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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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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Job Searching: Do You Look and Sound Like Yourself?

resumeHR consultant Liz Ryan, founder of “Human Workplace”, writes fresh, useful advice columns for people on job searches.  The other day she wrote an excellent column on ways to answer the “why do you want to work here” question. She recently wrote about how to get a job you will hate.  A cornerstone of her job search advice is what she calls a “human voiced” resume.

Take Ms. Ryan’s “human voiced” job search approaches  straight up or modify her tips to fit you.  Either way, I think you’ll find some valuable ideas you can start implementing to stand out and be more of your unique self in your search for your next job.

I know from experience with my lawyer clients that you’ll like your resume, cover letters, interviews, even your own website content and LinkedIn profile more when you look and sound more like yourself.  And yes, that includes parts of yourself that you, like many lawyers, may have a hard time seeing and promoting.

That’s why asking questions and listening for nuggets is my favorite aspect of coaching lawyers.  It’s not just about finding a new job or a better fit, having a more effective website or more clients.  It’s also about you recognizing, building on and being more of your unique, best self.  When you start doing this, more of the other good things will follow.

If you want to stand out by being more of your unique self in your job search, marketing, business development, or workplace, please contact me.

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Interview Preparation: Your Questions Matter, Too

This recent WSJ article, It Pays to Ask Smart Questions at a Job Interview by Dennis Nishi, rings true with my experience with lawyers and law students preparing for interviews.trivia 3

Many of the lawyers and students I’ve worked with have previously made their own questions an afterthought in their interview preparation.  In fact, it’s not uncommon for me to hear:  “I never know what to ask when the interviewer asks if I have any questions for him/her. What should I ask?  What are good questions?”

To me, disinterest in spending time researching and thinking about a potential employer to formulate questions beyond those which can be answered by its website almost guarantees that an interviewee won’t stand out from other candidates.  Fortunately, it’s usually not disinterest but rather a lack of understanding about the value of digging deeper and being more curious about the employer.

After it dawns on people how their questions are opportunities to distinguish themselves, we also talk about asking questions to elicit information to help shape their own answers.  And wouldn’t you like to have that insight sooner rather than later when the interviewer finally asks if you have any questions.  Better still, weaving your questions into the interview also makes it more conversational, thus more comfortable.  What a concept!  Try it.  I think you will like it.

Therefore, I couldn’t agree more:

“‘Don’t wait until the end of the interview to ask about the job and what the employer is looking for in a candidate…  If you ask them at the end of the interview, it’s too late. You already pitched yourself to the company without knowing what they want.’ Being more proactive with questions also allows you to weave them into the natural flow of the interview conversation.”

If you would like help preparing for interviews, including questions to ask, please contact me.

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Time to “Repot” Your Career?

repottingThe end of a year is a perfect time to consider where you have been and where you want to go in your legal career.  For some experienced lawyers, it may even be time to “repot” yourself.

This January 2014 article from the Stanford Graduate School of Business revisits the idea of how changing your career trajectory every 10 years or so can lead to greater innovation, success and meaning in your work.  As Dean of Stanford GSB Ernie Arbuckle said about fifty years ago, “Repotting, that’s how you get new bloom . . . you should have a plan of accomplishment and when that is achieved you should be willing to start off again.” 

If you would like to explore what “repotting” in your career could look like, please contact me.

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Legal Career Advancement: Business, Strategic & Financial Acumen May Be a Missing Ingredient

MH900030057MH900030058How well do you understand where your law firm, company, client or other organization is going, what its strategy is, what financial targets it has in place, and what your role as a lawyer and leader is or should be in moving the organization forward?  Consider whether you understand and regularly use the buzz words and phrases, the industry standards, trends and metrics, or even know what people mean when they talk about strategic alignment.

Leadership expert Susan Colantuono discusses in this Ted talk how a lack of advice on developing business, strategic and financial acumen as a skill set prevents many women leaders from rising above middle management.  In my opinion, regardless of whether you are a woman or a man, understanding the importance of this acumen for your career path and developing it would be time well spent.

What is the state of your business, strategic and financial acumen?  How might it be holding you back from greater leadership roles or other success in your legal career?  If it is, what will you do to develop it?  And who can advise and teach you how to develop this skill set?  Even greater still, how can you help this become an organic part of the cultivation of leaders within your law firm or company?

If you would like coaching on how to enhance your business, strategic and financial acumen, please contact me.

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Career Development & the Art of Auto Mechanics

MH900310008Paul, the 20 year old technician who volunteered to shuttle me back from the dealership, was talking about how he fits in there. He credited being outgoing as the reason everyone seems to like him at the dealership, even as a fairly new employee. He wondered aloud how some seemingly less friendly types sell the most cars.

When I asked how he thought those salesmen did it, Paul said he had not seen them in action. I pressed and he was silent. As the light turned green, he suggested that instead of talking a lot, the salesmen might be studying the customers, trying to figure out what they need.

It took Paul just a few moments to come up with this theory. If he is even partially right, why do we lawyers keep proclaiming that we do not want to be like car salesmen? Maybe we should reframe our challenge and try to be like some of the most successful ones. Talk less, listen more.

I liked this kid. I talked less, listened more.

Paul has a niche all to himself in the service department – – electronics. He got into it for two reasons: he has always been interested in playing around with electronics and no one else in the service department wanted to do that work. I suspect he is developing a niche skill set that he can build on for years to come and use anywhere in the country.

In high school Paul thought he wanted to be a psychologist but realized he did not like to study. So he decided to go to an out-of-state technical institute. He may not like studying, but obviously he likes to learn. He picked a specific car family track and graduated in two years. He chose the track based on his personal background and what he knew of the need in the market.

Of multiple job offers, he accepted this one based on the dealership’s reputation and his sense of how employees are treated there. He has benefits, a nice car and funds to travel to see friends in college.   Unlike two friends at the institute who have held and lost several jobs elsewhere in less than a year, his niche and relationships in the dealership seem secure and full of potential.

As he pulled up in front of my house, I repressed an urge to thank Paul for starting his career exactly where I wish more lawyers and other people could be, in the middle of a Venn diagram. He is thriving in the intersection of three circles: his interests/passions, things at which he excels and a need or opportunity in the market.

Instead, I thanked him for the ride and wished him luck.  He is a terrific young man headed in the right direction.

If you would like to thrive more in your legal career, please contact me.

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