Are you Leaving a Million Dollars on the Table?

Tuesday, December 20, 2016Ron Kronthal
When I was a young trial lawyer, I attended a lecture presented by a well-known and highly respected attorney with many years of experience and a laundry list of incredible verdicts also known as The Speaker.

For the most part, the other lawyers in the audience were newbies just like me. Most of us had no idea of what we were doing and wanted to learn the magic from the master.

The Speaker got our attention right of the bat. “I’m going to tell you how to get a million dollar verdict. Get your pen and paper ready, because you are going to want to write this down.”

This was at a time when a million dollar verdict was a big deal. Any of the newbies who would have a million dollar verdict in his or her favor would have thought that they were on the road to success. The Speaker was about to spill the secret sauce; all we had to do was listen and write it down.

“Okay guys...are you ready?” He said as the newbies leaned in with pens poised.


The anticipation was palpable.

“The way you get a million dollar verdict is that you screw up a two million dollar case.”

As General Counsel at Rolyn, I no longer spend my day to day in courtrooms. However, almost forty years later, I recall that conversation like it was yesterday.

Whether it is providing emergency services or remediation, practicing law, or running an IT department, or shining shoes it can be easy to congratulate yourself for a job well done. You did what you were hired to do, the result were pretty good, the client and the boss were happy, and yup-you got paid! Off to the next job.

That’s certainly one way to look at things, but there is another. You learn from each and every job.

Even on those good jobs, there is almost always a way that it could have been even better. Are you thinking about how you could have turned a good job into a GREAT JOB? To think that there could be no room for improvement, regardless of the outcome, is a pretty bold and unrealistic attitude.

It’s not the easiest thing in the world to self-criticize, especially if you think you’ve done a good job. But if you are being honest, there is virtually always a way to turn good into GREAT. So how about stopping the self-congratulation for a second and taking a look at things from a more critical perspective.

In addition to some reflection, are you bold enough to approach a colleague, a boss, or even a client and ask, ”How could I have made this even better?”

You might be surprised at what you learn.

It may not be the easiest thing to do, and your ego may get deflated a bit, but one thing that’s certain is it’s impossible to go from good to GREAT if you are happy with the status quo.

Self-congratulation is fine but if you don’t care about improving each and every job, you might want to keep a lookout for those competitors who are going from good to GREAT. And that could be pretty bad...kind of like leaving a million dollars on the table.

About the Author

Ron Kronthal
Senior Vice President and General Counsel

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