Change and innovation in the legal industry are helping to improve the quality and accessibility of legal services, creating new opportunities for legal professionals and making it easier for individuals and businesses to navigate the legal system.
This week, we’re chatting with Awin Tavakoli, Founder and CEO of Tavakoli Advisory, an advisory firm in Zürich, Switzerland. She is an international speaker and has shared the stage with many famous faces, including Randi Zuckerberg, Dr. Phil, Moira Forbes, and many more. She is a multilingual lawyer with experience as a Certified Legal interpreter. She is also a Member of the Board of Advisors to the World Litigation Forum and President of the IMN, Switzerland, as well.
Awin is also a business adviser, NFT enthusiast and curator, and a passionate advocate for change and innovation in the legal industry. She is on a mission to make the law more accessible.
𝐒𝐨, 𝐰𝐡𝐲 𝐬𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐛𝐞 𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐢𝐧?
You can catch Rob and Awin talking about:
- Awin’s background and how people refer to her as the embodiment of diversity and change
- How she’s helping business owners in protecting their businesses and brands
- Her involvement with the World Litigation Forum and her international speaking experience
- What President means to her
- What inspired her mission
- What reforms she thinks are needed for the legal industry to ensure accessibility
- …And she also shares her thoughts on future developments in the virtual world.
Here are 3 reasons why you should listen to the full episode:
- Learn about the skills you can learn whilst changing careers.
- Hear the importance of self-education and sharing knowledge.
- Understand what inspired Awin’s mission for reform.
- Tavakoli Advisory
- IMN Switzerland
- World Litigation Forum
- Gain exclusive benefits and bonus content by signing up on Legally Speaking Podcast’s Patreon page!
Awin’s background and career journey:
- Awin has a diverse background, including mathematics, professional sports, banking, teaching, research, and law.
- She emphasises the importance of being authentic and unique in the legal industry.
- Awin switched from mathematics and statistics to a career in professional sports, then went into the real estate industry in Iran.
- She later moved to Germany and Switzerland.
- Awin completed her law degree from “zero to hero”.
- After her law degree, she decided to focus on international contract drafting, negotiations and international commercial dispute resolution.
- Awin had a 3-year role as a compliance officer in financial crime, specifically bribery and corruption with Credit Suisse in Zurich.
- She then built their own business in 2017.
- Awin is passionate about teaching, learning, education, focusing on self-education and sharing knowledge with others.
- Awin also helps entrepreneurs transition from corporate life to entrepreneurial life – helping them navigate the process more smoothly.
Key skills Awin learnt that were transferable for a career in law:
- Awin believes in the importance of education, both traditional and self-education.
- She encourages others to learn and share their knowledge.
- She believes learning and teaching are key attributes for change, growth and evolution in the industry.
- Awin emphasises the importance of personal and private education, as traditional schools and law schools may not cover certain areas such as sales, negotiations, branding, influence, impact, influence, authenticity, teaching, presenting, public speaking, and international relationship building.
- Awin learnt negotiation and international relationship-building skills from a mentor in a diplomatic real estate company.
- She now applies this experience to her work in the legal industry.
Awin’s business and her advice for setting up a business:
- Awin believes business is a game and money is how you keep score.
- Awin has experience working in law firms and noticed many of them have problems with the financial side of the business and creating cash flow.
- Awin is a first-generation entrepreneur who broke a lot of rules and patterns to start her own business.
- She helps others who want to transition from corporate life to entrepreneurial life – by helping them manage the transition more responsibly and cautiously.
- Awin has invested in coaching and mentorship programs to learn more about business.
- She now shares this knowledge with entrepreneurs.
- Awin has added value for entrepreneurs as they speak the same language and understands the risks of starting a business as a lawyer and an entrepreneur.
Awin’s involvement with the World Litigation Forum:
- Awin joined the Board of Advisors for the World Litigation Forum in 2019.
- It is an organisation providing legal conferences and seminars around the world, connecting lawyers and highlighting challenges in the legal industry.
- Awin brought innovative ideas to the conference, such as: sessions on sales, negotiations, impact and influence, leadership, client conversion, collaboration, strategic networking, strategic planning, partnerships, and joint ventures to avoid conflicts and disputes.
Awin’s experiences as an international speaker:
- Speaking is a way of leading and making change.
- Awin stresses the importance of being a good leader and leading by example.
- You can convey your message to a larger audience through public speaking.
- Public speaking as an art.
- Public speaking is an important tool for raising awareness, educating others, and making a change.
- Awin has many personal experiences of being passionate and excited about speaking in front of large audiences.
- Public speaking is an important skill for those who want to make a change in their industry.
Being President of IMN Switzerland:
- Awin is the President of the IMN in Switzerland.
- IMN was built by J.T. Foxx and has expanded rapidly to 39 countries.
- IMN delivers more than just networking – the club includes training, accountability sessions, goal setting, strategic thinking exercises, and knowledge in areas that members are lacking.
- The club also trains members on how to pitch their businesses and solve problems for people.
- Due to covid, the club had to shut down physical meetings and focused on online ones.
- The club are now considering relaunching the whole model and bringing people together for learning, training, networking and gaining knowledge for the next event.
- Awin believes speaking is a way of leading.
- To make a change, you must be a good leader first.
- Leadership means responsibility, taking accountability, and standing in the front.
