What would you do with a $200,000 line of credit?

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What would you do with a $200,000 line of credit, or a windfall in that amount?

What would you buy? Who would you hire? What would you do to grow your practice or free up more time?

Would you hire more or better employees? What would you have them do?

Would you invest in additional web assets?

Would you invest in advertising, or increase your ad buys?

It’s up to you.

You might pay off higher interest debt. Maybe you’d open a second office, or move to a bigger one. Maybe you’d buy new computers or furniture or invest in training your staff to work more efficiently.

Think about your SWOT: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. How would access to cash allow you to maximize your strengths, minimize your weaknesses, take advantage of opportunities, or neutralize threats?

What do you want to accomplish this year? Where do you want to be in five years?

Maybe you would invest in a business venture outside of your practice. For additional profit, for retirement, or just something you’ve always wanted to do.

As you think this through, you might decide to do nothing. You know you’re on track to meet your goals and you don’t need a pile of cash to get there.

The point of this exercise is to make you think about where you are and where you want to be. It’s to make you see what’s possible if money wasn’t an issue. It’s to give you ideas you can put on the drawing board.

If cash or credit would help you accomplish your goals more quickly, begin working towards acquiring a line of credit or amassing a pile of cash.

If you don’t need capital to get to the next level, however, consider building a line of credit anyway, because once you get to the next level, you might need cash to get to the level after that.

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How to increase your income ten-fold

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What would I have to do to increase my income ten-fold? That’s a question you should ask yourself periodically.

Yesterday, I did a consultation with an immigration lawyer and asked him a similar question. We were talking about his fees and I said, “With your experience and reputation, you could probably triple your fees, right now, and get it, no questions asked. Who’s to say you’re not worth three times what you now charge? What you need to do is figure out how you could increase your fees ten-fold. What would you have to do? How would you have to package your services in order to get that?”

Because he could. Because you can, too. The challenge is to figure out how.

Okay, too much to ask? I’ll ask a different question that might make you more comfortable. “What would you have to do to increase your income ten-fold in the next year?” The answer would entail a combination of increasing fees and getting more clients, yes?

Good stuff.

I heard an interview with an author recently who said his goal was to increase his income ten-fold within the next year. His plan calls for a combination of writing more books and selling more of them (marketing).

Will he reach his goal? I don’t know. But I do know that as a result of thinking this way, he’s bound to increase his income, undoubtedly much more than he would if he didn’t ask “how”.

Ten fold is big. But not impossible. You have to ask questions like this. It’s no fun to ask, “How could I increase my income five percent?” Snore.

So, what would you have to do to increase your income ten-fold? What new services would you offer? What new (higher-priced) markets would you target? What would you have to do to increase your fees? What would you have to do to get more traffic to your website, viewers of your ads, or attendees at your seminars? What would you do to get more referrals?

Think. And maybe you’ll grow rich.

How to increase your income ten-fold: Go here

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To dream the impossible dream

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One of my favorite musical recordings is Richard Kiley singing The Impossible Dream in the original cast performance of “The Man of La Mancha”. Don Quixote sings about his impossible dream and the resolve he brings to attaining it:

To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go

To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star

This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far

To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell
For a heavenly cause

And I know if I’ll only be true
To this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I’m laid to my rest

And the world will be better for this
That one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star

What is your impossible dream? The one that defines you and your purpose but eludes you?

Perhaps you have dismissed your dream as truly impossible, or banished it to a faraway land called someday.

At some point in your life, your impossible dream filled your thoughts as you fell asleep each night. Perhaps no longer. Perhaps too much has happened and those days are long gone.

Never give up on your dreams. Your dreams are what make life worth living.

It’s time to begin your journey. It’s time, right now, to set forth towards your unreachable star so that when you are laid to rest, your heart will be peaceful and calm.

Go back in your mind to the place where your dream was exciting and real. Remember how exciting that felt and feel that way again. Sing about it. Affirm that nothing will stop you. This is your quest, no matter how hopeless, no matter how far.

To reach your impossible dream, you need that kind of unassailable determination because without it, you won’t get out of your comfort zone and do the things you need to do. You won’t risk rejection and ridicule and you won’t keep going when pain and frustration make you want to give up.

Don Quixote was thought to be crazy. You need to be a little crazy to accomplish your impossible dream.

Then, prepare for the journey. Research, study, practice. Find your Sancho to travel with you.

Or just start. Put one foot in front of the other, and then do it again.

