I attended the SCMA Fall Conference yesterday for my 9th year. I’ll confess that I was less than enthusiastic because for the first time in the past 5 or 6 years, I was neither presenting nor chairing the conference. But my expectations were so far exceeded. From the beginning of the day, with a moment of memory of Richard Millen, to the awe inspiring work of my friends, Laurel Kaufer and Doug Noll at “Prisons of Peace”, the day was devoted not merely to developing “The Business of Mediation” as the theme suggested, but to getting to the business of mediating in every way we are called upon to do. This year’s honorees, Woody Mosten and Lee Jay Berman have both been mentors and icons for me in developing my own practice and they didn’t disappoint in their keynote addresses yesterday. Woody provided the constant (but often much needed) reminder than our approach to marketing needs to rely upon our approach to mediation: listen to our clients and referral sources, inquire about their needs, bring peace (not sales) into every conversation at every opportunity. Woody has privately counseled me on many occasions in this new venture: model the behavior that people want in a mediator and they will hire you if you are trustworthy, demonstrate genuine integrity and can bring peace into every room you enter.
Lee Jay did a dynamite presentation on “Closing” the Deal. Lee Jay is, I have found, a chameleon in that he presents himself as just so put together he could be called “slick”, and yet is so very thoughtful, deep-thinking, insightful, that it’s a consistently welcome surprise. He taught me a few new great tools for closing, and what’s more, demonstrated his humanity, his humility and all of the reasons why so many in our community look up to him as mentor, teacher, friend.
I also learned a great deal of things to consider, as solid, reliable business habits, from my friends and colleagues, Ralph Williams, Nikki Tolt and Len Levy. They are those special people in my professional life who have taken me in as a fledgling “newbie” and given me the guideposts and reassurance that if I work at this, and want to succeed, and stay the course, I will become that successful mediator who can make this my life’s work.
I am so grateful for those who have given me so much advice over these years. And so proud to reflect that I have followed their advice and am still a part of this mediation community after 9 years. With both enthusiasm and gratitude!
Kudos to SCMA, Phyllis Pollack President, Kendall Reed, Chair and to my friends, Laurel Kaufer, Ralph Williams, Nikki Tolt and Len Levy and my mentors, Woody Mosten and Lee Jay Berman for an inspirational conference. It will not soon be forgotten!
May 4, 2009 It’s been some weeks now since many Americans woke up to the news of the successful rescue of the Maerske ship Captain, Richard Phillips, from the clutches...By Robert Benjamin