You can always add more plates

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Next year will soon be this year, and this is a good time to do some planning.

New goals, new projects, updates, changes.

Do yourself a favor. Make it a short list.

Conventional wisdom tells us to shoot for the moon. Big goals, lots of projects, run hard and do as much as you can do. Cut your plans only if you run out of time or energy, because if you start small, you won’t accomplish as much.

For me, it’s the other way around.

If I start big, I find it easy to get overwhelmed. I prefer to start out with too little rather than too much. A few key ideas, projects, and goals.

When I look at my list, I want to feel good about what I see. I want to be inspired, excited, ready for the adventure ahead.

Some people like a schedule that’s filled to the brim. They want to always be busy. I prefer a schedule that’s relatively open, and fill in the blanks with whatever I’m drawn to.

I like to have a general idea of where I want to go, not a detailed itinerary with every moment thought out in advance. I like to add things as I think of them rather than subtract and postpone things because I didn’t have enough time.

Adding is fun. Subtracting isn’t.

I know that when I have too many projects and tasks, I’m busy working but not necessarily doing the things that matter most. When I have too many plates to keep spinning, eventually, I don’t want to look at my plates any more.

I like to get a couple of plates spinning, see how it’s going and how I feel about adding more.

Because you can always add more plates.

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Failure must be an option

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I heard Elon Musk say this in an interview about his hiring practices. He values innovation and doesn’t like it when “bold moves that go wrong are punished,” he said, “and keeping your head down isn’t”.

He rewards people who take risks and lets go of people who don’t. Which is no doubt a key to his success, even if there is a lot of breakage along the way.

If you aren’t willing to accept the risk of failure, you aren’t trying hard enough. You can’t innovate, reach higher, or go further, if you’re not willing to pay the price if things go wrong.

I thought about how a lawyer might apply this philosophy to building a practice or career.

We help clients avoid and minimize risk; must we always do this for ourselves?

No. Not if we want to grow.

We can’t grow without trying new ideas. If we’re focused on avoiding risk, we’re unlikely to do anything that might lead to significant reward.

Fortunately, innovation isn’t our top priority. We’re not in tech or space or anything cutting edge, with the eyes of the world, investors, regulators, and competitors upon us. We’re not putting billions of dollars on the line and risking everything venturing into unknown territory.

We can try new ideas on a small scale, take time to get them right, and be satisfied with incremental growth.

We may never fly to Mars, but we can make a fortune helping the people who do.

And that works for me. How about you?

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You wouldn’t treat a client that way, would you?

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You have a meeting with an important client.

Do you put it on your calendar?

Do you show up?

Would there have to be an emergency for you to cancel that meeting at the last minute?

During the appointment, do you silence the phone and other devices so you can give the client your full attention?

I’ll bet you answered “yes” to each of these questions. Because your clients are important to you and you want to do your best for them.

Now, consider the same questions regarding an appointment with your most important client—yourself.

Many lawyers I talk to don’t have the same commitment to scheduling their marketing activities. They look at marketing as something to do when they think about it or they have some extra time.

What if you were as disciplined and committed to making and keeping appointments with yourself to work on marketing as you are to appointments with your clients?

Do you think this shift in your perspective would make a difference? Do you think changing the way you plan your schedule and prioritize your marketing activities would materially affect the growth of your practice and income?

I do, too.

Which is why I tell you to calendar a 15-minute daily “appointment” with yourself, dedicated solely to marketing, and to keep that appointment.

Because you really are your most important client.

The Attorney Marketing Plan shows you how to earn more without working more

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No shortcuts?

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We’re told we have to put in our dues, meaning we have to do the work and give it time. We’re told it takes hard work and we shouldn’t try to beat the system. We’re told it takes as long as it takes and there’s nothing we can do to speed things up.

But this isn’t true.

Knowing the right people is a shortcut. Knowing people who can send you business, give you good advice, and introduce and endorse you to key people in your niche or market will almost always shorten your path to success.

Timing is a shortcut. Investing in precious metals before massive inflation destroys the value of paper currency can lead to great wealth. Starting a new practice area before other lawyers realize its potential could help you get the lion’s share of the business.

The Pareto Principle is another shortcut. Figure out the 20% activities in your work that lead to 80% of your results, do more of those 20% activities, and you can multiply your results.

Personal development is perhaps the ultimate shortcut. Increasing your knowledge, improving your skills, becoming a better leader and communicator, are the very stuff of success.

So yes, there are shortcuts. But there are no guarantees.

So, while you’re looking for shortcuts, you might want to cover your bets by working hard and giving things time.

