Kara Lorraine McGehee is the Co-founder and Chief of Operations and Experience at ClearSummit, a high-caliber product development agency. She started her career as an attorney before co-founding TuneRegistry, a rights management platform for the independent music community. Through ClearSummit, she aims to bring innovative software development projects to fruition, whether for clients or for internal initiatives.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- What drove Kara McGehee to become an attorney?
- The lessons Kara learned working as a practicing lawyer
- Expressing creativity in the workplace
- The role artificial intelligence plays in product ideation
- Kara talks about writing her new book and how she finds her flow state
In this episode…
Over the few years, innovation has become easier and more efficient due to new technology and artificial intelligence. AI helps entrepreneurs carry out research, brainstorm new ideas, and assess the viability of their ideas. Most of all, it can transform the way we approach product ideation.
In this episode of the Innovations and Breakthroughs Podcast, Rich Goldstein interviews Kara McGehee, the Co-founder and Chief of Operations and Experience at ClearSummit, about how to leverage artificial intelligence in product innovation. They also discuss how Kara expresses creativity in her work, her future plans, and her new book.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Goldstein Patent Law
- The ABA Consumer Guide to Obtaining a Patent by Rich Goldstein
- Kara Lorraine McGehee on LinkedIn
- Kara Lorraine McGehee’s email: email@example.com
- Jesse Morris on LikedIn
- Dae Bogan on LinkedIn
Sponsor for this episode…
This episode is brought to you by Goldstein Patent Law, a firm that helps protect inventors’ ideas and products. They have advised and obtained patents for thousands of companies over the past 25 years. So if you’re a company that has a software, product, or design you want protected, you can go to https://goldsteinpatentlaw.com/. They have amazing free resources for learning more about the patent process.
You can email their team at firstname.lastname@example.org to explore if it’s a match to work together. Rich Goldstein has also written a book for the American Bar Association that explains in plain English how patents work, which is called ‘The ABA Consumer Guide to Obtaining a Patent.’
Welcome to Innovations and Breakthroughs with your host Rich Goldstein, talking about the evolutionary, the revolutionary, the inspiration and the perspiration, and those aha moments that change everything. And now here’s your host, Rich Goldstein.
Rich Goldstein here, host of the Innovations and Breakthroughs podcast, where I feature top leaders on the path they took to create change. Past guests include Joe Polish, Roland Frazier, and Mike Calhoun. This episode is brought to you by my company, Goldstein Patent Law, where we help you to protect your ideas and products. We’ve advised and obtained patents for thousands of companies over the past 28 years. So if you’re a company that has software or product or design you want protected, go to goldstein patent law.com where there are amazing free resources for learning about the patent process. And you could email my team welcome goldstein pc.com to explore if it’s a match to work together. You could also check out the book I wrote for the American Bar Association that explains in plain English how patents work. It’s called the ABA Consumer Guide to Obtaining a Patent I have with me here today, Kara McGehee. Kara started out as an attorney practicing law and then went on to co-found Tune Registry, which is a rights management platform for the independent music community. After she exited Tune registry, Kara co-founded Clear Summit, uh, software product consultancy, and it’s my pleasure to welcome here today, Kara McGehee. Welcome, Kara.
Hi. Thanks for having me.
So, let’s talk about how you got started. So you, you started out as a practicing attorney. Tell me what interested you initially in, in becoming an attorney.
Sure. Um, so that it was kind of an accident, um, <laugh>, I, I was a, an undergrad and, um, I had a double major in philosophy and, uh, media Arts and design where I was focusing on digital sound production. Uh, I’ve always been really interested in music. Um, I had a radio show when I was in high school, um, and, uh, li Live sound as well as recorded. Um, but, uh, the philosophy major, uh, in me, uh, was also really interested in logic. And so I ended up just taking the LSATs kind of on a whim, uh, and then apply it to two law schools and then ended up just deciding to go, um, out of kind of a typical, I’m 20 years old and I don’t know what to do with myself, and I definitely don’t wanna get a job right now, kind of mindset. Um Right.
Kind of sounds like momentum. It’s like you took the LSAT and you applied and it’s like the train was moving in a certain direction,
<laugh>. Yeah. So it was definitely not, not so much a decision as it was like, you know, a series of small decisions that just put you right, uh, on a path. Uh, so yeah, I ended up going to law school, um, and after I graduated, um, was not a great time to go into IP if you weren’t a patent lawyer. So all of my friends with hard science backgrounds, um, you know, went to DC and got jobs at, at the patent law firms up there. Um, and those of us who are more interested in copyright and trademark, uh, this was back in 2002. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, so it was when the, the.com bust kind of happened and the job market slowed down. Uh, so I had to sort of abandon my J Dreams of running off to New York City to be a big entertainment lawyer, and I ended up working in insurance defense, um, which, which felt like a huge let down to me, but I learned how to try cases and I, I, I learned how to be a lawyer that way.
