No amount of money will bring job satisfaction if you don’t love what you do- I was making a lot of money as a lawyer. Yet towards the end, I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning because it wasn’t my purpose anymore.
As a part of my series about “5 things I wish someone told me when I first became an attorney” I had the pleasure of interviewing Katy Goshtasbi.
Katy Goshtasbi is a former securities lawyer and branding expert. Katy collaborates with business owners, law firms and companies who are ready to unearth their individual brands in order to improve employee productivity, morale and diversity. The results are communicating the brand easily to the right audience to increase sales, build raving fans and impact in the world.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit more. Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your law career?
I remember being in court and the female judge told opposing counsel at a break in the hearing to go put on lipstick. Odd and funny.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I don’t practice anymore because I had an “aha” moment 12 years into my amazing legal career. I realized that I wasn’t serving the world anymore by practicing law and that lawyers all wanted something very different from me- to help them develop their brands and market/sell themselves easier.
What are some of the most interesting cases you have been involved in? Without sharing anything confidential can you share any stories?
I was an attorney at the US Securities & Exchange Commission when Enron happened and also when the Bernie Madoff scandal occurred. Prior to that, I had been a federal lobbyist and also an enforcement attorney chasing unscrupulous brokers swindling seniors of their money. All along, I remember thinking to myself that I was always one step behind, putting a band-aid on a broken financial services industry. It was disturbing, rather than inspiring to me.
Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?
The people who chart their own course but do it with kindness and respect for others, so they are classy and inspiring: Gandhi, MLK, Mother Teresa.
What advice would you give to a young person considering a career in law?
Only go into the law if you truly are aware of all the pros and cons. Most of us become lawyers because we say we want to save the world. I did. I really believed it. Years after I had changed careers, leaving the practice of law, did I realize I had only gone to law school to get respect, that as a refugee/immigrant, I felt I hadn’t gotten growing up. This was not a good enough reason to become a lawyer, which is a noble profession if done for the right reasons.
If you had the ability to make three reforms in our judicial/legal system, which three would you start with? Why?
I have been a federal lobbyist. I have seen how broken the political system really is. I would start there. I would then turn to human rights- diversity is our greatest asset. If society does not value all human life and liberty, then our structural integrity at a nation is at great risk. I would then turn to allowing immigration courts and judges to truly be independent of the Department of Justice so they could do their job well.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
While I was practicing I really couldn’t see how I was making the world better by being a transactional securities lawyer. Now that I get to work with lawyers on having them create a road map to “know thyself” as a brand, I feel I bring tremendous goodness to the world.
I know this is not an easy job. What drives you?
I live my life with purpose aligned with my natural talents and core values daily. That’s what drives me.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or an example for each.
- No one will respect you more just because you are a lawyer- you first have to respect yourself. As an immigrant, this wasn’t clear to me until I left the practice of law.
- There is gender discrimination in the practice of law- either learn to ignore it or don’t become a lawyer. There were many instances where I was passed up for opportunities because I was a woman. I just held my head up high and realized it was their problem and I wasn’t a victim.
- No amount of money will bring job satisfaction if you don’t love what you do- I was making a lot of money as a lawyer. Yet towards the end, I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning because it wasn’t my purpose anymore.
- Be kind to yourself- no one will be your biggest champion if you aren’t kind and understanding with yourself.
- Perfectionism won’t pay off- being a perfectionist may seem like it makes you a good lawyer. But it makes you slow and costly to your employer. Perfection is unattainable so quit trying. So often when I was practicing, I wanted to get it just right. It was painful and defeating.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
I think I’m good for now, believe it or not!