Being good isn’t good enough. Or is it?

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Being good isn’t good enough is a stunningly beautiful song about determination and greatness, a personal anthem for anyone who has ever wanted to be the best at something, like the athletes in the forthcoming Olympic games.

For most of us, however, the lyric, “I’ll be the best or nothing at all,” is inspiring, but hardly practical. Who is the best singer, football player, or lawyer?

Besides, we don’t have to be “the best” at what we do to be happy or successful. In fact, we don’t even have to be good.

We can hire people (or take on partners) who are good at things we don’t do well or don’t enjoy. You don’t like research? You’re not good at networking? It doesn’t matter. You’re good at something and that’s what you should focus on.

Speaking of focus, I was reading a review of Daniel Goleman’s book, Focus, about what it takes to achieve excellence. It’s not as simple as “10,000 hours of practice” or intelligence. There are a lot of factors, one of the most important of which is determination or grit.

Think about the successful people you know, especially the ones who aren’t particularly gifted, disciplined, or hard working. How did they make it big when so many others in their field did not? Often, the answer is simply that they wanted it more, and believed they could have it. Their desire, and refusal to settle for anything less, made the difference.

You don’t have to be the best at what you do. You just need to know what you want and keep going until you get it.

Need more referrals? Here’s a great way to get them.

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What’s your I.Q.?

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What’s your I.Q.? If something doesn’t work out for you, how quickly do you say “I quit”?

I’m sure you’ve hired someone who didn’t work out. You’ve tried software systems or apps that you ultimately rejected. You’ve tried new marketing methods and didn’t stick with them.

How much are you willing to put up with before you say “no mas” and move on?

Of course this is a rhetorical question. Everything is different. It depends on the cost (time and money), the potential return, the complexity, and market conditions. And it depends on you–your knowledge and skills, your finances, your goals, your work ethic.

And so there is no right or wrong answer. But clearly, we have all tried many things we have abandoned that might have produced the desired result had we given them enough time. As Thomas Edison said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

Successful people have a long term perspective. They are willing to invest today for a return that might be a long time in coming. Unsuccessful people want instant gratification. And yet nobody wants to do something that’s not working and not likely to do so. When should you continue and when should you admit defeat and try something else?

One thing you can do to answer this is to find someone who has successfully done what you are contemplating and do what they did. In other words, find models and model them.

Because if they did it, there’s a very good chance that you can do it, too. Just knowing that will keep you going when you otherwise might quit.

Don’t necessarily compare yourself to others. When they started, they may have had more skills than you do, or a bigger network. It may take you longer to accomplish what they accomplished. It may be harder.

I’ve found this to be true in my life, and I am okay with this. If what I am attempting promises benefits that I truly want, it’s okay if it takes me longer. What I care about is knowing that I can do it. If I know that it’s possible, based on what others have done, I’ll keep going. In this case, I have a very high I.Q.

I admit, this is not always true. Sometimes, along the way, I discover something about myself or about the journey and change my mind about what I want or what I’m willing to do. But having that model at the beginning allows me to get started and keep going long enough to make that discovery. As a result, I’ve done more than I ever would have done had I waited for the right time or conditions.

What about innovation? Highly overrated. Most inventors will tell you that what they do is look at something that already exists and see it doing something different. Or, combining two things into something new. Entrepreneurs do the same thing.

If you want a successful law practice, find successful lawyers in your field and study them. Find out what they did to become successful and do that. It may take you longer and you may have a bumpier journey than they had. But at least you know that if you follow the same road map, there’s a very good chance that you will get to the same destination.

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The 80/20 Principle and your law practice

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One of my favorite books is The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch. In it, Koch makes the case first articulated as The Pareto Principle, that “a minority of causes, inputs, or effort usually lead to a majority of the results, outputs, or rewards”.

The idea is that as much as 80% of your results may come from 20% of your effort. In the context of practicing law, that might mean that 20% of your clients produce 80% of your income. The actual numbers, however, aren’t necessarily 80/20. They might be 90/30, 60/20, or 55/5. The point is that some things we do bring results that are disproportionate to our effort and that it behooves us to look for those things and do more of them.

Koch 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.”

We’re talking about focus. About doing more of what works and less of what doesn’t. About using leverage to earn more without working more.

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 inventory of where you are today. If you’re not on track to meeting your goals, if you are working too hard and earning too little, the answer may be to do less of most things, the “trivial many,” as Koch defines them, so you can do more of the “precious few”.

My course, The Attorney Marketing Formula, can help you.

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What does “hard work” mean to you?

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One day early in my career I was looking for new office space. I found myself looking at a nice space in Beverly Hills that had been recently leased by some young turks (small “t”). They had taken a bit more space than they needed and were looking for a sub-tenant to take over one of the offices.

As he was taking me on a tour, the turk explained to me how he and his partners conducted business. He said, “we work hard and we play hard”. Even though I was going to be a tenant, not a partner or employee, I got the feeling he wanted to see if I was a good fit.

