How Do You Find Your Vocation For A Purposeful Life? Find Out How With Larry Gennari

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How do you find your vocation to live a happy, purposeful life? Find out with Lawrence Gennari, a finance and transactional lawyer and Partner at Gennari Aronson. Lawrence talks with Tony Martignetti about how you need to figure out where your great joy meets the world's great need. First, discover who you are to determine what makes you excited. If you're unsure where to start, take a deep breath and look for a trusted advisor. Your chosen advisor should help you figure out your options rather than telling you exactly what you need to do. Do you want more tips on how to find your vocation? Tune in!

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How Do You Find Your Vocation For A Purposeful Life? Find Out How With Lawrence Gennari


It is my honor to introduce you to my guest, Larry Gennari. He is a corporate and transactional lawyer and the Cofounder of Gennari Aronson Boutique Law Firm, serving public and private companies in a variety of industries as well as entrepreneurs, investors, executives and board members. He is an Adjunct Professor at Boston College Law School, where he has taught courses on Mergers and Acquisitions, Corporate Finance and Advising Entrepreneurs.

He developed one of the law school's newest courses, Project Entrepreneur, a student-led business fundamentals Bootcamp for entrepreneurs with criminal records, most of whom had previously been incarcerated. His firm also developed Authors & Innovators, an annual community-based business book and ideas event. He writes a related business book column for the Boston Business Journal. He lives in Weston with his two children. He and his wife are avid readers. Books are an important part of his life and I'm so thrilled because I'm a fan of reading as well.

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I'm honored and thrilled to welcome you to the show, Larry.

Tony, thank you so much. It's a pleasure. You should tell your audience that we met over books. You have been such a terrific supporter, attendee, and enthusiastic participant in so many of our events but especially the ones about ideas. I'm grateful for that. It's wonderful to be here with you.

One thing that I love about the space that we create here is it's about being around the campfire, sharing stories and unwinding. Where did you come from? What is the story behind creating Larry in the world? I'm looking forward to seeing the story behind what got you to where you are now.

That's easy. Many of your guests, "Let's talk about you for a little while."

It's people's favorite topic. You would think so, but sometimes it's hard to get people to open up and explore. We do this through what's called flashpoints, points in your story that have ignited your gifts into the world. With that, I'm going to turn it over to you and let you share what you are called to share. Start wherever you like.

You need to figure out where your great joy meets the world's great need. 

People want to tell their stories. We all come to what we do from different places. I always tell people I have come full circle from starting in the corporate world, working with large corporations to wanting to do something that fits more with who I am. I'm a first-generation college student. I grew up in Marlborough out on 495 back at a time where it was a pretty middle-class homogenous community.

Many of us, at least in my class, went on to college with the idea that we would have a trade. My dad was a bricklayer. My mom was also an active volunteer. Both of them were serious people when it came to the fundamentals of working, "You always have to have a job. Always respect people. Be kind." When I thought about college, I wanted to do what most people were going to do. That is to find something that you could do as a trade.

There were four of us as siblings. My two brothers and I all went to the same small state college and got Accounting degrees. They have been off to KPMG, and then I went off to law school. My sister went to Pittsburg State and became a nurse. We all had this trade. I did what a lot of students do when they don't have an idea of what they want to do. You tend to gravitate towards those big brands and experiences.

I started a large law firm not understanding what that meant. Their version of Corporate Law was working for large corporations. I quickly knew that this wasn't going to be the greatest fit for me. Wonderful people, stimulating work, I'm just not a fit. I did what most law students do when they are faced with this challenge, “It doesn't fit. It's not what I wanted to do. This is not fun every day.” I stayed.

After about three years, I’ve got recruited out to a smaller, more entrepreneurial firm at 128, where I’ve got a chance to work with entrepreneurs one-on-one for the first time. It was among the most stimulating periods of my life, a flashpoint, if you will, hearing people's stories and how they could be translated into something that became a vocation. I have always been a fan since that because I lived that piece of listening to people's stories and figuring out where their great joy meets the world's great need, which is a terrific way of thinking about vocation.

