Happiness is a choice

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Yesterday, I had one of those moments. You know the one I mean. It’s when you’re having a bad day and you are convinced that you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re not good at anything, and you should probably give up and go do something else.

Yeah, that kind of moment.

But then I paused and thought about it. I thought about things that were going well, things that had amazing potential, and things that I was really good at, and the cloud of doom over my head floated away.

Just like that, I went from near despair to being excited about the future, and with that, I got back to work.

Do we really have that kind of power? Can we really just think ourselves into being happy?

You betcha.

Dale Carnegie said, “Remember, happiness doesn’t depend on who you are or what you have; it depends solely on what you think.”

Yes, you can work your way through a funk. But had I tried to suck it up and work my way through my malaise, I’m pretty sure I would have simply found more “proof” of my inadequacies and justification for feeling sorry for myself.

Eventually, I would have forgotten about what was bothering me and returned to my regular chipper self. But instead of having an entire day being down, I was able to get back to “me” in just a few seconds.

When you are feeling blue, or experiencing any kind of negative emotion, instead of charging ahead despite those feelings, “change the subject”. Think about something that feels better when you think it. I might have thought about walking on the beach. That would certainly have felt better and my mood would surely have improved.

I chose another way. Instead of distracting myself from the issue (not being good enough), I found some aspect of that thought that felt better (thinking about what I was good at).

Either way works.

When we are unhappy, we can wait until our circumstances improve and then be happy. Or we can choose to be happy now and use that feeling to improve our circumstances.

Because happiness is a choice.

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How to get more traffic and more clients

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Put more people in your posts and articles. You’ll get more traffic, more people reading your content, and more people sharing it. Bottom line, more clients.

People like to read about people. Content about people (instead of concepts) is more interesting to read and more interesting to write.

You could interview people about their life and accomplishments, about their case or cause, or about their process and recommendations. You could present a transcript of your interview or a summary and quotes. You could do a profile. Or simply mention them. You could review their books or articles or performances.

You could write a print piece, create a video or audio, or all of the above. You could talk to them in person, on the phone, or via chat, or email some questions and have them email their answers.

You could tell their story or have them tell it. You could agree with them and champion their ideas, or present their words and your rebuttal. You could name them or keep them anonymous.

You could write about:

  • Your clients
  • People in the news/famous people
  • Centers of influence in your target market or community
  • Prospective clients you have met or consulted
  • People you meet at networking or speaking events
  • People you meet on airplanes
  • Other lawyers in your field
  • Lawyers in other practice areas
  • Professionals in allied fields
  • Business owners who sell to your target market
  • Authors, bloggers, speakers, consultants, and expert witnesses
  • Your family and friends

Asking people you know for interviews or quotes will flatter them and strengthen your relationship. Reaching out to people you don’t know for an interview or comment will open doors to new clients, new referral sources, and new speaking and writing opportunities. You’ll get ideas for improving the marketing and management of your law office. And you have an endless supply of material for your blog or newsletter.

For more ideas on creating content and marketing online get Make the Phone Ring

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Visualizing success

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There’s an oft cited experiment by Australian psychologist Alan Richardson. The objective was to see if and to what extent visualization could improve sports performance.

Richardson tested three groups of twenty student basketball players shooting free throws and recorded their results. For the next 20 days, he had the first group practice free throws for twenty minutes each day. The second group spent 20 minutes each day visualizing themselves making free throws, without actually practicing. The third group was the control. They did no practicing or visualizing during the twenty day period.

On the twentieth day the three groups were tested again. The group that practiced every day improved their shooting percentage by 24 percent. The control group’s results were unchanged. The group that did no physical practice but merely visualized shooting free throws improved by 23 percent–nearly as much as the group that actually practiced.

In his paper about the experiment, Richardson wrote that best results occurred when the subject used their imagination to “feel” the ball in their hands, “hear” it bounce, and “see” it go through the hoop. The more vivid the experience, the more likely they were to improve.