Um, so it ended up being a, a good experience. Um, you know, in the long run. I, uh, spent a few years doing that. Then I went into criminal and family law for a few years. Um, got a little taste of entrepreneurship in that, um, cause I ended up, uh, being, uh, at a small firm where it was just me and one other lawyer. And, um, and so I, I learned the joys of being your own boss, uh, the Joys and Paynes mm-hmm. <affirmative> of being your own boss, uh, during that experience. Um, and then I went and worked, uh, for the state bar as one of their prosecutors in their professional regulation department. Um, and while I was there, I really was feeling an itch to get involved in things that were more creative. Um, and so my husband and I actually created an app, a mobile application, um, ourselves and, and, uh, launched it. We, we did PR for it. Uh, and we quit our day jobs in Virginia, moved out to the West coast. Um, and that product ended up just kind of dying on the vine. Um, and, uh, but we started doing software services for other people at that point. Um, so he was an experienced engineer and I was somebody who just had, um, a lot of energy and excitement to learn about new things. So that’s, that’s how we ended up starting Clear Summit.
Got it. And so, and what do you think, um, what do you think you learned while being a litigated, while trying cases that really helps you today, uh, in Clear Summit at doing what you do with, with developing software?
Um, it definitely, it definitely honed my risk assessment skills. I’m pretty good at looking at situation and trying to find weaknesses. Um, trying to understand what worst case scenarios look like, uh, but also understanding, um, that, you know, some, sometimes the, the chances of those worst case scenarios happening are low enough that you’re willing to just move forward and hope it doesn’t happen and, and see how, how it goes. Um, so that part, and then also just try learning how to understand what other people are trying to, to get out of a situation. Um, and, and just trying to, to have that sort of strategic empathy, uh, was, was definitely a big plus.
Got it. To, to figure out what the, the result is that you’re looking for, and then, and then find a path toward that, I suppose.
Yeah. Great. And so, um, now what, what you do these days is you work with companies to help them to develop their software, to help them develop technology around what they’re seeking to produce. Um, and, um, I mean, how do you see it in terms of, as an expression of creativity? Like, I get that that, um, creativity is very important to you. So how do you get to express creativity in what you do, uh, with your clients?
Um, I mean, you know, the initial, the initial thinking about it is, is, okay, let’s have some creativity in serves of visual design, right? Because that’s usually the first interaction that users have, what the product. Uh, and so people think about creativity just in terms of that very, very basic, like, what’s the visual design? Like, is this something that’s interesting? Is this something that’s pretty, is this something that’s exciting, uh, to interact with? Um, but then you get into that deeper problem solving kind of creativity, um, where it’s, it’s trying to figure out like efficiencies and creativity inside of efficiency solving is, is, has turned out to be a pretty interesting way, um, of approaching it. Um, the other thing that I’ve found, especially as a contrast to the practice of law is that you end up with an artifact of your efforts, um, and that aspect of creativity, there’s a satisfaction that you get when you have that artifact, um, that you don’t usually get when you’re practicing law or you’re doing accounting or things, um, you know, those types of services. But, uh, in software development services, there is that, that satisfaction at the end of the, the project
Because you’re actually producing something <laugh>. Yeah,
Yeah, exactly. Yep. So something that, that, that works, uh, something you can look at, something that you can experience.
Yeah. And so I mean, what are some other ways that you get to incorporate your creativity or, um, you, um, your interest in creative a, um, um, endeavors like music into your, into your work?
Um, I mean, sometimes it’s even just things as simple as product demos, right? Um, figuring out interesting ways to showcase products, uh, working with clients, uh, and helping them come up with ideas, uh, around, uh, you know, the onboarding process, uh, inside of software products. That’s, that’s something that, that, that there are different approaches to it and you can kind of check out different ways to do it. Um, the other thing for me on a personal level has been just trying to find clients who are creative. Um, you know, we’ve had some really great experiences with clients who are in the entertainment industry, who are really good at creative content. And so it’s very exciting on the software side to be able to integrate, um, you know, the technology with that creativity and art, um, that they’re producing on their end.
Yeah. And, um, and so other than creative clients, I guess it’s, it’s, um, interesting to work with creative, uh, artificial intelligence, right? So <laugh>, um, yeah, I think you’ve been working quite a bit with, um, with uh, chat G P T to uh, kind of explore, um, how it could be useful in the ideation process. So, so tell me a bit about that, of what you’ve, um, been playing around with and what you’ve discovered.
