Search Results for: 80/20

You’re smart enough but are you lazy enough?

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You know I’m a fan of the book, “The 80/20 Principle” by Richard Koch. He wrote a sequel, “Living the 80/20 Way: Work Less, Worry Less, Succeed More, Enjoy More. In it, Koch quotes General Erich von Manstein, an officer in the German army, speaking about leadership:

“There are only four types of officers.

First, there are the lazy, stupid ones. Leave them alone, they do no harm.

Second, there are the hard-working intelligent ones. They make excellent staff officers, ensuring that every detail is properly considered.

Third, there are the hard-working, stupid ones. These people are a menace, and must be fired at once. They create irrelevant work for everybody.

Finally, there are the intelligent lazy ones. They are suited for the highest office.”

Different versions of this citation have appeared, sometimes attributing the quote to others. In 1942 Viscount Swinton (Philip Lloyd-Greame) spoke in the House of Lords in London. He described the four classes of officers and credited an unnamed German General:

The clever and lazy you make Chief of Staff, because he will not try to do everybody else’s work, and will always have time to think.

What does this tell us? I think it tells us that maybe we are too industrious for our own good. Maybe we need to do less work and more thinking. Maybe we need to delegate more work to hard-working intelligent people who will take care of the details while we take care of the big picture.

I’m going to take some time to think about this. How about you?

Behold: an easier way to get more referrals from other professionals

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The secret to my success

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Want to know the secret to my success? The secret is simple. I do a few things well.

That’s it. A few things. The “precious few” in 80/20 parlance, that deliver the majority of my results.

I run three businesses. In each business, there are only a few things I focus on to keep the wheels turning. Well, actually, one business is nearly 100% passive income and requires almost none of my time anymore. The other two businesses are flexible enough that I can work at them when (and if) I choose. So for me, at this stage of my life, my precious few are “writing, learning, and marketing.”

How about you?

If you run a law practice, your precious few probably include, “marketing, management, personal development, and work product”. Am I right?

[Sidebar: Don’t be one of those lawyers who foolishly boasts that they don’t do any marketing. Everything you do is marketing.

Every time you speak to a client you’re showing them why they should remain your client and refer their friends. Every time you give someone your card or mention your website you’re inviting them to learn more about you do. Every time you talk to a prospective client or fellow professional you’re showing them why they should do business with you. It’s all marketing. All of it.

Okay, back on the record.]

Let’s start with “areas of focus”. You run a law practice, you have a personal life. That’s two. You might also do charitable work, be active in your church, or have a hobby or outside interest that’s important to you.

What are your precious few areas of focus?

Next, for each area of focus, think about the precious few things you focus on (or need to).

For your practice, what are the precious few things you do for marketing?

You may focus on a few types of clients, niche markets, or practice areas. Your strategies might include client referrals, professional referrals, and driving traffic to your website. If you advertise, your precious few might include a group of niche publications, keywords, or offers that deliver the majority of your results. You might create content, build a social media following, or speak or network in the “real world”.

What are they? What are precious few in your marketing?

For work product, you might derive most of your income from a certain type of case or client or a certain type of work. What are your precious few?

For management, you might focus on new client intake procedures (although that’s also marketing), billing, and document management. You might focus on hiring the best people, training, or building culture. What are your precious few?

For personal development, you might work on building a new habit, improving a particular skill, or acquiring a certain type of knowledge. What do you focus on? What are your precious few?

In the end, success comes from doing a few simple things. It can’t be any other way. You can’t do 100 things and expect to do them all well. You can’t focus on 100 things you can only focus on a few.

I built my practice with referrals. It was one of my precious few.

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Working hard or hardly working?

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All our lives we’ve been told that hard work is essential to success. The person who works harder than other people generally achieves more than other people.

But is that always true? Does someone who earns a million dollars a year work ten times more than someone who earns $100k? What about people who work incredibly long hours every day but continually struggle?

We’ve also been told that there are no shortcuts to success. It doesn’t happen overnight. Okay, then how do you explain the many tech entrepreneurs who are billionaires before they’re 30?

I don’t purport to have all the answers but clearly, there isn’t an absolute causal connection between effort and results, hard work and success. There are other factors at play. That’s why I continually look for ways to work smarter.

