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How Kenneth A. Lanci is always ready to lend a hand

Kenneth A. Lanci, Chairman and CEO, Consolidated Graphics Group Inc.

It doesn’t take long to see the impact that Kenneth A. Lanci has had on the Greater Cleveland community. Just read this letter from a high school senior at the Cleveland School of the Arts.

“Mr. Lanci, it is a pleasure and an honor to be blessed with the opportunities that the Cleveland School of the Arts has given me,” writes Chris. “I would like to thank you for blessing the Cleveland School of the Arts because in doing so, you ensure the futures of countless young artists to thrive in their craft. Without the resources and assistance of people like you, these things would not be possible. So once again, thank you.”

Lanci is chairman and CEO at Consolidated Graphics Groups Inc. and it’s a business that he is very proud of. But it may not equal the joy he feels when he looks at what he’s been able to accomplish through Project Love, a nonprofit that helps countless children in Northeast Ohio do things that they otherwise would find it very difficult to do.

“Thank you for funding the ‘Give the Gift of Sight’ program,’” writes another letter from a girl named Ashley. “I can finally read a book without the book up close to my face. Thank you for helping me see better. You helped me out a lot. Thanks again for helping me see.”

Lanci is out front on many of these philanthropic efforts, but he relies a great deal on his strong team of employees to achieve what Consolidated Graphics Group has been able to do. Helping out in the community is part of the company’s culture and it’s a credit to Lanci’s leadership and his selfless commitment to others that this help has made such a difference.

HOW TO REACH: Consolidated Graphics Group Inc. (216) 881-9191 or

No Languishing in Legal Lament: Turning Tables on the Traumatic

Kevin Daum

Shakespeare said, “First kill all the lawyers.”  At first glance this seems a tad aggressive but for most people the last thing you look forward to is someone showing up at your door with a subpoena.  Regardless of whether a lawsuit is business related or personal the thought of engaging an attorney for protracted litigation can drive fear into a person’s heart.

Not only is there emotion and argument to contend with, but the shear unknown of exorbitant fees being charged to you at hundreds of dollars per hour with no end in sight is enough to terrorize anyone.  Even most attorneys, particularly litigators will advise people to avoid litigation at all costs.

I have been involved in two lawsuits in my 46-year lifetime.  The first required me to do most of my own legal work.  It resulted in the other side dismissing with prejudice after I showed the plaintiff’s attorney his own ignorance by demonstrating his client had committed fraud, which he had missed, even though the signs were obvious.  That one cost me $29,000 in non-recoverable legal fees just to demonstrate what I (and everyone else) knew from the start.  The problem is that many attorneys such as this one believe they are right and often righteous even when they are not.

Last year I engaged in my second lawsuit.  This time it was my divorce after 24 years of marriage.  Although things started amicably, emotions were high and I soon found myself on the receiving end of a New York matrimonial attorney who happily made his living off the misery of others.  Now certainly there are plenty of situations where people need someone to represent them as an advocate, but more often than not, attorneys like this one will charge ahead to spend a retainer without fully reviewing the case.  I am pleased to say that this attorney stopped his useless crusade once he had used up twice my ex-wife’s retainer and realized he had a losing case that was not going to yield him any more money. However the emotional and financial damage he inflicted on his client was a shameful example of the challenge of dealing with lawyers and based on Shakespeare’s 400-year-old quote, is nothing new.

As one who recoils from the mere mention of lawsuits, I learned a few things from my bout with this divorce lawyer that are worthy of sharing.  Since I finished my divorce without hiring counsel to defend against him and ultimately came out with a settlement agreed to be fair by both sides once he was gone, these should be tips that will help to keep more money out of the pockets of lawyers who don’t have their client’s best interest at heart.

Don’t Be Bullied

Attorneys are trained to be aggressive.  Law school is a brutal and competitive atmosphere where only the strong survive.  Don’t let their aggressive tactics and blustering ramp up your emotions to the point where you lose sight of truth and fairness.  Lawyers are people too and you can stand up to them and take the high road.  Law is not rocket science.  You can do the basic research and work without spending thousands of dollars in many cases. Take an intelligent active role in your defense even if you have counsel representing you. (This saves you money by the way.) Once you learn the law you can attack on your own behalf.  I wrote many emails showing this attorney where he was wrong and negligent bordering on malpractice.

