Monthly Archives: September 2005

RSS is the new black.

Bill Flitter, Chief Marketing Officer of Pheedo, speaking at the AMA hot topics seminar in Atlanta:

RSS is the new e-mail.

Podcasts are the new webinars.

Blogs are the new whitepapers.

Money ain’t Nothin’

Barry Moltz points out this Entrepreneur.com article by Mark Diener about Mastering the Six Laws of Money.  Write these down and keep them in front of you.  A sampling:

1. Money sooner is better than money later. Eliminate the risk of not getting paid by getting your money upfront. This also tests whether the other side is serious.

2. Go to the source. Paul could wait until John gets cash from Peter, but if I were Paul, I’d rather call Peter myself. The names may be confusing, but the lesson’s simple: Go upstream.

6. Get the right to offset. Savvy buyers won’t pay everything when a deal closes. They insist on the right to hold back money to cover against future problems

Absolutely Great Corporate Blogging Resource

As I was finishing up my preparations for my talk in Atlanta this Friday on Weblogs and the Law (or as I’ve titled my speech, “Why Lawyers Hate Blogs”), I stumbled across this White Paper from The Content Factor about corporate blogging.  In it, I found the single best piece of advice for beginning bloggers I’ve ever run across:

Start slowly. Read extensively. Post frequently. Link liberally.

The White Paper can be downloaded for free in exchange for your e-mail address.  I strongly encourage you to check it out.

Law Schools, Meet Art Schools. Art Schools, Meet Law Schools

J.D. Jordan writes a great piece in Newsweek titled, I’m an Artist, but not the Starving Kind.  In it, he takes on the lack of practical business education in America’s law art schools.  Some excerpts:

In my small, windowless classroom, in front of a baker’s dozen of powerful G5 computers that line the walls, sit tomorrow’s crop of great graphic designers, illustrators, filmmakers and animators. But despite their skills, their burgeoning individual styles and their unlimited creativity, they are crippled by the narrow focus of their education.

What about creative business and copyright law? What about intellectual rights and business ethics? For that matter, what about basic history or civics? In a field largely defined by individual inspiration and accomplishment, where is the foundation for personal and financial success? Perhaps in an attempt to compensate for public schools which have stripped their curricula of arts education, art schools have left their graduates unprepared for the real world.

But what can one professor do? These kids should have to take business education as a freshman requirement to learn how to manage their artistic enterprises before their enthusiasm sweeps them into a depreciated marketplace.

How prevalent is this problem in “professional” schools?

Now, Here are the 7 Habits!

I love this “revised” list:  Seven Habits of Highly Successful People.

The Printable Partner – For Solos?

David Seah introduces his Printable CEO (remixed here), that he developed to help him in his solo business:

What I need is executive focus from a leader that understands how to grow my business, a manager that knows how to motivate me. I once read that the most effective executives ask themselves a simple question: What can I do to add value to the company? If the task at hand doesn’t add value, then screw it! Do something else that does!

Hiring my own personal CEO would be great, but who has the time and money to do an executive search? I’ve got MP3s to sort! So I did the next best thing: I designed a printable form to motivate my business development activities.

I really like this idea.  Keeping track of billable time is one thing, but David’s idea forces you to keep track of business-building time as well — all with an easy scoring system.  Simply brilliant.

Lawyerless Law – The Future is Now

Lawyers, are you trying to figure out how to better serve your business clients?  It may be too late.  They don’t think they need you anymore. Check out this post by Paul Allen:

Many entrepreneurs can’t afford to pay $200-300 per hour for legal help, especially with simple things like incorporating and simple contracts.

Don’t laugh, CPA’s.  You’re next.

Can You Bill that Power Nap to a File?

I’ve been playing around with Pzizz, a piece of napping software that “combines several different proven techniques to give you the most refreshing and revitalizing ‘nap’ possible.”  You download the software (it comes with a free trial) to your Mac or PC, select the type and length of nap you want to take, and then Pzizz:

delivers literally billions of different combinations of suggestions through the structured language patterns and the sounds that encourage the subconscious not only to relax but also to focus and energize both the body and the mind. unique combination of music and suggestions.

It sounds crazy, but if you want a short nap to kickstart your afternoon, it really seems to work.  I’ve noticed a difference in my energy after a 20 minute Pzizz nap vs. a normal one.  Though I can’t tell if my desire to purchase the program stems from how much I like to nap, or subliminal suggestions from the program, I give Pzizz strong five Z’s. 

Because you can download the naps onto an iPod, I can’t wait to try it with my Etymotic 6i headphones on my next plane ride. 