What inspired Awin’s mission? What reforms Awin thinks are needed to reform the legal industry to ensure accessibility?
- Change is necessary for progress but it requires acceptance and engagement.
- Change means work, responsibility, leadership, impact, and influence.
- Change can be difficult and painful – but it’s important to face difficult truths and not just scratch the surface.
- Awin took a course on legal English and plain language – she now applies this to other languages, sharing it with other lawyers through presentations and training.
- The goal is to make legal services more accessible and understandable to the general public.
NFTs, the Metaverse and future developments in the virtual world:
- Awin is an individual who is passionate about change and innovation.
- She was first introduced to NFTs through the social media platform Clubhouse and learned about the technology from a leader in the community.
- Awin was encouraged to explore NFTs further due to her skills as a lawyer and her rebellious nature.
- She believes in the democratisation of education and the power of shared knowledge.
- Awin views NFTs as a platform for creating, collaborating, communicating, and building communities through artwork.
- She is dedicating time, energy and resources to learn about NFTs – to help others on their journey in the NFT community.
5 powerful quotes from this episode:
- “The best effective way to raise awareness is to educate others by sharing your stories and expertise. And the best way to put that impact and influence on people is through public speaking”.
- “Change means work, responsibility, leadership, impact, influence, and it just doesn’t come like that”.
- “And if you want to make a change you must be a good leader first. Because people need to follow you, they need to acknowledge you, they need to somehow recognise your position as a thought leader…”.
- “And leadership means work. It means responsibility, taking accountability, taking responsibility, and standing in the front, you know, whatever it happens…”.
- “So I felt like obliged to share and to really transmit my knowledge and what I have learned, whether it’s like experience or expertise to other people, that it can be also support for them”.
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To learning more about the exciting world of law, Robert Hanna and the Legally Speaking Podcast Team.
00:00 Rob Hanna:
Welcome to the Legally Speaking Podcast. You are now listening to Season 6 of the show. I’m your host Rob Hanna. This week I’m delighted to be joined by the wonderful Awin Tavakoli. Awin is the Founder and CEO of Tavakoli Advisory, an advisory firm in Zurich, Switzerland. She is an international speaker and has shared the stage with many famous faces, including Randi Zuckerberg, Dr. Phil, Moira Forbes, and many more. She is a multilingual lawyer, with experience as a certified legal interpreter. Awin is also a Member of the Board of Advisors to the World Litigation Forum and President of the IMN, Switzerland, as well. Awin is also, it doesn’t stop there, business adviser, NFT enthusiast and curator and passionate advocate for change and innovation in the legal industry. She is on a mission to make law more accessible. Wow. So a very warm welcome Awin.
00:53 Awin Tavakoli:
Thank you so much. That was an introduction I can get used to it. Thank you. Pleasure being here.
01:07 Rob Hanna:
You deserve all the plaudits. And before we dive into your amazing career, and projects and experience and what you’ve been up to, we do have a customary icebreaker question here on the Legally Speaking Podcast. And I’m excited for your answer because I know a bit of background intel to this. But on the scale of 1 to 10, 10 being very real, what would you rate the hit TV series Suits in terms of its reality of the law, on a scale of 1 to 10?
01:40 Awin Tavakoli:
01:41 Rob Hanna:
Okay, and why do you give it an 8? And maybe can you tell us a little bit of background to Suits and your maybe relationship?
01:46 Awin Tavakoli:
Well, I think a lot of people they start like maybe studying law, I mean, ever since the series has been running, of course, not in the past. But those that are impressed by it and they think yeah, I’m going to be a lawyer and I’m going to rock it like the Harvey Specter, I’m going to be such a cool like law and legal intern like Mike and I can build my firm. But, but you know, these are awesome. I mean, these guys are always like well suited, well dressed, good mood of, look healthy, well treated. But the reality, the reality is a bit different. We need to always like get prepared for those parts that are going to maybe, crack us under pressure, or maybe also that inter, how to say internal or external relationship within the firms and with the clients or with the competitors, etc. These parts are a bit like Hollywood-y presented which is awesome, which is a great like marketing to become a lawyer, to have that influence or that impression that I’m gonna be a lawyer like him or like her. But I gave it 8 because I love it. And I know it has also a lot of like, inspiration and motivational parts for people to, to become a part of the legal industry. But there are also those little parts that I call them like, a little bit like, too cool for school. Yeah, that would be just a little bit of. And I think I mean, 1 cool reference for that is that I had the pleasure to have a chat or to interview Harvey Specter, Gabriel Macht in 2019, in LA, in 1 of the largest business conferences in the world. And yeah, that was a cool chat. And actually, I discovered a very relaxed fun leisure side of him, not that well suited or well shaved lawyer, actually he was not shaved at all he came in a sweatshirt. And then we had like real leisure talk. So yeah, which was very much fun as well. So just to, to make a hint that I also got to meet him in person and had that interview with him in front of like 3000 people.
03:35 Rob Hanna:
And that’s incredible. I mean, we’ve had lots of people come on the show, we had Shubam, who was at Clio. He’d met with Harvey and Mike after they’d finished filming, but no one’s actually interviewed the Harvey Specter before, so you’re a first and thank you so much for sharing that. But today is all about you as well, Awin. So would you mind telling our listeners just a bit more about your background and journey?
