Yesterday is a canceled check

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We’ve all been told it’s important to plan our week and month and year. Maybe our quarter, too.

The problems is, we don’t live our lives weekly or monthly, we live them one day at a time.

Author Kay Lyons Stockham said, “Yesterday is a canceled check; tomorrow is a promissory note; today is the only cash you have – so spend it wisely.”

Planning your day is simple. Think about your goals and plan activities that move you closer to those goals.

If one of your goals is to increase your income, your plan for the day should include income producing activities.

If you want to grow your network, connect with one new contact every day.

If you want to get more repeat business and referrals, call or email or message three current or former clients each day.

If you want to get more traffic to your blog, write or edit or share new content every day.

Pick a goal you want to accomplish, then break it down into daily activities.

Because how you live your day is how you live your life.

This will help you plan your marketing

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File this for later

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Work may be slow right now but the day will come when you’ve got too much to handle and you’ll want to get some help. When you do, this might come in handy.

It’s about delegation.

I know, you have a love/hate relationship with the concept.

You love that it can free up your time to do your most important work and that you can make money on the difference between what you pay an employee or outside contractor and the fees you receive from the client.

You hate dealing with people who are slow or who make mistakes, and the time and money you have to spend to supervise them and to fix their messes.

But you’re smart, and realize that while you may be able to do things better yourself, you’ll never get rich if you do it all yourself.

Anyway, when you’re ready to take the plunge (again), take a deep breath, say to yourself, “This is a good thing,” and keep these 5 tips handy:

  1. Choose the right person for the job. Make sure the OP has the necessary skills or is capable of learning them under your tutelage. (Yes, easier said than done but it has to be done.)
  2. Provide complete instructions. Assume nothing, tell them everything. Give them step-by-step instructions and examples of what you’re looking for; record videos to show them the process.
  3. Define success. Tell them the outcomes you expect from them once the task is completed. Give them numbers to hit, results you want to see, and deadlines for getting it done.
  4. Have them explain it to you. Once you’ve given them instructions, ask them to tell you if anything is unclear and then have them explain to you what they understand you want them to do.
  5. Schedule check-ins. Don’t wait until they’re finished, do a daily or weekly or other regular check-in, to evaluate their progress, answer questions, provide supplemental information, and make sure they’re on course.

A few bonus tips.

  1. Don’t go cheap. It winds up costing you more in the end.
  2. Start with admin work. Get to know the new hire, see how they do, before giving them anything mission-critical.
  3. Notify your E and O carrier. Because stuff happens.

Okay, one more.

If you want to earn a lot more and work a lot less, follow Master Cylinder’s (that’s me) rule: “Delegate everything, except those things that ONLY you can do.”

Get a marketing assistant and teach them this

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Decisions, decisions

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In running a practice or business, building a career and a life, we are continually called on to make decisions. 

Some decisions we make on autopilot. We’ve already worked out what we’ll do if X happens, so when it happens, we don’t think, we execute.

Other decisions come at us as first impressions. They may require research, the counsel of others, and copious amounts of ‘sleeping on it’. 

Ultimately, the direction and altitude of your career may come down to a handful of key decisions, and no more. Because most decisions, like most variables, don’t make a big difference.

In 80/20 parlance, they are the ‘trivial many’, as opposed to the ‘precious few’. 

The precious few are game changers. The ones that can quadruple your income, which is what happened to me early in my career when I decided to specialize and learn everything I could about marketing. 

The precious few can make a big difference in your revenue, your success and happiness. 

The rest will be forgotten by next quarter. 

One entrepreneur says that when he has a decision to make, the first question he asks himself is, “Is this big enough to matter?”

If the answer is no, make a quick decision (or no decision) and let it go. Spend your time focusing on big decisions. 

But remember, everything is relative.

For some of us, hiring a new employee, changing billing software, or moving to a new office are big decisions. For others, not so much. 

And yet, seemingly small changes can lead to big results. If done right, adding a call-to-action to your emails can be a game changer, for example. 

Making decisions is one of the most important aspects of building a successful life; it’s also one of the most difficult. 

My advice? Do yourself a favor and don’t make so many. Save your brainpower for decisions that are big enough to matter.

Get more referrals from other lawyers

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The market’s the thing

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In marketing, the single most important factor in your success is your market. Who you target is far more important than what you say or what you offer.

Your marketing may be brilliant. You may spend a small fortune delivering your message. But unless it’s a good market (for you), you’ll never earn more than an average income.

Here’s a good formula to remember:

Great market + average marketing = big checks.
Average market + great marketing = average checks.

So, what’s a great market?

It is a market (list, group of people, etc.) that

  1. Needs and WANTS the outcomes and benefits you can deliver,
  2. Has lots of repeat business and/or referrals,
  3. Has the ability and willingness to pay what you ask, and
  4. Is a great fit for you.

What is a great fit? Mostly that you like the people and the work. You enjoy working with these folks.

When you find a great market (for you), everything else falls into place.

Your marketing is easier; almost unnecessary. You get most of your work from referrals and don’t need to do much else.

If that sounds good to you, go find the right market and fall in love with it. Learn everything you can about the market and the people in it, get to know some of the key people, and enjoy the rest of your career.

This will help

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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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Your post-pandemic plan

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Soon. That’s when the world will return to a semblance of order. The fear and restrictions holding us hostage will subside, the economy will recover, and we will carry on.

But there will be changes.

Changes to what we do and how we do them. So, I suggest the need for a plan.

To create your plan, start by asking yourself a series of questions, to help you think about what you need to do.

