Before starting career coaching and life coaching, my clients frequently ask:  where is Yoda?  How do I find Yoda?  What they are really looking for is answers.  Yet, as a result of our technological advances, people generally aren’t taking time to reflect and search for their own answers. Instead, addicted to instantaneous button clicking, our society breeds impatience, so we expect instant gratification and results, immediately, if not sooner, as my Dad used to say.  What have we become?  Let’s hear from a cyborg anthropologist what has happened in our current culture.

Join me for a closer pictorial look to see how our world has evolved and the impact it’s made on our lives.

From the first ride of the Pony Express:

To the assembly lines of the Industrial Age:

To the Information Age of computers, as we head into the Conceptual Age:

Dan Pink acknowledges that we have left the Industrial Age and entered a Conceptual Age. What if instead we are entering a dark age? The economy, the workplace, the political stage, your current state of mind all take its toll on your sense of self.

At the TED conference, Barry Schwartz discusses why too much choice is bad for us.
Too many choices cause:
1. Paralysis rather than liberation – people prefer to make no decision rather than make a complicated choice.
2. Less satisfaction with decisions as people have greater reason to regret the decisions they have made.
3. Unrealistic expectations.
4. Self-blame – when experiences are not perfect, people blame themselves.

So, what does this all mean?  With more choices and advanced speed in communication, there are more resources available than ever before.  The Internet has changed our world as we know it and this is the first time we have ever connected to each other in this way.  From Linked In, to Facebook, to Twitter, our people connections are growing exponentially.  Yet, with all of this external stimulation, there is little time to focus internally and reflect.  More than we suspect, outside influences control our actions. Therefore, if you find yourself just reacting and riding the assembly line of life without pausing to figure out where you’re going, you will end up on the nowhere road and wonder how you got there.  Even if you take a first step and start working with a career coach and life coach, it is too easy in our current age, to expect immediate answers and changes.  It takes 28 to 30 days to change a habit, introduce a new routine, practice, or start to reframe your situation and it takes another couple months to make it stick.  So, how can one expect to shift into the driver’s seat and get instant results?  However, with career coaching and life coaching, you will be supported to help make these changes stick.  So, what do you have to gain?  Yes, it’s about finding the Yoda inside of you that may be foggy or unclear at the moment.  Take the first step and get your life coaching and career coaching consultation from your success coach now.

Try a free coaching consultation with Wanda Ropa, your success coach, to get you started and get clear about where you’re going with your career, or with your life so you can develop a strategic plan that really works for you.  With clarity, success becomes a natural outcome.

Posted by Wanda Ropa, The Success Coach.

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Los Angeles Life Coach Laura Asks: Do New Year’s Resolutions Work?

A Life Coach or Career Coach Can Make the Difference

You know the drill.  It’s the new year and you have a new resolve to lose the weight,  start exercising, quit smoking, begin meditating, etc.  Or maybe this year you’re resolved to finish the book you’ve been dabbling with, or get that promotion that’s overdue, or navigate a transition to a new, more meaningful career – one that makes you want to get out of bed in the morning.

You start off strong. This is the year you’re going to do it. After six weeks or so, you’ve built up some momentum and confidence. You’ve started to make some progress and you’re feeling good. And then March rolls around. Distractions surface. Stuff happens to usurp your time and money. It’s tax time after all.  Or maybe fear and doubt creep in. Old patterns of thinking sabotage your progress. You tell yourself this is temporary and when the weather gets warmer, you’ll re-double your efforts and start anew.

Now it’s summer and you’re back on it. The sun is out, the weather is warm and you’re feeling optimistic. You’re going to stick to it this time. You start to regain the momentum from earlier in the year. Then as the weather turns colder, stuff happens again. More distractions. Life gets increasingly hectic as the holidays approach. And when the holidays hit, you tell yourself:  “Just get through the holidays.”

You decide to table everything until the new year…and then the cycle begins again.

