Tiny habits — for the win

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I haven’t read BJ Fogg’s best selling book, Tiny Habits, but was intrigued by a quote from it:

“Celebrating a win–no matter how tiny–will quickly lead to more wins”.

Reading the sales page and some reviews told me the premise–that we can effect great change in our lives by making small changes to what we (repeatedly) do–our habits–and when we celebrate our “wins,” it leads to more of the same.

Ostensibly, that’s because it triggers the release of dopamine, causing us to crave more of the same.

We feel good so we repeat the behavior.

Which is, of course, what happens each time we check a task on our list as “done”.

What areas of your life would you like to improve? What are some tiny habits that will help you do that?

If you’re trying to improve your health, tiny habits might include drinking more water, walking 3 days a week, and eating smaller portions of food.

If you’re working on building your practice, your habits might be to write a blog post or newsletter article once a week, check in with 1 professional contact each week, and to smile more when you’re speaking to someone (on camera, etc.)

Okay. You’ve identified some habits you want to develop. How do you celebrate your wins?

A few ideas:

  • Chart them. Every time you do them successfully, note this on your calendar or in an app.
  • Congratulate yourself. Just say, “Well done” or “I did it again”.
  • Write about it in your journal.
  • Share your progress with your spouse or workout partner.

It might help to gamify it. “If I walk around the block 3 times per week for 90 days, I’ll treat myself to a new [toy of your choice].

What tiny habits do you want to develop? And how will you celebrate your wins?

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How to choose your priorities

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Someone once said, “You can be, do, or have anything, just not everything, because there isn’t enough time.”

So, what will it be?

What’s most important to you? What are your highest values? Your biggest goals?

Yes, we’re talking about your priorities.

With so many options available, how do you choose?

The best way to do that is to look at all of your options and compare them to each other.

We don’t make decisions in a vacuum. We look at everything in the context of everything else.

At one point in your life, you could have chosen medical school or law school or some other career path. In making your choice, no doubt you looked at your other options and compared them.

You may have fallen into your practice area or areas, but at some point, you examined your other options and compared them to what you were already doing.

You have followed a similar process with other aspects of your work and personal life.

You didn’t choose your spouse randomly, did you? When you met them, you compared them to other people you had met or dated. You may have loved other people, but the odds are you loved the one you chose even more.

Prioritizing is about making choices. This instead of that, these things more than those things.

Sometimes, your priority is clear. Sometimes, you like a lot of things and have difficulty choosing.

This article suggests a way to make choosing easier. It describes an exercise for groups or teams but there’s no reason you can’t do it yourself.

The basic idea is to examine each option and compare it to another option. You may like both options but decide you prefer one “even over” the other.

For example, you might like getting clients via referrals and via search, but decide you like referred clients “even over” clients who find you via search.

Knowing your priority will inform your marketing decisions–what you do, what you don’t do, how you allocate your time and resources.

Sure, you can use both marketing methods, and others. But knowing your priorities gives your clarity and allows you to focus on doing things that matter most.

Ready to take a quantum leap in your marketing?

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Whelmed

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You’re underwhelmed when you have too little to do or a list of nothing but chores and other boring, unrewarding tasks.

Not fun. No way to live.

If that’s you, do something new and challenging. Read a book you don’t normally read, get out of your comfort zone, do something that scares you. Or start working on your new side-business or your book or another adventure.

What’s more common, especially for high achievers and perfectionists like us folk, is being overwhelmed.

We often have too much to do and not enough time to do it. Or we don’t know where to begin. Sometimes we’re paralyzed by indecision. Sometimes we don’t want to do anything.

There are many ways to get out of the funk and back on track. Here are some that work for me:

  1. Do a brain dump. Get everything out of your head and write it down. Everything you can think of that you have to do or remember or decide. Clear your mind of what weighs on it and you’ll feel better, more in control. And, by writing it down, you’re taking action, which helps build momentum towards getting the next thing done.
  2. Schedule it. Go through your list and note anything that has a due date or an important start date and put those on your calendar. More control, more peace of mind.
  3. Tidy up. Do something relatively mindless but useful, like dusting your desk, organizing digital files, or uncluttering drawers and closets. While you’re doing that, your subconscious mind is working on your todo list, figuring out what’s important and the best way to approach it. When you come back from your journey to Marie Kondo Land, you should have some clarity on what to do next.
  4. Choose three. Go back to your list, quickly scan it, and choose no more than three tasks or projects. Put those three on a sticky note or somewhere else you can see them and put everything else out of sight. Work on those three things until you finish them. Progress!
  5. Work on one thing at a time. Single task. I know, it’s difficult to work from home and simultaneously watch your kids, but you have to make space for yourself to do your work. Even one or two hours of uninterrupted quiet time can make a difference.

