You need to be rich

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I need to be rich and so do you. We need to be rich so we can make the world a better place and leave a legacy for future generations.

We can’t do that if we’re broke. Or just getting by.

The richer we are, the more we can help others. Donate to worthy causes. Create more jobs. And inspire others to do the same.

And let’s not forget that the way we become rich (or richer) is through our work, helping others solve problems and achieve results.

We must never feel guilty about creating more wealth. Even if we don’t give it all away, in acquiring it through our work we have already made the world better.

At the end of “Schindler’s List,” Oskar Schindler considered the 1200 lives he had saved and while he was surely proud of what he had done, lamented that he could have saved more.

I don’t want to reach the end of my life feeling bad because I could have done more. I don’t ever want to stop creating wealth because “I have enough”.

As long as there are problems to solve and people to help we can never have enough.

Create more wealth through better marketing. Start here

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A habit that will make you rich (hint: it’s all in your mind)

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One of the “Eight Secrets to Getting More Done in 2012,” in this Forbes magazine article struck a nerve with me because it is something I have struggled with. If you have ever been accused of being “overly analytical,” “a perfectionist,” a “procrastinator,” or just somebody who has trouble making up their mind, we’re bred from the same stock.

Yes, being an attorney means being careful, not jumping to conclusions, and not making rash decisions. We carefully weigh the options and we go out of our way to avoid risk. It goes with the job description.

It’s also why attorneys usually make poor business people. Entrepreneurs see a vision of success and act on it; lawyers see what could wrong and either say no or mull it over so long the opportunity passes them by.

But according to Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, the ability to make quick decisions is the hallmark of rich people:

Analysis of several hundred people who had accumulated fortunes well beyond the million dollar mark, disclosed the fact that every one of them had the habit of reaching decisions promptly, and changing these decisions slowly, if and when they were changed at all. People who fail to accumulate money, without exception, have the habit of reaching decisions, if at all, very slowly, and of changing these decisions quickly and often.

Marty Zwilling, founder and CEO of Startup Professionals understands this. It was his contribution to the Forbes article that caught my eye:

My key to productivity is simply “make a decision.” Even a bad decision is recoverable, and better than no decision, since it gets the issue off your plate and moving. Making no decision bottlenecks your work, and causes things to happen to you, rather than by you.

But if the ability to make decisions quickly is a habit of the rich and attorneys are prone to doing the opposite, why are there so many rich attorneys?

Two reasons, I think. First, we’re around a lot of successful people and get in front of a lot of good opportunities. The odds are in our favor that we will be “in the right place at the right time”. Second, attorneys are intelligent people and tend to make “good decisions,” albeit not quickly. If we could combine the two and make “good decisions quickly,” I think there would be many more rich lawyers.

Fortunately, making decisions quickly is a habit and habits can be developed. You do it once, the world doesn’t end, you do it again.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

Start with little decisions, “which movie to see,” or “which topic to write about today.” Give yourself five minutes to decide. Use a timer. Use a screen saver message or post-it to remind you to “Decide Now!” And do it every day.

If you mindfully make quick decisions every day, making quick decisions will soon become a habit. Eventually, you’ll be able to make quick decisions about important matters and that’s when you will see more significant results.

But don’t forget the other side of the equation. Once you’ve decided, you must stick with your decision. Practice not changing your mind. Yes, you’ll make mistakes, but as Zwilling says, “even a bad decision is recoverable”. Isn’t that why God invented E and O coverage?

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The Big Idea: Taking a Quantum Leap in the Growth of Your Law Practice

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Donny Deutsch’s cable program, “The Big Idea,” features interviews with entrepreneurs who scored big (or are trying to) in the world of business. The guests discuss their “big idea,” the one that makes their company or product different from all the rest.

In the crowded, competitive world of business, a big idea can propel a company from the depths of obscurity to the heights of financial success. But the big idea isn’t necessarily a new invention or a revolutionary concept. More often, it is a new spin on an old idea that capitalizes on a current trend (e.g., “fast food” restaurants that serve nothing but breakfast cereal).

