What, are you chicken?


What are you afraid of? Public speaking? Writing and putting yourself out into the world for all to see? Are you afraid to network and meet strangers? How about asking for referrals?

I’m calling you out. Issuing a dare for you to do the thing that scares you. Because the thing that scares you might just be the best thing you could do.

Yes, there are risks. You might fail. You might be embarrassed. You might do something stupid and lose a client or a friend. But you might also find that the thing you dare to do opens up vast new opportunities for you and catapults you to an amazing level of success.

Back to the Future is about to celebrate its 30th anniversary. If you recall, Marty McFly didn’t like anyone calling him chicken. He did things, on a dare, and it got him into trouble, but it also took him on a grand adventure. He was the hero of that adventure because he dared.

Yesterday, I had an email conversation with an attorney who has started a network marketing business. He told me that he was hesitant to show his professional contacts what he was doing. He’s read my network marketing books so he knows that I understand. When I started my business, I felt the same resistance he is feeling.

Whether it’s practicing law or building a business or doing anything that takes us out of our comfort zone, there are many things we can do to help lessen our fears, or bypass them. One of the best is to get a workout partner to hold us accountable to doing the activities we need to do to reach our stated goals.

I told the lawyer that eventually, he would experience a breakthrough, and that right now, he should focus on doing whatever he can do to get started. I know that once I did that in my business, my fears quickly proved to be unfounded and I was on my way to success.

Whatever it is you fear, just do it. Get started. Trick yourself if you have to, get drunk if you have to, take someone to hold your hand if you have to, but do it. Take the leap and build your wings on the way down.

He might not find a breakthrough, of course. He might let his fears get the better of him. Like so many, he might find himself in the “I wish I had” club, instead of the “I’m glad I did” club. But if he never starts, he’ll never know.

I broke through my resistance because I was at a point in my life where I was tired of working all the time and realized I had to do something about it. I wanted the benefits of time freedom and retirement income and the associated lifestyle that goes with it and my desire was stronger than my fears.

In other words, I felt the fear and did it anyway. And I’m glad I did.


My biggest shortcut to success


Think about someone you know, or know about, who has accomplished something you would like to accomplish. A lawyer, perhaps, who has the kind of practice you would like to build.

It might be someone you know, someone you met, or someone you’ve read about. It could even be an historical figure.

Find out all you can about them. Read what they have written and what has been written about them. Talk to people who know them or who have studied them. Immerse yourself in information about them–how they got started, their daily habits, the tools and resources they used, their philosophies, their priorities, and how they spend their time.

If you could talk to them and explain your situation and your goals, what advice do you imagine they would give you? If you know them or can meet them, ask them this yourself.

Study them and then reverse-engineer their accomplishments. Identify the steps they took to achieve their success. Then, use those steps to create a plan of action for yourself.

You may not do as well as they did. Talent, timing, and a host of other factors might see to that. But you might do better than you would if you didn’t follow their path, for one simple reason. They’ve shown you what’s possible.

When I wrote my first marketing course I knew about marketing and building a law practice but I didn’t know how to package and sell that knowledge. I’d never written a course before. How big should it be? What should it look like? How much should I charge?

I was fortunate to find a course that someone else was marketing to financial professionals and I used that as a model for my own.

I studied how he packaged his information, how he priced his course, and how he marketed it. I conscripted many of his ideas and my course finally began to take shape.

More than anything, what helped me get it done and (finally) up for sale, after three years of work, was being able to hold his course in my hands and know that I could create something like it, or, as it turned out, something better.

Without that course to model, who knows what I would have come up with. Who knows if I would have had the courage to come up with anything.

My biggest shortcut to success? Find people who have done what you want to do and model them. Let them show you the path, and let them show you what’s possible.

Need a marketing plan? Want to earn more without working more? Go here


When was the last time you were scared?


I was pretty cocky about starting law school. But I was also scared.

It was new, it was different, and it was intimidating. I didn’t know if I was embarking on a great adventure or I had made a big mistake.

I can say the same thing about opening my practice and about many other milestones in my life. I’m sure you can, too.