When I was studying for the bar exam, I routinely visualized myself writing the exam. I pictured myself writing freely and easily, fully in command of the material. I even took a self-hypnosis class to help the process. I don’t know how much (or even if) this helped me pass the bar (the first time, thank you), but I remember going into the exam relaxed and confident.

Lawyers can use visualization to prepare for a speech, an interview, a trial, or a meeting with an important prospective client. If all it does is give you confidence, it’s worth it.

In the basketball experiment, we are asked to believe that visualizing alone provided improvement nearly equivalent to that achieved through actual practice. I understand that this was a test of a relatively simple activity and not on a par with studying for an exam or practicing a closing argument, but it is intriguing, isn’t it? It makes you wonder what else we could improve with the power of our imagination.

Most of  what we do in our work probably can’t be improved by thoughts alone. I wasn’t about to go into the bar exam without studying and doing practice exams. But I’d sure like to know if my visualization contributed to my results in any material way beyond helping me relax.

Unfortunately, the basketball experiment wasn’t complete. In my view, there should have been a fourth group tested. This group would have been asked to both practice and visualize. What might those results have told us?

Today, my wife is reporting for jury duty. I’ve told her to visualize being excused early in the day. Of course I’ve also reminded her to emphasize her husband’s background. Hey, it couldn’t hurt.

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A little less planning, a little more action

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How much planning is enough? Less than you think.

You don’t need to plan out the entire case. There are two many variables. You need a plan to get it started. Your experience and instincts will take you the rest of the way.

You don’t need to plan all of your marketing. You need to know what you want to accomplish and a few ideas that might help you get there. Your results (or lack thereof) will guide you towards next steps.

You don’t need to plan your entire career–when you will retire, and how. It’s impossible to know how much you will need or calculate specific rates of return. Start putting something away and periodically take inventory.

Planning is good, but too often it is an impediment. Either we procrastinate because we haven’t yet perfected the plan, or we miss opportunities because they aren’t consistent with the plan. Detailed plans never foster creativity, they stifle it.

We accomplish more by taking action. It’s simple. The more we do, the more we accomplish. Yes, more action also leads to more failure but we learn from those failures. Those experiences help us make adjustments and grow. They help us improve future results.

Plan just enough to get the project started. Then do the thing until you get some results. Review those results and make a new plan.

Plan. Do. Review.

For a simple marketing plan that really works, get this

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The single most important question in legal marketing

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Knock Knock.

Who’s there?

New clients.

New clients who?

New clients aren’t going to hire you unless you give them a good answer to this question.

It’s the single most important question in legal marketing. Unfortunately, most attorneys don’t have a very good answer.

Here’s the question:

“Why should a prospective client hire you instead of any other attorney or firm?”

Inadequate (but typical) answers include:

“We’re good at what we do”

“We work hard for our clients”

“We provide excellent ‘customer service’”

“We’ve won millions of dollars for our clients”

“I’ve been endorsed by XYZ”

“I get top ratings from ABC”

These are bad answers because your competitors can (and do) say the same things.

Your answer to this question must show people how you are different, not the same. It must give people a reason or reasons to consciously choose you, because they can see how they will benefit if they do.

Let’s take the first one, “We’re good at what we do,” and see if we can improve on it. Why are you good at what you do? What do you do differently or better? In what ways do you do your work that other attorneys don’t?

Answer these questions and you might be on to something. If you do something other attorneys don’t do, this differentiates you. If you dramatize that difference with examples and details, prospective clients could well see why you are the better choice.

Yes, the gentleman in the back with the $4,000 suit. You have a question?

“People hire our firm because of me. I’m what makes us different. Why do I need anything else?”

Actually, that’s a great question. If you’ve worked hard to build a stellar reputation and strong relationships with important clients and referral sources, you may not need anything else.

For now.

One day, you may stumble. Your reputation may be sullied. Your relationships may go south. Or, someone else will come along and show your clients something better.

Have we not all seen high flying firms who have faded in popularity? Big name lawyers who have lost their big name clients and had to downsize, or fold?

