Welcome to Powerful Leaders, No Apologies.



Show Notes

Beth and Debbie reflect on their podcast journey and mark the end of season one with this special episode featuring guest Ari Kaplan.  Together, they explore the importance of building connections, fostering community, and embracing opportunities for growth in the legal industry and beyond. Tune in for an inspiring discussion on the art of networking and the transformative potential of collaboration. 

Links from the episode:  

Ari’s Virtual Lunch  

Michael Cohen Bonus Episode  

Powerful Leaders Swag Shop 

[03:11] Humor and Connections

[10:51] Creating Opportunities and Building Relationships

[19:15] The Opportunity Maker

  • Transcript

    Debbie Foster (00:03): 

    Welcome to the Powerful Leaders. No apologies podcast, a show about women who are ready to own their power and change the world. My name is Debbie Foster. 


    Beth Thompson (00:12): 

    And I’m Beth Thompson. Our guests are fierce and fabulous women who are making a difference in their personal and professional communities. Are you ready to be inspired? If so, stay tuned and also check out our website at affinityconsulting.com slash powerful leaders. Here’s the show. Here we are again, Debbie. It’s really hard to believe we’re already at 31. The time has flown. 


    Debbie Foster (00:39): 

    It’s crazy. We have a super special episode today for three reasons. The first reason is we’re going to let this episode wrap up, season one of the podcast. Season two will be here around the corner. I don’t know exactly when, but we’ll keep you posted. Follow us on LinkedIn. You want to talk about the second reason why it’s a special episode. 


    Beth Thompson (01:02): 

    So the second reason is because today will be my last official episode. Maybe I’ll come back as a guest in the future. 


    Debbie Foster (01:10): 



    Beth Thompson (01:10): 

    It has been such a labor of love and I have enjoyed it immensely, the planning, the dreaming, all of the guests, people that I didn’t know that I got to meet along the way. But professionally and personally, I’ve got so much going on and doing a lot more traveling now, and I just think at this point it’s best for me to step down and let you either take the reins on your own or find an amazing new, and I’ll be certainly tuning in to see where you take things in season two. But I have loved every minute of it, but I do think now is the time to move on. 


    Debbie Foster (01:43): 

    Well, I remember sitting in the Delta Sky Club. I don’t know where we had left, but we were sitting there having a glass of Prosecco dreaming up what this podcast would be called and how it would come to life. And that was easily a year and a half ago. So it has been an absolute pleasure to bring this thing to life with you, and I’m going to definitely hold you to that coming back as a guest. So perfect. Let’s go into the third reason why this is a special episode. So a while back, about halfway through our podcast journey, we had Michael Cohen as a guest and our podcast has only had women guests except for Michael. And we launched that episode as a bonus episode and it was an amazing episode and we’ll put a link to it in the show notes. And he talked about raising fierce females. And since this is our last episode of season one, we wanted to bring in another very special guest that is also going to be a bonus episode, and that very special guest is our very good friend and the very good friend of so many of the guests that have been on our podcast because he comes up nearly every single episode. Please welcome Ari Kaplan to our podcast. This is where the applause. This is where we would if we had 


    Ari Kaplan (03:10): 

    Hello? I was waiting. 


    Debbie Foster (03:13): 

    Maybe bring can add a little applause. 


    Ari Kaplan (03:16): 

    When people introduce me and they start clapping before I’ve said a word always makes me nervous. Anywhere I go and they start clapping, I’m always like, oh boy, you’re in for it now. 


    Beth Thompson (03:24): 

    We said there’d be laughing. I didn’t realize it was going to be in the first20 seconds of the right episode, but here we go. 


    Debbie Foster (03:31): 

    Yeah, well, if you’re bringing Ari along, there’s going to be laughter because Ari’s world is like this sitcom that I feel like I could every time he tells me a story, and I have some stories. I don’t know that we’ll get to all of the stories today. This episode could go on for hours. But when Beth and I were talking about what this bonus episode would look like, we didn’t even have to say, who do you think we were both like, well, it’s Ari. There’s no way it isn’t Ari. Right? So I’m looking at our list right now and looking at who I know for sure. Connie Brenton, Lisa Linsky, you introduced us to Lisa, she’s one of your mentors. 



