Louise Kulbicki Interviews Me (And Learns How I Came to Do What I Do)

Recently I was interviewed by Louise Kulbicki for her Study Legal English podcast. That episode is now out. You can click on it at the bottom of this post, and it’s also available through her site, here. (It’s Louise’s 99th episode of her podcast. By my standards, that’s a lot of episodes!)

The interview clocks in at just under an hour. Most of it relates to topics that will be familiar to readers of this blog, but the eight-plus minutes from 00:09:51 to 00:18:26 relate to something different. Louise asked me, “How did you get to where you are today?” Like the person who surprises you by responding to “How are you?” by actually telling you how they are, I gave Louise an answer that was probably longer than she anticipated.

It relates to something I’ve found myself thinking about over the past couple of years. I realized that in four generations of my family there have been others like me. That in turn allowed me to put myself in context, so that what had been a little mysterious is now less so. The traits in question are creative thinking combined with introversion and, in at least some, a grab-bag of neuroatypical behaviors that aren’t scary but also aren’t nothing either.

For these purposes, the progenitor of this line was my father’s father, Charles Adams. Born and bred around Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in 1908 he joined the Presbyterian church as a missionary. After studying Arabic at the University of Chicago he left for Egypt. He gravitated to academia, publishing in 1933 a work still cited by historians, Islam and Modernism in Egypt: A Study of the Modern Reform Movement Inaugurated by Muhammad ‘Abduh. He became dean of the School of Oriental Studies of the American University in Cairo. He was apparently markedly reserved, and if the handwritten daily schedule in the back of his Bible is anything to go by, he was a man of habit.

That mix of traits—offbeat smarts, tighly wound—has appeared in subsequent generations. In some people it worked out tolerably well: the smarts offered rewards that offset a personality that wasn’t always winning. But others were stymied.

In my interview with Louise, I describe how this inheritance worked out for me and how it led to what I do. (Oh, and I also talk about contract drafting.)

Without further ado, here’s the interview. (If you’d prefer a transcript, go here.)

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.