BlawgThink 2005 Update

I’ve been silent for the last week or so working on the details of BlawgThink 2005, and it’s shaping up to be an amazing time.  We’ve posted the schedule here and will be filling in more details each day.  If you want to keep up with BlawgThink news, check out the LexThink! blog

We are trying to make BlawgThink valuable for inexperienced and seasoned bloggers alike.  We expect to have many of the top bloggers not only in attendance, but “on faculty.”  BlawgThink will not resemble any traditional conference you’ve ever been to (think less ABA TechShow and more Foo Camp).  Here are just some of the ways BlawgThink will be different than any other event you’ve attended:

  • BlawgThink takes place at the most amazing conference space in the country: Catalyst Ranch in Chicago.  For pictures of the first LexThink event at Catalyst Ranch, look here
  • On the first day, we are doing three interactive discussion tracks:
    • Blogging Basics will teach beginning bloggers all they need to know about starting a successful blog. 
    • Marketing and Client Development, will help attendees get the most marketing bang for their blog buck. 
    • Blogging 2.0 covers blogging’s more technical side and includes a podcasting how-to and other advanced blogging topics.
  • Each presentation will last for just 45 minutes with a full 15 minutes between each session for advanced questions, brainstorming, discussion, or networking.
  • At the end of the first day, we’ve reserved time to repeat the three most popular presentations so nobody misses something they really wanted to see.
  • We are also adding a fourth “potpourri track” with a room set aside for attendees to host their own session if something they want to talk about isn’t covered in Day One.
  • On the second day, we are opening up the floor for small group collaborative brainstorming.  This worked so well at the first LexThink! event that I believe this will be the best part of BlawgThink. 

I’m going to be posting some more BlawgThink details tomorrow.  If you’re interested in an invitation, e-mail me and let me know.

Atlanta Marketing Wonk Meet-Up

I’m in Atlanta this Friday speaking at the American Marketing Association’s Hot Topic Series: Blogs: Marketing Beyond the Website.  Afterwards, the speakers are having a Marketing Wonk Meet-Up at Loca Luna.  If you want to talk about Blogs over dinner and drinks, this is the place to be.  See you there.

Grace says Hello

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a pic of my daughter Grace, so for my friends and family who read this blog, here you go:

DSCF0078

Showing Liz Mohler the Power of Blogs

I’m showing Liz Mohler, a tremendous speaker and meeting facilitator, how easy it is to write a blog post.

Get Good in a Room

I’m at the National Speakers Association’s event in Palm Springs.  It is one of the best events I’ve ever attended, and I’ll be posting my thoughts in a few days.  One of the best things about going to a conference a bit outside your comfort zone is the number of amazing people you meet you’d have never met otherwise.

One person who fits that description is Stephanie Palmer, a former Hollywood executive who “teaches creative professionals how to present themselves and their ideas so their projects get purchased and produced .”  

We’ve just spent a tremendous hour talking and she is definitely the kind of person who should be blogging.  Until I twist her arm some more tomorrow to share some of her great tips with everyone, check out her website, Good in a Room

Horrible Food, Funnily Described

Did you ever find a site that was so funny, so incapable of description, so twisted and disgusting (in a good way) that you just had to share it?  WARNING, not work safe if you’ll get in trouble for laughing out loud and wasting 30 minutes of your day!  Don’t blame me, Steve Nipper made me share it.  Here’s one of the more tame quotes (about trying a “potted meat” product):

Inside is a smooth, oddly pink meat paste. So smooth, in fact, I dare call it “creamy.” (I actually got a little gaggy just typing that.) Surprisingly, it was a little spicier than I expected. Although, that sensation may have been a by-product of my tastebuds dying.

As much as I love good writing about important things, I love great writing about totally disgusting food products even more.

Irrelevant Home Pages and the Value of Non-Directed Research

Mark Hurst, writing in the Good Experience Blog, shares some interesting insight into how web surfers really use the web.  Mark talks about a recent study his company did where they observed “dozens of customers using dozens of websites.”  The difference in his study, was that when asked to evaluate a company’s web site, the customers were not told where to start (such as a site’s home page) but were instead told to get there any way they wanted.  The big conclusion:  “Google has made home pages virtually irrelevant.”

Stated another way: many users, when not directed how to start, begin their sessions by going to Google and searching for what they want. (A small minority use Yahoo, and almost no one uses any other search engine.) Some companies, depending on their size and popularity, also have a fair percentage of users who do type the Web address directly into the browser….  Often the search results link pointed to a destination page in the middle of the website, which caused the customer to miss the home page altogether.

Why is this significant, you ask?  What does your website look like once you get past the first page?  If a potential customer or client gets jumps to the middle of your site via Google, can they find their way out?  Do they even know where they are to begin with?  Mark continues:

Customer experience is mainly about understanding, and serving, the key unmet needs of the customer. This is a strategic issue that’s poorly addressed with a tactical research method. You simply can’t find out the customers’ priorities if you give them a list of pre-written tasks; there are too many assumptions built in. Instead, why not just ask them to show their experience?

