Welcome to my blog. I’m Matt Homann, and I share cool ideas that help smart lawyers innovate more, serve their clients better, market more effectively and make more money.  How can I help you?


Best of NBH: Stop Fixing Your Own Tech

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Here’s a tech-related tip from this post:

How many times has a quick technology fix turned into a day of un-billable time?  Trust me on this one, no matter how much (or little) work you have, your time is better spent building your business and serving your clients than it is crawling around on the floor underneath your desk repairing your computers or troubleshooting your network.

Need help remembering this resolution?  Try this simple trick:

Everywhere in your office where you have technology (on the copier, on the network switch or router, and on every computer) tape a label that has the following information on it:

  1. Your hourly rate
  2. The hourly rate of your tech-support person
  3. Their phone number

Now every time you’re tempted to “fix” something yourself, call in the experts instead.  You’ll find that you (and your technology) will be happier and more productive when you spend your time doing your job instead of doing someone else’s.

Best of NBH: Counting Cards

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I’ve always thought the idea from this post was a powerful way to understand the gift of time and what you can accomplish in a year:

Resolve to Count Cards, using this this incredibly powerful exercise I first ran across in 2006.  From an article in the now-defunct Worthwhile Magazine (by creativity guru Eric Maisel) comes this gem:

Get seven decks of cards with similar backs. Lay out all seven decks on your living room rug, backs showing. This is a year of days (give or take). Let the magnitude of a year sink in. Experience this wonderful availability of time. (This is a powerful exercise.)

Carefully count the number of days between two widely-separated holidays, for instance New Year’s Day and the Fourth of July. Envision starting a large project on that first holiday (today!) and completing it by the second.

It also works great with clients!  Give it a try.

Best of NBH: Ten Resolutions

I’m going to be re-sharing a few dozen of my favorite posts from this blog over the next several weeks.

This is an excerpt from one of my all-time favorites, written in December 2008 as part of my Resolution series.  It still resonates with me today.  I hope you like it.

1.  Resolve to be better to everyone.  Start with yourself.

2.  Resolve to choose your customers as carefully as friends, knowing that you’ll work best when they’re one in the same.

3.  Resolve to know your business better.  Recognize that being good at what you do is unimportant if you’re not good at being in the business you’re in.

4.  Resolve to stop doing the things your customers don’t pay you to do, unless you love doing them so much, you’d do them for free.  Because you are.

5.  Resolve to value your life by the things you experience instead of the things you possess.

6.  Resolve to eliminate the things in your life that wake you up in the middle of the night — unless you’re married to them, or they need to go outside for a walk.

7.  Resolve to become more useful to your customers.  Stop thinking about what they expect from you, and focus instead on what they don’t expect from you.

8.  Resolve to help the people who work with you (and for you) become better at what they do.  Give them what they need to excel at their jobs, and you’ll find you’re more likely to excel at yours.

9.  Resolve to understand the difference between what you do for clients and how long you take to do it.  They care about the former, and can’t understand why you charge for the latter.

10.  Resolve to do the work you long to do, instead of the work you’ve been doing for too long.  Follow your passions, honor your principles and strive to add value to every relationship you’re in. “Next Year” begins now.  Get started on making it great!

Silence Means “No.”

Meeting after the Meeting

We’ve all been in the meeting where everyone seems to reach consensus on what to do next, only to find later that some didn’t agree at all.

Reading Patrick Lencioni’s “The Advantage” the the other day, I came across a simple tip:   Change the meaning of silence in your meeting to “no.”  Here’s how it works:

When closing an action item in the meeting, the leader should ask, “Does everyone agree?”  If there is silence from anyone, assume they don’t.  Only once everyone has verbally affirmed they’re on board should the leader move to the next action item.

I’ve been doing this for a  while in my own meetings and the ones I facilitate, and find it works wonders to get everyone on the same page.  I imagine it would work great in client meetings, too.

Image Credit: Tom Fishburne, Marketoonist.com

 

It’s Not You, It’s Me (the Market)

I ran across this quote from Andy Rachleff, here (via the Huit Denim newsletter) and it crystallized for me what so many great lawyers and firms are going through right now:

The #1 company-killer is lack of market. When a great team meets a lousy market, market wins. When a lousy team meets a great market, market wins. When a great team meets a great market, something special happens.

If you’re struggling hard to succeed in your practice (as an insurance defense lawyer, for example) it might not be you, it might be your market.  Perhaps it is time for you to find a better one.

Voting is Open for LexThink.1

Voting Screen

 

Voting is open for this year’s LexThink.1 proposals.  You can check them all out here.

Set Your Phrases to Kill

Brainzooming has a list of 29 phrases commonly used to shoot down innovative ideas.  If you’re a lawyer, how many of these have you heard in your firm?  And when you’re advising clients, how many have you used to discourage their key initiatives and squash their plans?