When that firm disbanded, our managing partner, who was a real visionary, retired. We all went back downtown. I stayed in touch with many people, including my friend, Neil Aronson, who was also at a big firm. We both said to the last recession, "Let's get out of here and do something different." Here we are on Route 128 and we have a boutique firm there. There are eight of us. We work just on corporate work, doing mergers and acquisitions, and financings.

I like to think of it as not too self-important but helping people make their dreams come true in a thoughtful way, guiding them along the way, and telling them that the idea you have of spending more time doing what you want to do can be a reality. We have lived and seen it. This is a way to do it. We all come to what we do differently. I wish I could say I had planned it but maybe that's another flashpoint.

You end up a bit where you take a deep breath and examine what you like to do, and then try to fashion that job around it versus, "Let me just go on and find a job by title." I'm telling my law student colleagues, "Think about what you want to do. Put aside the title and the firm. Think about the things that get you excited and fit to that instead of the opposite." It works for some people.

For some people, there's this concept of just going someplace big and paying your dues, which I respect but people who are heading into a lifetime of work or thinking about it differently than perhaps you and I might have done. You are seeing that even in your practice, where you are trying to help people figure out where their true North is and what they can add to their business. An important part of anybody's vocational discernment is having people who can help them out and think about this.

I love what you shared because there's this element of coming from where you came from. Your experience with your family and upbringing shaped how you’ve got into the big companies and having that foundational experience that a lot of people have had. Nowadays, the mentality has changed and shifted to this, "I don't want to pay my dues in this big company when I know that's ultimately not where I want to be."

For a lot of people doing that foundational experience informs what we want and don't want. From there, we jump into the, "Now that I've got the clarity of what I want, I can now create my dream. Even though it's not fully baked, I can at least start to lean towards that." I loved the way you said the work you do. You have connected it to its higher purpose of helping people to make their dreams come true.

It comes down to aligning with your own personal goals. I know you do this, too. The goal of no matter what you do is to help other people be successful, whether you are doing that as a coach, accountant, lawyer, stylist or programmer, whatever you are doing, not everybody can help save the world. The most important thing is that you don't need to. What you can do is think as carefully as you can about the kind of things that get you excited.

"Where does your great joy meet the world's great need?" to quote Frederick Buechner. Go with that and figure that out. Once you do that, there's a clarity of purpose. Perhaps it comes with practicing for decades. It also comes from reading and teaching because it's certainly one of the hallmarks of teaching that you try to do as much listening, talking and reading. From that perspective, that's where some of the activities that I do come from and are connected.

There's a bit of a paradox that comes to mind when I think about what you do and how you do it. You have this ability to be patient and calm but you also don't slow down to the point where you don't take action. You take a lot of action, move forward, and help people to take action in their lives through the work that you do. It's not about being calm and patient to the point where you don't take action but slowing things down to move forward.

There's working hard and working smart. We gave that advice to entrepreneurs or anybody else that we encountered. There's this idea of, "Don't just do something. Stand there." I talked to one of my former students, who is trying to sort out a couple of different job options. The greatest challenge was to say to the student, "Do you have to decide today or this week?" After a bit of conversation, the answer was, "No. I don't."

It was a little bit of asking questions that you can as an objective third party. It's easy for you or me to say, "This is exactly what you should be doing." It's more about listening and trying to figure out, "This is a person who had been at a couple of jobs and was sorting out between alternatives." For me, the question after listening wasn't so much, "Here's what this company does and here's what I could do after." It was much more granular, "Who are you going to be working for? Can you learn from them?" That's more important or was, at least for this former student, than anything else.

"What are the kinds of things that you will be learning? Can this person be a good teacher?" That, in the day-to-day, is going to make more of a difference to that person than being able to say, "I worked at this place for a little bit of time." That's not an easy lesson. Many of us have to learn that, perhaps as you were saying, by either putting in your time or having a bad experience. From those bad experiences, as frustrating as they are, comes wisdom and experience or some version of both.

This wisdom that we are sharing at this moment is very timely because there are a lot of people who are already jumping. They are on the go, ready to move on to a new role and thinking about the next steps. Even the entrepreneurs who are moving forward and thinking about, "I better get going. It's time to make something happen," but it's like, "Who are you learning from? Is this going to help you to advance your understanding of things?" It's not about the, "Is the grass greener? Am I going to get paid more? Is the title better?" Don't worry about those things. Worry about the things about learning because that learning is going to help to advance you much further along than anything else.