You can’t rely on your good looks forever.

Yes, build your reputation and your relationships. But just to be on the safe side, think about how you might answer the question. Because some day, you may have to.

Find your uniqueness. Differentiate yourself. Get this.

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Reba McEntire: “To succeed in life, you need three things. . .”

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In the “I wish I said it” category comes this quote from singer, song writer, and actress, Reba McEntire:

“To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone, and a funny bone.”

Good advice for everyone, but especially lawyers.

We need to dream big to make it big. You can’t “play” at this profession, you have to go for it. Make big plans and take bold action. Another quote, author unknown, sums it up: “Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting, ‘Holy shit… what a ride!’”

We need a backbone to survive and thrive. Competition is tough, clients are demanding, and the ponderous rules we swore to abide by often make us want to bitch slap someone. Practicing law may be worth all the blood, sweat, and tears, but only if you can hang in there long enough to reap the rewards.

Most of all, we need to lighten up. If you don’t have a sense of humor, if you can’t laugh at the world and have some fun on this journey, you’re doomed. Bob Newhart said, “Laughter gives us distance. It allows us to step back from an event, deal with it and then move on.” Robert Frost said, “If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane.” Groucho Marx said, “Anyone who says he can see through women is missing a lot.” C’mon now, that’s funny!

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How to get more clients from your newsletter

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When I launched my new ebook on Kindle recently I set up an email list for purchasers. If they subscribe, they get tips and other goodies from me related to the subject matter of the book (network marketing recruiting). They get value from me by being on the list. I get a mechanism for promoting my books.

It’s a small list right now, and that’s fine. Sure, I want lots of subscribers, but more than quantity, I want quality.

You should, too.

If you have a large list that’s not producing many inquires for your services (or buying anything else you’re selling or promoting), it’s because you’re focusing on building a list instead of building relationships. Relationships come from delivering value and engaging the people on your list. By finding out what they want to know or do and finding ways to help them.

A list of 50 people who love your content, and you, is worth far more than a list of thousands who barely know who you are.

When I say list I mean email list, not social media connections. On social media, your messages are fleeting. Most people won’t see them. They are public, so anyone might see them, and that makes your posts less intimate and special.

Email, on the other hand, is personal. Even though the same message is sent to many, that message isn’t out in the open for all to see. If someone wants to comment on a social media post, they have to consider that everyone else can see what they say (and who they are). With email, they can remain anonymous to everyone but you.

And with email, you are in control. Your list is yours. Facebook doesn’t determine who does or does not see what you write.

Yesterday, I sent my first email to the new list. I thanked them again for purchasing and told them the price would be going up in a few days, in case they want to let other people know. I encouraged them to leave a review. And then I shared a tip.

I’m starting to build a relationship with my list.

Note that everyone on your list may not be a prospective client for your services. They may have hired you before and not need you again, or never hired you because the crisis has passed. Or they might be a fellow professional who likes what you do. But everyone on your list is a potential referral source.

My list isn’t going to buy my book again, but they can tell many others about it. I’m pretty sure that if I continue to build a relationship with them, that’s exactly what they will do.

If you want to get more clients from your newsletter, get this

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Slaying the perfectionism dragon

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A short article on the Entrepreneur.com website caught my attention. In “Start Before You’re Ready, Really,” the author urges us to launch our new business, project or idea before we are, or it is ready.

You can set up a quick Facebook page instead of a website, or a simple (ugly) web page just to get something “out there”. Run the idea up the digital flagpole and see who salutes it.

The author started her new business with just one strategic alliance partner (referral source), who sent her enough business to help her get her business off the ground. Had she waited until she had ten or twelve referral sources, she may still be waiting.

No matter what you do, you can improve it later. Even if you do wait before you launch, there will always be things to improve. So why wait?

Get something out there now and fix or improve it later.

I salute this idea. Hard as it is to show your ideas before they are fully formed, edited, vetted, and groomed, you must. If you wait, you’ll never be ready. In your lifetime, you will produce only a fraction of what you could.

