Alex Stamatoglou: The Power of Questions and Relationships

In this episode, Steve Fretzin and Alex Stamatoglou discuss:

  • Making the decision to work with a coach.
  • Understanding what you want to actually do and accomplish in your career.
  • Business development – it’s not selling, pitching, and convincing.
  • Developing business and sustaining the work you are bringing in.

Key Takeaways:

  • Do the little things that you know you need to do, trust the process, and it will lead to clients and revenue.
  • Business development is more than “just get out there.” Working with a coach can help you to find structure and direction in your business development.
  • Offer help to others and follow through.
  • You are not the right person for everybody, but you are the right person for some people.

“Many people are willing to help as long as you ask, but you’ll never know if you don’t ask.” —  Alex Stamatoglou

Connect with Alex Stamatoglou:  

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexstamatoglou/

Phone: (708) 228-6284

Connect with Steve Fretzin:

LinkedIn: Steve Fretzin

Twitter: @stevefretzin

Facebook: Fretzin, Inc.

Website: Fretzin.com

Email: [email protected]

Book: The Ambitious Attorney: Your Guide to Doubling or Even Tripling Your Book of Business and more!

YouTube: Steve Fretzin

Call Steve directly at 847-602-6911

Show notes by Podcastologist Chelsea Taylor-Sturkie

Audio production by Turnkey Podcast Productions. You’re the expert. Your podcast will prove it.

FULL TRANSCRIPT

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

lawyer, people, work, clients, alex, friend, steve, career, helped, business, met, calls, job, question, listening, law firm, law school, big, dealing, years

SPEAKERS

Narrator, Steve Fretzin, Alex Stamatoglou

 

Alex Stamatoglou  [00:00]

One of my biggest takeaways was to be helpful to others offer to be helpful and follow through on being helpful. I think that’s number one. And that kind of takes the edge off of whatever bias I may have to being a sales persons that it’s not selling. You know, it’s like, what’s it gonna take for me to be your lawyer?

 

Narrator  [00:28]

You’re listening to be that lawyer, life changing strategies and resources for growing a successful law practice. Each episode, your host, author and lawyer coach, Steve Fretzin, will take a deeper dive, helping you grow your law practice in less time with greater results. Now, here’s your host, Steve Fretzin.

 

Steve Fretzin  [00:50]

Hey, everybody, welcome to be that lawyer. I am Steve Fretzin, your host and I hope you’re having a wonderful day. I am sitting on a morning of a Friday and I’m thinking weekend weekend weekend, am I going to try not to work this week. And that’s kind of what I’m going. But man really slammed this week, a new clients coming in and doing lots of presentations actually running. This is being recorded in June, but running my first face to face live networking events. So super excited about that. Getting some vaccinated people together to have some beers and tacos and network and have some fun. And speaking of fun, I have a guest today who is a lot of fun. And I actually need to schedule a beer because we’ve never actually met in person and we need to have a beer together. Because I know you’re a beer guy. Take your game for it. This is someone who I’ve come to just really enjoy. He’s a client of mine. He’s a friend. He’s someone that I think you’re going to enjoy listening to his journey. It’s Alex steamatic. Lou, how they do

 

Alex Stamatoglou  [01:48]

on the main Yeah, we’re 99% Correct. I say somata glue, but I’ve heard way worse. So I appreciate that. Yeah.

 

Steve Fretzin  [01:58]

And if you can say it, and you can spell it, I’m instantly a friend. Is that the rule? Sure. We’re making it up as we go along. We can be friends, we can be friends. I so give a little bit of a background, Alex on your, you know, sort of your journey to where we are today. And you know, Reader’s Digest version, if you would, but I mean, you’ve got a really interesting background and big law and all that and mid market law. But yeah, catch my peeps up on this.

