Just a test for Jim Drazen. How are you Jim?
Cliff Atkinson (on his Beyond Bullets blog) has some excellent tips for writers. He suggests working through your idea first — taking multiple opportunities to present it to others — before commiting it to writing. He even goes so far to suggest writers prepare a powerpoint presentation before writing a word. Here’s why:
This approach can actually reduce the risk that an idea will be rejected, because it’s been pre-tested in the marketplace of ideas first, and pre-qualified against 3 principles:
1. Your idea grows stronger as it moves from the abstract to the concrete. An idea in your mind doesn’t do anyone else any good until you communicate it to other people. Get your idea out early and find out what the world thinks.
2. Whatever doesn’t kill your idea makes it stronger. Ask people what they think, and appreciate people who disagree — they’re the ones you can give most credit toward strengthening your idea. Get feedback, find out what works, discard what doesn’t, and keep moving forward.
3. Your excitement for your idea is what gets other people excited. As you share your ideas with other people in person, you have the unique opportunity to demonstrate the passion that will help you overcome the forces that will surely work against your idea. Without your passion, no one else will become passionate.
I have been really struggling with my MoreSpace essay. I love my outline and ideas, but I am having a difficult time making it "flow". I’ll give Cliff’s ideas a try and you can be the judge when you read the essay — if Todd doesn’t fire me from the project first because I’m behind.
Kirsten Osolind, on her fantastic re:invention blog weighs in with some smart steps companies can take to extinguish negative online publicity:
1. ACKNOWLEDGE RESPONSIBILITY RESPONSIBILY
If your company has done wrong or had an issue, acknowledge the issue/wrong, take responsibility, and provide an overview of what you are doing to address it. Respond on the site where the negative publicity occurred if possible and if warranted, on your company website.
2. GO TO THE MATTRESSES – BUT DON’T GO ALONE
If the online criticism is unfounded/false/incorrect, utilize your network FIRST. Solicit help from loyal customers and advisory boards – asking them to post personal positive feedback, articulate your key messages, or provide enthusiastic endorsements to counter the negative claim. Ask them to question the person who made the unfounded online claims and solicit more specific detail from the negative evangelist. You’ll be better prepared to answer on behalf of your company.
3. TRY PAID SEARCH
Paid search (paid inclusion, pay-per-click) can work to counter negative publicity. You can articulate your key messages to your target audience, showcase customer endorsements, and push down the negative comments.
4. DO GOOD AND BE GOOD
Continue to offer good customer service and good quality products. Over time, loyal and satisfied customers will help douse the online flames and evangelize truth over fiction.
5. LITIGATE AS A LAST RESORT
As a last resort (and we mean a LAST RESORT), companies can pursue litigation, contacting site owners directly or spam checking/reverse link look-ups.
I almost left that last one out. ;-)
Several weeks ago, I got a telephone call from Randy Wells, the LegalMatch CEO. Randy wanted to meet with me in person, and (after I was certain the purpose of the meeting was not to serve me with summons) I suggested we meet during LegalTech
Randy and I had a nice conversation during dinner – most of which was “off the record” – and we discussed LegalMatch’s reputation problem. I told Randy that, though my blog has become sort of a clearinghouse for LegalMatch comments pro and con, my only problem with his company’s service was (and remained) the methods they used to entice lawyers to subscribe to their LegalMatch service.
While Randy assured me that things were changing inside LegalMatch, I suggested to him, in true ClueTrain fashion, that he needed to open a dialog with all those who seem to really hate his company, including the people who continue to leave unfavorable comments on this blog.
Randy took my advice, and has sent me the following letter that I post (unedited) in its entirety. If you have comments, feel free to leave them to this post, because I know LegalMatch is reading. Otherwise, call Randy directly. His telephone number is at the end of the letter.
OPEN LETTER FROM RANDY WELLS, CEO OF LEGALMATCH
To Our Colleagues in the Legal Community,
On behalf of LegalMatch, I would like to personally apologize for a number of overly aggressive sales practices conducted by the company in the past. After consulting with many individuals and groups within the legal community and after a thorough review of our internal practices, it became clear that LegalMatch was less than professional in its approach.
As a result, since taking over the position of CEO at LegalMatch, I have implemented a number of improvements to our marketing team and their practices that will immediately address and rectify these issues, including:
1) A new training program with focus on best-in-class, professional marketing practices.
2) A new improved compensation system that is no longer 100% commission based – reducing the ‘sell-at-all-costs’ mentality.
3) A reorganization of the marketing team that will make it much more customer-centric and friendly.
In addition, the company’s founder, Dmitry Shubov, understands that in order for the company to continue it’s phenomenal growth (53% 2004) that he must divest his majority stake in LegalMatch.
