Want fire and a “can do” attitude? Listen in on this interview with Chelsey Lambert, Founder of Lex Tech Review, who I caught up with in D.C. at ILTACON 2018.
Kevin O’Keefe: Alright, I think I know who I’m talking with: Chelsey Lambert. You were originally with Total Attorneys way back when. How long ago was that?
Chelsey Lambert: It was 10 years ago.
Kevin O’Keefe: Wow. Long time. I wanted to ask you some questions about how you got started doing what you’re doing now, which really is the concept of something that did not exist, and you created it. What is it? What is Lex Tech Review?
Chelsey Lambert: Kevin, we’ve known each other for a long time, and you’ve always been a really incredible mentor, a career voice for me, and we’ve talked about how you meet certain people in the space, and how networking is so important, no matter what stage of your career you’re in, and you meet people and either what they’re working on resonates with you, or you see a way that you can apply their methodology to your world. And the blog, Lex Tech Review, came from my passion working with legal tech products, building legal tech products, bringing them into the market, being a CMO or VP of marketing, being a trainer at the Chicago Bar Association, but then never really feeling like I had time or space or voice, or wasn’t under some crazy noncompete, to actually talk about all the products. So after working for software vendors for so many years, I finally didn’t have a contract, and I found myself out in the marketplace, and the job that I had recently taken basically just didn’t work out on either side and I found myself in a place where I could either go get another job or I could start this blog that I really wanted to start. And I could talk freely about all the software solutions out there without having to worry about being somebody’s competitor or having to say, “I worked for this provider, so this is the greatest thing in the world.”
Kevin O’Keefe: You’ve been successful in the jobs that you’ve had, you have a great track record, so what made you go from, “okay, I could go get another position – in sales leading a sales team, leading business development, and do quite well for yourself financially – What makes a person say, “okay, I’ll forego salary, benefits, and whatnot, and start at zero?
Chelsey Lambert: I wanted to have my own voice and I didn’t want to have it be influenced by whoever I worked for. And I felt really passionately about that and my philosophy was, “this is either going to work out, and it’s going to be successful, and I’m going to figure out a way to monetize that, in that it’s going to attract consulting clients to me, or it’s going to help me get a job if I need to”. And so from my perspective at that point in time, I was at rock bottom. I literally had nothing and I was like, what do I have to lose? Right? So I’m going to pour myself, I’m going to pour my passion into this. And I remember going home and for three days straight I did nothing but build that website. I had never published because I was like, “well, it’s not appropriate for me to say that.”
Kevin O’Keefe: How did you keep yourself alive though? I mean you got a mortgage, rent, you have to feed yourself. I mean you have some savings left over from what you’ve done, so you’re not destitute, but how does a person just say, “okay, now that I don’t have a job, I’m going to pour my heart into something.” How do you get by? I mean, how do you mentally get by?
Chelsey Lambert: So I actually made a video on YouTube about it called “Meet Your Tiger.” And when you are in this place where you just literally don’t know what you’re going to do and you have two weeks, or a month, to figure out how you’re going to pay rent or whatever it is, there is this level at which you can operate that I don’t think you really realize until you’re in that position, and so I very much had this spirit animal side that came out where I would just work like crazy, and you start thinking about everybody that you know and, to be totally honest, I started a blog and then I picked up the phone and I called every single person that I knew in the whole community. Just every single person. “Hey, this is what I’m doing.” And that turned into, “We want to support you. Here’s a small consulting project. Hey, can you do content writing?” And really that’s what led the business to where it is today. It was the combination of building something of value, and sharing the expertise that I had online, so that I had a property to direct them to. So it’s like, “hey, here’s my online office. This is what I like to do.” And then that physical connection.
Kevin O’Keefe: Was there a low point ever? Where you go, “I don’t know if this is going to fly?”
Chelsey Lambert: Yeah, I mean that moment was walking back to my house, and I’ll never forget. I follow a lot of authors and there’s a book called “The 10 x Rule” by Grant Cardone and the principle behind it is that it takes 10 times the amount of effort to do anything in life, and you also have to set your goals 10 times higher. And I had a moment where I realized I could either have a pity party for myself and try and get another job and take whatever came to me, or I could give this everything that I had, and this is my moment. So either you can go home and stew about it and waste a week, two weeks, a month, or you could just suck it up and dig in and see where it goes. And that’s really where that tiger came in. I was like, all right, I’m going to meet my tiger. I’m just gonna get after it.
Kevin O’Keefe: When did you realize, this was going to work?
Chelsey Lambert: When I made my rent in the first two weeks. It was small milestones.
Kevin O’Keefe: So the low point and the high point were pretty close.
Chelsey Lambert: To be totally truthful, I had moved my mother cross country with me, and I can laugh about it now, but I started having these nightmares where I was picturing my mother getting evicted and all her stuff being on the front lawn, and so everyday I would wake up and be like, “pick up the phone, call some more people, you’ve got to do this,” because I didn’t want that to be. So after those first two weeks, after I paid my bills and was surviving, I was like, all right, let’s see if we can double it. And then that just became my thing.
Kevin O’Keefe: So you’re running Lex Tech Review where you’re doing reviews of various products. And it’s a great value to companies out there that can’t get that type of review or publicity for what they’re doing, because you know what you’re doing to get that done for them. That same type of thing, though, can apply on the legal tech company as far as quitting your day job, or not going back to the day job, and just starting something from scratch. What do you tell somebody that’s thinking about leaving what they’re doing? Thinking about starting something new. What do you tell somebody who’s thinking about that?
Chelsey Lambert: So coming from someone who also tried to do startups while I had full time jobs, it’s all in or nothing. It is all in or nothing.
Kevin O’Keefe: So don’t do the little bit while you’re having a real job. Right?
Chelsey Lambert: Right. I mean, if people are going to lay the groundwork, they’re going to lay their groundwork, right? They’re going to start to put those pieces in place, but you’re not fully present in either situation. And I think what really worked for me is that I was looking at rock bottom. So there was nowhere to go, and every time that I had tried to do it when I had a fulltime job –
Kevin O’Keefe: I’m sorry to laugh.
Chelsey Lambert: Oh no, I can laugh about it now. We’re good. But every time I had tried to do it before I had a safety net. So there wasn’t like a tiger chasing me, or being afraid of my mother being out on the street, you know. It was make it work, or you’re going to go get another job. And I knew that I could go. I mean luckily I’m really, really fortunate and grateful to be in a space where, if I had to go get a position, I’m pretty sure I could find something. It was go all in because you’re just don’t have that same drive. You don’t have that same fear of failure. You’re in a comfortable position, whereas once you really, you know, jump out of the plane, you have to make sure that you’re building that parachute on the way down.
Kevin O’Keefe: Thank you much.
Chelsey Lambert: Oh, Kevin, thank you so much. Great as always.