Work on your dream every day until it becomes a part of your routine. John Grisham developed the writing habit by committing to writing every day, even if only 5 minutes, no matter how busy he was with his law practice.

Some days you’ll do a lot. Some days not so much. But if you work on it every day, you will make progress. You’ll get better, and faster. Eventually, your efforts will compound and you will see meaningful progress towards your destination.

Keep going and the pace of your progress will accelerate. Before you know it, what was once an impossible dream will be a foreseeable reality.

You might tilt at windmills along the way, but that’s how you will find your unreachable star.

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Mr. Spock was only half right

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As a kid, I loved Star Trek. I watched the original series and thought that Mr. Spock’s unemotional, logical approach to problem solving was the way to go.

Examine the evidence. Calculate the probabilities. Make your decision.

I even took a class in logic in college. It was one of my favorites. My professor noticed my enthusiasm for the subject and wrote me a letter of recommendation to law school.

Anyway, I started my legal career with a penchant for logic. I calmly reasoned my way through problems to find the best solutions. I did my best to keep my emotions in check.

And it’s a good thing I did. Those first few years were awful. I didn’t know how to bring in clients and, oh yeah, I barely knew how to do the legal work. Every month was a struggle to survive and if I had let my emotions out of their box, I would surely have fallen apart. Logic got me through some tough times.

Later, when I had turned things around and had a thriving practice, logic only took me so far.

At one point, I had an important decision to make. I can’t recall the subject but I remember having a terrible time deciding what to do. I had a paralegal who saw my consternation and offered a suggestion. She told me that I was more intuitive than I realized and that I should trust my intuition to provide me with the right answer.

I listened to her. And then I listened to the voice inside me that told me what to do.

Whatever the issue was, my intuition provided the solution and the problem is long forgotten.

We should remember that Spock was half-human. Somewhere inside him was a reservoir of intuition and human emotion. We saw flashes of it when he made illogical decisions to save the life of Captain Kirk.

We all have great intuitive powers and we shouldn’t ignore them. There is a voice inside us that wants to guide us but most of us (men) don’t listen.

Feelings, who me? I’m a lawyer. I don’t let my feelings tell me what to do.

Maybe we should. Maybe we should listen to how we feel about things before we make decisions.

I do that now. When I think about choosing A or B, for example, I ask myself how I feel about those options. More often than not, I choose the option that feels better.

I also do that when charting my future. I look at the pantheon of options available to me–all of the projects I could work on, all of the tasks on my master list–and do the ones that I feel pulled toward.

I have one such project I’m working on right now. It’s something I feel good about and I can’t wait to get back to work on it. Isn’t that how our work should always be? Mostly doing things we enjoy?

Look at everything on your plate right now, and everything on your list of ideas. Which one calls to you? Which one feels good when you think about it?

That’s probably what you should do next.

Mr. Spock might not approve, but he’s at the Science station and you’re in the Captain’s chair.

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Begin with the end in mind (and work backwards)

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Most people choose a goal and then start working towards it. They put one foot in front of the other and keep walking until they get to their destination.

If they choose the wrong step, however, they may get sidetracked and lose sight of their goal. If they do the steps in the wrong order, they may waste time and resources.

A better way, some say, is to begin with the end in mind and work backwards.

Let me give you an example of how it works.

Let’s say you have a goal of getting one additional referral each week.

Nice goal, yes?

Okay, now you have to ask yourself this question: Can I do this tomorrow? Can I get one additional referral per week starting tomorrow?

The odds are the answer is no. So you ask another question: What would have to have happen first?

Putting aside the idea of getting more referrals from your clients and existing contacts, let’s say the answer is, “I’d have to have twenty new professional contacts who know, like, and trust me. If each one of these twenty contacts sends me just one referral every five months, I would achieve my goal of getting one additional referral per week.”

That sounds doable. But can you do it tomorrow?

No.

What would have to happen first?

First (let’s say) you would need to connect with 100 new contacts (professionals, business owners, community leaders, centers of influence, etc.), in order to find twenty who are willing and able to send you one referral every five months.

Can you do this tomorrow? I’m guessing not.

What would have to happen first?

First you would have to identify (a) places where these people congregate, so you can go there and meet them, and/or (b) people you know who can introduce you to these people.

Can you do that tomorrow?

Yes you can. You can start anyway. You can do some research and find organizations comprised of people who fit the description of the people you want to meet who meet locally.

