Acknowledge Yourself (It’s Also a Planning Tool!)

In the tradition of year-end Best of and Top Ten lists, let’s pause at the start of this fresh year. Pause here before you find yourself deep in February wondering where January went. Pause not to create a list of resolutions, but to create a list that celebrates your successes.

This is a gift you can give yourself every December- January, and it is one I always challenge my clients to give themselves. The challenge is to list 100 accomplishments from the past year – – large, small, professional, personal, measurable, immeasurable, tangible, and intangible. As you make the list, you will realize that you accomplished far more than you thought you did. And at some point in the list-making process, you will realize it is not only about the doing, it is also about the being.

What does it mean to also be about the being?” Make your list of 100 accomplishments and find out. You will probably start with easy metrics and matters related to your work. Your calendar will be a useful tool. At some point you will start thinking about all of the things you did in your personal life as well. Eventually you will get to more of who you were — perhaps how you remained resilient, persevered, asserted yourself, met new people, were a friend, or deepened relationships.

I know this challenge makes many lawyers uncomfortable, especially self-described perfectionists and those who loathe self-promotion. But no one else needs to see your list. The only person possibly judging you is you.

This is a time to be proud of yourself and who you were in 2018. A beautiful bonus is that at the end of it all, without having made a single resolution, you will more clearly see what you want to accomplish in 2019. You will see who and how you want to be, and how you will make that happen.

Speaking of 2019, if you do not already have one, create a success folder in Outlook or other location. Throughout the year, save appreciative emails, letters, notes, and your own reminders of your accomplishments. Successes are more than just wins, new clients, and increased revenue. Being able to remind yourself of them will help you ride out the year’s inevitable valleys. Having them available at year-end will help you enjoy it all over again.

Pause as the year begins.  365 new days, 365 new chances.  If you would like to work together in 2019, please let me know.

In the meantime, congratulations on your 2018 and best wishes for a happy, healthy, and successful new year!

5 Reasons Lawyers Should Keep Job Searching During the Holidays

Here are five gifts the year end holidays offer lawyers seeking new jobs:

1. December brings an abundance of cheerful networking opportunities.  Holiday open houses, bar association parties, potlucks, community service, and other social activities can involve friends as well as potential new contacts.

2. The holidays present natural opportunities to rekindle relationships and deepen others without any awkwardness.  Holiday cards, even a friendly holiday email or text, can be a simple way to reconnect or stay in touch without worrying about how it will be perceived.  Catching up over a quick cup of coffee or a drink to celebrate year end can do the same thing.

3. Law firms and companies are finalizing budgets and plans for the new year, including evaluating hiring needs.  They could meet you or receive your resume or letter of interest when their hiring needs are fresh in mind

4. You will have less competition and stand out more if you keep looking and don’t slow down or stop as many attorneys do in December.

5. Positions open up early in the new year when lawyers give notice after staying the full year in order to receive their bonus.  Be the early bird.  Be top of mind.

Focusing on and caring about other people during the holidays is part of effective job searching.  If you would like help with your job search in December or pulling your search together for 2019, please contact me.

Productivity Tip: Time is Money So Track How You Spend It

Imagine finding an extra 5 hours of time in your pocket every Friday afternoon.  Or finding 10 hours there at the end of every month?  What would you do with it?

That’s crazy, you say.  How could I find time at the end of the month?  Well, ok, so you probably won’t at the end of the month, but you can start finding extra time in your month if you know where yours tends to go.

Time is money, especially a lawyer’s, and like money, you should occasionally track how you spend ALL of it.  This is common financial advice for people trying to establish or stick to a budget.  Why not do the same with your time?

Two easy ways to track all of your time:

  1. Write it in the notes function on your phone or on a small notepad as you proceed through the day
  2. Create a miscellaneous nonbillable file # in your time tracking app and record it there contemporaneously

For one month record it all.  Personal phone calls, the black spiraling hole of the internet, online shopping, colleagues who overuse your office as a safe space or a venting venue….

Where does it go?  What is your biggest time waster?  Naming and facing your worst one is the first step.  Setting do-able rules for yourself is the second.  Follow them and then course correct as needed. 

Consider the lawyers who have rules that they can only surf the internet while on their iPad, and when they aren’t on it, the iPad has to remain out of sight, out of arm’s reach.  Or the lawyers who only read the news online before they get to their office.  Or the attorneys who designate a specific time during the day for taking care of personal matters.

Track all of your time for a month and see what you learn.  It could be even better than finding a twenty dollar bill in last year’s winter coat.  At $250/hour, finding an extra 10 hours/month equals an extra $30,000/year.  Not exactly pocket change.

If you want to increase your productivity and bill more without spending more time at the office, please contact me.

August Productivity

Today reminds me of Natalie Babbitt’s opening lines in Tuck Everlasting, “The first week of August hangs at the very top of the summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning.  The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow, a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless and hot….These are strange and breathless days, the dog days, when people are led to do things they are sure to be sorry for after.”

It is Wednesday August 1st. Pause. Look around you. What will you do today that you will thank yourself for later?  What will you do this month that will make a difference in your career this year?

If you are motivated and open to coaching to help make changes in your practice and career, please contact me.

Your LinkedIn Profile: Is That You Speaking?