    And that episode that we did with her was fantastic. Jodi Baker, Amy Jewels, Ann Gore. Oh my god, it’s Sharine Clark, right? Yeah. She was like episode number two for us and I met Saruine. We’re going to talk about the virtual lunch. We have to talk about the virtual lunch. I met Sharine on the virtual lunch, Andrea. I mean the list goes on and on. All of these people mentioned you. And if you were to go back and figure out how you search for someone’s name in a bunch of podcast episodes after someone says Ari Kaplan, we’re like, everyone knows Ari Kaplan, which is another reason why we wanted to have you on the show. 


    Ari Kaplan (04:50): 

    Well, I’m honored to be here. You mentioned the sitcom, the humor. My wife always jokes that I live a very Larry David life. We go out with a lot of couples once. 



    And that’s it. And she’s always like, look, I really like these people. And to be clear, this is an incredibly accomplished, powerful woman who I admire with all my being. I know we’ve been married for a long time and I feel incredibly lucky, but she’s always like, just when you have a conversation just enough with the humor, just let it go and let’s just do our thing. And I’m like, you’re right, honey, I promise. And then the theme music starts and those people never call us again. So let’s see how this goes. This is Beth. I share this with you that this I am sure will be my last episode of the podcast, and so welcome everybody. 


    Debbie Foster (05:39): 

    That is hilarious. Okay, so Ari, the year was 20. It was probably actually 2009. I was chair of a A tech show, A tech show that happened in March of 2010. And we were looking for a keynote speaker for ABA tech show. And our good friend, God rest his soul Browning, Maria said, do you know Ari Kaplan? And I was like, I don’t know if I know him. I think I know him. But you and I talked, you were the keynote speaker for my tech show in 2010, and that kicked off an amazing friendship and professional relationship that I have so enjoyed. Every time I see you, it is a complete joy to see you. But even more than that, if I want to know someone in this industry, you’re the person who is my connector, right? Beth? He literally knows everyone, 


    Beth Thompson (06:38): 

    Right? I mean, that’s what we were saying earlier. We refer to you as a super connector because we know so many people we’ve met through you, you’ve introduced us to people. I know that you had emailed me recently about someone to connect us about a possible employment position. There’s just always that You’re the the phone a friend right from that million, what was that show? Who wants to Be a millionaire? Wants to be a Millionaire? You’re the phone a friend, 


    Debbie Foster (07:05): 

    You are the phone a friend. 


    Ari Kaplan (07:07): 

    Debbie, I just texted you as you may recall, because this is now 14 years since that keynote and I still remain incredibly grateful to you and to Browning. And I remember that conversation because I had spoken at a lunch, I did a lunchtime presentation at a litigation support leaders conference that Browning had attended, and then we had coffee afterward and he said, we’re looking for speakers at tech show. And I said, oh, I’d be honored to speak at Tech Show. I didn’t think I would be the keynote of tech show. And he said, I’m going to introduce you to Debbie Foster. And I said, great. Then you and I spoke and I still was like, yeah, I’m happy to speak. And then you were like, okay, we’d like you to be the keynote. And I thought, what? And I remember when the email came out, I got several emails from friends of mine and obviously I had a new book that had come out, the opportunity maker. And so it made sense, but it was still just a tremendous honor. Richard Suskin had been the keynote the year before Larry Lessig was the keynote after. So that’s some sandwich. And I just felt incredibly honored. And I think it was funny because I had a new book come out the year later, and that’s when I really got to know Beth. My book came out in the spring that year, and so I feel very lucky to be here with both of you. 


    Debbie Foster (08:20): 

    Well, why don’t you start off by telling us a little bit about what you do and how you have become this amazing connector. How do you figure out how to get to know all these people? 


    Ari Kaplan (08:34): 

    It’s so funny that you describe it that way. I just feel like my philosophy is basically just sort of chipping away at this process. I practice law for nearly nine years with large firms in New York City. And during that period, I had probably published something like 125 articles. And the reason for that was when I started practicing, the partner that I worked with on the very first day called me into his office and said, Ari, I write a column for this particular publication, which means we write a column for this particular publication. And he was incredible actually. He was super generous. Every time we wrote something together, we had a co-author byline. So my name was on every single thing that we wrote together from the day I started. And so by the time I finished my first year of practice, I probably had 10 published articles on really substantive topics, and he taught me something very, very powerful. 



