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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Still crazy after all these years

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It’s difficult being intelligent and having opinions about important things. You see evil people with terrible ideas and you want to vanquish them. You see stupid people with power and you want to cry.

If you say anything, those people point an ugly finger at you and convict you of the same offenses of which they are guilty.

It’ll drive you crazy if you let it.

Don’t let it.

Don’t pick fights you can’t win. Don’t take on everyone or every issue. In fact, unless your work or the safety of your family demands it, your default response should be to keep quiet and walk away.

Does that mean putting your head in the sand and ignoring most of the noise? Yes. That’s exactly what it means.

Unless you were hired for the job, don’t waste social capital, don’t risk losing business. Let those who were hired to fix the problem do their job. Support them, but don’t make yourself a spokesperson.

You can’t fix stupid. Evil has always existed and always will. Yes, there will be times when good conscious demands that you speak out or take action. To fight with every ounce of your strength.

But those times are rare.

You have to get good at compartmentalizing. Put things in a lock box in your brain and don’t open that box. Train yourself to smile and change the subject.

It’s okay to compare notes with your like-minded spouse or best friend; with everyone else, just don’t go there.

That goes double for social media.

Keep busy with work. Focus on building, not tearing down, on love not hate. And have faith that everything will eventually be okay. Because it surely will.

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Once is not enough

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I read a lot. I know you do, too. I take courses, watch videos, and learn as much as I can about subjects that interest me or that I can use in my work.

Some of the content I consume is excellent. Some is adequate. (If I get one idea from a book or course, I consider it worthwhile since one idea could be worth a small fortune.) Much of what I read, however, is duplicative, derivative or otherwise less than stellar.

When I read something good, especially if it seminal, I do my best to read it again.

I suggest you do the same.

Re-reading or re-watching a high-quality book or course will often be far more valuable to you than reading or watching something new. You have to keep up with what’s new, but not at the expense of something of proven value.

I’ve been known to read high-quality material again and again and I almost always get value out of it. Even if I’ve taken copious notes the first time, there are always points or nuances I’ve missed.

The first time through the material, I might have been thinking about the previous point being made, or taking notes, or been distracted with other things on my mind. This is especially true of a video or live course where the information comes at you quickly. The next time through the material, my mind is in a different place and I routinely see things I didn’t see (or understand) before.

In addition, no matter how much I gleaned on the first read or listen, I confess I often don’t “know” the information until I’ve actually used it.

When you go through one of my courses and learn how to talk to a client about referrals, for example, it’s theoretical. It may make sense to you, you may be able to see yourself doing it, but until you actually do it yourself, it remains abstract and, perhaps, a bit out of focus.

Once you have used an idea you have learned, when you come back to the source material, you understand what you read on a deeper and more personal level. You see it more clearly because of the context of having done it.

Of course, repetition is the mother of all learning, so even if you’ve consumed information several times, consuming it again, especially after the passage of time, will do wonders to reinforce your knowledge and understanding.

When you find a book or course that resonates with you, own it. Digest it, think about it, use it, and come back to it again and again.

How to talk to clients about referrals

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I know you can’t but what if you could?

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What if you had a new way of getting ideas, solving problems and achieving goals? What if this new way was as simple as asking yourself a simple question? What if asking this question would either give you an immediate answer or program your subconscious mind to deliver the answer overnight?

What if I shut up and tell you the question?

If you’ve read this far, you may know the question because I’ve repeated it several times: “What if?”

It’s a question that helps you look at things in a different light. Some call it “possibility thinking” because it helps you to see what’s possible and take a step towards finding the solution rather than getting stuck on the problem.

Try it right now and see what it can do. Think about something you would love to do but don’t know how or don’t think you can. Ask yourself, “What if I did know?” or “What if I could?”

You can also ask yourself how things would be different if you achieved the goal. “What if I did find my perfect mate?” “What would my life be like if I could stop working and still get paid?”

Once you’ve asked the question, let it go and let your mind go to work.

Does it work all of the time? I don’t know, but what if it did?

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Commit first. Figure out the details later

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You have a new project or idea. If you’re like a lot of people, especially lawyers, your natural tendency is to research it, ponder it, and worry about it, to the point that you talk yourself out of doing it.

How many great ideas have you abandoned in their cradle?

You’re smart. No doubt you have lots of ideas, some of which could transform your practice, your life, or the world. Most of your ideas never see the light of day, however, because you feel the need to figure out everything in advance.

You over-plan. Better to under-plan and figure things out as you go along. Grant Cardone, author of, The 10X Rule, says, “Commit first. Figure out the details later.”

Successful entrepreneurs don’t charge forward blindly, mind you. They do their homework before they invest a lot of time or resources. What they don’t do is insist on preparing for every contingency before they take the first step.

Yeah, that means taking risks. And failing. But also learning from the failures and using what you learn to do it better the next time.

It also means getting a lot of “at bats,” which leads to more hits and more home runs.

When you see something you’d like to do but that little voice in your head nags at you and points out what could go wrong, note what that voice is saying (because it might be right) and come back to consider it later, after you have made some progress and have more context. Don’t let your fears stop you. If you are to be stopped, let reality do it.

You don’t need to know everything before you start. If you like an idea, commit to it, start it, and figure out the details as you go along.

Referral rock. If you want more, here’s how to get them

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What to do when you find out your friend is a moron

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What do you do when you find out your friend is a moron? You see their post on social media or a bumper sticker on their car or they simply tell you who they support for President in the upcoming election and. . . you think. . . they are out of their friggin mind.

You’re shocked. Angry. Your friend is a fool. A dummkopf. A dunderhead.

How could they be so ignorant? How can they turn a blind eye to the evil that is their candidate?

You want to talk some sense into them. Convince them to change their mind.

