With a final score of 16-7 (Cardinals over my Texas my stRangers [Rangers but strange]), the game was NOT close and the differences are HUGE.  (Pictures)

I witnessed a record tying and making day by Albert Pujols from my seats near home plate:

  • joins Babe Ruth (’26 & ’28) & Jackson (’77) with 3 home runs in a single World Series game
  • 5 hits ties the single World Series game record
  • 6 RBIs ties the single World Series game record
  • new record: 14 total bases in a single World Series game

And it was a play-it-again day for me, too: no defense and no pitching is a replay of the bad, bad baseball of my "old" stRangers.

Today is a new day.

  • Will it be the Rangers?
  • Will it be the stRangers>

I hope that game #4 will be the former.

I know that Jake Reby is making dinner plans (at my expense).

Perhaps Dallas lawyer Russell Cawyer made the better decision, when he decided to NOT blog during the World Series.

Post your comments below.

If you’re watching the 2011 World Series (and if you’re not, you’re missing some great baseball), you need to step back from the personal distress caused by the one-run differences in the first two games, and focus on the incredible differences between the two teams and their cities.

  • The St. Louis Cardinals have been to 18 (EIGHTEEN) World Series, winning 10 (TEN).  In contrast . . . 

Since 1988, I’ve been a member of several season ticket groups as an avid Texas Rangers fan.

For many of those years, following the stRangers (strangers) reflected my love of the game – and I accepted the bad, bad baseball played by the stRangers as a fact of life.  It was all about the ball park experience, bonding with friends and family, and enjoying the play of the other team.

It all changed in 2010.

The short trip to the World Series in 2010 was magical.  Unexpected joy.

But with the 2010 ride behind me, this trip to the 2011 World Series is much more intense.

The stRAngers are now the Rangers, and with winning a real possibility, the love of the game has a new companion: the possibility of victory . . .  which brings out . . . .

  • Ranger fan over reacts under the stress of possibly winning a single (ONE) World Series

This thought of actually winning a World Series hit me last week at the recent annual meeting of the American College of Mortgage Attorneys.  At the meeting, Jake Reby proudly put on his little red Cardinals hat as he started his presentation on a topic that  . . .  did not catch me because the little hat was so . . . in my face.  

Fortunately, I was reviewing the slides for my portion of the last presentation (on workouts) at the meeting.  Now that Jake had "opened the door" with his little Cardinal hat, the situation begged for a Texas Ranger-sized salvo.

I slipped a new slide into our workout presentation: the Texas Ranger team logo. 

 

It looked good on the two 5′ X 8′ screens at the front of the room – when it suddenly popped up and loomed over the audience during my presentation, as the last speaker at the meeting.

The differences between the two teams and cities even jumps out in the music embraced by their fans and in the skipper of each team.

  • Fan music resonates of two different worlds.

St. Louis Cardinals: think tradition . . . think 18 (EIGHTEEN) . . . and read this (and "click" to "Take Me Out to the Ballpark")

Texas Rangers:  read this (and on the page, "click" to "That’s the Way Baseball Go")

  • Pictures of each skipper puts the differences together

 Texas Rangers: one picture of Ron Washington sums it up –

 

 St. Louis  Cardinals:  nah . . . don’t need a picture of Tony LaRussa to illustrate the differences – and I can’t find one of him smiling.

Jake Reby and I have a friendly wager on the game.  While our respective teams are from two different worlds, we both share a love of the game and an appreciation of a fine dinner.

But these one-run games are killing me.  Tough times. 

I’m back. Back to blogging. Home here at L360.

The Return of the Prodigal Son Painting by Bartholome Esteban Murillo National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.)
The Return of the Prodigal Son
Painting by Bartholome Esteban Murillo
National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.)

Several years ago, Kevin O’Keefe or Tom Mighell (one of them) commented that the majority of legal blogs last less than a year. Clearly, I’m one of them on quiting. It just took me longer to quit.

