What’s new and exciting?

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If you’re like me (and you are), you get excited when you get a text message from Amazon, telling you there is a package waiting for you on your doorstep. There’s nothing wrong with old stuff that continues to work well, but let’s face it, new stuff is exciting.

C’mon, you know what I mean. Your shiny new laptop rocks your world. Your new car is the bee’s knees. Your new girlfriend? Excite-a-mundo.

New things, new people, new adventures. Makes you all tingly inside.

But here’s the thing. The other side of the excitement coin is fear. In fact, that’s why we’re excited. When we ran around in loin cloths, our fears kept us alert and alive. Anything new and different raised the hair on the back of our necks and caused us to be on high alert.

And that’s still true today.

We’re excited about the new laptop but part of that excitement is fueled by our fear that it might have issues, we might not like it as much as we thought, or that we spent way too much.

Same for that new girlfriend.

And God knows it’s the same for new clients who might write you a bum check or make your life crazier than it already is.

So change is scary, but scary is good. Our fears tell us we’re alive, and that’s almost always better than the alternative.

So, I propose that we all get a steady diet of newness in our lives.

What do you say?

Click the button in your shopping cart and place the order. Visit the car dealer after work and put yourself behind the wheel of that Tesla. Book that trip to Octoberfest, terrorists be damned.

More than anything, it’s time to get some new clients.

Picture yourself interviewing them, writing down the facts, thinking about what you will do. Picture them signing docs and handing you a big check.

Nice, isn’t it?

More, please.

Picture your phone ringing with a referral on the line. Picture yourself at an event, three people ask for your card, asking when they can talk to you. Picture yourself hiring another assistant to help with all of the new clients you’re bringing in.

Take a big whiff and smell the success.

Hell yeah, it’s exciting! Okay, maybe not as exciting as the new girlfriend but hey, it’s all good.

What’s your plan for bringing in new clients?

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You don’t have time to do it? That’s why you must do it

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Go through your task and project lists and zero in on the ideas you have tagged “someday/maybe” or otherwise designated as “low priority”. As you look at these ideas again, you’ll realize that many of them will never see the light of day, nor should they. They were passing notions that don’t merit a second look.

But some of your ideas are awesome.

Some of your ideas could transform your life and take you to new heights or in new directions. You know the ideas I’m talking about. They’re the ones that give you a rush when you think about them.

You’ve put them on a “someday” list because, you’ve told yourself, you don’t have time for them right now.

Unfortunately, while you’re waiting for “someday,” many of your best ideas will rot away in the recesses of your software or on the tear-stained pages of your journal. Let’s face it, given the current state of your busyness, the most likely fate for most of these ideas is an ignominious death.

So, here’s a thought. Since these projects have a potentially huge payoff, how about putting some of them at the top of your list?

You tell yourself you can’t. You have other things to do, bills to pay, deadlines, responsibilities. You love these ideas but you have to be practical.

But that’s not the real reason. The real reason you don’t put these life-changing projects at the top of your list is that they scare the poop out of you.

You might screw up and your dream will go up in smoke. Or you might get it right and your life will change in profound, and profoundly frightening ways.

Well buckaroo, my advice to you, and to myself because I’m guilty of this too, is to realize that “someday” may never come and you might never have another time (or a better time) to find out what might be.

Therefore, choose one of these projects and do it anyway.

Pretend you do have the time and get started.

If you feel yourself resisting, suck it up and do something (anything) related to that project. . . for five minutes.

Because you can’t tell yourself you don’t have five minutes.

Write a few notes, organize some materials, set up a new project folder.

There. You’ve started. It feels good, doesn’t it? You’re all tingly inside.

Tomorrow, do another five minutes. Or ten. Or an hour, once you get excited and start to taste the future.

Here’s a project that could take your practice to another level

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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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