What is your occupation and how did you come to work in this field?
I am the Managing Member of Ca-Co Global Inc. and The Cook Law Group, PLLC. Together, the companies serve the business/corporate/technology/start-up/entertainment sectors to provide traditional legal services with cutting edge and innovative strategic and business solutions. After graduating from The University of Virginia, I attended law school at Vanderbilt University with additional courses in trial advocacy at Oxford University. I initially practiced as a litigation attorney representing hotels, corporations, and cable networks in Dallas and New York for 7+ years. Despite the legal community's general overall slow emergence into the area of what we now classify as "new media," I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by new and digital media early on. Along with mentors that included some of the best legal minds, like Judge John J. Ellington at the Georgia Court of Appeals, I was able to craft my professional expertise by engaging with professional peers that included music label executives in Atlanta and New York and digital innovators like James Andrews and Corey Stanford, who increasingly peaked my interest in doing more work within the technology and entertainment spaces and allowed me to be at the front of the curve. I decided to hone my relationships and experience within the start-up/venture capital community in Palo Alto via an entrepreneur program through Stanford University's Graduate School of Business and from there I returned to New York.
What is the biggest challenge of your work?
Wayne Gretzky was quoted as saying "a good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be." The biggest challenge in my work is to steer clients away from the inherent desire to get caught up in "what's hot now." Hot is tepid minutes later. My objective is for them to have strategies in place that recognize the value of today's market, but that have them properly positioned to conquer tomorrow's market and the year after that as well. This holds true whether my organization is drafting contracts, suggesting strategic partnerships, handling film finance, or providing technology, business, and/or legal services. My goal is to prepare clients to outlast and outthink and that takes time and trust. We always get there, I just consistently hope that too much damage hasn't happened from them wanting the "hot now phenomenon" before they come around. I prefer proactive steps versus triage, but we'll take care of the matter in whatever form it comes in.
What is your proudest achievement?
I have two relatively recent achievements that bring a smile to my face. The first, was working with a team in California and having the pitch to the early stage venture capital firm go so well that the investors sent us to their boss (who was seated a few steps away) and told us to have him take out his check book. They said they loved the team and the pitch. That hardly ever happens in the VC world...especially when it was the first pitch. The second achievement has been the response from the business and technology community about our work in those sectors. This may come as a surprise, but it can be very hard for many to get over the false belief that lawyers are incapable of serving as both a business executive and as a quality practitioner. There can be this attitude that the two are diametrically opposed. That is not the case. A quick look around at some of the most successful enterprises from Major League Baseball to Stacey Snider's success as the Co-Chairman and CEO of Dreamworks illustrates that the right attorney can facilitate the business, the legal--and in the best trifecta--the creative as well. I have really been proud of both the business, technology, and legal community's support and recognition of my skills in these areas.
What leaders, thinkers or doers do you admire most?
Sheryl Sandberg, Oprah Winfrey, Stacey Snider, my parents, and Nelson Mandela are individuals whose words in collaboration inspire me for not only the pursuit of greatness for my personal success, but also the balance of factors of what I should be doing for the betterment of society as well.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
I would hope that at that time, I am properly and passionately utilizing all facets of the talents and gifts that God has given me and that the benefit extends beyond only strong profits, but for the betterment of humanity. I want to contribute to the amazing legacy my family has so generously passed on to me.
What would be your advice to young people who want their careers and lives to have an impact?
Nike is better at the catchy slogans than I am, so I will take a phrase from them. Just Do it. Time goes by so quickly and the time spent daydreaming is time that could be spent executing. If you want a career that looks a certain way, shape it. If someone or something gets in your way-recalibrate. If you fall down (and at some point you will), get back up. It's not over until you are out and you are never out as long as you are here on this earth. Success requires an iterative process. Instead of dressing in just designer clothes, be more concerned with wearing your confidence and capabilities and when that is challenged keep resilience as your primary undergarment.