Here are a few I hear from lawyers all the time:

  • We’ve never thought of that before
  • We don’t know how to do that
  • Things are crazy busy right now
  • We don’t have the right people on board
  • We’ve done something similar before
  • I don’t see how we can pull it off
  • Nobody in our industry has ever done anything like that
  • We’re already trying something else
  • No customers are asking for that
  • It’s not in the budget
  • We don’t have time for that

Check out the entire list.  Any you’d add?  Any your clients hear regularly from you?

LexThink.1: The End of Irrelevance

Fifth Annual LexThink.1 Legal Event to Focus on ‘The End of Irrelevance’

Producers Matt Homann & JoAnna Forshee to hold 5th edition of

Legal innovation event on the eve of 2014 ABA TECHSHOW

Atlanta, GA and St. Louis, MO – February 10, 2014 – Matt Homann of LexThink LLC, a legal innovation consultancy, and JoAnna Forshee of InsideLegal, the insider’s guide to thought leadership and business in legal technology, today announced the fifth edition of LexThink.1 (LexThink Point One), an interactive and mind-sharing event that allows presenters (chosen via crowd-sourcing by the legal community) six minutes to speak with 20 slides automatically forwarding every 18 seconds. The 2014 theme for LexThink.1 is ‘The End of Irrelevance’.  All submissions and selected talks must address ways to overcome the challenges the legal profession is currently facing. LexThink.1 (formerly Ignite Law) named to reflect the way lawyers bill, in 1/10 hour increments, will again take place the eve of ABA TECHSHOW,March 26th, at the Chicago Hilton starting at 7:00pm.

As in past years, LexThink.1 speakers will be chosen by public online voting, and share their most creative and fresh ideas focused on this year’s ‘The End of Irrelevance’ theme. With the legal profession making headlines for seemingly all the wrong reasons, the LexThink.1 program is set to provide sparks of inspiration … What are we doing right? Where do we excel? What’s the big next thing? How do we up our game?  How will help legal professionals thrive in the next decade?

Anyone interested in speaking at LexThink.1 can submit their ideas and topics for consideration. Speaking proposals must be submitted via the LexThink.1 site (www.PointOneLaw.com) between February 10th and February 23rd. Online voting will open February 24th and remain online for 7 days. Anyone interested in topic submissions, voting or other 2014 event details can visit PointOneLaw.com and follow the associated twitter handles @LexThink and @InsideLegal and hashtag #LexThink.

The ABA Law Practice Division, producers of the annual ABA TECHSHOW, will continue to serve as event host, providing the evening’s venue at the Hilton. Clio which has supported LexThink.1 since year one is a sponsor, as is LexisNexis.

“LexThink has always been about legal innovation and changing the practice of law in ways to benefit lawyers and their clients. ‘The End of Irrelevance’ theme hits home for all legal professionals and as such will hopefully get more of the creative and innovative juices flowing we’ve seen from presenters over the last four years,” stated Matthew Homann, LexThink founder. “The format of sharing clever and innovative ideas in short twenty-slide presentations is very engaging and bound to keep audience members engaged and alert. LexThink.1 2014 will feature 10 legal thought leaders sharing their vision modeled after the six-minute presentation format. We look forward to seeing what topics are offered this year.”

According to JoAnna Forshee, LexThink.1 co-producer and InsideLegal CEO, LexThink.1’s unique presentation format, high caliber of speakers and content as well as overwhelming audience interest, have put the event in a ‘unique’ legal event category. “2014 marks the 5th edition of LexThink.1 and our rally cry is to help celebrate the relevance and necessity of the legal profession and conjure up all the themes we have highlighted in events past … legal technology, client service, innovation and legal market disruption. With the legal profession making headlines for seemingly all the wrong reasons, we are confident LexThink.1 will provide sparks of inspiration.”

LexThink.1 2014 will tweak its previous format to enable more interaction during the event.  In a LexThink.1 first, selected speakers will host post-talk roundtable discussions onsite with attendees. “For about an hour after the last of our talks, speakers and all LexThink.1 attendees can further discuss talk topics and anything related to our ‘End of Irrelevance’ theme,” added Homann. The 2014 event will engage industry bloggers, commentators and leverage vibrant social media channels to not only create buzz but extend the conversation, beyond a 6 minute video clip.

Staying true to the spirit of past events, LexThink.1 2014 will be open to the public, on a first come first serve basis and complimentary tickets to the event can be ordered via the website leading up to the event. Anyone interested in event sponsorships, should contact Matt at matt@lexthink.com or JoAnna Forshee at jf@InsideLegal.com.

Additional details on LexThink.1 2014 can be viewed here and background information on the entire LexThink.1 event series can be viewed here.

