In Black & White

In Black & White

Common Sense Strategies for Growing Your Legal Practice

Business Development: Save Time and Do Less!

Most lawyers I know jam their calendars each day with more than two people could accomplish in a week. Is this you? It’s a vicious cycle because we feel terrible not being able to accomplish what’s on the list… instead of feeling great about what was accomplished. We literally sabotage our success and the feeling of accomplishment! Now, how ridiculous is that! Maybe it’s time to start looking at things differently. I read a blog post by Alex Cavoulacos from an online magazine at WeWork, that makes a lot of sense… One Founders Best Productivity Trick: Save time and do less.

Cavoulacos proposes questions that will help you save time and do less.

1. Do You Say No? Most people have a deep need to be liked. As a result, we say yes to almost everything that’s asked of us, which makes it impossible to do everything well, and zaps our time and productivity.

As a lawyer there are big reasons you feel compelled to say yes… you are asked by your partners or clients that require a yes. But there is still a way to control the load and stress. You can say… “Yes, will next Tuesday work for you?” When you do that you are able to gauge the urgency of the matter, since most people are not asking you to drop everything you’re doing to address their matter. But when urgency is needed you have let the person know that you can’t get to it until next Tuesday, so they can choose to move on to ask someone else. And you have the opportunity to drop what you’re doing to help with this matter.

2. Are You Delegating Enough? Whether or not you’re a manager, there are opportunities to delegate to colleagues. If you’re doing everything yourself, and think “it’s just faster for me to do it,” you may be a delegatophobe. Take a good look at your tasks over the last week—are all of those really your job description?

This is a never-ending cycle for lawyers. Yes, it may be faster for you to do it yourself now… but if that happens several times, not so! Often times it would be much more efficient if you spent the time it requires to teach someone how you like the task done… consequently it’s permanently off your desk, saving a a much bigger chunk of time.

3. Is Everything on Your To-Do List Necessary? Don’t consider an endless to-do list a challenge to get it all done, when it’s in fact a challenge to prioritize. If you haven’t done a task in weeks, or it’s always what’s pushed to a later date that might be a sign that it’s not actually necessary.

Consider NECESSARY vs. DISLIKE. Often times we put the things we don’t like doing to the end of the priority list. AND it’s usually business development activities that you don’t like doing. Figure out a different way to accomplish the same outcome… something you like doing.

4. Are All of the Recurring Meetings on Your Calendar Necessary? Cancel any that aren’t impactful or that could be replaced by an email update. For meetings you keep, reassess if the format, length, and attendees are contributing to their effectiveness. As entrepreneur Jim Belosic explains, this saves both time and money—a one-hour meeting with 17 employees who make an average of $40,000 per year costs $232.88. Yikes.

I would like to point out that in a law firm those dollar figures are outrageous! Six people: 2 partners, 3 associates and one paralegal, could cost you $1500 – $2000 in non-billable time. That’s a very costly meeting!

5. Are You a Slave to Your Inbox? Speaking of things you don’t need to do: You do not need to answer every email that comes in. Give yourself permission to archive irrelevant cold emails and FYI emails you’re cc:ed or bcc:ed on. And while you’re at it, unsubscribe from anything you don’t read (no, you don’t need to read every ecommerce newsletter you get signed up for). Saying no to email is key to making time for real work.

A key strategy for managing email is NOT to look at it every time you hear an email come in. Consider this… if you were with a client you would concentrate on that meeting and get to your emails when you finish. Why not adopt the same strategy through out your day and only review emails every 60 minutes. Imagine how much better you could concentrate on your pressing priorities.

Productivity is about setting priorities and not letting outside forces hijack your time. Give me a call today if you’d like to discuss this further!

Posted in Business Development, Inspired Thought, Marketing Time Commitment

Is Your Body Trying To Tell You Something?

Is your body trying to tell you something? Maybe we should stop and listen! If you are like me and like most over-achievers, you don’t sleep much. You push yourself to finish the brief, to write the article or to read the report… not to mention the hundreds of things around the house and for the family. I’m tired just thinking about it! I’m one of those people that thought that I didn’t need 8 hours of sleep… I’m perfectly fine on 5 or 4 and the occasional all-nighter. Well… not so much. The more I read the more I understand that I could be functioning on a much better level if I would be a little more open minded about sleep. Have you ever said, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead?” We’ll it looks like that may be sooner than later if we continue on this path. Let’s change our ways… together!

