The one thing that made the difference

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In an interview yesterday I was asked what was the one thing that made the difference in my career. What was it that helped me become successful.

Back then, I said, meaning back when I was starting out and I was broke as a joke and just wanted to pay my bills, marketing made the difference.

When I learned how to bring in more clients, and better clients, everything changed.

Later, when I was making lots of money but had no time for anything but work, the key to my success as a sole practitioner was getting comfortable with delegating. This is difficult for many lawyers because we are very uncomfortable relinquishing control. But I did it and it allowed me to work only 3 days a week.

My income, went up, too, because I had more time for marketing and to improve my office’s systems.

In more recent years, the “one thing” that has made a difference for me has been passive income. When money comes in no matter what you do, even if you don’t do anything, well, it doesn’t get better than that. This allowed me to retire from the practice of law and do things I’ve always wanted to do.

So here’s my advice. If you need more money right now, study marketing. Get good at it. Make it your focus. Find something that works well for you and go “all in”.

If you have money but no time, hire more employees (or outsource) and learn how to delegate.

I know it’s hard but it gets easier. When I ran my practice, I resolved to do “only that which only I could do”. To my pleasant surprise, I found that there was very little that only I could do.

Delegate as much as possible and use the free time for more marketing, to improve your office’s work flow, and to have a life.

And if you have reached the point where you’ve got a handle on the money and the time, start thinking about what comes next. You might never want to retire or move onto to something else, and that’s okay. But knowing that you have enough cash and investments or passive income to do so, is a very good thing.

Marketing is easier when you have a plan

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Charging clients more because you are worth more

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I heard from an attorney who says he gets tongue tied speaking with prospective clients about fees and tends to lean towards charging less. Even then, he’s afraid they will think he charges too much.

I told him to write out what he would say to them if he was confident about his fees–why he charges what he does, the benefits he offers, why he’s worth more than other lawyers, and so on.

Write it, read it, contemplate it. And then post it, or a version thereof, on your website so that prospective clients will be able to read it before they ever speak to you. They will understand that you charge a bit more but you’re worth it.

You might want to try this, too. Write down all that you do for your clients, from soup to nuts. Write down all the little things you do to make their experience with you as comfortable as possible. Write down all of the things you do to help them achieve a successful outcome.

You don’t have to post all of this on your site but you do need to see the value in what you do. You need to understand why you are worth more.

But what if you don’t believe you are worth more?

Then you have work to do. Because if you want to charge higher fees than you currently charge, if you want to charge more than other lawyers charge, you have to believe that you are worth more.

If you believe it, you won’t have any trouble talking about fees. You will do it confidently. It is a selling point for you. You want clients to know that when they hire you they get incredible value for what they pay.

Charging clients more comes down to believing you are worth more.

But keep in mind that when it comes to something as abstract as fees for professional services, value is relative and perception is everything. You’re worth what clients are willing to pay and you’re willing to accept.

No more and no less.

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Can you be successful doing work you don’t love?

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Can you be successful doing work you don’t love? If you define success in material terms, I think you can. But success is not just about money. To be truly successful, you have to be happy.

And here’s the thing. When you are happy, when you love your work, financial success is much easier to achieve.

You don’t have to push yourself to get up early. Mondays are your favorite day of the week. You can’t wait until your next speaking engagement, trial, or networking event.

When you love what you do, the work is almost effortless. Problems seem smaller and easier to resolve. You don’t have to work hard to find clients, you attract them, in droves.

When you love what you do, you are happy, and when you are happy, you love what you do.

What if you don’t love your work? What if it’s just okay?

You eliminate or marginalize the things you don’t like and do more of the things you enjoy.

You can delegate, outsource, and partner. You can change practice areas, client types, and target markets. You can get rid of the marketing techniques that make your stomach churn and replace them with things that come naturally.

You can also give it time. You may learn to love your work eventually. As you hear sad stories about friends who have lost their jobs and can’t find any work, for example, you might start appreciating things you previously took for granted.

Or you might see your current situation as a stepping stone to something else.

Whatever you do, make sure you don’t dwell on the negative aspects of your work. Focus on the things that make you feel good.

Think about the things that are going well and come easily to you. Think about your accomplishments and victories. Think about how good it is that you are paying your bills and that you have the time and space to turn an okay situation into something great.

Focus on the things that make you happy in your work because what you focus on grows.

Success is easier when you have a plan

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How to write faster than you thought possible

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I wrote the first draft of yesterday’s blog post in 5 minutes. I also wrote the first draft of today’s post in 5 minutes.

If you want to write faster, here’s how to do it:

STEP ONE: CHOOSE YOUR TOPIC

Choose a topic you know well. If you need to research your subject, do it before you sit down to write.

What do you want to write about? What point do you want to convey? Write down your topic.

My topic yesterday was, “How to promote an event or offer”.

STEP TWO: TURN IT INTO A QUESTION

Take the topic and turn it into a question. Why? Because when it is in question form, your subconscious mind gets to work and searches for answers. The question primes your mental pump and the words start flowing.

