A simple daily habit that could change everything


I read an article that offered suggested daily habits that could help us 5 years from now. One habit stood out, not just because it has marketing implications, but because I think it could bring immediate benefits.

The habit:

Talk to one stranger every day.

Think about the possibilities. The stranger you speak to could be your next client, a marketing joint venture partner, or a source of referrals. Or they might introduce you to someone who fulfills one or more of those roles.

Talking to someone new can give you ideas for articles and posts, for marketing or managing your practice, or for doing something new and exciting.

Practicing the habit of approaching strangers also helps you develop your networking and interpersonal skills.

And it could be a lot of fun.

You could approach people by design–professionals and centers of influence in your target market or local community, for example. Or, you could make it a serendipitous adventure and approach people at random. How about the person immediately behind you in the line at Starbucks?

Strangers represent opportunities, the article notes. True, most opportunities don’t pan out. With many strangers, you won’t get to first base.

But you never know when the next person you meet might be the one who opens doors to great new adventures. Or, turn out to be a new friend.


Are we having fun yet?


I have a theory. And a challenge for you.

My theory is that we are put here on earth to have fun. The purpose of our lives is to feel and express and share joy.

We work because we enjoy what we do or because it provides the funds that allow us to do what we enjoy. We learn things because we enjoy learning or because it makes us better at our work, which allows us to have more fun.

We raise kids because they give us joy (most of the time). We embrace our religion because it gives us inner peace, direction, purpose, and pleasure.

We watch TV and movies and play games because it’s fun. We buy new clothes and new cars and other things we may not need because we enjoy looking good.

Every sentient being acts to either avoid pain or achieve pleasure. We’re hard wired for this. We avoid danger and we seek comfort. Humans are defined by our self-interest, and as we pursue things that make us happy, we make the world a better place. We create, we contribute, we share.

I’m no philosopher, but this is what I choose to believe. And. . . I enjoy believing it, so don’t try to talk me out of it.

Are we having fun yet? Yes, we are. That’s what we’re supposed to do.

My challenge to you is to admit why you’re here. Confess that you are a pleasure-seeking creature and give yourself permission to freely express your love of life.

Make it a habit. At least once a day, do something completely fun. Play a game, read a comic book, watch a funny video. Do something creative, just for the fun of it. If you have to, schedule 5 minutes a day on your calendar and label it “fun”.

Imagine what it would be like having fun all day long. Getting up with a smile instead of a groan. Doing deeply satisfying work. Surrounding yourself with people and things that make you happy. Going to bed at night knowing you have a purpose and you have lived that purpose.

This is not a pipe dream. You’re on your way towards making this your reality. You may start with 5 minutes of scheduled fun, and if that’s too much for you, start with one minute. Then two. Eventually, most of your day will either be outright fun or something that supports it.

Life is supposed to be fun. If it’s not, you’re doing it wrong.


Wake me when it’s over


If TV shows portrayed the practice of law accurately, nobody would watch. Nobody wants to see what we really do. A law practice is usually one big yawn-fest.

Where’s the fun? The laughter? The joy?

“But lawyers aren’t supposed to have fun. We deal with the serious side of life. That’s what we are paid to do.”

True, but wouldn’t you like to have some fun once in awhile? I know your employees would. So would your clients.

What to do. . .

Hey, I know, how about movie night? Invite your staff and clients to join you to watch Thor: The Dark World. You buy the popcorn.

How about a Christmas party? With jingle bells, egg nog, and “Secret Santa” gift exchanges.

Next summer, you could do a picnic or barbecue. With hot dogs, three-legged races, and egg tosses.

Tell people they can invite friends and family. The more the merrier. Everyone will have fun and be glad they work for you or have you as their attorney. Guests will think you’re the grooviest lawyer in town.

You’ll post pictures on Facebook and everyone will share. You’ll get website traffic. You’ll grow your list. You’ll get more clients.

Yes, fun can be profitable. But it can also be fun.

