Surround yourself with good people.
Dieter Dammeier is a practicing employment and real estate law attorney with 25 years of experience at every administrative and judicial level, including appearing before the United States and California Supreme Court. He graduated from Western State University, College of Law, in 1996 where he graduated Magna Cum Laude (top 5%) with a Juris Doctor degree in Law. After graduating, he focused his career on employment and real estate matters. During his career, he has provided representation for over 100 police and fire unions.
He has published numerous articles in statewide and national labor periodicals. He is the author of a published article in the Harvard Law & Policy Review (Fading Rights of Public Employees) and current co-author of the Pocket Guide to the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act.
He has presided over 300 cases as a Judge Pro Tem in the Los Angeles Superior Courts and as a “fee dispute” arbitrator for the California State Bar. He also has experience as a Police Officer and Reserve Deputy Sheriff before and after becoming an attorney.
Dieter pursued this specialty while working full-time and earning his degree. Throughout his career, Dieter has been a force in California’s courtrooms.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
Throughout law school and into my time working, I connected with people who had their own firms. It gave me a goal to aim for, with the ability to work with cases that mean the most to me, where I can make a significant impact. When I was still working fulltime, I was on the Police Officer Union Board. I was going to school part-time and I was able to do an internship with the attorney that worked with the board. It was a great experience.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I oversee my law offices daily, of course. Every day is busy with something. Besides my office, I still provide representation for about a dozen police and fire unions. Any given day, I could be working on contract negotiations or maybe a disciplinary action case. I also have some investments in real estate and own an escrow company, so that will sometimes need some attention throughout the day. I am pretty nonstop.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I have always been a big believer in getting things done. A lot of people talk about what it takes, but once I make up my mind, that’s it. If I say I’m going to do something, I do. Sometimes, it’ll take some convincing for me to take that first step. I like to know what my next step will be before I jump into something.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Right now, we have a strong economy. I am hopeful it continues because whenever the economy is strong, it creates more opportunities in every field. I get excited to see that, especially in regard to the real estate ventures that I work with.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I research and set attainable goals. Then, I make sure to reach the goals that I set. I meet my commitments when I make them. You can’t expect success if the people you work with can’t depend on you. I don’t let my clients wonder.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would say to build more relationships. When I am on a case, I fiercely defend my clients. I think, over the years, this stance has made me seem harsher than I intended. Looking back, I believe there were probably more diplomatic methods I could have used and still achieved my goals.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
That saying sorry is not a weakness. In my business, people take positions and rarely retract from them no matter how clear the evidence. In many cases, simply saying sorry and cutting your losses is sometimes the best move.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I surround myself with quality people. I have reached out to those who went through what I was and watched how they became successful. When you’re first starting out, look around you. Look while you’re still in school. Find those who have accomplished what you hope to accomplish and learn from them.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
One of the most important strategies I have imposed is not to try to grow too fast. I think some entrepreneurs get ahead of themselves a little and that can pose a big risk. You wouldn’t open a law office somewhere clients are not going to be just because you can afford to open it. You want to be mindful of where your growth is and build your business with the growth instead of trying to outpace it.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
In my early years, I feel I may not have kept up with clients as well as I should have. Once a client moves on, they don’t usually come back. It’s important to take the time to focus on everyone.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
At the moment, all the successful companies are those geared toward making life easier. Along the lines of Uber and UberEats, I think a great business option would be an Uber pharmacy. There are some pharmacies that have delivery, but I’m talking on the larger scale. I think that would be a beneficial service to many people and could work out well if handled properly.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I enjoy playing golf. It gives me four or five hours of relaxation and a clear mind. I use the time to kind of reset myself.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I use TimeSlips regularly. It’s an app that helps me to track my time spent on my litigation cases. It makes it so much easier to bill properly.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I don’t honestly have a favorite book I can think of that stands out above all others. What I would suggest is that, no matter what your interest is, find a book that will give you a great strategy. Anything that engages your mind and encourages your spirit is an excellent resource.
What is your favorite quote?
I am still a firm believer in “do unto others as you would want done to you”. It really is just a great way to define respect for each other.
● Keep your commitments
● Surround yourself with good people
● Follow through to reach your goals
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.