Indulge in other interests that help make your life worthwhile.

I know you get brought in because people are missing some of that. Either an organization is trying to figure out, "How do we bring that?" or an executive is trying to figure out, "How do I find that?" The advice that we can give people, particularly at a time where people see a lot more flexibility like, "I can go from this job to this job," is to seek out authenticity in those relationships.

It doesn't mean that that person has to be your work soulmate, but it should mean that they give a damn about you. At a time where most people, particularly in larger organizations, are so busy and focused on their goals and thinking about what they've done, they don't give a whole lot of thought to anything beyond the transactional.

That's something that you want to say to people, not that you are looking to be coddled but it's enough and important to use the influence that you do have and that you do want to grow to become your best self. That's challenging to do when you have the feeling that even though there's a mentor program, that mentor isn't functioning the way you would expect a mentor to work. People can get frustrated without understanding that that can be one of your superpowers.

One of the things that I always tell people just starting in the work world is, "Your network will be your superpower." Your network isn't just people who can help you or don't have the transactional view of relationships but start broadly by adding people who help you think, make you think, listen to you and talk to you.

I finished a wonderful book for one of our Authors & Innovators called You Have More Influence Than You Think by Professor Vanessa Bohns at Cornell. It's a wonderful book and a great read about the central point being and you do have influence. One of the easiest ways to understand your influence is to ask other people to do things. Often, we pull back and we don't ask them to take that meeting or do that particular task. You find out pretty quickly that if you try some of the things that she talks through in the book, that people would do that and help. There are a lot to be said for that.

Not that I'm just plugging books but I'm thinking the top of mind because of Authors & Innovators. Gorick Ng's book, The Unspoken Rules. Gorick is at Harvard. He is a career coach. He is a first-generation college student helping first-generation professionals. He has written a book that compiles all of these wonderful tips. I have given it out to countless people already because it's the thing that you just don't know. You get this job at a big organization and you have to go and figure that out.

That's more challenging if you are starting virtually. Even if you weren't starting it virtually, there's always the challenge of trying to figure it out. Once you figured out where your office is, what you can do, how people interact with each other, what they wear, when they come in, when they leave, those are all things that don't just come to you. You have to have a bit of a plan.

Many people are starting their careers from a place of, perhaps, if they have gone all the way through school, coming from a home or something else, that they are being coached. Some people will always be there to help them. What you always have to tell people is that this is a new world and you need to be your own coach, which might mean seeking out somebody who can help you and come up with your own personal advisory board. That's critical.

It's observed not by most people. These are the same people who you and I will get an email from every 3 or 4 years, "I'm looking for a job. Do you know anyone?" That comes across as so transactional versus somebody who knows and understands your story and with whom you have developed at least some rapport and relationship. You have followed them. You have leaned in a bit yourself trying to figure out what they do and the connections that they make and thought more about what your own path should look like.

The people who don't do that are at a distinct disadvantage. It's one of the reasons I tell students, "If you do nothing else, please create this LinkedIn account. Reach out to people. If you go and listen to someone, engage with them. After the event, talk with them. See if you can become a LinkedIn follower." That's not a plug for social media. It's more a plug for social connections. We have tools to be able to do that.

It's such a great thought to bring into the room. One of the things I always come back to is this one piece of advice that was given back when I was in a corporate. It stuck with me. I give it to a lot of people that said, "If it is to be, it's up to me." It's not to say, you go to it alone. It's about, you have to take the initiative to initiate your network connections to make progress in your career.

No one is going to come to you and say, "Here's this great opportunity. Just run with it." You have to foster those relationships and connections. It doesn't end once you find that job. You have to continue to do that. You have to continue to build and see what's next because life moves fast. If you're not continuing to evolve with it, you're going to be missing out on things that are going to bring your next step for you.

The layer of it that people sometimes miss is it shouldn't just be transactional, "I'm networking." I love the term in part because I understand it but there's such a transactional piece to it that it has become a bit of a pejorative. To me, what that means is, "Who can I learn from? How can I help when somebody else is in that mode of searching for their next thing or thinking about things?"

