The market is boss

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It doesn’t matter how good your services are, how much value you deliver to clients, or how good you are at marketing. . . if there’s no demand for your services, you’re not going to sell any.

The good news is that the converse is also true.

If you offer services your market wants and is willing to pay for, you don’t need to do a lot of selling. You just need to get your message in front of the right people.

In One More Customer, football great turned mega-entrepreneur Fran Tarkenton said, “Look, if your big idea needs super-salesmanship. . . it’s not so big after all. Steven Jobs didn’t sell the iPad; he announced it. If you’ve got a truly great idea, you’ll only have to announce it and inform people about it.”

When you offer legal services people want and need, your job is to identify the people who need those services (or know people who do) and keep your name and message in front of them.

As a business partner of mine used to put it, “You don’t have to be good, you just need to be busy”.

Tell prospective clients how you can help them. Give them ways to learn more, e.g., information, seminars, consultations, etc. And stay in touch with them.

That doesn’t mean you don’t need to improve your skills, your “customer service,” and your marketing. You do, because your competition is doing all of the above and you need to stay out ahead of them.

You will always need to work on personal and professional development. But if you offer something people want, you don’t need to obsess about it.

The easiest way to stay in touch is with email

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It’s now or never

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We often tell ourselves things that aren’t true. We tell ourselves that we have to do something, right now, or we’ll never get another chance.

We tell ourselves we have to go “all in” or we can’t possibly be successful.

We tell ourselves we shouldn’t take certain risks because there’s too much to lose.

Too often, its just our fears talking.

Recently, I spoke with an attorney who is at a crossroads in his career. He was considering some strategies for growing his practice and wanted my opinion. Which strategy? What’s the best way to go about it? What other things could he do?

A few days later I heard from again. He decided he wasn’t going to do the one big thing he had been considering. In fact, he was thinking about retiring.

He had enough investments and income to do that but he wasn’t sure he was ready to walk away from a career that he identified with for so many years.

And he didn’t know what he would do with his time.

We talked about some of his options. I could see he was feeling pressured to make a decision but was worried about making a mistake.

I told him he didn’t need to decide immediately. I suggested he give a little time to several ideas and see how he felt about them.

He would have figured that out himself, but sometimes it helps to have someone talk you through it.

The next time you have a decision to make and you keep hearing those little nagging voices telling you what you “must” do, ask yourself what you would tell a client who came to you with that decision.

The odds are you’ll give yourself some good advice.

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What are you excited about?

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My daughter is about to start a new job and move halfway across the country. My wife and I are excited for her and love hearing all the updates about the job, the move, and her new home.

We’re also excited because she’ll be living much closer to us.

It’s exciting to have something to be excited about.

Big or small, a new job or a new book to read, something that puts a smile on your face is a good thing.

So, what’s new and exciting in your life right now?

If you can’t think of anything, go get something.

Get a new client. Plan a vacation. Sign up for a cooking class or start outlining your novel.

Do something that makes you feel good when you think about it.

You know you’re got the right thing when you get busy with other things for an hour or two and then remember “it”.

Of course, it’s not the thing itself that gives you joy so much as the anticipation of it. Christmas morning is more exciting than the day after.

And, excitement is contagious. When you’re excited about something, the people around you pick up on the feeling. They like being around you.

Being happy is good for business. So go buy something that makes you happy. You can probably write it off.

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Intellectual incest

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If you’re smart and work hard but aren’t reaching the levels of success you want, one reason might be that you’re not meeting new people.

You may feel you don’t have to. Or that you don’t have time. Or you prefer to spend your time with the handful of folks in your inner circle.

Let’s face it, meeting new people isn’t everyone’s definition of having a good time.

But spending all of your time with people you already know limits your ability to grow.

You and your friends or close colleagues share similar ideas. You may have similar habits and access to the same types of opportunities.

According to the Law of Association, we become like the people we associate with most, which means that your associations might be holding you back.

Sounds like I’m saying you need some new friends.

Maybe friends is too strong a word. How about some new acquaintances.

People who aren’t so much like you. People with different backgrounds and different ideas. People who can lead you to new opportunities.

You don’t need a lot. One is a good number to start with. If it’s the right one, they can lead you to others.

So, here’s the plan.

Go some places you don’t usually go (in person or online, if you must), and talk to people you don’t know.

It’s a small step but it may be a big step towards getting to the next level.

How to get more referrals from other professionals

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Don’t get your panties in a festival

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Life is short. And messy. It’s easy to get worked up about little things that don’t amount to a hill of beans. 

Most things don’t matter. As John C. Maxwell put it, “You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything.”

So my message to you (and myself) is to let it go. Whatever’s bothering you, put it in a helium balloon and let it float away.

(That’s the image I use sometimes. You’re welcome to use it.)

A few things do matter. Maybe 20%. Maybe less. Probably less. These few things, “the precious few,” account for most of your results and are worth most of your effort.

But they’re not worth any of your worry. Nothing is, because worry is a useless emotion. 

When you feel yourself starting to worry about a problem or poor results, use that feeling as a signal to review what you’re doing (or not doing) and make adjustments.

Ask yourself, “What can I do about this?” If there’s something you can do, do it. That’s your plan. If you don’t know what to do, your plan is to find out what you can do.

And if can’t do anything about the problem? Yep. Let it go.

Marketing made simple for attorneys

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A practice loaf

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My wife is learning how to bake her own bread. Watching videos, trying different things, learning the ropes.

I asked her how it’s going. She’s not sure so we’re calling this first effort “a practice loaf”.

It’s okay if it doesn’t turn out okay. The next one will be better.

Remember your first client? Your first trial? Your first appeal? Knowing what you know now, you’re probably cringing (or laughing) when you think about it.