    We were writing something once and someone new had come into the government and I was in S and trade practice. I had worked in the uk, the Czech Republic and High spent a year living in Japan. And so I worked at the State Department when I was in law school in dc. And so when I started, I started doing international trade work, which was also incredibly lucky and super interesting. And he said, I’m going to call this person. And I thought, how will you just call this government official? He said, watch. And we were sitting in his office and he called the office of this person who was like the new ombudsman of one of the agencies, and he said, hi, so-and-so and I write a column for this publication and we would like to feature the new ombudsman in this trade publication, would you consider connecting us? 



    And she said, sure. And we spoke to him and in fact, it was so important to develop this relationship that we flew down, I was in New York at the time, we flew down to DC to have this meeting and conduct this interview. And we wrote a piece profiling him, and he taught me a very important lesson that people are much more likely to want to connect with you want to speak with you want to take your call, want to respond to your email if you are writing about them or featuring them or in some ways highlighting what they’re doing, even if it’s for your audience. And even if you all get benefit from it, if you’re highlighting them and showcasing them, you’re just exponentially more likely to get a response and for that response to be positive. And so over the years, I’ve been incredibly lucky to follow that sort of model. 



    I’m always trying to understand what people are doing and I’m always trying to showcase what they’re doing for the benefit of the community. And now that I’ve been on my own, I practice for nearly nine years. I’ve been on my own for almost 18 years, and so for this past 18 years, as I describe myself as an analyst that covers the legal industry, but really I tell people I’m a writer. I’m trying to tell stories about what’s happening in our profession and our profession. It’s kind of dull for a while, but it’s super interesting now. I mean, it’s just fascinating now. And so the stories I’m telling are more and more interesting, but they’ve always been uniquely interesting to me. I wrote an article about your partner, Paul Unger in the early days of my career, Monica Bay, who was then the great editor of Law Technology News, called on me at the last minute. 



    Somebody had pulled out of writing something and she asked me to write about for technology on trial. And your partner had done some extraordinary work that incorporated technology at the time, which was very innovative and to other people that might’ve been just kind of a story about law and technology. To me, it was fascinating. He was fascinating. Pollinger and the people that he worked with were fascinating, and I just loved every second of it and continue to this day to be super excited about all the work that I do. So when you call me a super connector, it’s just more one relationship at a time. I just happen to have been doing it a long time. And so those relationships have consistently grown and I’ve tried to honor them in any way I can. 


    Debbie Foster (12:30): 

    So just because I think the point that you made about, we just picked up the phone and called that guy, you and I were in Las Vegas a couple years ago, I think it was at the SurePoint conference, and we were having coffee and you said something like, oh wait, I have a meeting with the senator in 15 minutes or something like that. And I was like, the senator of what? And he was like, this Nevada senator. I’m like, how do you know the Nevada senator? He goes, I don’t know him. But I called him and I called his office and I was like, Hey, I’m going to be in Vegas. Do you want to meet with me? And I was like, who does that? Well, the answer is Ari Kaplan does that. 


    Ari Kaplan (13:11): 

    I love that you remember that because that was such a great meeting. She was a state senator in Nevada. She went to GW Law School where I went, and I’m very focused on those relationships, and I used to, honestly, I would try to do that for networking, but I think that people don’t realize how much fun, what an adventure it is. I just was on, I wouldn’t quite call it a vacation, but it was a vacation. My wife and I were visiting our son who’s studying abroad in Barcelona. So we met him in Lisbon and then we went to Porto and Barcelona and then to Paris. And I loved traveling with this woman, but it was great to see our son and we had such a fun time. And I spoke at a law firm in Lisbon, but then I met with some people I knew in Lisbon. 



    Then I met with someone in Barcelona, and then I met with someone in Paris and the meeting in Paris. So I’m trying to really try to be respectful and slip this in so that it’s not irritating or annoying, especially when I’m on a family trip. And so my wife had me at the gym at one point, so I slipped in a meeting at another point, I forgot. Well, we had gone running and I said, I’ll be right back. I’m going to just have this meeting. I literally ran eight tenths of a mile to have coffee at this coffee shop, had the coffee ran back before she had even finished changing or whatever, just to sort of have that connection and that discussion and every one of those was super fun. And I feel like I have realized that it’s just so exhilarating to meet with new folks. And I remember that meeting with that state senator, and she was inspiring. Can you imagine? She was a state senator Nevada. She was telling me all about it. She was telling me about the work that she was doing, and she was kind enough to spend some time chatting with me. I’ve just felt really lucky to do it. 


