What’s bothering you?

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Are you worried about something right now? A problem in the office or at home? Paying your taxes? Too many bills? Not enough income?

We all have problems. Most of them aren’t fatal. With a modicum of time and effort, we can resolve them or at least make enough progress so that they no longer keep us up at night.

But sometimes, they have a nasty habit of sticking around.

Whatever you do, don’t dwell on them. Because what you focus on, grows.

Instead of focusing on your problems, focus on solutions.

Get the problems out of your head and onto paper or into your favorite app. Brainstorm all of the possible solutions. Write down your available resources. Note what you can do, not what you cannot.

Talk to smart people and get their suggestions. Talk to people who love you and are good listeners and ask them to listen to you talk it out.

Let your subconscious mind (your gut) help you figure out what to do and then do it. It will almost always be the right decision.

What if your gut tells you to do nothing? Then, do that. Sometimes problems go away by themselves. Sometimes the passage of time gives you perspective and makes you realize that the problem wasn’t as bad as you had imagined. And sometimes, time helps you to discover other solutions that weren’t possible before.

Finally, once you have made a decision about what to do and you’ve started doing it, turn your attention to all of the good things in your life.

Dwell on your blessings. Because what you focus on, grows.

Need clients? Here’s the best way to get them

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Stop getting ready and start getting busy

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You have an idea. A project, a side business, a new career. At some point, you have to stop thinking, researching, and planning, and start doing.

Often, the more time you spend preparing, the harder it can be to start. Paralysis of analysis is a thing. You get caught up in trying to get your ducks in a row and thinking about everything that can go wrong and self-doubt sets in.

If you find the courage to do it anyway, you often find yourself easily spooked. Something goes wrong or is harder than you imagined and your brain starts cruising down “worst case scenario” lane.

Ignorance is bliss? Often so.

When I started my practice, I wasn’t ready. I had enough money to buy some furniture and pay a months rent but I was ill-equipped to manage a practice, let alone practice law.

I didn’t know anything about getting clients, hiring employees, billing, bookkeeping, insurance, CLE, and 101 other things that are part of the deal. I couldn’t think about those things; I thought I’d figure them out as I went along.

I also couldn’t think about possible problems. What if I run out of money? What if I mess up and get sued or the state bar comes calling? What if I hire someone and they mess up or rip me off? What if I can’t handle the work?

You can “what if” yourself until you don’t want to get out of bed.

So I didn’t know much or have much before I opened my own office, but I did have one thing that made the difference. Its something entrepreneur Shaun Rawls says all successful entrepreneurs have in common: “a high tolerance for ambiguity.”

I had that because I had to. I wanted the freedom of doing my own thing and I was willing to do what I thought I had to do to get it.

Whatever you’re contemplating, don’t overdo the thinking and planning. Stop getting ready and start.

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What are you waiting for?

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You want to start a project. Write a book. Leave your firm and start out on your own.

Why haven’t you? What are you waiting for? Information? Inspiration? The right time?

Whatever it is that’s holding you back, it’s killing your dreams and stifling your momentum.

You don’t need more information. Or confidence. Or time. You don’t need buy-in from anyone. The time will never be right, so stop waiting and do it now. Take the first step.

Book the room. Announce your plan on social media. Burn your ships. Do something to affirm that you’re doing this and don’t look back.

I remember opening my first law office. I wasn’t ready. But I knew it was something I had to do so I did it. Signed a lease. Bought some furniture. And told everyone I was open for business.

You probably know that I had a rough time of it. But I made it. You will too.

Whatever you’re doing, once you start, you find ways to make things work. One foot in front of another and before you know it, you have arrived.

Take a chance on your idea. Trust that things will work out.

What if they don’t? What if you leap and the net doesn’t appear?

You might get hurt. But you will survive. You will have learned things you didn’t know before, and through that knowledge and experience, you will grow. You’ll know people you didn’t know before and some of them will help you with whatever comes next.

On the other hand, you may be a stunning success. Everything may work out far better than you ever thought possible. Your project or venture may lead to glorious achievements and position you for even better things down the road.

No matter what happens, you’ll have an adventure. A story for your grandkids.

Don’t wait until the time is right or you feel ready. Start now. You’ll be glad you did.

When was the last time you did a Referral Blitz?

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Massive action for the win

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I’m very analytical. I like to think about things before I do them. A lot.

Weigh my options, research, ferret out the risks. This is a strength; it has prevented me from making some costly mistakes.

But it is also a weakness.

It is a weakness because being analytical has stopped from doing things that might have been a brilliant success if I had allowed myself to do them.

In fact, some of my biggest successes occurred when I ignored my fears and “what ifs?” and forged ahead.

I wasn’t reckless. I considered what I would have to invest in the project and what I might lose if things didn’t work out. But I didn’t let that stop me.

Once I committed to starting, the key was taking massive action. By doing that, I was able to make enough progress so that when my fear kicked in or logic told me I was making a mistake I had enough evidence to prove otherwise.

I had people interested in hearing more. I had some sales or some clients. I had some work product in hand. I could see that things were happening and it didn’t make sense to quit.

