Are you the smartest person in the room?

Share

When you have a problem, or you have to make an important decision, who do you turn to for advice?

Do you have friends or networking contacts who are subject matter experts in pertinent areas? Do you know successful professionals and business owners who can provide general business advice and help you sort things out? Do you have mentors or a panel of advisers?

Industrialist Henry Kaiser once said, “I make progress by having people around me who are smarter than I am – and listening to them. And I assume that everyone is smarter about something than I am.”

Michael Dell’s put it this way:

Try never to be the smartest person in the room. And if you are, I suggest you invite smarter people … or find a different room. In professional circles it’s called networking. In organizations it’s called team building. And in life it’s called family, friends, and community. We are all gifts to each other, and my own growth as a leader has shown me again and again that the most rewarding experiences come from my relationships.

Getting proper advice can accelerate the growth of your career by helping you to avoid costly mistakes and leverage existing opportunities. You might figure things out yourself but why not talk to people who already know?

You can find advisers through formal networking or by asking your existing contacts for referrals or introductions. .

Start by asking for help with specific areas rather than general business advice. What kinds of information or advice do you need? Who might know someone who is an expert in that area?

You might start your own mastermind group. Ask four or five successful professionals or business owners in different areas to meet with you once or twice a month to share ideas and advice.

If you have more money than time, you might hire several experts on a trial basis.

No doubt you are intelligent and good at what you do. But that can only take you so far. If you want to take your practice to the next level, go find some people who are smarter than you.

Share

Eat dessert first

Share

I went to a funeral last night. DJ was my friend and business partner and he was only 55 when he died.

As I thought about DJ and what he meant to me, I thought about how much he loved people. He was a great listener, always upbeat, always willing to help.

More than anything, DJ liked to have fun. Having fun was his rai·son d’ê·tre. No matter what he was doing, he did it with gusto.

When we went to dinner with DJ, he had the peculiar habit of ordering and eating dessert first. He said he didn’t want to miss the best part of the meal.

Eat dessert first. Enjoy life while you still have it.

Stephen King said, “Ask yourself frequently, “Am I having fun?” The answer needn’t always be yes. But if it’s always no, it’s time for a new project or a new career.”

I’m going to ask myself that question more often because life is short and it passes quickly.

Share

What is the secret to your success?

Share

One day, a young lawyer just starting their career will contact you and ask for your advice. They’ll ask, “What is the your secret to your success?”

How will you respond?

Will you attribute it to hard work? Timing? The right practice area?

Is it good marketing? The right connections? Lots of experience?

A combination of several factors?

Simon Cowell may not be an attorney but I like his answer to that question. He said, “The secret of my success is that I make other people money.”

Quintessential business advice.

Note that he didn’t say things like delivering great TV shows or music or pleasing viewers and record buyers. He spoke about helping his business partners become more successful. Of course one of the ways he does this is by delivering great TV shows and music.

You might think about this as you craft your answer to the question.

You help your business clients make (or save) money. You help your consumer clients solve problems and feel safe. You help your “business partners” (i.e., other professionals, referral sources) look good to their clients and contacts.

Now matter how you answer the question, one thing is certain. The secret to your success involves helping people.

Share

Why you don’t have time for marketing

Share

You know that you should be marketing your legal servicees. You tell yourself, “I don’t have the time,” so you don’t.

The thing is, you don’t have the time because you tell yourself you don’t.

Every time you repeat to yourself (or anyone) that you don’t have the time, or you’re too busy to do something, you close the door on the subject. You do the same thing when you say, “I don’t know how,” or “I don’t know where to begin.”

Maybe you don’t want to do it. You don’t want to write content, network, or engage people on social media. You don’t want to make videos or advertise or do seminars. If you don’t want to do something, that’s okay. You don’t have to.

But if you want to do something, and you honestly think you don’t have time to do it (or to learn how to do it), you’re not going to find the time until you change your rhetoric.

Instead of declaring that you don’t have the time, case closed, turn the thought into a question. Don’t say, “I don’t have the time,” say, “How can I find the time?” In so doing, you will command your subconscious mind to find answers for you.

Ask, “How can I find the time to market my services?” Ask that question several times throughout the day. Do it for a week or a month. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself with more than enough time. (NB: I am told this works best when you ask the question out loud.)

It works the same way for anything you want or any problem you want to solve.

How can I earn more money this year? How can I lose twenty pounds without going to the gym? How can I improve my relationship with [whoever]?

Ask “how,” “what,” “where,” and “who” questions. Who can I ask? Where can I find? What are my options for getting? Questions like these frame the issue in a way that pre-supposes there are solutions, making it more likely that those solutions will be found.

Avoid “why” questions, which usually reinforce the problem. If you ask, “Why don’t I have the time?” your subconscious will find all the reasons, real or imagined, and justify your belief that you don’t have time.

You have the time. You can get what you want. Don’t shut the door on things you want but think you can’t have. Ask questions that lead to solutions.