03:58 Awin Tavakoli:
Yeah, my background is very colourful and very diverse as I am also people calling me the embodiment of diversity and change, because that’s how I live and that’s how I am. So there is nothing more valuable, I think not only in the legal industry, but in all industries than being authentic and being us, because that is what makes us unique as our fingerprints, you know. So my background is actually everything else than law. Law is just a fraction of my life. And you know me a little bit because back to the days of our networking and our cool audio channel relations on the legal and the business side on on Clubhouse, so that’s where we get to know each other also a little more, but just for our awesome audience and listeners who want to just have a takeaway of who I am and why me and what am I doing here, is that my background is from mathematics, real estates, professional sports, banking, teaching, research, and then all that way because my first study was not law at all. So that is for a lot of people that they think oh, we want to switch, is it late? Is it okay? Oh, I’m not, I’m going to be excluded maybe from the industry. No, it’s all not. So keep those excuses for yourself because I have plenty of them in my pocket. And still, it can work if you are authentic and exotic. My background is mathematics and statistics. That is where I made my Bachelor in. And then I did any other career rather than mathematics and statistics because afterwards, I became a professional athlete and also a sport instructor and then went into like diplomatic real estate community. And then I worked for the second major German bank back in Iran, as those they had the European banks had their offices there, Commerzbank, it’s called and yeah, but then life brought me to Germany and then to Switzerland. And in Switzerland, that is the place that I got inspired and somehow introduced to a way of my favourite way of studying and practicing law. However, what I do now is also something to add up to that because that was not really also satisfactory to me. And I did my law degree from 0 to hero actually. So it was not that I jumped from my Master to, to, to, from my Bachelor to Master. I started from 0 and I had to master German language as well for that, because I did it at the University of Zurich. So it was like a 6 year non-stop studies was not a Bachelor Master, it was from 0 to hero. That’s why I said that. And I did my law degree here. And then after that, I did also super like non typical career road. So maybe we can talk about that a little later. But instead of going and preparing for bar exam, etc, I decided to go for what I was more passionate about, which was international contract drafting and negotiations and international commercial dispute resolution. And then I made another 1 and a half year, let’s say certificate on that part as well. And now I do something totally different again, I mean, related to that, but I decided to build my own business. So yeah, also had a 3 year of Honour to be the compliance officer for financial crimes, specifically bribery and corruption with a second Swiss major bank, Credit Suisse here in Zurich. And that was the time that I decided, okay, I had like 2 banking careers, second, German, second largest German bank and the second largest Swiss bank, but I thought, you know what, they were cool and fun, but now, I’m gonna do my own thing. I’m gonna go to Hollywood. No, I’m joking. I built my own business, back in 2017.
07:08 Rob Hanna:
And what a journey and I mean, there’s so much to sort of unpack there, because you mentioned obviously came from sort of mathematics and statistics background, you did your Bachelor’s, then you’re an English teacher, sports instructor, personal trainer, you know, diplomatic real estate agent as well, private banking in Iran. I mean, that’s so much that you would have learned during those times, you know, what were some of the key skills that you learned from those experiences along the way that perhaps helped you when it came to the legal profession?
07:32 Awin Tavakoli:
Teaching education, I mean, education, self-education, especially because we have traditional education, which is something that is offered by us. We cannot change it much unless we become ourselves a part of it and bring the change into it that we can also talk about that in a few minutes. But always be learning and teaching. So when you learn, don’t keep it for yourself. That is what I what has been like the mantra of my life ever since I was a child. I could not stand it that I knew something and my like school colleague or the 1 who were sitting beside me if they didn’t know what I was not feeling comfortable. So I felt like obliged to share and to really transmit my knowledge and what I have learned, whether it’s like experience or expertise to other people, that it can be also support for them. So that is like 1 major part and I think, the key attribute of all of us to, to towards change, growth and evolution of not only our industry, but also the industries that we are serving and relating to. So teaching, learning, let’s say all in all education, and not and do not get just satisfied with what you learn outside or what you teach outside, get also investments into personal and private education as well. Because 1 of the things that we do not learn in the normal schools or also specifically in the law schools are the other types of like, sales and negotiations, branding, influence, impact and influence, you know, authenticity, teaching, presenting, public speaking. And then the other thing that I also learned throughout the way from my past journey has been negotiations and international relationship buildings. That is what I always have to appreciate or acknowledge 1 of my mentors or maybe my godfather back those days in the international, or the diplomatic real estate company that I used to work for. He was a, was an awesome man who was who used to be an employee of UNESCO, in the States and also in Iran. And he taught me a lot with that age of 23 and 24. Closing huge deals between like embassies and also other embassies and real estate, landlords and owners, how I could facilitate those deals and between people with different backgrounds, different careers, especially the diplomatic community, which is pretty complex and sophisticated, different cultures, different backgrounds, different languages, and then negotiate those deals and, you know, bring those people together. So in that age I had a lot to learn from him. And these knowledge, that experience and expertise has been helping me and also empowering me a lot to bring a part of that, and to give back also to the legal industry. And while we do like dispute resolutions, negotiations for like prior to litigation, or even after dispute resolution times, so yeah, just to help other lawyers get familiar with that as.