Read the entire post.  Show it to your web designer and think about it when preparing your next client survey.  Yet another way Google is changing the rules.

Full Text Feeds, Please

Google’s new Blog Search engine only indexes RSS feeds.  So if you want to be found, publish a full-text feed.  Please.

Worker Blind for Big Law Associates

A few years ago, I visited one of my law school classmates at his BigLaw job in Chicago.  When we ducked out for happy hour, he threw his coat over his chair, turned on his desk lamp, and opened a book on his desk so anyone who stopped by would think he was still working, but had just stepped out for a few minutes.  If he’d only had thisThanks to B2Day for the link.

I’m never chewing gum again.

Kevin points to a bad blog.  Boy is it awful.  Take a look if you must:  JuicyFruit Blog.  But you’ve been warned.

Watch Out for the Monkey and Shark Forest!

My daughter and I were playing today in our apartment, and as I approached the couch, she warned me to “Watch out for the monkey and shark forest.”  Not certain about what she was referring to, I sat down on the couch and she screamed at me to get out of the “forest” because the monkeys and sharks were in there.  Instead of arguing with her (and risking a two-year old moment), I immediately complied and thanked her for saving me.  We continued to play, and when I sat down on the couch five minutes later, everything was fine in her world.

The point?  There are many things your clients are afraid of.  Even though some of those things may sound absurd to you, acknowledge them just the same, because they are very real to your clients.  If the issues are truly insignificant or unimportant, you’ll get points both for understanding them and for making them go away.

On Being Remarkable

Zane Safrit shares some remarkablisms.  As always, Zane is right on the mark.

Quote of the Week

I know I don’t post one every week, but I found this quote by Robert T. Allen on one of my new favorite blogs 37 Days:

The truth is that everything that can be accomplished by showing a person when he’s wrong, ten times as much can be accomplished by showing him where he is right. The reason we don’t do it so often is that it’s more fun to throw a rock through a window than to put in a pane of glass. – Robert T. Allen

While you’re at it, check out Always Rent the (Red) Convertible.

 

Advise vs. Serve

Via AdPulp comes this link to Neil French’s Communication Arts Column.  The best piece:

Next time you see the agency credentials PowerPoint, strike out every “serve” you see, and substitute “advise.” You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes to your own self-worth, for a start.

Take a look at your marketing materials and try this change yourself.  I think you’ll notice a positive change.

 

Being Part of the Solution: If Blawggers Ran Law Schools

So here’s my question:  If you could improve legal education in this country today, how would you do it? 

Last November, I asked five law student bloggers for their responses (find them here, they really are worth reading).  Since I’ve been doing a bunch of complaining, here are a few things I’d change if I ran a law school:

1.  Institute four core curriculum areas.  Here they are, along with the bloggers I’d recruit in each: 

Legal Knowledge:  I’d leave this to the law professors already in the business, because they’ve already got their lesson plans done.  I’d put Sabrina Pacifici in charge of them all, though.

Client Service:  I’d split the task for developing this curriculum between Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba, Zane Safrit, Kathy Sierra, and the CEO’s of Ritz-Carlton and Nordstrom— not a lawyer among them.  That’s on purpose.  I’d also bring in Ben Cowgill to teach legal ethics.

Law Firm Management and Marketing:  This one is tough — only because there are so many choices.  Bruce MacEwen gets tenure right away as do Gerry Riskin, Ed Poll and Kevin O’Keefe.  I’d also add Rosa Say and Lisa Haneberg to teach the art of management, and, if they’re ready for the cushy life of academia, Tom Peters and Seth Godin to shake it up from time to time.  I’d also add Larry Bodine and Ross Fishman to the mix.

Practical Skills:  There are so many great practice-area specific blawggers out there, I’d have a hard time chosing the right ones.  Instead, I’d leave that task to Tom Mighell who has the biggest “blawg of the day” rolodex in the country.  My only requirement?  Find room for Evan Schaeffer to teach trial skills, and Denise Howell and Ernie the Attorney to teach whatever the hell they want.  I’d also farm out the entire Intellectual Property department to the ReThink(IP) guys (who’d find a way to deliver their grades via RSS).

2.  Bring in Bar/Bri as a curriculum consultant.  If Richard Conviser can teach you everything you need to pass the bar in two months, imagine what he’d be able to teach in three years!  And while I’m at it, I’d negotiate a discount with Bar/Bri and make the bar review course free to the students (or included in their tuition).

3.  Develop a three-way mentorship program.  Assign every incoming 1L a lawyer and a client as mentors.  Make the client someone who is in the practice area the student wants to enter after school (though this may pose some liability problems for students wanting to practice criminal law).  Learning the old way of doing things from practicing lawyers is important, but the client contact would give a distinctive boost to the program.  I’m convinced that client contact is what law students crave — because after all, if they join a big firm, they won’t see another real client in the flesh for several years.

