MVTs vs. MITs


You can do anything, but you can’t do everything. Or so we’re told.

We’re also told we should prioritize our day by importance, meaning tasks that contribute to meeting our responsibilities and achieving our goals.

Which is why we’re advised to put our MITs (Most Important Tasks) at the top of our list.

Generally, I agree with this and prioritize that way. But I just heard about a slightly different method.

Prioritize by value instead of importance. Put our MVTs (Most Valuable Tasks) at the top of our list instead of our MITs.

What’s the difference?

Our most important tasks are often determined by urgency—deadlines, due dates, promises we made—and focus on the short-term. They solve an immediate problem or meet an immediate desire.

These are clearly important. And valuable. But they don’t necessarily deliver the most value.

What does?

Spending time with loved ones, taking care of our mind and body, our faith, our friendships, and other things that give us joy.

Building our reputation and career. Building relationships with clients and professional contacts.

Long-term, at least, these are more valuable than the boxes we tick off day to day.

We need to prioritize and make time for them.

Tomorrow, when you prioritize your list for the day, prioritize your MITs, but not at the expense of your MVTs.


Ask this question before you decide


You’re thinking about doing something for your practice. Something that will take time and resources away from something else. You see the benefits of starting a blog or newsletter, for example, but you’re not sure if you want to commit to it.

But it could be anything. Hiring a new clerk, using a new app, moving your office, offering a new service, or reducing your work hours.

Whatever it is, before you decide, ask yourself, What’s the hidden benefit?

You know the primary benefit. If you start a blog or newsletter, you’ll be able to bring in more clients. The hidden benefit is that it will make you a better writer, and a faster writer, which can help you in all aspects of your marketing and legal work.

Maybe you’re thinking about recording a podcast or videos. The benefit is that you will be able to connect with your audience more deeply because they’re not just hearing your words, they’re hearing your voice.

The hidden benefit is that you will improve your oral presentation skills, making you better from the stage, in interviews, and in the courtroom.

Another example.

You’re thinking about rejecting a small case. The benefit is that you won’t have to invest valuable time doing something with a small payoff.

The hidden benefit might be that you will learn about a new industry or market, or meet other professionals in that market, leading to a lot of bigger cases and clients.

Okay, one more.

You’re thinking about sharing my website and newsletter with other lawyers. The benefit is that you’ll strengthen your relationship with them, making them more likely to share marketing ideas with you and possibly willing to send you more referrals.

The hidden benefit is that by helping them learn how to get more clients, they will have more clients they can refer.

Before you decide to do something, or not do it, always ask, “What’s the hidden benefit?”

Because the hidden benefit might turn a no into a yes or a someday into today.

How to use a newsletter to build your practice


You are amazing


You’re having a bad day (or week). You don’t want to listen to one more problem or complaint from a client who doesn’t appreciate all you do for them.

Yeah, it goes with the job, but sometimes. . .

And then, you get an email from a client thanking you and praising you. Or you get a review that tells the world how great you are. Or a client fills out your survey and gives you top marks and smiley faces in all categories.

It makes your day. And reminds you why you do what you do.

We all get these. Letters from clients, from business contacts thanking us for a referral, from meeting holders and bloggers thanking us for our great presentation, interview, or article.

Save these. Put them in a file or add a tag or label so you can quickly find them.

Don’t forget the kind words you receive in person or over the phone. You might get one today. When you do, send yourself an email, recount what they said, and add it to your file.

Call it your “praise” folder or “kudos” file. And when you’re having a bad day, think nobody cares, or start questioning your choice of career, re-read some of these letters and feel better.

You are appreciated. People do recognize your abilities and hard work. You have proof.

And, if you want to, you can use some of that proof in your marketing.

Testimonials and positive reviews aren’t just good for what ails ya. They’re also good for prospective clients who want to know if you’re good at your job.

Good? You’re amazing. And you can prove it.


Are you sitting on a nail?


There’s a dog on the porch and he’s sitting on a nail. It’s painful, but he doesn’t move. He likes his spot on the porch and the pain isn’t that bad. It’s more annoying than anything else. And he’s used to it. And thinks it’s too much effort to get up and find another spot.

So he stays put.

Old joke but reality for many people.

Sometimes, there’s something going on in our life that’s painful, but not painful enough to do anything about it.

I’ve been there. I’m sure you have, too. You might be their right now. A problem, a situation, an unfulfilled dream. We might not like our current situation, but we put up with it because it’s not that bad.

And we don’t. Until we’re in enough pain.

One day, we wake up and admit to ourselves that this can’t continue. We’re fed up and finally going to do something.

That day even has a name. It’s called our “day of disgust.”

I had that day a long time ago, early in my practice. I was in pain, unhappy with my situation, and myself, disgusted actually, and that disgust lit a fuse under me and I finally took action.

Don’t fear a day of disgust. Welcome it. It’s a day of clarity and a day of change. The first step towards a better future.

You might wake up and say to yourself, “I’m mad as hell and not going to take it anymore”. And you don’t.

Unfortunately, for many people, things have to get worse before they have their day of disgust. A lot worse. They have a nail in their butt, but it’s not that bad.

But nobody has to wait until things get worse. They can decide to change any day of the week.

If things aren’t where you want them right now, why not make today that day?


Would you like some paper to go with that pen?