    Beth Thompson (14:47): 

    You make connecting fun. You mentioned running a few moments ago. I know that you have something that you do at every conference. Debbie, I don’t think either one of us have ever gotten up that early to join him on this thing that he does, but we would love for you to tell everyone about your running club and what’s behind that. 


    Ari Kaplan (15:05): 

    So I’m a runner. It’s took me a long time to actually describe myself that way. I run four days a week. I always run with my wife who’s a very early riser. She has to be in court very early most days during the week. And so I think it was maybe 2018, but I was attending Relativity Fest, which is a great conference and was on a planning call with some folks, and I said, is anybody interested in running? I would like to run. It was Chicago in late October, I think at the time. So they all laughed at me and I said, well, if no one on the call is going to run, would you consider maybe putting it in the program and saying it’s six 30 or six o’clock or whatever time would not conflict with any kind of programming. Ari’s going to run and if you want to join him, just go into the lobby. 



    That was the genesis of it. And in fact, a dear friend of mine had recently passed away from lung cancer who had never smoked but was a runner. And I thought maybe with him in mind and in his spirit and his memory, he loved to run. And I remember seeing him at races and screaming his name and we’d smile and laugh, and I thought, if someone comes, we’ll run and I’ll think of my friend Alex, and there were like 30 people in the lobby. It was incredible, and I really didn’t know what to say. I felt like I had now had to host these people and in Relativity knew that there was going to be a good number. They got registrations, and so they had people at different points running along the lake. It was beautiful, cold, but super fun. And people had commented, wow, that was such a fun part of the conference. 



    Thanks so much. And so every time it would come up at a LA or clock or elta, I would try to do it and it’s become something that I just try to keep as a hallmark. And it’s great because every time we run, I always say the same thing to people. I say, I’m thinking of my friend Alex, and I just think how lucky we all are to be able to get up early, to be together and to just be well enough to run. And I think there’s some meaning in the simplicity of that. It’s just extremely powerful for me to just be thinking. It doesn’t have to be something so extraordinary together with people. And I will say just from a productivity standpoint, I’m often running with the CEO or some leader at a legal tech company or some leader at a law firm or someone at a corporation. 



    So on top of everything, on top of the incredible satisfaction you get just from motivating yourself to get up, it’s exactly why you’re going to this event in the first place. You’re doing business, you’re making connections, and it’s just, I am not surprised that more and more people have started to join. I always smile by the fact that afterward people are like, wow, that was just so much better than I thought it was going to be. Just like, I can’t believe how actually what a good use of my time that was, and I just feel great about it. And then of course, I always make a donation, which has gotten more substantial as more people have shown up in the honor of all the people who show up to the Lung Cancer Foundation of America and memory of my friend. 


    Debbie Foster (18:03): 

    You are someone who is always looking for ways to do good while there’s a lot of benefit to you because you do get to meet really cool people. At the end of the day, the connections that you make are all about helping other people. And that’s one of the things that I really love about you, which brings me to fast forwarding to there’s this weird thing called covid, and you are, I don’t know, sitting at home one day going, huh, nobody has anything to do at lunchtime because nobody can do anything at lunchtime. I have an idea, I’ll start a thing called the virtual Lunch. I don’t know. Is that how it happened? 


    Ari Kaplan (18:43): 

    So that week, the week before I was scheduled to speak at a law firm in Prague, if you can believe it, and this firm contacted me Wednesday, March 11th, we’re doing a law firm retreat. It’s in Prague, we want you to come. I said, amazing. I mentioned that I had worked in the Czech Republic then Czechoslovakia in the summer of 1992, and I had been back since, and I thought, oh, this sounds great. Then of course as we get closer to this period, all these things are being canceled. And they said, we’re still going forward no matter what. And I said, great, I’ll still come. I managed to also schedule a dinner in Frankfurt on Monday, March 9th. And so a few days before, I have a full room of people, and then as it gets closer, people start canceling. And I talked to the sponsor and I said, we can skip this and I’ll just go straight to Prague. 



    And they said, no, we think it’s going to work. I don’t know why they thought that, but they did, and I appreciated their confidence. And it turned out as soon as I landed in Frankfurt, all these people had canceled and then all these other people who couldn’t come as a result of travel conflicts were now able to come. And we had this full room of people, all this corporate council in Frankfurt having this dinner. And then I flew on to Prague, and as I’m making my way across Europe, it gets progressively worse in that I land in Prague and they had closed the schools by the morning and then by the dinner time they had closed the borders. And then so I do my thing in Prague, and then that night the president goes on TV and says, get out of Europe. And I finally get home and guess, I guess with this in the background, I just kept thinking, wow, we’re going to be isolated and for a long time I work remotely, and so I often work alone. 