So, there you have it. A few thoughts on settling your mind and re-establishing control.

AKA, achieving whelment.

How to write a simple marketing plan. Here’s how

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Hit pause and take inventory

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Many people are feeling lost right now, uncertain about their future and what to do about it. Out of desperation, some are considering major career changes, thinking they have no choice but to start over.

If you know someone in that position, you might suggest that they stay put. Remind them that no matter where they are right now, they’re probably in a better position than they’d be in if they started from scratch.

They’ve got skills, experience, contacts, and a reputation. They’ve worked hard to get where they are.

Instead of jumping ship and working on a new career, they might be better off working on themselves.

That’s what Sue Hawkes, founder and CEO of a consulting firm, did when she had hit bottom.

“My life was in a deep, dark hole at age 42. I was living in a friend’s second home, I was working through my divorce, the economy and my businesses were in a shambles. It was 2008 and all areas of my life were challenged. I made a resolution to mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, and financially intentionally improve myself by the time I was 50 by making long term, consistent and incremental improvements. I learned to say no to anything misaligned with my plan which included: learning to delegate without guilt, prioritizing my time and sticking to it, journaling my gratitude for a positive attitude, surrounding myself with supportive people who are champions of possibility, finding clarity in my purpose and personal values, and giving back to others. Over time, adding these small changes and practicing them changed my focus and my life.”

Sometimes, changing careers is the right decision. Before anyone takes that leap, they consider building on what they already have.

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Work on your strengths

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Tennis champ Roger Federer once said:

“In your professional life, I think it’s far better to be very, very good at one or two things and just marginal at the rest than to be merely good at lots of things.

“Working on your weaknesses makes you a complete player, but you won’t be dangerous anymore. That’s why I work on strengths.”

What are your strengths? What do you do best? Where would you consider yourself an expert?

Whatever it is, if you want to be ‘dangerous,’ continue working on improving your strength.

If you’re good at building rapport with people, for example, if that’s one of your strengths, you should work on mastering that skill.

Practice it. Research it. Study it. And talk to others who share that skill.

You may do this already. But are you totally committed to it?

When you come across information you know relative to your strength, do you dismiss it? Or do you revisit it, think about it and add it to your notes, with comments and links and questions to answer?

When you wake up, do you think about the mundane work tasks for the day, or do you think about what you’ve learned in the books you’re reading or the courses you’re taking that will help you get the extra edge?

Have you scheduled time today, and every day, to work on your skill?

If you want to be world-class, if you want others talking about you, interviewing you, writing profiles about you, and hiring you when there are so many others they could choose, if you want to be the Gerry Spence of your practice area, identify what you’re good at and commit to becoming even better.

Are you good at getting referrals? This will help you get more

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Is THIS the secret to getting everything you want?

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Entrepreneur and author Jennifer Cohen recently gave a TEDx Talk called The Secret to Getting Anything You Want In Life. Her premise: “Boldness is more important than intelligence”.

“Smart people think of all the negative things that can happen when things go wrong,” she said. “But, bold people think of all the good things that will happen when things go right.”

I don’t know if boldness and a positive outlook necessarily correlate but I agree with the idea that intelligent people tend to think about things that can go wrong.

Especially attorneys.

We’re paid to do that, and we’re good at it, but when it comes to managing our career and personal life, it can get in the way.

Starting a new marketing initiative, for example, is more difficult when you focus on all of the things that can go wrong.

Cohen says that boldness is a skill, meaning it can be learned and developed. She often practices that skill in restaurants, asking the server for a meal that’s not on the menu.

Annoying, yes. Like your fussy aunt who repeatedly sends her food back because something isn’t right.

Cohen does this because, “When you’re comfortable asking for the small things in life, it gives you the skills, habits, and confidence to ask for the bigger things.”

Cohen also makes a habit of asking for things she wants ten times. “If you make ten attempts at anything, I guarantee one will be successful,” she says.

I seem to remember my daughter employing this tactic when she was a lass.

I’ve never had a problem asking for things on behalf of a client; if you look up the term “ad nasuem” in the dictionary, you might find my photo. But when it comes to asking for things for myself, I could use some practice.

Maybe I need to eat out more.

How to get more referrals without asking for referrals

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What’s your DMO?

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Many people use the last few days of the year to plan their next year. If you’re among them, one thing you might want to do is create (or update) your DMO.

Your “Daily Method of Operation” is a list of essential recurring tasks, and a process for handling other things that comes your way. Your DMO helps you make progress on your top priorities and minimize distractions and omissions.

Your DMO might include a list of tasks you want to do every day or on certain days of the week, and lay out the order in which you will do them.

It might include a list of tasks for starting your day and another list delineating how you will end it.