If all of this sounds familiar, then hiring a life coach, career coach or spiritual coach might be the way to go this year. One of the reasons why coaching works is that it’s a support structure that holds you accountable for your progress. Life coaching and career coaching (as well as other types of coaching such as spiritual, business, relationship, etc.) keeps you focused when will power waxes and wanes and distractions deter your progress. And on a deeper level, coaching works because it helps you to dissolve the soundtracks from the past which sabotage your future.  Since I began coaching in 2005, I have found that fear and doubt are the two biggest reasons why people don’t achieve their goals. Distractions are the third.

But life coaching or career coaching is not meant to be a permanent support structure.  A good life coach or career coach strives to coach you to independence – not dependence. So a skillfully trained coach works with you to create other, long-term support structures to help you not only attain your goals but sustain them, long after the coaching is over.

Resolve this year to make your resolutions work. Give yourself the support to attain and sustain your progress throughout the year so you can make 2011 the time in which you achieve the personal and professional success that has eluded you in the past.

Posted by Laura Svolos, Certified Professional Coach and Swami of Kriya Yoga specializing in life, career, relationship and spiritual/wellness coaching.

Take the first step in making your resolutions work, schedule a free consult with Coach Laura.

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Do you struggle with no time to get anything done?

Take a pause break and listen to an oldie but goodie song from the 60’s that captures one band’s perspective on this age-old problem.

Before they start life coaching, many of my clients identify their lack of time as the biggest reason for not meeting their goals.  They explain that they just need to have extra time to become successful and happy.  Just recently, during a coaching session with one of my executive coaching clients, he admitted that he works 60-65 hours a week and wants to achieve work-life balance and do the things he wants to do.  I asked, “What would happen if you fewer less hours?  Would your job still get done?”  He answered that it would.  So, I continued to ask:  “So, what is preventing you from working fewer hours?”  He replied, “me.” Before he could move forward on his goals, he needed to discover the root cause of what was really going on.

Up to now, my client had been thriving.  He had been extremely successful and never questioned the hours he worked.  So, what changed?  Understanding this process and what shifted as he began to question his current work style and consider other options was important to evaluate because this was influencing his current behavior.  Only when you drill down and begin to understand what motivates your actions, what triggers your responses, and what drives you will you be able to get back in the driver’s seat and choose how to respond.

It is too easy to let life just happen.  Remember, you can’t change the people around you, or affect the weather, or control the world.  All you can do is choose how to respond.  Yet, in order to do so effectively, you will need to understand what is going on underneath the surface.  Root cause analysis doesn’t have to feel like a root canal.  Working with a coach can easily help you identify what’s going on.  Once you bubble up what’s really going on up to the surface, you can look at it, review it, and then choose what comes next.  Otherwise, all the actions in the world will be forced and will be met with internal resistance because you will naturally sabotage your efforts.  When this happens, you have 2 choices:  blame it on external events, or reflect on what’s really going on inside.

After working for many years with coaching clients, I have discovered that if it’s a priority, it will get done.  So, the key is to truly identify your real priorities.  The ones that are really driving you and not the ones that you believe you are expected to do.  How do you drill down to your top priorities and claim them as your true heart’s desire?  The first step is to be honest with yourself.  It is important to understand how you got to this place.  You may have traveled a short time on this road, or have been derailed from your original route.  With coaching, you can get the support you need, as well as the objectivity to help you clarify your long-term vision that best fits you and helps you leverage your natural talents and experience to date.

The most successful people hire coaches.  Success and happiness can’t be achieved with a hit-or-miss approach.  You need to be laser focused on your highest priorities.

Using the 80/20 Principle, 20% of your critical priorities will yield 80% of your results. The question is how to identify your highest priorities? If you haven’t developed a personal strategic plan, it will be challenging to start this process without support.

Is it worth investing in you?  Try a free life or career coaching consultation with Wanda Ropa, your success coach, to get you started and get clear about where you’re going with your career, or with your life so you can develop a strategic plan that really works for you.  With clarity, success becomes a natural outcome.

At Feroce coaching, we know it’s about fit.  That’s why, you get two free coaching consultations (risk-free) to explore if coaching is for you.

Posted by Wanda Ropa, The Success Coach.