10:15 Rob Hanna:
And I just love your values there in terms of, you know, wanting to share, help others, you know, it’s something we talk a lot about on the show in terms of you know, we’re a community, we’re a big global legal community. How can we help inspire, educate and entertain 1 another as we go through this journey of life. And I love also your approach to, because you do have 1 of the strongest diverse international networks, and you know how to sort of really nurture and foster those relationships and take it from a cold prospect to a warm prospect. And then to turn that into business, you know, and also, you know, real life standing long relationships. So I’m really glad that you highlighted that. And let’s talk a little bit more about your own, your own business, because you are the Founder and CEO, as I mentioned in the introduction of sort, of Tavakoli Advisory. So you’re helping businesses, owners protect their businesses and their brands. Just tell us a little bit more about that, and how that all sort of came about and any learnings again, for people thinking about setting up a business, anything that you think would be helpful for people to know.
10:59 Awin Tavakoli:
Awesome, thank you so much for highlighting that as well. I mean, for myself, business has been always a passion and also a game. So I learned also from my 1 of my awesome coaches, probably I think, you know, him as well, J.T. Foxx, they always say, business is a game and money is how you keep score. So for a lot of people that have a problem like with the financial sides of business to make money to like convert and creating cash flow into their presence. That has been always something that I was noticing, also in the law firms, that I was doing like my internships at and I had like the pleasure to be the law clerk with 2 very nice law firms in Zurich throughout the time that I still thought maybe 1 day I want to do the bar exam, so let me take my internship first at 1 year, and then if 1 day I change my mind that I want to become like a litigation lawyer that I still at least have that 1 in my pocket, which I think it’s never gonna happen. But, at least I gained some experiences, how law firms are working, and what are the things that I could probably help others to correct or to enhance or to learn, and to make their businesses run better. And for me, I do not come from a, from an entrepreneurial family. So I’m a first generation entrepreneurs, I broke a lot of rules and, and let’s say cliches, or maybe family patterns, etc, to, to, to start this path, and ideally in a very risky manner. And that is why after I made it, after some crazy turbulent times, and ups and downs, I decided it was like a year or so that I was really focusing on that, to help others who wanted to transition from their corporate life into entrepreneurial life, to help them manage it more responsibly and more cautiously, to, to go with those kinds of risks because not everybody is a very happy risk taker. And we have all different risk appetite levels. And not everybody is really ready to start something or to jump in a cold water and to take that leap of faith without any financial, emotional or relational support. I did that. But I was trying, I have been trying to help others, like not a business coach, but maybe a business advisor, to help them throughout those transitions or maybe if they have started already to help them go a little more smoothly, and not going through all that I have gone through, but maybe help them reflect some of those experiences and takeaways to make it a bit more smoother for them. Of course, risk is always there. So that is 1 part that I have been focusing on. And on the other side, let’s say on the parallel paths that you just mentioned for other entrepreneurs. Starting my own business as I said as a first generation entrepreneur, without any experience, without even any support because nobody in my family could support me they had no clue themselves. They just told me oh, all the best. That’s it. And nothing came also from outside. I mean friends, family, so suddenly my friend circle changed as well. But throughout those times until I got to know like a few of the best coaches in the world that I invested like, 6 figure into those kinds of programs and, and coaching and mentorship programs, the things that I learned out of those I said ooo, other people can do it better. And I again, I feel responsible to share those, not only with, with the entrepreneurs because I saw that, look, I launched my own business, it is a law firm, it is a business as well, you know. And I saw the ups and downs. So for entrepreneurs, it was very authentic when they started like working with me, because I was speaking the same language. I was not an employed lawyer with a law firm, who just comes and say, okay this is your contract, this is your company structure. I spoke to them from entrepreneur to entrepreneur, but then I could protect them as a main lawyer. So you know, so I had that both in myself. And that has been always a great added value for them that we, on the first level, we spoke the same language, were both entrepreneur, I knew all the risks, I did also, my business has been also young, it was not that old, it was like 20 years ago that I built my own business. So we were like somehow, having that empathy of sharing the same or similar knowledge is just a few steps ahead of them. But then in addition, it just happened that I was also a lawyer, and I could help them with the contract structures, with just helping them to get the legal documents in place. Because these are like the least noticed and invested in when it comes to launch a business for everybody. You know, they see that oh, okay, legal stamp, let’s do it later. Lawyers are expensive. They’re mean, they’re arrogant, they’re complicated. We just don’t want to pay them money, let’s just first launch the business, let’s make the website, do our branding. And then suddenly, when they get that call from I don’t know, a police or a, like a public prosecution officer or a competition issue that then become or intellectual property issues, or contract breaches, employees or freelancers, they go behind their back, GDPR breaches. And suddenly they say, oh, what a mistake and now it’s actually too expensive to invest on those things. So that has been like the educational parts that I have brought also into the entrepreneurial communities to teach them also to hold like regular legal trainings and sessions for entrepreneurs in a very accessible and understandable way throughout, actually, also in London, I had the pleasure to present for a great business club in January 2020, it was like just before the covid put us all at home. But that has been also a great pleasure to, to present also in different parts of the world, to raise awareness, to educate entrepreneurs about the legal and compliance risk in a way that they feel connected to it. And they feel like there is someone who can provide them a solution in a way that is understandable and accessible for them. So that is 1 part. And the third part is I think something that you already mentioned, which is providing trainings, and coachings, and consultings for law firms, who want to learn about those things that they did not learn in law school, like all of us.