He didn’t elaborate but something told me I wasn’t a good fit. I don’t know what “playing hard” meant to them but I’m pretty sure it didn’t mean they played a lot of chess. Don’t laugh. I like playing chess. A lot.

Anyway, this morning, when I was in the rain room, I recalled this exchange and thought I would ask what you think about this whole work vs. play business.

Here’s my take on it.

To me, work means doing things you don’t want to do. Play means the opposite. My entire method of operation is to try to do as much of what I want to do and as little of everything else.

In other words, my ideal would be no work and all play.

That doesn’t mean goofing off. It doesn’t mean the absence of accomplishment.

It means eliminating or doing less of the things I don’t like or am not good at. I do that by delegating those tasks to someone else or finding creative ways to run my business and personal affairs so as to avoid or minimize them.

We weren’t put here to endure, we were put here to enjoy. There is no virtue in hard work for hard work’s sake.

Anyway, what do you think? How do you define work and play? And do you work hard and play hard or, like me, do your best to enjoy the journey? Let me know in the comments.

By the way, when I called back the next day to ask if I could take another look at the office, the turk told me they had rented it. I was pretty sure that was not true. I think they discriminated against me because I wasn’t cool. I don’t know what gave me away. It couldn’t have been my fez because fezzes are cool.

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One year ago I. . . and today. . .

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Let’s try a little exercise. I want you to think back to one year ago. Look at your calendar to remind yourself where you were and what you were doing. Sort your notes by date. Read your diary.

What did you do or change one year ago that has positively affected your life today? It doesn’t have to be exactly one year ago. Close enough is close enough.

Write it down.

“One year ago, I. . .” and then describe how your law practice or personal life has improved as a result. Something like this:

One year ago. . .

“. . .I started. . . and today, I. . .”.

“. . .I improved. . . and today, I. . .”.

“. . .I changed. . . and today, I. . .”.

“. . .I updated. . . and today, I. . .”.

“. . .I stopped. . . and today, I . . .”.

You might find it easier to work backwards, that is, to think about something positive in your life right now and see if you can relate it back to something you did last year. For example, if you are seeing an increase in new clients today, you might realize that last year at this time, you began reading my blog or you purchased one of my courses. (Smiley face with big grin goes here.)

Anyway, if you can find something you did last year that has benefited you this year, it should be noted and reflected upon. How did you come to make that change? What precipitated it? What has been the best part? What might you have done differently or better?

Now, think about the future. How can you amplify what you did last year to make it even better this year? What should you continue doing and what should you consider changing? What should you do more of and what might you cut back on?

By now, you have probably figured out that the point of this exercise isn’t really to get you to look back so much as it is to get you to look forward.

What could you do today so that one year from now, you can look back at this date and see how you effected a positive outcome?

Go on, give it some thought and write down your answers. What could you start, improve, change, update, or stop doing today?

Send me an email next year and let me know how it worked out.

The Attorney Marketing Formula includes a simple marketing plan. Check it out here.

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Hold the pickles, your clients want to have it their way

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McDonalds shares fell today as their latest financial report disappointed investors. One reason for their lackluster sales is that their new healthier menu items aren’t catching on with customers.

Customers may need healthier food but if they don’t want it, they won’t buy it. (Someone please remind Mayor Bloomberg).

Are you giving your clients what they want or insisting they buy what they need? Yes, you owe them a duty to present and recommend what they need, but you’ll have a much easier time (and earn more) offering them services they want.

But I don’t want to dive into that topic right now. Instead, I want to remind you that you also prefer to buy what you want, not necessarily what you need. But are you?

I’m talking about your law practice and career. Are you doing what you want or have you bought into doing what you need?

Many lawyers go to law school for the wrong reasons. Did you?

Maybe you really wanted to do something else but convinced yourself that a legal career was a better choice.

You may have chosen your practice area for similar reasons. It was what you knew or what seemed like the most lucrative field. It’s what you thought you needed to do, not what you really wanted to do.

How about the way(s) you market your practice. Are you doing things you really don’t enjoy but feel you need to do?

Stop for a minute and think about your practice or career. Are you doing what you need to do or what you want to do? More importantly, are you happy?

You may successful. Don’t let that cloud your thinking. You can be successful and unhappy. You may have been even more successful doing something else that made you happy.

You still can. You have a choice. You can change what you’re doing. You can do what you want and you can find a way to make it deliver what you need.

Burger King, one of McDonald’s biggest competitors, used to advertise that “you can have it your way”. I still recall the jingle: “Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce, special orders don’t upset us, have it your way, at Burger King.”

I hope McDonalds (and you) are listening.

Do you want to Make the Phone Ring? Here’s how I do it.

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Give up good to go for great

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You can do anything you want to do in life; you just can’t do everything.

You have free will. You have unlimited choices. But you don’t have unlimited time. So you can do anything, just not everything. You must choose.

As you choose what to do, you also choose what not to do. The word “decide” means to “kill the other option”. When you chose to go to law school, you also chose not to go to medical school.

