IAM1698 – Founder and Trial Lawyer Uses Modern Technology to Give a Legal Experience

Podcast Interview with Michael Elkins

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”: Michael was able to start his firm with modern technology. One of the things that really stuck out to me during this interview when we spoke about sports and other topics, was how we can learn and constantly learn from industries “outside” our core industries. The conversation we had was aligned with one of the CEO Nuggets that came up consistently in episodes which are that business (and even life) is not made up of silos.

I AM CEO Handbook Volume 3 is HERE and it's FREE. Get your copy here: http://cbnation.co/iamceo3. Get the 100+ things that you can learn from 1600 business podcasts we recorded. Hear Gresh's story, learn the 16 business pillars from the podcast, find out about CBNation Architects and why you might be one and so much more. Did we mention it was FREE? Download it today! 

Previous Episode: https://iamceo.co/2019/12/19/iam493-founder-and-trial-lawyer-uses-modern-technology-to-give-a-legal-experience/


The full transcription is only available to CBNation Library Members. Sign up today!

Michael Elkins Teaser 00:00

Really the idea is to sit down with people and unpack what it is that they did to become successful. And I think the common theme that I've noticed, at least from my recent guests Lombardi and as well as Coach Musselman and Pat Williams, is the constant desire to continue to learn. To not pigeonhole yourself to whatever your business is.

Intro 00:22

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs. Without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, You've come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you are in search of. This is the I am CEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:49

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I am CEO podcast and I appreciate you listening to this episode. If you've been listening this year, you know that we hit 1600 episodes at the beginning of this year. We're doing something a little bit different where we are repurposing our favorite episodes around certain categories, topics or as I like to call them, business pillars that we think are going to be extremely impactful for CEOs, entrepreneurs, and business owners and what I like to call the CB nation architects who are looking to level up their organizations.

This month we are focused on technology. We're a technology company that does dot, dot, dot. Technology is no longer an afterthought or something that you might do and is actually a core part of your business. If you are a real estate investor, you're using it. If you're a financial firm, if you're a cleaning company, author, speaker, you are using technology. If you are in any business, you are using technology, and if you're not, then you're probably going to be disrupted by an organization that is.

So this month we are going to look into purposing episodes that are around technology, whether that be firms or organizations that are actually using and investing in technology as a core part of their products and services, or potentially those individuals that are using and leveraging CEO hacks and CEO nuggets that center around technology and sharing ways that we can leverage it as well. Remember that you are a technology company that does dot, dot, dot. Sit back and enjoy this special episode of the I am CEO podcast.

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I am CEO podcast and I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Michael Elkins of MLE Law, Michael, it's awesome to have you on the show.

Michael Elkins 02:18

Thanks for having me today.

Gresham Harkless 02:20

No problem. Super excited to have you on, and what I want to do is just read a little bit more about Michael so you can hear about all the also things that he's doing. And Michael is an 18-year trial lawyer who's the founder of MLE Law, a full-service labor and employment business law firm that uses modern technology to give businesses, individuals in municipalities a legal experience that is efficient, transparent, and price predictable.

Michael is also the founder and host of “Game 7: The Sports Business and Lifestyle Podcast.” On his podcast, Michael explores the psychology of what makes people successful in sports, business, and life. And some of Michael's guests include 30-year NFL front-office veteran, Michael Lombardi; Arkansas Razorback, head basketball coach Eric Musselman; Orlando Magic, co-founder, speaker, and author, Pat Williams and NFL's super agent Brett Tessler.

Michael, are you ready to speak to the I am CEO community?

Michael Elkins 03:11

I am looking forward to it.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 03:12

Awesome. Let's do it. So I wanted to kick everything off to hear a little bit more about what I call your CEO story. What led you to get started with your business and of course your podcast?

Michael Elkins 03:19

Well, I think at least it started with the podcast. Just as a litigation attorney, I was working at a law firm and the legal industry generally is pretty far behind when it comes to modern marketing and exploring sort of new trends.

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So I just had an epiphany that it might be a good idea to try to get ahead of that a little bit as a lawyer at least. So I started doing the podcast as really just an outlet to talk about sports initially and explore avenues for putting myself out there. One thing led to another and my prior law firm made some business decisions that didn't quite align with what I wanted to do going forward, both financially and also from a marketing and social media from our perspective.

Again, keeping in mind, lawyers shy away from modern types of ways to market. So I already had the podcast out there for a little bit. I thought it was an opportune time to then leave big law and go ahead and start my own and try to do things a little bit differently.

Gresham Harkless 04:19

Well, awesome. So, I know we delved down a little bit and I talked a little bit more about the podcast and everything that you're doing with your business. Can you take us through a little bit more of like, what we can expect on the podcast and some of the people that you work within your business as well?