Ask and it will be given; seek and you will find.

Share

Put all your eggs in one basket, just make sure it’s YOUR basket

Share

I constantly beat the “focus” drum–do a few things and do them well, don’t spread yourself too thin, don’t try to be all things to all people.

I agree with Mark Twain who said, “Put all your eggs in one basket and then watch that basket.”

On the other hand. . . you’ve got to be smart about things.

You shouldn’t rely on one client for 100% of your business, no matter how much business they give you.

Things happen. You think you’ve got it made in the shade and then the client hires someone else. Or they grind you on fees, knowing you have no choice. I spoke with an attorney yesterday who is now “starting over” because this very thing happened to him.

Neither should you rely on one marketing platform or methodology.

Also yesterday, I learned that a Facebook friend of mine had his account shut down. I don’t know what he did to incur the wrath of the Blue-and-White Devil. Insulted someone? Promoted something “too much”? All I know is that hundreds of his Facebook “friends” have signed a petition asking that he be allowed back.

It’s touching to see this outpouring of love, pleading for this man’s digital life. It’s also frightening to imagine that if he loses his appeal, his business might be in big trouble.

I thought about what I would do if this happened to me. If my account was shut down, would I lose business? Go out of business?

No. Not at all. I don’t depend on Facebook, or any other social media platform. I get some business through social media, but I don’t depend on it. Having my account shut down would be inconvenient, but not insurmountable. I would open a new account and start over.

Or not.

Truth be told, I find social media to be depressing. I really wouldn’t miss it.

I’ve got my blog and my email list and I have complete control over them. Nobody can tell me what I can and can’t post. I can insult anyone I want to. Nobody can shut me down.

So yes, put all your eggs in one basket. Just make sure you own the basket.

Want a simple marketing plan for your law practice? Get this.

Share

When was the last time you failed at something big?

Share

We’ve heard the rhetoric many times before. Lawyers are risk adverse, we don’t make good entrepreneurs, we’re not good in business.

And it’s true. Most lawyers are overly cautious. It’s in our nature.

But without risk, there is no reward. As Robert Kennedy put it, “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.”

Fear of failure is the biggest obstacle to our success. But this fear is often unreasonable.

What holds us back is that we tend to overestimate the cost of failure. We imagine dire consequences and worst case scenarios that are greatly unrealistic in their scope and very unlikely to occur. (Researchers have found that eight-five percent of what we worry about never happens.)

We also underestimate the potential rewards of our actions. One good idea or relationship can make us rich.

It comes down to this: If you want to be more successful, you’ve got to try new things and take more risks.

If you try something and it doesn’t work, you learn from it. As Napoleon Hill tells us, “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.”

Okay, take more risks. Got it. But how?

I think we start by taking small risks more frequently. We get in the habit of regularly trying new things, things that might not work but which have limited downside.

We get used to the experience of failing often, but on a small scale.

As we see that most things work out most of the time, and that when they don’t we easily recover, we eventually take bigger risks.

In other words, we learn how to take risks by taking risks.

Start by changing the way you look at the ideas that cross your path. Instead of rejecting many of them automatically, as we both know you do, collect them and put them on a list called “maybe”.

Then, once a week or so, choose something on that list and try it. If it doesn’t work, if you hate it, if someone you report to says you can’t do that anymore, you will have learned something and you can try something else.

And whenever you feel the tug of fear that seeks to hold you back, remember what Mark Twain said: “My life has been filled with calamities, some of which actually happened.”

Share

Planning 2015 and beyond

Share

What do you want to accomplish this year? Be specific. Next year at this time, if I ask you, “Did you do it?” I hope you’ll be able to answer in the affirmative, but what is “it”?

You have many options. You must decide what you want and be very clear about it. What’s the number? What’s the outcome?

Do you want more clients? How many? Do you want better clients? How do you define better? Do you want fewer clients who pay you more? How many and how much?

Start with the big picture–where do you want to be five or ten years from now?

Do you want to expand into a new market? Branch out into a new practice area? Attract different types of clients?

Do you want a big firm, with lots of employees and offices, or a small firm with low overhead and low(er) management requirements?

Do you want to build a war chest to finance something new, or passive income so you can retire?

Before you make a plan or take action, you must know what you want. But there’s something else you need to figure out.

Why?

Whatever it is that you want, you have to know why you want it. You want more income? Why? What will you do with it?

When you think you know your “why” take it deeper. You say you want more money to pay off debt, start a college fund, or hire some new staff. Fine. Why do you want that?

Ah, more staff will allow you to earn more and work less. Okay, why do you want that?

It will give you more time with the family you love. You won’t miss soccer games and ballet recitals. You’ll be able to pursue music or art or travel the world.

Okay, but why do you want those things?

Keep asking yourself “why” until you get to the emotional core that is driving what you want. That core will be fueled by one of two emotions: love or fear.