If you want to accomplish great things, you must focus on great things and let go of things that are merely good. Give up good to go for great.

What is important to you? Family. Faith. Career. Community. It’s probably not a long list. What’s important to you is where you will find your greatness. Get those things right and you’ll have a happy and fulfilling life.

Quick note: Today is the last day to get Cash Flow for Attorneys and The Quantum Leap Marketing System (at 50% off). I’ll be taking down these two products tonight and they will no longer be available.

Get the details here.

Is marketing important to you? It should be. Here’s a good place to start.

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10 signs you are a successful lawyer (marketing edition)

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How do you know you are a successful lawyer? Some measure success in terms of money. Others use milestones like number of clients, courtroom win/loss ratio, or receiving a prestigious award. I knew I was successful when clients sent me thank you notes and gave me hugs.

Today, I want to give you 10 signs of success from a marketing point of view. I got the idea by reading a similar article for small business owners.

  1. Clients send you referrals. The sine qua non of success. Nothing says you are doing things right better than getting most of your clients via referrals from happy clients.
  2. Other lawyers send you referrals. Successful lawyers get referrals from lawyers in other practice areas. The best lawyers get referrals from lawyers in the same practice area.
  3. Non-lawyers send you referrals. Influential people in your community or niche market should have you on their radar and be sending you business.
  4. Clients find you (via search, social, publicity, articles, etc.) You should be getting clients who find your web site through various means and are impressed with your knowledge and experience. The web site should sell them on hiring you or taking the next step.
  5. The media seeks you out (interviews, quotes, profiles). This usually occurs because of a prominent case or client or because a writer or publisher finds your web site and is convinced you are THE subject matter expert for the story they are working on.
  6. You have a list and you stay in touch. Most people who find you don’t hire you immediately. You need to collect their contact information and stay in touch with them. You also need to stay in touch with your clients because they are your best source of new business.
  7. You use strategic marketing alliances. Your client list is paramount. Next best are the client lists of other professionals and business owners. By leveraging the trust they have with their lists, you get exposed to, and endorsed by, those professionals, which should bring you a steady stream of pre-sold prospective clients.
  8. You fire clients. Successful marketing means you have the ability to continually upgrade your client list. You make room for better clients by purging the lowest segments of your client list (lowest paying, least amount of work, slow paying, complainers, etc.)
  9. A publisher asks you to write a book. If your web site (podcast, video channel), has lots of good content, and it looks like you have a good following, a publisher may contact you to see if you want to write a book. They know that book has a built in audience of potential buyers.
  10. Other lawyers ask how you do it. If you are successful in bringing in lots of good clients, other lawyers will ask you to share your secrets.

So, how did you score? Do you some opportunities for improvement?

You may be a good lawyer but are you good at marketing? Here’s what to do.

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Lawyers, do you need clients? That’s why you don’t get them.

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Nobody wants to hire an attorney who needs clients. They want an attorney who is extremely busy but willing to make room for one more deserving client.

Busy attorneys are successful. Validated by their busy-ness. They must be good. Look at all the other people who say so.

Attorneys who need clients are not successful. They may be competent, they may deliver great service, they may be everything a client could want in an attorney, but if they need clients, well, they can’t really be good, can they?

To attract good clients you need to be attractive. That’s not something you can fake. This is not about pretending to be busy or letting people think you are important because you had lunch with someone important. Being attractive is not on the outside.

Being attractive means knowing your value. It means loving yourself and your gifts and wanting to share those gifts through your work. It means walking with confidence and an inner peace, trusting completely in the inevitability of your success.

Being attractive means knowing that no matter what your financial situation is right now, you don’t need clients, they need you. You don’t look for clients, you let them find you.

Wanting clients is fine. Needing clients is why you don’t get them.

Marketing means showing people the value you offer. Here’s how.

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What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

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Rev. Robert Schuller asks, “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” It’s one of my favorite quotes.

I’ve often asked myself this question. When I found my confidence lacking, when a project got stalled because I didn’t know what to do next, or when I was faced with a major career decision, I would stop and think about the “best case scenario” and it helped me move forward.

I think it’s because of the word “if”. “What would do if. . .” is a hypothetical question. We can answer it because we’re not promising anything, we’re speculating. The question allows us to bypass our critical mind and find the answers.

We may still have fears and doubts but now we know what we would do if we didn’t.

If you are procrastinating on updating your web site, imagine that in 90 days that web site is bringing you four or five or ten new clients a month. If God Himself whispered in your ear and told you that your web site will be massively successful, what would you do today?

You’d make a list of tasks that need to be done and you’d start working on them, wouldn’t you? If you don’t know what those tasks might be, your first task would be to find someone who does know and ask them what to do.

If you knew for certain that things would work out exactly the way you wanted (or better), what would you attempt? If you knew that your project would be a success, what would you do today to move it forward?

Whatever it is that you would do if you knew you could not fail, that’s what you should do.

“What if it doesn’t work?” you ask.

“What if it does?”

If you’re already earning as much as you want, you don’t need to read this

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