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Start with no

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Whenever you consider taking on a new project your default decision should always be “no”. You have enough on your plate. You need to focus on the things you’ve already decided are a priority in your life. Anything that would distract you from those priorities should be turned down.

You might change your mind tomorrow or even later today. A no can become a yes but the project has to earn it.

You have to see the value of diverting resources to take on something new. What will it cost? What will you have to give up or delay? Why should you do this instead of what you had already planned to do next?

Okay, you get it. You probably already do this to some extent. But do you also do it when someone else asks you for something?

When someone asks for a favor, your time, a donation, or anything else, your default answer should also be no, although you might not want to say that out loud.

Their request might be easy to fulfill. You may want to do it. Still, pause for a moment and consider what you’ve been asked and give yourself the option to turn it down.

Don’t be a Scrooge. But do reflect on what you might have to give up or delay if you say yes.

It’s about putting yourself first. Valuing your time and resources and not giving them away willy-nilly. Protect your time, protect your health, protect your fortune.

If you don’t take care of yourself, eventually you won’t be able to help others. And the more you take care of yourself, the more you will be able to help others.

Take care of your clients and they’ll send you referrals

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Training yourself to think outside the box

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We all live in a box. The box is our comfort zone. It includes the things we do and only the things we do. The things we don’t do are all outside the box.

You can be successful inside your box but your success will be limited. You will only be able to go so far. If you want to go farther, get bigger, and achieve at a higher level, you have to step outside of your box.

You start by thinking outside of it.

Everything starts with a thought. An idea. And you can train yourself to have more ideas by asking yourself questions.

For example, “What if I did X?” or “What if I stopped doing Y?” “How could I do ABC better? Faster? More often?” “What would I have to do to get [whatever]?”

Of course, most of your ideas won’t pan out. Many will be absurd. But if one in 100 ideas causes you to try something different, or think about something in a different way, it might open a gateway to a brighter, richer future.

I’d argue that the crazier the questions you ask, the more likely those questions will lead to something. Or cause you to think something that leads to something.

Oh, you want examples? Okay, a few:

“If I could replace all my clients with new ones, what would they be like?”

“If I had a million-dollar advertising budget, how would I allocate it?”

“What’s one thing I could do that could triple my referrals?”

“How could I cut my workday to five hours and simultaneously increase my income?”

“What are ten ways to get one new client each month?”

“What would I have to do to implement a ‘client of the month’ program?”

“What (else) could I send or give new clients to get them interested in X?”

“What would happen if I quit Facebook?”

One for the road: “How much additional increase could I earn if I spend five minutes each week asking myself outside-the-box type questions?”

Want more clients? Read this and do everything in it

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Talent is overrated

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Sia is one of my favorite singers and songwriters. She is amazingly talented. I’ve heard that she will often write a song in a matter of minutes. Not just any song, a chart-topping song, for her or for one of many A-list performers.

Talent on loan from God.

So yeah, the chick is good. How can anyone, songwriter or performer, hope to compete with her?

In my opinion, they can’t. She’s too good.

They have to do what lawyers have to do when they are surrounded by bigger firms and more talented lawyers.

Jim Rohn had the answer. He said, “You make up in effort what you lack in skill.”

Outwork them.

There’s something else you can do. You can work smarter. Do things others can’t or won’t do.

Target niche markets and dominate them. Associate with smart people or people with great connections. Use leverage to get more done with less effort. Find the next big thing, get in early, and ride the wave.

Work hard or work smart. Because you can’t compete with talent on loan from God.

The plan

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A simple way to cut your marketing costs

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When you’ve heard advertising spots on the radio or TV and even online, you’ve probably noticed that after a new ad has run for awhile, you start hearing a shorter version of it. The original spot may have been 30 seconds or one minute; the shorter version might be ten seconds.

The shorter version has the same message and offer but leaves out a lot of details. Advertisers will often run the long version for several weeks, followed by the shorter version for a period of time. They might then run the long version again, or run a mix of short and long ads.

Obviously, advertisers do this to save money. But aren’t the shorter ads less effective?