16:23 Rob Hanna:
There’s so many great things to take from what you shared there, thank you. Because, you know, we always talk about you know, and it’s well documented, you know, the best investment is 1 you can make in yourself. And you’ve clearly done that. We know the famous quotes around, you know, formal education making a living, but you know, self-education making your fortune and, you know, you are actively having mentors, coaches, people within your network to continually level up so you can continue to disrupt, innovate, and, you know really be a pioneer within your space. And, you know, I mentioned in the introduction, you keep very busy because you’re also a Member of the Board of Advisors for the World Litigation Forum. And so I, they quote you saying “Awin is disrupting the traditional legal industry by serving her clients with a unique proven system, which she created out of her knowledge”. Awin, can you tell us a bit more about that unique system for, for clients? And yeah, just anything more particularly around your involvement with the World Litigation Forum?
17:18 Awin Tavakoli:
Sure. I had the pleasure actually to join the Board of Advisors end of 2019. And I had, like, let’s say, the first event and the first like, and I’m a permanent speaker and a Member of the Board of Advisors there. So it was just by recommendation from other fellow lawyers that they invited me to join that. I think it was Stefano Castellani. He’s a, he’s an awesome Italian lawyer, but based on practicing here in Geneva, Switzerland, and as he just, we, our, our ways, our, our path somehow crossed each other on LinkedIn and said you should join our Board of Advisors. We need exactly someone like you, because you think and act differently. It’s not out of the box, you just throw that box away. So oh, Stefano Castellani thank you so much for recognising who I am and for understanding that and also for the invitation. So that is where that journey started and World Litigation Forum is an awesome training and conference and seminar organisation, that is providing legal conferences and seminars around the world actually now in October, early October this year, we will be holding our next edition in Amsterdam. And our last 1 in January was in Dubai. And it’s going to be also in London, another time and also in New York City. So this is like connecting lawyers together by also highlighting the challenges and the issues in the legal industry. The name is litigation, but we just broaden it out a little bit to the whole issues around dispute resolution conflicts, and collaborations and communication problems, etc. So how can we better the quality of legal services by inviting lawyers from all around the world so that they really feel home somewhere in the world, they get a new experience of being in a different location in the world. And exactly, they’re chosen to be like different places in the world, different continents, so that people feel like related this ones in Europe, ones in the States, ones in the Middle East. And then we can like create not only the networking side, but also the training and education side. And as I started there, of course, as they just also mentioned in there, I started like to bring some really crazy changes. And I said, you know what we need to talk about the sessions that are missing in the legal conferences. During that conversation I said, you know, what, as I told you as well, like sales and negotiations, impact and influence, leadership, client conversion, collaboration, strategic networking, strategic planning, partnerships, joint ventures, business facilitation, contract negotiation, the contract, after all the things that actually, if lawyers have those skills, a lot of conflicts and disputes can be avoided, or they can be settled prior to be landing in front of a court of law, which creates you know, time, energy, money consuming trials for, for all sides actually, not everybody’s very happy when they land in the courts. Of course, there are some trials that are also having happy endings, but a lot can be saved, a lot can be avoided, you know, and especially in the relationships in between the, the parties involved, you know, there a lot that can be settled amicably and respectfully, and even if they are going to resolve it, awesome, they can have a more powerful comeback, you know. And even if they decide to dissolve and leave each other with a handshake, they can still do it respectfully. And 1 day if they face each other, somewhere, they can still at least appreciate and, and respect the time that they had together, or the collaborations they had together. So these are the things that I like brought in an innovative model, also into the conference to provide those kind of trainings for lawyers as well. And it’s not only about the law, because the first time that I went on stage there as well guys, I’m not going to talk about the last precedent cases or the last, or the, or the laws, we all know them, we are lawyers, I’m not going to talk about law for you. I’m going to talk about business, going to talk about human connections, going to talk about strategic thinking, we’re going to talk about partnership facilitations. I hate when I hear in like larger negotiation agreement, agreement, settlement, settlements, or in like, joint venture or partnership meetings with like, 7, 8 figures, 9 figures, that normally the parties they prefer to have the lawyers outside of that room, because they said they put out, they set out the contracts for us that’s fine. From now on, we need to have them out because they are going to kill the deal. But I said, I want to train lawyers to seal the deals. I want them to facilitate the deals. I want those investors or those big companies to keep the lawyers until that handshake moment and not saying if they stay here they’re going to refer to this and that clause and then we’re going to kill it. No why not learning business acumen as well. Public speaking, presentations, impact and influence so that you can find your ways, not only to the hearts of the parties, but also to their brains and you can really influence for the good, of course, because for a lot of people, sometimes they just see there’s a very thin line between influence and manipulation. That has been something that I felt also responsible in a few of my speeches, to clarify and to, to make them understand that we’re all responsible to make impact and influence without manipulating the size, because if it’s for good have the people its influence, if it’s for our private interest, it is manipulation, which is, which is a very thin line. But yeah, that is what we’re doing. And actually I had the honour to run and put together the first panel on blockchain and NFTs including, of course, the legal and compliance risks and challenges in January in Dubai. And I think it was 1 of maybe the first legal live conferences in the world that I had the honour to, to open that session and put it an awesome panel, very diverse, from the UK to the Scandinavian to Dubai from, to America. We had a panel and on my myself, of course from Switzerland. It was a very diverse panel and we have awesome discussions. And I’m going to run again, another 1, again on soft skills for lawyers. That’s never enough to talk about it. And on blockchain, DOAs of course, and NFTs, legal and compliance risks as well, in Amsterdam, in our upcoming events.