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For me, a life coach, the phrase self-discipline conjures up images of being strict, tough and perhaps even rigid to force myself to get things done. For the purposes of this article I use the phrase to describe the way we regulate and direct ourselves.  What self-discipline looks like to you may not be what it looks like to me.

How we do things is a deeply personal expression of our wants, needs, intentions, self-care, strengths, responsibility, beliefs and values, an outward reflection of what is important for us. I think of self-discipline as a continual recalibration and adjustment of what’s important in my life. All of us struggle with doing what needs to be done versus doing what we desire. None of us is immune from distraction. We live in an age of distractions that tempt us from good habits and intentions. How comfortable are you with your ability to balance competing needs and desires in your day?

Self-discipline is a balancing act. We are a collection of values, motivations, intentions, fears, potential, abilities, quirks, strengths and stories we tell ourselves. How all of this translates into self-discipline depends upon how aligned we are with our goals and how we balance priorities day to day. The balance you strike is reflective of your personal style of self-regulation. Are you happy with the way you balance your life or do you tend to let things slide a long time before you notice things are out of whack?

One thing I notice about people who are content with their ability to regulate themselves is that they are aware of their priorities, they are clear about them, they take responsibility for them, they take time to focus on them and they have a way of balancing competing demands on their time. My intention isn’t to judge or tell you that you should be more efficient, just be aware of how you feel about what you do in a day and notice if it works for you.

As self-discipline is so deeply personal, let me tell you about what I do and don’t do well. I learned some of my self-discipline from my mother, who has a lot of good habits and pushes through her resistance like a bull. Although I developed some good habits, I am not a creature of habit. I tend to do things as I feel like them. When I exercise good self-regulation, this feels good. When I’m not, the train slips off the rails pretty quickly. I tend to put off things like paperwork, collecting overdue accounts or cleaning. I have to face the fact that I may never ever feel like doing paperwork or making difficult calls.

I put these things on a weekly list of action steps related to my goals. I want to be financially responsible and have a neat house. So even when I don’t feel like doing paperwork, it goes into the hopper and usually gets done in the course of a week. When I face resistance to doing something onerous like doing my taxes I break it down into small achievable steps like sorting receipts, invoices and bank statements. I do my best to make it feel like something I want to do by listening to music, having a cup of coffee and having a time limit to get it done.

As I write this article I am aware of the tug of many distractions: checking email; wanting to have a cup of coffee; wanting to get up and stretch; feeling my neck is sore. Sometimes it’s tough to focus on my intentions.  If I am not responsible and I don’t hold myself accountable, I find myself emptying the dishwasher instead of doing what I intend, which is to sit and finish this article. The tug of distraction eventually proves irresistible so I use it as a way of taking a break and even rewarding myself for having applied myself and resisted distraction as long as I could. So let me tell you how I regulate myself …

I understand self-discipline as the practice of noticing what’s going on in my life, identifying and clarifying my priorities (my weekly list), balancing and making adjustments as I go along.  The best metaphor I can think of is it’s like driving a car. Imagine looking over my shoulder while I drive: I have a goal or an intention (to go somewhere), I get in the car and make myself comfortable, I check conditions, make adjustments, scan the road and set off.

While I am driving, I continually check the mirrors, stay focused, adjust my speed and watch for other drivers, all while keeping my eye on the road.  Not only am I interacting with other vehicles and responding to them, I am tempted by distractions and aware of other things I want to do. If I avoid distractions and stick to my intentions I will make it to my destination without turning into a fast food place or sending a text message while driving.

When I face a challenge, I take a deep breath then I check in with myself and notice what happens. I feel things moving around. What I notice is a dynamic balancing as I mentally move around priorities and make things fit together again. I might do this dozens of times a day, whenever I have to switch from one activity to another, to make sure I’m applying myself in the way I intend. I think of my brain as having a shifter. When I complete a task my brain is always asking, “what’s next?” The question, ‘what’s next’ is the shifter.

