The go-to resources that make life and work better
Kat O’Neill is a small business and start-up attorney living in the Green Mountains of Vermont, where she started Hatch Law & Consulting, PLC. Before going to law school, Kat explored her creative side as a pajama designer — yes, a pajama designer! She also worked as a teacher at an experiential alternative school. Through these pursuits, she discovered she wanted a career that is purpose-driven, helps people, utilizes critical thinking and writing skills, and let’s be honest, is financially stable. Now, she helps entrepreneurs grow their businesses.
Outside of work, she gets her energy from downhill and cross-country skiing with friends, playing in the water, being silly with her kids, and reading a great book.
The go-to resources that make life and work better.
Favorite tools for…
I have three favorite tools for connecting:
- One really has been Groove. It’s been amazing to connect with international people in a small group format.
- Getting some type of recurring friend date going each week where we’re doing an activity that we enjoy. So for me, it’s been this group of three other women. We try to meet on Tuesdays and go skiing after we drop off our kids for like an hour or two. One friend was an existing client, the second one was an almost client. And then the third one is going to be my client. So it actually ended up being this great kind of full circle thing.
- I’m part of this group called Vermont Womenpreneurs which is a group of women working in business in different industries, getting together to have community and share honestly about how things are going for them. There are tons of groups like that, so I try to be ruthless about what resonates with me and what doesn’t. I get asked all the time to be part of these networking groups where you have to refer people to the group. And I say no every time, because that doesn’t work for me.
I run my own business and my husband’s business and we have an investment property. We use QuickBooks for the two businesses. And then the investment property is just a spreadsheet.
For my legal practice, I use legal specific tools. I use Practice Panther — it’s one part CRM, but it’s also time management and invoicing. You can pay bills and receive payments, and it connects with QuickBooks.
It’s a challenge because as attorneys, we have something called a trust account, which is like hallowed ground. And if you mess it up, you’re in big trouble. So that makes it harder to use a lot of cool tools.
I’d be super interested in using Wingspan if I were able to, because that seems amazing. Every time a client pays, you get taxes immediately taken out and only receive what you are allowed to use. That would be helpful. I do use sometimes, although not as consistently as I would like, YNAB. I think it’s really a cool tool if you use it.
At the end of last year, I participated in IndeCollective. I was part of their 10 week cohort and it was really intense, but it was awesome. Just being exposed to the caliber of speakers that they brought in each week and the content around re-imagining your business, how you can approach your services more as a product, how you price things… kind of a whole soup to nuts way of reenvisioning business so that you can work smarter, not harder.
Especially for me, being in Vermont, I think I was the only person in that cohort from Vermont. And so really just getting exposure to how startups and people who work with startups are interacting, even as simple as the language that people are using. It was just really refreshing. I learned about so many different tools and apps that I would not have known about before that I’ve incorporated into my business. There’s definitely nothing like that locally where I am.
If I’m making a deck or a webinar of some kind, I definitely use Canva. I think it’s amazing. I have a small business one-on-one legal presentation that I do. I did it for IndeCollective and I could make it look like IndeCollective-ish. And then I did one for a client of mine who’s a business coach for soul-centered entrepreneurs. It’s the same presentation with a couple of different slides, but all put on totally different templates.
It was great to take something that’s pretty much the same and then tailor it to a novel audience using Canva.
Mental health and unplugging:
I recently got this amazing new therapist who is a great connection and exactly what I needed in the moment. She’s somebody that I can go to if for example, I had a client who was mad at a bill that I sent.
I would also say that, in terms of unplugging, I live really close to nature, so I try to get outside whenever I can. And then, being able to combine the outdoor activities with fun and friendship. So like doing like my monthly skiing thing, we’ve already talked about turning that into like a morning hike once a week when it gets nicer. Really ticking a bunch of boxes to me is great.
Finally, something that I’m also really working on or trying to resource is just shutting everything down and trying to just be present and do a puzzle or draw with my kids; something kind of creative while they’re around like needle point while we’re watching a show.
My other resource for wellbeing is Ziva meditation. It’s a two week online class that you can take. It seems expensive, but I think you have access to it for a year and it’s so good. You do it 15 minutes, twice a day. I started in January 2021, and I’m still consistently meditating everyday once a day. It’s very meaningful and just how she explains what the meditation is supposed to do.
It’s designed to make you better at life. I learned about it from one of the Vermont Womenpreneur Zoom meetings about goal setting. I was like, I feel like I need more time. And this other woman messaged me to say, I did this program, it was amazing, you should totally do it.
What I loved about it is that it’s set up for you to do it anywhere. So all you need is a watch. You don’t need a phone, you don’t need something in your ears. You can do it in a crowded train station and you can do it while your kids are watching shows — it doesn’t have to be like quiet or controlled. And I really liked that.
I follow a bunch of accounts on Instagram. One is @manifestdestini, this woman, Destini. She’s amazing. I’m obsessed with her. She follows this kind of gentle parenting concept, and talks about this book, Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting by Laura Markham.