I recommend you don’t do it. You can’t fix stupid.

You can love them, pray for them, try to see the good in them, but God knows, you can’t fix them.

And if you want my advice, you shouldn’t even try. You’ll just make things worse.

Let it go. Or. . . let them go. They’re not who you thought they were so walk away and don’t look back.

Don’t get angry. Don’t be sad. Move on. One day they might see the light.

Now, I know that a lot of people won’t follow this advice. They like to fix people. And they feel guilty if they don’t at least try.

I have some advice for the fixers of the world.

If you’re trying to convince someone that they’re wrong about their candidate (or about anything, actually), the first thing you have to do is realize that they’re probably not going to listen to you.

They know you, and while they may love you and respect you, they don’t necessarily see you as an expert on this topic. They’re not buying what you’re selling.

However, while you can’t convince them that your point of view is the correct one, you might help them to convince themselves.

How? By steering them towards information and opinions provided by someone your friend doesn’t know.

Your friend won’t listen to you but they might listen to a stranger.

It’s called “third party”. It’s what we use when we submit evidence in court. We present documented facts and expert opinions and let the evidence do the persuading for us.

But here’s the thing. When you present this evidence to your friend, you run the risk of exposing yourself and having your friend think that you’re the fool. As we are told, it is usually “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

So there you go. You’re all set for this election cycle. I’ll see you on the other side.

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Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable

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I read a quote the other day that said the key to success was getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. This is obviously based on the idea that success lies outside of your comfort zone, which it surely does. Success requires growth and growth means doing things that are unfamiliar and risky and thus uncomfortable.

Our subconscious minds crave familiarity and routine, however, because they keep us safe. Meeting new people, learning new skills, taking on new projects, all involve risk. What if this new person means to do us harm? What if we get lost? What if we fail?

But without risk, there can be no growth. And that’s the challenge we face every day. Do we take the risk or stay comfy in our regular routine?

Some people say that success requires us to live outside our comfort zone but surely that’s going too far. We can live inside our comfort zone most of the time and regularly venture outside of it. Take a few minutes a day to work on your new skill. Meet one or two new people each week. Then, go back to your routine until tomorrow or next week.

By briefly but regularly stepping outside of our comfort zone and then returning to it, we grow not by getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, which we may never do, but by expanding our comfort zone.

Need more clients? Want more referrals? Here you go

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You messed up? Congratulations!

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We may not like it but it’s true. We learn more from our mistakes than from our successes. I’m sure you can think of lost cases, unhappy clients, and failed projects you’d like to forget, but forget them at your peril.

I don’t dwell on them, but I still remember some of my mistakes. Like the client I was prepping for a statement. He didn’t speak English so I had my secretary translate. I told him not to say something during the statement because it could be interpreted as an admission of fault.

Sure enough, he said the very thing I told him not to say.

I couldn’t believe it. I shook my head and muttered the word “stupid”. Unfortunately, after the statement, I learned that the client spoke some English and understood what I said.

Yeah, he wasn’t too happy with me. But I learned a valuable lesson that day. Some clients really are stupid.

Anyway, learn from your mistakes. And learn from the mistakes of others.

Jim Rohn said, “It’s too bad failures don’t give seminars. Wouldn’t that be valuable? If you meet a guy who has messed up his life for forty years, you’ve just got to say, “John, if I bring my journal and promise to take good notes, would you spend a day with me?”

Until that happens, you can learn from the mistakes of others through observation, and by reading biographies and watching documentaries.

Or, you could come hang out with me.

Despite some mistakes, I built my practice through referrals

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How to win friends and influence clients

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You may be a good writer, a good speaker, and a good advocate, but an even more valuable skill is to be good with people.

In a one-on-one setting, when you meet someone new, when a prospect calls, or when sitting with a new client, being able to make people feel good about themselves and about you is one of the most valuable skills there is.

How do you acquire that skill, or improve on it if you’re already good with people? You can read books (like, “How to Win Friends and Influence People”). You can hire a coach. And you can make a conscious effort to observe your interactions with others and work on improving them. But one of the best ways to become a more charming and likable person is to watch how other people do it.

Find people who are good with people and spend time with them. Observe them. Listen to them. Watch their body language, absorb their language, and soak up their energy. Note what they do to put a smile on other people’s faces. And then model their behavior.

Use what you’ve learned from people who have the “people gene”.

I can attest to the value of doing this because I have surrounded myself with people who are good with people and it has allowed me to change my wicked ways. People used to tell me I was “intimidating” and “hard to know”. Now they say I’m “approachable,” “friendly,” and “nice”.

Nice? Me? That’s embarrassing. How about if we just say that I’m not as mean as I use to be?

Earn more, work less. Here’s the plan

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Put your passion on your todo list

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When you wake up in the morning and think about your work and your life, what do you look forward to? What puts a smile on your face? What excites you?

Whatever it is, that’s what you should focus on. If you can do it, do it. Otherwise, think about it during the day. Make plans for it. Study it. Talk about it. Because whatever it is that excites you is at the heart of your creativity and growth.

Earl Nightingale said, “The key that unlocks energy is desire. It’s also the key to a long and interesting life. If we expect to create any drive, any real force within ourselves, we have to get excited.”

Most people spend most of their day dealing with the mundane, fixing problems, and taking care of responsibilities. They make a life for themselves but neglect the things that make life worth living.

Some say we can’t build a life around our passions, that the realities of the world make that impossible for all but a privileged few. I say that while we might not be able to have the life of our dreams today, we can start working on it today, and thus unlock the energy that fuels our journey.

And that’s what life is, really. A journey. We may never reach the destination, but if we have something we’re excited about to keep us company, we can have one helluva ride.

Get more referrals and increase your income: here’s how

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