Michael Elkins 04:31

In terms of the podcast, I'm always looking for individuals who are successful but are crossing that intersection between sports and business. It could be anybody from a front office person like Michael Lombardi to players who may have crossed into the business world from being an athlete and then moving forward of course. So we're working on a number of guests coming up in the very near future. But really the idea is to sit down with people and unpack what it is that they do to become successful. And I think the common theme that I've noticed, at least from my recent guests Lombardi and as well as Coach Musselman and Pat Williams, is the constant desire to continue to learn.

To not pigeonhole yourself to whatever your business is. And so certainly taking from that, I've been able to expand my horizons, from not just being a lawyer, but continuing to learn about different topics. In terms of my business, I practice Liberty Employment Law as some 18 years litigation attorney, so I try cases. That's pretty much what I do. So, always working with local businesses, some national clients as well, and even individuals to help solve their problems, hopefully before litigation. But if it gets down the road, I'm certainly not afraid to be in the courtroom.

Gresham Harkless 05:39

Makes perfect sense. If you have that kind of assigned same makeup. There are definitely some overlaps in that.

Michael Elkins 05:44

Yeah. I think in business, right? It takes a lot of discipline, and dedication, and you have to be like a racehorse and put the blinders on a lot of times to go forward and sure that crosses over with the athlete. A hundred percent. You can be talented, but if you're not dedicated and you're not disciplined, and we've seen that a million times, that talent will only go so far.

The flip side of that, maybe you're not as talented, but if you are dedicated, disciplined, take to your coaching and work on your craft, and that would fly in business too you can go a lot farther than the person that just rests on their lawyers. I see that even in lawyering. I've seen some really talented lawyers who are just horrifically disciplined and unfocused and it hurts them. Whereas I've seen some people maybe with a little less from a scholarly standpoint, but very disciplined, dedicated, and focused, and they tend to come out ahead. So I think you've got a really clear overlap there for sure.

Gresham Harkless 06:40

Yeah, it's funny. It's one of the things that I always say that I wish I can tell myself that, is to understand that. Because I think a lot of times when you hear the story of the athlete, you think that athlete is that made to the top of their craft, whether it be a head coach or a front office executive or an act or an athlete that's actually on the court. You think a lot of times they've always been the best, but sometimes in a lot of cases, really they've been consistent. They put in a lot of hard work, but they've a lot of times have been the most talented or the most intelligent. Those people just didn't have those same kinds of consistent actions in the ways they approached life and business and all the aspects of being great at their craft.

Michael Elkins 07:17

Yeah, look, that's a really good point. We really don't need to look any further than, a guy like Bill Belichick. Right now everybody thinks, oh Belichick is the greatest ever, or arguably the greatest ever. But it wasn't always that way for Belichick. He got fired from his first head coaching job. Had to toil around again for another, I think five or six years before he was hired in New England and was on the verge of getting fired in New England.

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So now, no one would dare question Belichick, but you wanna talk about dedication, staying the course, and staying with your method. Staying with how you do things, understanding that your culture, your system is gonna work. That's a perfect example of that. And I think a lot of people don't do that.

Gresham Harkless 07:59

Yeah. Yeah. And what's so funny about what's happening in New England, not only do you have Belichick, but you can go a little bit farther, not even too far, I should say and look at the guy named Tom Brady, who's done pretty good okay. From being a pretty late-round pick and undervalued and underappreciated.

Michael Elkins 08:13

That again, he had to battle for a starting job in Michigan. They didn't even want him to start. He's picked number 199. He gets to New England and he's behind at the time, franchise quarterback Drew Bledsoe, who had just signed a 10-year hundred and something. Million dollar deal.

Gresham Harkless 08:27


Michael Elkins 08:28

And Brady just kept working. And even, a lot of people think Brady just became a superstar. They did win that first Super Bowl. That's true. But the next season they didn't make the playoff. They went nine seven 2002. A lot of people forget that. It's lost in history. And there were questions about, having traded led. So, for Brady, he stayed the course, kept believing in what he was doing, believed in himself, and then obviously the rest is history. But very easily could have given up, easily could have fought the system. But didn't, that's his coaching and now he is where he is.

Gresham Harkless 08:58

Yeah. Yeah. It makes so much sense. And I find at least when I read about, or hear about, the Tom Brady's, Belichick's, the Michael Jordan, and the really great athletes of the world, they have like this chip on their shoulders, so to speak, where even at that level, what makes them so special is that even at that level, even when nobody's talking trash about them, they're able to manufacture trash so that they can continue to kind of keep that edge.

And I know that's definitely a lot of what I see like successful aspects or their secret sauce I guess you can say. But I wanted to I guess ask you what would you say your secret sauce is. What do you feel kind of sets you apart and makes you unique? And that could be for you or it could also be for your podcast, your business, but what do you feel kind of gives you that edge?

Michael Elkins 09:39

Yeah. Well, I think there are two things. One is the kind of chip. Certainly, when I started a podcast, a lot of people snickered at that when it first started, and I get that to a certain degree. And I also thought to myself, If people are gonna snicker, those are just people who aren't afraid to do things. So I'm just gonna keep doing what I need to do.