Marketing is everything you do to get and keep good clients.


The virtue of wasting time


“Quit goofing off and get back to work!” Have you ever said that to your kids or your employees? I know you’ve said it to yourself.

We seemed to be obsessed with the idea that wasting time is a bad thing. I know, “wasting” implies “no value,” but is that really true?

Me thinks not.

Playing video games, checking in or posting on social media, watching football, or whatever you like to do when you’re not doing what you think you’re supposed to do, is not wasting time. I can think of several reasons why it is good for you. And if its good for you, then its good for your work and other aspects of your life.

  • It helps you relax. Stress is a major health risk. Goofing off helps us forget our troubles and lower our blood pressure. Laughing has been proven to improve mental and physical health.
  • It helps you think. When our conscious minds are distracted, our subconscious minds come up with ideas, solve problems, and help us make decisions.
  • It improves skills. Gaming can improve hand-eye coordination and sharpen critical thinking. Watching sports can teach you about leadership, strategy, and team effort. Social media can help you learn about pop culture, which can be used in conversation and writing.
  • It helps you meet new people. With many hobbies and personal interests, you get to meet new people–at the game or the sports bar, online, at the concert, or the convention. New people bring new ideas, new contacts, new business.
  • It affirms life. The purpose of life is joy, not work.

Is there such a thing as spending too much time “wasting time”? Our bosses, parents, and spouses may think so, especially if they’ve seen us spending an hour or two on a site like this one. But it’s really the wrong question.

Better to ask, “Are you getting your work done?”, “Are you making a contribution to the world,” and “Are you happy?”

If you can answer those questions in the affirmative, I don’t think the amount of time you spend conquering pretend kingdoms or contemplating your navel really matters.

Earn more so you can goof off more. Here’s how.


You got into Harvard Law School? That’s funny!


In the movie, “Legally Blonde,” Reese Witherspoon plays Elle Wood, a beautiful blonde who is dumped by her snobbish fiancé because he feels her lack of intelligence will hurt his career plans. Not ready to be dismissed so easily, Elle applies to and is accepted at Harvard Law, where she meets up with her ex- in the hallway on the first day of class.

He is surprised to see her and reminds her that their relationships is over. When he realizes she’s not visiting, she is a student, he is incredulous. “You got into Harvard Law?!”

Whereupon, Witherspoon delivers a line that still has me chuckling more than ten years after I first heard it: “What? Like it’s hard?”

Now if you don’t find that funny, you either don’t have a sense of humor or you went to Harvard. Wait, that’s redundant.

What? You’re still not laughing? You must be a tax lawyer.

Okay, I do have a point: We all need to laugh more. It’s good for our health and good for our business.

People like people who make them laugh. They like people who are fun to be around. They like people who smile and enjoy life.

Yes, what we do is often terribly serious. But not everything and not all the time.

I’m not suggesting you learn to tell jokes. Actually, that’s not a bad idea. I’d love to take a stand up comedy class. People always tell me I’m funny. I remind them that looks aren’t everything.

Hello, is this on?!

Anyway, we all need to lighten up and have some fun. Even when times are tough. Especially when times are tough.


Attorney marketing video challenge


attorney marketing videosAbout a year ago, I wrote and “produced” a simple video about a new lawyer attending his first ABA Convention. This was around the time the ABA was considering new rules to regulate attorneys behavior online and the video played off that theme and an ad hoc write-in campaign to tell the ABA to back off.

The ABA didn’t go nuclear on us, but I don’t think my video was the reason. What my video did do was get a lot of attorneys watching it and sharing the link with others. I got a lot of traffic from it.

No, it wasn’t a big hit on youtube, but in my niche market, it did okay.

My challenge to you is to create your own video and put it on youtube and on your blog.

You can use the free service I used, Xtranormal, which allows you to give voice to animated characters. Or, you can act out a skit with other live “actors”. You can narrate slides on your desktop, or simply talk into the camera.