I’ve done this many times. I’ve put up terrible web pages. Announced businesses and books when they were merely ideas. Advertised courses before I was finished writing them.

Some of my best stuff came because I put it out for the world to see before I was ready. Turns out, they were closer to being ready than I had thought. What’s a few typos among friends?

There’s nothing like a deadline to get you crackin’. Once you announce or launch or publish, you’ve got a deadline. You’re committed. You’ve got to finish it, or fix it, and you do.

The alternative is to pay homage to your perfectionism and wait until everything is right. That’s how so many people die with their music in them.

The most important part of any project is getting started. Whatever it is you want to do, do it. Give yourself permission to do it badly. You can fix it later. You can make it better. Or you can cancel it start something else.

There is greatness in you. Slay the dragon and let your ideas soar.

For a simple marketing plan that really works, get this

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Where I get some of my craziest ideas

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When I began my quest to learn about marketing legal services, there weren’t many books available on the subject. There were the usual ABA assortment, with advice for big firms, and some books on starting a new practice (thank you, I know how to order business cards), but nothing that was immediately usable to me.

I didn’t need theory, I needed to know what to do today to bring in some business tomorrow so I can pay my rent on the first.

Hungry for ideas, I turned to books written for other disciplines.

I read books written for retail store owners, insurance sales people, and real estate professionals. I read books about cold calling, copy writing, advertising, direct mail, speaking, writing, and sales.

I read everything I could find in the library that remotely pertained to marketing and advertising, and bought countless more at the bookstore.

Much of what I read didn’t apply to marketing legal services, but I got some ideas. Eventually, I found some things that worked.

Reading broadly, outside of the legal realm, helped me gain perspective and grow as a marketer. I still do this and I suggest you do the same.

Of course today there are a lot of books and blogs about marketing legal services. But when we only read in one area, we risk growing stale. Mix it up a bit. Read books and blogs written for other professionals and businesses. Learn how they go about marketing, advertising, sales, and management.

Read about personal development and leadership. Even if you have no employees, you are still a leader–of your clients and professional contacts and in your community.

When I started a network marketing business, I learned about a different kind of marketing. The genesis of some of the crazy (crazy good) ideas that infuse my writing about marketing legal services is network marketing.

Speaking of network marketing, have you read my new book, “Recruit and Grow Rich”? Even if you have no interest in network marketing, you might want to pick up a copy. One of the reviewers (an attorney whose name you will recognize) said many of the ideas in the book apply to almost any type of business. Another reviewer called it a “must read for attorneys”.

Anyway, I’m raising the price soon so now would be a good time to get the book:

http://recruitandgrowrichbook.com/kindle

Outside the US, go to your amazon store and search “Recruit and Grow Rich”.

If you’ve read the book and liked it, and haven’t yet left a review, I would appreciate it greatly if you did.

It doesn’t have to be long. Just a quick “here’s what I thought”.

Every review helps me. And helps others decide if they should read it or not.

If you insist on reading about marketing legal services, star with this

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If your law firm were a sports team

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Your clients want you to win. They are cheering for you and will celebrate with you when you win their case or favorably resolve their issue.

If you don’t win, they will be disappointed, but they will accept it, as long as you put up a good fight.

I’m sure you do your best for your clients. You advocate and argue and try every angle. You stay in shape mentally, so you can perform at your peak. You come in early and stay late, to prep for the game. You give your clients your best efforts.

But do your clients know this?

Do you let your clients know everything you do for them? Can they see your effort?

When a sports fan watches a game, they see the players in action. They see them execute strategy, take the shots, and suffer the blows. You need to show your clients no less.

That means documenting everything. It means explaining everything. It means putting everything you do in context, so they can see why you did it one way and not another.

Legal services aren’t like dry cleaning. The client doesn’t just drop off the clothing and pick it up when it’s done. Legal services involve important issues and great expense. When a client hires your law firm, they need to see what they are paying for and they are paying for your effort.

Your clients can live with the fact that you didn’t score the goal. But they have to see you take the shot.

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