Channeling Jimmy Fallon into my Law Practice

Lisa Sherman
California Labor & Employment Attorney

When I asked my daughter what she wanted for her sixteenth birthday, she responded, “to see Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show live.”  How hard could it be to make that wish come true?  Short answer: very.  The show was dark for two weeks in New York over the holidays right after her birthday, so we gave her an IOU.  Like any parent, I figured she would forget all about it or become interested in someone else and I would be off the hook.

About a week ago, the pressure was on full blast when she informed us that “Jimmy” – yup, on a first name basis – is coming to LA and there is simply no excuse for us not to get tickets.  Ok, so how hard could that be? Short answer: very.  His show in Phoenix sold out in 2 minutes and it was, well, Phoenix, not Los Angeles.  At precisely 10 a.m., our tenacious daughter stood ready at school in front of her computer hoping to get the lucky tickets.  Thanks to her school’s super wi-fi, she nabbed two tickets for February 4th at Universal Studios and she was over the moon. (By the way, she could have ordered up to four and they were free, but I won’t proceed down that path….)  

At first, I was excited to go with her, until I discovered that I would need to take her out of school at 10 a.m., drive 40 minutes to the studio, wait in a desolate garage for two hours (with no wi-fi), and sit for three hours in a rock hard chair outside with nothing but water and port-a-potties.  After that, we had to take a tram to the studio, and wait again in a line to enter the studio and wait for the show to begin.  Sure, I remember what it was like to have a celebrity crush when I was a teenager, and who better than Jimmy Fallon. Little did I know that I would be bitten by the Jimmy Fallon bug and want to channel him into my law practice.  

What We Can All Learn from Jimmy Fallon 

I have represented both celebrities and well-known executives as an employment lawyer.  Within minutes of meeting executive management, I can usually size up the workforce and assess what is driving the employment issues that has brought me there.   Executives are executives chiefly because they are good at shmoozing, so I withhold judgment on reaching my assessment until after I get a glimpse of how they communicate and treat their rank-and-file employees.   And even when management is treating their employees well, the most innocuous event turns out to be the straw that broke the camel’s back giving rise to an employment dispute.  Time and time again, I counsel employers on the importance of focusing on the “straw” as a preventative tool.  While the stakes are high in what I do, I am always reminded of my own connections with my clients and the dedicated professionals who help make my job easier.  So, how does Jimmy Fallon play into this?  Consider what I observed yesterday: 

  • Jimmy Fallon was congested during his monologue but that never stopped him from giving 100% of himself.   
  • Jimmy Fallon made every single person who worked on his show feel as if they were important.  The number one complaint employees have is lack of respect and attention.  From the executive producers to the fresh-out-of college pages, he went out of his way to thank them for their contribution to his show.
  • Jimmy Fallon’s excitement and passion for what he does is contagious.  Whether you are young or old, whether you know the guest or who he is spoofing, he knows how to touch everyone in the room.  I am sure there are guests that he didn’t feel the connection with, but he never let anyone see it, most of all, the guest he was interviewing. 
  • Jimmy Fallon can make a mundane guest line-up come to life, with the whole room captivated.  Who knew Kobe Bryant was a poet but stopped writing poetry because he cannot spell well, or that when Van Diesel was hard-up for work as an actor, he practiced his personas when he was a telemarketer.  This is a reminder that everyone has individual interests that make the mundane part of our job so much more exciting. 
  • Jimmy Fallon is truly humble and appreciative for where he is today.  After just one year hosting the Tonight Show, he still stands there in awe of this honor which is a reminder to all of us to appreciate our lot in life. 
  • Jimmy Fallon finds in each guest something that has touched him personally, and, therefore, it touches all of us.  When Carl Reiner, age 94, who had been on The Tonight Show 47 times with Johnny Carson and many times before that, told Jimmy that he was the best host he has ever seen, Jimmy not only teared up, but immediately turned it around to share with the audience his own personal story about Carl, a reminder to all of us to take the time to share compliments.
  • Jimmy Fallon understands the importance of listening, eye contact, showing respect, and making every person who waited five hours know that he truly appreciates them, which is something executives learn time and time again to be the most important return on their investment. 

At the end of the show, Jimmy Fallon went up and down every aisle, slapping hands, giving hugs, and signing autographs.  I knew my daughter was bummed out that she didn’t get that close to him.  After we arrived at home after the taping, I called my husband, Jeff, who was at the Palm in Beverly Hills, to let him know about our magical day.  

The Best 16th Birthday Present ... Ever!

After Jeff hung up with me, he looked up from his porterhouse steak, and in walked Jimmy Fallon in the flesh.  Jeff and his father approached Jimmy to tell him that our daughter was at his show and how much she wanted to see him in New York for her sixteenth birthday.  Jimmy insisted that he call Alex so he could thank her for coming and ask her if she liked the show.  Because Alex would not believe it was him, Jimmy told her that he would take the picture above to prove that it was him calling her.  Needless to say, Alex was on cloud nine for the rest of the night.  I was reinvigorated to channel Jimmy Fallon into what I do every day as an employment lawyer.

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