6 Tips to Business Management Success

In a recent lecture to law students at the University of Virginia, James Donovan, Goldman Sachs managing director and UVA Law adjunct professor offered six pieces of advice. He shared his insights with the students about being an effective manager and about cultivating client relationships. The speech was sponsored by the Career Services Office and took place on October 4th, 2013 at UVA Law.

His six pieces of advice are explained in the video and summarized below. As Jim Donovan explained, this advice could be pertinent to anyone who has clients including lawyers, bankers, nonprofit organizations and others.


  1. Become a strategic adviser to your client.  What does that mean, asked Mr. Donovan? By the end of the interaction with a client they should view you as their strategic adviser. They should view you as the person they go to for advice on anything they need in their business life.
  2. Bringing in new clients – He recounted that, when he started in his first job, he was worried that bringing in new clients was an innate skill and he wasn’t sure he had it. Through the years, Jim Donovan, with Goldman Sachs experience, has realized that this skill is not innate, but learned. He joked with the students that this should give them comfort. Students should find someone in their firm who is good at this and copy them.
  3. Take classes in the law business section – Mr. Donovan emphasized that the students at UVA are lucky to have this type of section in their law school. It is, he explained, an advantage. He said that students should take these classes for two reasons – they will learn the substance of business and they’ll learn the jargon of business.
  4. Listen and ask open ended questions – He recommended that the students should get other people talking and talk less in their business interactions. As he said, people care most about themselves, so if you ask them questions, they will feel good about themselves and connect with you.
  5. Be creative as lawyers – This isn’t the skill that people most associate with lawyers. Mr. Donovan explained that it’s always important to present alternatives to clients. Rather than just automatically saying “ no,”  think of ways to do things that are creative and that work around issues rather than shutting down because of them.
  6. Be upbeat – He finished by saying that this may sound trite and obvious – but people like to work with people who are energetic and positive.


About James Cannon

James Cannon is an experienced hedge fund analyst. He has served on the advisory boards for various different Fortune 500 companies as well as serving as an adjunct professor of finance. James Cannon has written for a variety of Financial Magazines both on and off line. Contact James at james[at]businessdistrict.com