    And I thought, this is kind of a good idea to maybe there are people who are interested in staying connected despite the fact that they won’t be physically in any kind of contact. And so I posted something on Sunday, I had a designer put together a little logo. I posted something on Sunday and said, tomorrow I’m going to post a Zoom link. I’ll be on at noon. If you’re interested in popping in, I’ll be there. I don’t know if anybody else is going to come, but I’ll be there and I hope to see you. That was it. And then all these people started commenting, oh, this sounds great. That’s actually a really interesting idea now. And I thought, okay, maybe someone will show up. And so the first day there were probably 10 people, maybe a dozen, and they were from all over the world. 



    And I thought, wow, this is fun. And so I said, I’ll be on for the next week or two while we’re working from home. I just assumed this is a couple of week thing, a lot of people. And it eventually moved from 30 minutes to an hour and it has never stopped. We will have the fourth anniversary in a couple of weeks, and then the thousandth episode will be sometime in April. And over the last three years, I’ve had a sponsor of these programs and discussions. Every single month, affinity has been a sponsor, and actually Actionstep has also been a sponsor, and I’m super grateful for that. And you mentioned it for the good of the community. And yes, I tell people that my business is about creating content that connects companies to their clients, that creates community, that cultivates conversation about change. I’m really thinking about what it is that I do, but what’s amazing is I’ll have a sponsor of the virtual lunch and then they’ll say, is there something else we can do together? 



    Or You know what? I like the way you’re facilitating conversation. Could you collaborate with us on a dinner at some kind of event? Can you help us create certain kind of content? We’d love to maybe be an advertiser or a sponsor on your podcast or whatever it is. But I think it’s really important for professionals to create small opportunities that give people a chance to see what they do, to appreciate their talent, and to try to understand where they could use some additional support, where you could provide value. And I’ve really tried to do that. The virtual lunch, frankly, has for me been an incredible way to learn to acknowledge my peers. And in fact, I’ve changed a lot of things as a result of many of our conversations just in terms of my own diet or exercise or productivity habits. I learn a lot from the community and I feel really grateful to them. But I appreciate you mentioning it because still going on, and it’s just been a wonderful endeavor and a noon Eastern when I get there, I’m always like, this is fantastic. So anybody who wants to learn more about it, you can just go to a virtual lunch.com. There’s plenty of detail about it. 


    Beth Thompson (23:09): 

    So earlier you described yourself as a writer, and we know that you’ve actually written and published two books, and we would love to hear a little bit about the genesis of each. They’re very different, but yet the same in the sense again about connections and the power of making sure that people are aligned with the right people. Tell us about both of the books and how they came to be. 


    Ari Kaplan (23:31): 

    The first book is called The Opportunity Maker Strategies for Inspiring Your Legal Career through Creative Network and Business Development. And I’m a ghost writer, so I get paid by the word. The genesis of that I think is pretty, I wrote an article for the A student lawyer magazine. I was commissioned to write an article about networking tips for students. And it turned out that I had written, I forget which way it went, but I’d written a different version of that article for a different audience. And then I was asked to modify it. And so I had this kind of extra article that wasn’t published, and I asked the editor for permission to send it on to see if I can get that other version published somewhere else. And I sent it to another editor who then sent it on to, at the time, Thomson West, Thomson Reuters, and now West Academic Publishing. 



    And so she contacted me and said, we read your article. We think it’s a great outline for a book. Would you consider writing a book? And I thought, no way. But I had just stopped practicing and I sort of focused on having this career as a writer, and I thought, this is sort of serendipity, right? Somebody approached me, a real publisher approached me and said, would you consider writing a book? And I have to consider this? So I considered it. I ended up writing the book. And what happened was that I wrote this book and it opened up this real career of opportunities in terms of speaking. And so one of the things I thought when I was practicing, I mentioned I published a lot of articles and I realized that publishing articles was a great business development tool. I had gotten my first client at my firm, it was like a fourth year or something. 