It's not a matter of going to events and handing out 1,000 cards, although that might be somebody's style. If you start from the premise that I do, which is you can never have enough friends, that does connote this idea of friendship, which is more mutual than it is purely transactional. It's one of the reasons when I will get a LinkedIn request out of the blue, "We don't know each other but we seem to have similar interests," I'm not as warm to that as I might be from somebody who says, "We talked or we met."

For the most part, I won't add anybody in unless I talk to them either on the phone, through a Zoom, or met them in person because it's hard to understand who they are and frankly how I can be helpful to them in some way. I'm always looking for people who might want to be a part of some of the things that excite me, whether it be authors, innovators, project entrepreneurs, or some other initiatives.

I'm going to rewind and go back into your story a little bit and ask what was it like when you first started your private practice, jumping off of the corporate ladder and going into partnership with your partner? You have to run a business in addition to doing the practice of law. That is not an easy thing to just jump into. Were there gaps that you had to discover for yourself? Tell me a bit about that experience for you.

Particularly at corporate, I have seen some people who become entrepreneurs from corporate. It is a challenge to do because it is easier to do tomorrow what you did yesterday. It is harder to plan out all of the things that you could be missing. Having coached entrepreneurs through these years, I started to listen to some of the answers that I was giving to people, which are, "You've got to map out the model. What's your sustainable competitive advantage? How are you going to charge for it? What does the competition look like? Who is going to manage it?"

All of those kinds of things that you try to impose a structure for entrepreneurs, you have had to do it yourself. For me, coming out here after I had practiced for a fair amount of time, I had a sense of what that should look like. First, you have to find somebody who you can trust implicitly and who wants to work as hard as you do and then decide, "How are we going to do this? How do we manage cashflow?"

Have real, authentic conversations with people.

When we came out, we started with a sublease from a good friend of mine, Jeff Solomon, who had a CPA firm. Jeff is a wonderful counselor to entrepreneurs and has been for decades and a thoughtful guy. You lean on people like that and say, "What could this look like? How do you build this?" We also had the added benefit that, as lawyers, we wrote the rules so you can't have non-competes. It's up to the client if that attorney-client relationship has to continue.

I knew that once we decided and announced that we were going to do this, I could have the conversation with clients with who I had worked a lot with. Virtually all of them came and wanted to work with us. They’ve got the value proposition. To come back to sustainable competitive advantage, some of the inefficiencies I noticed have been part of a large organization. I wouldn't take anything away from the wonderful lawyers at Choate Hall & Stewart, where I worked. They are thoughtful, talented and dedicated people.

The challenge with a big law firm is for the kind of constituency that I wanted to serve, which are first-time entrepreneurs and successful entrepreneurs, the hourly rate and the cost of providing that service and being paid appropriately for that service internally was a challenge. I thought, "What if you did this a bit more efficiently? What if you did a bit of a hub-and-spoke model?" Which is to have the corporate quarterback assess issues, and then choose the best of patent lawyers. Let's say this is a patent issue, "Let's choose from seven different firms instead of just having to use or feeling the implicit pressure to use the house brand."

When we started to talk through that, it felt more natural. Having talked with some friends and colleagues about that, they said, "You should try that." I realized that that was what I wanted to do. What I didn't realize was how much time I’ve got back by having to focus just on the things here that matter instead of the layer of admin and bureaucracy that is necessary at a big firm, the planning meetings, group meetings, analysis of internal issues, all of that. It's very different to do that for yourself.

For me, it was eating a bit of my own cooking for the first time and deciding that, "This is okay. Here we are years later." The greatest challenges remain people, making sure that you have good people to be able to serve the clients. There are a lot more change, flexibility, and mobility among lawyers than there was previously. Virtually every place has a people challenge. How do we find good people to add to the team? It's not just plug-and-play.

The other is making sure to keep up with technology. You want to be able to have seamless conversations and productive relationships with clients. Often, technology demands that you pay real attention to how you do that. I have certainly seen a lot more reliance on email. Since the pandemic, you would come in and hear the phones ringing all the time. Here, there are a lot less of that because it's all online. The other great challenge is that the people issues are paramount. Making sure people can feel productive and that they don't feel like they are on overload.