Allstate Insurance company is running ads that promise to pay cash rebates for every six months of good driving. That’s nothing more than a new way of offering a good driver discount but in my view, it qualifies as a big idea because instead of a discount, the customer gets paid. Getting a check from your insurance company every six months re-sells you on staying with that company because you don’t want to lose “your” check. (It also reminds you to drive safely.)

Amazon’s latest big idea is low priced tablets. They don’t do everything an iPad does but they will probably appeal to a big segment of the market that will pay $200 (or less) but not $500 (or more).

How could you create a big idea in your practice? It might be as simple as taking something every attorney in your market does (e.g., house calls), and re-positioning it (e.g., “We’ll send a limo to pick you up”). It might be something few attorneys do, like the radio spot I just heard by an estate planning firm that prepares living trusts. Their big idea: “free lifetime updates”.

Take some time to brainstorm ideas with your employees or mastermind group. What do you do that everyone else does that you could promote as “your big idea”? Or, what do you do (or could you do) that nobody else does that could be an even bigger big idea?

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You’re not thinking big enough. Or are you?

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We’ve all heard interviews of massively successful entrepreneurs who say they had no idea their idea or business would grow as big as it has or go in the direction it did. They simply followed their passion and, like Alice chasing the rabbit, one day found themselves in Wonderland.

There is another group of entrepreneurs (professionals, artists, athletes, etc.), undoubtedly a smaller group, who right from the start of their business or career, had big dreams and plans for their future. “I knew right from the beginning where I wanted to take this business,” they say.

Which one are you?

Are you putting one foot in front of the other and seeing where it takes you or do you know exactly where you want to go?

John Jantsch, over at Duct Tape Marketing, says that thinking small rarely leads to greatness and makes a good case for thinking bigger. It’s a well thought out article and I want to say I agree with him, but I’m not sure I do.

Jantsch argues that if you think about growing your business by 10%, you won’t do things that could lead to even bigger growth. If you think about doubling your business this year, however, you will think and act much differently, making bigger growth much more likely.

Logical, isn’t it? But is it true? How do we then explain the success of those who simply followed their muse and wound up rich?

Further, couldn’t we make the case that having big, long term plans, might actually work against you, leading you to do things that seem to be the logical next step towards your goal but that aren’t organic to the passion that drives you?

An attorney friend of mine who does a lot of motivational speaking is fond of saying, “You’re not thinking big enough.” It is exciting to think about a much bigger future. I think we get into trouble, however, when we get too specific about that future.

Donald Trump may not know where his next deal will come from but I don’t think anyone would argue he doesn’t think big enough. He knows what he wants and where he’s going but when an opportunity he never imagined comes knocking at his door, he’s smart enough to answer.

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What I learned about marketing (and creating wealth) in Cancun

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My wife and I just got back from a week in Cancun. We were at a five-star resort, courtesy of a company I work with in another business. They have twelve restaurants and everything is truly first class.

The thing about this resort is that everything is included in your stay. Eat all that you want, drink all that you want, and never reach for your wallet or sign for your room. We had room service every morning and ordered just about everything they had on the breakfast menu (and ate everything, too).

The menus have no prices on them. It doesn’t matter; order whatever you want.

There is no tipping. Everything, from the chartered bus ride from the airport, to baggage handling to rides in golf carts to get around the sprawling grounds, are taken care of.

I could go on about how well we were treated, the amenities and so on, but I want to make a point. Two points, actually.

First, while I was there, I thought about how relaxed we were not having to think about how much anything cost. Sure, I can afford the estimated four thousand the trip probably cost, but it’s still refreshing to not have to think twice about what anything costs or how much to tip someone. And I thought about how that applies to marketing legal services.

What our experience did was reinforce the efficacy of "flat rate" billing for legal services. When your clients can have your services without having to wonder or worry about how much you’re going to charge them for that ten minute phone call or for the photocopies or for bringing in a law clerk to take notes during your meeting, they are much happier clients. They’ll be more inclined to hire an attorney who "takes the risk out of the deal" and they are happier and easier to work with throughout the engagement, all because there aren’t any surprises and they know they won’t be nickle-and-dimed.