Working smarter is about leverage. Getting bigger (or quicker) results with the same or less effort. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to do that.

You frequently hear me prattle on about the 80/20 principle. I do that because it is the quintessential illustration of leverage and I encourage you to continually look for ways to use it to increase your income and improve your life.

Where does most of your income come, for example? The odds are that a high percentage of it comes from a few things you’re doing, the so-called “20% activities that deliver 80% of your results”. Look at your practice area(s), target market(s), and marketing methods. You’re likely to see that most of your income comes from a “precious few” things, not from the “trivial many”.

When you find your precious few, do more of them. Get rid of other things to free up time and resources so that you can make that happen.

If 80% of your income now comes from one or two marketing activities, for example, doing more of those activities could increase your income by 160%. That’s because you’ll have two blocks of 20% activities instead of just one.

Back when I was a cub lawyer, struggling to figure things out, I made three changes to what I was doing and my income skyrocketed. In a matter of months. I also went from working six days a week to just three.

So nobody can tell me there aren’t any shortcuts. Now, if you will excuse me, it’s time for my nap.

How I learned to earn more and work less. Yep, it’s all here

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How long does it take to build a successful law practice?

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How long does it take to build a successful law practice? It takes as long as it takes. That’s my smug, lawyer-like answer, a variant on “it depends”.

In lay terms, I would say, “I don’t have a clue”. Because everyone is different.

What is your practice area? What’s your target market? How much experience do you have with marketing? And a slew of other questions that are a part of the equation.

Actually, there is one question that should be at the top of the list. In 80/20 parlance, it’s one of the “precious few,” a 20% factor that can determine 80% of your results.

How big is your list?

How many prospective clients do you know? How many prospective referral sources do you know? And, if you’re not starting from scratch, how many former clients and existing referral sources do you know?

Why is this more important than things like skills, experience, reputation, or work ethic? Because the shortest path to success is through other people. That’s true for any business, and even more so for a professional practice.

If you know lots of people who can hire you, for example, it only makes sense that the odds of your getting hired are better than the lawyer who knows very few. The same is true of referral sources.

You may not (yet) be very good at inspiring them to hire you or refer, but knowing more people (and staying in touch with them) can give you a big edge.

So, how big is your list?

Now, by list, I mean any kind of list–paper, digital, or even the list in your brain (note to self: write down the list in my brain so I don’t forget it).

In years gone by, we would talk about the size of your Rolodex. (Please, no selfies of your massive Rolodex.) Quality was important, but all things being equal, the bigger your Rolodex, the better.

Today, your list is predominantly digital. Quality is still important. And size still matters.

But today, there is another factor that can make a big difference.

If you’re doing it right, you have everyone’s email address and permission to use it. Which means you can increase the speed and frequency of communication. Which means you can achieve more results (i.e., bring in more clients) faster than you could if you only had their phone number and address.

No, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t call and talk to people. Talking (and meeting in person) allows you to build deeper relationships. Email will never supplant that. But with a couple of clicks, email allows you to tell hundreds of people or thousands of people about your upcoming seminar, updated web page, or special offer.

Can’t you do that on social media? Maybe. You don’t have any control over who sees what. It’s also less personal and thus, less effective.

Okay, you have a big list. I still can’t tell you how long it will take to build a big practice. But I can tell you that it will be quicker for you than for most other lawyers.

How to build an email list, and how to use it: go here

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How to simplify your marketing

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If you have ever assembled a piece of furniture from Ikea, you know that some items are more complicated than others. Even with detailed instructions and proper tools, it’s easy to mess these up, or take much longer than you were led to believe.

The same is true of any task or project. The more complicated it is, the more moving parts or steps, the more likely it is that you’ll get it wrong.

Some tasks and projects are so complicated we put off doing them. Or we make the effort, get flummoxed and frustrated and swear we’ll “never do that again!”

Marketing legal services is like that. Do yourself a favor and make it simpler.

On the macro side of the equation, that means using fewer strategies, and for each strategy, fewer techniques.

Try lots of things, and then settle in with a few things that work best for you. That’s what I do, and that’s what I recommend.