It has some practical info about why your kids do annoying things — probably because they are missing you or wanting to connect with you.
What I really took away from it is games that you can play. My daughter who’s almost four has a lot of tantrums. It gave me a better understanding of her tantrums and then also how to play silly games to diffuse that energy. Because apparently, I didn’t know this, laughing and rough housing gets out the same energy that crying and tantrums do. So if you can do fun, physical play, it really can help your kids defuse what’s going on for them.
The other one that I follow a lot is @curious.parenting, and they have a lot of great graphics that feel attainable and not too overwhelming or preachy.
Learning and Inspiration:
The books that have changed how you’ve approached your work and opened your eyes to something new:
I often read articles or do things that are in small chunks, so I don’t often read books, but I did pick a couple that I thought were really good.
Daniel Pink’s When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. There’s a lot about the science of your rhythms throughout the day. It’s all evidence-based and so there’s a lot of interesting studies. If you’re someone who has time every day that they listen to books on tape, I feel like this could be a good audio book.
James Clear’s Atomic Habits. With both of these, I don’t know if I even read the entire book, but I try to just get the little nuggets. and for me, the two nuggets that really stood out were:
- That it’s all about getting the reps in. So if your goal is to lift 150 pounds, you should be focusing on getting to the gym every day. Actually ending up lifting 150 pounds is the culmination of all your other days and all your other reps that you did. For me, that really helped if I’m trying to do a certain amount of work at a time, to add a longer time to really break things down into chunks.
- The concept of habit stacking if you’re trying to incorporate something new. Like for me, I did it with meditating. After brushing my teeth, I sit down and meditate.
Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson. It’s super old school from 1998 and it’s a really short book. I read it at work at my first job. The whole concept is that there are these mice and every day they go and there’s this pile of cheese and they just eat to their heart’s content and then go away.
Well, one day, the cheese pile starts to get slightly smaller, but they’re just so in the moment, eating their cheese, they don’t notice that the pile is getting smaller and smaller and smaller until one day they show up and there is no cheese. And then they say, who moved my cheese? And so what to me that was about, is being aware of the broader picture of what’s going on around you so that you can be more sensitive of seeing what’s coming, so that you can be more prepared and you’re not just feeling like life is this mechanical bull that’s jerking you around.
Your best method or tactic for getting a new client or job:
When I worked at a more corporate law firm, they had this marketing guy come in, who was, I mean, he wasn’t great, but he did have one nugget that I took away that I’ve applied and I feel like it’s super useful.
It was to go where your clients are. So for attorneys, there’s often this feeling that you’re supposed to be involved with other attorneys and you’re supposed to be becoming a thought leader among attorneys. And honestly, for me as a small business and startup attorney, I’ve never found that that’s how I get my clients.
I get clients through being a small business owner myself and being in the business groups and being amongst groups where there’s a lot of service providers because that’s one of my four ideal client groups.
Your best method or tactic for networking with clients and suppliers:
I’m conscious of being low pressure for my aims of an event or whatever networking I’m doing. So if I’m going to go to a group event, my goal would be to talk to one person, meet just one new person, because then if you’re consistently going to events like once a month, and you meet one person each time, you meet another new person, and then you all of a sudden have more people and it kinda takes off. Obviously, the pandemic has made things a little different.
I also recommend looking for clients in other contexts. So for example, I live in a place where a lot of people have moved to from urban centers, during the pandemic. A lot of these folks worked remotely for corporations, and now they’re going out on their own or considering it.
I’m making new friends, but I’m also aware that these friendships could lead to future clients. When a newer friend who is also a client invited me to a bootcamp in her neighborhood, I decided to go try it! You never know who you might meet along the way
You want your clients to know, like, and trust you. And so I think that’s what it is for me. For me personally, I’m not interested in any type of organization that has referrals or driving business as its primary objective.
I want the primary objective to be connection. And then that’s where I’ve really found valuable contacts.
If you could give yourself a piece of advice on the day you started, what would it be?
I think it would honestly be like, you are doing a great job. I’m so proud of you for taking this step and going out on your own.
I left and started my own business because I couldn’t really figure out how to be successful in a traditional law firm. I would also say, think about what didn’t work and what you could do. But like, honestly, just learning about building up my attention and learning about how my brain works has been great, and I wish I had learned that a long time ago.
So I guess my advice would be:
- Learn about your brain.
- You’re doing a great job and just keep doing things the way that are.
- Trust your gut
What’s something you want to intentionally make more time for?
I honestly want to make more time for leisure, fun and connection. When I look at the amount of time I spend on my phone or looking at the news or kind of half-assing my chores, I think making some more time to have fun, and be present and relaxed would be great.
Bonus question… what was it like being a pajama designer?
Being a pajama designer was really fun. It was really funny. I was completely unqualified for it, except that I loved pajamas.
I got to draw and make fabric patterns and learn all about product development and comfy clothes and fabrics. And that’s awesome.
Are you on a wavy path looking for more support, accountability and focus? Join Groove’s online coworking community to get sh*t done and have a good time while you’re at it.