New Zealand – New Thoughts

Kia Ora!* In February, I traveled to New Zealand for about three weeks. My husband and I visited the North and South islands, starting in Auckland and ending in Christchurch.** It was the most amazing vacation I had ever taken, as the country’s nature is completely varied, beautiful, and like nothing else I had seen before. The whole trip is way too long for one blog. However, I thought I’d share three different types of experiences that I thoroughly enjoyed and what I learned from them that’s applicable to your law firm.

Tongariro alpine crossing – enjoy the journey

One of my favorite activities was a 20 km hike on Mount Tongariro, a volcano near Lake Taupo. Two other active volcanoes - Mount Ruapehu, a magical, snowy view, and Mount Ngauruhoe, aka Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings – surround it. As we were climbing this physically and mentally challenging hike, a cliché thought came into mind – it’s about the journey, not just about the destination.

We had to make sure we finished before the last shuttle left at 6 PM. However, some tourists finished the hike quickly to catch an earlier shuttle; but was it worth it to rush back to the hotel? My husband and I had a slower and more leisurely hike. We took more pictures than anyone else, sat down in scenic spots to enjoy snacks, stood still for a while enjoying the views, and collected a few rocks along the journey. Sure, we had to hurry a bit during our last few kilometers to make the last shuttle, but we certainly enjoyed the journey along the way and got the job done. Seeing the varying lava rocks, the red craters, the blue, emerald, and lime pools, a forest towards the end of the hike, and Lake Taupo on the other side of the volcano was the best part of the hike!

Likewise, I encourage you to fully enjoy what you’re doing. More often than not, you’ll find yourself checking off your to do list and trying to get through tasks as quickly as possible. While I’m a fan of efficiency, always remember why you’re an attorney. You’re here to help your claimants who do not want to feel like a case number in your CRM. Try to find ways to enjoy your day-to-day tasks and don’t just think about when they’ll be done. That way, you’ll be less likely to find yourself in a daily rut, and your conversations with claimants will be more empathetic.

Paragliding, canyon swing, hydro attack, luge, zip lining, white water rafting, sand boarding – be bold!

All of the above are activities I did in New Zealand. I’m quite an adrenaline junkie (Six Flags trip, anyone?) and I enjoy new experiences that I normally can’t have. For these reasons, I threw myself off a cliff over the Shotover River where I got to free fall for 60 m before swinging over the river for 200 m; I got into a tiny boat that looks like a shark which dove 2 m under water, jumped 6 m out of the water, and swam across Lake Wakatipu at 80 kph; I sand boarded down Opononi sand dunes right into the waters of Hokianga Harbor. I could keep going, but I’ll stop for now. My point is, step out of your comfort zone and try something different!

Try new methods of finding clients, retaining them, and keeping them happy. Don’t be scared to be bold - that’s what will set you apart from your competition! For example, send your claimants a welcome packet full of goodies, making them feel welcome at your firm. When you’re emailing clients, remember that they receive hundreds of emails per day. Therefore, be authentic and human in your email marketing campaigns. If you realize that your cost to acquire a case is high, try a lead generation company, such as eGenerationMarketing. We’ll be happy to provide you with tips and tricks to turn your leads into gold!

Kiwis and the native bush – don’t break something that’s not broken

I enjoyed walking through the Waipoua forest to see the magnificent Kauri trees and zip lining through a New Zealand native forest in Rotorua. The native bush is absolutely beautiful and seeing the treetops from above was surreal.

During the canopy tour, I learned about New Zealand’s loss of species and massive pest problem. The native species of New Zealand evolved without mammalian predators. When humans brought rabbits to the island for the sport, the rabbits became overpopulated, as they didn’t have any predators. Therefore, Europeans brought stoats and weasels to eat the rabbits.

However, the stoats quickly realized that it’s much easier to catch native birds, such as the kiwi, since it’s not used to mammalian predators, than a rabbit, which is used to predators. As a result, instead of controlling the rabbit population, the stoats endangered the kiwis and overpopulated themselves. In turn, Europeans brought over possums. In a similar fashion, the possums feasted on native birds and plants instead of the stoats. As a result, the overpopulation of pests has resulted in the extinction of many species. Today, many conservation groups throughout the country work on eliminating the pests and preserving New Zealand’s native species. This requires a great amount of time, effort, and money.

What’s the moral of this story? Don’t try to reinvent the wheel or fix something that’s not broken, as it may lead to other problems. If the Maori and Europeans had been kinder to New Zealand’s lands, didn’t chop down native bush, didn’t eat native birds, and didn’t introduce a plethora of new animals to the country, the pest and extinction problems wouldn’t have escalated as quickly. Now, it’s a major problem. If you have something that works well at your firm – maybe you love your case management software or your follow up process has been so fine tuned that you’re converting clients at an exponential rate – keep it as is! Be bold for any necessary changes to improve your business, but make sure you recognize the pieces that you have which are already great.

As you can tell, I loved my trip to New Zealand. I grew as a person by seeing many new places, getting closer to nature, being physically active but mentally relaxed, and by speaking with visitors from all over the world. If you haven’t taken a vacation in a while (or a lunch break for starters), I recommend that you go somewhere! It’ll be a great reset for you that will help you flourish as an individual and as a worker. Plus, the vacation will be sweet as*** – right?

*Kia ora – a Maori greeting that means “have life” or “be well;” it's used as an informal greeting like "hi" or "hello."
**Christchurch – I was in Christchurch just two weeks before the mass shootings. I’m sending New Zealand lots of love – it’s an amazing and beautiful country full of the kindest people.
***Sweet as – a kiwi term that basically means “awesome.”