There are several negotiations in process.
Given Dmitry’s vast experience in the online legal category, LegalMatch will retain his services as an outside consultant.
This decision, along with our new programs and ongoing improvements, marks the end of one chapter in the company’s history, and the start of an exciting, new chapter in our continued growth. Our mission today is to build on these renewed values and principles that aim squarely at serving the legal community. Helping consumers find qualified attorneys and helping attorneys develop and focus a law practice is at the core of our company’s vision today.
Once again, I hope you will accept this apology and invite everyone to give LegalMatch another chance in the near future.
If you have any questions, please feel to email or call me directly.
CEO of LegalMatch
Surprises are one of the best things you can do–psychologists claim that intermittent rewards can be more engaging than consistent rewards. Remember, surprise=delight.
I worked for a guy who ran an exclusive, foofy, insanely expensive health club. He took 100% of what should have been (back then, when Ads were King) his advertising budget, and instead put ALL of it into a monthly "member surprise" budget. Nobody ever knew what was going to happen. You’d be in an aerobics class with 100 people (it was a big place), and as you walked out, suddenly there were carts loaded up with bowls of frozen yogurt and a toppings bar. You’re in the weight room when the employees start walking through handing out exclusive t-shirts, always with his logo, and always with a fun quote, that you knew would never appear on a t-shirt again. Members collected these things like rare beanie babies. The late-night exercise classes were the hardest to fill, but he would take the worst time slot and make it interesting… the 9 PM folks might walk out of class only to be handed a wine cooler or even a relaxation CD.
It always felt like a party in there! And employees fought over the chance to be the one who got to hand out the cool stuff. And there was no hierarchy in deciding who got to do that…everyone from the janitors to the office bookeeper might be "picked" to be the hero. I had never before, and never since, seen the kind of loyalty among both staff and members that I saw in that place. His attrition rate for both members and employees was less than half the industry average for health clubs at the time.
Thanks to Johnnie Moore for the link.
John Jantsch has a great tip in this post titled You’ve Got to Sing Like You Don’t Need the Money. Here are some excerpts:
Generate more leads, more opportunities, more clients than you can possibly serve, and then raise your prices.
Here’s the theory – If I have more demands on my time than I can meet. I can look someone squarely in the eye and name my price, because I don’t “have” to get the order. … Too many business owners find themselves enslaved by maniac clients that rob them of their value. Just say no can apply to marketing too. Lastly … nothing is more appealing than security. If a potential client sniffs even a whiff of desperation, your selling effort will move away from your terms and you won’t have the guts to name your price.
Now, I don’t advocate raising prices all the time for all of your clients, but if you are serving those "maniac clients" or feel totally overwhelmed by your work load, why not take John’s advice and see what happens?
Where should you put the most important information on your website? Read this.
I found a post on the Cutting Though blog a while back titled 10 Ways to Use Blogs for Managing Projects. Next time you are looking for a cheap and effective way to manage a project in your business, think blog!
As I posted last week, I’m moving to California. My wife is taking a temporary (now between 9 and 18 months, we’re told) assignment with Nestle in Glendale, California. My wife leaves in two weeks, and I’ll follow around March 15th or so. What this means is very light blogging. I have set aside today for blog and LexThink related stuff, so while I can’t promise an all-request day like my friend Dennis Kennedy did last week, I’ll be clearing out some cobwebs and throwing a bunch of stuff on-line.
Who knows, as my wife and I prepare to sell our house and clean out all of our accumulated junk, I may decide to host the first-ever combined real garage sale and virtual idea garage sale in the history of the internet.
Andy Havens has this great post (a rant, really) titled "When Your Only Tool’s a $115k Hammer" about how the management at large firms justify the huge associate starting salaries as a benefit to the client. Speaking of this law.com article, Andy pulls a quote from Howard Scher, managing partner of Buchanan Ingersoll’s Philadelphia office — one of the firms that has just bumped starting salaries from $105 to $115K — who says,
We have clients who want first-class legal representation, so we have to compete for the best people. While I don’t think that $5,000 or $10,000 should be the basis for making a career decision, it is for people at that stage of their careers. So we hope this shows law students that Buchanan Ingersoll is a first-class firm.
Now, Andy’s take:
Look at the quote above: "We have clients who want first-class legal representation." No offense to Mr. Scher and his firm, which is a very nice joint (especially since I’d love to consult for him; call me, Howard — 614.395.4134), but I have a question; is there a firm out there with clients who want second-class legal representation? Is there a general counsel out there who wakes up thinking, "You know what? My outside representation is too damned good. I’m going to fire them and hire some hacks."
