Inspiration is its own reward

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I’m a “how to” kinda guy. When I read a book or article, watch a video or listen to a training, I’m looking for information I can use to improve my business or personal life.

I want to know what to do and how to do it. The steps, the tips, the details. I take notes and file them (in Evernote) for future reference.

I’m not overly demanding. Even one good takeaway will satisfy me and justify the time spent. But when I’m done, if I haven’t taken any notes, I’m usually disappointed.

But not always.

Last night I listened to an interview with someone who wrote and published 15 books in the last few years, despite the fact that English is not his native language and he is anything but fluent.

In fact, his wife repeatedly tried to steer him away from writing, ostensibly trying to spare him from humiliation, even going so far as to tell him that he was a terrible writer.

He persisted because he was unhappy with his tech job and had always dreamed of being a writer. He was interviewed because his books have been favorably reviewed and sell well, allowing him to turn the page on one chapter in his life and start a new one.

He credits a good editor, and a steady diet of personal development books, which helped him to improve his self-image and develop the confidence to keep going.

When the interview was done, I realized that I hadn’t taken a single note. No tips, no how to’s to file away.

But I didn’t feel cheated. His story put a smile on my face. It was a reminder that we can overcome our limitations and achieve our dreams.

His story was the takeaway.

In our quest to improve our knowledge and skills, we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss pure inspiration. A story that makes you feel good or that reminds you that the struggle is difficult but worth it provides its own value.

And that’s something we can all put in our notes.

I use Evernote for everything

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You can if you think you can

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The other day I listened to a podcast interview of an author about how to use a certain piece of software. Podcast subscribers and members of the host’s Facebook group had posted questions to be asked of the author.

The questions seemed to fall into two groups.

The first group were straightforward questions: How do I do this, What should I do if this happens, How can I get better results, and so on.

The second group were more complaints than questions: I tried it before and it didn’t work, I didn’t like it, It doesn’t fit with the way I work, etc.

The first group was looking for information and advice. The second group had already made up their mind that the software wouldn’t work for them and wanted to whine about it. (One even challenged the author to prove them wrong.)

Many people have had challenges using the software. Only some people believe they can overcome those challenges and are willing to stick with it until they do.

The author told the latter group to give it time, they can definitely make it work. I thought, “It doesn’t sound like they want to make it work. It sounds like they want to prove that it won’t”.

Many people have had challenges with the software. The ones who overcome them were the ones who wanted to do it and were willing to make the effort.

It’s all about mindset. If you want to do something and believe you can, you’ll figure it out. If you don’t, you won’t.

As Henry Ford put it, “If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right”.

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If you want something done, ask a woman to do it

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Watching my wife prepare for out-of-town company and get ready for Christmas has been like watching a master class in multi-tasking. I can barely single-task. She goes non-stop, all day long, making me look like, well, like a man.

If saying that makes me a sexist, so be it. I’m convinced that women are the stronger sex. Also the sexiest.

So guys, this holiday, remember to thank your wives and girlfriends and the other women in your life for all they do, and for putting up with you.

Women? Thank the men in your life for what they do because you need them as much as they need you.

Everyone–remember we’re all in this together. No matter your gender, race, or political affiliation, we need each other, and so does the survival of our species.

So yeah, this time of year especially, let’s see if we can all get along, love each other, and give thanks for all of our blessings.

Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah.

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Post-election advice

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You won. Or lost. You’re thrilled. Or miserable. My advice? If you need it, take a day off to have a pity party, or to celebrate, and then, get back to work.

Don’t get caught up in what someone else might do to you or for you. You are the captain of your own ship and you can sail it anywhere you choose.

Don’t wish for things to be different, make them different. Don’t focus on what you don’t have or don’t want, focus on how good you have it and what you can do to make it even better.

Dive into your work and create your own future. Your days are numbered so make the best of them. Starting today. Or tomorrow.

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Turn on your dream machine

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Author Richard Bach said, “You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it come true.” As far as I know, he didn’t supply any proof. He didn’t explain how this works. That’s okay. I’m willing to accept it on face value because if it’s true, it means I’ve got a very exciting future ahead of me.

And if it’s not true, that’s okay. Because I’d rather do what I love, and fail, than do what I hate and succeed. It’s that whole journey vs. destination thing.

