Drivers, start your engines

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I’m planning a new course. Writing notes,  clipping articles, jotting down a list of questions that need to be answered.

It looks good.

But what I’ve envisioned looks like it’s going to take months to complete and I don’t want that. I want to get this out into the world in a few weeks. 

Over the weekend, I watched a video by a prolific course creator who explained how he produces a two-hour course in six to eight hours. 

Yeah, that’s for me. 

To have a shot at doing this will require me to reduce the scope of the project I had originally planned. I’m okay with that because a finished project is always better than one that never sees the light of day, and I want to get this done. 

So, we’ll see. 

Which leads me to today’s sermon, which shall commence with a question:

Are you spending too much time learning about marketing?

Learning, planning, practicing, are all good. But the only thing that brings home the bacon is the doing. 

If you want to grow your practice (and your income), spend less time learning (researching, planning, thinking, etc.) and more time doing.

You don’t need to know everything. You need to move.

Even with the time lost from mistakes and detours factored in, you’ll be further along in your journey if you start the engine and step on the gas.

All the planning you need is here 


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Don’t make things harder than they need to be

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The new year is here and you’ve got some heap big goals. This is the year you’re going to tackle that thing, reach the new level, or (finally) stick with your resolution. 

No more delays, no more excuses, no more failures. 

THIS. IS. IT. 

Okay, I hear you. But before you get started, I have a suggestion. 

Give yourself a break. 

Cut yourself some slack for what you haven’t done. Let go of the crushing pressure to perform. Relax, detach, and let things happen naturally, easily, the way things are supposed to happen. 

Because if you don’t, you might be setting yourself for more disappointment. 

Learn that new skill because you are drawn to it, not just because it’s on your list. Start exercising because you want to feel better, not because you’ve promised yourself you’ll lose a specific number of pounds by a specific date. 

You don’t need to work out everything in advance. You don’t need a better process or a new tool. You need to know what you want and why, and you need to know the first step. 

That’s enough planning. Let go of the rest and take that first step. 

Let your life flow. Let it be effortless. Don’t fret over the missteps, delays, or problems. Don’t think so much or worry so much. 

Just take the next step.

Next step, read this

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Why is this night different from other nights?

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And by “night” I mean year. Why will the upcoming year be different from the current one?

Look at your list. What important goal or project did you fail to accomplish this year?

Assuming you still want to achieve that goal, what will you do differently next year?

You can’t do the same things the same way. You can’t just work harder. You have to change your methods or approach.

Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting a different result.

So, what will it be?

If you never started the project, why not? What got in the way? What will you do differently to ensure that you take the first step?

If you ran out of ideas, money, or time, what will you do to make sure that doesn’t happen again?

If you gave the project your best effort but it wasn’t enough, what will you do to improve your skills, resources, or process?

Think.

You need a new plan.

Don’t take action until you know why next year will be different.

This will help you create a new plan

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How old farts get more done

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I read about a study that says people over 40 are most productive when they work three days a week or less.

Great. Where do I sign up?

Actually, I signed up a long time ago when I was still in my twenties. Cutting my work week to three days (from a less-productive, stress-filled six-day schedule) allowed me to multiply my income and start enjoying life.

So, even though I haven’t always worked only three days a week, this idea gets a thumbs up from me.

The question is, what are you going to do with this piece of information?

If you aren’t self-employed and you want to give it a whirl, you’re going to have to negotiate with your employer. See if you can work out a way that you get paid for your output instead of your time.

When I started paying my staff a salary instead of by the hour, I told them I didn’t care how many hours they worked as long as they got their work done.

They did and we were both happier.

If you’re self-employed and you want to cut your hours, sit down and have a talk with yourself. See if you can work something out.

What if you bill by the hour?

Stop doing that.

Try flat fees or package your services in a way that you can get paid no matter how many hours the job takes you.

You’ll work less and earn more. And you and your clients will be happier.

