The big ‘mo’

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When you study the lives of massively successful people, you often notice that there was a defining moment or incident in their life that accelerated their growth.

Something happened and they got big, fast.

Not always. Many take years to come into their own. But more than a few don’t and the reason is because something allowed them to achieve momentum.

Sometimes momentum occurs because of a strategy. Sometimes a new person comes into their life—a key client, an employee, an advisor, or a source of referrals. Sometimes it’s an opportunity that opens new doors, or an influx of cash which they put to good use.

You can’t predict what it will be, when it will happen, or to what extent. In fact, these kinds of things often sneak up on you.

But momentum isn’t always a lucky occurrence. There is something you can do to create it. You can create momentum by compressing time.

Compressing time means doing more in less time. It means moving quicker than you usually do. You take less time off. Work longer. Try more things and more often.

Instead of making one or two calls, you make ten. Instead of writing one article, you write three. Instead of waiting for someone to follow up with you, you follow up with them and more than once.

You don’t wait for things to happen, you make them happen. You compress time and create momentum by hustling.

Because you’re moving faster, you might make more mistakes. You don’t always know how to do what you’re doing because you’re learning as you go. But by moving faster, even if mistakes occur, more things happen, some of which might lead to big results.

But establishing momentum is just the first step. Once you create momentum, you must sustain it by continuing to hustle. If you don’t, if you slack off, you lose momentum. You need to keep going long enough that even if things do slow down, you won’t fall too far back.

And then, once you have created and sustained momentum, if you want to make it to the big leagues, you have to advance momentum. This is where you bring in other people, more capital, better systems, and expand into other markets.

That’s how you build an empire.

You can create momentum, sustain it, and advance it, and you can start by hustling.

How to create momentum in your practice

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By the inch, it’s not a cinch; by the mile, it still might take a while

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Taking massive action on a project is a great way to get it started. If you’re launching a new business, for example, you’ll be able to see if your idea has legs and is worth pursuing. You might see things you hadn’t expected and be able to correct course. And if you make a lot of progress, it can give you the confidence to continue.

If you don’t, you can move on to something else.

But we don’t always have the time to take massive action, which is why some people advocate doing a little at a time.

Do something every day, they say. Eventually, you’ll reach your goal.

The problem with this is that things usually take longer than we imagine, and if we don’t see much happening, we can get discouraged or distracted by other things.

So, what’s the best approach?

Sometimes, you should run, sometimes you should walk, and sometimes, you should do both. Run like crazy to get things going and then pace yourself.

And if you’re not sure, tiptoe and see if you want to continue.

How do you decide? Consider how much you know about the subject, what resources you have available, and how much else you have on your plate.

But that’s only part of it.

The biggest factor is how you feel about the project.

Is it something you’re excited about? Can’t stop thinking about? Is it keeping you up at night or is it something that sounds good but you’re still not sure?

Trust your gut, my friend. It got you this far and it can take you the rest of the way.

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Forget about it

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Contrary to popular advice, you don’t need to write down all of your ideas. In fact, it might be better if you don’t.

David Allen says, “Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.” He says we should record our ideas in a “trusted system” so we don’t use conscious energy thinking about them, but we won’t “forget” them.

And we all do that, don’t we?

But there’s an argument that says we’re wasting our time.

The theory is, if you can’t remember an idea, it’s not the right idea for you. So instead of writing down your idea, forget about it. Turn it over to God or the universe or your subconscious mind.

If you never recall the idea, it probably wasn’t worth the grey matter it was written on.

The best ideas either stick with you or come back to you. In fact, when an idea is right, and the timing is right, you won’t be able to stop thinking about it.

As Victor Hugo put it, “Nothing else in the world… not all the armies… is so powerful as an idea whose time has come.”

Besides, when was the last time you checked your repository of ideas and actually used one?

It happens. But the best ideas don’t need you to find them, they find you.

You know that idea you can’t stop thinking about? Oh, you might get busy for a while and think about other things, but then suddenly, you remember it—and get excited.

Yeah, that idea. That’s the one you should run with.

Ideas come and go. But some ideas hang on. Your job is to listen. And when you can’t let go of an idea, wrap your arms around it and hold it close.

Until then, forget about it.

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Thinking is working

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Writers say this a lot because they think a lot. They think about what they’re working on and how to improve it and they think about new ideas they might want to use. This is their process.

So when someone accuses them of goofing off, they might take offense. They know they are working—because they’re always working, even if they’re not putting more words on the page.

Hey lawyers, why can’t we do the same? Thinking is part of our process, too.