My question was, “How can I promote an offer or event?”

STEP THREE: WRITE DOWN 3 “SEED WORDS

Think of three words related to your topic. Whatever comes to mind. These may change as you start writing but these 3 words will help you start.

My seed words yesterday were, “Excitement,” “Urgency,” and “Repetition”. They became the three points I wrote about to answer the topic question.

STEP FOUR: WRITE NON-STOP FOR 5 MINUTES

Set a timer and write. Don’t stop to correct spelling or do any editing. Just write, as quickly as you can, until the timer goes off.

I’ve heard that most people who do this will write between 200 and 400 words in 5 minutes, and that’s what I did. When the timer sounded yesterday, I had written 269 words.

The 5 minutes flew by for me. I had more to say so I continued writing for roughly another two minutes.

STEP FIVE: EDIT

Using this method, you will probably find that your first draft is quite good and won’t require a lot of editing. I found that to be true.

I did some cutting, added a thought or two, edited, and changed the title. Total time from start to finish was around 20 minutes. That included time to make notes about what I was doing, in preparation for today’s post.

Not too shabby.

By the way, although this method is meant for writing short pieces, you could also use it to write longer pieces. Yep, in 5 minute increments.

So, how many posts, articles, and emails could you write if you use this method to write your first draft in 5 minutes?

Why not try it and find out?

Need ideas for topics? Get this 

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3 Keys to promoting your event or offer

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So you want to get people to register for your seminar, hire you for your service, or buy your new book. What should you do?

Promote it.

Promoting isn’t announcing. Announcing is merely stating the facts. Promoting has an emotional element to it. Here are 3 keys to promoting your event or offer.

(1) Get excited

If you’re not excited about what you are promoting, you can’t expect anyone else to get excited. If they’re not excited, they’re probably not going to look at what you’re offering, let alone sign up.

Start by asking yourself why you are excited about your offer. What’s new about it? What’s different? What will it allow people to do that they can’t do now?

Put your thoughts on paper or record them. Tell people why you are excited and, more importantly, make sure you sound excited.

Don’t go over the top, and don’t make up things. Just share how you feel about it.

Instead of just saying that you are excited, illustrate it. For example, you might say that as soon as you heard about this, you ran to your laptop and started writing. Or at breakfast, you couldn’t stop talking about the upcoming seminar, “just ask my wife!”

(2) Urgency

Tell people why they need to act immediately. Tell them why they should not delay.

What will they gain by taking action now? What will they lose if they don’t?

If there is limited seating or phone lines or quantities, tell them, and be specific. If you’re offering an added benefit for the first ones who respond such as preferred seating, additional bonuses, or lower pricing, tell them.

Make sure they know why they shouldn’t wait, and then tell them what to do: go here, do this, do it now.

(3) Repetition

Don’t tell them once, tell them several times.

They may not have received your email, or read it. They may have been busy with other things and forgot. They may not realize that what you are promoting is as good as you say it is, or believe you when you say you’re not sure it will be repeated.

So tell them again, and tell them in different ways.

In one version of your message, appeal to their desire for gain by emphasizing the benefits. In another message, appeal to their fear of loss by telling how many others have signed up or how many seats are left.

Get excited, use urgency and repetition to promote your event or offer and you’ll get more people signing up.

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It’s official: I’m running for President (but don’t vote for me)

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No matter what you think about politics, there’s no question that it can be a great way to advance your professional career. You get to meet a lot of influential people. You get your name and face in front of potential supporters and future clients. You get to sharpen your speaking and networking skills. And for the rest of your life, your bio will note that you are a former candidate for office, meaning you aren’t the average schmo.

So consider running for office. Just make sure you don’t win.

If you win, and you’re honest, you’ll have to take a big pay cut. If you want to continue to win, you may have to sell your soul.

Okay, it might be alright to win an unimportant local office, but only if you can serve part time. Just don’t get carried away and think about running for higher office, unless of course you are already wealthy and/or idealistic to the extreme.

Another way you can ride this pony is to work behind the scenes to support a candidate. Your name may not become well known to the public, but you get to go to rubber chicken dinners with people who can send you business, teach you about marketing and building your brand, and introduce you to other influential people.

So yes, I’m running for President; if you want to work for my campaign, let me know. I can’t pay you anything, and remember, we’re not going to win this, so if you’re really talented or hard working, please don’t apply for the job.

That’s all for now. I’ve got to finish working on my concession speech.

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When people need you but don’t hire you

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I spoke with a guy who does websites for attorneys. He told me he has a client who is getting approximately 20 leads a month via his website but very few of them make an appointment. He wanted to know if I could help.

Of course I can help. I’m friggin Batman.

I took a quick look at his website and saw a lot of issues, but one issue tells most of the story. He doesn’t offer free consultations.

If you want to talk to the attorney, you have to pay.

He handles high end divorces and his site says he charges for a consultation so clever spouses can’t talk to him and thus eliminate him as a lawyer for their spouse (conflict).