On the micro side, you simplify your marketing by using fewer apps and targeting fewer markets. You use forms, checklists, and “scripts”. You memorialize your process, in writing, to make it easier to train new hires and temps and so that you can continually examine your process and improve it.

When marketing is simpler, it is easier and takes less time. You get better at it and get better results.

It’s the 80/20 principle. Figure out what works best for you and do more of it.

Simplify your marketing by doing more of fewer things.

Referral marketing is one strategy every lawyer should use. Find out how

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Who says there are no shortcuts?

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Some say there are no shortcuts. You must do the work and put in the time. There are no shortcuts in life.

Balderdash.

Of course there are shortcuts. Untold numbers of shortcuts. Everywhere we look and everything we do there are shortcuts.

Law school is a shortcut. Imagine having to prepare yourself to practice law without it. A bar preparation course is a shortcut. In fact, every class, course, or book, is a (potential) shortcut. You learn what others know and what they did, so you can avoid their mistakes and follow their path to success.

A franchise is a shortcut. So is a network marketing business.

Do you (or did you) have another lawyer mentor you? That’s a shortcut.

Form books, checklists email templates, are shortcuts.

I dictated this post with dictation software. Yep, a shortcut.

The 80/20 principle says that in just about everything we do, a small percentage of our activities or effort produce a disproportionate percentage of our results. Do more of those activities (and less of the others) and you will have a shortcut to achieving more.

So if someone tells you there are no shortcuts, don’t listen to them. Shortcuts are everywhere and we use them all the time. Do you want a shortcut to success? Go find more shortcuts.

Want a shortcut to getting more clients and increasing your income? click here

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Getting the right things done

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Venture capitalist Mark Suster has a rule he lives by that helps him be more productive and successful. The rule: “Do Less. More.” It means doing fewer things overall, and getting the right things done. “Success often comes from doing a few things extraordinarily well and noticeably better than the competition,” he says.

Richard Koch, author of The 80/20 Principle, says, “Everyone can achieve something significant. The key is not effort, but finding the right thing to achieve. You are hugely more productive at some things than at others, but dilute the effectiveness of this by doing too many things where your comparative skill is nowhere near as good.”

Koch also says, “Few people take objectives really seriously. They put average effort into too many things, rather than superior thought and effort into a few important things. People who achieve the most are selective as well as determined.”

So, what do you do better than most? What should you focus on? I asked this question in an earlier post:

Look at your practice and tell me what you see.

  • Practice areas: Are you a Jack or Jill of all trades or a master of one? Are you good at many things or outstanding at one or two?
  • Clients: Do you target anyone who needs what you do or a very specifically defined “ideal client” who can hire you more often, pay higher fees, and refer others like themselves who can do the same?
  • Services: Do you offer low fee/low margin services because they contribute something to overhead or do you keep your overhead low and maximize profits?
  • Fees: Do you trade your time for dollars or do you get paid commensurate with the value you deliver?
  • Marketing: Do you do too many things that produce no results, or modest results, or one or two things that bring in the bulk of your new business?
  • Time: Do you do too much yourself, or do you delegate as much as possible and do “only that which only you can do”?
  • Work: Do you do everything from scratch or do you save time, reduce errors, and increase speed by using forms, checklists, and templates?

Leverage is the key to the 80/20 principle. It is the key to getting more done with less effort and to earning more without working more.

Take some time to examine your practice, and yourself. Make a short list of the things you do better than most and focus on them. Eliminate or delegate the rest.

Do Less. More.

This will help with getting the right things done

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Are you investing in yourself?

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Among other things, The 80/20 Principle, one of my favorite books on the subject, tells us to “pursue those few things where you are amazingly better than others and that you enjoy most.” Do them to the exclusion of other things you’re not as good at.

Another author puts it this way: “Do very few things, but be awesome at them.”

To do this, you must work on your strengths, not your weaknesses. Figure out what you do best and find ways to do it even better.

I do a lot of writing. It’s one of my strengths. I invest in getting better at it by reading books and blogs about writing, watching videos, listening to podcasts, and making sure I work at it every day.

I also invest in tools that help me write better and faster. I’ve mentioned Scrivener before and told you that I now do all my long-form writing in it.

I got a new chair recently that helps me sit longer. It helps me get more writing done because I don’t need to take as many breaks.

