Here are some of my favorite posts.  I hope you enjoy them.


Best of NBH: Quarantine Your Best Ideas

Do you have Shiny Shiny Syndrome?  I do.  Here’s a post from January 2012 about a technique I still use:

Many of the attorneys I work with suffer from the same thing I do: Shiny Shiny Syndrome.  You suffer from S3 when you regularly give in to an overwhelming urge to start working on something new and better, instead of wrapping up your current projects.

Shiny Shiny Syndrome isn’t (usually) fatal, but the cumulative results of constantly starting projects at the expense of finishing others can have a debilitating impact upon your practice and your staff.

To combat my case of Shiny Shiny Syndrome, I’ve begun an Idea Quarantine.  From Wikipedia:

Quarantine is compulsory isolation, typically to contain the spread of something considered dangerous, often but not always disease. The word comes from the Italian (seventeenth century Venetian) quarantena, meaning forty-day period.[1] Quarantine can be applied to humans, but also to animals of various kinds.

Whenever I have a great idea for a project, I capture it so I don’t lose it, but then I wait at least 90 days before I begin working on it.  The “compulsory” waiting period keeps me from starting work on a poorly-formed idea I’ll later lose passion for.  It also gives me time to think about the idea and socialize it with friends and colleagues.  If I’m still enamored with the idea once the 90 days have passed, it goes on my “To Do” list.

If you’d like to begin your own Idea Quarantine, and want a fun template to use, here’s my Idea Quarantine. pdf from above.

Give Clients More Certainty

Clients crave predictability.  They find comfort in knowing what to expect — especially in stressful situations like the ones you handle for them everyday.

But how can you deliver more certainty to your clients?  After all, outcomes are impossible to predict and matters ebb and flow from beginning to end.  You keep your clients “in the know,” writing them when something’s going on, calling or meeting with them when there’s something to discuss and billing them (almost) every month.

If you want to understand how predictable you are to clients, begin by looking at each file as they do.

While a file may remain “active” to you, your clients may feel otherwise.  Their only cues to the activity on their case come from you, in the form of correspondence, calls, meetings or bills .  When they’re not receiving regular, predictable updates on what’s happening, they become uncomfortable and stressed.

Want to better understand how your clients perceive your handling of their matter?  Using the diagram below as a guide, take a few active files and a blank calendar, and map out  for each the days you write the client, call them, meet them or bill them.  What do you see?

If you asked your clients to name the next thing they expect from you (and when they’ll get it) would they have a answer?

If your client interactions look as unpredictable and scattered as the ones below, that’s probably how your clients are feeling about the work you’re doing for them.  By giving them a measure of certainty about the things you can control, you’ll have much calmer clients, who are much happier with the work you do.

 

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!

Best of NBH: Counting Cards

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…

Resolve To Fix Your Technology Less

This resolution is for nearly every solo and small firm lawyer out there (including those with computer science degrees): Resolve to Fix Your Technology Less. 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…

Ten Rules of Legal Innovation

“Innovative Lawyer” shouldn’t be an oxymoron.  Lawyers — who are constantly applying their creative, problem-solving skills to help clients — too often turn their innovation engines off as soon as their “billable” work ends.  If you’re a lawyer, and willing to set aside some time to innovate, I am happy to help you.  Until then,…

The Haiku of What You Do

I’m a fan of Haiku, and have been doing an exercise based upon it for several years now at conferences and law firm retreats.  Instead of the 5-7-5 syllable format, I ask my audiences to answer three questions, using just five words for the first question, seven for the second and five again for the…

What are your Relationship Rituals?

Keith Ferrazzi shares a few simple “Relationship Rituals” that should be on every professional’s weekly checklist: 1.    First thing every day after you turn on your computer, ping one friend and one acquaintance. 2.    Every weekend, invite someone else into an activity that you normally do alone (walks, gym sessions, gardening, shopping trips). 3.    Pick…

Best of NBH: Stop Fixing Your Own Tech

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…

Best of NBH: Autopsy Your Dead Files

Remember the television show Quincy?  Jack Klugman played a Los Angeles medical examiner, and in every episode, his autopsy would reveal that the decedent (who’d seemingly died of “natural” causes) was a victim of foul play.  Using the clues he’d gained from his examinations, Quincy would convince the police a homicide had occurred, and then manage…

Create a Menu for Your Practice

Do you know all the kinds of things your firm does?  Perhaps you should take a page (literally) from the restaurant industry and create a “menu” of your services.  Though you may not decide to use it with clients, merely deciding what goes on the menu — and what gets left off — makes you…

Is your website for your clients or for your peers?

Inspired by this venn diagram found on Business Pundit,  I thought I’d do one for Law Firm Websites:

Ask Your Clients Better Questions

In A Manager’s Primer on Asking Better Questions, Marty Baker at Creativity Central shares several dozen open-ended questions designed for various situations like Anticipation, Assessment and Clarification that serve as a valuable reminder that “yes” or “no” questions don’t always get you the information you need. Here’s the suggested questions on “Exploration” from the post:…

Resolve to Count Cards

As 2009 draws to a close, we all find ourselves with lots of stuff on our "to do" lists for the next year.  Whether your thinking about finding time to meet your deadlines, accomplish your goals or even follow your resolutions, there never seems to be enough time to do it all. As you begin…

Ten New Rules of Legal Marketing

Legal Marketing has changed.  It used to be enough to keep an ad in the yellow pages and belong to the Rotary Club.  Not anymore.  Times are tough, so I present to you Ten “New” Rules of Legal Marketing.  Let me know what you think. 1.  “My lawyer can beat up your lawyer” isn’t a…

The Curse of Almost Done

A few days ago, I wrote about how I was suffering from The Curse of Almost Happy. I realized that being “close to” fulfillment in my life and career wasn’t close at all. So, as I’ve spent this past weekend knocking off several things on my “To Do for Too Long” list, it hit me…

Thinking Unthinkable Thoughts

Kevin Kelly thinks about thinking the unthinkable: The futurist Herman Khan introduced the idea of “thinking the unthinkable” as a way to loosen up the imagination in trying to forecast the future. Most time we are unable to guess the future because we are inhibited by conventional wisdom – something that everyone knows is true. For…

Communicating Value and Price

I’ve been a big fan of Merlin Mann for several years now.  As I was checking out his website yesterday, I found his pricing page cheekily titled: Do You Charge Money to Do Things? Here’s how Merlin describes his pricing scheme: For most all of my speaking, consulting, and advisory work, yes: I do charge…

100 Tweets: Thinking About Law Practice in 140 Characters or Less.

I really like Twitter.  For those who follow me, you know that I try to share lots of legal-themed tips, thoughts and ideas.  In fact, most of my Ten Rules posts started out on Twitter — where I’ll test 15-25 “rules” to see which ones work best before picking the ten favorites. However, there’s lots…

Thank Your Clients This Year

You have just enough time to send out Thanksgiving cards to your clients this year.  Why Thanksgiving cards instead of other holiday cards?  Here are a few reasons from this 2008 post: Thanksgiving is a holiday about giving thanks.  Thanksgiving is the perfect opportunity to offer your clients a genuine “Thank you for being our…