To some extent, yes. People who haven’t heard the longer version won’t hear all the details and thus won’t be persuaded to take the next step. But regular viewers/listeners have heard the longer version, and for them, the shorter version serves as a reminder to do what they “almost” did when they heard the original ads.

The shorter ads also prompt listeners to pay attention to the longer ads the next time they run.

If you don’t advertise (and never plan to), note that this concept can be applied to other kinds of marketing.

All marketing comes at a cost: money, time, or both. If you create content, for example, you either take some of your time to do that or you pay others to do it for you. Creating (or ordering) a mix of long and short content can reduce your costs without a commensurate reduction in effectiveness.

If you invest a total of four hours a month at networking events or engaging on social media, you might be able to get the same results (or close to them) by cutting out an hour or two.

Instead of writing 750 words once a week for your newsletter, you might get just as much engagement and results by writing 750 words (or 500 words) once a month, and 250 words the rest of the time.

This idea can be applied to direct mail (e.g., letters vs. postcards), printing brochures (e.g., full color vs. two-color or black and white), and any other marketing where your target market will hear from you more than once. Take the savings and spend it, or re-invest it in more ads, content, and so on.

Need more traffic? Subscribers? New clients? This will help

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Turning off your issue-spotting machine

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One reason many people say they don’t like lawyers is that we appear to be negative people. We’re the ones who tell everyone why things won’t work.

Hey, we’re just doing our job.

Lawyers are said to be bad in business because we’re risk-adverse. We see what can go wrong and we don’t like to take chances. We stay safe but we also miss a lot of opportunities.

How many of us fail to realize our potential?

Robert Schuller asked, “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” It’s one of my favorite questions.

Turn off your issue-spotting machine temporarily and think about this for a few minutes. If failure was impossible, what would you be, do, or have?

Think about what you want and how you feel about it. How bad do you want it?

If it’s something that makes your heart sing, don’t give up on it just because the evidence against you seems overwhelming.

Dr. Robert Anthony said, “Forget about all the reasons why something may not work. You only need to find one good reason why it will.”

Client referrals made simple

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Create the life you deserve

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I saw an ad for a book with the title, “Create the life you deserve”. I thought, “we always do”.

We get what we deserve, not necessarily what we want. Our actions determine our outcomes. If we want more, we have to do more.

Cause and effect.

Some people get windfalls, it’s true. More than they (appear to ) deserve. We call them lucky. But maybe they deserved more and we just couldn’t see it. Karma? Law of attraction? God’s will?

Some people think they are entitled to more just because they exist. Last time I checked, in this country at least, we have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and a few others. Anything else, we have to earn.

How much is in your bank account right now? That’s what you deserve, down to the decimal point. If you want to increase the number, you have to get to work.

And yet, there are shortcuts. Ways to use leverage to get more results with less effort. Getting paid for the work of your employees is an obvious example.

You’re not cheating the universe when you do this. The universe doesn’t demand that we trade our time for dollars. It simply promises to deliver value commensurate with the value you create.

So, how much value will you create today?

Leverage is the key to earning more without working more

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My current productivity set-up

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I have a lot of lists in my productivity arsenal but two are most important. The first is “today” (@today)–tasks I plan to accomplish (or begin) before the day ends.

This is the most important list because today is when “doing” gets done. We can plan something for tomorrow or next week or next month but we can’t do anything until that day arrives and it becomes today.

If I have due dates, I put them on my calendar. I also calendar tickler dates for deferred tasks. When the tickler date arrives, I either move the task to @today and do it or review it and decide its fate.

If I’m doing something today, it goes on my today list. However, when it has become a habit, e.g., writing a daily blog post, walking, etc., I no longer keep it on a list or calendar.

My other most important list is my list of top priorities for the week (@week). These are the three or four high priority projects I’m focusing on this week.

I have other lists:

  • “Work in progress” (@wip) includes current and recurring projects that aren’t (yet) a top priority
  • “Soon” (@soon) refers to tasks and projects I want to do soon, e.g., next
  • “Ready” (@ready) are projects and tasks I plan to do after I’ve cleared higher priorities
  • “Backlog” (@backlog) are tasks I don’t need to get to for the next few weeks
  • “Someday/maybe (@sm), are things I may or may not want to do someday

I spend most of my day in the @today and @week lists. I also look at the @wip list. If I get caught up, or I feel like doing something different, I look @soon and/or @ready.