Yeah, just our team in general has been pretty excited about it. We try to ha we have internal like team hacks, uh, that we do, uh, to keep everybody, you know, feeling like they’re able to explore new ideas. Uh, we did some team hacks, uh, you know, a few months ago with N F T creation, even though we weren’t working on anything directly in that space. Uh, but we wanted to kind of get our, our feet wet, um, there. And, uh, so chat and G P T has been another, you know, buzzy kind of thing to check out. Uh, and we’ve gotten it to right, right code, um, we’ve gotten it to write test cases. Um, uh, my husband got it to write a bedtime story for our daughter. Um, and it’s been a really interesting, uh, endeavor to be able to, um, to see different ways that it can enhance, you know, just business in general, um, and be a shortcut in some ways, but also be a little bit of like a brainstorming partner with things, which is the part that has been kind of more enjoyable from my standpoint.
And, and so what are some things that, that you’ve, you’ve learned through playing with it that you think would be helpful to people that are, or looking to see how they could adapt it to, to their own creative process?
Sure. So, I mean, you can, you can get it to answer questions for you sometimes, um, when people are building something and they, they kind of get in the weeds and the details, uh, and they, they aren’t good at consolidating information. So you can tell Chad g p t to like, explain something to somebody on like a college level, explain it to them on the level of a 12 year old. Uh, and it is able to, to take information and sort of, uh, uh, rearrange it into different ways of understanding. Um, you know, I think a lot of people are scared that it’s gonna replace humans, but I think it’s actually just more of a good place to have a dialogue and, and have that back and forth because it’s not always right, it’s not always totally accurate, but it can give you a good seed of, of a way to approach, um, explaining things, um, or problem solving.
Yeah. And it sounds like, um, you’re saying that it’s helpful to give it more context. Yes. So if you give it context, like, like what level, um, you want the output to produce, um, to be suitable for, then that would help. So it’s like the more context you give it, I guess?
Yes. I mean, even just from my own standpoint, right? So I, I’m a lawyer first and it’s really hard to get away from that, right? My, so my writing looks like a lawyer. My emails look like a lawyer wrote them. Uh, I, I do some creative writing. Uh, I had to work very hard in my creative writing, not to sound too much like a lawyer. Um, definitely any copy that we do for our website or for our marketing materials or things like that, I talk like a lawyer. Um, and so having the ability to feed your information into a system that they can then reconfigure it in a way and give it a different voice, I think is really exciting.
Hmm. Uh, yeah, definitely. And, um, so I mean, you, you talk about how your writing is just, is like a lawyer and it’s hard to avoid that. So, but you wrote a novel recently, so Yes. How did that, how did that turn out and was that challenging to not sound like a lawyer all the time?
It was very challenging to not sound like a lawyer all the time, but my protagonist is a lawyer, Uhhuh <affirmative>, so I at least worked at it on some level. Um, but yeah, I actually started writing it, uh, back in 2012. I was going through, um, some health issues and, uh, I was kind of shut in, uh, which everybody can relate to now, but it was something that I was going through alone at the time. Uh, and so it was a way for me to spend my time, um, you know, I didn’t have children yet. I had, um, and I needed something to do that wasn’t just watching Netflix. So, uh, it was a good exercise with that. And then I shelved it and have eventually gotten to a point where I have a completed manuscript. It’s been edited, it’s been, um, it’s been proofread. And so I’m trying to find an agent and trying to figure out, uh, how I can get it out to the world might end up just self-publishing, if that feels like the right way to go with it.
Would you like to write more novels? Is it, is this kind of like a one-off project that you wanna see through to completion or is it something that, that you enjoyed and you feel like it would it would be great to do? Um, I,
I loved it. Um, I mean, creative flow is something that, that I’ve experienced in a couple of different contexts. Um, you know, I play music, um, and I experience it playing music, sort of, most especially when you’re playing with other musicians. Um, there’s, there’s a little bit of a higher high, um, that, that you can get from that creative flow state. Uh, I’ve gotten it with coding. I did a, I did a bit of coding during my early days at Clear Summit, and you can get kind of in the zone where everything else disappears and you’re just having this, this output of of, of building something, of creating a new, a new thing that didn’t exist before. And I got the Flow state a lot when I was writing, um, this book. So, uh, I wanna do more of it cuz it’s, I mean, it’s, it’s a great, a great experience to have. It’s one of the biggest joys of life from my standpoint.
Yeah. It sounds like you value the flow state in, in whichever way you create that.