As long as I have a clear idea of my priorities and stick to them, shifting from one priority to another is effortless and clear. When that happens, I have a productive day and feel satisfied. When I am unclear about what’s next, I become prone to distraction. I’m prey to procrastination until I feel I know what’s next. This is where my list of action steps helps me figure a way out. Spending too much time in distraction mode gives me that sweetly sick empty feeling I had when I was a kid when I ate too much candy. That’s when I know it’s time to get back to doing something more satisfying.

I noticed that many distractions came up for me while writing this article because I found it difficult to wrap my head around this topic, making distraction and avoidance almost welcome. Now that the piece is almost finished I am beginning to feel a sense of accomplishment, empowerment and satisfaction. It takes focus, determination and persistence to push through resistance and avoidance. After all, I’m the only one who cares whether I write this article.

Let me leave you with one more element of self-discipline – self-care. I think it’s important to be responsible and balance my goals because it’s a way of caring for myself. If I don’t care enough about myself to do what I say I want then who will do them for me? I am constantly balancing self care with care for others. Think of a spectrum that ranges from selfish (extreme self care) to being in the service of others (an absence of self care).  I balance my needs, wants and desires, but not at the expense of others I care about. It takes discipline and self-awareness to strike a balance that’s right for you. I can care for others but not at my own expense. It’s a balancing act. It’s about you.

I think I’ll make some coffee and empty that dishwasher now…

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Physical Energy….Do You Have Enough Fuel?

On the surface it doesn’t seem to make sense why a person who sits at a desk most of the day working on a computer or on office papers would need to be as fit as someone who does a more physically demanding job like working on a farm. Performance physcologist Jim Loehr has a good explanation in his book The Power of Full Engagement”. “The importance of physical energy seems obvious for athletes, construction workers, and farmers. Because the rest of us are evaluated more by what we do with our minds than with our bodies, we tend to discount the role that physical energy plays in performance. In most jobs, the physical body has been completely cut off from the performance equation. “In reality, physical energy is the most fundamental source of fuel, even if our work is almost completely sedentary. It not only lies at the heart of alertness and vitality but also affects our ability to manage our emotions, sustain concentration, think creatively, and even maintain our commitment to whatever mission we are on. Leaders and managers make a fundamental mistake when they assume that they can overlook the physical dimension of energy and still expect those who work for them to perform at their best

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bradley foster

I saw Richard St. John present a talk on his new book: 8 to be Great: The 8 traits successful people have in common. He interviewed hundreds of successful people to find out what they all had in common (spoiler alert: I’m going to tell you what they are). He distilled the interviews down into various qualities these people (who include Warren Buffet and Bill Gates) and figured out what they all had in common. He discovered that they all had 1) passion, 2) They had fun working and spent a long time at it; 3) They had the ability to focus on just one thing; 4) They had the ability to push themselves harder; 5) They had great ideas; 6) They got good at what they did through constant improvement; 7) They all believed in the idea of service; and 8) They persisted, even in the face of failure.

I believe Richard has done his homework and has a lot to tell us about how to be successful. I have to quibble with his notion of success though. He takes it for granted that these people are successful, yet he never defines what he means by success which I felt was a bit odd. His subjects are all well off and in some cases, ridiculously so, and they are all good at what they do but it’s a bit of stretch to attribute success to them without saying what he means by success. Richard believes that it’s okay to get out of balance, to work long hours, to sacrifice time with family and friends, even skipping the gym all in the name of being successful. That’s not my definition of success. It sounds more like being a workaholic in my books but then one of my definitions of success is to lead a balanced life.

So what is success? I believe that we all succeed on our own terms and it’s key for each of us to be able to articulate our conditions of success. How else will we know when we have succeeded? After all, using Bill Gates as a measuring stick for success is bound to make us all feel depressed. One way to measure success is to set goals, both short and long term so we know what we are shooting for and we know when we’ve arrived. We can certainly take a page from Richard’s book to help us on our way but why not measure success on our own terms?

By the way, I think there are a couple elements key to success that Richard ignored, maybe because they are not identified as traits. Luck and timing are just as important to you as they are to the multitudes interviewed by Richard St. John. After all, how successful would Bill Gates be if he founded Microsoft in today’s business environment? Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. Having good luck is really a matter of doing the groundwork and keeping your eyes open. Timing is a little more ephemeral but it requires perspective and a bit of strategy to make it work. Luck and timing can give you a leg up the ladder. May luck be with you and your timing be right!

