Eliot Wagonheim is a lawyer, writer, educator and strategist. He serves as a confidante, mentor and sounding board for entrepreneurs and organizational leaders who would rather do something great than simply draw a paycheck.
The Path I Traveled
I found myself interviewing for a job three years after graduating from law school for only the second time in my life. The first time resulted in a semi-disastrous summer job doling out candy in a movie theatre. (I was fired for flirting with the popcorn girl and “not having [my] mind on the movie business.”)
He was right, the “movie business” did not occupy my full attention, and it likely never would.
It was at that point I decided I better find something that would capture my full attention. In high school, I started a T-shirt company in high school, selling original designs at Baltimore’s ethnic festivals. I paid college expenses by forming a buying group so that I could order blank cassette tapes direct from Maxell, TDK and BASF in bulk to sell to small record stores. While in law school, I created the first lawyers legal temp service east of the Mississippi called LawTemps.
That entrepreneurial drive, beginning with my exit from that movie theatre, is the essence of who I am.
Three years after law school, in 1990, I wrapped up LawTemps and began my training as a business lawyer with an accomplished boutique commercial and construction firm in Towson, Maryland. From that point forward, while learning my trade, I built a practice working with the kind of people I understood – entrepreneurs, innovators, creatives, and those who have a unique outlook and a real passion for what they do.
From Lawyer to FARsighted Business Entrepreneur
I loved working with these types of leaders. But it wasn’t just that I wanted to represent them; I wanted to be them. From that day to this, I have been an entrepreneur, innovator, marketing strategist and teacher trapped in the pigeonhole of lawyer. I made a career of winning cases, convincing juries, negotiating acquisitions, crafting contracts, and writing HR policies, handbooks and contracts.
I’ve earned every accolade. I’ve been named a Maryland Super Lawyer, one of SmartCEO Magazine’s “Legal Elite” as a Go-To Business Lawyer, and been awarded the coveted AV-Rating (excellent to preeminent) from the nationwide peer review firm Martindale Hubbell, based on legal ability and ethical values.
Yet, since founding Wagonheim Law in 2002, cracks started appearing in my lawyer façade.
- I began working with clients to embrace, rather than inhibit, innovation.
- I’ve facilitated company retreats and management team conferences to help organizations hone in on their true purpose.
- I’ve helped organizations protect themselves without sacrificing vision.
That’s the vision behind FARsighted Business – to combine the skills I’ve honed over decades in a risk-averse field with my bias toward action and innovation.
Why FARsighted Business Matters
To be great, companies and leaders must evolve. And to do it, they must always overcome opposition from the entrenched. In most companies, that means employees, lawyers, risk managers, customers and vendors who live in fear, governed by the mantra: that’s the way we’ve always done it.
I’ve spent the past 3 decades negotiating with these people. I’ve won over juries packed with them. I’ve made a career of overcoming legal barriers and institutional caution with plain English, real discussions, and common sense. I am an entrepreneur schooled in the language of risk, and I can help you move your organization forward.