 

Alex Stamatoglou  [02:26]

Sure. For Steve, thanks for having me. I’ve heard many of your podcasts and they’re all great. And thanks for even thinking of including me in that group. So I’ve been a lawyer for about 10 years. I went to John Marshall, law school, what was John Marshall Law School, and I graduated when I was a little over 30 years old. So I went to law school a little after undergrad. And did I really love law school. I really love the law. I love being a student again, which is something that I appreciated having not been a student for a few years. I loved it so much. I performed really well. I ended up as top of my class, which I never expected, but hey, I’ll take it. Yeah, yeah, it was all right. After that, I did two clerkships in federal court, I clerked for Judge chorus in the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago. That was a one year clerkship. Then I clerked for a few months with Judge Phillip Reinhart, out in the Western Division in Rockford both tremendous experiences, both men were great mentors and friends grateful for those experiences. After that, I moved down to like how you said bigger, louder, big market law. I worked at a law firm for three or four years that hadn’t been merged. I did a commercial litigation, mostly on the defense side. You know, just business disputes, things like that. And I chose that path because I thought it was the path that I was supposed to go to. When I decided to go to law school. I went because I wanted to help people. I wanted to do something fulfilling, I wanted to do something meaningful. And somehow during those three years of law school that changed, and I don’t know if that I’m sure it happens, other people but it definitely happened to me, but somewhere along the way I my goals changed and I wanted to obtain other something other than wanted Originally I wanted high paying job status, you know, maybe one day argue in front of the Supreme Court, you know, things like that. Yeah. And I went there. It was a larger firm, and it was a mixed bag. I still have many great friends there, who I still keep in touch with but there were Other issues that came up that I wasn’t crazy about. And I didn’t really love the work, I didn’t find it fulfilling. For the most part. I didn’t get the satisfaction I wanted. So I left there, I went to another firm, similar type firm. I don’t know what I

 

Steve Fretzin  [05:18]

suppose I was the grass isn’t always greener, is that? No was

 

Alex Stamatoglou  [05:22]

  1. So I went to a different firm, and I was there for about a year. And that wasn’t same issues. Again, there were some great people. But again, I didn’t really enjoy it, a variety of reasons. And then I left. And then I was at a point in my career, and in my life where I didn’t know what was next. It scared the hell out of me. Because here I was, you know, I had done well in law school. So my expectations were really high. Both the expectations I had for myself and the expectations that I think other people had of me, and I just flat out failed. And I just didn’t know how to handle it. So I didn’t have a job. And I didn’t know what to do. And I didn’t know where I fit in the profession, if I fit in the profession, and I didn’t know what I should do in life. And it was pretty scary. And, again, this is an issue that I think many lawyers, or at least some lawyers can relate to, as well as non lawyers, of course, but you know, I got depressed and got pretty serious. And thankfully, through the help of my family and some professional help, I got way better. And things just kind of turned around mentally, which I think was huge, which enabled me to eventually get to the point where I am today where I’m still a lawyer, and I actually love what I do. I mean, it didn’t happen overnight, but it was necessary to get to this point. So I got better. I had a different view on my life and my career. And I started to ask a question that I hadn’t really asked before. And that is, what do I want to do with my life? Because before it just seemed like I was just doing what was expected of me. And that didn’t work out. But after asking that question for a while and thinking about the answer eventually. Oh, and by the way, I you know, there were periods of time of unemployment and underemployment, Steve, you know, because we’ve worked together for almost a year now. But I would do a doc review just to pass the time and make a few bucks. Yeah. Which was easy. It was painfully easy. But it wasn’t challenging, that wasn’t getting the most out of my skills and the most out of what I could give.

 

Steve Fretzin  [08:01]

I mean, I remember that very specifically that when I met you and I heard that you were doing you know, Doc review and what you were getting paid, I was like holy mackerel, this cannot go on. You’ve got brains, you’ve got charm, you’ve got interest and drive. And it’s just being wasted in a job that is not challenging or interesting at all. So when I heard that when we first met, I was, you know, not taken aback. But I was like, Okay, this is going to change, this is not going to be the future for this individual.