4.  Auction off legal research access to West or Lexis.  For the privilege of exclusive access to the law students, I’d make the company promise to give five years of free service to graduating students.

5.  Deliver lectures via podcasts.  I’d encourage students to attend class with attendance bonuses (an added 1–2% to their final grade), but wouldn’t require them to attend class.  Law students are adults, after all.  Let them decide how important listening to that boring professor’s lecture is to them.  Which leads me to …

6.  Teach the professors to speak.  I’d bring in Bert Decker and pay him double what he asks for to work with the professors on their presentation skills.  This may be the single most cost-effective way to improve class attendance and student satisfaction.

7.  Stop blowing smoke up students’ a**** about job placement. Admit right off that some students will be lousy lawyers and give them a way out of school with grace and dignity (see number 11).  Also, I’d bring in lawyers who’ve either failed as lawyers or chosen another field to help students understand that law practice is really, really hard.  I’d also make Curt Rosengren my Dean of Career Services.

8.  Reach out to small firms.  Seriously.  Carolyn Elefant gets the nod here as my Director of Outreach to Real Lawyers.  I wouldn’t ignore solo and small firm lawyers just because I want to get my school’s ranking in U.S. News and World Report up with the bucks the big firms pay.  Solo and small firm lawyers can help law schools.  I’d seek out successful small firm lawyers and give them an opportunity to share their mistakes and advice.  I’d also make sure to give them something in return:  access to student help, great CLE’s, free food and beer.

9.  Ignore big firms.  Seriously.  (As an aside, if other schools are taking any of these suggestions seriously, then big law firms don’t care about their graduates anyway.)  I’d make your students understand how miserable life can be for many big firm associates.  Let students chose that path if they want to , but for God’s sake, don’t push them into it.

10.  Partner with other schools.  I’d partner with business schools, design schools, or schools of social work.  I’d teach my school’s students to work with (and learn from ) the kinds of people they’ll interact with in the real world.  Hell, I’d even partner with/adopt local elementary and high schools. 

11.  Guarantee student satisfaction.  If I couldn’t deliver a satisfying scholastic experience, then I’d figure out how.  One idea:  Give the first semester of law school to students for free.  If students don’t want to stay, I’ve given them a way to do what they want to do, and not feel trapped in school for another 2.5 years.  Everyone will be happier.  Students will be in school because they want to be.  Professors will be teaching motivated students.  And think of the positive publicity!  Admission applications would go through the roof.

12.  Remember, the law is not rocket science.  I once proposed a class on small firm management to a St. Louis law school.  One professor rejected the idea because he didn’t think it would be “academically rigorous enough.”  That’s like refusing to teach doctors to give patients aspirin when the patient is having a heart attack because it’s not as rigorous as teaching open heart surgery.  Law school, like law practice, can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be hard for the sake of being hard.

13.  Remember, your students are your clients.  If you actually run a law school, remember, your best source for ideas and inspiration are under your roof.  Ask your students how they’d make law school better.  You’ll get much better ideas than these.  And one more thing, don’t be invisible.  Your students want to know who you are and what makes you tick.  I shared about five words with the Dean of my law school when I was at Washington University.  I never had much to say to him, and he never introduced himself to me, or asked me a single question.  Know how much cash I’ve given to my school?  Less than I made from law.com’s sponsorship of my blog.

Well, that’s it.  If you want to chime in on changing law school, feel free to do so in the comments to this post.  I look forward to your suggestions.

Thinking Like Law Professors

Bruce MacEwen continues my rant from last week.  In his post Name the Missing Law School Course, Bruce takes on (much better than I did, I’m sad to admit) the systematic failure of law schools to prepare their students for real-world law practice.  As much as I hate to pull the bulk of his post into mine, I’m going to do it anyway (please don’t sue me, Bruce):

Far meatier and insightful is an article I stumbled across from July 2002 pointing out the existence, and the consequences, of a deplorable gap in law school education:  The all but complete absence of courses on law firms as businesses.*  This leaves associates starting out utterly in the dark about the fundamental dynamics that drive what they cost and what they’re worth to their firms.  Note that we’re not talking about weighty strategic choices, the long-term impact of market positioning, the dilemmas facing mid-tier full-service firms, or any other advanced management issues:  We’re talking about billing, realization rates, the relative profitability of different practice areas, and other “low-hanging fruit.” 

To recur to my own experience, I had no clue at what point the firm might “break even” on me (and the firm, as you might expect, would have been the last to tell me).

