Are you doing “Positive Thinking” the right way?

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Many studies prove that positive thinking is good for us. It can improve our health, help us live longer, improve our performance and productivity, and improve our lives in many other ways.

Other studies show that positive thinking can sometimes make things worse.

If you imagine a goal, for example, but ignore the obstacles that lie between your current reality and the achievement of that goal, you’re not going to do what needs to be done to achieve it.

I’m not an expert. I don’t even play one on TV. But I’m going to clear this for you, my friend, based on what I have learned about the Law of Attraction.

I know, many people think LOA is a lot of nonsense. Indeed, there are a lot of aspects of it that make me scratch my head. But some parts make sense to me and that’s what I’m going with.

According to the Law of Attraction, “like attracts like”. When you think about something, good or bad, those thoughts attract similar thoughts, ideas, people, even circumstances. I won’t get into the quantum physics aspects of this, because I don’t really understand it, but supposedly, it has to do with the fact that all matter vibrates at a sub-atomic level, our thoughts are energy and energy is matter.

If this sounds too flaky for you, just think of it in terms of the subconscious mind which uses the Reticular Activating System (RAS) to filter stimuli, protecting us from harm and improving our awareness of the world around us. (You just bought a new car, now you see that car “everywhere”. That’s your RAS at work.)

Anyway, back to positive thinking.

When we think about something we want but don’t have, what we really think about is the fact that we don’t have it. Your dominant thoughts are not about the goal, they are about not having that goal (and all of the reasons why). The Law of Attraction says that like attracts like so we attract more of “not having it”.

If you set a goal of earning $10,000,000 and you’re not even close to achieving that, the more you think about the goal, the more you think about not having it. You think you’re moving towards the goal but you’re doing just the opposite.

We don’t attract what we want, we attract what we think.

Does that mean we should only choose goals that are realistic? No. Long term “dream” goals are fine. It can be exciting to think about your magnificent future. But only briefly, to set your course. Don’t dwell on it.

Instead, think truthful thoughts about your current reality that are connected to your big goal.

How do you know you’re doing it right? Your feelings give you the answer. If the thought feels good, you’re moving in the right direction.

When you think about having $10,000,000 and realize you’re not even in the ballpark, it feels bad. You might tell yourself that the goal is exciting and feels good to think about, but when you’re that far away from it, your thoughts are primarily about how far you have to go.

Choose thoughts that feel good when you think them.

For example, you might think about how you’re good at your work, and getting better every day. That’s a thought that is both true and feels good and moves you a step closer to your goal. (If you’re not that good yet, take a step back and think about how you are working on your skills. True? Feel good? You’re doing it right.)

Then, reach for another truthful thought that feels good. Maybe you realize that you know some sharp business people with exciting projects you might be able to get involved with. True? Feel good to think about? Likely to move you forward towards the big goal? If so, you’re doing it right.

Perhaps after that you think about how well you get along with some of these folks. You’re spending more time with them, learning about their business, contributing ideas. These truthful, positive thoughts that feel good when you think them continue to move you forward, step by step, towards your long term goal.

Eventually, your current situation will be such that when you think about your goal it actually feels good. It feels imminent, not far away. At that point, you are on the brink of achieving that goal.

Doesn’t this make more sense than simply clinging to a thought we know isn’t true?

Thoughts lead to action and action leads to results. Continually reach for thoughts that feel good about your situation and you will continually be lead to actions which move you towards your goal.

Think about what you want, not what you don’t want, because whatever you think about, you attract.

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Doubling down on success

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Before you know it, you’ll be doing some planning for the new year. Setting some goals, writing out plans.

When you do, there’s something you should think about.

If you make a list of everything going on in your life, you’ll note that some things are great, some things are bad, and most things, perhaps 80-90%, are “okay”.

You might look at this way:

Bad: problems, weaknesses, issues, trouble, pain
Great: working well, profitable, easy, pleasurable
Okay: works most of the time, rarely needs attention, neither great nor terrible

Okay, you get the idea.

So, you sit down to set some goals and contemplate your future. Where do you begin?