 

Alex Stamatoglou  [08:31]

Yeah. And I think that’s what drew me to you. Because I knew the same thing. I mean, this wasn’t a long term goal. This was something to get by I just hadn’t figured out how to get from where I was to where I want it to be. And part of that was figuring out what I wanted to do. And I was lucky enough to have the opportunity, actually from a friend who needed help. They had been treated unfairly at their job and had been fired for the wrong reasons, reasons that had nothing to do with performance reasons that had to do with him complaining to a supervisor, that his coworker was being insulted based on his race. And he came to me and this I wasn’t pitching. I was just being his friend. Yeah. And I heard his story and heard what happened to my friend. And I thought, maybe this is what I can do. Because again, this goes back to why I went to law school in the first place. I wanted to help people like my friend and people like him, who got mistreated by people who were more powerful than him for doing the right thing. And that really, that’s what gets me up every day and, you know, gets to go work every day to help people like that. So he and I decided that I would represent Him, filed the lawsuit I settled, you got his wages back, I got paid a few bucks. And from there that kind of spawned where I am today. So now I’m a plaintiff side labor and employment attorney. I’ve been seriously doing it full time for less than a year. And I would say I started, Steve, when I first talked to you, when I really started focusing on it. So I want to say since September of 2020, yeah, around that point. So that is, what, eight or nine months?

 

Steve Fretzin  [10:34]

Yeah, and we were trying to figure out like how we met and I normally I get referred, you know, someone will refer someone to me, or now they’re hearing my podcast, or or, you know, but I don’t even know, I guess the podcast existed at that time. You were just, I guess, like, checking out my content is that and that brought us together? I think so. I think at

 

Alex Stamatoglou  [10:53]

some point, I followed you on LinkedIn, I saw your barrage of posts, and I said, all insightful. But I thought, You know what, I need to change something if I want to change my life. And well, I don’t know how to really get business, I only have so many friends who can help. It’s, you know, I have to change something. So I that’s what prompted me to call you.

 

Steve Fretzin  [11:25]

And I remember that conversation. And, you know, part of what I tried to do in those initial conversations with someone, like you, Alex and with others, is to just get everything out on the table, you know, what are the challenges? What are the frustrations? What are the concerns? What are you trying to accomplish? What’s holding you back? And then I try to identify where the gaps are? And is it something where I can help or not if it’s marketing, like websites and other stuff, and then I’ve got the resources to send to someone else. If it’s someone that just needs a plan, and doesn’t need me more than that, well, then I can help them with a plan. But in some instances, and instead of meeting you, you know, I had a half a page of notes saying, you know, yeah, there’s all these things that you’re looking to learn and that you’re looking to develop to take control of your career. And I think that was the instigator of us agreeing that yeah, this what you need, and what I do really matched up well. And, you know, can you talk about, you know, what your experience was, like, you know, once we decided that it was a fit and getting into the program, what did you go through in your mind and the changes you saw? Well,

 

Alex Stamatoglou  [12:30]

the reason I decided to call you was I mean, to develop business, but more to be, I needed someone to hold me accountable. Right. Now, remember, this was during the pandemic, not, and we’re working from my couch every day, and really easy to just forget about making business development calls or networking calls or emails and just lay down and take it back?

 

Steve Fretzin  [12:59]

Yeah, again, mindset series, right? That’s like 12 seasons, and you’re, you know, you could just sit and just binge watch. Right?

 

Alex Stamatoglou  [13:06]

Right. So I needed someone to hold me accountable. And I also needed someone who had a plan. You know, I’ve used this metaphor before, but it’s like, the water pump, you pump the water, and it’s, you know, the water is somewhere down in the well, you just gotta keep pumping. And you know, that if you’re doing it, right, water is gonna come out, I had no idea that anything that I was doing was the right thing to do or not. So I needed some direction, I needed some direction, as far as little things that I should do, and big things I should do. And, you know, day one, you helped me on that path. I think you asked me to do, you know, to identify certain things that I needed help with. And then within a week or two, you know, we worked on the spreadsheet of 15 or 20, different metrics, you know, number of calls, number of introductions, number of meetings and number of clients and revenue. I mean, these were things that I can track where I liked it, because I had the confidence in you that you knew that the little steps would lead to the big stuff, big stuff being clients and revenue. But I knew that even if I had a slow month, client wise or revenue wise, if I was doing the little things along the way, I trusted the process that those little things if I were doing them would lead to clients in revenue. So you helped me get on track with that. So that was

 

Steve Fretzin  [14:43]

