Are you a finicky lawyer?

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I told you about a program I saw profiling a 20-year-old woman with a strange and dangerous addiction to sugar. She drinks 30 cans of cola a day and is on the fast track to a major illness.

The program is called “Finicky Eaters”. My wife found replays on YouTube. We’ve since seen episodes about a guy who has eaten nothing but cheeseburgers for the last 25 years (yep, three meals a day), the gal who eats nothing but french fries, and another about a man who likes to eat raw meat and little else.

As far as I’m concerned, this is more than finicky eating, it’s a sickness. Had these folks not received professional help, they would no doubt be looking at debilitating illness or death.

I was thinking about these poor souls on my walk this morning. It made me think about how many lawyers also have unhealthy habits with respect to their practices. Although usually not fatal, these habits prevent them from reaching their potential.

Many lawyers steadfastly refuse to delegate, for example. Doing all the work themselves can add stress and lead to burnout. It also limits their income. (I know, there’s a trade-off. If you’re not careful, delegating can lead to other problems. Note to self: delegate, but be careful.)

When it comes to marketing, many lawyers also have bad habits. They get set in their ways, refusing to try new strategies, or update old ones, and find themselves falling behind the competition.

How about you? Do you have any bad habits about how you manage your practice? Things you do that you shouldn’t, or things you should do but don’t?

Do you continue doing something a certain way because that’s how you’ve always done it, or because that’s how everyone else does it?

Do you stay in a bad partnership out of habit or fear that the alternative might be worse?

Do you continue paying for products or services you no longer need or could replace with lower-cost or better alternatives?

Start a new habit today of regularly examining what you do and how you do it. Pay attention to your habits, routines, and go-to strategies and consider what you might change or improve.

If you decide that you’re doing fine and no changes are necessary, I have one last suggestion for you: get someone else to take a look. Ask a friend, or hire a professional, to examine your ways and tell you what they see.

Because most of those finicky eaters didn’t realize they had a problem until someone else pointed it out to them.

Are you getting all of the referrals you want? 

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Let me help you achieve your goal

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Think of a goal you would love to accomplish. Something important, perhaps something you have wanted for a long time.

It could be a monetary goal, a weight-loss goal, or anything else that would make a significant difference in your life.

You’ll know it’s a good choice because when you think about the goal, you get excited. You feel a little tug in your gut that makes you say, “This is it; I’m doing this!”

Make sure your goal is S.M.A.R.T. — Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Based.

It might be a huge stretch but it should be realistic, possible for you to do by the deadline you set.

Got it? Good. Would you like me to help you achieve your goal?

Before you answer, let me tell you the rules.

If you want me to help you, you’ll need to send me an email and describe the goal and the deadline. I’ll hold onto your email and wait to see whether or not you hit the goal.

I’m going to hold you accountable to your goal.

When the deadline date arrives, send me another email and tell me if you hit the goal. (If you don’t email, I will assume you didn’t make it).

If you hit the goal, I will congratulate you. Get excited for you. Do a happy dance for you.

A good time will be had by all.

If you don’t achieve the goal, however, I will tell my entire email list that you didn’t make it.

I’ll tell them your name and city, your goal, the deadline, and your results.

That’s what I mean by holding you accountable.

You’ll either make it and wear a smile all day long, or you won’t and you will suffer the embarrassment of having lawyers all over the world know it.

Yeah, the pressure will be on.

But that’s the point. The pressure will help you to do what you’ve always been able to do but didn’t. It will prevent you from giving up. You’ll do whatever it takes to reach your goal. No excuses, no backtracking. You’ll reach the goal because you must.

In your email to me, make sure you acknowledge your understanding of the rules. Give me permission to hold you accountable and, if you don’t make it, to reveal to my list your full name, city, and your results. If you want me to report your results if you do hit the goal, so that we can all celebrate with you, please state that as well.

Here’s what I predict.

I predict that most people who read this won’t respond. They won’t take the chance. They’ll either keep their goal to themselves or they won’t even bother setting a goal.

I also predict that the few who do respond and ask me to hold them accountable will succeed. They will achieve their goal and be very glad they took the risk.

If you’re not prepared to accept my offer, consider asking someone else to hold you accountable. Accountability is strong medicine. It can make you do things you long for, dream about, but otherwise never accomplish.

If your goal is to get more referrals, this will help

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Don’t push people to leave a review

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I hired a graphic artist recently to do a book cover but she didn’t do a good job. Frankly, her first effort was abominable. After many revisions, I accepted the work but I wasn’t crazy about it.