Most people start by fixing problems. If you’ve got troubles that are causing you sleepless nights, and you can do something about them, that makes sense. Get those issues off your plate so you can think, and sleep.

But if have problems that aren’t causing you pain and loss, they are simply weak areas in your life, fixing them is probably not the best use of your time.

Instead, look for areas that promise the biggest opportunities for growth and happiness. You’ll find them on your list of  things that are already great.

Take what’s working and make them even better. As Thomas Edison put it, “There’s a way to do it better–find it.”

Let’s talk about your practice. What’s working well?

You’re getting lots of new clients every month. How can you get more? How can you get better clients and bigger cases?

Your cases are settling nicely. How can you settle them faster, for higher amounts and at lower expense?

Your employees work efficiently. How can you help be even better?

Your biggest opportunities for growth are in those areas where things are already working well. You’re doing it right. You’re successful. There’s always a way to do it better.

In blackjack, when you’ve got a ten or eleven, depending on the dealer’s up-card you don’t just play the hand and take the likely win. You double down and maximize your winnings. You don’t settle for good when you can have great.

Go through your list, find your good hands, and look for ways to make them better.

Want a simple marketing plan that really works? Get this

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Apparently, you’re not as busy as you think you are

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Interesting article on Inc.com on the subject of busyness. Apparently you’re not as busy as you think you are.

Why do we think we are so busy? According to the author of Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time, it’s because we’ve talked ourselves into believing it.

We wear our busyness with pride, telling ourselves and everyone else how much we have to do and that there’s no time for anything else. We come to believe it and becomes a way of life.

This unrelenting feeling of overwhelming busyness is not good for our health or productivity. We become anxious. We sleep poorly. We rush to complete things because we’ve got so much more to do. Relax? Vacation? Maybe later. There’s too much I’ve got to do first.

Stop telling yourself that you’re too busy. You have more than enough time to do what you’ve got to do.

The other thing we can do to stop feeling so busy is to “reduce the fragmentation in your life by scheduling uninterrupted free time”.

Because we are so connected to our work and other obligations–our smart phones and tablets are always on and always with us–it’s difficult to let go. We’re always reminded of what we’ve got to do and this jeopardizes our ability to relax.

Schedule quiet time. Time to relax and do nothing. Time away from your calendar and lists, texts and emails. Time to go for a walk and listen to music, not podcasts, or time to read fiction instead of work-related material.

I’ll admit, I’m not very good at this. I’m always working on and thinking about my current project, and my next one.

On Thanksgiving, I’ll make the effort. No work. Just family, fun, and relaxation.

As for the rest of the year, I’ll have to check my calendar and get back to you.

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How to make your phone ring

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Suppose that next week you get an email from another professional, a business owner, a blogger, or someone else who sells to, advises, or is otherwise influential in your target market. The email says something like this:

I want to thank you linking to my site in your post last week. I really appreciate it.

I just spent an hour reading through your site and I’ve got to tell you, you’ve really got some valuable information. I also signed up for your email list, downloaded your free report and think it’s awesome.

I’d love to interview you for my blog. I know my 10,000 subscribers would love to “meet” you. Would you be open to that? Of course I’ll also mention your website and encourage them to sign up for your list and download your report.

Could we do this some time next week? Please let me know, ASAP.

Nice. 10,000 email subscribers in your target market who will learn about you, with a strong recommendation from the owner of the list.

Do you think you might get some new clients out of this? And sign ups for your list that will lead to more clients down the road?

Fairy tale? Not at all. This kind of thing happens all of the time.

What’s that? It hasn’t happened to you? I find that hard to believe.

You do have a website with lots of good content on it, don’t you? You also have an email newsletter and a report or ebook you offer to encourage visitors to subscribe, right? I’m sure you regularly link to other sites in your niche, pointing to content your subscribers would benefit from reading, don’t you?

What do you mean, you don’t know how to do this? You do have a copy of Make The Phone Ring, don’t you?

