Nearly three decades ago, in the early days of Edge International, there was only one writer in the area of managing a professional firm that commanded our unqualified respect and attention. That was David Maister.
“Managing the Professional Services Firm” is the Bible, according to many leaders of some of the largest professional service firms in the world. “True Professionals” spoke to the firms for whom dignity and quality service were the engines of success. And he wrote so much more in collaborations and articles.
In Edge, we were lucky enough to find ourselves presenting at a few conferences in common with David, in various places around the world and one day ended up having a very private informal retreat. This led to the creation of PracticeCoach®, an extraordinarily comprehensive video-based resource to help law firm leaders around the world. It stars David. What a joy it was to create with him.
His philosophy was so in harmony with ours. For example, we loved his guarantee of satisfaction (and were proud that we offered one as well even before we knew he did).
There were some very cool things I learned from David:
- David loves his wife, Kathy, with such passion and always treats her as his trusted advisor and coach. (She’s the Guru’s Guru.) With Kathy, David taught my wife, Bethany, and me how to travel for weeks internationally without checking luggage. “IMPOSSIBLE!” we said standing on the curb in front of their place one morning with four huge suitcases’s while David and Kathy had their little rollers behind them. “You just need to learn how to pack properly…” they replied, and during our next visit we got the tutorial. (Actually, David and Kathy, if you wrote a book based on that tutorial….) Bethany and I owe David and Kathy the moon for that advice.
- David exemplifies passion. He loves his wife and his music collection which is of a magnitude that makes it the 8th wonder of the world…and he’ll sing till dawn. :-)
- David has energized audience after audience…forcing thought about important issues and even more importantly, sometimes with the help of voting machines, making them actually decide on things.
I am not surprised by the awards and accolades* he has received… just delighted.
The good news is that this is not a eulogy (even if it sounds like one). David and Kathy’s infectious smiles will remain available to us for many many happy years to come.
If there is a sad note in this homage, it is that David’s retirement represents a loss to my beloved legal profession and all the other professions he served so well. However, his books and programs live on. As I write this, I am helping a prominent South American firm to use the study in his book, “Practice What You Preach,” to help them analyze and choose the most fruitful areas of focus for their continued improvement.
Maybe David’s and Kathy’s retirements will be like some famous souls who preceded them who were coaxed back into the game for an important gig or two.
By the way, Kathy retired from one of the most incredible video enhanced blogs in history: startcooking.com where you can still experience valuable lessons – check it out ! This is not an amateur undertaking – you will find broadcast-quality production values.
David and Kathy, Bethany and I treasure you and I know if we gathered those of like mind we’d need a mighty big arena.
Retire in good health!! Well earned – BRAVO!