The second thing I thought about was how a stay at a resort like this is good for reinforcing a "wealth mindset." If you want to be wealthy, getting a taste of what wealth is like provides your subconscious mind with an example of what you are seeking. The good feelings one associates with not having to look at prices on the menu, for example, are worth experiencing. Do you still look at prices on the menu? Do you do that first? What would it be like if you didn’t have to do that anymore?

If Cancun isn’t in the cards for you right now, find something small that is, something you can treat yourself to (and pay in advance for) that will give you a taste of what it is like to have financial freedom. Or, do something that doesn’t cost anything. Go to an art show, for example, and pretend you can buy anything there without giving it a second thought. Relax and imagine how good it will feel to be able to actually purchase anything on display. If you can get to a place of feeling good about that, if you can "have" the life you seek in your mind, that is the first step towards achieving it in reality.

Unfortunately, most people have trouble doing that. It’s not that they can’t use their imagination any more. It’s that when they do, they think negative thoughts that aren’t conducive to attracting wealth. They think about how much things costs and how unlikely it is that they could buy it. They become self-conscious about the experience, thinking they must look foolish or they are wasting their time. Instead of thinking about what they want, they think about (and attract) what they don’t have and what they don’t want and thus, they wind up getting more of what they don’t have and don’t want.

How do you get to the point where you can truly relax and enjoy the experience of imagining having the life you want? How can you think about having what you you want instead of why you don’t have what you want? You start with where you are and what you are thinking and how those thoughts make you feel.

If thinking about buying a $20,000 painting makes you feel bad (because you can’t afford it now and don’t know how you’ll ever be able to), then reach for a thought that feels better when you think it. If thinking about "buying it now" doesn’t feel good, perhaps thinking about "buying it someday" will feel better. If that thought feels better than wherever you are right now, think about that, and from that vantage point, you will have a basis for continuing to think better feeling thoughts until you literally think your way into manifesting your desires. It starts in your mind and with your feelings and while you may not be able to control whether or not you can go to Cancun right now, you have 100% control over what you think and how you feel.

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Is blogging a “massive mistake”?

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(Originally sent to my ezine list, The Prosperous Lawyer.)

You haven’t heard from me in a few weeks–because I haven’t written much lately. I’ve posted several articles on the blog , but I haven’t kept pace with my original "posting" schedule.

There’s a simple reason for that: I’ve been busy. Okay, that’s not completely true. I haven’t written much lately mainly because I didn’t feel like it.

Of course professionals have to do things we don’t feel like doing. We have responsibilities. People depend on us. And if we want to keep the income flowing, we have to work. But that’s not my job description anymore.

Nope. I started my other business because I wanted passive income and "time freedom," the ability to do what I want, when I want, and work only if I want to. I’ve accomplished that, and don’t rely on my blog for income (nor do I practice law any more), but I have been recommending to my readers that they set up a blog because of the many advantages they offer.

But my quasi-hiatus did get me thinking about the idea behind blogging, that is, even though there isn’t a lot of work to keeping a blog going, you really can’t stop. Not if you depend on it for your business or practice.

Then I got an email from someone for whom I have a lot of respect, Ken Evoy, a former physician turned online entrepreneur. He is extremely successful and well-regarded. Ken’s company specializes in helping people with little or no experience get a website and, more importantly, get free traffic from search engines, and they do it extraordinarily well. I was one of his original customers when he launched his SBI program years ago, and I have nothing but good things to say about Ken and SBI.

But his email troubled me. Probably because it touched on what I was already thinking.

Ken said that for most people (people like you and me) blogging is not the way to go. He says it’s a mistake, a "time-sapping strategic error." One reason (but not the only one) is that because of the way Google valuates the timeliness of posts, taking a break from blogging will cause your relevancy to drop, and the result is a drop in traffic. And search engine traffic is one of the key advantages of blogging.

Another reason is that because of the way blogs archive information, most visitors never see most of it. They read the most current post or two and never dig deeper.

I didn’t want to hear this. Although I don’t depend on my blog, I’ve posted a lot of content and I’d like to think people are reading it and benefiting from it. Wouldn’t you?