True or not, I’m not sure prospective clients buy this explanation, and this is coming from a guy who practiced in Beverly Hills where this tactic is common. If prospects don’t buy this (or understand it), you’re not scoring points on the trust meter.

If you want to charge for a first consultation, “sell” the consultation by telling prospects all of the value delivered during that consultation. What do they learn? What do they get? How do they benefit? You should do this even if you offer free consultations.

Anyway, not the point.

The point is, is he making money? He gets a low percentage of leads converting to appointments, but if he closes them at the appointment, he might be doing just fine. Perhaps he doesn’t need to convert more leads to appointments, perhaps he should work on getting more traffic.

Charging for consultations weeds out people who aren’t serious or who might not be able to pay his fee if they wanted to hire him. He saves a lot of time by not talking to them, and time is money, even if you don’t bill by the hour.

On the other hand, he might earn more by offering free consultations. He would undoubtedly set more appointments, and this might lead to more clients and more revenue. He could screen out low-percentage prospects by speaking with them for a few minutes on the phone before setting an appointment, or having someone in the office do that.

If the conflict of interest issue is on the level, so be it. Otherwise, I would suggest running a test. Offer free consultations for a month or three and see what happens.

He might get more calls and more clients and conclude that he’s better off offering free consultations and very glad he found out. Or he might find that while he’s getting more appointments, he’s not getting more sign-ups and he can go back to his original plan.

Make sense? Good. Now go make some dollars.

For more awesome ideas on marketing online, get this

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Don’t stop to pick up pennies or you’ll miss out on the dollars

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At one point in my legal career, another lawyer and I were flipping real estate. The market was hotter than Hades and we were making a boatload of money.

I thought, “Why not get a broker’s license and get a piece of the commissions, too?”

Bad idea.

Many brokers didn’t want to work with me. Others were willing to do so but brought their best deals to other investors first.

If you compete with people who bring you deals, you get fewer deals.

I got rid of my broker’s license.

I also realized that if I wanted brokers to bring me the best deals, I had to make it clear that I would never try to cut their commissions, as many investors do. But I took it a step further. I told them that if I made money on the deal, I would cut them in on the profit. In addition, when it came time to put the property back on the market, I assured them that they would get the listing.

Guess who they brought their deals to?

If you want insurance agents and financial advisers to send you referrals, get rid of your insurance and securities licenses. If you handle divorces and you want referrals from business lawyers, think twice before you include business law on your list of practice areas. If you have bar licenses in other jurisdictions where you don’t actively practice, consider retiring those licenses.

When you compete with people who send you referrals, you get fewer referrals.

Think about where you earn most of your money, or want to, and focus on that. Don’t stop to pick up pennies or you might miss out on the dollars.

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Marvel’s new superhero is an attorney

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Breaking news: Marvel’s new superhero is an attorney.

Well, it should be. After all, attorneys do for their clients the same things Thor does for Asgardians, and we only think we’re gods.

Clients want their attorneys to keep them safe, vanquish the bad guys, and give them peace of mind. They want their attorneys to have amazing strength and skills and always know what to do. And that is the image we must continually portray.

But clients also want to connect with their attorneys on a human level. They want to know that we can relate to their problems and understand how they feel. They want to know that we are invulnerable on the outside, but on the inside, in many ways we’re just like them.

Show your clients that you are vulnerable on the inside and you will endear them to you. Share some of your failures and shortcomings and how you overcame them. Let them know about some of your faults and fears.

In speaking with clients, in your writing and public speaking, in interviews, let people see that there is a real person inside the superhero costume. Give them a glimpse of your personal life. Tell them what you do on weekends, talk about your kids, your vacations, and your outside interests.

Let them know that while you slay dragons during the day, at night you’re a mom or dad, a husband or wife, and a member of your community. Just like them.

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Getting addicted to getting things done

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I’m about to finish a book project and it feels good. Not just because I will have another tool I can use in my business, not just because it represents another source of passive income, but because it really does feel good to get things done.

You know this is true. When you wrap up a case or finish something you’re working on, you have a pleasurable sense of satisfaction. Finishing feels good.

It turns out that there is physiological explanation for this feeling. When we finish a task, our brains release Serotonin, the so-called pleasure drug. This motivates us to take on more tasks, and bigger tasks.

We can use this to condition ourselves to be more productive.

“What we want to do if we want to set ourselves up for increasing productivity is put minor or smaller challenges in front of us so we build up that ‘done’ moment,” psychologist Leslie Sherlin says.

One way to do this is to break down your tasks into smaller chunks. Instead of writing an entire 90-minute closing argument, for example, write just the outline. It feels good to finish this and you are motivated to take the next step.

You can also break up your work into smaller increments of time. Instead of planning to work two hours on something (and trying to find the time to do that), do it for ten minutes. (Consider the Pomodo Technique where you use a timer to work 25 minutes, followed by a five minute break.)

Smaller tasks and shorter time intervals gives you more opportunities to “finish”. The more you do, the more you want to do more. You are literally addicted to getting things done, and that’s probably a good thing.

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