If you want to make your phone ring, get Make the Phone Ring

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An attorney who gets it

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I may not use the word “posture” but that’s what I mean when I recommend charging top dollar for your services, refusing to discount or match another lawyer’s fees, and being confident enough to tell prospective clients to talk to other lawyers, as I did in yesterday’s post. Virginia appellate attorney Steve Emmert gets it.

After reading yesterday’s post, he emailed me the following:

Hi, David –

I read this entry, and it suggested a related topic. You may recall that I’m an appellate lawyer. Because my state’s appellate bar is small, we all know each other and we’re all pals. I therefore have a ready database of available alternate counsel.

My “related topic” is my fees. I have intentionally set my fees at the upper end of the range for appellate lawyers here. When someone – either a prospective client or one of my “customers,” a trial lawyer – calls and asks about my fee, I tell them up-front that I’m one of the most expensive appellate lawyers in the state. I then quote them a fee based on that premise.

As you might imagine, my fees dissuade many customers and clients from hiring me. I’m never upset when they can’t afford me; I tell them I can find them another capable appellate lawyer who can do it for less money. That makes everybody happy – my pal gets a new case that he would never have seen otherwise, and the client/customer gets to experience the unthinkable – an attorney telling him or her, “Don’t give me your money.” That usually floors them, and I have received more than one message, a year or two later, thanking me for my honesty and for the referral.

Finally, the real point of this overlong note:

Some customers or clients ask me to reduce my fee. My stock reply harks back to the previous paragraph: “No, but if you want, I can find you a capable” etc. This usually generates one of two responses. The first is, “Yes, please, I’d like to save some money.” I give those folks a name or two and then go about my life with a clean conscience. People who want to economize on a lawyer are not high on my target list of incoming business.

The other possible answer, which often comes after a day or two, is “I’ve thought about it, and while I appreciate the offer of a less-expensive lawyer, I’ve decided that I really want you to represent me. I’ll pay your quoted fee.” Imagine what that feels like; these are the kind of customers that you really go the extra mile for.

As you might surmise, Steve loves what he does. He gets to pick and choose the cases he accepts and because he charges top dollar, he doesn’t need lots of business to enjoy a very comfortable income.

Hold on, you say? That’s fine for someone with his years of experience and stellar reputation. One look at his website and you know that this is the guy you want to hire. Most attorneys can’t be that choosy. Most attorneys can’t get away with being “one of the most expensive” in their field.

And you are right. Most attorneys can’t. But far more could do so than even make the attempt.

Look, you’ve got to be good at what you do and you’ve got to be able to prove it. You have to have the chops. You can’t be the new kid on the block and expect to charge what lawyers with thirty year’s experience charge.

But you can charge more than you think.

Most attorneys play it safe. They “price match” what other attorneys charge, or they undercut them. They’re afraid of the competition. They expect that all clients choose their attorney based on price (they don’t) and believe they have to be competitive to get their “share” of the work that’s available.

They operate in fear, not confidence.

Who’s to say you can’t charge more than you do? Who’s to say you’re not as good as other lawyers who charge more, if not better?

I don’t know if you have what it takes to be “one of the most expensive” attorneys in your market, but I have long advocated setting fees that are at least in the upper one-third of the market. Obviously, most attorneys don’t.

If you’re not good enough yet, do what you have to do to get there. But if you are, don’t let a lack of confidence or a fear of losing business to other (cheaper) lawyers stop you from getting what you’re worth.

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Why you should tell prospective clients to talk to other lawyers

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I read an article this morning written for people looking for a lawyer on how to find the right one for the job. I’ll summarize it:

  • Attorneys specialize and it’s important to find someone who handles your type of case; [examples]
  • Keyword searches are a good way to find some candidates; avoid referral sites and directories, you don’t need a middleman
  • Check out their websites and choose three or four attorneys who handle your type of case; [examples]
  • Call all of them and ask questions about them (how long practicing, what percentage of their practice is this type of matter?), and about your case (what are the options, how much will they charge?)
  • Meet with them, ask more about the case, about how they will work with you, accessibility, fees, etc.
  • Most people looking for a client won’t do half of this, they will hire the first attorney they speak to, and that’s not wise. You have many lawyers to choose from so take your time and choose the one that is most qualified and “feels” right

Twelve paragraphs. Basic stuff. Something any attorney could write.

