5 questions with Kay Ballard

I wish I could tell you how I met Kay. I don’t know. Somehow on twitter, I think. We’re talked that way, some by email, some in comments on posts back and forth. I’ll let our 5 questions introduce her more.

1. You describe yourself as a “recovering lawyer.” I’m guessing that means that being a lawyer is an addiction? What is so addictive, and how is that different than most other professions? (Or did you mean that you mostly are about property recovery cases)?

I admit without shame that the description of myself on my twitter profile is somewhat disingenuous.  I call myself a recovering lawyer there because so many find that description amusing.  When I say it, it ALWAYS gets a laugh. This confounds and amazes me, yet I bask in it.

Here is how the lawyer thing happened. For years I said to myself, “I wish I had gone to law school.”  “I should go to law school.”  “I want to go to law school.”  Eventually I did–The Ohio State University College of Law. Here is the punch line: I never even noticed or thought about the fact that I had never said, “I want to be a lawyer.” This realization happened after the deed was done.

I had my own “boutique” estate planning firm in Ohio, serving clients who, at that time, had net worths of 3-10 $million.  I loved my clients and helping them with tax planning, philanthropic planning, business continuity planning, and legacy planning.  I had a successful practice, happy clients, and a fat bank account.  I worked very hard to build and maintain my practice, but I didn’t “burn out” as a lawyer. When I made the decision to dissolve my practice, it was because I wanted to try something new. And I did.

But,I shall always be a lawyer. I am licensed to practice law in Ohio and Illinois. Currently I am seeking the opportunity to be Of Counsel to an Intellectual Property / Technology firm. I am a good lawyer and an excellent rainmaker.  I suppose I shall never fully recover.

2. You are starting a soiree, a social media soiree. If I understand, that’s like a talking party, where people get to mingle and chat, but the music isn’t so loud that you have to shout, and people are getting intoxicated on words and ideas rather than cocktails. Why do you find ideas so intoxicating?

Thank you for asking your question about ideas by framing it around the Social Media #Soiree. As you know, the Social Media #Soiree is a project that involves a 30 member production team, most of whom share my love for ideas.  And, that I suppose is the point I would make–loving ideas doesn’t make me unique.

But, Jon, you use the word intoxicated to describe my orientation towards ideas, so perhaps you have sensed something more. Here’s the more:  Yes, I am intoxicated with ideas–my own ideas. I laugh as I write this because I laugh at the truth of it.  I am totally, crazy in love with my own ideas. Frequently, I am the only one who sees the beauty of my ideas. But fortunately, that arrogant belief in the beauty of my own ideas, a dangerous form of self-confidence, has mostly served me well.

3. A tax collector in first century Israel would have been a wealthy low-life. So when one of them had a big party and invited Jesus to come and meet his friends, the professional clergy were pretty critical. But why would they have invited Jesus anyway? Isn’t he the last person that would have been invited?

The story you tell is easy for me to imagine. Everything we know about Jesus would make us believe that he would be the perfect party guest.  He was charismatic and well-spoken. It was said that he performed miracles.  He was provocative and had powerful enemies. Anyone would have found him fascinating. Having him as a party “get” would ensure an interesting party that the tax collector’s friends would want to attend.

Your story reminds me of the industrial barons in this country who built huge, ostentatious mansions (“cottages”) in Newport, Rhode Island to permit them to meet and entertain an eclectic assortment of celebrities. I myself would like to own such a cottage so that I could invite guests as diverse as Henry Kissinger, Cher, Alice Waters, and you, Jon for a weekend pageant of a party.

4. You tweet. A lot. As far as I know, you don’t blog, and I keep waiting for more to show up at your website. Are 140 characters easier than paragraphs or are they different in some significant way?

Jon, I like to write. I mostly like the writing I do whether it is for business or pleasure. However, I tend to be too wordy and long winded. And my emails are widely known as Russian novels. Friends and colleagues actually begin to weep when they spot an email from me in their inboxes.

Several years ago, I had half a dozen blogs. Strangely enough, at the time, I didn’t really want any readers. I told myself that I needed first to “find my voice.”  One of my blogs was called “Can’t Marry Me.”  Everyday it featured a prominent man from the obituary section of the New York Times. I would speculate somewhat briefly about what my marriage to that particular man might be like but for the fact that he was, well, dead.

As you can see, I was no great loss to the world of blogging.

Despite that, I have every intention to return. I own over 80 domain names, and who knows?  I might end up having a blog on every one of them. I laugh at that notion.

As far as twitter, I just love it and have dozens and dozens of fun conversations with dozens and dozens of friends there. Since I fancy myself amusing, I tend to be rather silly there–when I am not being outrageous.  The truth is, I have made wonderful connections with any number of dynamic and high achieving people, you among them.

5. I just remembered that you lived in Chicago for awhile (or maybe it was that you visited).  So which is better: Gino’s East pizza or Texas brisket?

I have never lived in Chicago, but I have taken a bar exam there, seen Sarah Bernhardt’s one woman show there, discovered the art of Julian Schnabel there, raised money from major donors there, shopped like Paris Hilton on speed there–you get the idea. Chicago is a place to have fun. But for the bar exam, Chicago, for me, is and has always been, a destination. I love it. You can’t get a park downtown. It is deadly cold in the winter. But there are plenty of cabs and you can wear a fur coat on the street.  I love Chicago.


This is one in a series of 5 Questions conversations. For more information, go to my 5 Questions page.


5 responses to “5 questions with Kay Ballard

  1. ME: “Wow, Jon. Could you have been any briefer in your intro?”

    ALSO ME: “I know. I feel bad about that. I mean, Kay is hilarious, thoughtful, and becoming a good friend.”

    ME: “Well, you sure didn’t make that clear.”

    ALSO ME: “I know. I’m sorry for that. No excuses.”

    ME: “Well, okay then. I hope she gives difficult time and then forgives you.”

    ALSO ME: “Me too.”

    ME:”Wait. I’m Me. It’s not Me she needs to forgive, it’s Me Also.”

    ALSO ME: “exactly.”

  2. Jon…you shouldn’t be writing things other people can read at 5:23 am.

    I love Kay’s take on her ideas…I think if more people were that honest about how much they like their ideas and why, the world woudl be a better place…at least academia would be a better place…a more honest place at any rate.

  3. indeed dear sister. The honesty issue would be huge.

  4. What is Kay’s Twitter name because this is definitely someone I want to follow. And I can see she is the perfect and tres amusante person to host a soiree (and I certainly hope I’m invited).

    Great to read — thanks, Jon!


  5. indeed, Diana, you two should meet. @kayballard is where to find her on twitter. And click on the soiree link for an invite!