Attorney Dennis Carrion on the Art of Negotiation, Championing the Injured, and Following Your Passion
In this series called Member Showcase, we publish interviews with members of The Oracles. This interview is with Dennis Carrion, Esq., founder of The Carrion Firm, a personal injury law firm in Florida and New York. It was condensed by The Oracles.
Who was your biggest influence growing up?
Dennis Carrion: It sounds cliché, but my parents. As immigrants from Cuba and Puerto Rico, they are the classic American tale of what’s possible when you couple hard work with strong family values.
My mom has always been entrepreneurial, the one who finds a way to turn a nickel into 50 cents. While her tenacity and knack for business gave us a great life, we weren’t rich. However, what we lacked in material things, we certainly made up for in love, community, and a value system that prioritized character over all else.
My mom earned her Ph.D. in social work and now dedicates herself to helping those in need. Little did I know that I would follow in her footsteps so closely by dedicating my career to accident victims who need a helping hand in difficult times.
What are you more skilled at than most people in the world?
Dennis Carrion: Negotiating, which I believe is more of an art than a skill. As human beings, we are instinctively wired to prioritize our own needs for survival. But successful negotiators know that you must place yourself in the other person’s shoes instead. At the end of the day, both sides want to meet their needs. Issues arise when one person’s needs come at the cost of the other’s.
The best negotiators are empathetic listeners who act on logic, not emotion. It takes calm, poise, and wit to advocate effectively, which is profoundly important when I’m fighting with insurance companies on behalf of my clients.
What excites you the most about your business right now?
Dennis Carrion: How we are leveraging technology to help our clients. In the past, law firms were stuffy and difficult. You had to call and make an appointment, wait a week, battle traffic, and find a parking spot. Then you had to sit in an uncomfortable waiting room before being ushered in to see a lawyer behind a big desk for a few minutes.
I decided to practice differently. I represent injured victims, so they usually have a calendar full of doctor’s appointments already. I don’t inconvenience them to meet in person — although that’s always an option. I communicate with them via phone, email, text, and FaceTime whenever it is convenient for them, which my clients love.
What’s your favorite quote?
Dennis Carrion: “A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business,” by Henry Ford. Business is about people; in fact, a business is just a group of people working together toward a common goal. Entrepreneurs can get so caught up in the numbers that we lose sight of why we do what we do.
I don’t just do this to run a successful business; I do it because it matters. I’m devoted to championing the injured, who are outmatched by corporate giants that often prioritize profits before people. I never want to emulate them by forgetting whom I do this for: the father facing eviction because he couldn’t work or the mother who missed her child’s concert because she was in the hospital. I help families get back on their feet and recapture the joy, laughter, and hope they lost through no fault of their own.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Dennis Carrion: Focus! My early career experiences in business ownership and real estate helped shape me into the professional I am today. But I love what I do, and I wish I had gone to law school sooner.
To all the younger selves out there: Don’t go for the low-hanging fruit. Dig deep, identify what you’re passionate about, and go for it. Don’t let anything or anyone sidetrack what you know is right for you.
What’s the biggest common leadership mistake?
Dennis Carrion: Leaders are go-getters who make things happen, but because of this ambition, they can fail to delegate. When growing a business, a good leader must take a step back, accept that complete control is no longer possible, and let their team grow and flourish.
It’s occasionally true that you’re the only one who can handle something. But with proper training and guidance, the right team can handle more tasks than we’d probably like to admit. They may do things differently than you would, but as a leader, you must see the forest, not the trees, and prioritize process over style.
How do you identify a good business partner?
Dennis Carrion: Trustworthiness is essential. The need for trust is in our DNA. Just as implicit trust between life partners is required for a healthy, thriving relationship, the same is true for business partners.
You often spend more time with your business partner than anyone else. They can impact our lives more than anyone, which isn’t something to take lightly. I pride myself on being trustworthy and demand the same from a business partner.
How do you prevent burnout?
Dennis Carrion: My mother has always told me, “A son who doesn’t stop in his house won’t see the death of his mother.” While the English translation from Spanish is a bit awkward and morbid, the point is that we have to pause, reflect, and enjoy life with our friends and loved ones.
Entrepreneurs often eat, sleep, and breathe work in the pursuit of excellence, but there must be a balance. If we grind 24 hours a day, seven days a week, burnout is inevitable. It’s amazing how a barbeque with friends or impromptu coffee with a parent can slow you down and put things in perspective. We need to look up and take time to love those who love us. The sun will rise tomorrow, as it always does.
What are you working on right now?
Dennis Carrion: On the business side, I’m working on our expansion. We’re scaling to serve more clients in Florida and New York by using cutting-edge technology and hiring the best legal talent around. At the same time, I want to maintain a communicative environment where our clients know we genuinely care about them and will fight for them like family. That’s lost with some larger firms — but that will never happen to mine.
In my personal life, I’m working on my health. I’ve struggled with unhealthy fluctuations in my weight, but I’m on the upside of the battle now. Like most people, one of my biggest goals is living a long time! I know that I need to take care of myself to stay around longer with my family and friends.
What are two things on your bucket list?
Dennis Carrion: I’ve always been fascinated with wildlife and want to go on an African safari. Who doesn’t want to wake up in the middle of nowhere with huge animals just outside of your tent? It’s kind of scary and cool.
Riding in a hot air balloon is also on my list. There’s something about the idea of flying free, with the air hitting your face, that is also terrifying and exciting. (Notice a theme here?)