Name: Eilene Spear
Position: Lead Writer & Operations Manager at the National Law Review
Family: Married, two kids
Hometown: Denver, CO
Education: Masters Degree from Truman State University
What was your very first job, how old were you and what was the biggest takeaway from the experience?
My first job was mucking out stalls at a local stable. I was paid in free horseback rides, if I remember, it was a free ride for every 25 stalls I cleaned. I loved horses, just being around them and yes, even cleaning up after them was something I enjoyed. I learned from that job that sometimes you have to work for what you love, but when you love what you are doing; it doesn’t feel much like work.
At what point in your life did you realize you wanted to pursue a legal career and why are you passionate about your profession?
Like many people, I didn’t intentionally get into legal marketing. But I’d been working at my current company for a few months and was getting really excited by the results I was seeing, and how my work what having a direct impact, and how it impacted the folks at law firms I was working with. There is also a great ownership that comes with working for a small company, and I love that we are women-owned; it just makes me want us to be more successful to show we can do it.
What time do you typically get up on a workday, and what’s your ideal morning routine to get it off to a great start?
I work from home, so I have a very relaxed commute! My kids usually get me up around 6:30 AM or if I’m lucky, 6:45, and there is the very recognizable morning rush trying to get kids, husband out the door. That said, I usually log-in about 8 AM MST, which gives me plenty of time to drop my son off at school and watch him play on the playground before I need to be “at work.”
What’s something about your job that might surprise people?
I think people would be surprised by how much my team and I are able to accomplish with just a few people. The National Law Review is a small company, made up primarily of women--and we are able to do some amazing things, put together some big projects, and consistently deliver great results for the firms we get to call clients.
What’s the greatest personal or professional obstacle you’ve had to overcome, and how did you do it?
This one is tough! I think the biggest challenge I’ve had to overcome is maintaining a robust career while my husband also maintains a career--and his job has required us to move across the country every few years, and then adding two kids into the mix. I have the usual grumbles about childcare and no free time, but I think what I learned was that you choose how you spend your time, so priorities come into play. If I want to exercise, I have to choose to exercise, and maybe cut out some of the things I would do on auto-pilot (like binge-watch bad reality tv.)
What are your best productivity hacks?
I start each day--each segment of my day--by making a list. I wake up and sit down with a cup of coffee and sketch a list of what I’d like to get done that day for my family and personal life; and if things are hectic or I’m feeling overwhelmed I’ll add even things that don’t traditionally end up on a to do list--like “take a shower” so I can have some easy gimmies. Then when I step into work, I do the same thing. Crossing things off the list is therapeutic, and it keeps me on track to accomplish my goals for the day.
What’s a leadership skill you’ve learned the hard way?
I think the leadership skill I’ve learned the hard way is that I am in a leadership role. In my work, we all work remotely, and I tend to be a bit of an introvert, so it’s really easy for me to focus on my own projects and ignore the other pieces swirling around me in the company, to say “that’s not my job” and let others try to figure it out on their own. But I am one of the more experienced team members, and people on my team look to me for my institutional knowledge of our clients and how we do things. I had to embrace that, and take ownership of that, and see myself that way in order to make my life easier and set a positive example for my team. I fought against it for awhile, but once I embraced it things got a lot easier for me.
What are some of your hobbies or favorite things to do in your free time?
What free time? Just kidding. I live in Colorado, so I love to hike and climb 14ers (a mountain over 14,000 feet) when I can get the childcare. My husband and I average one a year, and we’ve each done 4 so far. I also am a runner, and I ran my first marathon last year--the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC.
Tell us about some of your volunteer efforts in the community and why you support those causes/organizations.
I volunteer with my son’s classroom; helping the first graders with their writing assignments. I like working with the kids because they are funny, and I like to be able to know who is who--it helps me to get my son to talk to me about his day. He describes fights as “battles” as in “Ava is in a battle with Connor” and it’s nice to know who the participants are. I also like to be physically in the classroom, so I get an idea of what the teacher might need or her pain points, so I can be helpful to her in that way, and establish a positive relationship so when my son inevitably misbehaves I’ve got some goodwill to burn!
You’re taking me out to a business lunch in Denver. Where are we going and what do you recommend I order?
My goodness, I don’t have a good answer for this one. LMA Denver folks will laugh, but I would take you to Guard & Grace on California Street in downtown Denver, and I would suggest you order the Chicken Salad, with Faro, Goat Cheese, and Avocado.
What’s one of the smartest purchases you’ve ever made? What’s one of the dumbest?
Buying our house in Denver 5 years ago was the smartest decision I’ve ever made. We couldn’t afford it now. Dumbest...any number of outfits or too small shoes.
Can you name someone who has had a great impact on you as a leader, or someone who has been a mentor to you in your life or career? How have they changed your outlook?
My mother, Toni Kuehnle. She passed away recently, but she had an amazing life as an Officer in the US Navy and then the COO of a major healthcare corporation. Everything I know about managing a team comes from her, and her advice through my career has been invaluable. We didn’t always agree, but I am so proud of everything she accomplished and I hope I’m even just a little like her.
What is something you are absolutely determined to do in life?
I am determined to write a book. I don’t know about getting it published, but I want to have a good, strong draft of a novel. I’m working on one now, which seems a little insane considering how crazy things are, but it’s nice to know I’m chipping away at it.