Here’s what Corrie Pikul writes for OWN online in her article… Signs Your Body Is Too Tired to Go On (Even if You’re Not)

You can function just fine on 6 hours of sleep a night…or so you think. Here’s how to tell if you’re secretly sleep-deprived.

1. You’re clicking your pen and tapping your feet.

What’s happening: When you move your muscles, you cue your brain to stay alert, says Hans P.A. Van Dongen, PhD, assistant director of the Sleep and Performance Research Center at Washington State University. So if you’re fidgety and restless and feel as if you you can’t sit still or would rather (always) stand, Van Dongen says that “it could be your brain’s way of trying to keep you awake.”

What else you should know: Fidgeting could also be a sign that you’ve had too much caffeine. The recommended daily limit is 500 to 600 mg, or about 4 cups— drinking more than that is another less-than-subtle sign that you need more rest.

2. You’re lapsing, you don’t know you’re lapsing and you don’t even know what the heck lapsing is.

What’s happening: Lapsing, in technical terms, is when parts of your brain take a stealth catnap. When you’re exhausted, the sections that control attention and response time start taking breaks from processing new information, explains Van Dongen. These “mini-sleeps” could be as short as half a second, and you may not even notice that you’ve fallen into them.

What else you should know: Van Dongen suggests a lapsing test: Sit in a dark, quiet area while holding a pencil in one hand. Set a timer for 5 minutes, and just relax and breathe. If the pencil drops, that’s a clear sign you and your brain need more sleep.

3. You’re having trouble swiping your office ID, balancing your coffee and making it through the door before it closes again.

What’s happening: This combination of simple tasks, done in sequence and under a time limit, is a fine test of your psychomotor skills and coordination, which are some of the first things to go when you skimp on shut-eye. In one 1997 study, researchers found that a person who has gone for even one night without sleep is about as impaired on early morning hand-eye coordination as someone who has a blood alcohol level of .10 percent, also known as legally drunk.

What else you should know: Sleep deprivation doesn’t have the same effect on the parts of your brain that handle critical reasoning, so even if you’re having trouble with appliances, you still may have no noticeable problem with writing a strategy memo or analyzing reports.

4. You act like Mrs. Silly Pants at breakfast.

What’s happening: Your brain is having trouble telling you how to behave, so you’re more reactive to stimuli from your surroundings. The sun seems so bright and cheerful, the coffee tastes soooooo good and that cat going nuts with the empty cereal box is just hilarious.

What else you should know: Staying on an even keel will be your big challenge today, says Van Dongen. Your mood will probably go from goofy to grouchy as soon as something doesn’t go your way.

5. …and you’re a hot, emotional mess for the rest of the day.

What’s happening: Watch out, coworkers, spouses and innocent bystanders: Weakened emotion-regulating systems in the prefrontal area of the brain may make it hard for you to control and express your feelings. For example, if someone criticizes you, it will upset you more than usual, says Van Dongen, and you’ll be more likely to say or do something you’ll regret. Research from William D.S. Killgore at Harvard Medical School also showed that two nights without adequate sleep was associated with a reduced tendency to think positively and a lack of willingness to take action to solve problems. “Thus, sleep-deprived individuals appear to be more easily frustrated, intolerant, unforgiving, less caring and more self-focused than when fully rested,” he wrote. In other words, you’re acting kind of jerky.

What else you should know: While caffeine may give you a shot of adrenaline, studies show it’s often ineffective at fixing the other emotional glitches brought on by sleeplessness.

6. You’re craving carbs—big time.

What’s happening: Research has shown that just one night of meager sleep lowers levels of the appetite-suppressing hormone leptin and boosts levels of hunger-increasing ghrelin. The body wakes up craving quick, easy energy: That choco-chunk muffin will do, thank you. Volunteers in one study at the University of Colorado at Boulder who got 4.5 hours (or less) of sleep also reported feeling more ravenous than those who got the magic 7 hours.

What else you should know: Eating breakfast within an hour or so of waking has been shown to increase alertness and improve cognitive performance. So embrace the carbs, but make sure they’re the slow-dose kind that won’t cause you to fizzle (steel-cut oatmeal is a great choice).

