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

I’m dying and so are you

Share

In a galaxy far, far away (in the 1970’s) I attended my first real estate investing seminar. I was young and ambitious and had no money, but I had spunk. Mr. Grant may have hated spunk, but it was going to make me rich.

Yes, I was scared. I’m sure most of the people in the room were, too. The trainer knew this, of course and spent time encouraging us. He suggested we adopt the “I.G.D.S.” philosophy. That stands for, “I’m gonna die someday” and is meant to suggest that we get on with life because it will one day be over.

What are you waiting for? This is your life, not a dress rehearsal. Do or not do, there is no try. (Okay Star Wars wasn’t out yet. I got a little ahead of myself.)

Years later, Steve Jobs echoed this sentiment when he said,

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.

Over the years, I’ve reminded myself that I’m gonna die someday and I had better get on with things. Sometimes, this helped me do just that. I overcame inertia, stopped researching and planning, and got things done. Some big things, too.

As I have aged and thought more about my mortality, I realize that the clock is still ticking and there are many things I still want to do. I.G.D.S. and I had better get on it.

I also know there isn’t enough time in the day to do everything. But I have a plan.

My plan is to give myself permission to dabble. A taste of this and a taste of that. I don’t have to be “all in” with every project on my bucket list. I can sample things, not with the intent to build something big necessarily, but to savor the feeling of doing it.

Of course the challenge is that I will fall in love with what I’m doing and get completely sidetracked. But I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. As Helen Keller said, “Life is either a daring adventure, or it is nothing.”

Steve Jobs dreamed big dreams and took big chances. He make lots of mistakes and more than a few enemies, but no matter what anyone says about him, I think we can all agree that he left a huge footprint in the sand.

So, how about it? What have you been putting off until “someday”?

Life is short and so is Danny DeVito. He didn’t let that stop him, and neither should you.

Share

Are you doing “Positive Thinking” the right way?

Share

Many studies prove that positive thinking is good for us. It can improve our health, help us live longer, improve our performance and productivity, and improve our lives in many other ways.

Other studies show that positive thinking can sometimes make things worse.

If you imagine a goal, for example, but ignore the obstacles that lie between your current reality and the achievement of that goal, you’re not going to do what needs to be done to achieve it.

I’m not an expert. I don’t even play one on TV. But I’m going to clear this for you, my friend, based on what I have learned about the Law of Attraction.

I know, many people think LOA is a lot of nonsense. Indeed, there are a lot of aspects of it that make me scratch my head. But some parts make sense to me and that’s what I’m going with.

According to the Law of Attraction, “like attracts like”. When you think about something, good or bad, those thoughts attract similar thoughts, ideas, people, even circumstances. I won’t get into the quantum physics aspects of this, because I don’t really understand it, but supposedly, it has to do with the fact that all matter vibrates at a sub-atomic level, our thoughts are energy and energy is matter.

If this sounds too flaky for you, just think of it in terms of the subconscious mind which uses the Reticular Activating System (RAS) to filter stimuli, protecting us from harm and improving our awareness of the world around us. (You just bought a new car, now you see that car “everywhere”. That’s your RAS at work.)

Anyway, back to positive thinking.

When we think about something we want but don’t have, what we really think about is the fact that we don’t have it. Your dominant thoughts are not about the goal, they are about not having that goal (and all of the reasons why). The Law of Attraction says that like attracts like so we attract more of “not having it”.

If you set a goal of earning $10,000,000 and you’re not even close to achieving that, the more you think about the goal, the more you think about not having it. You think you’re moving towards the goal but you’re doing just the opposite.

We don’t attract what we want, we attract what we think.

Does that mean we should only choose goals that are realistic? No. Long term “dream” goals are fine. It can be exciting to think about your magnificent future. But only briefly, to set your course. Don’t dwell on it.

Instead, think truthful thoughts about your current reality that are connected to your big goal.

How do you know you’re doing it right? Your feelings give you the answer. If the thought feels good, you’re moving in the right direction.

When you think about having $10,000,000 and realize you’re not even in the ballpark, it feels bad. You might tell yourself that the goal is exciting and feels good to think about, but when you’re that far away from it, your thoughts are primarily about how far you have to go.

Choose thoughts that feel good when you think them.

For example, you might think about how you’re good at your work, and getting better every day. That’s a thought that is both true and feels good and moves you a step closer to your goal. (If you’re not that good yet, take a step back and think about how you are working on your skills. True? Feel good? You’re doing it right.)

Then, reach for another truthful thought that feels good. Maybe you realize that you know some sharp business people with exciting projects you might be able to get involved with. True? Feel good to think about? Likely to move you forward towards the big goal? If so, you’re doing it right.

Perhaps after that you think about how well you get along with some of these folks. You’re spending more time with them, learning about their business, contributing ideas. These truthful, positive thoughts that feel good when you think them continue to move you forward, step by step, towards your long term goal.

Eventually, your current situation will be such that when you think about your goal it actually feels good. It feels imminent, not far away. At that point, you are on the brink of achieving that goal.

Doesn’t this make more sense than simply clinging to a thought we know isn’t true?

Thoughts lead to action and action leads to results. Continually reach for thoughts that feel good about your situation and you will continually be lead to actions which move you towards your goal.

Think about what you want, not what you don’t want, because whatever you think about, you attract.

Share