I don’t do a lot of long-term planning because by the time long-term gets here, my priorities have often changed.

That’s my current set-up. But it’s a @wip.

Have you read my Evernote for Lawyers

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No, you don’t have to do everything

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Marketing. Not your cup of tea. And yet you know you have to do something to bring in business.

If you’re holding back because you think there’s too much to do, you can relax. You don’t have to do it all.

In fact, you just need to do one thing.

Pick something you’re not terrible at and focus on it. Do it regularly. Invest time and resources in it. Study it and get better at it. Make it your thing.

Because if you’re good enough at it, it may be all you need. For now, anyway. Later, you may add something to the mix.

So, what shall it be?

Writing a newsletter? Speaking at luncheons? Networking with prospective clients? Networking with other professionals?

How about webinars? Youtube videos? Pay-per-click ads?

Maybe you’d like to write a book and use that to build your reputation and get more traffic to your website.

Maybe you’re good at working with clients and earning their trust and loyalty. Great. Do more of that. Be the best lawyer in town at making clients fall in love with you.

Yep, that’s marketing.

Because marketing is everything we do to get and keep good clients.

Short and sweet attorney marketing plan

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Do clients hire ugly lawyers?

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Apparently, eyebrow toupees are a thing. Who knew?

It looks like Canada’s Justin Trudeau wears them. Over the weekend he had what appeared to be an eyebrow malfunction when one of those puppies started to come off.

Embarrassing.

Why would someone glue artificial caterpillars over their real brows and take the risk of being discovered?

Vanity.

We all want to be more attractive. It’s in our DNA. Experts say that fit, attractive people attract more mates and produce more children.

Or something like that.

Studies show that good looking (and taller) people tend to be more successful in life, at least financially.

Fortunately, clients hire lawyers for our beautiful brains. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do everything we can to make ourselves as physically attractive as possible.

Most of us do that by eating well, exercising, getting plenty of sleep and bathing regularly. But there’s nothing wrong with getting a little extra help.

Men, if you’re losing your hair, shaving your head is a viable option. Some studies show that many women find bald men more attractive. Have you seen Jason Statham’s wife?

Some guys wear makeup. Some have shoe lifts. Some get plastic surgery. It’s all good.

But, here’s a thought. If your eyebrows aren’t as lush and sexy as you’d like, get a friggin eyebrow pencil. Because eyebrow toupees shouldn’t be a thing.

Marketing legal services: here’s the formula

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Are you bludgeoning prospective clients?

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I saw this headline yesterday: “5 Privacy Apps You Need to Install IMMEDIATELY”. I wondered what would happen if I didn’t install all 5 apps immediately. Or ever.

I didn’t install any of them. I didn’t even read the article.

What I can say, I like living dangerously.

Actually, I get “imperative fatigue” with all the articles and posts and emails mandating what I need to buy, do, or read.

32 must-have extensions, 27 must-see websites, 21 essential books to read right now. . .

Enough. I can’t keep up. I don’t want to keep up.

If this kinda thing annoys you like it does me, if your eyes glaze over when everyone tells you all the bad things that will happen if you don’t fall into lockstep with everyone else, if you find yourself avoiding articles like these, well, guess what? Your clients do, too.

So don’t do this to them.

In your marketing, presentations, and conversations, don’t smother them with too many problems, too many options, or too many things they MUST do (immediately), OR ELSE.

They’ll shut down. Stop listening to anything you say.

Slow your roll. Be different. Instead of clubbing them over the head, seduce them.

When everyone else tries to force-feed them a complete meal, give them a tasty appetizer. Instead of showing them your entire menu, talk to them about one of your signature dishes.

Invite them to take a bite and see what they think. If they like it, you can show them the rest of your menu.

In marketing, your number one task is getting the prospective client’s attention. Because if they don’t read what you wrote or listen to what you said, they’ll never become a regular at your restaurant.

Marketing made simple

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