It’s not the fear of failure so much as the fear of not knowing what’s next. H.P. Lovecraft said, “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”

But the flip side of fear is excitement. Not knowing what’s about to happen can be thrilling. So can the notion that you might be about to accomplish something great.

And so I ask you, when was the last time you were scared?

Because if you’re not scared from time to time, if your career or your life are boring and routine, it means you’re not taking enough risks, or big enough risks, and you’re not growing.

Former CEO of Evernote, Phil Libin, said recently that one of the reasons he stepped down from the company was that he was bored. He’s now with a venture capital firm and thrives on not knowing what’s next. “It wouldn’t be the best time if it wasn’t scary. When we started Evernote, it was terrifying,” Libin said. “I don’t think I’ve ever embarked on anything great without being scared.”

Of course too much fear can be paralyzing, so you have to find balance. You have to find things to do that challenge you and frighten you but also excite you and pull you forward.

What might that be for you career-wise?

Take on a partner? Go out on your own? Start a new practice area? Revamp your marketing?

Or are you ready for a new career?

Helen Keller said, “Life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing.” Do something that scares you. Find your next daring adventure.

If you’re ready to revamp your marketing, start here


Are you excited about practicing law?


Are you excited about practicing law? I was, when I started. But it didn’t take long before the thrill was gone.

I liked helping people and I liked the challenge of building something from scratch. But I didn’t love what I was doing.

Is that all there is? Is that all there is? If that’s all there is my friends, then let’s keep dancing.

I kept going because I had invested so much into my career, how could I walk away?

How could I not? How could I wait twenty years before finally giving myself permission to do something else.

Successful people are passionate about what they do. Monday morning can’t come soon enough. They can’t imagine doing anything else.

Successful people don’t need to push themselves, they do what they do because they love doing it. Steve Jobs said, “If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.”

That’s what I want for you.

I’m not saying you need to leave the law, although that may be the right thing for you at some point. I’m saying you need to find a way to get excited about your work.


In The One Thing You Need to Know, Marcus Buckingham distilled years of research about personal success down to one thing: “Find out what you don’t like doing and stop doing it.”

Get rid of the things you don’t love about your practice so you can do more of what you are good at and enjoy.

It sounds simplistic but imagine if the things you don’t like about your work were gone. Handled. Not something you need to think about.

It would be liberating, wouldn’t it?

Is this possible? Could you delegate or outsource all of the things that cause you stress? Probably not. When you’re in charge, there are always burdens on your shoulders. But if you could get rid of 80% of the things you don’t like, you might smile a lot more.


What’s next?


What are you working on right now? What will do after that?

What project(s) have you lined up for next week, next month, and later this year?

It could be anything: hiring a new virtual assistant, updating your website, or getting trained on a new contact management system. Whatever it is, you need to know what’s next.

I just finished a project (Lawyer to Lawyer Referrals) and I’m already working on the next one. I also know what I’ll do after that.

For me, knowing my next project gives me time to think about that project before I start it. I can do research, outline and plan. My subconscious mind will cogitate on the subject and prompt me with ideas and questions.

Knowing what’s next also means I don’t have any “dead air”. I go from one project to the next without missing a step. And if I have any challenges with a project, or it fizzles out, I always have something else to turn to.

It’s exciting to think about what I’ve got lined up. Thinking about future projects inspires me to finish the current one.

I don’t know my next ten projects, just the next two or three. But I have a list of hundreds of ideas to draw from, and as I complete the next few projects, I’ll have the next few lined up.

Mind you, I’m not obsessed with planning. I like a little spontaneity in my life. When I stumble upon a new idea that excites me, I’m fine with pushing aside my other projects to make room for it.

No matter what productivity system or method use, or if you don’t use any, develop the habit of always knowing what’s next. Whenever you start a project, ask yourself, “What’s will I do after this?”

When you know what’s next, your productivity will soar.


Why you shouldn’t worry about legalzoom (and why you should)


The legal landscape is changing. More people are using Legalzoom, paralegals, and pre-paid legal plans, and it’s making a lot of lawyers nervous.

They shouldn’t be. Instead of fearing these would-be competitors, they should celebrate them.