7. You get a second wind at 9:30 p.m.

What’s happening: Your body is keeping you up for that last stretch of the evening so it can get you back into a rhythm, says Rafael Pelayo, MD, a sleep specialist at the Stanford University Sleep Medicine Center and an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral science. He says that what often happens is the patient who’s been running on empty will promise herself she’ll go to bed early. “Early” rolls around and she feels fine, so she keeps getting things done…but then ends up with only 6 hours of sleep (again). When she snoozes through her alarm, she tells herself everyone has trouble getting out of bed.

What else you should know: We fall into our deepest sleep during the two hours before our natural wakeup time, Pelayo says. So put down the to-do list and pick up the toothbrush: It’s still easier to force yourself to go to bed than to force yourself to wake up (starting with 15 minute increments can help).

Did you see yourself in a few of these?  I have to admit, I did! We often equate long hours with our drive and success. But we seldom think about the sacrifice of efficiency and accuracy that we are making. I can see that when we are rested we can get the tasks done faster and more accurately with a clear head. I will focus on efficiency and accuracy. How about you?

Posted in Building Relationships, Business Development, Inspired Thought

Legal Business Development: When is it Time to Get Excited?

How many times have you heard…“Don’t get too excited… You don’t want to be disappointed.” I bet, a lot!

When is it time to get excited about a new case or new project? When the client says they’re moving forward or when they sign the engagement letter or when you receive the check? In my book… all of the above!

The other day I was coaching a client and he shared with me that his client said they would be moving forward on the project. My client said cautiously that he always waits to see the check before he believes it. I said, why not choose to believe your client is telling the truth and will be moving forward? Be happy about it and let your enthusiasm feed more business development efforts. Enjoy each step of the process because it will fuel the next step, and the next step! Success shouldn’t only be measured by receiving a check. It’s about playing the game and enjoying it along the way. Don’t we cheer for the baseball player that gets to first base and then again when he reaches second?

Let’s face it, no one ever died of disappointment. Yes, the deal may hit a bump in the road, there may be delays or the check may not be issued, but chances are it will.

The benefit of celebrating the fact that the client said they are moving forward is renewed enthusiasm for the business development progress. Just imagine what your practice could be if you really enjoyed business development?

I see it sort of like this…

If you can’t enjoy a date until you know if you’re going to get married… there would be a lot of miserable people on this planet! Enjoy the date, and look forward to what may happen next.

Send me an email today if you’d like to discuss the business development process further!

Posted in Business Development, Inspired Thought

Legal Business Development: Are You the Turtle or the Hare?

Let’s be honest most lawyers want the business development process to be more like a sprint to the winners circle. But the reality is that the winners circle is reserved for the slow and steady. THAT is not what you wanted to hear I’m sure!

The fact of the matter is that CONSISTENCY is a silver bullet. Yes, a slow silver bullet! You see, many are looking for the right tool… SEO, Google Ads, social media, blogs, You Tube channel, article, networking, etc, etc, etc! But these are simply tools, just like your phone is a tool. But your phone, itself, isn’t going to get you clients. It is what you do to leverage all these tools. How regularly do you focus on the strategy you have put into place? (Oh, you don’t have a strategy? We’ll get to that later.)

Here are three things to keep in mind to achieve consistency…

First… Focus – make your activity a habit. Do something every single day!

Second… Be Present – if you are truly present, whether it’s a meeting with a client or a conversation with a stranger, you will see possibilities. Possibilities that you can only see when you are truly listening and present to the person across the table or on the phone.

Third… Learn to say NO – Not to others but to yourself. Today we are bombarded by people telling is the newest and greatest ideas to win new clients and you would like to try them all… but you don’t have the time or the money to invest in them all. Pick one to three, then say no to the rest. Put them on a list to think about for next year’s strategic plan.

So you say you don’t have a strategic plan… create one! It’s July 8th, what do you want to accomplish by the end of the year? What things would need to happen for you to feel great about how your personal life is in harmony with your work when 2015 rolls around? It need not be more than a few sentences to help you focus your efforts and be consistent. We are halfway through the year… don’t let 2014 get by you!

If you’d like to discuss this subject further, I’m here! Shoot me an email today.

Posted in Business Development, Developing A Strategic Plan, Inspired Thought

Who has had an impacted on your life?

Who has had an impacted on your life? Oftentimes people come into our lives and at the time it seems insignificant, just another day, just another person. But when we look back there are those special people that made a world of difference… and in some instances they didn’t even know how they contributed to our lives. And if we are fortunate we get the opportunity to tell them how much they mean to us. Dr. Maya Angelou and Alice Pavlisin were two of those people.