You have something you want but you’re not doing anything to get it.

You’re not ready. You’re busy with other things. You need to do more research.

Maybe someday. . .

Or maybe right now.

If you have a goal or a dream or something you want, don’t wait until everything is just right. Do something. Take the first step.

Even if it’s tiny.

I’ll tell you why.

Yes, clearly you can’t accomplish a goal without taking the first step, but why now? Why take action before you’re ready?

Because when you do, your brain sees that “this” is something you want and goes to work to help you get it.

It gives you ideas and methods and tells you things you need to know.

Your brain sees that you did something, believes you want something, and helps you take the next step to get it.

It works like Amazon does when you buy something. It might only be a pen, but the algorithm sees this and starts sending you ads for paper.

Your subconscious mind does the same thing, but is much more powerful because it knows everything about you, not just what you recently bought (or put in your cart).

What’s your goal? What do you want to do ‘someday’?

Ask your brain to help you get it by taking that first tiny step.


Monomaniac on a mission


I have a friend, a successful businessperson, who describes himself as a ‘monomaniac on a mission’. He’s focused and passionate and lets nothing distract him from his goals.

Many people say something similar, but he actually does it.

He does it by eliminating most things that aren’t ‘it’.

Other businesses, people who drain his energy or distract him, things that require too much time.

As I say, he’s focused.

But he isn’t a workaholic.

He doesn’t get up early, put in impossibly long hours, and have no free time. He does his work, makes lots of time for his family, takes vacations, watches sports, exercises, and reads.

If you didn’t know better, you’d think he was well-rounded. But he’s not. He’s a monomaniac on a mission.

He’s focused on growing his business.

And yet he works fewer hours than most people. He’s more successful than most people because he gets more out of the hours he works.

How? He knows what he wants and how to get it and he just does the work.

Over and over.

He doesn’t get creative. He keeps turning the wheel. Many people would find what he does boring, but he’s long past that. He knows what works and he keeps his eye on the prize.

He doesn’t get bogged down with decisions or trying out new ideas. He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes and have to spend time fixing them.

He has a huge sense of urgency and doesn’t let anything (or anyone) get in his way.

Which means he works faster than others, and make more progress in an hour than some people make in a week.

Is this what it takes to make it big in business? In the beginning, when you’re trying to learn your business, meet people, and generate momentum, I’d say it is for many people. That’s what I did when I started practicing.

But when I got to a certain level of success, I took my foot off the accelerator a bit and did some other things.

Because I was not a monomaniac on a mission.

My friend has made many millions of dollars and reached the pinnacle of success in his industry. And while he’s branched out, too, he’s still very much focused on growing his business.

Just something to think about as you plan your week. And career.


What would have to be true for that to happen?


I’ve heard versions of this question from different sources. I like it because it makes you think, not just about what you want but the prerequisites for making it so.

“What would have to be true for me to double my referrals this year,“ for example.

What conditions would have to be in place? What additional skills, knowledge, or contacts would you have to acquire? What would you have to do?

A question like this can lead you to new insights, ideas to research, and projects to get to work on.

It will also make you think about things you know but haven’t thought about or done.

You can take it deeper. If you said you would need to have more referral sources to double your referrals, you might then ask, “What would have to be true in order to get more clients and professional contacts to send me more business?“

You might get even better answers by making the question more specific: “What would have to be true in order to get 50% of my clients to send me 1 additional referral this year?”

You can use this approach for any goal. “If I wanted to work a 4-day week and continue to earn what I now earn, what would have to be true?“ for example.

You can also ask follow-up questions: “If [that] was true, what else would need to be true?“

The key to these types of questions is that they are assumptive. When you ask this way, you direct your subconscious mind to look for the answer you’ve told it is there. It will keep looking until it finds it.

Choose a subject. Phrase the question any way you like, as long as it assumes a favorable response. Write down the ideas that come to mind.

Any of these ideas might be the precise idea you need to make your goal come true.

How to get your clients to send you more referrals


What you do is more important than how you do it


I’m good at a few things. Most things I’m just average. Better than some, not as good as others. Some things, I’m bad at but do them because they have to be done (by me) and don’t take a lot of time.

How about you? Pretty much the same story?

The thing is, somewhere we got it into our heads that we should work at getting better at everything we do. But that’s not true.

Excellence in a few things is much more important. Besides those few, our core competencies, everything else takes a back seat.

But. . . having them in our back seat matters.

Let’s take our old friend marketing for example.

It may not be your thing. You may not be good at it, you have to force yourself to do it, spend too much and accomplish too little. But at least you’re doing it.

Which means you’re getting better results than the lawyer who does no marketing.

Because what you do is more important than how you do it.

How you do things speaks to your efficiency. What you do is far more important because doing it at all contributes to your effectiveness.

Want to write a book but not sure you can? “Write two crappy pages a day,“ Tim Ferriss recommends. Want to grow your practice but don’t have enough time or skills? “15 minutes a day (doing anything marketing related)” says I.

Over time, you can accomplish a lot by writing two crappy pages a day or doing anything marketing related 15 minutes daily.

Much more than you would if you didn’t.

The converse is also true. You may be a brilliant writer or consummate marketer, but if you do no writing or marketing, you can’t expect much to happen.

Because what you do, and don’t do, is more important than how you do it (or could).


The big ‘mo’


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


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


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.