Ignorance can lead associates into an attitude of entitlement—always an endearing trait to partners!—because they are simply clueless about how the money behind their salary check is generated.  Associates with at least a modicum of savvy about the business realities of a firm are far less likely to fall into that trap.

Why are there virtually no such courses?  This is an example of microeconomics trumping macroeconomics, as it were.  (I’m somewhat contorting these terms, but bear with me.)  From the “macro” perspective, the profession would be far better off, immediately and at very little cost, if law school graduates had been exposed to Firm Economics 101.  On this I hope all readers of “Adam Smith, Esq.” can agree.

But from the “micro” perspective of law school faculty or deans designing curricula, firm economics is an orphan:  It isn’t “academic,” in the conventional sense; it doesn’t have anything to do with training one to “think like a lawyer,” it bears no connection to either substantive or procedural law; and it’s a safe generalization to say that personality types attracted to the career of law professor don’t think like businesspeople or economists. 

Well, there you have it.  Two leading legal bloggers agree that law schools suck at making lawyers.  Anyone else out there?

 

What if I want to get to 11?

Steve Pavlina has another thought-provoking personal improvement post titled How to Get From a 7 to a 10.  Steve opines on what it takes to make meaningful changes in your life and overcome personal or career stagnation.  I liked this quote the best:

In physics terms I’m saying that what matters is not your position but your velocity. Velocity is a vector which has both a direction and a speed. Where you’re headed and how quickly is more important than where you are.

There’s Shrimp Creole, Shrimp Gumbo, Pineapple Shrimp, Lemon Shrimp, Shrimp Soup …

Bubba (from Forest Gump) would be proud.  Microsoft is reportedly taking a page from Procter and Gamble as it names the entire Windows Vista family:

    • Vista Starter
    • Vista Home Basic
    • Vista Home Premium
    • Vista Pro
    • Vista Small Business
    • Vista Enterprise
    • Vista Ultimate

Which version is for me?  Where’s Small Business Premium?  How about Enterprise Pro?  Why can’t I have Ultimate Starter?  I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.  Is Microsoft worried about getting crowded out by Apple’s OS boxes on the shelves of Best Buy?  Microsoft has just added, collectively, hundreds of thousands of hours to the time computer buyers will spend buying their next computer.  How’s that a good thing? 

According to this article, it’s not.

When choosing to expand product offerings it is as important to recognize the parameters of competition where variety is an advantage and when it merely overwhelms the consumer.  (From the Drakeview blog)

As a professional service provider, how many “choices” do you offer?  How many options do you give your clients?  Are your clients often overwhelmed by the decisions they have to make?  Not sure?  Ask them.

And if you still believe more choice is better, go to Wal Mart and spend an hour trying to figure out what toothpaste to buy (and then decide upon the flavor).

Pandora is Awesome

I know I’m not the first to jump on this bandwagon, but I really, really like Pandora.  Input a song you like and it gives you a stream of music that shares similar qualities.  You can build multiple “stations” and share them with others.  The first ten hours are free, and I’ve already been exposed to music I love by artists I’d never heard before.  Check it out! 

Onederwear that’s Fun to Wear

Not sure why this interests me, but as I travel more, I admit I’m a bit intrigued by this.

Don’t Talk About It, Be About It

Rick Klau points us to an article about two guys delivering high-tech (tv/internet/phone) services in the Bronx.  Two quotes jumped out at me.  The first is the title of this post and the second:
New York City is so big and so dense that you don’t have to be terribly successful to be terribly successful.
The company’s founder was suggesting that his company could be successful by focusing on a small part of the market and not worrying about competing with the “big boys.”  However, the quote took me in a different direction.  I read it and wonder if this is the ultimate reason why we see so little innovation in the legal marketplace among big law firms.  I’ve beaten this drum before, but do big firms eschew change because they don’t have to be terribly successful to be terribly successful?
 
The story is obviously much different for small firm practitioners.  Contrary to public perception, small firm lawyers have to be terribly successful to be terribly successful.  Put another way, management skills become more important as firms get smaller because the consequences are greater — one month of failing to get the bills out on time can result in late mortgage payments or uncovered payrolls.  For every small firm lawyer making $200K per year, I’d wager there are five small firm lawyers making $50K or less.  I’d go further and suggest there is no measurable difference in legal skill between the successful lawyer and the lawyer opening his mail each day praying for some client checks to come in so he can pay his rent and his secretary.
 
What separates the two?  Management skills.  You know, those skills that aren’t taught at all in most large law schools.  Think I’m kidding?  Ask your lawyer what law school taught them about running a law firm.  Why is there so little focus on management skills for lawyers in most law school curriculums?  I’ve got a bunch more thoughts on the issue of the woeful failure of law schools (at least those in the “top tier”) to prepare future lawyers for the harsh realities of the legal business, but here’s one:  Of the people running the law schools (deans, administrators, professors, etc.), how many of them have actually practiced law?  Of that number, how many worked in a small firm environment?  Even of those that worked in a large firm, how many stuck it out long enough to make partner and finally get exposed to the business side of legal practice? 
 