I stopped regularly blogging after 4 years (from September, 2008 until October 2012), and after over 420 blog entries. Always focusing on commercial finance, I started blogging on distressed debt topics (under the “ToughTimesForLenders” blog name).  As the economy (kind of) recovered, the blog became “Lenders360blog” in order to cover “positive” finance topics. Finally, technology was added since it is an operational pillar for all commercial lenders.

This threefold transformation reflected my personal journey. After all, blogging is personal. (Blogging tip #1: make your blog personal. Ditch the academic mumbo-dumbo. Mix meaningful content with your personality.)

THE QUESTION: Why come back to blogging?

I’m going to pretend you noticed that I quit, or even care that I’m back. (In another posting, I’ll cover the sibling, and for some the more interesting, question: “why did you stop blogging?”) (Blogging tip #2: leave a teaser early . . . .)

QUICK ANSWER: Blogging been berry, berry good to me. (Baseball, not so good for my Texas Rangers – good or bad, I slip them into this blog.)

Simply stated, blogging jump-started my current professional focus. (Blogging tip #3: . . . and tease often.)

NOT TO BLOG:

This is NOT a blogger
This is NOT a blogger

At first glance (and maybe every glance), blogging appears to be just another selfish, fruitless mound of babbling by lawyers striving, in a quick (and for me, quirky) 90 minute breather, to escape the following (mark your favorite ones – you’re lying if you only mark one):

◊  Keyboard Pounding

◊  Email Grenades (they lob it into my email inbox and run)

◊  Phone call wrestling

◊  Compensation Complaining

◊  Hourly Rate Creeping

◊  Legal Fee Complaining

◊  34/7  workstyle (not a typo)

◊  Teach oung Lawyers; Then they leave; Repeat

◊  What I’d give to not share a Secretary with 3 other lawyers

◊  Billing games (firm policy v. client reality)

◊  Wine’n Dine; Work & Bill; Client Whine; Then Repeat

◊  What I’d give to afford a Paralegal

(Blogging tip #4:  audience participation and engagement; they ARE in the room with you right now.)

Ultimately, however, the evaluation of a blogs is reflected in the frequency of the blog. Infrequent blogging is an “admission against interest” by the blogger. Why should anyone notice or even care, when the blogger doesn’t care enough to regularly blog?

This point is painted best in a story told on The Ticket years ago.  (Blogging tip #5: make it a story; even adults cuddle up to stories.)  The Father-Coach of a YMCA football team (tackle football, of course) was ranting on his 10 year old son for sloppy play. The son looked up (way, way up) to Father-Coach and said:

“Dad, I cain’t hear what yu saying, cuz yu acting so loud (sic).

(So, who is sick in this story?) (Repeat Blogging tip #5: make it a story; even adults cuddle up to stories)

Blogging: love it or leave. Don’t be half-hearted at it.

Your clients recognize a half-hearted effort. Do you ever want to be half-way on anything touching your reputation and your means of income?

TO BLOG

“It’s not just what you know — it’s who knows what you know.” Cordell Parvin
“It’s not just what you know — it’s who knows what you know.” Cordell Parvin

Here are some of the reasons “why” I enjoy and benefit from blogging (no priority order):

  • People: They Want Information

People working at financial services companies want information.  They want it “when” they need it; they need information on demand.  So, make basic information available to them. Be helpful; and in return, they will seek you for help. Over the years, I jump start this by handing out or sending lists of popular blog entries.

  •  People: They Know Me Before I Know Them

Many loan officers know me before I even meet them.  Blogging accelerates relationships – it does NOT replace them.  But, it sure is nice to meet a stranger to me who knows me.