Bradley Foster

Feroce Coach

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In my coaching (and in my practice), we are driven by the bottom line results – whatever the goal may be – whether it is achieving balance between work and play, increasing revenue, becoming an equity partner, etc.  When it comes to bringing in new work, the results are easy to measure.   Either you got a piece of new work or you didn’t.

Good Lawyer Marketing Requires You To Set A Clear, Tangible Goal.

With all of my clients, we set many different goals in several different areas.  But the goals are never ambiguous, never easy to run away from.  There is always accountability.  As you know, without it, we keep with our big picture goals of “building my book,” “increasing revenue,” “achieving balance,” without any real or permanent progress.  That is because – just like our New Year’s resolutions (mine anyway), we have bitten off more than we can chew – without little steps, and without a little help.

To avoid this common problem, I often like to set the goal of getting a new piece of work in a week’s time.  (Of course, the bigger accomplishment from a bottom line view is the goal of getting a new client every 4 to 6 weeks, which I work with many of my clients on during the coaching process, as it is obviously more involved.)  This short term goal is helpful because it takes you actively through the marketing process in a shortened time frame, is pretty exhilarating when you achieve it (and you will), and it increases your revenue.

In my experience, though it sounds difficult, this is not as difficult to accomplish as one might think.  In fact, most lawyers (at all kinds of different levels) can succeed at it.  Then, why you ask, don’t people do it, and keep doing it?  I think it boils down to two reasons – first, as lawyers, we are overwhelmed with our day-to-day work and know that we have to “increase our book” but we have to do that “next week” or “next month.”  It seems daunting, overwhelming, and easy to put off.  Of course, as a coach, we make this a machine that is built in to your practice – requiring very little effort on your part – yes, effort, but not nearly as much as you are imagining right now.

Second, and pretty puzzling, we as lawyers are generally pretty nervous at failing, and don’t want to do one simple thing – just ask for the work.  Now, it is not a direct ask – generally – and requires timing and tact (okay so we all know someone that won’t be able to pull it off), but it is pretty simple when you change your mind set a bit. 

During our assessment and your coaching, we would determine what the best approach for you would be.  But for a vast majority of lawyers, I would ask you to think of a current client that is a mess (not personally – just in a business sense), and preferably one that you have recently achieved a good result for.  You may be handling a piece of litigation for them or a trademark, etc. – and you know they have a ton of other problems unrelated to what you’re doing.  Now, instead of that client’s litigator or IP lawyer, think of yourself as their business partner.  Your goal is to look out for their business, make it as profitable as possible, and avoid future exposure and expense.  So, of course, you are going to let the client know about what you have discovered, the negative impact that could have on their business (money – bottom line is what they care about), how the issue needs to be taken care of, and how you would suggest doing it.  Now, you might suggest that you can do it or a partner of yours – but you should always suggest an alternative method too (whether it be that you could find another lawyer for them or them handling it internally).  This impresses upon the client how you are looking out for them – not you.  And, they rarely, rarely take the alternative.  You will generally get the work.

There are a dozen other get work in one week methods that I employ, and I’m sure a few will fit for you – but the bottom line is you just have to do it – and you will succeed when you put your mind to it.  Then, we can tackle the bigger goals!   

Use An Experienced Lawyer Marketing Coach That Has Been Successful in Practice.

As you know, we advocate marketing coaches as a way to achieve this accountability, help you see the forest and the trees, and help you put steps in place to accomplish your goals.  When I built my business, my biggest successes were either while I was directly using a coach or while using steps that my coaches taught me.  But to truly understand what you need to do, and how you need to do it, you want someone that has the training and experience to get you there.  Not someone that teaches well, but can’t do (because not sure it that really exists).  In any event, when interviewing a coach, make sure you are hiring someone that knows the lingo and the challenges – someone who has encountered it and succeeded.

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Trapped by Life?