The hard part, of course, is getting started. You do that blindly, not knowing anything about what is about to happen.

So, how do you do it?

You look at other things you’ve done that have worked out and have faith in yourself that you can do this, too. And you look at what others have done with a similar idea, knowing that if they can do it, you can, too.

Mostly, you don’t think a lot about what you are about to do, you just lace up your track shoes and run. You do that because you have a burning desire to do something or achieve something or prove something and you’re just crazy enough to believe that you can.

Take massive action. Do as much as you can as fast as you can and don’t think too much about what you’re doing. Later, when you know your idea works, you can sit down and analyze what you’ve done.

The simplest way to get more referrals

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Do you (still) work nights and weekends?

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When I started practicing, even though I had few clients, I showed up at the office every day, including Saturdays. I spent most of that time setting up form files and writing form letters I could use once I got some new clients, and doing whatever I could think of to try to make that happen.

When I finally got some new clients, I started staying late at the office and bringing work home with me. I thought that’s what I had to do to make it and I was too scared to do anything else.

Maybe you are where I was. Maybe you’re working longer hours than you need to, or should. Even if you are getting things done and making money, at some point, you have to ask if this is the right way to go.

What if you set up some boundaries for yourself? What if you worked a full day but reserved your nights and weekends for yourself and your family? What if you actually scheduled took a vacation?

In the short term, as you work fewer hours, you’ll probably earn less income. In the long term, probably sooner than you think, you might see your practice explode, as mine did when I made the switch.

All work and no play really does make Jack a dull boy.

Start living a little. At night, on weekends, read novels, play games, take the kids to the park and toss a ball. If you don’t have kids, start making some. You’ll have the energy now, so get busy.

Leave your work at the office. Turn off your phone. Use your free time to get in shape. Start a hobby. Take a class or join a club. Not only will you have some fun, you’ll meet some new people (who share your interest) and have something to talk about besides work.

You’ll be more relaxed. More interesting. And have more energy. You’ll attract new friends, business contacts, and clients. You’ll have time to work on taking your practice to the next level.

You’ll earn more without working more. And finally realize that work isn’t the goal, it’s how you reach the goal.

How to earn more without working more: go here

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When a herd of zombies is coming at you

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You hear it a lot in movies. The characters are having problems. Zombies are crashing through the gate. The bad guys are coming to take their stuff, and everything looks hopeless. Someone wants to give up and someone else says, “C’mon, we can do this. We’ll figure it out.”

And somehow, they almost always do. Although that might not happen until the next season.

There’s a lesson in less. No matter what you’re going through, whether you’re struggling to bring in business, your clients aren’t paying your bill, or a herd of zombies is coming at you, you just keep going.

Whatever the problem, action is the cure.

You can think. You can research. You can pray. You can ask others for help or advice. But at the end of the day, those zombies aren’t going to cut off their own heads.

Of course, building a law practice is very much like fighting zombies.

When I opened my own practice, I rented an office from an attorney who had an extra room in his suite in Beverly Hills. It was expensive but I had big plans and needed to look like I had something going on. Unfortunately, I didn’t. I had trouble paying the rent.

But I kept going.

After a while, I moved to another office closer to where my prospective clients lived. The rent was cheaper and gave me more breathing room. More time to keep going. And I did.

I continued to struggle and eat peanut butter sandwiches for dinner, but eventually I was doing better and got my own suite of offices.

It took years but I made it.

Some of my success came from improving my legal skills. Even more came from learning how to market my services. But most of my success came because I didn’t quit.

I had problems. I made mistakes. I lost money. Hell, in my first year I had to appear at a state bar hearing (without representation) to explain to a panel how I wasn’t violating ethical rules by running ads offering to pay referral fees to attorneys. (The law had just changed to allow this and when I pointed out that I was abiding by the rules, I won the case.)

No matter where you are right now, keep going. Nobody’s coming to rescue you. But you can get through this. Just keep moving and I promise, you’ll figure it out.

Need clients? Here you go

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What’s new and exciting?

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If you’re like me (and you are), you get excited when you get a text message from Amazon, telling you there is a package waiting for you on your doorstep. There’s nothing wrong with old stuff that continues to work well, but let’s face it, new stuff is exciting.

C’mon, you know what I mean. Your shiny new laptop rocks your world. Your new car is the bee’s knees. Your new girlfriend? Excite-a-mundo.

New things, new people, new adventures. Makes you all tingly inside.

But here’s the thing. The other side of the excitement coin is fear. In fact, that’s why we’re excited. When we ran around in loin cloths, our fears kept us alert and alive. Anything new and different raised the hair on the back of our necks and caused us to be on high alert.

And that’s still true today.

We’re excited about the new laptop but part of that excitement is fueled by our fear that it might have issues, we might not like it as much as we thought, or that we spent way too much.

Same for that new girlfriend.

And God knows it’s the same for new clients who might write you a bum check or make your life crazier than it already is.

So change is scary, but scary is good. Our fears tell us we’re alive, and that’s almost always better than the alternative.

So, I propose that we all get a steady diet of newness in our lives.

What do you say?

Click the button in your shopping cart and place the order. Visit the car dealer after work and put yourself behind the wheel of that Tesla. Book that trip to Octoberfest, terrorists be damned.