Your love of your children will keep you going when you hit an obstacle. So will your fear of disappointing them.

It is our emotions that drive us and unless we access those emotions, it’s too easy to get distracted, procrastinate, or give up.

When you have emotional clarity about what you want, nothing will stop you from getting it. Without that clarity, anything can stop you.

Get clear about what you want, and why you want it.

Share

The foundation of all attorney marketing

Share

The foundation of all attorney marketing is value. The more value you deliver to your target market, the more successful you will become.

When you deliver more value, you get more clients, and better clients, and you’re able to charge higher fees. You get more referrals and fewer complaints. You build a base of loyal fans who are not only willing to help you, they go out of their way to do it.

Value starts with your services, of course, but it’s not just the excellence with which your perform those services. It is a function of everything under the umbrella of “client relations”.

It is the little things you do for your clients that improve their entire experience with you. It’s the way you show them that you care about them as individuals and not just names on a file. It’s how you make them feel about themselves and their decision to put their trust in you.

Maya Angelou said it best when she said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Value doesn’t stop with clients. You also deliver value to your prospects, referral sources, and others who work in, advise, or sell to your target market. Give them more value, make them feel good about knowing you, and they will remember you when they need your services or know someone who does.

You can deliver value to your prospective clients and referral sources through content-rich websites, videos, podcasts, articles, books, and speaking engagements that educate and empower them and help them make better decisions. You can deliver value through free consultations and free seminars, or paid seminars, books and courses.

The foundation of all attorney marketing is value. Find out what your market wants and deliver it to them. Over and over again. Surprise and delight them by giving them more than anyone else in the market, and you will own that market.

Marketing is easier when you know The Formula.

Share

Is hard work the key to success? Umm, no

Share

Everyone and his brother says that hard work is the key to success. But is it?

I can point to many times in my life when I was successful without hard work. In fact, many of my successes came with little or no effort.

I can also point to times when I worked my fingers to the proverbial bone and accomplished nothing. Goose eggs. Bupkis.

I’m sure you could say the same thing.

A mentor of mine once said, “If you’re not having the success you want, there are only two reasons. Either you’re not doing something right, or you’re not doing it enough.”

No mention of hard work.

“Doing it enough” implies persistence, but that isn’t necessarily hard. In fact, the more you do something, the easier it usually gets.

“Doing something right” is important, of course. With a little practice, you can usually improve your skills (and your results).

Let’s flip around the phrase “doing something right”. Could this also mean “doing the right things”? Yes it could. In fact, I think doing the right things is the key to success.

It’s the 80/20 principle that I talked about recently. We are much more successful at some things that others. Choose the right things to do, and you will have more success.

Don’t tell anyone, but I found law school and the bar exam to be relatively easy. I have always been good at exams, especially essays. Essays are a “right activity” for me.

Other things, not so much.

Ever meet someone who seems to lead a charmed life? They don’t work hard and yet they go from one successful outcome to another. They have a great career, and everything seems to come to them quickly and without a lot of effort. Is it talent? Luck? Magic spells?

Maybe. Or maybe they’ve simply made the right choices.

I’m not saying “don’t work hard”. Working hard is a way to hedge our bets, in case we’re not as good as we think, or in case we haven’t chosen the right activity.

Work hard if you want to. Just don’t depend on it.

Share

Wrestling out of your weight class

Share

In high school, I joined the wrestling team. I thought it looked like something I could do. Okay, I thought I could meet some cheerleaders. Turns out, the wrestling team didn’t have any.

Anyway, the coach told me that with my height and frame, I should be in a certain weight class and suggested I drop some weight before the weigh-in which was two weeks away.

Off I went, running, lifting weights, dieting, and drinking gallons of water, determined to get down to the lower weight class.

I missed it by two pounds.

There I was, forced to wrestle bigger guys, exhausted by my efforts to lose weight, and not particularly good at wrestling.

I lost every match.

Turns out wrestling wasn’t my thing. And I’m fine with that. I found other things I was good at and enjoyed.

Author Richard Koch, in one of my favorite books, 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.

High school is a place to try things. I’m glad I tried wrestling, and I’m glad I found out it wasn’t for me.

In college, you try more things, and find your career path, or at least a place to start.

In law school, and your first legal jobs, you narrow things down further. You find the practice areas that appeal to you, and the ones that don’t.

When you start your own practice, you learn more about what you’re good at. Or you find out that practicing law isn’t for you and you move onto something else.

If you’re lucky, you find your “thing” early in life. You find what you love and do best and eliminate the rest.

But the quest doesn’t end with the choice of careers. You try different partners, employees, and office locations. You try different niche markets, and different marketing techniques, continually searching for things where you are “hugely more productive”.

If you get it right, you are happy and successful. Things click for you because you’ve found the right path. If not, you keep looking.

I’m glad I found the right path. Because God knows, at my age, I would not look good in tights.

Are you ready to take a Quantum Leap in your law practice? Here’s how.

Share