Babson has written a lot about overload and how we need to impose some structure. That's always on culture. Otherwise, we would go nuts. There has to be room for thinking in contemplation, doing the things that make you happy, and recognizing your own triggers to overstimulation and over collaboration. I'm still learning about the challenges. Those are not things that I necessarily would have thought about at a large law firm and being part of a large organization.

In a large organization, it's much more metrics-driven. "What are those hours? How can they be translated into dollars?" That's how you are viewed. There's a set of metrics that are printed out. When you are one of the hundreds of people being thought about, considered, and evaluated, that's how you are thought about. To me, because I hear it from some of my former students who are going to larger firms, that threads its way all the way through the culture.

You have less time. I'm more reluctant to go out and have a cup of coffee with somebody or have them call me about something and just give them a common sense reaction to it or hear them out. I've got to account for every moment in a lot of ways or make it up on the backend, which comes out of personal time. When you are a smaller firm, it's easier. I haven't quite solved the billable hour problem just yet but it's easier to take that time and be able to say, "I'm certainly metrics-driven. We all are in our businesses because we've got to pay the rent and light bills."

There's less of this compelling need in part because the rents are different. The way you think about things is different. You have to make your peace that, "I don't want to be at a large organization where I could maximize my earning potential. The question has to be at what cost." If you are doing what you love or people you respect and allowing yourself a platform where you can do other things and indulge other interests that help make life worthwhile, then to me, that's a pretty cool trade-off if it's a trade-off at all.

One of the things that come to mind when I think about the way you describe your business and the way that you have approached things is that you measure yourself not by an ROI, Return On Investment but the ROI, Return On Impact. That is a great metric because the Return On Impact that you have on people will return all of the financial impacts eventually.

It comes down to not rushing and pushing things based on the metrics that are, "This minute you spent is not going to return money now." Instead, what happens is you are impacting a person who is going to feel that impact for well beyond just that one minute. They are going to see that this person cares deeply. The impact they are having on me and my business is going to ripple for many years to come and that's important

It's not that you don't hustle when you need to. We certainly have a lot of deals. There are a lot of activities going on. If the idea is to capture every moment and monetize it every single time, I'm going to be right back to hear about the same frustrations of clients at larger firms and organizations here all the time, "I can't call Tony or Larry," even though I would love to talk to them because I don't want to get a bill for twelve minutes with four people on it.

I don't want to get a bill where somebody is being trained on my nickel, where something that could have taken somebody more senior. If they would focus the time and measure the time with me, then I have been handing it off to somebody who is going to take 50 times. I have heard the horror stories of somebody getting a stock option plan, and then getting a bill from one of the large law firms because some new person didn't know. You were a new person at your job at one point. It's not against them. It's about how it's translated and they are getting a bill for $30,000.

Part of what we don't do is we charge what we charge. I don't do any of the gimmicky, "For you, I've got this package." To me, all too often, that tends to be the approach of large organizations and law firms. Providing thoughtful and careful advice to people, at least to first-time entrepreneurs becomes more lead gen than it does thoughtful counseling. That's not to say that lawyers can be a lot more efficient at doing some of the basic things that they ought to do for early-stage entrepreneurs. We certainly do that too.

You would get around that by saying, "This is a fixed price because it should be. This is what it should like," instead of saying, "Things will be free for you for up to a dollar amount or for a couple of years. We will get you accustomed to what it looks like, and then charge you $1,000 an hour to talk with you when you have an issue that you want to talk about for twelve minutes."

Take a deep breath and get a coach when making life-changing decisions. 

It isn't that large firms and lawyers are working in them. I was one for many years and good, thoughtful people they are. It's just that when you are at a large firm like that, the metrics are different. Therefore, the delivery model and delivery metrics are going to be different than what they would be if you are doing it. It's like somebody leaving a large hospital so they can spend more time with patients. That's the best analogy.

What comes to mind for me is that everything has got its place and serves its purpose. There's no good or bad. It is what it is. It depends on who you are and what you want as an employee and also as a client. You are not for everybody and ultimately, they are not for everybody. It's just finding that energetic match between the different people who come into your space.