These companies are doing lawyers a great service. They are expanding the marketplace of consumers of legal services. Many of their clients have never availed themselves of legal assistance before. As more of them start doing that, there are more opportunities for lawyers to show them the benefits of hiring them instead.

But many lawyers need to step up their game.

They need to learn how to use technology, and incorporate it into all aspects of their practice. They need to put marketing much higher on their list of priorities. The world is changing and they need to change with it.

Speaking of tech and marketing, I have a message for the “gentleman lawyers” of the world. The ones with an established client base who no longer work hard to build or maintain it. The ones who take two hour lunches and don’t listen to anyone with “new ideas”.

They’re living on borrowed time. Legalzoom may not be a threat to them, but the next generation of tech-savvy, hungry young lawyers certainly are.

What about everyone else? Well, if legalzoom and the like are a threat to you because they offer the same services you offer, you’re also living on borrowed time.

What can you do?

How do you compete with their massive advertising dollars and technological systems?

You don’t.

Don’t do what they do. Don’t offer what they offer.

Offer different services. Offer more specialized and complex services, to more sophisticated and higher-paying clients. Offer more personalized service and greater value.

If you rely on basic estate planning as the core of your practice, for example, move towards higher end services, for higher income clients. If basic business formation is a primary source of your income, you need to re-focus on more complex work for bigger clients.

If you offer a commodity service, you’re going to have a rough go of it. The competition will eat your lunch.

But there’s no competition at the top of the service/price pyramid. The competition is at the bottom 80% of that pyramid, where most lawyers (mistakenly) compete.

Don’t fear legalzoom, celibrate them. Don’t compete with legalzoom, and don’t let them compete with you.

How to differentiate yourself. Click here


What would you do with a $200,000 line of credit?


What would you do with a $200,000 line of credit, or a windfall in that amount?

What would you buy? Who would you hire? What would you do to grow your practice or free up more time?

Would you hire more or better employees? What would you have them do?

Would you invest in additional web assets?

Would you invest in advertising, or increase your ad buys?

It’s up to you.

You might pay off higher interest debt. Maybe you’d open a second office, or move to a bigger one. Maybe you’d buy new computers or furniture or invest in training your staff to work more efficiently.

Think about your SWOT: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. How would access to cash allow you to maximize your strengths, minimize your weaknesses, take advantage of opportunities, or neutralize threats?

What do you want to accomplish this year? Where do you want to be in five years?

Maybe you would invest in a business venture outside of your practice. For additional profit, for retirement, or just something you’ve always wanted to do.

As you think this through, you might decide to do nothing. You know you’re on track to meet your goals and you don’t need a pile of cash to get there.

The point of this exercise is to make you think about where you are and where you want to be. It’s to make you see what’s possible if money wasn’t an issue. It’s to give you ideas you can put on the drawing board.

If cash or credit would help you accomplish your goals more quickly, begin working towards acquiring a line of credit or amassing a pile of cash.

If you don’t need capital to get to the next level, however, consider building a line of credit anyway, because once you get to the next level, you might need cash to get to the level after that.

Do you know The Formula?


Be different or be gone


Albert Einstein said, “The one who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The one who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been before.”

Most lawyers don’t want to walk alone. They don’t want to stand out. They do what other lawyers do, read what other lawyers read, and do what other lawyers do. They even look like other lawyers look.

And that’s why the average lawyer is just average.

If you want to be better than average, if you want to earn a bigger income or leave a bigger mark on the world, you can’t do what everyone else does. You have to be different.

You can’t network in all the same places most lawyers network. You can’t write what they write, say what they say, or do what they do. When they zig, you need to zag.

You often hear me say that you need to tell the world (clients, prospects, referral sources, etc.) how you are better than other lawyers, or how you are different. You have to differentiate yourself and give the world a reason to notice you and choose you.

You don’t have to be a radical, or a visionary. Just different.

Speak out about something. Join a group. Or start one.

Change something about how you do your work. Or change your appearance.

Move away from the mainstream and follow your own path.

Do things other lawyers don’t do and you will go places other lawyers don’t go.