Ryan. Just to add to that, Alex, I mean, the idea that lawyers don’t have a plan, they’re just out winging it and just thinking about, Oh, I better get out there. In fact, I interviewed a ton of managing partners of law firms, and it was so frustrating to hear them say, oh, yeah, just tell my associates to get out there, what is that? Get out there? You know, okay, we’re all out there. Like, it’s, you know, I mean, we’re all out there, right? We’ll get away from the desk, which I get, but How challenging is it as a lawyer to be given so little direction and such a broad thing, like get out there, go network, you know, go golfing, go for drinks, it’s not giving the structure. So the idea that you had a plan that had tactical actionable things for you to do. And then to associate that to a tracking system, like what we call the activities journal, we break it down into the metrics of how much activity you need, and in different buckets, different categories, and then tracking how those are converting. And I don’t think that’s anything lawyers that don’t work with me have and be the equivalent of playing a sport at a high level, and never watching the game tapes, never going back and reviewing how it’s going, and what I can do to improve. So these kinds of things are really the way to get started in business development. And to make sure that you’re that there is accountability, that there are improvements that we can discuss.

 

Alex Stamatoglou  [16:05]

Yeah, and I think it’s the managing partners that just get out there. I mean, they don’t teach me personally, I don’t have a problem talking to people, I don’t have a problem meeting people, listening to people being a friend, all that I’m good at all that stuff, I had the problem of leveraging those skills that I was, you know, what I’m blessed with, which are valuable into business, because I just want to be sleazy about it, you know,

 

Steve Fretzin  [16:36]

right. And while you didn’t want to do quote, unquote, sales, you didn’t want to be a salesman. And I think that’s a big concern for lawyers. In fact, I just posted something on LinkedIn today about, you know, people that you got to get out there and pitch, you got to get out there and sell convinced and I think, you know, from working with me, and from going through the program, you know, we’re not doing that. So what are we doing? If we’re not selling, pitching and convincing? What are we doing? What am I working on with clients so that they don’t feel sleazy?

 

Alex Stamatoglou  [17:04]

One of my biggest takeaways was to be helpful, to others offer to be helpful and follow through on being helpful. I think that’s number one. And that kind of takes the edge off of whatever bias I may have to being a salesperson is that it’s not selling, you know, it’s like, what’s it gonna take for me to be your lawyer? That’s what being lawyers should be all about. It’s offering to help. So that was, you know, and viewing it through that framework really helped me get over that, you know, that hump? Yeah. And after that, you know, it’s not about being salesy or anything, it’s about being helpful, and also not being afraid to ask for a favor. Once you’ve, you know, established rapport and trust with someone, you know, many people and maybe I’m blessed, because I have great friends and family. But I don’t know, people are just willing to help as long as you ask, but you’ll never know unless you ask.

 

Steve Fretzin  [18:09]

Well, it’s there’s the other thing that I think you and you actually mentioned this, in the pre interview, before we got started record was the power of asking questions, the power of listening, and how you’re developing not only relationships, but business and strategic partnership relationships, through following a process to develop those relationships and asking questions and identifying who’s a good fit. And there’s really no sales involved in that. And anytime you’re asking questions, that’s not selling. That’s a soft skill.

 

Alex Stamatoglou  [18:40]

Yeah, it’s learning. And it’s being curious, which I think is a necessary skill. And I think those questions Do you know, by asking those questions and having a conversation and showing interest, it does, it accomplishes a couple of things. One, it enables you to figure out what someone else’s needs are and what they’re about. And to and specifically about clients. It allows you to show or allows them to show you whether in Well, in my case, being a lawyer, a litigator, whether they’re serious about hiring a lawyer, or whether I’m the right person for them, I mean, I’m not the right person for most people.

 

Steve Fretzin  [19:25]

That’s what the ladies tell me, but anyway, but I was right for his for some people while you’re married, so you got to get one.