Do you feel trapped by your life?  Do you sense you are a product of the times finding it difficult to recognize your true self amidst the noise and stimulation of traffic, emails, work deadlines, and family?

Dan Pink acknowledges that we have left the Industrial Age and Entered a Conceptual Age.  What if instead we are entering a dark age?  The economy, the workplace, the political stage, your current state of mind all take its toll on your sense of self.

Do you have a minute to breathe or a few minutes each day to focus on yourself? Maggie Jackson discusses that the Erosion of Attention is heralding this new period in our civilization.

At the TED conference, Barry Schwartz discusses why too much choice is bad for us.
Too many choices cause:
1. Paralysis rather than liberation – people prefer to make no decision rather than make a complicated choice.
2. Less satisfaction with decisions as people have greater reason to regret the decisions they have made.
3. Unrealistic expectations.
4. Self-blame – when experiences are not perfect, people blame themselves.

Is it time to conduct an audit of your life?
A very wise manager once told me that every individual has a check for 24 hours and it is up to him or her how to choose to use it. Now, as you know, that is not necessarily true. We are all bound to our previous commitments. Yes, our commitment to our families and ourselves to maintain certain lifestyles. Have your true priorities been washed away by the current tides?

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has been researching the subject of being in flow for many years.

He defines flow as the process of achieving happiness through control over one’s inner life.
When you are in flow, you are focused on your highest priorities and life becomes easy and effortless. You are leveraging your natural self.

Using the 80/20 Principle, 20% of your critical priorities will yield 80% of your results. The question is how to identify your highest priorities? If you haven’t developed a personal strategic plan, it will be challenging to start this process. To make this easy, let’s first remember it’s not about managing your time, but your energy levels. Begin by answering the next few questions:
When is my peak time of day?  Morning, afternoon, or evening?  Or somewhere in-between?

Am I using my peak times to focus on activities that are most important to me?

Do I know how much true discretionary time I have in a week?

To get you started, let’s look at a typical week: 24 hours x 7 days = 168 hours.
To calculate how much actual discretionary time you actually have in 1 week:
1. Total the number of hours you are actually at work, include your commute time, and work you bring home.
2. Tally the average number of hours you sleep, notice if there are any differences on the weekends, to get your subtotal for the week.
3. Estimate the time you take to eat each day, include meal preparation, grocery shopping, restaurant dining, notice if there are any changes on weekends, to estimate time spent in 1 week.
4. Identify your scheduled and weekly time commitments to other activities, including, but not limited to working out, trips to the gym, church attendance, regular weekly family obligations (does not include relaxation or ad hoc activities – only routine scheduled activities are recorded here)
5. Now, subtotal your hours for the week and subtract from 168 hours. This is your total discretionary time available each week. Any surprises? Yes, you didn’t factor in rest and relaxation. But how many hours of each day do you actually squander or do they just escape in mindless activities that do not move you forward on your goals?

One Quick Tip:
– 1% of your time is 1.68 hours. Let’s round up to 2 hours a week or about 15 minutes per day.
– This coming week, try scheduling 15-minute appointments each day to focus on yourself and your highest priorities.

Are you ready to take this first step? Try it and see.

If you would like a more detailed audit of your life, try a free coaching consultation with Wanda Ropa, your success coach to get you started. Coaching can help you get clear about where you’re going with your career, or with your life so you can develop a strategic plan that really works for you.  With clarity, success becomes a natural outcome.

Posted by Wanda Ropa, The Success Coach.

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Most people cringe at the thought of putting one together.  Attorney business development plans are nothing new.  Everyone has told us to do them – from marketing departments to business books.  Even when not told, it seems like a good idea to have a “plan” to get new clients and grow our existing books.  And, over the years, most of us have even created a lawyer marketing plan.  We might have even felt energized with our creative juices flowing when putting the ideas on paper.   I guarantee you that, when you wipe the dust off those marketing plans, they are filled with some great starting places for building a great book of business.  Another guarantee:  if you develop and implement an effective lawyer marketing plan, you will develop business.