At the start of the year, you can only lay out general plans about how you will use your time–the “big rocks” of your day. One of these should be scheduling time to look at your calendar and list of projects so you can plan the bulk of your day.

One thing you’ll discover is that no matter what your DMO includes today it will surely change tomorrow.

And that’s okay.

Because the value of planning your DMO–or anything else–isn’t in the plan, it’s in the planning.

The Attorney Marketing Formula includes a simple but effective marketing plan

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What’s the secret?

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In interviews, Jerry Lewis was routinely asked for the secret to comedy. He would often ask the interviewer to repeat the question.

Before they could finish asking, Lewis would interrupt with the answer: “Timing”.

Which usually got a laugh. Because it was a display of spectacularly bad timing.

Sometimes, he’d go in for seconds. “Okay, ask me again.”

After they repeated the question, Lewis would say nothing. Dead air. Then, after a few beats, he would repeat the answer.

Yes, timing is the key to comedy, and displaying bad timing is not only a great way to make the point, it’s funny.

Sometimes, Lewis would explain the key to developing your timing: lots of practice.

You do your jokes and shtick often enough and your timing improves.

Isn’t that what Jerry Seinfeld said about his process? When he was starting out, he wrote at least one new joke every day. He’d mark an X on a wall calendar each day he did this. Eventually, he had a chain of X’s, leading to his oft-quoted advice, “Don’t break the chain.”

Because that’s how you improve any skill.

The point is that if there’s something you want to improve, a skill or a habit, you practice it. Do it often enough and you get better.

If you write every day, you become a better writer. Faster, too.

If you regularly practice your presentation, your delivery improves.

Practice is the key to improvement in sports, playing an instrument, our work.

And marketing.

If you want to get better at networking, for example, you practice networking skills.

Introducing yourself to a stranger. Building rapport. Finding out what the other person needs or wants so you can find a way to help them.

Telling someone about yourself is another networking skill. It’s also the subject of my latest book, “How to Sell Your Legal Services in 15 Seconds or Less”.

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So simple, so easy to mess up

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Have you ever been interviewed and had the interviewer try to “share the stage” with you, talking too much instead of asking questions?

I have and it’s not good.

When you are invited to be the guest on a podcast or conference call, the host should edify you to their audience. They should present your background, say nice things about you, and make you look every bit like the expert you are.

They should make you look like you walk on water and glow in the dark so their audience will get excited about hearing you.

If they did that and then talk over you or share too much of their own knowledge and experience, they de-edify you.

Why did they invite you if they know what you know?

The host should introduce you, ask questions and let you do most of the talking. They shouldn’t interrupt you or contradict you or do anything that detracts from your image as an expert.

That doesn’t mean they can’t ask some sharp questions. It means they shouldn’t do anything to make you look bad.

Not in that kind of interview, anyway.

Edification is an important skill and it’s not that difficult. Take yourself out of the picture (mostly) and shine the spotlight on your guest.

Edification can also be used when you make a referral to another professional, introduce a guest at your event to another guest or to the speaker, or when you recommend a product or service or resource.

The only place you shouldn’t use it is when you’re talking about yourself.

Marketing is easier when you know The Formula

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The four motorcycle riders of the apocalypse

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Early this morning I heard a very loud motorcycle gunning it down our otherwise quiet residential street.

Why so loud? Doesn’t he know people are still asleep?

I thought his indiscretion might be because

  1. He’s late for work.
  2. Force of habit. He’s always pushed the speed limit and continues to do that without thinking.
  3. He’s a jerk. He likes to ride fast, he wants to show off his expensive toy, and he doesn’t care if it bothers anyone.

Anyway, it made me think about the things lawyers sometimes do that might not serve us, doing things too quickly or habitually or just not thinking about others.

The times we rush through a presentation or a meeting because we’re late for something else. When we rush, we might miss something or leave a bad impression on our audience.

Lesson: slow down, leave enough time.

The way we do the same things we’ve always done the same way we’ve always done them. Conducting a deposition, for example, asking the same questions in the same order, without thinking or listening or paying attention to body language.

Lesson: mix things up, try a fresh approach from time to time.

The way we sometimes talk about ourselves too much instead of letting the other person do most of the talking. Not only do we risk coming off as uncaring, we may not get all the information we need to do a good job for our client.

Lesson: talk less, listen more.

So yeah, that’s what I thought.

But wait, there are four horsemen. That’s only three.

Okay, Sherlock.

I asked my wife if she heard the motorcycle this morning and told her what I was planning to write about. I told her the three reasons I thought the guy was gunning it through our street.

She said, “Or, he needed to give it more gas to get up that hill.”

Yeah, didn’t think about that.

Something else lawyers sometimes do, but shouldn’t: thinking we’ve got it all figured out.

If you know you don’t have it all figured out, here’s what you need

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