PEARL LEMON INTERVIEWS:
Craig W. Budner is the firm’s global strategic growth partner. In this role, Craig manages the global recruiting and integration functions for the firm. He also manages the firm’s global business development, marketing, and media relations functions. Additionally, he serves on the firm’s management and advisory committees.
A Fireside Chat
I had the opportunity to have an amazing conversation with Craig Budner at K&L Gates today. From talking about SEO for Lead Generation sites, Craig agreed to a quick interview.
He took the time to talk to me and answer some questions so I could get to know him better and hear more about the things that have helped shape his business success to date – let’s get stuck into it!
What Is The Book (Or Books) You’ve Given Most As A Gift, And Why?
1) Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl;
2) Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday;
3) A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
What Purchase Of $100 Or Less Has Most Positively Impacted Your Life In The Last Six Months?
Alta Bluetooth Headphones for a ski helmet — $70 and allow you to speak on your cell phone/listen to your phone without being in your ear.
When You Feel Overwhelmed Or Unfocused, Or Have Lost Your Focus Temporarily, What Do You Do?
Meditate. I use the Headspace app but there are plenty of good choices.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
I’m a lawyer and have practiced 30 years. When someone gets the recommendation to hire “the toughest lawyer there is” I just wait for them to become dissatisfied with the results, costs and lack of listening lawyers with those reputations tend to characterize.
Listen, learn, be flexible in your path and open to different perspectives.
- Craig Budner
In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?
What Is One Of The Best Or Most Worthwhile Investments You’ve Ever Made?
9 years ago I bought a home in the mountains. We really couldn’t afford it. Since then, it has become a place of joy and wonderful experiences. It has hosted many fulfilling and enriching family and friend get-togethers. Currently, it has allowed us a nice Covid escape.
If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it — what would it say and why?
Act with Curiosity and Compassion.
What careers advice would you give to your 21-year old self?
Take chances. It will be ok if you “fail”. It’s the only way you learn.
How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favourite failure” of yours?
Longer story. I was a college debater at Dartmouth College in the US. It was a pretty intense activity and I didn’t love sitting in the library doing research all day every day. People picked on me about it but we had a lot of success so I didn’t change. My junior year, the National Tournament was at Dartmouth. Dartmouth hadn’t hosted it in several decades. We were ranked 10th in the country. Not bad for a junior (me)/sophomore (my partner) duo. My parents flew up from Texas. My girlfriend watched the debates. My fraternity brothers swung by. In the preliminary rounds, we finished 5-3 but didn’t make it to the elimination rounds. We hadn’t missed the elimination rounds all year! Needless to say, I was embarrassed. I felt like everyone was watching and I had failed. I was sulking somewhere and my debate coach came up to me and said: “Why the long face?” I responded, “what do you mean???!! We didn’t make the elimination rounds. I’m so upset.” He said, “Well, the way I think about it is that you should only get as upset as the amount of work you put into it.” OUCH. I sat there for a while and have never forgotten that. The next year, I worked much harder and we finished 2nd in the country, missing first by only one ballot in the final round. That lesson stayed with me as a lawyer, a colleague, a spouse/family member and friend. You get out what you put into the meaningful relationships and activities.
What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore?
Listen, learn, be flexible in your path and open to different perspectives. You could be someone like me who has been at the same place for 30 years but have many careers within the same career. But always look at yourself in the mirror. Be honest with yourself and if you receive criticism, use it as an opportunity to grow and learn as opposed to taking it as a “bad grade”. The advice they should probably ignore is that there is one way to do things. Some people have gifts and thrive, but most of us have to work at it every day. Keep reading, keep listening, keep learning.
Tell Us About Your Business. What Does It Do And What Value Do You Add?
We are a globally and fully integrated law firm. 45 offices on 5 continents. 1800 lawyers and 3500 employees. I am responsible for lateral hiring globally — hiring new partners and other lawyers to our firm, whether in groups our teams. I also run our Client Growth Team, comprised of 85 or so allied professionals supporting the business development of our professionals. That role includes marketing and communications and market development. Pre-Covid, my job required a lot of travel around the world to connect with our clients and lawyers/allied professionals. These days, I’m doing it more through video chats.
What is the most significant thing that someone much younger than yourself has taught you?
My daughter has taught me a lot about gender identity and helped me to be more understanding about that issue in a way that is distinct from sexual identity. It was not an issue that I was exposed to in a big way growing up and the people at the forefront of this movement exhibit real courage.
Tell us about someone you admire and why you admire them?
I admire(d) my Mom and think about her every day. She passed away in 2003. She had a number of wonderful attributes, but her crowning non-family accomplishment was starting the Vogel Alcove in 1986, which to this day serves as a world-class daycare facility for homeless children. Despite being a natural leader, she led with inclusion. The “room” or cause was never about her or her leadership. She created a vibrant and surviving institution by encouraging everyone to “own” the effort and its rewards. She hated public speaking but received many awards. She would typically start her speech with the Mark Twain quote – “If you see a turtle on a fence post, you know she had a lot of help getting there.” She was a special person who taught me that leadership isn’t about being the loudest or biggest talker in a room. You lead by example.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
I would like to continue to develop my thought leadership/storytelling through my podcast and writing.
Where do you see your industry in the next 5 years?
Starting to make progress in eliminating the billable hour completely. More diverse. More business-focused with solutions that are a hybrid of legal and business.
What is a 'hack' you have for success that most people don't know about?
Athletic Greens is a good one. It is a whole food vitamin mix that when I take it in the morning helps my diet receive a good complement of nutrients even on the road. The Peloton is another but that has gotten quite popular, especially in the US. For those who don’t know, it’s a bike that connects to live or recorded exercise classes.
What's your favourite digital marketing channel and why?
At this point probably Twitter because I’m a sports nut and it’s the easiest way to get good sports updates.
What is a useful skill someone could learn in one minute?
How to meditate and the importance of breathing.
When did you first become a rebel?
I’m not much of a rebel, but I’ve had a fairly non-traditional second act as a lawyer, running our lateral and client growth efforts.
What's your favourite colour?
How has Covid-19 changed your industry?
Mostly travel and an appreciation for how we can make deep connections without always being in the same room.
How has Covid-19 changed your company?
Probably the same answer.
What is the most surprising thing you've seen in your industry?
That it has taken so long to get pricing right – the fixation with the billable hour.
What popular celebrity do you admire the most and why?
Bono. I love his messages of tolerance, inclusiveness and love. He has kept the band together since he was 18 years old and has stayed married to the same person. The Dalai Lama is another I admire for his ability to teach presence and acceptance.
What's your favourite holiday destination?
Park City, Utah or Paris.
What's something exciting you're currently working on/learning that only a few people know about?
My podcast, but maybe more than a few know about that.
What one thing in life do you consider to be overrated?
What's your star sign?
What are you NOT Very Good at?
I stretch myself too thin at times.
What did you have for breakfast this morning?
My Athletic Greens shake.
Pearl Lemon are an SEO, PPC, PR, and B2B lead-generation agency. We are based in London but service clients around the world.
We have taken the time to interview entrepreneurs and experts (like Craig) in this new series.