No, hard work won’t guarantee your success or speed up the process. But it might help you find some shortcuts that do.

More shortcuts for building bigger, faster

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If you’re not growing quickly enough, this may be why

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If your practice isn’t growing as quickly as you want it to, or you seem to be going in the wrong direction, it might be because of what you’re not doing.

For example:

You’re not keeping things simple

The simpler your system and process, the faster you can grow. There are fewer moving parts, fewer decisions to make, fewer parties to involve, and fewer things to do to go from point A to point B.

If your system is complex, everything is more difficult and takes longer, and there are too many things that can go wrong

You’re not spending your time on the things that matter most

To get you where you want to go, you have options. Different projects to start, different goals to focus on, different methods to implement, but not all options are created equal.

Some things are more important than others. 20% activities that deliver 80% of your results.

Figure out what they are and focus on them.

You’re not tolerating enough risk

To grow, you have to try new ideas, work with new people, and otherwise put yourself at risk.

If you’re not doing that enough, you may put limits on how far you can go or how fast.

In any business or professional practice, we are called upon to intelligently manage risk, not eliminate it.

To do that, you may need to loosen up.

So, there are three reasons you might be limiting your growth, and what to do about them. .

One more thing you might not be doing: giving things enough time.

You need enough time to fail so you know for certain what doesn’t work and you can correct course, and enough time for the things that do work to compound.

We all overestimate how much we can accomplish in a few months, and underestimate how much we can accomplish in a few years.

A bit of a dichotomy, yes? You want to grow faster, but to do that, you probably need to give things more time.

This marketing system can help you get bigger, faster

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Beast mode

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According to the dictionary, “‘Beast Mode’ refers to a state of performing something, especially difficult activities, with extreme power, skill, or determination.”

Some people operate in beast mode all day every day.

They hustle like there’s no tomorrow. They fill every minute of their day with activity. They continually push themselves to the limit.

They don’t have an off switch. “I’ll rest when I’m dead,” they say.

When they get an idea, they try it. While others are thinking about it and researching it, they’re doing it.

Instead of launching one product, they launch 10.

They might fail at a lot of things but they make fortunes from the things that work.

Musk and Vee, I’m looking at you.

On the other hand, history is littered with the bodies of people who gave it their all but didn’t make it.

They burned out or failed and couldn’t recover.

Working harder and longer doesn’t automatically equal more success, or quicker success.

And most people couldn’t do it even if they wanted to.

On the other hand, some massively successful people proudly tell us they don’t work that hard. Warren Buffett is a notable example. But most people don’t have what it takes to do what he does.

So, where does this leave us mere mortals?

How do we find a plan and a pace that allows us to achieve big things without sacrificing our health, our relationships, or other aspects of our life?

The answer is simple.

For most of us, beast mode shouldn’t be a way of life, it should be something we turn on when we need extra power or endurance.

We need to be like David Banner—nice and normal most of the time, but turn into The Hulk when we need to.

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Does your life need to go on a diet?

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It was just yesterday that you started practicing. Or so it may seem. The days whiz by, don’t they? Another day, another week, another month, another year, come and gone.

Where will you find the time to do everything?

The answer is to let go of things you don’t need to do or want to do but continue to do out of habit.

A good place to start is by reducing physical and digital clutter. Clean out closets and drawers, delete apps, and cut down on subscriptions.

To do your work, you need a calendar, a place for notes, a list of tasks and projects, a tool for writing, and a system for managing and storing documents.

You probably don’t need much more.

If you do, be judicious about what you add to the mix.

You want to reduce the noise around you and simplify your workflow. You want to focus on the “precious few” instead of the “trivial many”.

The goal is to be effective, with as little friction as possible.

To do that, you need to keep things as simple as possible.

The same goes for the information you consume. Be selective about what you read. Buy fewer books and courses, re-read and study the best ones.

You don’t need every idea; you need a few good ones.

Improve your note-taking skills and habits, so you can better use the information you consume.

How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler and How to Take Smart Notes by Sönke Ahrens will show you what to do.

Read broadly but focus on your core skills: your practice area, marketing, writing, speaking, leadership, and productivity.

One thing you should add to your workflow if you’re not already doing it, or doing it consistently, is time for planning.

Spend ten minutes every afternoon planning the following day. Spend an hour each weekend planning the following week.

This habit will help you get the most value out of your limited time.

One more thing.

When you do your planning, make sure you schedule time to enjoy the life you’re building.