 Most Attorney Marketing Plans Do Not Work

So if they can build our books and most every lawyer has been exposed to attorney development plans, why do they gather dust and never really implemented?  It is really simple – most attorney marketing plans do not work.  Don’t worry – it’s not your fault (mostly anyway).  Though we’re told to put them together, no one is really ever taught how to do it successfully – that is taught by someone who has successfully developed a large book of business because of their personal attorney marketing plan.  (That task, if you ever have gotten guidance, was probably left to a marketing staffer that is well intended, but missing the key experience of closing the deal.)

Here are three tips to develop your own lawyer marketing plan.

Tip 1:  Your Lawyer Marketing Plan Must Set Very Specific and Measurable Goals

As lawyers, we’re taught to think big picture.  Big picture is important and necessary, but successful  lawyer marketing plans require plotting out the details.  Somehow, most lawyer marketing plans are more theoretical than practical.  For example, a plan may be designed to “obtain new defense personal injury cases with injuries in restaurants – through insurance panels and direct contacts.”  That is a great start and the goal is pretty specific, but the plan doesn’t provide guidance.  The “how’s” and “when’s” are left unanswered. 

To answer those questions, a successful attorney development plan will:

Identify each step required to achieve the goal.  This makes us think through the practical steps.  Sometimes it will cause us to re-evaluate the goal (maybe it’s too aggressive or not aggressive enough) early on.  For the above example, our specifics might be:  1) make list of restaurant contacts; 2) research competition that has handled similar matters; 3) research and list insurance carriers; 4) identify adjusters and arrange meetings.

 Set alternative steps for accomplishing the goal.  There are always several paths to a goal, and many times we run into stumbling blocks.  But I have found that those that have a back-up plan or two keep at it and are successful.  If you only have one plan and it doesn’t pan out, you might just give up – feeling you did as much as you could.  In this example, while getting on the “panels” and arrange a meeting with the targets, you might also want to look to provide the adjusters (who make the decision to hire you) with something of value (a training or presentation) that they can pass along to their insureds and your future clients.  This is a win-win proposition and a great back up.

Set regular deadlines for each step – and meet them.  This is critical to success.  And a key that is often overlooked – you must set a task for at least every two weeks.  The key to lawyer marketing is to keep the ball rolling.  You have other deadlines and things going on, but this is a must.  (This is one of the reasons why attorneys hire coaches – we are good at setting productive tasks and following up; sometimes we’ll even help you with your homework!)

Regularly measure performance, and make adjustments.  Looking back at your plan, what you have accomplished, and what you need to do is another key step.  I suggest that you re-evaluate at least monthly or task by task, which should be every two weeks.  Adjust and fine tune as necessary.

Tip 2:  Effective Legal Marketing Must Have Short-Term Results

 Results matter.  To keep your attorney development plan effective and alive, I always suggest that one of your goals is to ensure a short-term success.  And, I don’t define “success” as some feel good; I mean real, bottom line, money in your pocket success.  This is what development is all about, and if you experience short-term success, you are more likely to continue working on lawyer marketing and achieve long-term successes too. 

 These are a couple of short-term goals that I suggest:

 Look at Your Numbers.  If you are like me, when you first heard the term “realization rate,” it triggers the eyelids to lower.  But, when in management, I learned the true definition –  getting paid for what you already do without doing more work.  What?  Yes.  As a development coach, I often set the short-term goal of raising an attorney’s realization rate (bottom line cash in door) by 4-5% within 30 days.  And, I do not take failure well – so, we accomplish that goal over and over.  Again, this is money in your pocket without doing any extra work.  (Call for a free consultation to get working on details.)

 Expand Work For Existing Client.  To be more specific, I work with attorneys in partnering with their existing clients to bring in two more matters (for that client or for one of the client’s contacts) in the first month.  Each relationship is unique and will require a specific game plan, but this is one of the easiest and most satisfying short term goals to accomplish.  (Of course, this short term goal should become a recurring monthly goal as well!)