As we are coming near the end, this is a different question than I normally would but I would ask what is it you are seeing with the people coming into your space, the entrepreneurs? What is on their minds? What are the biggest challenges that you are facing? I know it's a difficult question but speak to what is present for you.

It has changed during the pandemic. Most of the time, entrepreneurs come to us later in life. These are people who had some time in a corporate. They have a bit of perspective. That's the first thing, that entrepreneurs have perspective. For the most part, they are looking for a trusted advisor. They don't want to be a lawyer but they do want to understand the issues and don't want to be talked down to. They want a lawyer who isn't afraid to say to them, "I have heard this. It's terrific. I don't think you should be doing that. This might be the way to approach it."

There are certainly people who will call us and say, "I'm interviewing seven lawyers. What contacts to VC firms do you have?" It tells you the kind of relationship that somebody wants to have with their counsel. That's not going to be for us. We know plenty of people who might be interested in funding the business but let's talk about what you are going to try to do. Let's talk about your financing strategy overall before we start to just list people that we know on a whiteboard because that's not going to be terribly helpful.

People coming to us want to know how they can grow their business, how they can do it thoughtfully, and how they might do it outside of the usual constraints of, "I want to get this big so I can attract a venture capitalist." There are amazing venture capital firms here made up of thoughtful people. The challenge for it is that venture capitalists don't fund the vast majority of companies. They are paid to be stewards of capital. They may look at 1,000 business plans and fund eight. That's what they do.

For the rest of the people who don't get funded, is the answer, "You should just go home, fold it up and not do this?" I'm here to say, "No. There are some cool things that I'm hearing in your business plan. More importantly, what I'm hearing is that you want to try this. This could be interesting. You have answered the basic questions about, 'What is your sustainable competitive advantage? How are you going to build this? Who is going to do it with you?'"

Particularly, in the pandemic, where people have been at home and have had more time to think about what is it that I want to do, as Mary Oliver would say, "With this one wild and precious life, what do I want to do?" Those are always the most fruitful, productive and thoughtful conversations. That certainly makes doing what I'm doing worth it because you can have real and authentic conversations with people about what they might do with this part of their life. That's a privilege, as I tell my law students, "The fact that we get to be in this position where we are expected to keep secrets for a living and we do."

We are hearing people's stories and helping them sort out how they might do this. I would like to see more of an emphasis on that and I think we will. I don't think this large law firm model is going to be sustainable forever in part because of some of the competitive forces in the industry. Accounting firms internationally are getting into this kind of business. Large law firms are having to trouble exciting people about staying for the longer-term.

There's going to be the same kind of turmoil that there is in large organizations. You are going to see more firms like mine, where professionals decide that they still want to do this but they would like to do it differently on their terms and on the terms of entrepreneurs who might want to say, "I would like to sell my company but I don't want to talk to somebody who is just going to whiteboard the best deal for me."

I might have somebody to step back, even if it's a bit of time and say, "If you want to do this, why do you want to do this? I realized you’ve got a phone call and that sounds like an enticing offer but have you thought about an intermediary, somebody who might be able to help you figure out what this is worth? Why would you ever sell your house to somebody who walked up and said, 'I will give you this?' I think you can market it or you would want to do that." Those are the thoughtful conversations that you can have with people.

For me, I like to have them as early in that process as possible because there are going to be times where you will talk to someone and they will say, "I really appreciate you saying that to me. I don't want to do something. I just want to stand there for a bit." This is not the time after thinking through this that I want to sell versus an approach somewhere else, which is a transaction and metric-oriented, which would be, "Do you want to sell your company or not? I can help you. Here are the rates. Here's what we will do. We are really good at this. We do 1,000 of those. Just call me when you are ready."

I get that but part of what we are called to do as trusted advisors if people want this and you can't force someone to engage in that relationship is to say, "Let's make sure you want to do this. Let's make sure it's a thoughtful and informed decision. It's okay if you don't want to do it for a bit." My view has always been to take a long-term view of relationships and the situations they are trying to do. It's a long life.

There are times where if people do listen to those internal voices in their own situations, it might not be the right time to do something. They might be better served by taking a deep breath, getting a coach, maybe hiring some other people or maybe doing some other things internally. Helping these people be successful is more important than the broader imperative than simply saying, "Let's do this deal that's in front of you."