Second point. Do you care what any service provider in your entire world of purchasing behavior has ever paid any of their workers? I want you to think very, very hard. Have you ever thought to yourself, "I should check and make sure that my surgeon (dentist, mechanic, kids’ teacher, banker, insurance agent) is the HIGHEST PAID PROFESSIONAL IN HIS INDUSTRY!!??
No. You never have. Ever. You care about the quality of service. Period. And in many cases, quality of service does NOT track on a 1-to-1 basis with what employees are paid. It more often equates to the level of respect they are provided, the amount of feedback they have in their organizational systems, how well they are managed, their level of personal mentoring, etc.
But, just as the billable hour is the only measure by which law firms seem capable of judging productivity, associate pay is the only measure by which they seem capable of esteeming quality, rewarding it and (this is the huge disconnect) communicating the same to both clients and associates.
I’d love to just copy the rest of his post word-for-word, but you owe it to yourself to check out the rest of it here, and read the rest of Andy’s terrific blog while you are at it. I can’t resist this one more snippet, though:
You are sending them a bad, wrong, unhealthy and, ultimately, self-defeating message. If the only way you can get "the best" students to come to your firm is to pay them $10k more a year… Let them go to other firms. Take the "Tier-2" kids who want to work somewhere with heart, guts, moxie, brains and staying power. I guarantee that in a few years your clients will love those kids way, way more than they ever would any shiny, greedy "A-Team" gold-diggers.
Print out this list and put it in the front of every client file you open and look at it several times thoughout the engagement. I especially love the thank-you card idea.
Anita Campbell, editor of the Small Business Trends Blog has been posting a lot recently about trends for 2005. Here are snippets of a recent post that may hint at a profitable niche for attorneys and other professionals:
In 2005 and beyond, an aging Baby Boomer population will be the catalyst for major changes in the workforce. It will spawn the entirely new field of retirement consulting, to help two-income couples discover what to do in their retirements.
With seniors aged 65 and older the fastest growing segment of the American population, expect to see daycare centers for the elderly crop up on Corporate campuses. Instead of dropping off their children during the workday, employees will bring their aged parents.
The growing population of senior citizens will also mean new business opportunities. Think errand-running businesses to serve elders.
Anita cites a report, titled "Challenger Future Workplace Trends: 2005 and Beyond" by Challenger Christmas & Gray. I’ve read it and it has some great stuff. Check it out. While you are at it, check out all of Anita’s trends for 2005:
Anti-Trending and Other Trends for 2005
Entrepreneur’s Top Trends for 2005
Small Business is Itself a Trend
Top Technology Trends for 2005
Top Global Consumer Trends
Inc.’s Trends for Entrepreneurs in 2005
Top Travel Trends for 2005
More Top Trends for 2005
The Small Business Advocate’s 2005 Predictions
Top 2005 eBusiness Trends
Entrepreneurship Trends for 2005
Health and Family Trends for 2005
Powersports Industry Trends for 2005
I graduated from the University of Illinois in 1990, and was in Assembly Hall for most of the Flyin’ Illini’s magical run to the Final Four in ‘89. This year, the undefeated Illini are playing the best basketball in team history and I’m happy to be able to follow along by reading my new favorite blog: Illini Wonk. Go Illini!
I am a big fan of Report 103, a weekly newsletter from jpb.com (subscription information can be found at http://www.jpb.com/report103/). In the most recent edition, the author suggests writing down ten of the most fundamental changes you could make to your business without destroying it. Once you’ve completed this task, try to make an objective and convincing argument why you shouldn’t make the change. If there are one or two fundamental changes you can’t make a compelling argument against, give them a try.
Actually Burbank. My wife just accepted a temporary transfer (9-18 months) from her employer (Nestle-Purina Pet Care, Inc.) to go from St. Louis to Glendale, California for a big project. We are still sorting out the details — which explains my sporadic posting the past week — but we know a few things already. First, we will be housed by Nestle in Burbank, California. Second, my partner, Jeff, will handle much of my existing practice, with my help via e-mail, fax, and telephone. I’ll return home on a monthly basis to cover court hearings, mediations, etc. Third, I’ll have more time to blog and focus on LexThink — which is shaping up as an unbelievable event, by the way. Finally, I’ll be able to concentrate more on speaking and writing about law practice in general.
I’m really excited about the opportunity. My wife and I will sell our current house, and start building a new one when we return. I’ll fill in some more details as they become available, but want to make sure everyone knows this blog isn’t going anywhere, even though I am.
So, LexThink! Los Angeles anyone?
Thanks to an astute reader, I’ve just found out my "the [non]billable hour" title banner has gone missing. It must have left while I was in NYC. As soon as I find it, I’ll put it back up again.