Functional Coziness at Casa Bella Sera

Casa Bella Sera

Casa Bella Sera

My greeting at Casa Bella Sera

My greeting at Casa Bella Sera

I had the pleasure of staying at Casa Bella Sera in Temecula a few days ago. It’s a home stay which means it’s like a bed and breakfast, but you’re responsible for your own breakfast. They have a Keurig and they put out fruit and breads, but it’s up to you to make your own meal. John and Valerie started renting out their rooms on Airbnb but then took it to the next level.

The house is in a delightfully quiet and lush neighborhood filled with little parks. As I arrived at the front door, I was greeted by Coco, a little fluff off a dog that keeps her bangs tied out of out her eyes with a bow. She’s so sweet.

My room at Casa Bella Sera and Coco

My room at Casa Bella Sera and Coco

John and Valerie rent out two bedrooms in their home, each with a private bathroom. My room came with a queen bed, a TV, and had French doors that led to a little table and chairs in the backyard – perfect for morning writing. My room also had a little fold down desk which made my aspiring minimalist heart melt. My room had charming decorations – I loved the architectural prints in the room. Everything in the home was so warm and inviting, cozy without being cluttered.

My bed was super comfortable – probably one of the bed night’s sleep I will have on The Undeniable Tour. The blanket was as velvet soft as my basset’s ears and the bed had 4 pillows – each with a different level of thickness to accommodate all sleepers. I usually have trouble falling asleep in new places but I was out like a light. Here’s what I looked like after a night at Casa Bella Sera:

My inner nerd loved the front door key they gave me for my stay. It doesn’t look like a traditional key – it’s more like car keys that you don’t have to put in the ignition. All I had to do was put the key in my pocket and tap the door knob to lock or unlock it. It’s a brilliant idea – keeps guests from making a copy.

Many times I feel like I’m a bad house guest. I often feel like I’m intruding, but I never felt that way at Casa Bella Sera. The guest rooms are in their own wing so I felt like I had space to work and write as I wanted. John and Valerie are the perfect hosts – you’re welcome to chat with them and get recommendations about the area, or not. They seemed happy to have company and left guests to their own devices.

I feel lucky that I got to spend a night at Casa Bella Sera. If you’re looking for a place to stay in the Temecula area, I highly recommend staying with them.

The Undeniable Tour wouldn’t be possible without my awesome sponsors.

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For full disclosure, I got to spend the night at Casa Bella Sera in exchange for writing this post. (Always happy to sing for my supper.)

The Undeniable Tour Day 3 – 1 Blue String

1 Blue StringWhen I realized I was going to be in the vicinity of 1in6, I knew I had to meet with them while I was in southern California. I was so happy to meet with Martha Marin in Pasadena today.

1in6 is an organization dedicated to bringing awareness and providing resources for male survivors of sexual abuse. Many people don’t know that 1 in 6 men have an unwanted sexual experience before age 18. There is a tremendous amount of shame and questions related to masculinity and sexual orientation for these men.

I got to sit down with Martha today and hear more about 1in6. The organization was started over 10 years ago, but they’ve become more well-known through social media in the last year. They definitely serve an under-served population. I was shocked when Martha told me that most men wait 40 years from when they were victimized to when they make their first disclosure. That’s crazy! And for many men, there aren’t services available to them. I’m pleased that 1in6 is validating these men’s experiences, raising awareness, and working with schools, the military, and other organizations to provide much needed training and resources.

1in6 has a campaign called 1 Blue String that I absolutely love. They are raising awareness about the prevalence male childhood sexual abuse by asking musicians to put a blue guitar string on their guitars. It’s an absolutely brilliant idea. When I met with Martha, she gave me my own blue guitar string and some 1 Blue String guitar picks. It made me want to learn how to play guitar in part so I could join the movement (plus it would be awesome to know how to play). If you’re a musician, please join the movement.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month so it’s a great time to follow 1in6 and other organizations that provide awareness and support for sexual assault survivors. I was very impressed by 1in6 because of their dedication to providing competent support and clinically sound information. I’m pleased that I had a chance to get to know this organization better as part of my trip.

The Undeniable Tour wouldn’t be possible without my awesome sponsors!