Ken’s going to ruffle a lot of feathers, especially considering the respect he has in the online community. But I read his email and the web page he’s posted explaining it, and I have to admit he does make a compelling case. He shows why a static web site, properly organized and optimized, will bring you more search engine traffic than a blog. What’s more, if you take a break from writing for two months, you won’t be penalized.

Ken says his service, SBI (SiteBuildIt) is a better choice than blogging because it is

  • Easier to set up
  • Easier to maintain
  • Less work (a lot less)
  • Less expensive
  • More effective at getting (and keeping) free
    search engine traffic

I am not an expert on the subject; not even close. No doubt many experts will weigh in. I’ll see what they say, and
suggest you do, too.

There’s no question Ken is biased. After all, he does sell SBI (and I am an enthusiastic affiliate), but based on what I know
about him, I think he believes every word he says. Read Ken’s argument and see what you think.

I’ve used SBI and recommended it for years. There’s no question that it has monumental benefits, especially for busy lawyers who can’t spend a lot of time on their web site. And SBI has blogging capability built it, for those who want the best of both worlds. So take a look and tell me what you think. I’ll post this on my blog and you can post your comments there.

P.S. Quick links:

 

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What is the key to success?

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Bill Cosby is purported to have said, ""I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." Have you found that to be true? I have. I’ll give you a recent example.

I just launched a new website, PassiveIncomeForLawyers.com. Passive income is a hot topic and in a very short period of time, the site got a large number of visits and subscribers. Several attorneys have already joined me in the program. I’ve heard from many others who have said nice things about the program itself and about the way it is presented. The feedback has been very positive. Of course you usually don’t hear from people who don’t like something. They usually just quietly go away. But I did get the following email from one attorney:

"Please take me off of your miserable site. At first I thought you were legitimated, now we are getting the mass marketing crap. Passive income my ass! You wouldn’t know passive income if it hit you in the face. And what’s with the long winded motley fool type advertising site. Un professional. Get lost."

I didn’t reply, I simply removed him from the subscription list, and deleted his email. But then I got to thinking about what could be learned from his response and I retrieved the email. After all, this is not just anybody; according to his email signature, this individual is a partner in a firm of at least five lawyers. I presume he is influential. He may or may not be interested in something I offer, but I’d like to think he would reject the offer, not the person (me). But not only is he not a fan, he was so angry, he took the time to embarrass himself with this email.

From a marketing perspective, what should I do? He was turned off (to say the least) by the sales-y copy on my web page, although I have to wonder why he filled out the form to subscribe if he was so offended. Should I assume that others would be, too, and change it? Should I try to please the ones who don’t like what he calls "long winded motley fool type advertising," even though most people find it acceptable and the site is successful? The Motley Fool folks seem to be doing okay.

But if I create something that is less of what he does not like and it dramatically reduces the number of subscribers, I haven’t done myself any good, have I? So no, I shouldn’t try to please everyone. That truly is a formula for failure, and it’s an important marketing lesson.

Marketing is about metrics. You do something, measure the results, and compare those results to something else. It’s called testing, and it’s crucial to the success and profitability of any marketing campaign. So, I will create other versions of the web page and compare the results to the ones produced by the current one. Whichever version produces the highest percentage of conversions (subscribers) will become the "control," against which I will continue to test, seeking to best that control. But one does this to improve results, not in an effort to please anyone, let alone everyone.

You can’t please everyone anyway, and you’ll only hurt yourself if you try. So, as you design your marketing messages, intelligently consider the ethical standards of your bar association and your own sense of propriety, and perhaps the concerns of your spouse or partners, but beyond that, do what works best, and what works best is what brings in the most results.

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Do you know what “passive income” is?

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A friend of mine by the name of Brian used to be a real estate agent. He told me a story about a very successful business mentor of his who once asked him if he knew what “passive income” was. Brian said he did. “Well, do you have any?” he asked. When Brian said he did not, the mentor said, “Then I don’t think you know what it is, because if you did, you would crash through walls to get some.”

He went on to explain it this way:

“When you sell a house, you get paid a commission, right? And then you move onto the next deal. If you don’t sell a house, you don’t get paid. You’re only as good as your last deal. Now, what would you rather have, $5,000 when you sell a house or $50 every time someone opened or closed a door? That’s passive income.”