 Real Accountability Required

Study after study has shown that if you are accountable to someone else, you are more likely to produce results.  More surprisingly, people are even more accountable to people they don’t know as well – maybe the excuses won’t work.  Of course, we believe that this is where coaching is key.  You have an objective, outsider that has built a large book of business that is willing to share these methods and keep you on track.  Well worth the money invested.  Even if we are not the right fit, we think hiring an experienced coach is essential.

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The times, they are a changing.  We all knew that, but who knew the extent of that change when it came to lawyer marketing?  In the good old days, as lawyers, we were able to get clients because they were loyal to us or our firm.  We really didn’t have to do much back then, but do good work. 

Those are the days that are over, for the most part.  Clients, like lawyers, are mobile – and many use the services of several firms.  To get in the door and stay on a client’s calling card, we have to do so much more than the old “dog and pony shows” of the past.  (You remember those days when a junior lawyer put together materials, and a senior lawyer sat before the decision-maker and just talked, and talked, and talked about nothing related to the materials.  And usually never listened to the client.  Oddly, this was the method for awhile.  Let us be thankful for the passing of some things.) 

Now, we have to be on the cutting edge in our legal marketing strategies.  The competition is fierce, and we have seen lawyers turning to attorney marketing coaches to get a significant leg up on the competition.  Marketing Departments are great and serve a terrific purpose.  But they generally have to serve the firm’s entire attorney base and cannot provide the individualized coaching and development that a lawyer marketing coach (that has been a successful practitioner with a great book of business) can provide.  Practical insight – not theory – is what attorney coaches provide.  To really build your book, you need someone that will critically assess where you need assistance, set very specific goals, and actually help you in executing – to get the results you desire.  And the return on investment (which everyone wants to know about) is huge. 

Hire a Lawyer Marketing Coach

So, my first tip to any lawyer – whether just starting out, trying to build your book to attain equity status, or a successful equity partner that wants to remain ahead of the game – is to hire a coach.  It sounds a little like the “Match.com” for attorneys’ professional lives, I know.  Before I became a coach, I hired one.  But getting there for me took a nudge or two.  I was chugging along, an equity partner, and making a good living.  Why would I need a coach?  Now, looking back, it is easy to say why – because I was losing my mind.  Not literally (at least, I don’t think so).  But, as we all do, I was juggling a lot and it just seemed that I needed to get it all organized (kind of like when you dread the summary judgment motion or plaintiff’s deposition for weeks), but when you sit down and write it or take it, you realize the worry was much more troubling than the actual motion or depo). 

The same is true of lawyer marketing.  After I hired my coach, my book doubled from almost two million to almost four in a year.  And, I spent less time on marketing.  My legal marketing became almost mechanical.  My attorney coach helped me put a system in place so that marketing was ongoing (not the “when I get a chance I’ll get to that” list), effortless, and fun.  Of course, I happen to think we provide the best practical results, but please take my tip – whether it is us or not – hire a coach!

The List:  Secret Weapon for Legal Marketing Success

My second tip is at the core to any legal marketing success and what I tell every single coaching client.  “The List” is crucial to building your book of business.  Now, though it probably doesn’t seem like rocket science, you would be surprised how many lawyers do not keep (and maintain) an active contact list – that contains your clients, targets, professional relationships on boards, friends, etc.  If you have one, that’s great, but remember, The List doesn’t bring you clients – it is what you do with it.  The List will contain contact information, of course, but much, much more.  You’ll include important dates (birthdays, anniversaries), children’s and spouses’ names, and personal information about the client/target (where they like to vacation, what their hobbies are, where they go to church, etc.).  Of course, you’re not going to have them fill out a questionnaire, but these are the details that you’ll pick up in your conversations (or I’ll teach you to pick up) – and you’ll note it.  And when you send them an article on the Caribbean that you found online (or your Marketing Coach found for you), it tells them so much about you.  It tells the client that you listen, you truly care about them, not just their business – that you value their relationship.  That’s what it is all about.  Isn’t that exactly the type of person you would want to hire?

There are so many things to do with The List – that take little time and give you huge bang for your buck.  We’ll share more of those in other posts.  When you are ready to get started with your successful legal marketing success, drop us a line for your complimentary session.  Test us out; we are passionate about your individual success.

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