    There were all these other challenges. When you’re very junior and you somehow get a client to pay you money, you don’t even really know what your billing rate is. Sometimes there are different billing rates. We had a T rate, a G rate. There were lots of different kinds of rates. I didn’t know what to do about a retainer. I didn’t know when you bill, I didn’t know how other people should bill to a new client matter number. It was a really complicated and interesting exercise. And so because of the writing, I wanted to develop a course to teach lawyers how to get published and how to use that for their business development. And I had approached someone at the firm in training. I said, oh, I’d love to do this course. She said, we have outside people typically do this, not internal people. Your job is to perform legal work. 



    You bill your time. And she was absolutely right. I totally got it. But then when I told her I was leaving, she said, now’s the time to create that program, and if it’s good, I’d hire you. And so I was fascinated by the possibilities of this. And I remember going home to my wife and I was like, I’ve always been that kind of person. I’ve always picked out the furniture in my office. When I saw a job listing, I’ve always been super optimistic and be like, oh, this would be great. The commute is so great. And she’s like, why don’t you apply first? And I’m like, you’re right. You’re right. I should apply first. So before I stopped picking out my office and determining which street I’m going to walk through for my commute, where I’m going to get lunch on a job I have not applied for yet. 



    And so I did this. And so I stayed up all night. I created this course, and to her credit, this woman who I think of also as a mentor, but she said, you know what? I like this, but I feel like I’m biased. I know you so well. I want you to pitch it to some other firms and see if they like it. And sure enough, I made a list of the top 200 law firms in the country. I started, and by the time I got to, I think at the time, Jones Day was at the top, but I can’t remember, by the time I got to Sherman and Sterling or Aitken Gump, I had meetings and still remember of the meetings and the people who were so kind to take the meeting and speak with me and hire me. But anyway, I had this discussion. 



    And so I had been trying to teach this course, which I was starting to do at law firms. So the book made perfect sense, the opportunity to make perfect sense. And then a couple of years later, I felt like I should be writing another book, a little bit of a broader book, looking at professional services across a spectrum. So I didn’t just look at legal, I looked at finance and medicine and at veterinarians and accountants and architects and in fact have spoken at, I spoke at a consulting magazines conference and an architecture conference and all these other things. And what I realized was in my effort to learn as much as I could about professional services, it just gave me somehow more credibility in legal to go deeper into legal. And it was lucky because it set the foundation for me to focus on legal, but also at a time when legal itself was transforming. 



    And so that book came out in 2011, Beth, we did a 12 city tour across North America talking about that book. And the tour was great. It just gave me a chance to really solidify that. But the first book, the opportunity maker really gave me a chance to speak to the next generation. And so I spoke, I’ve now spoken over 50 law schools around the world based on some of the themes of the opportunity maker. And luckily that book kind of came out for me, luckily not for everyone else, but during the financial crisis. And so there was this really strong concern about where were people going to get jobs, how are they going to navigate their career? And this book was all about creating opportunities. And I am deeply committed to those themes of creating opportunity. And I joke that I was on vacation and I’m meeting with someone, but to my wife’s credit, she has always been, I remember being at a resort in Cancun, just the two of us, I think our kids were at camp, we’re sitting there reading, and I said, how long do you think you’re going to be here at the pool? 



    She’s like, I’ll probably be here for another hour or whatever. I was like, great, I’ll be right back. And I ended up having a meeting with these guys who run the largest law firm in Cancun. I said, I’m just going to run out meet. She’s like, what? And I said, you’re just sitting here by the pool. It’s not like I’m such great company. I mean an hour. You’re not going to miss anybody. And to her, she was just like, oh my gosh, I did sign up for this. And I remember we walked through Athens once and we were waiting for a flight to go somewhere else. And I said, I heard this is a great neighborhood. She’s like, I never heard of this neighborhood. I’m like, no, no. This is a good neighborhood. I think you’re going to like it. It’s like shoe stores or whatever it was. 



    I never heard of this neighborhood. It was not a neighborhood. It just happened to be there was an office of a law firm in this neighborhood. And I said, you know what? I know someone up here. And I was hoping to just run up and say hello. She’s like, again, you did it to me again. And I was just amazing that this woman is still married to me. That’s got to be super, super annoying. But I’m just deeply committed to that idea of where can you create opportunity and is there something you can do to manufacture that for yourself? 