Not your best work. Your next one was better. 

Me too.

Same thing when I created my first web page, my first course, and my first book.

If you’re writing your first book or thinking about it and you’re nervous about how it’s going to turn out, think of it as your practice loaf.

Give yourself permission to mess up. Let it be bad if it wants to. You can fix it or make the next one better.

That’s why I recommend taking some of your old content and converting it into a book. Or recording and transcribing your thoughts about some aspect of your work.

It may not be your “best” book but you will have written a book. You’ll know you can do it and will have learned something about writing and publishing. If you want to, you can then write your second book.

Gotta run. A slice of bread and butter is calling my name.

The Attorney Marketing Formula

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My computer ate my homework

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Last night I did quite a bit of work on my laptop. This morning, when I logged into the app on my desktop, I found that the work I’d done hadn’t synced. 

Yes, I save, and yes, I have backups, but last night’s work didn’t back up. 

So, I lost a lot of work. Too bad, so sad. 

Question is, what am I going to do about it? 

That’s simple. I’m going to suck it up and re-do the work. 

I’m not going to blame the software. Phooey on that. What happened was my fault. I didn’t check a box I should have checked when I updated the software on one machine.

My bad. 

We’ve all lost work. We’ve all made mistakes, lost money, pissed off friends, alienated clients, angered judges, and embarrassed ourselves in public.

We have to own our mistakes.

If we don’t take responsibility for our lives, if we blame the software, our employees, or our elected officials, we certify our victim-hood.

Phooey on that. 

By owning our mistakes, we empower ourselves to repair the damage. As Dave Ramsey said, “If you’re the problem, you’re also the solution”.

Of course, taking responsibility for bad things that happen means we can also take credit for the good things. 

I’ll take that deal all day, every day.

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This is so ridiculous I had to read it twice

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I read a lot of articles and posts about a lot of different subjects. Some provide information I can use in my business or personal life, some are inspiring, some are just plain fun.

ome articles make me check the calendar to make sure it’s not April 1st.

Behold:

Minimize Worry by Scheduling It Into Your Day,” summarizes an article in Psychology Today promoting the idea of scheduling 30 minutes a day on your calendar to do your worrying.

What the hell?

“Instead of letting worry distract you from your life, set aside a special time for it,” the psychologist said. “Studies have shown that scheduling worry into your day decreases anxiety over time.”

Mind you, this isn’t for people with clinical depression or an anxiety disorder. It’s for the rest of us, people with work to do, responsibilities, problems, and all the other things that are a normal part of life.

We’re supposed to validate our worries and schedule time to indulge them?

Okay, I know I don’t have a psychology degree but may I suggest another idea? Instead of scheduling time for worrying, how about scheduling time to do something about the things that worry you?

If you’ve got money problems, for example, set aside 30 minutes a day to work on ways to increase your income or reduce your expenses.

Isn’t that simpler and more logical? Isn’t that what a grownup would do?

No safe spaces, thumb sucking, jammies, or stuffed animals required.

Maybe I’m wrong. It wouldn’t be the first time. But you know what? I’m not going to worry about it.

Marketing is easier when you know The Formula

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A message for sole practitioners, introverts, and misanthropes

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Contrary to popular belief, I’m not a hermit. I like being around people. But like most introverts, I can only handle so much of that before I get antsy or fatigued or ready to scream.

I can speak on a stage in front of thousands. But for personal communication, I prefer one-on-one or small groups.

Also, I usually prefer to work alone.

Not always, not for everything, but given most of the projects I am involved with, my preferred way of working is to do most of it myself.

No committees, no groups, no partners, no second opinions, just me and my lonesome. At least until I’ve taken it as far as I can, or as far as I need to, and it’s ready to hand off to someone else.

Does this resonate with you? If so, you might be a kindred spirit. I’d give you a hug to welcome you to the club but I’d rather just send you an email.

Anyway, the point isn’t that introverts or extroverts are better or more successful. Based on what I’ve seen, it’s a tie. We are equally successful, but for different reasons.

The point is that no matter which way you swing, as an employer or partner or member of a board, it’s important to understand how others prefer to work so that we can give them what they need to do their best.

If you’re an extrovert, understand that if we don’t want to meet with you or work directly with you, it’s nothing personal. We’ll get back to you when we’ve done our thing.

If you’re an introvert, understand that while we do well working alone, there are times when involving others lets us do even better.

As the well-known African proverb says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.”

Does your website need a refresh? This will help

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How to stop being a perfectionist

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Are you a perfectionist? Sometimes? About some things?

Yeah, me too. 

Trouble is, our perfectionism causes us to spend more time on a single task than necessary, to the detriment of our other responsibilities. We get fewer things done and are often miserable as we struggle to do them. 

Perfectionism is a bad habit. Fortunately, habits can be changed. Or rather, replaced with a better habit. 

When I’m involved in a big project like creating a major presentation or writing a book, the weight of the task and my innate tendency towards perfectionism often lead me to procrastinate.  

No bueno

When I find that happening, I repeat a mantra. “Progress, not perfection,” I say to myself. It reminds me to keep moving forward and gives me permission to create a terrible first draft, because I know I can fix it later.

Another thing I might do is schedule a deadline. “No matter what, I’m going to finish the research for this thing this weekend.”

It helps when I share that deadline with someone who can hold me accountable. 

Finally, when I find myself pushing to improve something that’s already good, perhaps editing a draft for the 27th time, I remind myself that I’m not getting any younger and I have all these other things I want to accomplish. 

Does it work? Sometimes. But sometimes is better than never.

Anyway, I don’t think any of us can ever stop being a perfectionist. All we can do is get used to the idea that done is always better than perfect.

How about you? What do you do to combat perfectionism or procrastination?

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