Your best bets for going viral are to use humor or to take a controversial stand, but I would stay away from politics. How about a funny commercial by one of your “competitors”? Or something about one of the new laws that take effect in January?

Anything goes, but remember, your clients are watching (and so is the ABA!)

Keep it under five minutes. Watching my video today, I realized I could have achieved the same effect with a much shorter spot.

You may not see a ton of results from your video but you will learn some things that might allow you to create another video that does. And you’ll have a lot of fun.

Send me the link to your video. I’ll choose a winner and feature it in a future post.


The productive lawyer: squeezing more work into your busy day


productive lawyer attorneyLast night, I heard a speaker talking about how he found more time for work in his already busy schedule.

He had his weekly calendar up on a slide, showing his 12 hour work-days, and showed how he was able to find another 30 hours a week (30!) by doing things like making calls during his commute to and from work, taking 15 minutes to eat lunch instead of an hour, and who knows what else he said, I tuned out about a third of the way through his presentation.

I don’t want to do more work. I work enough as it is. Actually, if I were honest about it, what I want to do is less work. Much less. Like none at all.

Of course that depends on how you define work. Here’s a simple definition I just made up: if it’s not fun, it’s work.

So what I really want to do is get rid of everything I don’t like doing and replace it with things I enjoy.

Is that unrealistic? Good! Then unrealistic is what I want to be!

Yes, I know there will always be things I can’t delegate, things I don’t want to do but must. But that doesn’t mean I have to fill my day with these kinds of things, let alone find ways to squeeze even more hours of unpleasantness into my day.

Okay, I know I’m ranting, but this guy bummed me out. I should have heard him out (so I could share more of his ideas with you) and simply changed the word “work” to fun. “How to find an additional 30 hours a week for fun”. Now that would have been an awesome presentation.


Lawyer TV ad spoof: would you hire this firm?


Lawyer TV ads are often criticized for being tacky. “The Tackiest Lawyer Ad. . .Ever,” is a fine example. A lawyer advertising firm, hoping to attract lawyers for their services, created a parody of bad lawyer TV ads, but does it work? Would you hire the firm that created this spot?

[mc src=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSKe42bxMZ0″ type=”youtube”]Bad ad about bad lawyer ads[/mc]

Do you think this is funny?

I didn’t laugh. Isn’t that the first objective of advertising that purports to use humor? In the first few seconds, I thought this was a cheesy lawyer’s attempt to advertise and I was embarrassed–for him and for our profession. Once I got the joke, I thought, “ah, a spoof, okay, we can all laugh at ourselves once in awhile.” But I still didn’t laugh; did you?

True, parody doesn’t always demand LOL and if this was just someone fooling around and poking fun, well, okay, it worked for some and not for others, but this is an ad by a company that wants us to give them their business.

Would you hire this firm?

The ad says, “lawyers’ ads are tacky and don’t work; we can produce an ad that’s not tacky and does work.” But they use a tacky ad to make that point. Is that good psychology? Is that good advertising?

I don’t think it is. At least not in this case.

If they showed us a successful ad they produced for one of their clients, would that be better? Yeah, I think it would. Show us what you do, not what you don’t do. Ads that demonize or make fun of “the other guy” can sell. But they have to get all the elements right and in this case, I don’t think they did.

What do you think? Click on the balloon above to add your comments.


Where good ideas come from by Steven Johnson


Soon, we’ll all be thinking about the New Year. How can we grow our practice? What can we do to enhance our personal life?

For some, the answer is to continue executing plans that are already in place. They know what to do, they just need to get better at doing it or simply give it more time. Others need a new plan. What they’ve been doing isn’t working. New plans call for new ideas, but where do ideas come from?

To answer this question, author Steven Johnson takes us on a visual journey into the creative process in this fascinating video:

[mc src=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NugRZGDbPFU&feature=player_embedded” type=”youtube”]Where do good ideas come from?[/mc]