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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For things to change, you have to change

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We all see the world through a lens of our experiences, beliefs, and habits. We see what we want to see and (mostly) do what we want to do. Our lives follow a familiar pattern and unless we do something different, we continue to get the same results.

No change, no growth.

Jim Rohn said, “For things to change, you have to change. For things to get better, you have to get better. For things to improve, you have to improve. When you grow, everything in your life grows with you.”

Change starts by acquiring new information and different experiences.

Look at the books on your shelf or in your Kindle. Are you reading the same types of books you usually read? How about exposing yourself to some new ideas?

Look at your weekend calendar. Are you going to the same places and doing the same things? How about trying something different?

Look at the people in your life. The odds are you share many of the same opinions and beliefs. How about making some new friends?

Change can be difficult. Painful, even. But you don’t have to take a giant leap and hope for the best, you can ease into it by first changing your perspective. As Dr. Wayne Dyer put it, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

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It’s not just the money

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You’re looking at two possible new clients. Client A doesn’t have a lot of work for you but you like him and the work. You think his business will grow and that this will lead to more work for you down the road.

Client B has lots of work for you right now. The work is dry and unfulfilling. Plus, the client is an asshat and you’re convinced he’ll be a thorn in your side.

You want the money offered by Client B but if you take him, you won’t have time for Client A. How do you decide what to do?

You consider all of the factors, weigh the pros and cons, and seek advice from people you respect. Then, you get very still and listen to what your gut tells you.

Because your gut is nearly always right.

There I go again, advising big-brained, logic-oriented professionals to get all woo-woo with their feelings. But in the end, that’s what we all must do when we’re faced with a dilemma or we have a big decision to make.

When logic told me not to lease a much bigger office because I didn’t have the income to justify it, I went with my heart, not my head, and in a few months, I was earning enough to not only handle the rent but to hire more staff to fill the new office.

The same thing happened when I switched from a general practice to a specialty practice and turned away business that didn’t fit. I was scared to death, but within a few months, I had plenty of business.

Even when I made mistakes and had to change direction, things eventually worked out, often better than the original plan would have provided.

I once closed my office to pursue a business venture but the business failed. Two years later, I re-opened my law practice and started over from scratch. It was incredibly difficult but it eventually led me to start two new businesses which helped me earn more than I ever did in my practice.

I can point to other situations where logic said “no” but my gut said “go for it” and everything worked out. If you think about your past, I’m sure you can do the same.

I’m not suggesting you ignore reality or dispense with logic. Consider your current situation, your responsibilities, your strengths, and all of the possible outcomes. Consider them, but don’t depend on them. Ask your gut what it has to say. You might be very glad you did.

How to make sure your clients know how to refer

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What are you willing to do to be successful?

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You want to build a successful law practice. You want to make money, help people, and do things that matter. The question is, how bad do you want it?

Are you going through the motions in your work, waiting to see how things turn out? That’s not much, is it?

Are you working as hard as you can, doing your absolute best to achieve the success you desire? That’s good, but what if your “best” isn’t good enough?

Or, are you “all in,” willing to do “whatever it takes” (legally, ethically) to reach the summit? That’s what some lawyers are willing to do. Are you?

Your knowledge, experience, talent, and effort are important. So is a burning desire. But, as Vince Lombardi said, “Most people fail, not because of lack of desire, but because of lack of commitment.”

Are you committed? Are willing to do whatever it takes? If not, why not, and is there another career path that might be better for you?

A successful practice requires successful marketing plan

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How to make your work less boring

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When we were kids, every day was an adventure. We had fun doing things we saw on TV, read about in books, or could conjure up in our imaginations. One thing we never imagined, however, was doing the same thing for the rest of our lives.

And then we went to law school.

We settled into a career that demands focus. We do the same things every day, getting better at our jobs, but for many lawyers, that job eventually becomes boring.

If you find yourself bored with your work, here are three things you can do:

Delegate the boring parts

Some parts of the job are more interesting than others. By getting others to do most of the routine, boring work, you’ll free yourself up to do the more stimulating and challenging work.

Work less/do other things

Delegating and outsourcing will free up time. You can free up even more time by using strategies and tools that streamline your workflow and make more efficient.

You can use some of the time you free up to pursue outside interests: hobbies, a side business, charitable work, or anything else that excites you.

Your work may still be boring but you’ll have enough other things going on in your life to keep you stimulated and fulfilled.

Find fulfillment in the work itself

Ultimately, the best way to avoid boredom is to find fulfillment in the work itself. One of the best ways to do that is to continually take your practice into new markets where you will learn new things and meet new people.

In addition, challenge yourself to continually acquire new skills and improve your existing ones.

Finally, make sure you continually set new goals that force you to stretch and grow.

Not only are these strategies good for business, you will never be bored because every day will be a new adventure.

One of the best ways to earn more and work less is to get more referrals

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