We are creating generations of lawyers who aren’t taught by lawyers.  And don’t give me this B.S. about law school teaching students to “think like lawyers” because that’s not true.  Law students are taught to think like law professors.  The most successful law students are the ones most likely to follow the same career path their professors did:  clerkship/big firm/academia.  If law schools were in the business of teaching students to “think like lawyers” they would be teaching them to think about marketing, client development, and how to pay the bills on time.  Can’t remember much of that from my law student days.
 
Can the same be said for business students?  Architecture students?  Are those students as removed from the day-to-day business of their professions as law students are?  I’m just asking.  I know this is heresy, but law schools could take a page from chiropractic schools: teach a bit about running the business you are ”preparing” your students to enter. 

This one time, in Brand Camp …

I’m linking to this book because I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to use the title of this post.

Say Backpack

This fits in the “I can’t believe nobody thought of this before” department:  a backpack that has a light inside.  I want my next briefcase to have this feature. As for the post title, you Dora fans know what I’m talking about.

What is Your Power Button?

Ed Bott wrote a post titled Get to Know Your Power Button.  The post talks about how to configure your PC’s power button.  What I liked the most was Ed’s title.  So what is your power button?  Is it work?  Passion?  Money?  Family?

An Idea for BIG Client Problems

There is no reason a law firm (or other professional services business) can’t adopt this idea for a great client with a big problem:

A group of Lodge members gathers at some predetermined time and place, usually with computers in tow. After everyone gets set up, the group comes up with a basic game idea. This process is usually limited to a fixed amount of time. The group then sets out to create said game as fast as possible. This can involve code, sound, art, map design, game design, even limited tools development, depending on the makeup of the participants. It requires a fair amount of expertise on the part of each individual, a lot of caffeine, and a huge effort towards teamwork, coordination, and communication.

After a predetermined amount of time has passed (8 hours, 24 hours, even 48 hours) and a large amount of Chinese food has been consumed, game production finally comes to a stop and the group steps back to see what it is they’ve created — or failed to create, in some cases.

Think about how amazing it would be to tell your client, “We are going to bring the entire resources of this firm to bear upon your issue for one day.”  Since lawyers are in Saturdays a lot anyway, how about setting aside one Saturday per month for this kind of focused problem-solving?  I’ll bet your client would appreciate it — and be willing to pay you extra as well.

Carnival of the Leftovers

Since my Idea Garage Sale, I’ve accumulated a bunch more stuff I’d like to get rid of.  In a nod to my ReThinking friends, I’m hosting my first (and maybe only) Carnival of the Leftovers.  In no particular order, here are the things on my mind and in my ‘to blog’ folder:

As I work on my site’s redesign, I need to keep in mind this info from A Day in the Life of a Persuasion Architect:

If you are truly focused on persuading folks on your site put the time and effort you are tempted to put into navigation and focus it on the ‘active window’. Navigation is important, just not as important as everyone seems to think. The shortest distance between your customers and conversion is not the navigation, it’s the embedded links in the active window.

The Anonymous Lawyer’s Firm Marketing Message:

We can charge what we charge because we’re better than the guys in the yellow pages. But that means we’re not generalists. We’re specialists. We have people who spend every day of their lives executing the same deal, over and over again, for different companies. He’s the guy you want executing that deal, because he will do a better job than virtually anyone else on the planet. But you don’t really want him telling you how to optimize the way you put your sprockets together on the assembly line, because that’s not where his expertise is. And we as a firm don’t want him spending time learning all about your sprockets, because that’s not where the best use of his hours is. We want him to do your deal, and then do six more deals this quarter, make 7 happy customers instead of just one, and have people lining up to get us to help them do that same deal too. 

If they’d have had a Masters in Business Imagination when I was deciding on graduate school, I wouldn’t be a lawyer today. 

Granting importance to others is a matter of paramount importance to your own future happiness.

Do you love your customers or who you want your customers to be?

Sean D’Souza suggests to niche your niche:

Your brain refuses to focus when it doesn’t have specifics.  So when you say: You help small business owners, you aim at all kinds of business owners. All kinds of business owners have all kinds of problems.  But let’s for a moment suspend the thought that you want ‘everyone’ as your target audience. Let’s, just for an instant, believe you want to target business owners who’ve been in business for five years or more.

Punishing Children with Praise?

