Increasing Credibility

"Just make it great."...  Carmine Gallo writes in his article for Forbes Magazine that these were the words of Steve Jobs to John Lasseter, who at the time was the only animator at Pixar Studios. Just make it great… so he did and the rest is history.  Steve Jobs purchased Pixar for $10 million and later sold it to Disney for $7.4 billion.

Gallo goes on to say…

The day of average is over. Today an average business will generate below-average results. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman wrote, ‘What was average performance in the past will not earn an average grade, an average wage, or a middle class standard of living.’ Friedman recommends that all of us need to raise our game. In other words, just make it great.

Search for excellence in everything your business does and everything it stands for. Take another look at your web site. Is it readable, engaging, and easy to navigate? Take another look at your product. Is it elegant and simple to use? Take another look at the customer experience. Are you enriching the lives of your customers and making them feel good about doing business with you? Take another look at your leadership skills. Are you an average leader who gets a job done or a great leader who inspires your team?

Focus on… excellence that your client recognizes. The audience who viewed it and proclaimed it… great recognized Pixar’s excellence. Do as Gallo suggests, review your marketing materials, your articles, your blog and ask yourself… are they excellent? No? Then… Just make them great!


What could you imagine to be the biggest and most powerful business card you can carry? I bet you thought of those giant checks that non-profits produce as a photo op with their donors… come on tell the truth! You know those checks that take 4 people to hold? Now you have the picture? Well… that’s not it! 

The biggest and most powerful business card is a book… yes a book! I have been advising clients for 20 years… "Write a book, it gives you instant credibility." That statement has never been truer. With e-books and on-demand printing it makes it easier than ever to produce a book. In addition distribution is no longer a challenge, and the channels are global. If someone had told me years ago that I would sell books in Africa, Spain, Canada, Argentina or Australia… I would have thought they were smoking something. But, today it is true. The world is small when it comes to content distribution and books are no exception.

Here are six reasons lawyers should consider writing a book…

1. You will become known as an expert in your practice area… without using the word expert as some State Bars prohibit.

2. You will build credibility… without bragging. It is a way to let potential clients understand how you think.

3. It is a competitive advantage… when "you have written the book on it"... chances are the competition can’t say the same.

4. It will increase your visibility… when you are distributed on Amazon, you have a global reach. And everything you do to promote the book will increase your visibility.

5. It will get you invitations to speak and be interviewed… when you speak on your practice area you are perceived as an authority.

6. Last but not least, it will make your Momma proud… just ask mine. I took her to Washington DC with me when I received the 2006 Business Breakthrough Book of the Year. It was fun and yes, she was proud.

Okay… it goes without saying that you need to write a good book that your target audience wants to read and filled with valuable information they can understand. There are a few formats that can help you create a book in no time.

1. The Question and Answer Format – What questions do clients ask you? Make a list and it will become the outline for your book.

2. The Most Common Mistakes Format – I’m sure you already have a long list of things you tell your clients…  "NEVER DO". 

3. The Collection of Stories Format – I know that some of you don’t talk about your cases or transactions… you don’t think others would be interested…. but I want to tell you, as I have said many times, story telling helps people remember what you do and how you do it. 

4. A Collection of Your Blog Posts or Articles Format – This one is really easy… just re-purpose your content.

This, my friends is THE biggest and most powerful business card I have… and I have THREE (working on my fourth.) Believe me if they were not powerful business development tools… do you think I would be working on my fourth? To be successful you have to invest in business development and I will tell you books are a long term investment that will pay off… if done right.

Some people wait to be invited, appointed, begged or cajoled into signing up for a project. They sit in the back of the room hoping they won’t be called on… does it sound familiar?

What most people don’t realize is there is far more to gain when you take responsibility for a project. Some people see this crystal clear. What sets them apart? Here are a couple of examples…

Last week I was working with a client in British Columbia, Canada, and it was so enjoyable that when I returned to Miami I had the feeling that I was coming home from vacation. Yes… VACATION! Why? Because I had the most fabulous time working with a team of TRULY engaged people. Lawyers AND staff, that volunteered to spearhead initiatives… a team that saw clearly that business development is EVERY ONE’S priority. NOBODY was sitting in the back of the room hoping they wouldn’t be called on… they were contributing ideas that could move business development forward and create RAVING FANS of the clients they already have. How can you make this happen around you?

Hire like-minded people with positive attitudes… that see possibilities… not impossibilities.

Recognize that everyone from receptionist to top lawyer is equally as important to the success of your firm.

Care… yes care about what every team member has to contribute. That doesn’t mean you have to act on every idea… as a colleague of mine says… everyone has to love every idea for 5 minutes. (This is a powerful concept, try it.)

At the other end of the spectrum is an individual lawyer that I coach and it just so happened that he was my first appointment when I returned from "VACATION" in Canada.

He is a young partner in a national firm who has made a commitment to business development and creating a focus for his practice like no one I have ever seen. In about a month here are some of the things he has accomplished…

Created a handout for this new focused practice… defining what it is and how it will help their existing clients. He also listed colleagues in other offices that have experience in the area.

Made a presentation to the partners of his firm in the local office, distributing the handout.

Revised his on-line bio to reflect this initiative.

Joined a committee of the ABA and has taken on a leadership role which he will undertake at an upcoming conference.

Requested and been granted a slot at the upcoming firm retreat to make a presentation.

His new blog is in the works and he has already written several blog posts.

Made a proposal for two speeches and will be contributing an article for the local Bar.

These are just a few of his accomplishments. Would you say this guy is committed? Absolutely! He could have come up with lots of reasons why this couldn’t work… but no… he found all the reasons why it COULD work! He is making it happen in a big way.

What sets these people apart from others? It’s passion and commitment, with a drive to succeed. And taking on responsibility to contribute to the greater good of the team. What do they get out of it? They will all learn much more by taking on the responsibility and gaining hands-on experience. THAT my friends is invaluable.

So… I ask… are you sitting in the back of the room hoping YOU won’t get called on? Stand up and take on responsibility… it will pay dividends. I can hardly wait to see what these people will accomplish in a year’s time… and I am honored to have the privilege to work with them.

You have a conversation about someone… what are you likely to do? Google… find out more about the person. So when someone hears YOUR name and Googles you what will they find? 

  • Your website bio? Is it up to date and does it speak to the type of work you are interested in doing?
  • A few directories with your phone number and address? Big deal… so what if they can find your office!

Are you proud of what they will find? Perhaps not.

Be the driver of your Internet identity. What are you an expert in? What is your opinion? What is your advice? This is NOT YOUR BIO… it is what is inside your head! That my friend is what will be powerful for people to find on the internet. This will provide credibility and reinforce what someone has said about you. That YOU are a lawyer worth talking to!

Articles and blogs are the answer. Every single day you put it off… you are that much further behind. Just get going!

Black Pearl: Kevin O’keefe "explores the question whether or not the Internet is an accelerator of a lawyers word of mouth". Take a look.