Yesterday, I went out and looked at mechanical keyboards. (They’re in the “gaming” section.) I’ve been reading about these for awhile and I’m about ready to order one. I’m told they help you type faster and with fewer typos. They also last longer than the rubber membrane keyboards found on most laptops and computer desktops. I like the tactile feel of these keyboards, and the clicky sound they make. (You can get ones that don’t make that sound, if you prefer.)

After that, I’ll probably look at external monitors. A bigger screen will allow me to look at two documents at one time, instead of having to switch back and forth. Maybe dual monitors is the thing.

For a long time now, I’ve been using the track pad on my laptop. I might start using a mouse again.

It’s all about getting that edge. Making a good thing even better.

How about you? What do you do best? How are you investing in yourself to get better?

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If John Wooden managed your law practice

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Basketball coaching legend John Wooden was known as a perfectionist. He believed that planning and preparation and attention to detail were the keys to winning. He expected the best from his teams and usually got it.

In his long career, Wooden proved that his methods worked. He left a legacy unmatched in the field of sports and we can learn a lot by studying his methods and his life.

But how much of what he teaches can we use to build a law practice? Can we demand as much from ourselves and our staff as Wooden demanded from his teams?

Let’s think about that in the context of the first client interview.

I suspect that Wooden would have us regularly drill on the questions we ask and the things we say, continually improving how we sound, our body language, and our timing. He would have us study the client intake form to the point where we could recite it in our sleep. He would have us practice everything several times a day.

Every minute would be scripted, every detail drilled to perfection. He would evaluate us not just on whether or not the client signed up but on how many referrals we got before they left the office.

Is that the standard we should seek?

Not in my book.

I’m not saying we can’t learn by paying attention to detail. We can, and we can use what we learn to sign up more clients and get more referrals. But I don’t believe we need to work that hard to get every detail right.

According to the 80/20 rule or The Pareto Principle, in anything we do, only a few things make a difference; most things don’t. If we get the few things right, we don’t need to obsess over everything else.

Let’s say that body language is one of the few things that make a big difference. (I believe it is). If we make eye contact, smile appropriately, and otherwise show the client that we are listening to them and sincerely care about helping them, we’re more than half-way home.

But this doesn’t mean we need to drill on every word we say, where we place our hands, or how we time our gestures. If you truly care about the people in your office, none of that is necessary. If you don’t, none of that will help.

With most things we do, good enough is good enough. Get the important things right, the 20% that delivers 80% of your results, and you won’t need to sweat the small stuff.

Wooden would probably disagree . He said, “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”

Yes, but what if you don’t need to do it at all?

Want to sign up more clients? Get this

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Is hard work the key to success? Umm, no

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Everyone and his brother says that hard work is the key to success. But is it?

I can point to many times in my life when I was successful without hard work. In fact, many of my successes came with little or no effort.

I can also point to times when I worked my fingers to the proverbial bone and accomplished nothing. Goose eggs. Bupkis.

I’m sure you could say the same thing.

A mentor of mine once said, “If you’re not having the success you want, there are only two reasons. Either you’re not doing something right, or you’re not doing it enough.”

No mention of hard work.

“Doing it enough” implies persistence, but that isn’t necessarily hard. In fact, the more you do something, the easier it usually gets.

“Doing something right” is important, of course. With a little practice, you can usually improve your skills (and your results).

Let’s flip around the phrase “doing something right”. Could this also mean “doing the right things”? Yes it could. In fact, I think doing the right things is the key to success.

It’s the 80/20 principle that I talked about recently. We are much more successful at some things that others. Choose the right things to do, and you will have more success.

Don’t tell anyone, but I found law school and the bar exam to be relatively easy. I have always been good at exams, especially essays. Essays are a “right activity” for me.

Other things, not so much.

Ever meet someone who seems to lead a charmed life? They don’t work hard and yet they go from one successful outcome to another. They have a great career, and everything seems to come to them quickly and without a lot of effort. Is it talent? Luck? Magic spells?

Maybe. Or maybe they’ve simply made the right choices.

I’m not saying “don’t work hard”. Working hard is a way to hedge our bets, in case we’re not as good as we think, or in case we haven’t chosen the right activity.

Work hard if you want to. Just don’t depend on it.

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