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The Undeniable Tour Day 2 – Making You Work for You

University of La Verne Law School

University of La Verne Law School

Today was my first speaking gig of The Undeniable Tour at University of La Verne Law School. I had a full room of students who were engaged and it was awesome to see that so many of them were interested in starting their own firm.

Speaking to these students reminded me of my bizarre professional journey – I didn’t have a traditional path to follow. I just kept doing what made sense at the time and so far it’s working out. It’s was great to talk with them about how there’s more than one way to be a lawyer and I also told them about the Rule of Two Feet.

One thing I’ve learned in my professional career is that the biggest limits I have are the ones I put on myself. It’s a lot of hard to work to work outside the traditional framework of what it means to be a lawyer, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t be involved in blogs, vlogs, podcasts, writing, speaking, or creating a special niche for yourself. A lot of times it’s a matter of deciding what you want to do, learning how to do it, and committing to making it happen.

There have been many times this trip already that I’ve found myself repeating Tim Gunn’s trademark line “Make it work.”

If you are interested in connecting with me while I am traveling please follow me on Twitter. If you have any questions or comments about The Undeniable Tour, please shoot me an email.

The Undeniable Tour would not be possible without my awesome sponsors!

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The Undeniable Tour Day 1: The Importance of Happiness

Visiting the Law Offices of Jacob Sapochnick

Visiting the Law Offices of Jacob Sapochnick

Day 1 of The Undeniable Tour is in the books. I flew in to San Diego, got my rental car which I’m loving calling the Maven Mobile after my Concierge Sponsor Web3Mavens, and drove to Temecula for the night. I had to visit two incredible people before I headed north: Katy Goshtasbi and Jacob Sapochnick.

Selfie with Katy Goshtasbi

Selfie with Katy Goshtasbi

Katy is a former lawyer who is now a personal branding coach, consultant, and speaker. Her book, Personal Branding in One Hour for Lawyers, is an American Bar Association best-seller. I met Katy when she gave a talk at ASU Law School when I was a 3L. She offered a free consult to the first three students to approach her when she was done and I climbed over the tables to get to her.

Katy and I met for lunch and we talked about how we’ve both discovered how important it is to have work that is fulfilling and makes us happy.  There are so many miserable, stressed, overworked lawyers in the business and it’s sad to see that they don’t know that there are other ways to practice law. It will always be challenging, but that doesn’t mean you have to be unhappy in the process. If you’re unhappy, your potential clients are going to see that and they won’t want to hire you.

Me and Jacob Sapochnick

Me and Jacob Sapochnick

Before I headed to Temecula, I stopped by the Law Offices of Jacob Sapochnick. Jacob is the creator and host of the Enchanting Lawyer podcast, which is also a sponsor of the tour. I had the pleasure of being a guest on the show last year and I’m so glad I finally got to meet him in person. Jacob has a very strong practice, without needing to be there all the time. He’s found a way to train and empower his staff in such a way that they want to work their asses off to take care of clients and he’s able to take a 2-month vacation every year and the firm will keep running in his absence. It seems like he has a remarkable team.

One of the things I love about Jacob is that he embodies the idea that every company needs to be a media company. (Hat tip to Gary Vaynerchuk.) He practices immigration law but a lot of the content he puts out isn’t related to immigration. It’s related to building a community. He puts out quality material and leverages his podcast to meet people he couldn’t otherwise have a conversation with that he’s put himself into a position where he will be top of mind when people need his services.

In reflecting on my discussions with Katy and Jacob, the running theme in both conversations is the importance of creating a lifestyle that incorporates your career and your other priorities. If you are miserable in your career, you’re doing something wrong. There are other ways to be successful in the legal industry.

If you are interested in connecting with me while I am traveling please follow me on Twitter. If you have any questions or comments about The Undeniable Tour, please shoot me an email.

The Undeniable Tour would not be possible without my awesome sponsors!

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Web3Mavens – Concierge Sponsor for The Undeniable Tour

Origami Figures Turning in to 3-D Animation by Free Press from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Origami Figures Turning in to 3-D Animation by Free Press from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

I am excited to announce that Web3Mavens is the Concierge Sponsor for The Undeniable Tour. This is a software development company that works for many law firms and their business clients. Their goal is to help companies succeed.