You can also comb through your current list of contacts to identify people who are likely to know these people. They have clients or colleagues or business contacts who fit the description. You know them well enough to ask for an introduction.

Finally, you have something you can do tomorrow. Now you can take the first steps towards your goal.

But if you do all of that, can you reach your goal tomorrow? No. What has to happen first?

You need to meet them and get to know them. You need to find out what they are looking for that you might be able to help them with. You need to show them what you do and how you can help their clients or contacts. And you have to build a relationship with them, earn their trust ,and eventually, their referrals.

Can you do this tomorrow? No. What would you have to do first?

You’d have to talk to them, get their contact information, and begin a dialog with them.

Can you do that tomorrow (if you meet them tomorrow)? Yes you can.

And now you have a plan.

You can’t “do” a goal, you can only do activities. Begin with the end in mind and work backwards. Identify the activities you need to do, and do them, and keep doing them until you reach your goal.

Marketing is easier when you know The Attorney Marketing Formula

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What you focus on is what you get

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You can’t be successful at everything. If you’re smart, you’ll make a big list of everything you’d like to do this year, narrow it down to ten things, and then choose just 3 or 4 goals or objectives to focus on this year.

That’s what Steve Jobs did with Apple.

The key to success is focus. Choose a few things and spend most of your time on those.

I have one major business goal this year. If I accomplish it, it will transform my business and I will be a happy camper. To achieve this goal, I have two big projects I’m working on. Depending on how things go, I might take on a third project, but no more. To achieve exceptional results, I must stay focused.

It’s not a lack of discipline that keeps us from achieving our goals. It’s a lack of focus.

Clarity gives us focus. If you are clear about what you want to accomplish in the next few years, you can focus on the work that will help you get there. If you are unclear about your future, your focus will be fuzzy and your efforts will be scattered and inconsistent.

Clarity gives you focus and focus gives you momentum.

So, what do you want? What are 3 or 4 goals or projects you intend to focus on this year?

You may not need 3 or 4. You may need only one. A major goal that will decidedly advance you towards your long term vision.

Perhaps that one goal is to reach a certain income level. If you achieve this, it will take care of a lot of other goals. If you increase your income enough, you don’t need a separate goal of paying off back taxes, for example.

Now, with goal in hand, you can focus on achievement. What do you need to do to accomplish this goal?

You can accomplish anything you want in life, you just can’t accomplish everything. Get clear about what you really want and focus on that. Because what you focus on is what you get.

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Planning 2015 and beyond

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What do you want to accomplish this year? Be specific. Next year at this time, if I ask you, “Did you do it?” I hope you’ll be able to answer in the affirmative, but what is “it”?

You have many options. You must decide what you want and be very clear about it. What’s the number? What’s the outcome?

Do you want more clients? How many? Do you want better clients? How do you define better? Do you want fewer clients who pay you more? How many and how much?

Start with the big picture–where do you want to be five or ten years from now?

Do you want to expand into a new market? Branch out into a new practice area? Attract different types of clients?

Do you want a big firm, with lots of employees and offices, or a small firm with low overhead and low(er) management requirements?

Do you want to build a war chest to finance something new, or passive income so you can retire?

Before you make a plan or take action, you must know what you want. But there’s something else you need to figure out.

Why?

Whatever it is that you want, you have to know why you want it. You want more income? Why? What will you do with it?

When you think you know your “why” take it deeper. You say you want more money to pay off debt, start a college fund, or hire some new staff. Fine. Why do you want that?

Ah, more staff will allow you to earn more and work less. Okay, why do you want that?

It will give you more time with the family you love. You won’t miss soccer games and ballet recitals. You’ll be able to pursue music or art or travel the world.

Okay, but why do you want those things?

Keep asking yourself “why” until you get to the emotional core that is driving what you want. That core will be fueled by one of two emotions: love or fear.

Your love of your children will keep you going when you hit an obstacle. So will your fear of disappointing them.

It is our emotions that drive us and unless we access those emotions, it’s too easy to get distracted, procrastinate, or give up.

When you have emotional clarity about what you want, nothing will stop you from getting it. Without that clarity, anything can stop you.

Get clear about what you want, and why you want it.

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We get what we expect, not what we want

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Years ago, my wife and I attended an annual New Year’s party at her agent’s home. Every year, all of the guests wrote down what we expected to happen that year. Not our goals, our expectations.