I once heard Angelou speak these words…

When someone shows you who they are… BELIEVE them!

These words profoundly changed my life. I, like so many, would take what others said and did… and spin my own story, assuming what they are feeling, meaning and thinking. Angelou showed me how to push away my storytelling and really see the person’s actions. Not to judge them but to BELIEVE them.

Another one of those special people in my life was Alice Pavlisin, my grade school art teacher. She made this young girl feel special, encouraged me to dream and nurtured my creativity. I am an extremely creative person today because Alice Pavlisin touched my soul. I know she was proud of the things that I have accomplished, my three creatively designed books and even this blog. How do I know? Because I’ve been in contact with her these past 15 years, and she told me so.

Alice Pavlisin passed away the same week Dr. Maya Angelou passed. How serendipitous… Alice would have loved it! Two great teachers… they will be missed.

Whose life will you touch… a client, a colleague, a friend or even a stranger? Be the powerful person that you were put here to be and there will be many lives you impact, just like Alice and Maya.


Posted in Inspired Thought

Legal Business Development: Lack of Sleep… Who are we Kidding?

I must confess… sleep isn’t my priority. Just like you, I have more work on my plate than I can get done in a day. So what do we do? We work into the wee hours of the morning and on occasion pull, all-nighters! Sound familiar?

You can imagine my reaction when I read this headline in Inc Magazine5 Ways Science Says Lack of Sleep will Ruin Your Life, by contributor Bill Murphy Jr. OMG!

So, listen up (I know I will) Here’s what Murphy has to say…

1. Lack of sleep harms productivity. Are you skipping sleep to work more? According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, even if skipping sleep allows you to accomplish more in the short term, it will kill your long-term productivity:

Not getting enough sleep–whether for just one night or over the course of weeks to months–has a significant effect on our ability to function. Sleep deprivation negatively impacts our mood, our ability to focus, and our ability to access higher-level cognitive functions.

2. Lack of sleep kills you slowly. The next time you’re tempted to think that you’ll sleep when you’re dead–well, you just might be making that day come sooner. Just a short perusal of research on what lack of sleep does to your body will make you want to go back to bed. Among the worst effects, according to WebMD: all kinds of heart issues (including risk of heart attack and stroke), diabetes, and obesity.

3. Lack of sleep harms other people. It’s not just the increased irritability and lack of focus that you are certainly familiar with; it’s that your ability to do even simple tasks is measurably impaired. For example, Harvard found that “drowsy driving” is among the causes of one-fifth of U.S. car crashes, leading to the deaths of 8,000 people a year.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that fatigue is a cause in 100,000 auto crashes and 1,550 crash-related deaths a year in the U.S. The problem is greatest among people under 25 years old.

4. Lack of sleep hurts your appearance. Yes, you know what it’s like to look tired. However, now data shows that it’s not just black circles under your eyes. According to one study, those who sleep fewer than six hours a night have a 30 percent higher chance of becoming obese than those who sleep between seven and nine hours. Moreover, it also ages your skin.

When you don’t get enough sleep, your body releases more of the stress hormone cortisol. In excess amounts, cortisol can break down skin collagen, the protein that keeps skin smooth and elastic. Sleep loss also causes the body to release too little human growth hormone.

 5. Lack of sleep kills your sex drive. If nothing else in this list will get your attention, maybe this will. It’s not just a matter of being too tired to do anything else in bed; lack of sleep kills libido. At least for men, there is at least one scientific study that says it can also wreck your testosterone levels.

Fortunately, we seem to be on the crest of a trend in which people are coming clean about making sleep a priority. If you can’t pull off a full eight hours, at least take a nap.

Excuse me… I’m off to take a nap!

All kidding aside, if you’d like to figure out a way to have a thriving practice so that you HAVE a life outside of work, not to mention a good night’s sleep, I can help. Shoot me an email today!


Posted in Inspired Thought

Legal Business Development: Are You Running a “Feast or Famine” Practice?

Are you running a “feast or famine” practice? If you are overwhelmed with work and have no time to develop business… then when you’re finished with the work at hand there is nothing on the horizon… THAT my friend is a feast or famine practice. And to tell you the truth, I see this with lawyers more often than not. Whether or not you are a solo or work for a huge global firm, not making time for business development has serious consequences.