The quick decisions oftentimes do not pay off. That's such great advice. Everything you shared was powerful. Thank you for bringing that into the room. We are going to close out with one last question that I love asking, especially I'm thrilled to have you in this conversation. What are 1 or 2 books that had an impact on you and why?

It's a group of books. I have written about some of these in my columns. Rabbi Kushner's book, Living a Life that Matters, has been terrific. I read broadly from all genres. If you are going to read business books and follow them, look at AuthorsInnovators.org and see some of these great thinkers. There are people like Adam Brandt, whose latest book is terrific.

Take the time to read because it makes you a better communicator.

I love books about influence in how we think. There are books by Robert Cialdini from USC about Pre-Suasion. I love those because they are books about how people perceive the world and how they think. This most recent one, You Have More Influence Than You Think. I also love books that tell people's stories. For fiction books, Marilynne Robinson is one of my favorite writers, Richard Russo, Wallace Stegner, and William Styron. I'm not a big poetry fan, although I'm a huge fan of Mary Oliver and Robert Pinsky.

You should read widely and broadly. More importantly, people should take the time to read. It makes you a better communicator, whether you know it or not, you are absorbing as you are reading. When people talk to you, you cannot help but be more thoughtful in your framing and in what you say to people. The conversations are less frivolous because it has forced you to think. From everything I'm seeing, more people took the time over the pandemic to dive deeper, more deeply into these kinds of things.

History matters. The book about the 1918 flu pandemic was as informative as Michael Lewis's book about it, The Premonition. There are parallels in what we are seeing now, "We are so divided. This is horrible." People are throwing verbal rocks at each other all night long. There's another book called The Age of Acrimony, which covers the time from when Ulysses Grant was the President in 1915, where this is exactly what was happening. People were struggling. There were huge income inequality issues. There were racial tensions magnified fifteen times more than they are now. A part of history gives us a sense that conflict, struggle and anxiety are parts of the human condition.

Reading and recognizing some of these human patterns helps make you a better leader, thinker, and coach. I always tell people to read broadly from all genres. You don't have to subject it to anybody else's opinion but read something that makes you think and that moves you. You don't have to be an intellectual to read what you like and think. That's what I would say to your audience. Reading and taking time to do that is a gift that you give yourself.

I love what you shared because it drives the point home that you are prolific and thoughtful about what you read too, which is awesome. I want to say that the Authors & Innovators event that we are going to be putting together is to not be missed. I have been to at least 3 or 4. I have been to a lot of them and it has been brilliant.

It's wonderful to have some people like you who are big supporters. You have been a book supporter as well. You are buying books so that we can give them out to people. I'm grateful for your support. It's AuthorsInnovators.org if people want to take a look at it. It's a fun event and it's meant to be an ideas forum. Thank you for the plug. I would love it if people would tune in and enjoy the books we will be presenting.

Before I let you go, I first want to say thank you so much for bringing yourself into the space and sharing all your amazing insights and stories. I also want to give people a little of where they can find you. What's the best place to find out more about you if they want to?

If people want to learn more about us, they can look at our website, GALawPartners.com. They can read more about that. They can read a bit about Project Entrepreneur, that terrific program we are doing at Boston College Law School, where we are always looking for business mentors who want to help first-generation and first-time entrepreneurs. I would welcome the opportunity to meet people through both Authors & Innovators or GALawPartners.com. Thank you again, Tony. This has been terrific.

Thank you to my audience for coming on the journey. I know you are leaving with so much to take in. Go out and read some books.


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About Lawrence Gennari


Larry Gennari, a corporate and transactional lawyer for more than two decades, values his role in facilitating key relationships and strategic opportunities for his clients. Larry’s clients, whether they are public companies, venture-backed or angel-financed private companies, entrepreneurs, investors or board members, look to him as one of their most trusted business advisors.

With a well-established reputation for strategic advice on both mergers and acquisitions, as well as financing strategies for growth companies, Larry’s practice focuses on corporate and securities law for rapidly growing private and public companies and their supporting executives, directors, investors and advisors. His work includes countless mergers and acquisitions, private offerings, venture capital financings, joint ventures, and public offerings as well as SEC compliance for public companies and their directors and officers.


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