I once explained passive income to a lawyer this way: “Think about what you currently earn in your practice and imagine that you were paid that amount but you didn’t have to show up for work.”

What would it mean to you if you had enough passive income coming in so that you never had to work again? If you had money AND the time to enjoy it?

If there was a way to accomplish that, would you want to know about it?

(Keep reading. . .)

Very few people have passive income. Athletes, entertainers, artists, writers, are usually cited as examples. Some attorneys achieve passive income by taking a percentage of their client’s business venture or intellectual property. But most attorneys (and I was no exception when I was practicing) earn linear income.

Linear income means there is a direct correlation between your personal services and your compensation. It doesn’t matter whether you bill hourly, flat rate, or contingency, what you get still depends (mostly) on what you do.

When you have employees, you have leverage, and that provides a semblance of passive income. Someone else does the work, you bill the client at a higher rate, and you profit from the difference. But it’s not true passive income because you still have to supervise those employees and you are responsible for the work they do.

If your firm is big enough that you don’t have to do that, if you can stay home and the practice runs without you, then you have true passive income. But then you probably wouldn’t be reading this.

What if there was another way to generate passive income? What if, in the next few years, you could create a six-figure passive income and it didn’t interfere with your current practice or job?

And what if I told you that a lot of attorneys have already done it?

Including me.

It’s true. In just a few years, working part time, I created a six-figure passive income that continues to pay me today. The money comes in month after month, year after year, and I don’t have to work for it.

Now you know I’m telling you this for a reason. I won’t keep you in suspense any longer. I’ve just launched a new web site that will tell you exactly what I did to create this passive income, and, more importantly, how you can do it too.

Here’s the site: http://attorneymarketing.com/legal-plans

Take a look and let me know what you like best.

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Leverage: the key to wealth

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I was at a convention for another business I am involved in and one of our speakers was Robert Kiyosaki, author of the "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" series. Kiyosaki was able to retire at age 47, then came out of retirement to add to his wealth by investing in real estate and building businesses.

One of Mr. Kiyosaki’s themes is leverage. In fact, he says it is the key to wealth. If you are an employee, he says, you will almost never become wealthy. Aside from not having leverage, our tax system is rigged against you.

Being self-employed isn’t any better. In some respects, it’s worse. When you are self-employed, the more successful you are, the harder you have to work. Most self-employed professionals I know work longer hours than their employed counterparts.

In the income arena, leverage comes from owning a business or through investing, Kiyosaki says. If you think your law practice is a business, you may want to reconsider in light of Kiyosaki’s litmus test: You own a business if you can walk away for a year, come back and be earning as much or more as when you left. If you cannot, then you don’t own a business, you are merely self-employed, which means you "own" a job.

Ugh! Hits you in the gut, doesn’t it?

Michael Gerber, author of The E-Myth Revisited, says the same thing when he tells us that entrepreneurs (and that includes self-employed lawyers) need to build something that they can walk away from. Both he and Kiyosaki talk about creating "systems" to build a business and wealth.

Creating a system means taking yourself out of the equation. If you want leverage, You must be ruthless in your quest to make yourself obsolete. So long as your practice is about you and what you can do, you do not own a business, you do not have leverage, and you will never be able to walk away. Only in rare instances will you become rich.

The dichotomy is that as lawyers, the strength of our practice is directly proportional to the strength of our relationships with our clients and referral sources. When we take ourselves out of the picture, those relationships wane.

How do you reconcile the need for systems with the need for strong relationships in a personal service business? You probably can’t, completely. But here are three things you can do:

1. Create systems for every aspect of your practice except relationships. Make yourself obsolete with respect to the delivery of legal services and administration. Work toward delegating everything OTHER THAN the perpetuation of existing relationships and the generation of new ones.

2. Teach your employees how to build their relationships and incentivize them to do so. You will thus be able to compound your leverage by leveraging their relationships.

3. Use the time you no longer spend delivering services for building other businesses and investing.

This is what I have done. I leveraged my (former) law practice to build the attorney marketing business, and I leveraged that business to develop another business, and the latter, thankfully, does meet Kiyosaki’s litmus test.

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