Recently, I found myself at a crafts activity sponsored by a local library in which children were invited to create snowflakes out of pipe cleaners and beads.  A boy of about four or five sitting near me showed his mother what he had done, and immediately she gushed about how wonderful it was.  Then, since I was the only other adult at the table, he held his snowflake out so I, too, could see it clearly.  Instead of offering an evaluation, I asked him whether he liked it.  “Not so much,” he admitted.  I asked why, and he began to explain, his tone suggesting genuine interest in figuring out other possible ways he might have used the materials.  This is exactly the sort of elaboration and reflection that are stifled when we slather our kids with praise.  They tend to stop thinking and talking about what they’ve done as soon as we pass judgment on it.

Counter-Branding How To:

1. List the attributes of the master brand. In the case of 7-Up, the master brand was “Cola: sweet, rich, brown.” Everything else was either a fruit flavor or root beer and all of those put together were relatively insignificant. “Cola” overwhelming dominated the mental category “soft drinks.”
2. Create a brand with precisely the opposite attributes. To accomplish this, 7-Up lost their lemon-lime description and became “The Uncola: tart, crisp, clear.”
3. Without using the brand name of your competitor, refer to yourself as the direct opposite of the master brand. 7-Up didn’t become UnCoke or UnPepsi as that would have been illegal, a violation of the Lanham Act. But when you’re up against an overwhelming competitor, you don’t need to name them. Everyone knows who they are.

Let’s Hear David Allen Answer this One

If you only have X amount of time, is it better to perform at an average or below-average level across the board or be real good at a few things while sucking at the rest (which, by the way, has the parallel discomfort of inevitably having some people ticked off at you)? Which would you choose?

Maybe, He’d Suggest a Checklist.

Or He’d Park those Tasks on a Downhill Slope.

Is this why legal jobs get outsourced to India?

“America does well in industries that advance quickly, in which research and development — and not manual labor — are the key factors of success. In this way, cotton is a bit like software and jet engines — constantly innovating. The United States is losing out to developing countries in a different set of industries: the ones that don’t change that quickly and succeed best with plenty of low-wage workers.”

Instead of billing 2400 hours per year because your firm requires it, do it because it makes you feel good.

But you may get canned anyway.

When communication is effective and cheap, two things happen.  One is that the top doesn’t need to have the middle to be able to talk to each other.  the second is that talented people can co-operate and find each other more easily.  So dumb retards that you would have had to put up with before are now people that you can bypass and go and talk to someone interesting instead.   

I wish I’d known this before joining that blog network:

I think anyone who tries to make money DIRECTLY through blogging is statistically JUST BEGGING to have his ass kicked by the market. A few bright sparks may get away with it ocasionally, just like a pretty waitress in Los Angeles occasionally gets discovered in a restaurant and is starring in a movie a year later. Nice when it happens, certainly, but I wouldn’t place a bet on horse with those odds.

“Indirectly”, however, is another story…

Stop bragging about your firm, brag about your clients:

Your users don’t care about how fabulous you are. How fast your product is. How many awards you’ve won. If we want to inspire our users, we have to care about how fabulous they are. How fast they are. How many awards they might win as a result of using our products or services.

That’s what sociologists, psychologists, and cognitive scientists tell us. It’s what biologists and anthropologists tell us. Self-interest is hard-wired into the brain. That doesn’t mean people aren’t capable of thinking of others…but let’s face it–when your user makes a list of the people he cares most about, you’re not in the top ten.

And then reward them at unexpected times:

Intermittent, unexpected treats are more powerful than regularly scheduled expected treats.

Can we steal this for the LexThink instruction guide?

I hope you aren’t overwhelmed or frightened by any of the ideas. You can’t address all of them right away, some ideas will be thrown out, and some will be altered and enhanced. However, I hope that you never discard an idea because you want to play it safe. You haven’t accomplished your current success by playing it safe. Espousing the methods that got you to where you are, i.e. being bold, new, fresh, exciting and remarkable will help you grow even more. Safe is actually risky because safe is invisible, easy to catch, easy to beat and the path failure. In a competitive market, safe is death. Take some bold moves. Do things others won’t. Champion a cause, help as many people as you can in your pursuit of that cause, invite others to participate and your bottom line will take care of itself.

Or this?

But every bit of knowledge we acquire, whether from the butt-crack idiot savant who maintains the computer network or the woman who sorts the mail in the mail-room is something that can add immediate perspective or be something we can draw on later as part of an overall tack. And by opening yourself up to these kinds of non-traditional information, you have a chance to find out something about yourself and the intellectual or emotional baggage you limit yourself with, that is, the Third Base skill set.

Even if the phone isn’t ringing, you still have five appointments this week.

Speaking of Fives, here are five rules of creativitythings to do if you’ve only got five minutes and implementing the daily five minutes.

Here’s a Personal Lie Remembering Service, and some tips for remembering (and recapturing) lost clients.

Larry Bodine suggests we Market as Hospitals Do.

