demand letters are more often than not counterproductive. They serve to put the other side on the defensive and immediately shut down lines of communication instead of fostering a solution. That being said, unfortunately his letter remains a sort of industry standard.

    Outside service providers should understand the culture of their client. Whether its a CPA, attorney, marketer, etc., clients should demand that the provider spend time getting to know the business and management. On-site time with the company fosters the sense of team. Using low bidder, one-time service providers results in letters of the kind that started this post.

    Attorneys should always ADD value.

  55. First think about how the “problem” begins. Someone complains about somthing. Think about what that might be.

    Next think about the “action” stage.

    The question becomes: Who does the “company” (see below) trust/like more to address this problem?

    Tim Ferriss or their lawyer? And, even more important, what option will be easier and cheaper? Path of least resistance. Never underestimate its appeal.

    The ‘company’ = the person responsible for addressing this “problem” – who is merely a “representative” of the organisation, and at the same time an individual with his/her own thoughts and feelings

    Commnication is indeed required. But which type of communication is most powerful? Email, phone or in-person? The lawyer, or his colleagues, have no doubt employed the third type… extensively.

  56. What I’ve discovered in correspondence is:

    The smaller the person, the bigger the threats.

  57. Wouldn’t it be better to capture the names of the callers and sell the mom and pops names to someone else?

  58. Sheesh. As you said Tim; It’s better to steer the golden goose rather than kill it.

    I would have thought that there wouldn’t even be a need to steer the golden goose; just do something with the god-sent golden goose-eggs (ok – sent by your book not the gods, but you know what I mean). Without much effort, their response should have been to create a product or service that could be profitably delivered to these callers.

    Send me hundreds of callers any day, from anywhere, of pretty much any profile once it’s consistent. If i can’t or don’t want to serve them excellently and at a profit, I will partner with someone who would die for their business and who would deliver more than they need; and I take a cut.

  59. I’m going through a PayPal battle with someone right now over $1,100 and its like … sheesh.

    A simple phone call could have avoided all of this, thats all it would have taken. Why not call me and say “I have a question about these Web 2.0 accounts” instead of disputing the charge on PayPal??

    I sent over my evidence to PayPal and the chargeback lady was laughing at me!! She said “Don’t you hate it when people do stupid things?”

    Try to talk it out if possible.

  60. hi tim!!!!!!!!

    i think that sametimes the lawyers wanto to feel themselves so important.

    iam a law student in argentina and i really want to left it.in my job maybe they fired me because that…

    this month is being very very hard for me and this is only de beginning.i am desesperatly looking for my muse.

    thanks for the inspiration!!!!!!

  61. Yo Tim,

    it is already removed from my copy, but they are still listed in the INDEX. They will receive NONE of my business. Thanks for this information and keep up the good work!

  62. So you client comes to you and says I have a problem…then goes on to explain it. As a lawyer your job is to act in the best interests of your client. What does that mean? Well, to begin with because your clients thinks they have a problem, as their attorney if you accept that premise without examination, then your failing to act in your client’s best interests. Second, if careful examination reveals that your client does in fact have a problem and in the majority of situations many attorneys will tell you that before you offer to punch someone in the nose, a client or the attorney should communicate directly with the other party (please note that I didn’t write adversary) and explain their grievance and in most situations ask for help in finding a solution. Finally, as rule for daily living and especially in trial practice reacting from fear will undermine you every time. Perspective demands patience. Look at your situations from a variety of angles. At least, take a few moments before acting. Sometimes, we have examples from lawyers that reinforce a stereotype about the profession that I in my heart of hearts want to believe is a false impression but unfortunately enduring. This is apparently one of those times. Unfortunate but a good example to learn from and a short case study in how we should endeavor to do business.

  63. You’re correct on all points, Tim, communication is indeed one of the most critical aspects of any relationship, business or otherwise. The other bummer is, I had plans of calling these folks up myself at some point as well.

    It’s all about tone, right?

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  65. Hilarious! 2019 and jumping around enjoying articles and found this. Page 201 sharpie-ed! Check. Why in the world would anyone want sales/marketing work done by a company that couldn’t recognize the value of your book mention and the stream of unwanted business (if that is a real phenomena)… How much would someone servicing the undesirable business segment that was “bottle necking” their flow, pay them to divert their dream customer’s their way?! You actually created a secondary income stream for them, albeit unintentionally. Wow! My city hosts a very exclusive tech campus and a close small community hosts a wonderful, cost effective tech program. I tried to unite the two for redirecting students that arrived at one campus but would be better served by attending the other. Fabulous free marketing right?! I thought so and so did the very expensive school. Guess who opted out?! Crazy world 😉 Love you Tim, and all your amazing work! Continued success!