And then when I started this law firm and I had a very different approach to the business of law, I think there were a lot of people that said, that's not gonna work. You can't rely on social media when you're a lawyer. That doesn't apply to this industry, which is just hilarious because all of the industries that have been disrupted, they all of the people that were there before saying, oh that won't apply to our industry. So there's certain amount of like, yeah, okay keep telling me that cause it's just gonna keep me going.

I would say the other part is the opposite of that. It's the ability to ignore the noise and focus really on what I can control, which ultimately boils down to my own choices and then my reaction to things around me. I think if I was solely fueled by I'm gonna prove A, B, and C wrong, eventually that would wear out. And I think I would burn out or plateau or it wouldn't be as exciting. So I'm really conscious to make sure that I'm just driven by what I believe in ultimately and put those blinders on, focus on what I control, and worry only about my reactions to the externals. But otherwise, if I don't control it, I try not to let it in. And I try to make sure that what I'm doing is based on what I believe in because it's something I love, enjoys and am passionate about, however, you wanna describe that. It's kind of a combination of all those things.

Gresham Harkless 11:15

Absolutely. No, that makes so much sense. And so I wanted to switch gears a little bit and I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be an app, a book, or a habit that you have, but what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

Michael Elkins 11:28

Yeah, I think my habit is really to focus on a singular thing, at one time. We hear a lot about multitasking. And I know a lot of people that are really into that. I am not into that.

Gresham Harkless 11:40

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Absolutely. That makes so much sense. So now I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO nugget. And this is a word of wisdom or a piece of advice. So if you can hop into a time machine, what would you tell your younger business self?

Michael Elkins 11:50

I mean it's a cliche, but it's true. I would tell my younger self to ignore the noise.

Gresham Harkless 11:55

Absolutely. So, now I wanted to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. And we're hoping to have different quote and quote CEOs on this show. So, Michael, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Michael Elkins 12:05

Yeah, I think for being a CEO your job really is to promote and enforce culture. That's the most important thing the way I see it. You got to let people perform their individualized jobs or individualized tasks.

Your job is to deal with the culture, and support people when things aren't right. Take the hit. I think the CEO has to be the one on the front line that takes the hits when things go bad and then steps back, unless everyone else takes the glory, when things go well. That's a leader, that's a CEO, and that's how you build a positive culture.

Gresham Harkless 12:41

Absolutely. Yeah. And definitely, the culture is everything because I think a lot of times when you're there working with somebody side by side, they can sometimes understand that culture or how you might want things. But I think the important thing is to be able to have it so that when you're not there when you're not looking over what every person is doing at every second of the day, that you still are able to have that culture and you have the right people that also wanna showcase and extend that culture out as well too. So I think, you're absolutely right.

Michael Elkins 13:07

I learned that just by interacting with individuals like Michael Lombardi. I mean that I learned that from him and he learned that from Belichick, he worked at Belichick for decades. And I mean if you look at Belichick, they win. It's the players. And when they lose, it's the coach's fault.

So it's an interesting thing. And, that when he and Lombardi said that made so much sense to me that, that's what your job is to do is to really promulgate culture, keep the culture going. Cause you can get people to do the different jobs they're out there. It's just a world full of tons of people who are skilled in so many different things. But the culture, the tone has to be set from the top.

Gresham Harkless 13:44

Absolutely. Yeah. And I, always say, success leaves clues. So a lot of times you wanna look at those things and those people that have been able to be successful as you've been covering, on your podcast or all those, phenomenal people, what they do to be successful.

We can definitely, implement that in our businesses and earn our lives as well. So I appreciate that. And I appreciate your time even more, Michael. What I wanted to do is pass you the mic just to see if there's anything additional you wanted to let our readers and listeners know, and then of course, how best they can get ahold of you, find out about your firm, and then also subscribe to your podcast and hear all awesome things working on.

Michael Elkins 14:16

Yeah, I'll just direct everybody to the very channels where you can find me, whether it's to learn about the podcast or my law firm. Everything's housed on my law firm's website, which is www.mlelawfirm.com. You can follow me on Twitter, which is @melkin31175, Instagram which is @melkins1. And then myself and the law firm are both on LinkedIn and Facebook. So, Michael Elkins, you can find me there as well as MLE Law.

Gresham Harkless 14:46

Awesome, awesome, awesome. And we'll make sure to have all those links and information in the show notes as well too so that everybody can follow up with you. But Michael, appreciate you again, appreciate, all the awesome things you're working on and your time today.

Michael Elkins 14:56

Thank you for having me.

Gresham Harkless 14:57

I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Outro 15:00

Thank you for listening to the I am CEO podcast, powered by Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at iamceo.co. I am CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community. Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, and everywhere you listen to podcasts.

Subscribe and leave us a five Star rating. Grab CEO gear at www.ceogear.co. This has been the I am CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless. Thank you for listening.


Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(CEOBlogNation.com), podcasts, (CEOPodcasts.com) and videos (CBNation.tv). CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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