The designer asked me to leave a review. I usually do that but in this case, I knew the review would be negative and I thought I would give her a break. No, I wasn’t happy with her work, and no I won’t use her again, but life is too short to dwell on negative things. Move on, I told myself. And I did.

But she persisted. Emailed again, asking me to post my review. And again. “Still waiting. . .” she said.

She obviously didn’t know what I was thinking. So I told her.

I said, “If I leave a review, I will say that the work is adequate, but nothing special.” I then pointed out several of her shortcomings that I would address: lack of basic design skills, laziness (copying and pasting the copy I supplied, instead of designing), blatantly ignoring instructions, being argumentative, and more.

Yeah, I beat the crap out of her. And asked if she still wanted me to leave a review.

I was more upset about repeatedly being pushed to leave a review than I was at the work itself. Note to self: don’t push people to leave a review.

I felt bad about blowing my top but (don’t tell anyone) I also felt good telling her off.

Life is complicated.

I didn’t think I’d hear from her but I did. She said I was ungrateful after all of the revisions she’d done (aka, “you’re a jerk”), and said, “go ahead and post the review if it will make you fell better”.

It won’t make me feel better. I should have followed my original plan and kept my mouth shut.

On the other hand, maybe she needs to hear some of the things I said. I didn’t have to be so mean about it, but if she listens to the substance of my complaints and changes her ways, she would be better for it.

Am I right or am I rationalizing?

Well, this morning, the other shoe dropped. I got an email from Amazon telling me that there are technical problems with the cover and I might not be able to use it. Karma, for me being a jerk? Or further evidence that this gal doesn’t know what she’s doing?

I don’t know. All I know is I’m not going to let it bother me. If I have to hire someone else to fix it, or start from scratch and have a new cover done, that’s what I’ll do. End of story.

On the other hand, she did tell me to go ahead and post the review. . .

Make your website bring in more clients

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Baby steps, baby cakes

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Imagine drinking 30 cans of cola a day, every day. I saw a program profiling a 20-year old girl who’s been doing that for years and can’t seem to stop. To make matters worse, the rest of her diet consists of Twinkies and Ding Dongs and an assortment of other blocks of sugar.

Yikes.

She’s pre-diabetic and has the lab report to prove it, but she isn’t doing anything about it. She’s in the medical field and should know better, but like a lot of addicts, she’s in complete denial.

Call in the professionals: a nutritionist and a mental health doctor, tasked to help her.

They couldn’t have her quit cold turkey because she would suffer withdrawal symptoms that could put her in the hospital. They asked her to reduce her consumption in stages. Within a couple of weeks, she was supposed to be off the sauce.

She didn’t last a day.

Why? Two reasons, as I see it. The first reason is that they had her cutting down too quickly. Not only was she physically addicted to sugar (and caffeine), she had long-term emotional attachments to her habit.

It was too much, too soon.

I’m a doctor of laws, not medicine, but I would have asked her to cut her intake by a single can per day, or even every two or three days. Wean her off the stuff slowly. In a month or two might be down to a few cans a day, and from there, quitting would be relatively easy.

Breaking a bad habit, especially one that has physical and emotional addiction components, should be done slowly, shouldn’t it? A little bit each day.

That’s equally true for adopting good habits. Don’t run a half marathon this weekend if you currently do no exercise.

I talk about doing marketing 15 minutes a day because (a) anyone can do 15 minutes, and (b) if you do 15 minutes every day, eventually you might build up to 30. (NB: if you can’t do 15 minutes, start with 10. Or five.)

Do a little, but do it every day until it becomes a habit.

Besides being asked to taper off too quickly, the second reason cola girl couldn’t quit is that she didn’t want to. She admitted as much at the end of the program.

Even when a habit poses serious health risks, if you don’t want to quit, you won’t. Or you’ll quit but go right back to your old ways.

That’s also true for starting a good habit.

A lack of marketing might pose a serious risk to the financial health of your practice, but if you don’t want to change, you won’t.

Start with a simple marketing plan

 

 

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Maybe you need to get out more

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If you’re like most people, you spend most of your time with people who are similar to yourself. Other professionals you know through work, neighbors with similar income levels and lifestyles, friends with similar values and interests.

This isn’t a bad thing. But it can get a little boring.

How about meeting some people with different backgrounds? How about talking to people who disagree with you and have different values and interests?

You might learn something from them, and they from you.

I know, it can be stressful meeting new people. And it takes time. But there is a payoff: New ideas, new resources, new ways to do what you already do. You might even make some new friends.