Vintage Client Posters

I came across this interesting collection of vintage Dutch safety posters that are, in a word, graphic.  Each clearly illustrates the danger to avoid and the consequences for failing to do so.  I wonder what similar posters might look like for legal clients?  Anyone up for illustrating the Rule Against Perpetuities?

Dutch Poster

Idea Garage Sale: 2013 Leftovers Edition

As we welcome in 2014, I thought I’d clean out my link closet once again and host another Idea Garage Sale.  Here are a bunch of links, ideas, videos and other miscellaneous stuff that didn’t quite make it into a blog post in 2013.  Look for more of these (and more substantive blog posts) in the year to come, as this blog turns ten!

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Does the practice of law make you come alive?

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” - Howard Thurman

via Swiss Miss

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Need an Invisible Girlfriend?  Here’s a project I launched with a team of great people at a St. Louis Startup Weekend last month.  We’ve already been featured on Buzzfeed, Business Insider, Time and the Queen Latifah Show, and I’ve done radio interviews with stations in the U.S., Ireland, England, South Africa, Colombia, Canada and Malaysia.  It has been crazy, to say the least!

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Seth Godin on Vampires:

You have metaphorical vampires in your life. These are people that feed on negativity, on shooting down ideas and most of all, on extinguishing your desire to make things better.

Vampires cannot be cured. They cannot be taught, they cannot learn the error of their ways. Most of all, vampires will never understand how much damage they’re doing to you and your work. Pity the vampires, they are doomed to this life.

Your garlic is simple: shun them. Delete their email, turn off comments, don’t read your one-star reviews. Don’t attend meetings where they show up.

It’s so tempting to evangelize to the vampires, to prove them wrong, to help them see how destructive they are. This is food for them, merely encouragement.

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Great lessons from Maria Popova on seven years of curating Brain Pickings:

Allow yourself the uncomfortable luxury of changing your mind. 

Do nothing for prestige or status or money or approval alone.

Build pockets of stillness into your life.

When people try to tell you who you are, don’t believe them.

Presence is far more intricate and rewarding an art than productivity.

Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time.

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Paul Graham (my favorite thinker) on prestige:

What you should not do, I think, is worry about the opinion of anyone beyond your friends. You shouldn’t worry about prestige. Prestige is the opinion of the rest of the world. When you can ask the opinions of people whose judgement you respect, what does it add to consider the opinions of people you don’t even know? … Prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. It causes you to work not on what you like, but what you’d like to like.

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Read this Smashing Magazine article on user experience design and “decision fatigue” when you wonder why your clients so often fail to follow your advice:

Our decisions, even those that are mere preferences between option A and B, gradually take their toll on our cognitive load. The mental processes of decision-making are strenuous; we have only a finite store of mental energy available to exert self-control.

Basically, we get tired if we make too many decisions. As a result, according toBarry Schwartz, one of three things is likely to happen: we end up making poor decisions, we become more dissatisfied with our choices, or we get paralyzed and don’t choose at all.

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Ten Great Questions CEO’s Must Ask Themselves:

How do we avoid being another ___insert successful company that failed____ ?
How do we avoid the “crisis needed to change” mindset that results from complacency?
How might we cure ourselves from complacency?
What company has avoided complacency, and how can we learn from them?
What skills are we missing?
What skills, that we have, are no longer relevant?
What skills do we need to develop to be relevant?
What’s working and what’s missing in our organization that is hindering our ability to transform?
What do we really want to do?

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How to Meditate

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Ten Things to Do Every Workday:

1. Read something related to my industry.

2. Read something related to business development.

3. Send two emails to touch base with old colleagues.

4. Empty my private client inbox by responding to all career coaching questions within one business day.

5. Check in with each team member on their progress.

6. Have a short nonwork-related conversation with every employee.

7. Review my top three goals for my company that are focused on its growth.

8. Identify and execute one task to support each of my top three goals.

9. Post five valuable pieces of content on all of my major social media accounts.

10. Take a full minute to appreciate what I have and how far I’ve come.

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Five “Provocations” from Ian Fitzpatrick

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How to Say “No” to Working for Free

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Complaining is not a strategy:

“If you took one-tenth the energy you put into complaining and applied it to solving the problem, you’d be surprised by how well things can work out… Complaining does not work as a strategy. We all have finite time and energy. Any time we spend whining is unlikely to help us achieve our goals. And it won’t make us happier.”

― Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture (via Swiss Miss)

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Non-Creepy Networking

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Cheap & Free Resources for Bootstrapping Businesses

 

That’s it for now.  See you soon!

 

 

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everybody!  If you’re like me, you’ll be ringing in the year’s first Monday looking out the window at Snowpocalypse 2014.  Be safe!

via This Is Life, Charlie Brown

Focus on Existing Clients First

A simple question to ask while planning for 2014:

Does your firm fight even half as hard to keep your existing clients’ loyalty as it does to win new business from new prospects?


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