Anyway, let’s assume it’s true. Let’s assume that, “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve,” as Napoleon Hill said. Or that, “Whatever you vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe, and enthusiastically act upon… must inevitably come to pass!” as billionaire Paul J. Myer noted.

What do you do with this information?

Well, if God whispered in your ear and told you that you could have, do, or be what you want, wouldn’t you act differently? Your certainty about the future would cause you to talk to the right people, say the right things, and make the right decisions.

And that’s how you would make it happen.

So turn on your dream machine and “act as if” they will come true. Because if you do, they will.

Clients not paying on time? Here’s the solution

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It’s hard but it’s worth it

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I watched a movie the other day that featured a young man who earned his living playing the violin in the subway. One day, the violin was stolen and just like that, he was out of business.

I thought about how lucky I am that I earn my living with my brain. Steal my computer and, thanks to the cloud, I’d be back in business in a flash. If push came to shove, I could be okay with just my phone.

And I like that. I like that I don’t need a factory or a store or inventory. I like that I can earn my way with my knowledge, skills, and words.

But it’s not just what I know, it’s also who I know. Or, more particularly, who knows me. People like you, for example, who read what I write and buy what I sell. And the people who interview me, promote my products and services, and send me referrals.

I appreciate you.

I went to law school not so much because I felt compelled to be a lawyer but because I didn’t know what else I wanted to do. The idea of being paid for talking and writing appealed to me, as did the idea of helping people, but when I opened my own practice and struggled to pay my rent, I thought I’d made a mistake.

I kept going because I didn’t know what else to do.

Being a lawyer is hard work. Building a law practice is a pursuit meant for crazy people. But I’m glad I didn’t know what else to do because today, I’m thankful for what I’ve got.

It was hard but it was worth it.

If you’re in a bad place right now and you have something else you can do, do it. No regrets, just get out and start the next phase of your life.

But if you don’t know what else to do, be thankful for what you have. Your skills and knowledge and contacts are valuable and can take you wherever you want to go.

You can build a successful practice if you know the formula

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Are you stuck in first gear?

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Do you ever feel like you’ve stuck? You work hard and do the right things but you don’t seem to be getting ahead?

You’re in a rut, my friend, but don’t worry. It’s nothing five new clients can’t fix.

Five new clients who pony up big retainers or five big cases could be all you need to jump-start your machine and shift into high gear.

You know I’m right.

So yes, I’m going to pound on marketing yet again. Can you handle it? Unless you utterly loathe what you do and you need a new career, marketing is always the answer to what ails you.

But today, instead of digging into your bag of attorney marketing tricks, I’d like to see you go in another direction.

What do I mean? I mean exposing yourself to a completely different field. Immerse yourself in something unrelated to the practice of law and see how others have built or are building a successful business or practice.

Read a book, take a class, talk to someone. Get inspired by what they did and adapt their methods or ideas to your practice.

You might be surprised to discover some great ideas that have been right under your nose this whole time.

This morning, I downloaded a Kindle book, The College Entrepreneur. I’m not in college and I’m not interested in starting a new business right now but the book is receiving high marks and was free, so clickity-click and I own a copy. I haven’t read it yet but I’m almost certain I’ll find something in it that I can use in my business.

Get thee to a bookstore and start browsing. Don’t leave until you find something to read that has nothing to do with law or even marketing or business. Learn how others have climbed the mountain of success in whatever it is they do, and then go climb your own mountain.

When you’re ready to apply what you learn to your practice, get this

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Where to find inspiration when you need it

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In Evernote, I have a tag for “quotes”. As I browse websites, read books, and hear presentations, I look for statements or quotations that resonate with me and record them, and then use them in my writing and presentations. They give color and contour to my words and help readers or listeners understand and remember my message.

I also use quotations as an idea starter for creating new content.

When I’m scheduled to write something but I don’t have a subject, or I know what I want to say but I need an inspiring way to say it, I skim through my collection of quotes or visit websites that curate quotes, and find something that grabs my attention.

Sometimes, I use a quote as the basis for an entire post. Let me give you an example.

Yesterday I read an ebook that contained a quote from Erma Bombeck. She was best known for her humor but she was also an incisive observer of the world condition. The author of the book sought to inspire readers to go “all in” in our chosen work and he used Bombeck’s words to make his point. She said:

“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me’.”