We don’t have to always do things people recognize as productive. We don’t have to get off our duff and call someone, write something, or review something.

We can stay on our duffs and think.

We can go for a walk or a drive, take a long bath, meditate, listen to music, or go outside and get some sun on our face, and let our brain do its thing.

No guilt. No justifying. No agenda. Just thinking.

Because thinking is working.

One suggestion, though. Make sure you have something with you to record your thoughts. You’ll want to see them again, to see what you thought and note what you thought about what you thought.

Throughout his life, Jim Rohn kept a journal. He said it wasn’t a diary, just “a place to record ideas”.

If you’ve ever had trouble keeping a journal, maybe you were asking too much of it. Maybe it would be easier and more valuable to you if you thought of it as simply a place to record ideas.

Because we both know you have a lot of them.

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No time for marketing

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Lawyers often ask, “How do I find time to build my practice?“

Sorry, there’s no such thing as ‘finding time’. Time isn’t found or made, it just is. The question is, how will you use the time you have?

And the answer to that depends on what’s important to you.

If building your practice is important, you’ll do it. If it’s not, you won’t.

It comes down to self-respect. Believing you deserve to be successful and that you have what it takes to do that.

But I’m not telling you to do anything you don’t want to do. That’s no way to live. You can’t do things you hate and expect to succeed (or be happy). Not long term, anyway.

If you don’t like marketing and aren’t allocating time to do it (but still want to build your practice), you have two choices:

You can find one marketing strategy you enjoy and do that. Do it enough, and that may be all you need.

Or you can find a marketing strategy you don’t hate and look for ways to make it more enjoyable.

Example? Suppose you are a decent speaker or presenter. You don’t love it or hate it, but you know you don’t want to set up a YouTube channel and record videos because you don’t want to appear on camera.

You can record “voice only” videos and post those. Or do a podcast. Or have your presentations transcribed and post the text on a blog. Or do webinars. Or do in-person seminars. Or speak at business luncheons. Or do CLE.

And. . .

Since time is money, money is also time. Which means there’s another question you might ask: “Where do I find the money for marketing?”

Of course you don’t “find” money any more than you find time. You have money. Decide to invest some of it to build your practice.

If that’s important to you.

Finally, if you can’t find anything you enjoy and don’t want to write checks, you have two more options:

You can get a partner who’s good at marketing. You do what you’re good at; they bring in the clients. (I have a friend who did this and their practice is thriving).

Or you can get a job that doesn’t require any marketing. But then you’d need to market yourself to get it.

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When good advice is bad advice

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You get a lot of advice from people you know—friends, colleagues, family. And advice from people you don’t know via books and articles, newsletters and blogs.

You might also get advice from people you hire to provide it—consultants, coaches, and therapists.

But is all this advice good advice? Should you follow it?

It depends.

What might be good advice for one person might not be good for you. What might have been good advice at one time in your life might be irrelevant or harmful today.

As a new lawyer, hungry for clients, I was advised to do appearances and seek overflow work from other attorneys. I was told to network and hustle and do whatever I could do to get some business coming in, and to take “anything,“ so” I could get some experience and pay my bills.

“Beggars can’t be choosers,“ I was told.

And that was the right advice for me at that time. As my experience grew and I had more clients, I could afford to be more selective and I said “no” to a lot of things—cases and clients and marketing strategies that were no longer a good fit.

As business coach Ian Stanley, put it, “Becoming successful is about saying ‘yes’. Staying successful is about saying ‘no’.”

When you hear advice about how to build your practice, from me or anyone, you must put that advice in context.

Where are you in your career? What’s right for you, and what isn’t?

The same goes for opportunities—to invest, open another office, take on a partner, or anything else. Even good opportunities can become a distraction.

Take my advice on this subject. But only if it works for you.

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You need all 3

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You’ve got a new case, project, business, or idea and you want it to be successful.

You create a plan—what you want to accomplish, the resources you’ll need, research to do, the first step and the steps after that. Your plan might be a simple list of tasks or ideas, but but the process of thinking it through and writing it down helps you clarify what you want and what you need to do to get it.

“Doing” is obviously the most important part. The actions you take and how well you do them are the mechanism that delivers your results.

Most of us do the first two well enough. We plan and we do. Where most people drop the ball, myself included, is with what we do after that.

Once we have some results, we need to review what happened.

Reviewing means:

  • Noting the size and scope of the outcome. How many leads or subscribers, how many new clients, how much revenue? Did you hit the goal? Make a profit? Get what you expected?
  • Thinking about the process. What did you do well, what could you have done better, what will you change?
  • (Optional): Getting feedback from others. Talk to your client, staff, partners, and other stakeholders. What do they think about the process and the results? What suggestions do they have for the future?
  • Using what you’ve learned to create a better plan or decide to kill the idea and try something else.