Learn how to differentiate yourself


Getting the right things done


Venture capitalist Mark Suster has a rule he lives by that helps him be more productive and successful. The rule: “Do Less. More.” It means doing fewer things overall, and getting the right things done. “Success often comes from doing a few things extraordinarily well and noticeably better than the competition,” he says.

Richard Koch, author of The 80/20 Principle, says, “Everyone can achieve something significant. The key is not effort, but finding the right thing to achieve. You are hugely more productive at some things than at others, but dilute the effectiveness of this by doing too many things where your comparative skill is nowhere near as good.”

Koch also says, “Few people take objectives really seriously. They put average effort into too many things, rather than superior thought and effort into a few important things. People who achieve the most are selective as well as determined.”

So, what do you do better than most? What should you focus on? I asked this question in an earlier post:

Look at your practice and tell me what you see.

  • Practice areas: Are you a Jack or Jill of all trades or a master of one? Are you good at many things or outstanding at one or two?
  • Clients: Do you target anyone who needs what you do or a very specifically defined “ideal client” who can hire you more often, pay higher fees, and refer others like themselves who can do the same?
  • Services: Do you offer low fee/low margin services because they contribute something to overhead or do you keep your overhead low and maximize profits?
  • Fees: Do you trade your time for dollars or do you get paid commensurate with the value you deliver?
  • Marketing: Do you do too many things that produce no results, or modest results, or one or two things that bring in the bulk of your new business?
  • Time: Do you do too much yourself, or do you delegate as much as possible and do “only that which only you can do”?
  • Work: Do you do everything from scratch or do you save time, reduce errors, and increase speed by using forms, checklists, and templates?

Leverage is the key to the 80/20 principle. It is the key to getting more done with less effort and to earning more without working more.

Take some time to examine your practice, and yourself. Make a short list of the things you do better than most and focus on them. Eliminate or delegate the rest.

Do Less. More.

This will help with getting the right things done


The thrill is gone? Here’s how to get it back


The thrill is gone. You’ve lost the spark you had when you started practicing. You’re spinning your wheels and getting nowhere fast.

You’re doing okay, but you want to move on up, to an east side apartment in the sky.

Or maybe things aren’t so good. You’re struggling and falling behind.

What can you do? How do you get things moving?

You need to start over. Go back to the beginning and be “new” again. Forget what you have and what you know and begin from square one.

Before you can construct, you have to destruct.

I know, starting over might hold some bad memories for you. It does for me. I was scared to death. Everything was riding on my making a go of things and I didn’t have a clue about what to do.

But I was excited. The world was mine for the taking. Anything was possible.

And I was hungry. Determined. Open to anything. I had nothing, so I had nothing to lose.

You too? Good. Go back to those days in your mind. Be hungry again. Be open again. Be excited again.

Pretend you have nothing. No clients, no lists, no website, no ads. Chuck it all and start from scratch. You’ll add them back one at a time. Or maybe you won’t.

Yes, but what do you do? That’s not really important. If your head is on right and you are truly reborn, you’ll figure it out.

You’ll try lots of things, with no expectations. Some will work, most won’t. You want this thing to work and you’ll do whatever it takes to make that happen.

Get out a legal pad and a pen. Time to start building. Start by taking inventory.

Who do you know? Write down the names of people who might be able to help you. Clients, prospects, referral sources, other lawyers who can give you advice, friends and family who can support your dreams.

What do you know? What are you good at? What are your skills (legal, marketing, management, leadership, speaking, writing, etc.)

What do you want? Write down one or two goals for the month. Forget next month for now; you’ve got a rent payment coming due.

Are you excited yet? Scared? Itching to do something? Good. Pick up the phone and call someone on your list.

Call a friend and tell him you’re re-launching your practice today and just wanted to share the good news.

Call a lawyer and tell her you’d like to meet for coffee and talk about how you can work together.

Call a former client and see how they’re doing. They might need you for something, or know someone they can refer.

Call a current client and tell them how much you appreciate them.

Spend the rest of the day talking to people. Tonight, write down some marketing ideas. Tomorrow, get up early and do it again.

Need a marketing plan? Get this