That spoke to me, as I hope it speaks to you. It prompted me to remind you, and myself, that we owe it to ourselves, our family, our employees, and our clients, to use our God-given talents to their fullest. To do less than we are capable dishonors our maker.

Whatever you do, do it with gusto. Don’t hold back, don’t phone it in. Give it everything you’ve got.

If you can’t do that, or you can no longer do that, go do something else.

Many successful people in the world once practiced law. When they lost their passion for the job, or they discovered a different calling, they pivoted and began a new chapter in their life.

If being a lawyer makes you happy, use every ounce of talent God gave you to be the best lawyer you can be. If you’re not happy, if you find the job enervating instead of energizing, the best thing you can do for yourself and those who depend on you is to begin a new chapter in your life.

How I use tags and notebooks in Evernote

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Apparently, I don’t know when to shut up

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I’d rather be sitting on the sofa all day, listening to the Eagles and thinking about the 70’s. But with so many music legends leaving us lately, I am reminded that I’m not getting any younger and I need to be grateful for every day I wake up and I’m still alive.

So instead, I’ll tell you about a conference call I did last night where I was interviewed about reaching a big milestone in my network marketing business.

As usual for these kinds of things, the host first asked about how I got started. And as usual with these kinds of things, before long I turned the call into a training.

My Spidey sense, and the fact that I’ve done a lot of these kind of calls before, told me a few things you might want to note for when you do an interview or presentation.

  • Although there were hundreds of people on the call, most were only half-listening. Trust me on this. Even though I am the most fascinating person I know and deliver many nuggets of gold, people get on these calls while they are doing other things, making dinner, putting the kids to bed, and probably also watching TV, and they don’t pay a lot of attention. On top of that. . .
  • Most people don’t care about me and my success. They may be inspired by my story, but only for a few seconds. They want to know how they can do what I did, and that’s what I told them, however. . .
  • Most people don’t take notes. Despite having been repeatedly told that a “short pencil is more valuable than a long memory” or however that goes, they don’t write anything down. Fascinating. On top of that. . .
  • Most people don’t want to hear about things like “hard work” and “long term”. They want shortcuts and immediate results, and they’re not going to have it any other way. That’s why some people are successful and others play the lottery. But. . .
  • Some people will take my advice and run with it. That’s cool. That makes it all worthwhile. Most won’t, some will, and that’s okay because I was only talking to the few. Finally. . .
  • Hells, bells I sure can talk up a storm. I had no idea how long I had been speaking until the host told me we were already over the scheduled time. Note to self: learn how to STFU.

Okay, well I hope that helps. Not so much? Not even the last point? C’mon, you’re a lawyer. You flap your lips for a living, just like me. And just like me, I’m guessing you have never been accused of not saying enough.

Yes or yes?

Now if we can just figure out a way to get paid by the word.

I take notes in Evernote, how about you?

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If I had a time machine. . .

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One of my favorite themes in science fiction is time travel. Last night, I re-watched an episode of Doctor Who where The Doctor and Amy visit Vincent Van Gogh. It seems that this is a favorite episode for many fans of the show, in particular because of the moving and brilliantly portrayed final scene.

No spoilers from me. It’s Season 5, Episode 10, Vincent and the Doctor (with Matt Smith as The Doctor). It’s on Netflix, but if you must, I think you can find the final scene on YouTube.

If I had access to a time machine, I wouldn’t visit the future. Now now, anyway. I’d be afraid of what I might see.

No, I would visit the past, including my childhood and days as a younger adult. No doubt I’d laugh at my younger world view, ideas, plans, and how I spent my time. I’m sure I would cringe at my feeble attempts at humor.

What would I tell my younger self? In truth, I wouldn’t talk to myself. That’s a time travel no no. Something about a paradox. Okay, revealing my inner nerd.

But I might leave myself a message.

What would I say? I would tell myself to think less and do more. To cherish every day of life and live it to the fullest.

I would tell myself that there will be many times when I will have a decision to make and I will choose to play it safe. Instead, I would counsel myself to take more risks. I would share Helen Keller’s observation that “Life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing.”

And then, before I came back to the present, I would leave myself one more note: “1984 Apple. 1997 Amazon. You’re welcome.”

Hey, don’t look down on me. Time machines are expensive!

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