Some questions to help you get started:

Your office and staff

  • What do you need to do to make the office germ-free and help clients and staff feel safe? What procedures will you follow? What supplies will you keep in stock?
  • Will you let (require) any employees to continue working from home? How will you equip them? How will you supervise them?
  • What will you do to accommodate clients who still aren’t comfortable coming to your office?
  • What will you do to bring on new employees, or let go of existing ones? What will you outsource?
  • Will you change any of your billing and collection practices?
  • What expenses will you cut?
  • What changes to your office/employee manual will you make?

Your marketing

  • How will you lesson dependence on face-to-face meetings?
  • What changes will you make to your warm market marketing systems (Newsletter, client appreciation, referrals, etc.)?
  • What changes will you make to your cold market marketing efforts (advertising, social media, websites, networking, speaking, etc.)?
  • What changes to your marketing budget do you need to consider?
  • Which practice areas do you want to ramp up? What new practice areas will you add? Which practice areas will you curtail or phase out?
  • Will you run any kind of promotions to celebrate the re-opening of your office?

You should also ask questions and create a plan for your personal life.

As you consider your options, you should also consider that the world, and your practice, won’t return to business as usual overnight. It will likely be many months before we’re fully up to speed and there will no doubt be permanent changes.

So, be prepared to regularly update your plan with new questions and new answers.

Whatever you do, don’t fret about anything. Yes, the world has changed but the fundamentals have not.

And good things are on the horizon.

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Why the majority is always wrong

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In a well-delivered TED Talk about high performance, Paul Rulkens points out that only 3% of the population achieves extraordinary results and that the common denominator among them is that they eschew industry standards.

High achievers don’t do what everyone else does. They do something different.

The majority conform to industry standards and customs and consequently achieve average results. That’s why, when it comes to high performance, the majority is always wrong.

The speaker pointed at two companies that made their bones by going their own way. IKEA went against tradition by asking customers to assemble their own furniture. Dell built their brand without opening a single retail store.

How about the legal field?

Think of the lawyers you know or have read about who are at the top of their field. The odds are there is something about them that’s different.

It may be their personality or remarkable trial skills and record. They may have notable clients or a track record in a certain niche. They may have taken on controversial clients or cases or championed a notorious cause.

Yes, they may have had the right connections or stumbled into a bit of luck, but you can bet they parlayed their luck into even bigger success.

As the presenter pointed out, great achievers think out of their industry’s box, while the majority run their lives on auto pilot.

If you want to be among the 3% and leave the majority behind, one place to start is by looking at how your competition does (or doesn’t do) their marketing and make that your point of differentiation.

One idea, one campaign, can make all the difference.

To learn how to do that, head on over here

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Overwhelmed?

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I’m not talking about the recent news, I’m talking about your practice.

Too much work to do, too much to read, too many projects in your pipeline that never get off the ground.

Every day, you get 50 emails about marketing and managing your practice, on top of emails relating to client work and emails from someone trying to sell you something.

You don’t want to miss something important. But sorting the wheat from the chaff takes mental energy. . . and time.

I get it. It’s daunting.

But you’re running a business with a lot of moving parts, people, and important issues, and details matter. So, in addition to the work, you have to stay on top of everything else.

Sometimes, a lot gets pushed to the side, or to the future. Sometimes, the work doesn’t get done on time. Sometimes, you finish the day exhausted.

And the emails continues to pile up.

Here’s the thing.

The lawyers who earn top dollar have as much work as you do and get just as much email as you do, but they don’t get overwhelmed.

Because they work LESS than most lawyers.

They’re able to do that because they’ve set up their practice so they only focus on the most important tasks.

The tasks that move the needle.

The tasks that bring in more clients and better clients and let them continually grow their income.

If you’d like to find out how to do it

Go here

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What are you excited about?

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If your practice in a rut, the thrill is gone and you’re wondering if that’s all there is, there is a solution.

Find something to get excited about.

  • A new practice area
  • A new office
  • A new slant on your existing service
  • A new niche market
  • A new productivity system
  • A new strategic alliance
  • A new website, presentation, or podcast
  • A new book or course
  • A new client who knows “everyone”

Something that keeps you up at night thinking about. Something that makes you smile when you remember it during the day.

Kinda like when you started your practice and everything was new and you were filled with enthusiasm and ideas and unlimited energy.

Because getting excited invigorates you, fuels your creativity, and helps you step on the accelerator.

Funny thing, what you get excited about doesn’t have to be related to your practice.

If you have identified a new investment with tremendous promise, if you meet a new person who could be “the one,” if you’re excited about (finally) getting in shape, if you have a new side hustle. . .

It could ignite a fire in you that spreads to other parts of your life.

Find something to get excited about, or reconnect with the motivation and energy you had when you started your practice.

When you do, you’ll be able to kiss the rut goodbye.

How to take a quantum leap in your practice

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Are you a perfectionist?

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Many lawyers are obsessed with getting the details right. So are many artists and creative people and business leaders.

Perfectionists often create superior results, but their obsession with making things “perfect” often causes them to procrastinate.

Maybe you can relate.

How do you do good work and get better results without getting ensnared in the net of perfectionism?

The answer isn’t to fight your natural tendency, it is to re-focus it.

Instead of obsessing over every detail, train yourself to obsess about the details that matter.

The things that deliver the biggest return on your investment.

The 20% that delivers 80% of your results.

In your writing, that means giving extra attention to your headlines and email subject lines. They do the heavy lifting by getting more people to read what you wrote.

In a negotiation or a closing argument, you don’t have to win ever point or collect every dollar, as long as you’re getting enough to be able to call it a win.

In your marketing campaigns, you don’t have to attract everyone with a problem you can solve, as long as you’re attracting a preponderance of your ideal clients.

There will always be room to improve, but if you’re getting good results, let go of the things that aren’t important (or delegate them) so you can focus on what’s important and what you do best.

You don’t have to be good all marketing if you’re good at getting referrals

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