Even if you’re still in your twenties.

Get the check: stress-free billing and collection

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How Ebeneezer Scrooge got rich

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One thing that distinguishes successful (accomplished, wealthy) people from the rest of the folks is how much they value their time. 

Because of this, they say “no” more than they say “yes”. 

They say no to requests for their time or money that don’t align with their mission, values, or plans. They say no to low priority projects. They say no to things that waste their time or that they don’t enjoy. 

Which lets them focus on important things, which is how they get rich.  

If you want to follow suit, you must commit to saying “no” more often. 

On the other hand, Mr. Scrooge was a miserable old coot. He might not have realized this until he saw depictions of the harm he had done and the bleak future that awaited him, but once his eyes were opened, he redeemed himself and was happier for it. 

His dream provided context and allowed him to realize what was truly important.  

Say no more often, say no to most things, so you can say yes to important things. Just make sure you know what’s really important. 

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Start before you’re ready

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Endless research. Planning. Preparation. Waiting for inspiration, the killer idea, the right timing.

Enough. It’s time to do something. It’s the quickest way to find out if your idea is any good, the best way to gain feedback so you can improve it.

John Goreman said, “Success isn’t about knowing more, it’s about acting on imperfect information.”

I know, you’re afraid of failure. Wasting time, losing money, embarrassing yourself. You want to do this right, or not at all.

Hey, I go through this with just about every project. My left brain keeps reminding me of all the things that can go wrong.

I put the doubts and fears in a lockbox and get on with it.

If you don’t do that, you never find out how far you could go.

So enough with the planning. Do something. And give yourself permission to create dreck.

One thing I’ve learned: dreck can be fixed.

You can take something that’s terrible and improve it. You can even make it great. But you can’t fix something you never start.

Another thing I’ve learned is that things have a way of turning out okay. They’re usually not as bad as you feared, in fact, they’re often damn good.

Look at all of things you’ve done in your life, all the completed projects, milestones, and accomplishments.

You’ve got some, right?

You can get more.

My advice: Look at your list of ideas. Take the one that scares you most, the one that looks too big, too risky, or too expensive, and put it at the top of your list.

It’s probably the one you should start next.

Notice I said “start,” I didn’t say “do” or “complete” or “launch”.

I said start.

Take the first step and see where it takes you. If you like what you see, take another step.

One foot in front of the other until you get where you want to go.

If you get lost, you can do more research. And start again.

If getting more clients is on your list, here’s where to start

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Be happy. Get rich. Part deux.

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Last month, I shared a quote from Albert Schweitzer, who said: “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”

“Actually, science says he’s right,” I said. “By mapping the brain to identify dopamine production they found that pleasure results in greater productivity.

I reasoned that, “When you feel good about what you’re doing, you give it more energy. You work harder and get better results.”

How it works might be open to debate. But I’m convinced that it works.

Another attorney who would tell you the same is my friend, Steve Emmert, who shared something I’d like to pass along to you:

Thanks for this note, my brother. It reminded me of something I reasoned out many years ago, before I decided to specialize in what I love doing.

I perceive that there are four kinds of jobs. Type A is one that pays you well, and you love doing it. That’s ideal. Type B makes you happy even though you aren’t getting rich. Type C doesn’t make you happy, but it makes you plenty of income. And Type D makes you neither happy nor wealthy, but it’s the best job you can get.

Many years ago – you know the story, because you told it – I knew I wasn’t happy in what I was doing. A quick check of my bank balance told me that I wasn’t starving, but I was nowhere near rich. That meant that, by default, I had a Type D job. I decided to transition to Type B, and spent plenty of time planning, then building, and then growing it. Guess what? I missed my target. I wound with a Type A career, by accident. Who knew? I mean besides Albert Schweitzer.

When he said I told his story, he was referring to the book I published based on the interview we did, wherein he shared many other pearls of marketing and practice-building wisdom.

It’s a good read, no matter what your practice area. It might be just what you need to create a Type A practice.