Web3Mavens LogoI’ve known one of the company’s founders, Fred von Graf, since 2009 and while I love to listen to him talk about his work, I can barely comprehend what he’s talking about. Web3Mavens creates and updates companies’ software to help them communicate and work more efficiently. Their developers create native iOS and Android applications, web-based applications, and they can build cross-platform applications that allow your team to work from their smartphone, tablets, and computers.

If you’re not sure what you need, Web3Mavens can help with that too. They will consult with you to assess your development needs, suggest strategies to streamline or add to your company’s technologies, and can serve as the interim CTO for the project.

Founded in 2008, Web3Mavens works extensively with the legal community – both for law firms and their clients – but I guarantee you’ve never seen them at a legal conference expo. They’ve built their entire business through word-of-mouth and referrals. It’s almost like a secret society you have to be invited to in order to get them to work on your project.

One of the things that makes Web3Mavens so remarkable and wonderful to work with is that they hand select established developers for their team.  They work quickly and efficiently to create solutions that focus on providing a simple and functional end user experience and help you take your work to the next level. Be sure to check out their list of past clients and current partners.

If you are looking for a way to make your company run more efficiently, please check out Web3Mavens.

The Undeniable Tour would not be possible without Web3Mavens and my other sponsors. If you are interested in connecting with me while I am traveling please follow me on Twitter. If you have any questions or comments about The Undeniable Tour, please shoot me an email.

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Less Than a Week ‘Til The Undeniable Tour Starts!

Footprints by marcelometal from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Footprints by marcelometal from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

It’s hard to believe that The Undeniable Tour, a project I’ve been working on for over 6 months, is almost here. I’m excited to see all the planning come to fruition.

My life feels exceptionally hectic right now because I’m trying to tie up as many loose ends as I can before this trip begins and also trying to get as many things set in my schedule during my trip. There are so many things I hope to see an experience and people I hope to meet with during The Undeniable Tour.

I will be blogging and tweeting throughout the trip and also shooting video along the way. My friend recently reminded me to make sure I get plenty of “B roll” footage and he suggested I keep a notebook where I write down what all the footage is because by the end of two weeks I  may not remember what certain clips are.

On the logistical front, things have been busy. Things with my house sitter didn’t work out so I will have to put Rosie in the kennel while I’m away – which is probably a good thing given the number of medication she is on right now for glaucoma. I’ve also been thinking about what I need to take with me, because as an aspiring minimalist, I only want to take things that I will need it, use, and will add value to the experience.

Web3Mavens Logo

I am excited to announce my final to sponsors for The Undeniable Tour: Web3Mavens and the Enchanting Lawyer podcast. Web3Mavens is a software developer and technical consultant that provides services to many members of the legal community. Enchanting Lawyer is a podcast hosted by Jacob Sapochnick that helps lawyers get clients, build a profitable practice, and have work/life balance. I had the pleasure of being a guest on the show last year.

Enchanting Lawyer Podcast logo

Right now my life feels very busy as I’m trying to get ready for this trip and I suspect that my stress level will go down significantly once I get on the road because I won’t be planning the trip anymore, I will just to be on the trip, and able to be more “in the moment.” Here are all of the places I will be speaking during The Undeniable Tour: University of La Verne, Santa Clara University, Bar Association of San Francisco, Lewis and Clark, and the Tacoma Pierce County Bar Association. Between each of the stops, I will be trying to meet with as many movers and shakers in the legal and social media communities on the west coast as I can. If you are or know someone I should meet along the way, please let me know!

If you are interested in connecting with me while I am traveling please follow me on Twitter. If you have any questions or comments about The Undeniable Tour, please shoot me an email.

The Undeniable Tour would not be possible without Web3Mavens, Enchanting Lawyer, and my other sponsors.

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Can Someone Post Your Personal Information Online?

Graffiti by Alberto Garcia from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Graffiti by Alberto Garcia from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

This is a question I’ve been getting more frequently lately – people asking about the legalities of posting another person’s personal information on the Internet, sometimes referred to as doxing. And of course as any regular reader would know, the answer to every legal question is, “It depends.”

