I’ve only been with LexBlog for 6 months, but in that time I’ve heard story after story of how the company has changed and grown over the years. My first month at LexBlog was the most stressful start to a job I have ever had. You see, they have a very unique, very open, vetting process for new hires where they throw you in the deep-end for a little sink-or-swim. When I was hired, I was told to find “all the law blogs”, didn’t care how or what that looked like. No matter how many questions I asked, I was met with, “What do you think we should do?”. There wasn’t a two week series on useless training, no orientation packet to check off boxes. Nope, just good old fashioned, “well you’re the expert, you tell me”. Odd way to establish ethos, but it is the more authentic way.
While this was nerve wracking. I’m the guy who loves a clear sense of direction. Even priding myself on translating other’s dreams and goals, but I always ask for specifics. I did, like I imagine most people would, the logical thing of asking other co-workers, “is this normal?”. Sure enough, after getting through about half the company, I was convinced that LexBlog was a different entity than I had ever experienced. Story after story was the same, “Yup, they told me to figure it out, so I did.” Essentially, LexBlog believes that authority is cultivated through personalized works. While a portfolio can show a prospective employer your work, showing how you adapt to a new company seems stronger. This also means that while a resume or portfolio can be misleading, authenticity cannot be faked.
Ethos, as for one of the three Aristotelian ends of the rhetorical triangle, is all about establishing to your audience a sense of authority, an expert, or at least knowledgeable about a subject. Saying, “trust me, I’m a doctor”, is often enough to allow a random stranger to perform emergency medicine on someone having a heart attack on a plane. It doesn’t matter if the person is actually qualified or not, we let them through. At many companies, employers have become distrusting of new hires, or have become very controlling, not allowing new hires any sense of freedom or autonomy to constructive create something of real value. The ethos has to be earned through an authentic series of acts.
For me, that bright and shiny moment of “earned ethos” was when I decided to share a spreadsheet idea that was met with praise. We now call it the “Membership” sheet. It tracks all the law websites/blogs we find, what we think of their blog, and if we’ve added them or not. This is all for our free membership. Essentially, it’s a “dibs sheet” as in, “I call dibs on this blog, it’s awesome!”. Presenting that sheet felt like the end to the awkward sink-or-swim first month. Not to mention, it showed that I could organize and disseminate information in a way that others could understand. Lucky enough for me, my employers at LexBlog were also receptive. Ethos is really audience dependent that way. Both the audience and the rhetor’s intentions of authenticity drive towards the same culture. Any conflicts would result in a “red-flag” alerting either side that something is wrong.
I could see the authentic ethos strategy working with many other companies, but I also could see an entire culture shift for education. If assignments were taken from employee-centered or student-centered approaches with the assumption that the employee/student has a base knowledge in which to draw their new experiences, well, that would just be another Petraglia piece entitled, “Reality by Design” (1998). Granted Petraglia doesn’t express authenticity in the workplace, but it is an ever present goal in the classroom, especially for rhetors.
So, here’s to LexBlog’s 15th anniversary as a company! I hope that they continue to be authentic and to promote authenticity in the world. I know for me, it has been a career eye-opening move that I hope continues for myself and many others in the next 15 years.