Forbes Magazine contributor, Kern Lewis documented one small step you can take to create some stability for your practice. His case study is about how he convinced his “old friend and new convert to social media marketing, a lawyer in Northern California named Mark D. Poniatowski who runs a small practice with just a handful of partners.”

Poniatowski was in the midst of a famine…

With the advent of his latest “break” from a heavy work load, he agreed to dedicate the time to test a plan he felt he could manage within the demands of his day:

He chose one online networking tool to test, which was LinkedIn. He spent one hour cleaning up his profile. He spent about three hours reaching out to all the people he knew professionally, and connecting to those whom he found on LinkedIn. He set a thirty-minute appointment for a late weekday evening each week to work on building up his network of contacts, and engaging that network via pings and content sharing.

Results came within a couple of weeks: Many connection invitations came right back with social conversations, and were happy to reconnect. A handful had business that they could place with him right away and were “glad he reached out.”

Within those few weeks he had referrals worth $12,000 in billable hours that he would not have had without his 3-5 hour LinkedIn campaign. That represents a 8-10x ROI on the time he dedicated to it.

The pace has calmed since he harvested that low-hanging fruit, but he reaped one other big benefit:

Connecting with distant clients – An international manufacturer and a national food distributor both use Mark for their commercial lease work in California. He can only justify one trip a year to each of their Midwestern headquarters. But, using LinkedIn to follow the people who manage his part of their legal affairs has made the trips much more powerful.

He keeps track of position changes that impact him. He can research key people ahead of each trip. He set up introductions using his current network, and reaches out to the new connections prior to the trip to kick-start the new relationship and make the in-person meetings much more useful.

Here is how Mark sums up his experience: ‘I immediately recognized that I was able to connect with attorneys and clients that I worked with over the years and had lost touch with, so it was actually a fun exercise. Some of them were good friends as well and we’ve since gone to lunch. I think that the business generation aspect has been a natural fallout of reconnecting and will increase. I did find that the best LinkedIn for me is during the commercials while watching sports!’

It takes commitment and focus to create results. I think this was a brilliant move for this small firm. Now imagine if all 5 of his colleagues did the same. Would he multiply his results by 5? Maybe or maybe not, but certainly they could expect 3-4 times the result.

I believe every professional should have a well thought through LinkedIn profile. What condition is yours in? Could you implement a strategy  like Poniatowski’s? Certainly you could… and if you are sick and tired of running a feast or famine practice, this could help you break the cycle.

If you would like to discuss this a little more in-depth shoot me an email!


Posted in Building Relationships, Business Development, Increasing Visibility

Legal Business Development: The Meek Shall NOT Inherit The Earth!

To be a strong business developer you don’t have to be a shark… but meek won’t do either! People hire those that are confident in what the do and know, and make no apologies for it. Inc. magazine’s staff writer, Abigail Tracy attended the National Association of Professional Women conference where the keynote speaker was Barbara Corcoran, entrepreneur, real estate mogul, ABC’s Shark Tank fame and as Tracy puts it, “a wildly successful and unapologetic businesswoman.”

Tracy passes on Ms. Corcoran’s wisdom…

The meek shall not inherit the earth. After entering the New York real estate business, Corcoran quickly realized that what her mother taught her and her siblings during their childhood didn’t necessarily hold true in the big city. ‘I found as a real estate broker that people really respond to how you look–especially in a town like New York,’ Corcoran said. ‘If you act and look successful, people will make the wrongful assumption that you are.’

That was a lesson, she said, that she stumbled upon by accident during the first real estate recession she experienced. On a whim, a desperate Corcoran totaled up all the sales that she made that year, found the average apartment price, typed up the results, labeled the document ‘The Corcoran Report,’ and mailed it to The New York Times.

‘I didn’t expect anything good. I didn’t expect anything bad. I was just trying everything,’ Corcoran said. Shortly after, she opened up the newspaper and saw that her off-the-cuff report made the front page of the real estate section. It was a turning point for The Corcoran Group and changed the way she did business.

‘If you want to be a somebody or you want to grab a market that you didn’t have before or you want to look bigger than you are–go brag about it before you have it,’ Corcoran said. ‘Its not illegal. I have used that technique again and again and again on anything I have wanted.’

It is important to remember that you must market for what you want… NOT for what you have. That creates a dilemma for some lawyers. True, you may not be an expert at this chosen practice. But, can you do it? Of course you can. That is all you have to state. Did Corcoran miss represent her sales? No, she just stated the facts in a bold way… ‘The Corcoran Report.’ With this approach, soon, like Corcoran you will be the expert. You have to feel successful in order to be successful. If YOU don’t believe it, you will never convince others.