 

Alex Stamatoglou  [19:34]

Break. And asking those questions and listening to those answers. Just helps to get to a point to decide both allow the other person to decide, do I want to retain this person but it also allows me to say, Do I want to help this person for the next one month to four years? Do I want this person to be part of my life? A few years, and that’s a big commit? but it’s not a relationship that can be, you know, like a marriage, you know, you don’t get most people don’t get married after a single meeting, you know, I mean, it’s okay to

 

Steve Fretzin  [20:09]

take it slow and date and really try to identify who’s a good fit. And whether that’s a new client or a strategic partner, someone that can be a referral source. It’s all a vetting process. And it takes time, but we want to try to shorten the time down, we don’t have, you know, five years to get a client or three years to develop a relationship, we need to get it done in a meeting or two or three. Right. And for most people, that’s going to work out great. And for the others may take more time, but you’re not dealing with the General Counsel at a billion dollar company, you’re dealing with individuals that need help right away.

 

Alex Stamatoglou  [20:43]

Correct? Yeah, I’m dealing with one off clients, and many times people who are distraught, many times they are they’ve been traumatized, based on what’s happened to them at work. And it’s, it can be exhausting. Yeah.

 

Steve Fretzin  [21:03]

Are you just like your job is like maybe just a step down from like a divorce attorneys first, the amount of angst that they’re going through, right? I mean, are you are you gonna make it an equivalence?

 

Alex Stamatoglou  [21:14]

No. I’ll just say that there are some days that are exhausting. I don’t do there are some days where I may not even write a single paragraph in a brief or anything like that, but are just exhausting. Because I’m dealing with and I’m listening to all these, all these emotions that people are dealing with? Yeah, not good emotion. That’s, I mean, it’s tough. But But

 

Steve Fretzin  [21:43]

Alex, I mean, come on. I mean, you’re one of the most empathetic people I’ve ever met. I mean, when I think about it, you know, who understood who would I want to tell problems to, you know, kind of the guy I would choose? Well,

 

Alex Stamatoglou  [21:55]

and I’m grateful for that. It’s grateful that people choose to tell me their problems. You know, I’m pretty grateful for the fact that I’ve been able to turn that into a career. Yeah, which I didn’t know, it was possible until, you know, a sequence of events led me to choose this line of work. And, and again, meeting you enabled me to get to a place where, yes, this is my show, you’re

 

Steve Fretzin  [22:21]

in your career. Now, you see the long term vision of it. And, you know, obviously, you quit that job doing doc, review your full time and your own business, your own practice, you’re bringing in revenues, right. You know, you’re happy you’re on and and there’s more to come. I mean, that’s, it’s the balance of enjoying what you do, making sure you’re paying your bills and, you know, quality of life, right, the money, the free time, the balance and helping people. So you’ve got a good trajectory.

 

Alex Stamatoglou  [22:48]

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I compare this, you know, what I’m doing now, compared to when I was at a law firm, that it’s not even close. This is way better. Yeah. I mean, I’m my own boss. I mean, my only boss is my wife, and my son, and my clients. And I chose all those people.

 

Steve Fretzin  [23:11]

Yeah, you get to make the decisions in selection.

 

Alex Stamatoglou  [23:14]

Right. And that goes a long way. And that helps clarify a lot of things that gets rid of a lot of distractions that I think a lot of my colleagues have to deal with on a daily basis, when they’re working in, you know, big law firms and dealing with the politics that sometimes brings.

 

Steve Fretzin  [23:33]

And I can tell you from my side, Alex, I mean, this is why you know, when you explain why you do what you do, and how it makes you happy, and I can tell, you know, my audience and you directly that this is what it’s all about, for me, you know, yeah, I do, I make a living sure I make a living, I’m taking care of my family, too, and putting money away for my kids, 529, and all that stuff. But at the end of the day, it’s the successes that you’re having ongoing success, the clarity of your future, knowing that I was a part of that is the most rewarding thing I could ever do in my life in my career, more than writing a book more than making a paycheck more than all these things. And I think that that you have a very similar kind of outlook on things, but what you do it for your clients, but I just appreciate you because you executed you hired me, we work together, but you did what you’re supposed to do. And that’s really the most important thing, because we can’t have success if one party does what they’re supposed to in the other doesn’t.