The agent collected our scribbles in a basket and before we wrote our current expectations, we read what we had written the previous year. We could share with the group if we wanted to, or not.

The idea is that we don’t get what we want (our goals), we get what we expect. Goals are aspirational; expectations are objective.

I believe this is true. Our subconscious mind is a servo-mechanism, after all. It accepts our beliefs (expectations) as reality and works to create that reality.

I never quite got the hang of it, however. Every year, I wrote down what I wanted to happen, in the guise of what I expected. And every year, I missed the mark by a long shot. But this was my fault. I didn’t put a lot of thought into the exercise.

Maybe I was afraid my wife’s agent would secretly sneak a peak at what we had written so I wrote down something acceptable.

Anyway, if it is true that we get what we expect and not what we want, how does this help us? How do we access our deepest beliefs, and how do we use them to get what we want?

You got me.

Hypnosis? Meditation? Prayer?

All I know is that as we write down our goals for the year, we should give some thought to our expectations. That way, instead of choosing random goals that we hope will magically come true, we will choose goals that come true because they are the natural progression of our current reality.

If it turns out that our goals and are current reality are miles apart, and we’re honest with ourselves about that, after we write our goals, we will write down a list of things we need to work on in order to close that gap.

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Give it away, give it away, give it away (but not everything)

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You’re thinking about next year, aren’t you? If you’re not, just check your email. It’s undoubtedly filled with messages about goal setting, resolutions, organizing your work flow like a boss. . .

Oh, and don’t forget to register for the next goo-roo webinar that promises to reveal the secrets to profligate wealth. (Note to self: the free webinar is a sales pitch).

Not all free webinars are like that. Just most of them. You don’t learn that much. Or they tell you the “what” but not the “how”.

I know, they can’t give away everything for free. They’ve got a business to run. Just like you do. You don’t give away all of your wisdom and advice during a free consultation (nor should you), so you get that.

But you’ve got to give people something.

I’m not saying you can’t sell your services without “content”. You certainly can. Advertising still works. But if you’re asking people to invest an hour of their time with you at your seminar, watching your videos, or reading your blog, you’ve got to give them something in return.

And the more you give them, the more likely they are to see you as the solution to what ails them.

So, as you plan your next move, I suggest you add “content creation” to your list. If you already do this, ask yourself how you can do it more or make it better.

Put some articles on your website. Write a report or ebook. Make some screen capture videos. Teach people something about your area of expertise, so they can see that you know what you’re doing and get a sense of what it would be like to work with you.

People go online for information. Give them some.

The Attorney Marketing Formula comes with a simple marketing plan that really works. Go here.

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I’m dying and so are you

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In a galaxy far, far away (in the 1970’s) I attended my first real estate investing seminar. I was young and ambitious and had no money, but I had spunk. Mr. Grant may have hated spunk, but it was going to make me rich.

Yes, I was scared. I’m sure most of the people in the room were, too. The trainer knew this, of course and spent time encouraging us. He suggested we adopt the “I.G.D.S.” philosophy. That stands for, “I’m gonna die someday” and is meant to suggest that we get on with life because it will one day be over.

What are you waiting for? This is your life, not a dress rehearsal. Do or not do, there is no try. (Okay Star Wars wasn’t out yet. I got a little ahead of myself.)

Years later, Steve Jobs echoed this sentiment when he said,

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.

Over the years, I’ve reminded myself that I’m gonna die someday and I had better get on with things. Sometimes, this helped me do just that. I overcame inertia, stopped researching and planning, and got things done. Some big things, too.

As I have aged and thought more about my mortality, I realize that the clock is still ticking and there are many things I still want to do. I.G.D.S. and I had better get on it.

I also know there isn’t enough time in the day to do everything. But I have a plan.

My plan is to give myself permission to dabble. A taste of this and a taste of that. I don’t have to be “all in” with every project on my bucket list. I can sample things, not with the intent to build something big necessarily, but to savor the feeling of doing it.

Of course the challenge is that I will fall in love with what I’m doing and get completely sidetracked. But I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. As Helen Keller said, “Life is either a daring adventure, or it is nothing.”

Steve Jobs dreamed big dreams and took big chances. He make lots of mistakes and more than a few enemies, but no matter what anyone says about him, I think we can all agree that he left a huge footprint in the sand.

So, how about it? What have you been putting off until “someday”?

Life is short and so is Danny DeVito. He didn’t let that stop him, and neither should you.

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