Read it free on Kindle Unlimited

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The thrill is gone. Here’s how to get it back

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Remember what it was like when you started practicing? Everything was new and exciting. Every day brought new challenges and opportunities.

Now? Not so much.

You’re doing okay. You know what you’re doing and you are comfortable doing it. But you’re a bit bored, the practice isn’t growing, or something feels off.

You want that spark again. You wan’t to grow but you can’t find the energy or the ideas.

Maybe I can help.

See, that excitement you felt when everything was new was primarily based on fear. And that doesn’t exist anymore. If you want to breathe new life into your practice, you need to get back to where you were when you were new.

When you didn’t know if you were going to make it. When you weren’t sure if you knew enough or were good enough or could bring in business fast enough.

When you were worried about losing everything.

Yeah, that kind of fear.

Offered for your consideration. . .

  1. Go buy some advertising. Spend more than you think you should. If you’ve never advertised before, this should put a shiver in yer timbers. If you’re a seasoned advertiser, change your messaging. Go with something daring, something that makes you swallow hard thinking about what people might say.
  2. If you can’t advertise, spend a bunch of money and hire an in-house marketing person or an outside consultant. Someone who will shake things up and force you to get out of your comfort zone.
  3. Another option: offer a new service. Either your own or partner up with another attorney and offer their services to your clients.

Something new. With an element of risk. That’s what you need to reanimate your slumbering practice.

Okay, one more: run for office.

Throw your hat in the ring. Get behind a microphone and say something half-way intelligent or completely unintelligent, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you get to meet some new people and take the chance of embarrassing yourself.

That’s what I thought. That advertising thing is starting to look good, isn‘t it?

This will help you come up with a plan

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A law practice is like a jigsaw puzzle with no picture on it

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I saw a jigsaw puzzle once that had no picture on it. Just plain white pieces. It’s harder to assemble because there is no frame of reference, no clues about what goes where.

You can’t line up the man’s nose with his eyes and mouth or the windmill in front of the mountain.

A puzzle without a picture is more difficult to assemble but you can assemble it because you know there is a solution. You know the pieces fit together so you keep going until you figure it out.

Can’t say the same about a law practice.

What does a successful law practice look like? There is no picture. You don’t even know if there is a solution.

That’s why one of the smartest things you can do to build your practice is to find other lawyers who have done what you want to do and model them.

Associate with successful lawyers in your field, watch them, learn from them, emulate them.

Do what they did and you can get what they got. Or pretty close, especially if they are willing to help you.

Jim Rohn said, “If you want to be successful, study success.”

No, there is no cookie cutter. A law practice isn’t a franchise. There is no operation manual to follow.

But if they did it, you can do it. And, like assembling a puzzle, knowing there is a solution makes it more likely that you’ll find it.

Marketing legal services: The Formula

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What’s the big idea?

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Think big. Act small. That’s the ticket to success.

Thinking big means setting big goals and finding big ideas to achieve them.

If you want to triple your income in the next 12-18 months, you can’t rely on small ideas to help you get there. You need big, hairy, audacious ideas. Things you’ve never done before.  Things that simultaneously excite you and scare the hell out of you.

Here’s a test to see if you have a good candidate: when you share your idea with someone who cares about you, they either laugh at it or try to talk you out of it. Or both.

(They do this because (a) they don’t want to see you get hurt, or, (b) they don’t want to see you succeed, because your success diminishes them.)

Big goal. Check. Big idea. Check. Now what?

Now you execute. You do the little tasks that advance your idea and move you towards your goal.

We live our lives minute to minute, day to day. The little things we do each minute create momentum towards our goals. It’s the only way we can get there.

You can’t triple your income in the next few minutes but you can do something that moves you forward.

Think big, act small. That’s how you get where you want to go.

What’s your big goal? What’s your big idea? What will you do in the next two minutes?

You can triple your income by bringing in more referrals

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