 

Alex Stamatoglou  [24:26]

Right? Yeah, seriously. Yeah. And I mean, from the time I started with you to now, I mean, the question I asked myself when I first hired you was, Can I turn this into a sustainable way of living? Or am I gonna have to do something right? And if the bartender just still, I mean,

 

Steve Fretzin  [24:48]

do you still might do that part time, I think.

 

Alex Stamatoglou  [24:51]

Yeah. But now the question is, now I’ve already answered that question. The question is, yes now is how do I sustain So how do I manage the amount of work that I’m bringing in, and also developing business at the same time? And so those are, I mean, that’s much better place to be in, compared to the uncertainty that I had just a few months ago. Yeah. So again, that was in large part because of the planning. You know, I talked about this earlier, but I think it’s a major component of your program, you know, their weekly classes with other like minded professionals, all who know them are jerks. Everyone is a lawyer for, you know, the right reasons. They’re all everyone I’ve met has been a pleasure to know. And it’s that weekly positive reinforcement, and that sense of community. And again, I think being in the middle of a pandemic had a lot to do with it to that sense of connection with other people who are just like me, that was critical. In my growth, I think it’s critical for a lot of people’s growth just to have other people, you know, in your corner.

 

Steve Fretzin  [26:08]

Yeah, well, that’s what I’ve created. And I’m so proud of the idea that I get to work one on one with my clients, but I also am able to put in a program with like minded people, as you mentioned, and that they can learn the skills and hold each other accountable and roleplay and practice and improve and, and feel that sense of community. And Alex, sort of in wrapping up our chat today. How do people get in touch with you, let’s say they want to refer you some planet flavor employment work, they want to network with you, what’s the best way for them to find you,

 

Alex Stamatoglou  [26:37]

you can check in with phone number,

 

Steve Fretzin  [26:40]

you can give your phone number you can give your email, you can give your LinkedIn whatever, okay,

 

Alex Stamatoglou  [26:45]

you know, I’ll give my because I just have my cell phone. Um, you know, I still consider myself.

 

Steve Fretzin  [26:50]

I mean, that’s sort of the thing like, I’m not I don’t even have an office land anymore. I mean, it’s just my cell. And by the way, no one calls me I get zero calls a day, no phone calls. No one calls me it’s all text and email. It’s all text and email, LinkedIn. Like, it’s amazing. My phone just doesn’t ring, which is fine. Like, that’s, I thought, how important is you have to have a three one to Chicago number, and not at all doesn’t matter.

 

Alex Stamatoglou  [27:13]

And now when I’m on the phone, I don’t even I never hold my hand up to my ear anymore. Almost never. Like and the few times I do it, it feels really, muscle memory is completely been white. Yeah. Which is,

 

Steve Fretzin  [27:27]

well, well, listen, we’ll we’ll give your digits out in the show notes. And I just want to tell you again, how much I appreciate you appreciate you being on the show and your career path and your friendship, not trying to kiss too much blood here, but I do enjoy. So thank you, Alex. No, thank

 

Alex Stamatoglou  [27:42]

you, Steve. Thanks for having me on. This is a great program and a great podcast. I know it’s helped me and help introduce me to many people. And again, thanks for all the work that you put into my career. Yeah,

 

Steve Fretzin  [27:55]

my pleasure, man. My pleasure. Hey, everybody. So this is just a snapshot of, you know, a lawyer’s life and journey and, and how I kind of got involved in it at some point. You know, I’m just so excited about it. And hopefully you got some good takeaways and some good thoughts about, you know, just learning more about what I do, but more importantly, you know, how important it is to have the career of your dreams. And that can happen, you know, for anybody, and Alex is a perfect example. So, if you’re interested in checking out more about my programs, go to fretzin.com. If you enjoy the show, please like it, comment on it, you know, say something nice. Share it. Thank you, Alex. And listen, it’s all about being that lawyer, someone who’s confident, organized and a skilled Rainmaker. Take care everybody be safe and be well.

 

Narrator  [28:41]

Thanks for listening to be that lawyer, life changing strategies and resources for growing a successful law practice. Visit Steve’s website fretzin.com. For additional information, and to stay up to date on the latest legal business development and marketing trends. For more information and important links about today’s episode, check out today’s show notes