And ‘Stan Stankowski’ has some great rules for new associates.  Here are just a few:

4) Associates who are in their seventh and eighth years are not your friends.  They are not anyone’s friend. They are mean and devious. This is a result of being too expensive and old to lateral and a constant fear that they will not make partner, coupled with the pressure of a wife and three kids and a mortgage. It isn’t their fault. Really.

8) It is impossible to overestimate the value that a wide variety of free beverages brings to your firm. Do not work at a place that makes you buy them.

10) You know that really keen causal dress policy? The one that was implemented because our “clients dress that way, and we want them to feel comfortable”? Here is a clue. For the first few years, your client is the partner you work for; if he or she wears a suit every day, do you really think it is wise to wear jeans on Friday?

Dealing with the Stress of Infinite Opportunity.

Here’s why you can overbill those corporate clients.  They are used to it because they do it to themselves:

There are many studies about the dismal rate of success for projects.  One that I use a lot comes from the Standish Group which tracks information technology projects.  The findings are that 23% of the projects were outright failures, 49% were over budget or didn’t meet the deliverables and 28% were deemed successes.  94% of all projects are restarted and average $2.22 spent for every dollar budgeted.

But don’t forget to charge the clients for those copies:

When I asked him why the hotel charges a per-minute rate for using the business center, he said his hands were tied: it was corporate policy. What a terrific way to disappoint one’s best customers. How could smart and well-paid executives possibly think that $.69 per-minute charges to use a PC ($1.99 per minute to use a printer) would do anything but create a poor word-of-mouth experience? Is this level of nickel-and-diming worth the ire of countless customers?

Want more female customers?

Moral of the story: The women’s market is an investment.  If you want to more effectively sell to them, and get them to invest in your business in return, you have to be in it for the long haul and serve their information-gathering, buying ways.  By developing into a comprehensive and relevant local information source and coming up with creative ways to reflect the people in and around your store/brand (as per those images and testimonials you are now displaying), you’ll stand out in a woman’s relationship-driven mind.

Don’t be Debbie Downer, Esq.

Well, that’s it for now.  I may host another edition of the Carnival next month.  Thanks for reading.

Waiting in Line

Howard Mann (at Dig Tank) writes about Waiting in Line and asks:

How much effort does it really take to focus on that most important moment when your customers are about to pay you? Why would anything else come first?

Are there any times when your customers are waiting in line to use your product or service? If there is, the most important big idea/innovation for you to execute this year would be to fix it.

Generalissimo Francisco Franco is Still Dead.

And so is Technorati.  Now, instead of piling on, I’m going to point you to a new service that keeps on getting better and better:  Talk Digger.  Put in your URL and it will run parallel searches in Bloglines, Blogpulse, Feedster, Technorati, IceRocket, BlogDigger, PubSub, MSN and Google.  Today, I just noticed the ability to preview a linking blog in the Talk Digger window.  Very Cool!

Deductible Business Expenses

Leah Maclean, writer of the wonderful Working Solo blog, asked me to contribute (along with several other writers) to her series on the importance of a healthy lifestyle to business success.  My contribution is here.  The other contributions are great, and I encourage you to read them all.

One thing that’s kept me thinking was this line from my post:

Poor health and strained family relations are both "business expenses" I’m unwilling to pay.

I’ve been traveling a lot lately and it seems that everytime I return home — if even from a three day trip — my daughter’s face has changed and she sounds different.  At least to me.  Because Grace is a growing two year old, I’m quite certain she may actually be changing "right before my eyes."  But I wonder, is this an experience that will continue to happen as she grows older?  Right now, travel is  both difficult and exciting — because while I hate to miss a moment of her growing up, it is really cool to meet a different person when I return.

While I’m on the parenthood riff, here are some other random observations.  It used to be that kissing any hurt, no matter how big or small, made it all better.  Just this week, my daughter sadly says, "It still hurts, daddy" after I gave her the traditional healing kiss on her most recent boo-boo.  Are my miraculous healing powers gone forever?  And is this a sadder moment for me or her?

Every night, when my daughter sees her first star, she makes a wish.  When we ask her what she wishes for, she proudly (and loudly) proclaims, "CANDY!"  My wish is to have such simple wants and needs.  Think about how cool it would be to have a wish that could be satisfied so easily.   The children in Louisiana and Mississippi right now don’t have the luxury of wishing for candy.   Please do what you can to help. 

Thanks for listening.  Go hug and kiss your children.    And pray for all of the children without a home.

BlawgThink 2005

LexThink’s BlawgThink 2005.  November 11-12 in Chicago at Catalyst Ranch.  Two days of blawgging how-to, small group discussions and collaborative brainstorming.  More details to follow after the holiday, but if you are interested in an invitation, e-mail me here with the word "invite" in the subject line.