  • People: Earn a Reputation and Meet the Right People

With hundreds of blog posts on a wide range on good lending, bad lending and technology topics, my expertise is “out there” for all to read.  The blog fed my reputation through (i) conversations with reporters, (ii) publishing pieces in industry magazines (including the technology column in the bi-monthly ABA RPTE Section’s eReport), (iii) speaking engagements at law schools, State Bar seminars, industry organizations and financial services companies, and (iv) memberships in important organizations, such the American College of Mortgage Attorneys and the remarkable Association of Life Insurance Counsel (where I co-chair the Communications Committee with the gifted Gretchen Cepek of Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America).

  • Teaching & Constant Learning

I use the blog as a resource in presentations with clients, and within the law firm as a tool to mentor younger lawyers.  Importantly, it keeps me engaged with industry trends and challenges, and positions me with friends and clients as a constant source for new and valuable information.

  • Change: the Conversation

Bloggging changes conversations.  For example, I use listings of the most popular blog entries as conversation starters, giving others the opportunity to share their experiences or perspectives with me.  They tell me what is important to them.

  • Change: It is Personal

Blogging changed me.  I progressed from telling my story, to hearing the client’s needs and then to understanding both the client’s business and the value and uses (current and potential) of our legal work product.  Importantly, I learned that my legal work product was the beginning, not the end.

  • Change: Our Friend

Change.  We often complain of change. As I return to blogging, I return appreciative of the friends who connected with me because of the little blog called Lenders360blog (and it’s predecessor, ToughTimesForLenders). And also I return with many thanks to the attorneys and talented friends at Winstead PC who shared ideas with me; and with special thanks to the gifted Allen Fuqua and Rachel Guy.

  • Change: My New Venture

However, I’m back in a very different role and with a radical focus.  Blogging, listening and learning pointed me to a new venture.  I now manage legal workflow and create tools that lift legal content out of the traditional, manual legal process into a self-service process – a transformed process with rich collaboration, communication and information gathering.  Companies save money.  Companies harvest new value.  Blogging contributed to the insight behind my new venture.

(Blogging tip #6: keep blogs short (400-500 words).  This one is over 1,100 words. Wow. Horrible.)

Please add your thoughts or experiences about blogging by commenting below.

In several weeks, I’ll be giving a presentation on using an iPad at work.  The audience will be leadership and most active members of the American College of Mortgage Attorneys.  (Yes, I’ll be buying Jake a dinner.) I’ll give a brief overview of “how ” to use the iPad, accessories, initial steps and then jump into 10 examples of my use of my iPad during my day in commercial real estate finance – both in the good stuff (new loans, etc.) and the bad stuff (workouts and remedies). The topic is huge and even overwhelming.  So, my focus will be small – which is good because for many of us, taking the iPad from personal uses to work is a huge leap.  Even mind boggling. After all, the iPad is for our personal lives; for Facebook; for games; for books;  and reading e-mail; right? Following law school, I worked for a Federal Appellate Judge. It was a wonderful experience, principally because he was (and is) a very thoughtful and wise  man.  Of the many lessons he taught me, this one is in the “top tier” list: “every case has a single question that resolves it; find it.” So, during the clerkship with Judge, as I dug through the cart full of trial testimony and briefs (often thousands of pages) (yes, “hard” copy – back in the dark ages), my focus was –

  • “Don’t make it complicated.  Keep it simple.  Even single. Where’s the question?”

Most of us have the same thoughts in our longing to use the iPad at work.

  • what is the best resource or guidance on using an iPad at my work?
  • keeping it simple, where do I start? where do I go?
  • HELP!!!!

These three books are the best resources – and do NOT let the “lawyers” stuff stop you from using them (the “hard core” lawyer stuff is only a small portion of Tom Mighell’s books):

  • iPad at Work by David Sparks (lawyer; blogger) (available in hard copy and electronic) (Amazon link)
  • iPad in One Hour for Lawyers by Tom Mighell (linkedin) (available at the ABA book store and Amazon) (hard copy only [bummer . . .  but don’t blame Tom])
  • iPad Apps in One Hour for Lawyers by Tom Mighell (available at the ABA book store) (hard copy only [bummer . . .  but don’t blame Tom])

Yes, there are some great blogs on this topic (including David’s and Tom’s).  I’ll list my favorite blogs sometime.  But, if you’re looking for thoughtful guidance, focused on “using my iPad at work” – then the simple answer is these three books. Please share your advice, or even other books, by commenting below.