If you would like a little help with this process, let’s talk! Shoot me an email today.

Posted in Branding and Positioning, Inspired Thought

Legal Business Development: Is a Lack of Confidence Holding You Back?

Confidence. Do you have it? Sure, there are times that your confidence has been shaken… but deep down, are you confident in yourself and your ability?  And how important is confidence to your success as a lawyer, a community leader or a parent? A new book by journalists Katty Kay (BBC News) and Claire Shipman (Good Morning America) sheds some light on the subject in… Confidence Code.

Shipman explains in a short TV segment for ABC News, that you can transform yourself from a worrier to a warrior… We can create more confidence by creating better habits. In our brains: practice makes permanent… Embrace failure… Be authentic and listen to your wise inner voice, instead of your critic.

Lack of confidence seems to be a predominately female issue (at least on the surface), but guys listen up, if you aren’t the alpha-male in your firm, there is valuable insight for you as well.

Confidence can be a choice. Shipman writes:

We all know those familiar, frustrating feelings. We’re afraid to speak up at a meeting because we aren’t sure what we have to say is perfect. And then a few minutes later, a male colleague says exactly what we had in mind.

Perhaps we’ve contemplated taking a larger step – a run for local office or a change of career – but we opt for caution over risk. For most women, such feelings are so commonplace we’ve discount them. But, in truth, they represent a profound confidence gap between men and women, especially in the workplace.

My co-author on “The Confidence Code,” Katty Kay, and I have come to believe that gap is in large measure why we have failed to reach the highest levels in the workplace.

- Women won’t seek promotions unless they feel they have close to 100 percent of the qualifications, while men will go for it if they think they have 60 percent. Hewlett-Packard and others have done these studies, and quickly grasped what this meant in terms of women’s getting ahead.

- Numerous studies have been done in which men and women are given the same test, usually a math or science test, and are then asked how they believe they have performed. The women always predict they’ve performed much worse than they have. The men tend to think they’ve done better. Indeed, the scores are almost identical. Imagine what that self-criticism does to women on a day-to-day basis.

- One Princeton research team decided to study just how much less women speak than men do, when they are in the minority.  In some cases, researchers found, up to 75 percent less.

That nugget really caught my attention. For years I’d had an inkling that I wasn’t talking as much as the men on political programs I was on. I was constantly aware of trying to stick to the question, and not take too much time. Although I wasn’t aware of it at the time, it was quite classic “good girl” behavior.

In writing “The Confidence Code,” I did a quick comparison of my appearances on “This Week.” My self-editing got me 30 percent less talk time on average than the men. There’s nothing terrible about that, of course, but it was sobering to have a number put on my hesitation.

In the course of our research project, we dug into the origins of the confidence gap. Our book looks at genetic influences, brain architecture and function and the impact of society. All play a role. But we also discovered that part of our confidence is volitional: it’s something we can control. We can increase our confidence level at any age.

Five Common Confidence Mistakes Women Make:

1. We think too much. Women are much more likely than men to ruminate. Excessive examination actually inhibits confidence because it can keep women from taking action. Consider this: You’re debating whether to recommend a course of action at work. It’s a tough call, and you dig in to examining both sides in-depth. But your examination takes so long, that you start to lose your ability to make a decision. Frozen, you decide not to weigh in at all.

2. We believe failure is a failure.  Failing is actually cool now.  Fail fast is a hot tech buzz phrase. In today’s business climate, failing means you’ve been willing to try, to get in the game. And it means you’ve learned.

3. We carry criticism around with us far too long. We have to learn to toughen our hides, as Hillary Clinton said last week.  Imagining that the rest of the world, or your boss, or whomever, is still focused on that thing involving you is not only a waste of time, but also a confidence killer.

4. We never leave our comfort zones. Confidence comes from risk-taking, but we are too determined to be perfect.

5. We don’t speak up, and too often, we use upspeak.  It’s a habit we know you’ll recognize, raising the tone of your voice at the end of a sentence in a way that suggests a question rather than a declaration. Try these: “I think we should go with the on-line marketing strategy.” “I think we should go with the online marketing strategy?” One professor told us he thinks women use upspeak in an effort to seek approval.  Lose the questioning tone, and boost your confidence.