Worst case, you’ll confirm what you already think and that you like things the way they are. Best case, you’ll stumble into some great adventures.

You might meet someone who leads you to your biggest client. You might get excited about learning a new skill that changes everything for you. You might meet the love of your life, find a new business or investment, or cross something off your bucket list.

You might have some fun.

Start small. Join a club. Take a class at your local college. Invite someone to lunch with whom you have little or nothing in common.

You never know where that first step might lead but you won’t find out until you take it.

The most profitable clients come from referrals

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Mind your own bees wax, bub

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I emailed an author to tell him I enjoyed his books. I told him a bit about myself so he could see that we have some common interests and experiences.

We went back and forth a couple of times and then I did it. I gave him a suggestion about how he might change his work flow to improve his productivity. I offered this in a sincere effort to help, but as soon as I sent it, I regretted it.

He was clearly successful doing things his way and he hadn’t asked for my advice. He really didn’t know me. “Who am I to tell him what to do?”

I thought he would brush me off and I wouldn’t hear from him again. Instead, to his credit, he replied and explained why he does things the way he does them and moved on to another topic.

All is well. But the experience reminded me of the danger of providing unsolicited advice.

If someone doesn’t ask for our advice, we need to think twice before giving it. We think someone will appreciate our ideas or suggestions but too often we alienate them or insult them with our “superior” knowledge.

I’m not saying you can’t share ideas or suggestions with people. Just be careful about how you do it.

Instead of telling them they “should” do something, you might turn it into a question. “Have ever thought about. . ?” Or put the advice in the mouth of others: “I hear a lot of people are having success with. . .”

Don’t tell, ask. Don’t push, mention.

You can also get into trouble providing advice when people ask for it. Just because a friend asks for your opinion, it doesn’t mean you have carte blanche. Some people really don’t want your opinion. They’ve already made up their mind and they want you to confirm that they’re right.

With clients, you’re not going to win hearts or minds by pointing out that they made a bad decision or that they should have listened to you the first time. If they messed up, the odds are they know that and are expecting you to give them a hard time.

Don’t do it. Don’t lecture them or try to make them feel bad. Find a way to let them save face or just talk about what to do next to fix the problem.

Calm, cool, collected. The voice of reason.

There are times when you need to let that go and put some fire into what you say. If you see the client about to go off a cliff, it’s your duty to do whatever you can to wake them up and get them to listen.

Raise your voice if you have to and tell them the facts of life. Go over your reasoning again. Put a CYA letter in front of them and ask them to sign it, to protect yourself, of course, but also for dramatic effect, to let them know that they are about to make a serious mistake and to get them to reconsider.

Sometimes, you have to take the risk of alienating a client and losing them. Let’s face it, if they don’t listen and they get hurt, they’ll probably blame you anyway.

Who would make a good referral for you?

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How to win a pie eating contest

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When I was in high school, a friend told me he was going to “work” at a corporate picnic, directing cars to and from the parking lot, in return for free food and some fun. He asked if I wanted to join him.

Free food? Fun? What time do we go?

I don’t remember much about that picnic but I do remember watching a pie eating contest.

Contestants lined up at picnic tables in front of a row of pies. They wore lobster bibs because pies are messy.

And then they explained the rules. They were simple. Whoever eats the most pie, wins. If you finish your pie before time is up, another will be placed in front of you.

Oh yeah, one more rule: no hands. You have to keep them behind your back.

And with that, the whistle blew and the contest began.

Everyone took a bite, chewed quickly, and went back for another bite. Everyone except one guy who had a different approach. He smashed his face down into the pie and devoured it.

Bites? Chewing? That’s for amateurs. He went swimming in the pie and sucked it down. He was almost finished with his second pie when time was called and it was obvious who had won. Nobody else was close.

He was covered in boysenberry pie. His face looked like he’d been shot. He had pie in his hair and in his eyes, down his shirt and on his pants. Bib? What bib?

He won because he was all in. No fear, no hesitation, total commitment. He knew what he had to do and he did it.

But how did he know?

I later learned that he’d won the contest the previous year, too. He had seen that most people do what everyone else does—take bites, chew, and try to stay relatively clean. He knew the way to win was to do what everyone else wasn’t willing to do.

A great metaphor for building a law practice.

Build your practice with the formula

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The red pill or the blue pill?

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I know something about you. I know that no matter what you do to market your services there are other things you don’t do.

The question is why?

Why don’t you implement some of the marketing strategies you learn from me or from others? Is it because you don’t think they will work? You don’t have time? You’re not “good” at “it”?