Does your LinkedIn profile actually sound like you?  Or does it sound like how you think a lawyer should sound?  Perhaps you skipped the “Summary” section completely because you don’t know what to write other than something dry and stiff.

I’ve helped hundreds of lawyers with their LinkedIn profiles and Liz Ryan’s article Seven Things Your LinkedIn Profile Says About You is spot on.  Read her advice and then look at your profile with fresh eyes.  What does your profile say about you?

Your LinkedIn “headline” doesn’t have to be the same as your current job “title”.  Your job titles don’t have to be limited to formal titles.  You can write your summary in the first person.  You can highlight work you really enjoy.  You can share your story.  (And if you don’t know your story, we can help you find it.)  You can sound like the knowledgeable, credible professional you are who people would trust, enjoy working with and getting to know.

And for lawyers at medium and large firms, revamping your LinkedIn profile often means the opportunity to rewrite and improve the stiff or clichéd language that constitutes your bio on the firm’s website.  Wouldn’t that be progress?

Please let me know when you want to get started.

How to Stop Saying “I’m Sorry”

never-apologize-sorry-daily-quotes-sayings-picturesAre you an apologizer? Do you keep saying “I’m sorry” for no reason? Quick, effective fixes from my experience coaching lawyers:  (1)  Realize that this behavior undermines your credibility and authority.  (2)  Count the number of times you say “I’m sorry” in one day. Why did you say it? Was it necessary? How did it make you look?  What would you do next time?  (3) Ask friends to call you on it every time. Have them ask you what you are sorry for.  (4) If you tend to respond to people’s comments during stressful situations with an automatic “I’m sorry”, substitute “I see” instead. Both are only fillers. It’s a patch if you can’t quit cold turkey.  (5) If you have a colleague who is addicted to “I’m sorry”, tell them to stop apologizing for things that need no apology. Tell them it undermines their credibility.  If they never thought of it this way, this feedback can work like a charm. (Note:  first ask for and get their permission to give feedback.)

Key to quitting:  realize that this behavior undermines your credibility and authority!

Please contact me if you are ready to take control of your career.

Lawyers Shy About Self Promotion — Try a Speedometer

speedometer2The assertions keep coming:  I don’t want to be braggy.  I hate talking about myself.  I’m not comfortable blowing my own horn.  I don’t want to be one of those people…you know what I’m talking about.  I can’t stand those guys who….

When I am working with a lawyer on external and internal business development and marketing, such statements are a familiar refrain.*  Contrary to public perception, a lot of lawyers hate self promotion and won’t do it.  They can’t even imagine the concept of appropriate self promotion.

One of the most effective tools to explore this concept is to envision a speedometer.  When I ask, the lawyers usually admit they are at 0 in terms of self promotion.   So then I ask if the lawyer who is always blowing his own horn is at 100, isn’t there some speed between 0 and 100 that they could go without crossing the line?  What would 6o mph look like for them?  What about 30?  Inevitably they start thinking of acceptable, fact based things they can do and say, to relevant people, at relevant times, to start moving the needle.

The funny thing is that even if these attorneys pressed the pedal to the metal, none of them would ever come close to being that dreaded braggart.  We can recalibrate their internal governor but it’s still impossible for them to go 100.  This realization gives them permission to give it a go.

Where are you on the self promotion speedometer and what is your ideal speed for 2017?  If you are ready to push yourself at least a bit more, please contact me.

*This is also a familiar refrain and challenge for lawyers preparing for job interviews.

BigLaw Partner Compensation Survey – A Few Thoughts & Advice

Major, Lindsey & Africa published its bi-annual partner compensation survey of BigLaw firms in mid October.  I answered a few questions about the partner gender pay gap in today’s Detroit Legal News column “Asked & Answered” My advice applies to women and men attorneys in firms of various sizes!

If you want to work on making more money, please contact me.

“Getting Your Marketing Plan Together for 2017” – Nov. 9 free ABA webinar

It’s Q4 and the law firm is asking you for your business development plan for 2017!  Or you keep telling yourself that next year will be the year you really break through!  Where’s your plan for that?  How will you make that happen?  What will help you execute or implement your plan this time?

Join me for a free ABA webinar on November 9 @ 2:00 p.m. E.T. where I’m one of two panelists covering the essential elements you need in your business development plan for 2017.  I believe your plan should be one page or less and it has to have specific goals you care about and actions you will actually take.  If not, you’ll have another plan to throw in the drawer with all the others, or to file away in an Outlook folder never to be touched again.  As I’ll probably say during the webinar, one of my favorite plans fits on a square Post It Note a client keeps on the mirror where he shaves every morning!  We’ll walk you through a one-pager (although not a Post It!) that you can download and start filling out during the webinar.

This webinar is produced by the ABA Women Rainmakers, but you don’t have to be a woman, a member of the ABA or a rainmaker yet to register!  Register here.  I’d love to “see” you there.

Confirmation Bias – Problem Solving Lawyers Can Have It, Too.

yes-no-buttonsTake this quiz in yesterday’s New York Times. Then consider  how a preference for certain kinds of responses may affect your behavior as a lawyer and the questions you ask in your business development activities, your client communications, your arguments to the court, relationships with your colleagues, and the way you manage your career?

If you’d like help harnessing the power of both yes and no to be an even more effective rainmaker and efficient, productive and satisfied attorney, please contact me.

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