Take the confidence quiz, it will only take 5 to 7 minutes. You just might be surprised at what you learn about yourself.

If you would like to discuss how a boost of confidence can kick-start your legal business development efforts, shoot me an email.


Posted in Inspired Thought

3 Ways to Maximize Your Time and Produce More Results.

We never have enough time. There is no disputing the fact that there are only 24 hours in a day. So instead of wishing for more time our focus should be on how to maximize our time. Forbes contributor… The Muse has written an article… 3 Ways To Get More Out Of Every Single Hour

Here are a few research-backed suggestions that can help you make the most of the time you have.

1. Value Every Single Minute… We tend to sell ourselves short in the time department. In many cases, we even allow others to take advantage of our time. So the most important step in time management is to take ownership of our time, making room for the activities that are meaningful and productive, and eliminating those that have less long-term value.

What sets worthy tasks apart are the outcomes associated with your time investment. For example, you might routinely attend a meeting that includes a lot of back-and-forth, but not a lot of action. Could that allotted time be better spent on an alternative activity, such as connecting with clients or collaborating with colleagues? Often, there are opportunities to “mine” time for more productive activities—we simply overlook them.

To this end, take a hard look at how you’ve been spending your time by completing a calendar audit. Start with this exercise: Record your hour-by-hour activities for two weeks. Then review your entries with these questions in mind: Was the time well spent? Were there solid benefits associated with the time spent? Would you go the same route again? In many cases, a “time” issue is actually a “task” issue. So jettison the tasks that add little to your effectiveness.

Most lawyers keep track of time. However it is with the focus of “more time, more billing” not with a focus of efficiency. Try this time audit as The Muse suggests and see if you can shed a little light on a more efficient use of every single minute.

2. Make Room for More Focus. From ringing phones to co-workers stopping by your desk for a chat, distractions are plentiful in most office environments. (Handling the “drive-bys” can be a real challenge.) While these distractions have become an accepted part of work life, they can wreak havoc on our levels of productivity. When we’re in stop-and-start mode all day, we find ourselves repeating tasks, losing our place, and spinning our wheels. In fact, it can take 20 minutes or longer to re-focus after an interruption.

In some cases, open offices are the culprit. However, we also contribute to the problem with the choices that we make. Psychologist Daniel Goleman discusses that we need to take control and protect ourselves from our own schedules—building time into our work lives to focus deeply on important tasks. We need to identify slices of time when, as Goleman explains, we have the opportunity to “cocoon” and concentrate fully.

You might consider silencing your cell phone or utilizing Google’s Inbox Pause feature to turn off incoming email for an hour or so each day. You can also ask your manager about setting aside two, uninterrupted 30-minute time periods during your workday, perhaps as your day begins, at lunchtime, or at the close of the day, where you can hunker down and do focused work.

You’ll likely be surprised just how much you get out of that time.

There is no doubt that when we can focus we are more productive, so take control of your time. So I suggest that you close your door and hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the doorknob with a time you expect to be accessible again. This will help to manage the expectations of those that need you.

3. Tame Procrastination. Procrastination is one of the most common workplace challenges—and for some of us; it can become a huge time waster. While procrastination can stem from feeling overwhelmed or under-prepared (in which case, don’t delay seeking guidance), research also suggests that procrastination can occur as the result of how we view tasks and goals. Specifically, we cast certain tasks in a very negative light—for, example, “I’ll finish the report by Friday, so my manager won’t be upset with me.” These are called “avoidance” goals—you complete them to avoid a negative consequence—and interestingly, they have a greater tendency to be correlated with procrastination.

But here’s the good news: You can curb procrastination by attempting to view these tasks differently, reframing them as an “approach” goal versus an “avoidance” goal. If you’re dreading a certain task, attempt to see it in the context of a possibly more appealing outcome. Could its completion contribute to advancing a larger, more positive goal—for example, impressing clients or being viewed as a team player? This may help you stay on course. An added bonus? Approach goals seem to offer more satisfaction when they are ultimately accomplished.

What I have learned from my own procrastination is that the task that I have put off generally doesn’t take as much time as I expected,and when I finish it, I often ask myself “Why didn’t I just do it sooner?” I could have avoided hours and sometimes days of feeling guilty that it was still on my “To Do List.” As the saying goes… Just Do It!

Want to discuss this subject further? Give me a call or shoot me an email!


Posted in Inspired Thought, Marketing Time Commitment