    Debbie Foster (29:52): 

    So I’m going to ask you one last thing to just as we kind of wrap up. But one of the other things that along the same theme that I notice that you always do, and this is true whether you’re in Athens or you’re going to visit one of your kids at school or you’re going to a city somewhere to do one thing, you’re going to try to figure out how to put a dinner together or put a lunch together or get a group of people together. And it’s not just so you can meet those people so those people can meet each other. And I’ve heard so many stories from you about, I was at this lunch this one time, I was at this dinner this one time, and this one person met this other person. And that led to, so if we were talking about a way to encourage people who are listening to be better connectors, what’s your strategy around, you look at your calendar, you’re like, I’ve got a hole here. How do you start? I mean, I know some of the answers to this because you’ve told me how you curate your list of people that you’re going to randomly figure out who they are in some city somewhere. What are some ideas of how you might do that? 


    Ari Kaplan (30:58): 

    I wish that I could tell you that it’s all perfectly scripted. I mean, sometimes I’ve just happened to be in a city and I think I’d love to meet some other people. So I’m going to put together a breakfast, and I have a start at, I have this breakfast series I called the Legal Tech Mafia, which I have actually trademarked. I don’t think it’s mine. I think I’ve seen it somewhere like the PayPal Mafia or something like that. But I did trademark it, so I guess it is mine. But I host these breakfast at law firms, typically in New York City. But I’ve done that breakfast in Atlanta, in Fort Lauderdale, in Tel Aviv, in Sydney. I really, again, am committed to sort of that. And every single one of those, I realize, especially the ones that are outside my location, that it’s much more likely that those people will see each other again rather than me. 



    And I think the same is true when I’m hosting a dinner, which is usually sponsored, which usually is either corporate leaders or law firm leaders. But I recognize that people are not coming to necessarily see me or to see the sponsor. They’re coming to see each other so that they can discuss. And I’m the conduit, the facilitator of that. And I think if people are thinking of some of these things and manufacturing these opportunities, that they should really be thinking, where is the value that they can provide for others? What is it that they can do to facilitate rather than get some benefit? Is there a way that they can kind of act as the conduit for opportunity? And I always say that opportunity in many ways, self-promotion, for example, has very little to do with promoting yourself. It has everything to do with promoting the good work of others, letting that reflect on your character. 



    And so being the host is just a great way to encourage that dialogue, that discussion where all the lessons come from hearing people tell a story. And especially these days, people are trying to figure out how to leverage the technology they have, how to take advantage of things, where to deploy generative AI and other advanced tools, how to navigate returning to work, how to navigate working remotely, all these different dynamics in the workplace that are changing all the time. I’m having conversations about this every single day on the virtual lunch. I’m having conversations at a breakfast, I’m having conversations at a dinner so that I can be as helpful as possible when I’m talking to other leaders who are trusting me with their time, with their insight, and also trying to take all the lessons that I’ve learned and share it through my research or in my discussions so that I’m really just reflecting back on what lessons I’ve heard, what lessons people then could benefit from. And I think that anybody who’s considering putting something together should just think about it in terms of where they could be the sort of message or a value in many respects. 


    Debbie Foster (33:40): 

    I love that. That is a great way to wrap up. Ari, thank you for being our guests. Thank you for spending the time with us today. And thanks for being a great friend to both of us. 


    Ari Kaplan (33:51): 

    Thank you both. It’s a privilege. 


    Beth Thompson (33:53): 

    I can’t think of a better way to go out than to have this time with you. So thank you so much, and I’m sure we’ll be seeing you somewhere very soon. 


    Debbie Foster (34:01): 

    Somewhere at the clock forward to it. We’ll see you at Clock. 


    Ari Kaplan (34:05): 

    I look forward to that. Yes, 


    Debbie Foster (34:07): 

    Yes. We’ll see you at Clock. And Beth, as we wrap up this last episode, I will tell you that we’ve worked together. We’ve co-hosted a podcast, but we’re also friends. And that doesn’t end with the end of a podcast. And I really appreciate everything you’ve done to help make this podcast a success. And I just think this journey has been so powerful and impactful, and I’m really glad that I got to do it with you. 


    Beth Thompson (34:34): 

    Well, thank you. I feel the same way. 


    Debbie Foster (34:36): 

    And that’s a wrap for season one of Powerful Leaders. No apologies. We’ll see you back here shortly, 


    Beth Thompson (34:45): 

    And that’s a wrap. Thanks for listening to Powerful Leaders. No apologies. Be sure and subscribe to our show and help us spread the word by sharing our show with your network. 


    Debbie Foster (34:56): 

    And check out our show notes at affinityconsulting.com slash powerful leaders for resources and ways to connect with us. See you next time.