Absolutely. I mean, I experienced it as a, as a litigator too. You know, you’re in the middle of a trial and you’re, you’re making an argument and then you realize that pieces of information that you hadn’t put together previously are starting to come together in a way that you can, you know, use them and articulate them and present them to hopefully, you know, win <affirmative>.
Hmm. Um, and you mentioned the, the music. And so what instrument do you play?
Uh, I play guitar and sing Uhhuh.
So like singer songwriter type stuff?
Yeah, singer songwriter stuff. I have a, I had a, a band mate. He and I were, um, both, he’s also a lawyer, uh, where we were, we were, we were looking for something else else to do with our time. Uh, and we got together and wrote some songs and recorded them about eight years ago. Uh, and it was a lot of fun.
Oh yeah. That’s great. Um, and um, so then how do you, um, um, how do you find the, that flow state in your, um, in your business in Clear Summit when you are, um, kind of working with a client?
Um, so it can definitely happen while the client is also in the room, um, where I see it come up more often in the, the planning phase. Um, so we, we try to spend as much time and energy as we can in planning things before we start writing code and before we start doing designs, um, because you wanna make sure that you’re not chasing, uh, dead ends and things like that, um, because it gets a lot more expensive to do that once engineering’s involved. So, um, having, having those kind of collaborative meetings, uh, it’s one thing I really do miss about being in person more, um, because I think that it happens a lot more easily when people are in the same room. Um, but being able to get together and, and, and put pieces together, you know, whether you’re whiteboarding, um, or you’re sitting there with, with paper, um, but coming up with ways to approach problems and then also getting that sense of shared focus and, um, feel feeling like, like you’re both looking at the same object from two different angles, uh, so that you’re able to assess it the right way and come up with a, a plan for how to implement it.
And, and it sounds like you could, that you, you tend to work with projects at all stages, but you could easily work with someone just from the very beginning with an idea, um, and help them to flesh out kind of what, um, you know, like flesh the idea out and then start sketching it out.
Yes, yes. And we, we have, you know, we have different approaches to clients that come to us in different phases. You know, we’ve definitely taken over things that have already been built and just need, um, you know, they’re up, they need to be upgraded and need to be added onto. Um, but we also start from zero and we definitely do some zero to one.
So, uh, I’m curious, like where you see yourself, um, in terms of the different paths that you might take and, and your interests in, in creativity of, of all types and, uh, um, and the, um, the, the, the variety in your background and the different things that you’ve done to date. Like, kind of like what are some of the things that you think you might be exploring in the future?
Um, so for me, on a, on a personal level, you know, I, I would love to be in a position to be able to incubate ideas inside of our own company. Uh, we’ve done some versions of that. June registry was actually one of them. Uh, so we came, I met Dave Bogan who is, uh, now, uh, with the M L C, uh, he’s a professor at U C L A. And he had, he had an idea and he needed his technology partner and I really liked him a lot personally. Um, there was also a entertainment attorney named Jesse Morris who was, who was already, um, linked up with day. And, uh, I was really excited to be able to, um, basically bring the ideas to my, my team at Clear Summit, um, and, and, and run the project. Uh, that was, that was great. Um, it was expensive and it was hard and we had some really lean years as a result of, of expending our energy on something like that.
Um, but I would love to be in a position to be able to do more of that, uh, where, where I can take things that are exciting and things that I feel like deserve the work, you know? Um, one thing I loved about Tune Registry was that it was a product, um, that was, that existed to try to help creative people get paid for their work. Um, and it was, it was a tool for, for creative people. And so, uh, you know, I’m hoping to have more opportunities like that in the future to work on things where I feel like it’s a, there’s a greater good component in addition to it being fun technology.
Got it. So it sounds like being involved in, in developing some of your ideas or some ideas from your team, um, as opposed to client projects. So it sounds like you’d like to really be involved in, in creating something from beginning to end
For sure. And also to just have the, have the ability to, um, to be a stakeholder again, you know? Yeah. I mean, you are a stakeholder as a service services provider for a lot in a lot of different ways. Um, but it’s, it’s nice to be able to be a person that gets to kind of get in there and, and make some decisions and, and feel like the experience that I’ve had so far can come to the table and and help that.
Absolutely. And so if people wanna learn more about you or get in touch with you, how do they go about doing so?
Uh, so email@example.com is my email, uh, ka uh, and uh, my company website is just clearsummit.com.
Awesome. Well, um, Kara, thanks so much for taking the time to be on the show. Um, really appreciate you being here.
Thanks so much. It was great talking to you.
Thanks for listening to Innovations and Breakthroughs with your host Rich Goldstein. Be sure to click subscribe, check us out on the web at innovationsandbreakthroughs.com and we’ll see you next time.