In this week’s feature post (267), we are pleased to welcome guest contributor Casey Flaherty, who explains why the “getting naked” approach to consultative sales is the perfect model to solve the decision overload faced by time-starved legal professionals.
I have great admiration for Flaherty, primarily because he is a true expert at mining economic, business, and scientific concepts for insights that improve the efficiency and quality of legal service delivery. Yet, Post 267 reveals even more depth and range, as Casey ventures into the realm of fear and insecurity that lies beneath virtually every ambitious knowledge worker.
Getting naked is an approach to consulting popularized by Patrick Lencioni in his 2010 book, Getting Naked: A Business Fable About Shedding The Three Fears That Sabotage Client Loyalty. The story is told as a fable because few of us are interested in reading a business book that deals directly with our own imposter syndrome. Instead, we prefer to observe the lessons vicariously through a protagonist we can relate to — an ambitious consultant who keeps losing pitches to a peer firm with the wrong address and the wrong credentials. Through a series of unexpected events, the consultant learns why.
As the subtitle suggests, getting naked is about overcoming three fears that sabotage client loyalty: fear of losing the business, fear of being embarrassed, and fear of feeling inferior. While we’re preoccupied with looking smart and successful, the client is worried about solving their business problem and skeptical that we have their best interests in mind.
As the story unfolds, we observe that when we shed our fears by being vulnerable in front of our client — by risking losing the business by telling the truth, admitting what we don’t know, and doing whatever it takes to be truly helpful — the clients are put at ease, which sets the stage for the collaboration and trust.
Post 267 is the story of how Casey discovered the joys of this approach at LexFusion.
Coda: I learned about Getting Naked over ten years ago when IU Law alumnus and Ice Miller partner Marty Klaper (’71) handed me a copy of the book. He said, “I’ve been getting naked in front of my clients for 40 years. I just didn’t know it until I read this book.”
Getting naked is getting comfortable being ourselves in front of our clients. Marty had a strong personality and was quick to tell his clients when they were being foolish, short-sighted, or unethical — suffice to say, he had no fear of losing the business. It sounds funny, but Marty only insulted people he loved. Because Marty was being true to who he was as a person, and he deeply cared about his clients, he forged lifelong relationships with a large number of clients.
Back in 2011, I worked with Marty, Anthony Kearns, Sam Ardery, and the late, great Len Fromm to create a “Getting Naked” workshop for 1L students in IU Law’s 1L Legal Professions class. It was a spectacular success for about 20% of students; interesting for 70% who could understand the point of the exercise but were not ready to discuss the topic of their own fears; and a source of complete rebellion for roughly 10% of students who deeply resented the detour away from law and into a realm of emotion.
But that’s a story for another day. In the meantime, I’m proud that Casey’s post (267) is bringing these valuable ideas to a broader audience.