If you have shared your information with others in a public place whether it’s through a directory like the white pages or informally through social media, there may be nothing you can do to stop somebody from sharing information that you have previously freely shared with the public. Please note, regardless of your privacy settings, there is no expectation of privacy in anything you post on social media. It may be very easy for someone to piece together your name, your hobbies, where you work, what city you live in, and information about your family from posts and pictures you posted online. Look how easy it was for Jack Vale to surprise and frighten people based on what they posted on Instagram.

Conversely, there may be situations where somebody releases your private personal information, such as your unlisted phone number, your social security number, or other information that any reasonable person would know you would want to remain confidential. You are state may have a law against the public release of private information that you could use to get compensation from the person who shared your information. Depending on the circumstances and your local laws, sharing your personal information may be a type of harassment. If you think you’ve been the victim of cyberharassment, please contact your local law enforcement agency for assistance.

My advice is, “Think before you post.” Never put anything on the internet that you wouldn’t put on the front page of the newspaper. This rule applies even if you think you’re posting anonymously or with an alter ego because there is always a risk that you could be unmasked. In addition to being careful about what you post online, be careful about what information you share with others both verbally and in writing. Also be careful about who you let use your computer or phone if you have information on it that you don’t want to get out, or else you might find yourself in a similar situation as a kind teacher who let students use her cell phone. They repaid her kindness by sharing the intimate photos they found on it.

If you are interested in the dos and don’ts regarding privacy and the internet, please check out my book The Legal Side of Blogging: How Not to Get Sued, Fired, Arrested, or Killed. You can also connect with me on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn, or send me an email.

Why is it Hard to Remove a Post from The Dirty?

Clubbin' by rudlavibizon from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Clubbin’ by rudlavibizon from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

For those of you who don’t know, The Dirty is a website where a person can post “dirt” about another person. It’s a website where you can post celebrity sightings, make fun of people, and call out somebody for cheating on you, etc. The purpose of the site, from what I can tell, is to provide people a forum to post truthful stories and others can read and post comments about them.

As a social media attorney, I regularly get calls and emails from people who claim there is a false post about them on The Dirty or a similar site and they want me to get it removed. Many of these people don’t want to get the police involved, file a lawsuit, or pay a lot of money to make this happen. I think a lot of them hope that a letter from a lawyer would be sufficient to get a post removed. Sometimes that works, but sometimes that is not the case – especially when it comes to The Dirty.

The people who run The Dirty and that their attorney understand the First Amendment. They tell their users only to post truthful information, but for the most part, they can’t tell when someone is telling the truth or not in a post. If the poster says what they wrote is true and the person they wrote about says it’s not, how would the people who run the website know who is telling the truth? The Dirty gets thousands of requests from people claiming that a post on the site contains lies about them. With few exceptions, they won’t remove a post simply because you asked them to.

I’ve never met The Dirty’s attorney in person, but we’ve exchanged several emails. My conversations with him tell me that he is a kind and thoughtful man and also a very good attorney. He won’t tell his clients to remove a post just because a person is upset that a story about them is on the site or because he gets a demand letter from that person’s attorney; however, he will comply with court orders to remove material, which usually requires some type of injunction or prevailing in a defamation, invasion of privacy, or similar lawsuit. The Dirty also appears to have respectful policies related to revenge porn and false posts about an individual having an STD.

When I meet with someone when I meet with someone who claims to be the victim of defamation and/or invasion of privacy on one of the sites, I often have to inform Michael and that the law doesn’t care about what they believe or even what they know; the law cares about what you can prove. When it’s a case of he said v. she said, there is often not much I can do. Yes, my client could sue for defamation; however, if the other party doesn’t have any money, it’s usually not worth pursuing.

If my client feels like they are the victim of cyberharassment or revenge porn, I refer them to the police. Cyberharassment and revenge porn are crimes and there is a lot more information that law enforcement can get from a website related to a criminal case than a lawyer can get access to during a civil lawsuit.

If you feel like your rights have been violated in an internet post, please contact a social media attorney in your community for assistance. If you want additional information about defamation, privacy, and the internet, please check out my book, The Legal Side of Blogging: How Not to get Sued, Fired, Arrested, or Killed. You can always send me an email if you ever have questions, and please stay connected with me on TwitterLinkedInFacebook, and YouTube.

The Undeniable Tour Update – So Much To Do, So Little Time!

