Reflections on $10B in Proposals Submitted on PERSUIT

This week we hit $10B in proposal value through the PERSUIT platform. A significant milestone for the company. 

One that I’ve had to pinch myself over. 

But it has also made me reflect on the journey, how we got here and what’s important.

When I founded PERSUIT in 2016, I really had no idea what I was doing. (Not sure that bit has really changed!). 

The lessons that I have learned along the way are too countless to mention in a single post. But here’s a few that stand out for me.

1) Don’t die wondering (or what I call “the Nursing Home Test”)

I had just turned 50, and after a 25+ year career in BigLaw, I had to decide whether my 50 to 60+ years was going to look the same as what had come before. 

Safe, prectictable, steady rivers of $$$...and just doing more of the same as a partner in a global law firm. (Yeh, trust me, I know how that sounds).

Or I could do something about a problem in the legal industry that we were all aware of but had done nothing about. 

An industry that valued and promoted input (hours) over outcomes and value, despite all the adverse externalities of the billable hour model (chronic poor mental health, poor diversity, bias etc). 

A model that had served me well. (I was lucky enough to have been born in the right time, right place, right color, right gender…you get the drift).

I remember sitting on a beach in late 2015 weighing up the pros and cons. 

Play it safe, continue getting rich(er), see out your career in law and ride off into the golf course sunset when you’re done. 

No one could ever blame me for making that decision. My family would be set up financially for life. Happy Days.

Then I envisioned my future self, in the nursing home, blanket wrapped tightly around my legs, reflecting on my life. 

What would I say to myself? 

"I’m glad that I didn’t," or, "I wonder what would have happened if I did?"

At the same time, I heard the voice in my head. 

"OK Jimmy (Yeh, I know it’s weird, but the voice calls me Jimmy). BigLaw partner? Big deal 🤷 . What else have you got?"

Deep down, I knew I had more. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I had more. 

In the playing field of professional life, had I continued on the BigLaw path, I would not have been able to say that I had laid it all out on the field, with nothing else left in the tank. 

At that point, as I watched the waves crash to the shore, I decided that the pain of regret — of not knowing what would have happened if I did — was a pain I was not prepared to face. 

I like the nursing home test. It puts a lot of things into perspective for me. Professional and personal. If you haven’t tried it, you should.

Try and minimize regret in your life. And don’t leave anything in the tank. Lay it all out on the field. Above all, don’t die wondering what could have been.

2) Nothing worthwhile happens overnight. And nothing ever happens without taking the first step (then the second, then the third…)

We announced crossing the $10B milestone on an internal Zoom call with our go-to-market team last week. 

As we closed out the call with me congratulating the team, I told the story of our very first RFP through the PERSUIT. 

It was nothing short of embarrassing. 😖

We had to beg and plead for a client and law firms to try PERSUIT (for free), with a clunky workflow that created way more work than the value we delivered. 

In fact, that was the case for (many) months! Our baby was truly ugly!!

But here’s what I said to the team. 

"Yes, it was embarrassing, but it was a step forward. And without that embarrassing first step forward, we wouldn’t be where we are today."  

Nothing great ever happens overnight. Your work. Your professional life. Relationships with friends, family, community, loved ones. Life is not like that. 

The things we’re truly proud of and value the most are the product of many incremental steps taken persistently over time until they compound into something great. 

That’s exactly how we got to the $10B in proposal value on PERSUIT…and how we’ll get to the next $10B, $100B….

The PERSUIT Investment Formula

7.5 years x 365 days = 2,737.5 investment days

2,737.5 investment days x 100 daily team steps (probably a whole lot more!) = 273,750 incremental steps forward 

273,750 incremental steps forward x  The magic of compounding efforts over time = $10B proposal value

Each step doesn’t count all that much on its own. 

It’s when you put them together that it really counts. And the earlier you start with those steps, the greater the compounding effect you’ll see. 

3) Founding a company starts off being about you (me). Then you find out what it’s really about. 

Founding a company is about as ego-centric a thing that one can do. 🤯

But by definition, it has to be. Because you start the journey with just you and your ego (and believe me, your ego doesn’t count as company) and a firm conviction about what the world should look like as you set out to make everyone else believe it, too. 

And despite thousands of signals (punches in the face is more accurate 👊 ) throughout the journey telling you that the world believes no such thing, you keep going. You have to. Your ego won’t let up.

But then you start to build a team and you see that team grow.

You experience their belief in you and your vision, their commitment, their struggles, their personal and professional growth. 

The lengths they go to because they also now believe the world should look different. 

They bleed PERSUIT every bit as much as you do.

And their own growth unfolds before your very eyes. 

Like a recent video taken secretly and shared of one of our early team members rehearsing Swiss names before she was about to get onto stage and present to a global customer team of 100+ regional GCs. Someone who only a few short years ago was told by her firm partners she should stop wasting time on her entrepreneurial ideas so she could bill more hours. 

It was a moment that made me choke up a little. And then think:

“Ok. That’s why I’m here. That’s why I do what I do.”

I’ll admit that a large part of founding PERSUIT was all about me (at first).

My need for validation. To prove I could do it. To prove my view of what the world should look like was the right view. To prove that I had made the right decision.

But this journey has taught me that it’s not about me at all (ok — maybe just a little more validation needed 🤷 ).  

It’s about the impact that you have on others. Clients, law firms, the legal industry, and your own team. And your team is where you feel it the most.

I can’t tell you how the PERSUIT journey will continue to unfold (hopefully, and knowing the current talent we have on board, I think, very well). 

But I can tell you this.  

Should I find myself peering through that nursing home window into the springtime garden, blanket wrapped tightly around my legs, I can see the emergence of a satisfied smile of no regrets, and no wondering what could have been (likely followed by a few tears of pride...or let's just say hay fever). See Lesson 1…

Hear more from Jim as he interviews top GCs, CLOs, other legal leaders on the Innovative Legal Leadership Podcast.


Jim Delkousis