Because no matter what you do, the days and weeks will continue to whiz by and you don’t want to look back someday and wonder if it was all worth it.

The only course you need on email marketing

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If you don’t start, you can’t fail; you can’t succeed either

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What’s on your bucket list, your dream board, your list of someday/maybes? What projects have you been avoiding because they’re too big or you don’t have the time or you don’t what to do?

What would you love to do but have avoided because it’s important to you and you’re afraid you might mess up?

How about giving it a go?

If you’ve tried before and lost your way, how about trying again?

It’s not difficult. You only need to do 3 things:

(1) Do something. Anything.

Starting is the hardest part. Do something easy, something you feel almost zero resistance to doing.

Write a few ideas or questions, read an article, or set up a new file.

Focus on that first step, and nothing else.

Once you’ve taken that first step, you’ve started. You’re on your way.

(2) Take the next step.

It might be to write more notes or read another article. It might be to write a paragraph explaining to yourself what you want to do and why it’s important.

Whatever it is, the next step will be easier, because you’re not starting from scratch.

(3) Do something every day.

Make a commitment to yourself to keep going, and to do something every day.

Even 5 minutes.

But it has to be every day, or at least every work day.

Put it on your calendar or in your task or reminder app and don’t miss a day.

Some days, perhaps most days, you’ll work for just 5 minutes. Other days, you work for 30 minutes. What’s important isn’t how much time you give it but that you work on it every day.

Without fail.

If you work on it every day, your subconscious mind will understand that this is important to you and work on it when you’re doing other things. It will give you ideas, help you focus on the right things, and remind you to keep going.

Eventually, you’ll build build enough momentum to carry you through to the finish.

Even if you mess up. Even if it’s harder than you thought. Even if it takes longer than you imagined, eventually, you’ll get where you want to go.

Dale Carnegie said, “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”

But nothing happens until you take the first step.

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Plan 9 from Mars

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We often do it. Spend too much time planning, too little time doing.

We want something, it’s important, and our fear of failure makes our inner perfectionist raise his fussy head and insist that we iron out all the kinks before we start.

It’s usually better to just start.

Because it’s not the plan that gets us there, it’s the work.

The plan gives us a place to start. A first step, maybe two or three. It gives us something to work towards, but we still have to do the work.

Nothing happens until you do.

The best way to achieve your goals: Start before you’re ready.

Write something, call someone, or ask someone for something. Take the first step, then the second, and see where it takes you.

You’ll make mistakes, spend too much money, get sidetracked with other things, but in the end, you’ll go further, faster, because you took action instead of trying to figure it all out.

If you want more clients, your plan should be to choose a marketing strategy and get busy.

You don’t need to learn everything you can about that strategy; you don’t need to figure out what you’ll do next week or next month, or even tomorrow, you need to take the first step right now.

Any step will do.

A simple plan for marketing your legal services

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Implementation intention

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In his book, Atomic Habits, James Clear describes a British study about building better exercise habits. The participants were divided into 3 groups.

The first group (the control) was asked to track how often they exercised. The second group (the “motivation” group) was asked to track their exercise and given information about the benefits of exercise for reducing the risk of heart disease and improving health.

In addition to the above, the third group was asked to form a plan as to when and where they would exercise over the coming weeks. They were asked to write their plan in the following form: “During the next week, I will exercise at least 20 minutes on (DAYS) at (TIME) IN (LOCATION)”.

The results were remarkable. In the first and second group, roughly 35% exercised at least once per week. In the third group, 91% exercised at least once per week.

What explains the dramatic difference? The third group had a plan.

A plan about what they will do, when and where they will do it. Scientists call this an “implementation intention”.

Clear says that hundreds of studies show that “people who make a specific plan for when and where they would perform a new habit are more likely to follow through.”

“When situation X arises, I will perform response Y,” he says.

Trigger and response.

He says that time and location are keys to using an implementation intention to create a new habit, ostensibly because time and location are effective triggers.

Your mind recognizes, for example, that when it’s 6am and you’re in your den, it is your intention to meditate for 15 minutes, and so you do.

An implementation intention can help you achieve other goals besides starting a new habit.

You want to bring in more clients? What’s your plan? What will do, when and where will you do it?

Write down your plan and look at it often.

“Each weekday at 1pm, I will email 3 clients or professional contacts”. “Every Tuesday, when I’m at my desk, I will write for 30 minutes.” “Each time I close a case, I will call the client the next day to see if they have additional questions and ask them to sign up for my newsletter.”

What do you want? What will you do to get it? When and where will you do it?

How to create a simple marketing plan for your law practice

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