23:00 Rob Hanna:
And that’s super exciting. And I would encourage people to, to definitely follow Awin. We’ll talk about that at the end because the work that she’s doing in the Web3, NFT, and you know, all things connected to that is, is super impressive. So definitely 1 to watch and to be following. Wanted to stick with the speaking because you are, you know, an award-winning international speaker, you’ve shared the stage with many famous people I mentioned in the introduction, Randi Zuckerberg, and the likes, you know, what have been your experiences as an international experience speaker?
23:25 Awin Tavakoli:
I think for me speaking is a way of leading. And if you want to make a change you must be a good leader first. Because people need to follow you, they need to acknowledge you, they need to somehow recognise your position as a thought leader, as somebody who have achieved some, has achieved something, and is still on the mission to make changes for the good, of course, and who has started to change from herself or himself. Because there is a huge thing between like preaching and practicing. So always say leading by example. And then being the voice of your industry, that’s the best way that you can convey your message to the world. You know, if I do a consulting to a company or if I do a coaching to another lawyer or to another law firm or to an entrepreneur, it is very exclusive, it is awesome and it’s very impactful as well. But it’s that 1 client, that 1 person, that 1 company, but if I go in a conference and speak in front of 500 people, or if I do like the 1 we did with Randi in Stockholm, in front of 2 and a half 1000 people, or the 1 with Harvey in front of 3000 people, suddenly the game changes. And for me, as somebody who believes in what she does and what she wants to achieve and the make that she wants, the change that she wants to make also, not only in the industry, but also in the world. Because as I said law is just a fraction of my life. And there’s a lot more beside it and around it. The best way to raise awareness, to educate others, to share your stories, experiences, expertise, and also to make that change, and to put that impact and influence on the people is by public speaking. And it’s its own art actually, as well. So I told you just prior to starting this, I said now, we are just 1 to 1, but I know this is going to be shared with a larger audience. That’s why I’m not relaxed at all. I’m pumped and loaded like a gun. And that’s how I feel prior to going on stage, the time that they call my name, I’m running, I have videos from my speeches how I enter the stage, it’s like always with crazy music and me running on my heels towards the stage and not just walking. So that is the fire and the passionate inside of me. And that’s something that I think people who want to make a change will want to convey their message and the voice to a larger number of people. They need to learn the skills of presenting and public speaking.
25:40 Rob Hanna:
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27:57 Awin Tavakoli:
President is means responsibility. You know, for a lot of people sometimes getting a beat up like higher title, they feel like oh, it’s the status. It is more work, because it’s that’s exactly the leader between a boss and sorry, that’s a difference between a leader and a boss, or a leader and a manager, you know, we don’t want to manage or bossing people, it’s about leading people. And leadership means work. It means responsibility, taking accountability, taking responsibility, and standing in the front, you know, whatever it happens, even if the team members if the, let’s say business owner members, if there is something going wrong, you need to stand in front and take that responsibility. If it, even if it happens, or even if it was made by somebody else from the team, because you were responsible for the team to also function in a well, proper manner. So I am in Switzerland. I mean, it has been like, the club has been built already by Mr J.T. Foxx, a couple of years ago And then it’s suddenly started expanding rapidly throughout 39 countries in the world, including also London, and also Switzerland. But in, in, in Zurich as the main office and I had the pleasure to be given or to be handed over that position after the first leaders or the first presidents were also an awesome couple, who just had to leave because they became like their second child, and I think the third afterwards, etc, so responsibility was much higher for them. And I took that over with pleasure. And yes, we have members from all around the world, actually, all the expat entrepreneurs in Switzerland, and the local ones. So it’s an awesome place that we deliver, not only networking, no, because a lot of these clubs, I think they fail to attract people or to make that real impact because they’re only about like, inviting people once a month, having, grabbing some drinks and having some talks and then go away. And the next day, everything is like washed in the drain. But what we do is like, actually, that was the innovative concept of J.T. as well, which I admire him for being such a great leader, by example, and then giving that responsibility to his other students or the other coachees in other countries in the world. So we deliver a lot of trainings, we do a lot of accountability sessions, we do a lot of goal setting, strategic thinking, exercises, and we do also a lot of models for people to get knowledge in those areas that they are lacking, by asking them in advance and say you asked for it we’re delivering, that is how it goes. And also we train them in, in a lot of areas, and we teach them how they can help 1 another, and how they can pitch, pitch their businesses, that is something that is missing. Great point, actually, also in the legal industry. If you, if you sometimes ask people, what do you do? They just say, I’m a lawyer, but I say don’t tell me what is your title, tell me what you do for people. What problem you solve, you know. If, if we always also get trained in those things, again, these are the things that we don’t learn in law school. But these are great components that law schools work on. Unfortunately, throughout the covid times, we had to shut down our you know, physical or real meetings for quite some times. And then we focused on the online ones. But now we are considering to relaunch the whole model and bring people again together. And enjoy sometimes, you know, in learning, training, and networking and having our backpack full of knowledge when we go back, and looking forward for the next event, the coming month.