More than anything, it’s time to get some new clients.

Picture yourself interviewing them, writing down the facts, thinking about what you will do. Picture them signing docs and handing you a big check.

Nice, isn’t it?

More, please.

Picture your phone ringing with a referral on the line. Picture yourself at an event, three people ask for your card, asking when they can talk to you. Picture yourself hiring another assistant to help with all of the new clients you’re bringing in.

Take a big whiff and smell the success.

Hell yeah, it’s exciting! Okay, maybe not as exciting as the new girlfriend but hey, it’s all good.

What’s your plan for bringing in new clients?

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You don’t have time to do it? That’s why you must do it

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Go through your task and project lists and zero in on the ideas you have tagged “someday/maybe” or otherwise designated as “low priority”. As you look at these ideas again, you’ll realize that many of them will never see the light of day, nor should they. They were passing notions that don’t merit a second look.

But some of your ideas are awesome.

Some of your ideas could transform your life and take you to new heights or in new directions. You know the ideas I’m talking about. They’re the ones that give you a rush when you think about them.

You’ve put them on a “someday” list because, you’ve told yourself, you don’t have time for them right now.

Unfortunately, while you’re waiting for “someday,” many of your best ideas will rot away in the recesses of your software or on the tear-stained pages of your journal. Let’s face it, given the current state of your busyness, the most likely fate for most of these ideas is an ignominious death.

So, here’s a thought. Since these projects have a potentially huge payoff, how about putting some of them at the top of your list?

You tell yourself you can’t. You have other things to do, bills to pay, deadlines, responsibilities. You love these ideas but you have to be practical.

But that’s not the real reason. The real reason you don’t put these life-changing projects at the top of your list is that they scare the poop out of you.

You might screw up and your dream will go up in smoke. Or you might get it right and your life will change in profound, and profoundly frightening ways.

Well buckaroo, my advice to you, and to myself because I’m guilty of this too, is to realize that “someday” may never come and you might never have another time (or a better time) to find out what might be.

Therefore, choose one of these projects and do it anyway.

Pretend you do have the time and get started.

If you feel yourself resisting, suck it up and do something (anything) related to that project. . . for five minutes.

Because you can’t tell yourself you don’t have five minutes.

Write a few notes, organize some materials, set up a new project folder.

There. You’ve started. It feels good, doesn’t it? You’re all tingly inside.

Tomorrow, do another five minutes. Or ten. Or an hour, once you get excited and start to taste the future.

Here’s a project that could take your practice to another level

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Inspiration is its own reward

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I’m a “how to” kinda guy. When I read a book or article, watch a video or listen to a training, I’m looking for information I can use to improve my business or personal life.

I want to know what to do and how to do it. The steps, the tips, the details. I take notes and file them (in Evernote) for future reference.

I’m not overly demanding. Even one good takeaway will satisfy me and justify the time spent. But when I’m done, if I haven’t taken any notes, I’m usually disappointed.

But not always.

Last night I listened to an interview with someone who wrote and published 15 books in the last few years, despite the fact that English is not his native language and he is anything but fluent.

In fact, his wife repeatedly tried to steer him away from writing, ostensibly trying to spare him from humiliation, even going so far as to tell him that he was a terrible writer.

He persisted because he was unhappy with his tech job and had always dreamed of being a writer. He was interviewed because his books have been favorably reviewed and sell well, allowing him to turn the page on one chapter in his life and start a new one.

He credits a good editor, and a steady diet of personal development books, which helped him to improve his self-image and develop the confidence to keep going.

When the interview was done, I realized that I hadn’t taken a single note. No tips, no how to’s to file away.

But I didn’t feel cheated. His story put a smile on my face. It was a reminder that we can overcome our limitations and achieve our dreams.

His story was the takeaway.

In our quest to improve our knowledge and skills, we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss pure inspiration. A story that makes you feel good or that reminds you that the struggle is difficult but worth it provides its own value.

And that’s something we can all put in our notes.

I use Evernote for everything

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You can if you think you can

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The other day I listened to a podcast interview of an author about how to use a certain piece of software. Podcast subscribers and members of the host’s Facebook group had posted questions to be asked of the author.

The questions seemed to fall into two groups.

The first group were straightforward questions: How do I do this, What should I do if this happens, How can I get better results, and so on.

The second group were more complaints than questions: I tried it before and it didn’t work, I didn’t like it, It doesn’t fit with the way I work, etc.

The first group was looking for information and advice. The second group had already made up their mind that the software wouldn’t work for them and wanted to whine about it. (One even challenged the author to prove them wrong.)

Many people have had challenges using the software. Only some people believe they can overcome those challenges and are willing to stick with it until they do.

The author told the latter group to give it time, they can definitely make it work. I thought, “It doesn’t sound like they want to make it work. It sounds like they want to prove that it won’t”.

Many people have had challenges with the software. The ones who overcome them were the ones who wanted to do it and were willing to make the effort.

It’s all about mindset. If you want to do something and believe you can, you’ll figure it out. If you don’t, you won’t.

As Henry Ford put it, “If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right”.

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