I can't wait to see the sea lions at Fisherman's Wharf! Give him some lovin' by Prayitno from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

I can’t wait to see the sea lions at Fisherman’s Wharf! Give him some lovin’ by Prayitno from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Holy crap! The Undeniable Tour is less than two weeks away! I feel like all the big pieces of this trip have been taken care of (speaking gigs, airline tickets, rental car, lodging, dog sitter, etc.) and now I feel like I am a little overwhelmed with all the little details that go into planning such a big trip. I want to make the most of this adventure both for my audience and for myself (professionally and personally), so I am trying to figure out how many people and what awesome things I can see and do between my speaking engagements.

I will admit I am a bit neurotic and I generally thrive when my life has structure, so now I am trying to plan out what I will be doing each day and determine how many friends I will be able to see during my down time. My prediction is I will have a full itinerary of meetings and fun.

I am also trying to make sure that everything is shipshape on the home front before I leave town. I found an amazing pair of Canadian snowbirds to be my house and dog sitters, and because I am an over-prepared dork, I am creating a manual for them information about taking care of my home, caring for my dog, and fun things to do in my city. One of the benefits of staying with locals is you get to learn about all the awesome things in a city that a typical tourist would not know about. I am treating my house sitters like they are my guests and I want to make the most of their experience.

Even though I am a minimalist, I decided I wanted a memento from The Undeniable Tour, so I bought a wooden arrow at the craft store, painted it metallic green, and I am going to ask many of the people I meet with during this trip to sign it. One of the take away messages of The Undeniable Tour is, “Keep moving forward.” This arrow will be a physical embodiment of that message and the people I will asked to sign it are movers and shakers in the legal and social media worlds who exemplify it in their work.

On top of all this, I am trying to get through as much open client work as I can before I leave town so that there is not much that I have to do for them while I am on the road. I will be checking my emails and messages, and I can always find a coffee shop or co-working space if I need to work on a project for a client, but I prefer to “clear the decks” as much as possible when I am going to be out of the office for more than a few days.

If you are interested in connecting with me while I am traveling please follow me on Twitter. If you have any questions or comments about The Undeniable Tour, please shoot me an email.

The Undeniable Tour would not be possible without my awesome sponsors!

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Clothing Line Intellectual Property

Geek & Graphic T-shirts by nicolas 'nclm' from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Geek & Graphic T-shirts by nicolas ‘nclm’ from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Recently I’ve had a few questions about intellectual property related to starting the clothing line or T-shirt business. These people asked me how they can protect their work. Is it trademark? Is it copyright? The answer is, it’s probably both!

A trademark is anything you put on your goods or services to differentiate them from the competition. And a business can have several trademarks. They are your company name, brand names, slogans, logos, etc. Likewise, a clothing line can have several trademarks including your company’s name, the name for each collection, slogans, and your logos. The triangle patch with the question mark on it is a trademark for Guess jeans as is the alligator logo for Lacoste brand clothing.

Before you select the trademarks you want for your clothing line, be sure to check the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database to verify that the trademark you want has not already been claimed by another company in the apparel industry or a related industry. If a trademark has already been registered that company could stop you from entering the marketplace using a trademark that is confusingly similar to theirs. (See the story of The North Face v. The South Butt for an example.)

Your clothing line may also contain several copyrights. If you design T-shirts, you will have copyright rights in each design. You may also have copyright rights in your logo. You have rights in what you create the moment you create it; you don’t have to register them with the U.S. Copyright Office to obtain your rights (however, you do have to register if you want to sue for copyright infringement.) If your design is simply a short phrase on a shirt, it may not be copyrightable because short phrases are often not original enough to warrant having a copyright. Depending on what your phrase is, if you’re using it as a slogan, it could be a trademark.

If you outsource the creation of the designs for your clothing or the creation of your marketing materials, make sure you have clear written contracts with these independent contractors to ensure that you own whatever you have hired them to create. Otherwise you may find yourself in a situation where the artist owns the intellectual property rights in what they created, and you merely have a license to use it.

As you can see, determining what intellectual property you have may be a complicated question. It’s best to consult an intellectual property attorney to assist you in identifying your intellectual property and determine the best strategies to protect it, which may include registering your copyrights and trademarks.

If you have any questions about copyrights or trademarks, feel free to shoot me an email or connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.