31:07 Rob Hanna:
And that’s super exciting. And yeah, I just love how you, you bring everything together with, with that sheer business acumen and you know, commercial thinking. And, you know, I want to kind of give you a chance to talk more about your mission, because it’s something that I’m very passionate about, you know, your mission is to make the law accessible to everyone. What inspired you for your mission? And what reforms do you think are needed to reform the legal industry to ensure that accessibility?
31:33 Awin Tavakoli:
This is a very awesome point, Robert, thank you. That’s why I really appreciate you coming up with that question. Because a lot of our friends or colleagues or fellows in the industry, they just do not want to hear that. Because you know, change is always first needs acceptance, and also needs us to engage. Change means work, responsibility, leadership, impact, influence, and it just doesn’t come like that. And change actually means pain as well. If evolution is painful, so if we are not really ready, willing, or open to accepting all of those things, and we just want to stay where we are and keep up with the way that we’ve been practicing for hundreds of years, nothing is going to happen. And I personally, I’m not a kind of like, complain culture fan, no. Sitting down there and just washing away my frustrations with after work drinks or something, that is maybe like a kind of morphine or some just it keeps for the next day. But if you really want to make fundamental changes then you need to really leave that surface, scratches are not only, scratching the surface and you need to really deep dive, and also face some ugly facts that we don’t want to face. That is why I said at the very beginning, what are the perceptions from the lawyers and attorneys all around the world actually, it’s not limited to a certain country. Unfortunately people outside of the legal industry, they feel like they have no access to this community. They feel like they’re arrogant. Maybe they’re driven by ego. I’m not saying that’s true. But I say that is unfortunately that the perception that we see and we hear from all around the world or from people who does not belong to the industry and they’re like outside of the industry they think lawyers are arrogant, they are complex, they speak the way that we don’t understand them. And this part, I have to now maybe mention the name of an awesome teacher, it was a part of self-education as well that I did about legal English, legal language patterns and plain English. So of course then I applied it in other languages because I speak 4 languages. But that was the lady called Katherine. Katherine, oh my god and tell me the family name, it will come back and we’ll come back. And she is, has been also a practicing attorney from New York City, but she was teaching those courses in Zurich. And I had the honour to be here student back at around like 9, 8 years ago. And I felt like somebody is finally tapping this point and really scratching not only the surface, but it’s going like deep, deep diving into that problem. And facing that fact that we lawyers, unfortunately, have been trained to speak in a way that nobody understands. That is how we’ve been, let’s say, graduating. That’s how we have been writing those exams. And that is how we have been really trained to speak and to write, but for what it’s worth, if my client does not understand the contract that I have drafted for, or for him, or maybe they shy away because they don’t understand something, you know, that’s the nature and how that our human brain works. If we don’t understand something, we just shy away and we just safeguard ourselves by protecting ourselves, you know, and that’s a big pity. Because as lawyers we have so much value to add, we have so much service to provide. And we can help so many people, if we just playing down a little bit, and just make our language a bit more accessible and understandable. And that’s how we can law more available. And if people feel like, oh I understood this, I got this, then they do not shy away, or they do not like protect themselves, you know, because people normally protect themselves from whatever is unknown to them. And why should we talk or speak or speak or write in a way that people don’t understand us. So that’s a revolution that needed to happen. And you know, as Mahatma Gandhi always said, be the change you want to see in the world, I started with for myself, and now I’m spreading it and sharing it with other lawyers or by holding legal presentations and trainings for entrepreneurs, non-lawyers, you know. Einstein also said, if you can simplify a very complex fact in a way that a 6-year-old understands you, then you understood it yourself as well. So I’m following his model.
35:18 Rob Hanna:
It’s so true. And you’re doing such a great job of that, you know, because ultimately, if you confuse people, you may lose those people, you lose trust. And so it’s such great advice that you, you share there as always, but sticking with, with change before we look to sort of conclude, you know, you are passionate about innovation in the, in the legal sector. That’s clear. You are an NFT enthusiast as I mentioned, you have expertise in NFT consulting and strategy and, you know, big brands, the likes of Tag, Burberry and now embracing NFTs, many others buying space in the Metaverse. You know, just tell us a little bit more about your, your sort of works in this space. And, you know, what do you think are going to be some of the future developments in this virtual world?