The review process might only take a few minutes, but it’s key to achieving sustained growth.

Plan, do, review. You need all 3.

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Success inside your comfort zone

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It is often said that success lies outside our comfort zone. When we try new things, we’re often scared, we risk failure and embarrassment, but that’s how we grow.

Inside our comfort zone, it is safe but little changes.

We’ve all heard this, and said it to others, but it it true?

In high school, a friend suggested we go ice skating. He was a good skater but I’d never done it and was afraid I’d get hurt or look like a fool, but I agreed to go. I fell a lot but eventually did okay, and I had a lot of fun.

Score one for trying new things.

Of course, it doesn’t always work that way. We often try new things, hate them, and never do them again.

That’s also part of the process.

You date a lot of people until you find “the one”. You change your major, your employer, even your career, until you find something that feels right.

That’s your comfort zone. And that’s where you build long-term success.

Inside your comfort zone, things are familiar. You do them over and over again and get good at them. Over time, you build a successful career, a successful marriage, a successful life.

Success lies inside your comfort zone, but you need to get outside it from time to time to explore.

Try things that make you uncomfortable. Seek new adventures and challenges. You’ll learn a lot about a lot of things, but most of all about yourself.

When you do, come back to your comfort zone with the knowledge and experience you’ve gained, use it if you want to, or forget about it and try something else.

You say you don’t like a certain marketing strategy you have never tried? I’m your friend inviting you to try it and see.

You might fall a lot and look foolish. But you’ll learn something about yourself.

You might also have a lot of fun.

The Attorney Marketing Formula

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Just make sure you copy the right cat

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“Don’t be a copycat,” our parents told us. But we didn’t listen, did we? We copied our friends, our siblings, our parents and teachers, and people we saw on TV.

If someone did something we thought was cool, we wanted to do it. If they didn’t die riding their bike down that steep hill that scared the beans out of us, we knew we wouldn’t die either.

I’m still here, aren’t I?

We wanted to be like others. Do what they do. So we copied them.

And we still do that today.

There’s nothing wrong with that. We learn by copying. Seeing what others do, how they do it, and how it turns out.

I did it again the other day.

I watched a video about GTD and the narrator said he does his daily planning every afternoon at 4 pm. He has a ten-minute appointment with himself posted on his calendar. I’ve always done my planning at the end of my workday, whenever that might occur, but hearing how this guy does it, I had to try it.

So now, don’t try to contact me at 4 pm. I’m busy.

He mentioned something else I liked. He schedules his weekly review on Fridays at 3 pm.

Why not, I thought?

I’ve been experimenting with different days for my weekly review. For a long time, it was every Sunday morning. I recently tried Saturday, but something about doing it Friday to close out the week (and keep my weekends open) appealed to me, so I’m doing that now.

It’s okay to be a copycat. But don’t copy blindly. Do what makes sense to you and for you.

If you hear about a lawyer who built his practice by sending unsolicited email and cold calling 12 hours a day, that’s one cat I wouldn’t copy.

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Why attorneys fail at marketing

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Compared to everything else attorneys do, marketing is easy.

So why do so many attorneys mess it up?

It’s not because they lack smarts, charisma, or resources. It’s because they don’t do enough of it.

They write an article or two and then nothing for months. They meet a few people but never follow up. They get invited to do a presentation or interview, but don’t seek feedback (or listen to it) and don’t get invited back.

So they get disappointing results and conclude that “it” doesn’t work.

End of story.

The secret to success in marketing legal services is that there is no secret. As with any skill, you have to keep at it. Do it over and over again until you get good enough to see some meaningful results.

Your first effort might be crap. Do it again and you’ll get better. Keep doing it and eventually, you’ll get pretty good.

Simple. So why don’t they do it?

They might tell you it’s because they don’t have the time, but we all know that’s not true. I ask them, “If you knew for certain that you could triple your income in the next 12 months, would you find the time?“

They might tell you “it” won’t work for their practice area or market, or it might have worked in the past, but it doesn’t work anymore—but that’s not true, either.

If they’re honest, they’ll admit that they don’t keep at it because they don’t want to. They don’t like it, shouldn’t have to do it, feel it is beneath them.

But that’s their ego talking. They should tell their ego to shut up.

The attorneys who get good results from marketing don’t let their ego get in their way. They aren’t smarter, more skillful, or harder working than other attorneys.

They just kept at it.

End of story.

Marketing legal services made simple

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