Including you.

Have you written an article like this and submitted it to blogs and websites in your target market? You should. It will bring visitors to your website who like your information and the honesty with which you presented it. They’ll want to learn more about you and put your name on their short list of candidates.

But here’s the thing. They probably won’t call other attorneys, as you advised, or if they do, there’s a good chance they will come back to you. They “met” you first. You helped them. You know what you’re doing.

And let’s face it, if they wind up hiring someone else instead of you, they were probably going to do that anyway.

One more thing. After you write an article like this, post it on your website, too. Yes, tell visitors that they should call other lawyers who do what you do, and tell them what to ask. Crazy? Not at all. They will respect you for being so forthcoming. They will see your confidence, and like it, and like you.

Just do it. You’ll thank me later. You’ll get lots of traffic from people searching for “how to find a _____ attorney,” and a good percentage of them will hire you.

Marketing online is simple when you know what to do

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7 things you probably don’t know about me

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I usually don’t share a lot about my personal life, at least not online. If you look at what I post on Flakebook and other sites, it’s either business-related or something fun but impersonal, e.g., cat videos others have posted.

And yet I do believe it’s a good idea to open up and tell people a little bit about yourself. It helps them get to know you and like you (“You do that, too?!’) When you have something in common, they begin to trust you.

Anyway, here are 7 things you probably don’t know about me:

  1. I entered law school at age 20. I wasn’t the youngest in my class, however.
  2. I sold my boyhood coin collection to open my first law office.
  3. I used to play the drums; now I play table tops and my thighs.
  4. In in 80’s, I owned a real estate seminar business. C’mon, didn’t everyone?
  5. I built a successful network marketing business and wrote a book about it.
  6. My favorite game is chess. I also like word games. I played a lot of poker in college.
  7. I would like to try stand-up comedy some day. People tell me I’m funny; I tell ‘em, “looks aren’t everything”.

No, not shocking. Not even very interesting. I don’t sky dive in the nude, I’ve never climbed a mountain, and I’ve never performed the Heimlich maneuver (although I did take a CPR class once).

Okay, now it’s your turn. Make a list of things your clients probably don’t know about you and post it (or a portion thereof) on your website and on social media. Email it to your list.

You don’t need to share your darkest secrets. They already know you’re a lawyer and eat your young.

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How to eliminate 80% of your law firm’s past due accounts

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According to a survey by LexisNexis, 73% of law firms report having past due accounts. Lawyers in small firms reported that up to 39% of their total client base is past due.

What causes this? And what can be done about it?

More than 80% of the law firms surveyed said that client financial hardship was the biggest cause. This suggests that the best way to reduce past due accounts is through better client selection. If you refuse to accept clients who are having financial issues, you will eliminate the number one reason clients fall behind.

Make sure clients have the ability to pay you before you do any work. Ask them to submit a financial statement before you accept them as a client.

This is not always possible of course, and financial statements don’t always reflect reality, so in addition, make sure you get a sufficient retainer at the time of the engagement, and make sure this is replenished when it falls below a certain threshold. You can also request collateral and personal guarantees, and get set up to accept credit cards and other financing arrangements.

Next, make sure that you bill promptly and frequently. A delay in billing is one of the biggest factors in clients’ falling behind. If you want to get paid on time, send a detailed invoice no less than every 30 days.

Finally, if you want to avoid large unpaid receivables and write offs, make sure you have procedures in place for addressing late payments immediately after they occur. Don’t let a small unpaid balance become a big one.

These three strategies, better client selection, sufficient retainers, and prompt and frequent billing, should help you eliminate 80% or more of your billing and collection problems and increase your cash flow. For more strategies, get my ebook, Get the Check: Stress-Free Legal Billing and Collection, as a PDF or on Kindle.