Game #6 of the World Series (my Rangers v the now World Champion St. Louis Cardinals) gives the Rangers some painful pointers on "where" to improve for 2012: find someone, anyone, who can get a third strike – for the last out in an inning, for a win of the game, for a World Series ring.  Jon Daniels, GM of the Rangers, has a plan.

Kudos to the Cards; and to Jake Reby, who will reach into my wallet for a great meal a the next ACMA annual meeting.

Loan special servicers, bank special asset officers and workout professionals all understand the importance of slamming a loan to closure (or "resolution").  Just as baseball depends upon a good pitch from a skilled reliever, resolving a defaulted real estate loan often turns on strong, shut-down loan documents.

Of course, it is almost impossible for loan documents to address every imaginative and twisted (ok, creative) reading that a defaulted borrower (and its lawyer) will give the loan document.

But, just as the Rangers learned from the Game #6 melt down, this downturn illuminates topics and provisions in loan documents that need improvement.  I’ve covered a few topics in earlier posts (use the phrase "lessons learned" in the search box on the right side of the page); here are a few more:

  • LLC Borrower: if the borrower is a limited liability company, the prohibition of transfers and encumbrances provisions needs to expressly cover voting and management rights (this is a change of control concept) 
  • Tax Appraisal Objections:  the power of attorney provision (from the Borrower to the Lender) should be expanded to include the ability of the lender to contest a tax appraisal
  • Reporting Format: the reporting provisions (financial, leasing and operations) should allow the Lender the ability to require the use of a format that it useful to it; for example, in html, or in a spread sheet, or using specified data standards, etc.
  • Force Majeure: this clause should  expressly exclude economic downturns or related events as a possible force majeure event

My list of loan document improvements is a long one.

And until my Rangers win a World Series, I’m all hat and no cattle.

 

Please share your favorite loan document improvement by commenting below.

With Game #6 of the 2011 World Series (Texas Rangers v St. Louis Cardinals) scheduled to play tonight after a rain-delay day, baseball is on my mind.

As we’ve seen in Games 1-5, baseball is a game of –

In a sense, baseball does reflect the life of a special asset manager.

I’ve worked distressed loans that were played like a baseball game –

  • inches away from a settlement  . . . when it blew up
  • telephone conversations that were . . . interesting
  • parties made quick, judgment calls

However, there are aspects of dealing with distressed commercial assets that follow a different set of rules from those used when working on performing investments.  As different as a baseball World Series game is different from a game in the regular season.

Here are a few general statements for you consider, and discuss with your lawyer, as you deal with distressed commercial real estate loans:

  • You’re the Umpire: in many states, once a commercial mortgage loan is in default, implied covenants of good faith and fair dealing no longer apply.  But don’t lose track of this next statement . . .
  • But Be the Good Umpire: even absent a covenant of good faith and fair dealing, don’t forget the possibility that the asset could slide into a court case, where your behavior or statements might be twisted or turned by an attorney for uses entirely contrary to your original intent.  So, make the call but make it in a defensible manner (and call your lawyer before you do so)
  • Be Thick Skinned:  don’t take it personally.  People will be people and it could be rough and tumble game.  Don’t take it personally.
  • The Fair Comes In October:  as I told the kids when they were young (and often repeat this to myself) – "The [State] Fair comes in October."  In other words, life is not fair and resolution of the defaulted loan can differ wildly from your expectations.
  • The Ump Doesn’t Say Much: remember, the umpire doesn’t say much when the player launches a rant – use these tips

If you have helpful baseball analogies, please post them below.