But are these true or do you choose to believe them?

Everything you do is a choice. You can choose to believe that something won’t work or you can choose to try it. You can choose to tell yourself you don’t have time to learn something, let alone do it, or you can choose to make the time.

It’s all a choice. A or B. Red pill or blue.

You can choose to make a few marketing-related calls today or you can choose not to. You can choose to eat lunch at your desk and work on your book for 30 minutes or you can choose to go out. You can choose to read a book about how to get better at remembering people’s names or you can tell yourself you’re just not good at it.

You have free will. You get to choose.

Even if something is “against the rules,” you have a choice. If you would like to advertise, for example, but your firm or bar association prohibits it, you can choose to accept this or you can choose to look for ways to change the rules or find a way around them.

Every day you make choices. Your choices, big and small, aggregate and determine your results.

Now, you can choose to believe what you just read, and do something about it, or you can make a different choice.

Red pill or blue?

You can choose to take action to get more referrals

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What’s stopping you?

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Think of something you want. A goal, an accomplishment, an acquisition, or anything else that’s important to you.

What do you want to be, do, or have?

Got it? Good. Now, answer this: why don’t you have it already?

Write down everything you can think of that’s stopping you from being or having or doing what you want.

It could be anything:

  • Not knowing what to do or how to do it
  • A lack of capital
  • A lack of skills
  • Not knowing the right people
  • Not enough time
  • Fear of failure or fear of success
  • A lack of buy-in from partners
  • Physical limitations
  • Inferior market
  • Anything!

Keep thinking and adding to your list. When you’re done, ask your spouse or a friend or your law partner for their input. Why do they think you don’t have X? Add their thoughts to your list.

Next up, take another sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle. In the left column, write “Obstacles” at the top of the page. Re-write your list of obstacles. Skip a line between each one.

In the right-hand column, at the top of the page, write “What can I do about it?” Then, for each obstacle, write down what you can do.

If the obstacle is “Not knowing what to do,” your “can-dos” might include doing research, taking a course, and asking someone you know for help. If you don’t know anyone who can help you, your can-do would be to ask people you know if they know anyone with the requisite knowledge or experience, and would they introduce you?

If you don’t have any “can-dos” for a given obstacle, cross that obstacle off of your list. Why dwell on something you can’t do anything about?

Ah, but there is almost always something you can do. Keep thinking. Keep adding to your list.

Congratulations. You now have a list of things you can do to remove the obstacles to having what you want.

Go through your list again and choose an obstacle. Then, choose one or more “can-dos” for that obstacle and transfer them to your regular task list or project planner.

Get to work and remove the obstacle. Then, go back and tackle the next obstacle.

The point of this exercise is to get clear on what you want, what’s stopping you, and what you can do to change that dynamic. In other words, to focus on solutions.

You have a plan. You have things you can do. Go do them.

Here’s a plan to get more referrals

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Laziness is contagious. Here’s why that’s good news

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In their never-ending quest to master the subject, French researchers recently determined that laziness is contagious.

If your co-workers tend to take things slow and easy, you’re likely to pick up on their body language, pace, and other cues, and slow down.

It’s like yawning. When someone else does it, you’re likely to do it, too. Humans are apparently wired to mirror the behavior of those around us.

Anyway, why is this good news? It’s good news because if laziness is contagious, the inverse must also be true. Hang around people who work hard and get things done and you’ll be more likely to do the same.

I used to work with a guy who filled his days with non-stop meetings and phone calls. I spent a day with him once and his pace was exhausting. Just when I thought it was time to wind down our day, off he went making more calls.

I’d never be able to keep up with his pace but if we worked together every day, I’m sure I would get more done than I usually do. Just as laziness is contagious, so is industriousness.

In the study, the researchers asked participants to perform certain tasks in front of other participants. They also tested for traits like risk-taking and patience. They found that most of the participants adjusted their behavior to coincide with what they saw other participants do.

Clearly, our environment plays a significant role in our performance.

This is consistent with the “Law of Association,” which says we become like the people with whom we associate most. We adopt many of their habits, opinions, and behaviors. Our achievements and income tend to parallel theirs.

Think about the five people you associate with most and you’ll probably see that this is so.

The lesson is that if you want to achieve more, you should spend more time with high achievers. If you want to increase your income, insinuate yourself into the lives of people who earn more.

Spend more time with people who have what you want and less time with people who don’t.

Learn how to get more referrals from someone who knows how to get more referrals

 

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