For even the most assured and self-referencing person, legalities and money matters are major character testers. I’ve made my most heart breaking mistakes—and my greatest personal strides in these departments.

I’ve caved to advice that didn’t match my conscience, and I’ve crusaded for love when it seemed foolish to be so…trusting…so generous…so transparent.

Advisor meeting #1

Live and learn. I was advised to inform someone I was working with about a change in our business contract—via writing, by a certain date, with a few sentences of legal certainty sprinkled in. And so I did. Because I was all freaked out about maybe not getting my way. Because I believed an expert over my heart.

When that person received my rather official, out-of-character communication, she reached out to talk. “Why didn’t you just be ‘Danielle’ about this and call me?” she said, softly. I never wanted to turn back time as much as I did in that moment. I still get choked when I think about how much hurt and confusion I caused.

Advisor meeting #2

Live what you’ve learned. I had an exploratory meeting with a lawyer about a business dissolution. I walked away feeling like I’d just had sniper training. Not in a million years would I treat the other party involved as I was advised to. “Smoke ’em out. It’s your legal right.”

This time my response was: I know what the laws are. I understand how this is usually done. But “usual” is gross. So I’ll get this one on my own.

“Especially in business matters, you’re going to hear this refrain like a zombie anthem: This is how it’s done. And here’s what you might need to say: Well, that’s not how I do things.”

Fear hardens us. When we over-protect ourselves we get further from who we really are.
Legal agreements can be beautiful things. And sometimes when it all goes south you’ve got to whip out your sword and make sure you get out with your gold and your dignity. And for the record, I adore my IP lawyer, who makes it his business to protect my work in the world. That said, my heart is law.

Final notes on this matter

  • Make a deal on a handshake if you want to. Overpay. Be generous. It’s your call.

  • Don’t treat your once-was friend like they’re your enemy—treat them like they were once your friend.

  • Remember that with respect to lawyers and business advisors—they will advise you within their scope of comfort and habit. Lawyers want to get legal. Business advisors want to do business as usual.

  • Break out of the standard contract if you need to—and write your own rules—for life.