36:06 Awin Tavakoli:
Awesome. Thank you so much Robert. I think NFT for me started with Clubhouse. So for me it was like, the chronology was like covid, Clubhouse, Web3. That was my journey very easy or let’s say covid, Clubhouse, crypto. So if you want to just make it a little like more, the triple C’s together. But I’d never claim myself as an expert in crypto or something. There are people who were, by some of that I’m just in that niche. And I stay I stick to that NFT because that’s a part of also, I think, a hidden or a disguise passion of myself or a burning passion that suddenly found a platform to open up, to blossom and to execute some real, real constructive, non-conforming changes again. Yes, innovative, innovation is my passion and actually it’s even more than that. Change is my second name. I would say about that. It’s just so ingrained inside me and it just, the whole, my whole life, my whole life is about change. So that was the time that I heard about NFT for the first time on Clubhouse, and from actually our awesome friends and you know him as well, such a great leader he was. May his soul rest in power and paradise Genu, the Wolf, lion of Clubhouse. He had, such he left such a great I mean golden footprints in that community as well and much, much beyond that. So I heard that actually the first time in 1 of his rooms that he was running and he was like always an ambassador of education and I learned 1 thing that I felt like it’s good was like really, really with my heart as well, because he said, Awin you have some power and you have a lot of skills, and you’re not a typical lawyer, and the NFT community would need a lawyer like you, not like all the others, and I was thinking, oh my god, what is this guy pushing me through, he has no clue about what I do. And I have no clue about what he’s talking about. But he had that, let’s say human knowledge or that level of like, energy exchange that he saw something in me, especially because of like my rebellious character and nature that is wanting to always like break taboos and going through, like different or unknown phases. And he said, this community, I mean, it’s about decentralisation, it’s about blockchain. These people don’t want authorities on laws and regulations. If, if a lawyer then they would need someone like you. And I felt super honoured. And I said, oh okay, if he’s saying it, let me get educated about it, you know, because you cannot just discard or reject something that you still don’t know about. So I’m a, I mean, I come from an academic family. And learning and education has been always a part of my life, doesn’t matter what I do, I’m always learning. And that’s what I tell also to not only lawyers, to anyone who’s maybe hearing this, be learning and keep learning and keep educating, because as Immanuel Kant is like my number 1 favourite philosopher, he said, knowledge is power. I said, with all due respect to you, my lovely, let’s say, mentor and top philosopher, I said, knowledge as such is not power, shared knowledge is power. And that’s not just normal power, that’s multiplied power. What would a knowledge helped me if it’s only within me, and in my, my own, let’s say, books and in my own brain until I execute it, and until, and until also share it with other people. So that is 1 part. And for me, seeing that also how Wolf was talking about democratisation of education. I just thought, this is probably my world. And as also a, let’s say, sideway passionate artists and creator myself, seeing a platform that you can create, collaborate, communicate, building communities, and just contribute to 1 another, by work of art, not necessarily about work of art, but just a part of the whole NFT is about art. So for me, that was just that first kick. And I took that leap of faith. And I said, you know what, I’m going to dedicate some real time and energy and resources into it, learn about it, and then help others on their path of becoming a creator, a collector, a contributor, or just the 0 clue person who’s just curious about this, you know, because, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s about a lot of those people who were like, curious and clueless in my Clubhouse weekly rooms on, on legal and compliance sides of NFTs and now they have become investors, collectors, creators and in the platform, and I feel it like oh wow, so my work at least they have left an impact behind when I see those kind of people. And yes for me a part of it was the mission to educate and to help to support and also facilitate the way of collaborating amongst people. And the other side was myself. I wasn’t born an artist myself. So I felt like oh, it’s a part of me as I said, again, law is just a fraction of my life. Now the lawyer artists creator is being born you know, and evolution and change as I say, it’s my second day so I was like, so ready for this and I embrace it like with all my heart, it was not just like acquire the knowledge. It was about awakening 1 of my disguise passions.
40:49 Rob Hanna:
And what a great job and what a powerful way to, to conclude our, our chat which has been so enriched, full of, full of knowledge Awin and what you’re doing and yeah, particularly within the Web3 NFT community and your whole ethos of helping and sharing and collaborating. It really extends to why you’ve built such meaningful relationships and had such a successful career. So if our listeners would like to learn more about your business and also maybe you’re looking to try and get an international career and emulate your successes, what’s the best way for them to contact you? Feel free to shout out any social media or website links. We’ll also share them with this episode for you too.
41:27 Awin Tavakoli:
Awesome. Well, my website is a work in construction because of as a person, as a messenger of change. That’s always like being in the making but hopefully by end of summer something solid and informative is coming up. However, as we all know website is rather serving as a kind of reference or like your business card but if you want to really see me and what I do and about my life and see the dynamic of what I share and what I serve, you can just find me on LinkedIn under my full name Awin Tavakoli. You can find me on Facebook Awin Tavakoli again. You can find me on Instagram win Tavakoli under legal as well, and on Twitter of course on all the medias I’m pretty well active and I have a kind of cool omnipresence and I share sometimes also, I think a sought after contents and a lot of people are really like looking for and they feel like oh, we don’t find them on a typical legal page you know, because that is, that is, that is a part of my personality. And as I said, authenticity is the brand. So that is what I stand for. And I practice what I preach. So if you want to just see really what I do and how I live and what I live for, and what pattern I live after, check out my social media. And there you can also get connected to LinkedIn, email information, YouTube Channel, and NFT collections, and so on and so forth. So I’m pretty well available and there’s only 1 Awin Tavakoli in the world so you cannot miss my name in social media as well. You’re googling the orbit confirming.
42:42 Rob Hanna:
Well, thank you so much, the 1 and only Awin Tavakoli, it’s been an absolute pleasure having you on the show. So from all of us on the Legally Speaking Podcast, wishing you lots of continued success with your career and future pursuits. But for now, over and out.
43:00 Awin Tavakoli:
Thank you so so much. It was a great pleasure. Being a part of this with you and seeing you always also leading by example, creating awesome content, bringing people together, serving not only the legal industry but also others, by bringing lawyers and sharing their life stories and missions. You’re doing an awesome job and I’m happy to call you my friend Robert Hanna.
43:17 Rob Hanna:
Thank you so much Awin. Thank you really appreciate it. Thank you for listening to this week’s episode. If you liked the content here, why not check out our world leading content and collaboration hub, the Legally Speaking Club over on Discord. Go to our website www dot Legally Speaking Podcast dot com for the link to join our community there. Over and out.