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Things successful people don’t say

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Successful people have different philosophies than unsuccessful people. Successful people, for example, generally don’t say, “I don’t know how.” According to this Entrepreneur article, “Instead of automatically shutting down solution-finding, successful people learn what they can in order to succeed in a project or in their career.”

Another phrase you won’t hear successful people say is, “I did everything on my own.” Successful people surround themselves with smart, talented people, the article notes. “Recognize those that have helped you or made an impact and you’ll continue to earn success and recognition yourself.”

Go through the 15 phrases in the article. Do you find yourself saying or thinking any of these things? If you do, you probably won’t change by simply telling yourself to “stop thinking that way. You’ll have better luck replacing the unsuccessful thought with a related thought that is both true and success oriented.

For example, I know many attorneys hold the belief that, “If our competitors don’t have it, then we don’t need it,” number 14 on the list. If you share that belief, you’re limiting your growth. A successful person would think, “We can gain an advantage in our market by doing what our competitors don’t do.” The latter statement is both true and more likely to lead to growth.

The author says, “Copying competitors is one of the many possible deaths for most companies. True innovation comes from the flip side: figuring out what competitors aren’t doing and fill that niche to answer a need in the industry.”

If you have negative or limiting beliefs, turn them around and find a positive version of the idea. Anchor your new thought with ideas and information that support and “prove” your newly adopted philosophy.

To support the statement that you can gain an advantage by doing what your competition doesn’t do, you might read profiles of companies and leaders in industries outside of law who dominated their market by figuring out what their competitors weren’t doing, and doing it.

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How to get your first client (or your next client)

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An attorney who is starting his own practice wrote me asking how he could get his first client.

I’ve written before about the value of doing a S.W.O.T. analysis. “S” stands for “Strengths”; “W” means weaknesses; “O” is for “Opportunities”; “T” means “Threats”. You can read more about this here and here.

If you’re launching a new practice, or setting goals for growing and improving your existing practice, a S.W.O.T. analysis is a good place to start.

The attorney who wrote me didn’t tell me anything about his background or experience, or anything else, frankly, other than the fact that he doesn’t have an office. (I’d put the latter in the category of “Weaknesses”. Get thee some office space, my legal friend.)

Anyway, getting your first client. Or your next client. Start by assessing your “Opportunities” (and keep an eye on your “Strengths”).

Who do you know? Make a list of employers, your employers’ clients with whom you have a relationship, other lawyers, and business contacts. Include family and friends on your list.

Who do you know socially or from church? Do you have hobbies or something you do outside of work? If there are other people involved, put them on your list.

The point is that everyone you know, or have known in the past, may have legal work for you, or referrals. They may be able to introduce you to people who have work or referrals.

To get your first client, contact everyone you know and let them know what you do and what you want. Tell them how they can help you and ask them to do that. Ask them for referrals, ask them for introductions, and if they have experience in the business world, ask them for advice.

While you’re at it, ask them if they know where you can find an office space. Which reminds me, when you get an office, get in a suite or building with other lawyers. You can get work from them. That’s how I got clients when I opened my first office. Overflow, conflicts of interest, appearances.

What else?

Create a website. Add ten or twenty articles or posts that demonstrate your expertise. You need an an online presence so prospective clients and referral sources can find out what you do and how you can help them.

In fact, do this first. Then, when you contact everyone you know and tell them what you’re doing, you can send them to your website.

If you don’t know how to create a website that pulls in business, get my course, Make the Phone Ring, to learn what to include on your website and how to use it to get traffic, build a list, and get new clients.

Other opportunities? Look around you. Find some places to network or deliver a presentation. You’ve got the time. Don’t sit there organizing files, go meet some new people. Look for people you can help, and not just with legal issues. Send them business and introduce them to others who can help them. Build a relationship with them.

Every day, you need to build your email list. All of your marketing efforts from this point on should be designed to get more people to opt into your list. As your list grows, and as you stay in touch with them and remind them that you are available to help them solve legal problems, your list of clients will grow.

That’s enough for now. Do these things and you’ll have your first client. Or your next client.

Want more referrals? The 30 Day Referral Blitz shows you how.

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