Tell the Truth

If you are in the wrong then settlement is probably your best approach, but if you are legitimately right then stand up for your defense and provide the facts as they occurred.  In both my cases, I stood by the truth and the law without any manipulation or legal shenanigans.  That allowed me to maintain consistency and moral superiority, which helped with my confidence in beating both attorneys.  My motivation was truth and their motivation was greed.  Truth is a better foundation for a sustainable battle.

Maintain Your Sense of Humor

This is how you take a traumatic experience like litigation and turn it into an Awesome Experience.  Trauma never actually seems as bad when you are in the middle of it.  Rather than letting my emotions get the best of me, I turned to humor.  In my many emails to the attorney spelling out the law and facts, I used a tone filled with irony and humor.  I even sent him lawyer jokes.  I found ways to catch him off guard and take him off his game.  Although it irritated my ex-wife, I focused my barbs and jabs at the attorney.  Ultimately I showed him that I was fully prepared to demonstrate the ridiculous nature of his actions and that in litigation I would be likeable and paint him as the nasty evil villain.  The emails I sent had some of my funniest writing to date. Writing them helped me keep my cool and express my anger in a productive way.  If you don’t take your opponent or yourself too seriously you have a better chance of keeping a clear head and seeing the opportunities for success.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself that will help keep the attorney’s away or at least prepare you for the day the subpoena shows up.

1. How can you have a basic understanding of the law related to your job and business?

2. How can you easily document facts that relate to potential legal issues at your company?

3. What are your first five steps should you receive a business or personal subpoena?

4. Where are you vulnerable in your dealings by not being truthful?

5. What are your top 3 favorite lawyer jokes?

I am happy to say that there are more and more attorneys building successful practices on litigation prevention and civil resolution.  Even in the contentious matrimonial world a young New York lawyer named Daniel Yaniv has built a fast growing practice based upon uncontested divorces for less than $1000.  Hopefully this is a trend and the remaining self-serving, greedy attorneys will be left to move on to join their colleagues in the other profession where they seem to thrive… politics.

KEVIN DAUM is the principal of TAE International and the author of the Amazon #1 Bestsellers “ROAR! Get Heard in the Sales and Marketing Jungle” and “Green$ense For the Home: Rating the Real Payoff on 50 Green Home Projects” both available at He is a speaker and provides marketing consulting. Reach him at [email protected]

Rafi Holtzman shows employees the love at Luidia

Rafi Holtzman, CEO, Luidia Inc.

A few years ago, when one of Rafi Holtzman’s employees called him from Europe and said she forgot her bright pink suit pants she needed for a trade show she was attending, he went to her house and, not wanting them to get crumpled in his suitcase, carried them by hand on the plane. He got odd looks, but it was just one way the CEO of Luidia Inc., a creator of interactive whiteboard technologies, showed his employee that he cared about her.

Holtzman also drinks his coffee with employees so he can talk to them, and he bought employees expensive ergonomic chairs so they would be comfortable. And when any of his nearly 100 employees have family emergencies, he says he’ll see them when it’s over instead of expecting them to work during the crisis.

“Even if you’re a cold-hearted capitalist, you still want to act like this because it buys you the thing that money can’t buy — it’s the personal responsibility, it’s the self-motivation — salaries will not do that for you,” he says. “Salaries are short-term sugar highs. If people understand you’re there for the long-run … it goes a long way.”

Smart Business spoke with Holtzman about how values affect a company.

What role do values play in an organization?

There are two kinds of motivation in human life — and it’s basically falling into two buckets. One of them is fear and the other one is love. Fear is a great motivator for a short-term burst — if you’re running away from a wild animal or doing a very fast project that you need to do right now and kill yourself to finish it. But if you really want to sustain growth, creativity, teamwork for the long run, then you have to be highly motivated to continue this for the long run, and the only way I know how to do that is personal involvement. I’m using the term love, but it’s a lot more than that. It’s a combination of respect and personal responsibility and taking things really personal.
It helps a lot if you believe in that. You can fake it and do pep talks. A lot of companies will say that people are their strongest assets. But from my experience, not a lot really do mean it on the basic level. If you can really believe in that, you’re a large part of the way there.