I CAN DO IT!

WE’VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT SELF-EFFICACY.  NOW LET’S TALK ABOUT BELIEF IN  ABILITY.

One of the key factors in gaining or having self-efficacy is the expectation that the goal can be accomplished. If there is no hope or little belief that the goal is attainable, forget even starting the challenge.

We discussed seeing a task as a challenge or a threat.  From that we can deduce that a threat would easily turn into I Can’t Do It with all kinds of reasons behind that decision. By identifying the task as a threat and questioning the validity of the threat, can produce some reduction in the view as a threat.  Then, as we also discussed, taking “baby steps”to shift the view of a threat to a challenge, success is in sight.

Now I am proposing even a broader approach to gaining self-efficacy through taking a more holistic approach by confronting the belief in the ability to do a task or meet a goal.  If there is self doubt that the person cannot achieve the goal at all, all kinds of minor threats will appear.  If, on the other hand, the person believes that he/she has the ability to achieve it, a whole new outlook will underline each step towards making the goal a reality.

Looking at a concrete example:  “The lawyer has worked for a firm for the past six or seven  years and is unhappy.  He/She knows that establishing a solo firm is possible because the funds are available and all those years of experience has produced competency in one or two areas of the law. Day dreaming has produced a sense of greater freedom in shaping his/her work life and that sounds like a great solution. ”

Now comes the overall pervasive feeling that he/she can’t do it. The belief is that the ABILITY is simply not there and thus the wish will fail.  This will, of course, stop any further planning, and creates a death to the idea. Sometimes, this realization takes a little while to appear and that can even more damaging because all hope will be abandoned even if the set back is minor.

The truth is that we, as human beings, are capable of all kinds of achievements we don’t even know about!

I remembered when I started painting.  I had no idea that I could actually paint something that might go on someone’s wall.  I took a class at the local junior college entitled: Art for Non-Artists.  I was amazed that I could do the assignments and come out with something that people seem to like (not just being nice). 15 years later, I have gotten better but still always have doubts that somehow things won’t work out because I don’t have the ability to paint.

We all must fight that notion growing up that we weren’t “big enough” to do activities we wanted to do.  This is obviously where some of this self doubt starts.  The truth is that we really don’t know what abilities we have. Not until we acknowledge that our capacities are greater than we acknowledge can we truly move forward.   So, I will never be a ballerina or an opera singer or a lot of other careers because I simply no longer have the  physical capacities. But we are only really  some what limited by very few restrictions.  Dare to know this. Dare to exceed your expectations!  

WHAT THE HECK IS SELF-EFFICACY AND WHY DO YOU HAVE TO KNOW ABOUT IT?

THE BIG GUY ON THIS ONE IS STANFORD’S ALBERT BANDURA.

Taking studies from scientists  trying to find out what is the most effective way to promote change in people, Dr. Bandura hit upon a massive element that goes into defining success and failure:  SELF-EFFICACY!

He defines it as as “people’s beliefs about their capabilities to produce designated levels of performance that exercise influence over events that affect their lives.”  A simpler version goes: “People’s belief about their capabilities to produce effects.”

After coaching for almost 10 years, I have come to believe that this is the key to allowing attorneys to commit to their goals plans and actually produce results.  Looking at a goal as a mastery and a challenge and not a threat is vitally important to success. Attorneys starting to be coached come with different degrees of self-efficacy.  If they have not succeeded in prior goal plans, then their belief in their abilities will be lower than those who have achieved results however they decided to go about change.

That’s the problem simply put, so what is the solution?

Bandura suggests that mastering a prior experience is a helpful beginning.  Unfortunately this experience must come before a giant failure which undermines that occurrence. This requires some tenacity which we have discussed in previous blogs.   Also, to build on the good events the failures must be in a similar category.

For instance:  An attorney decides to start a solo practice. He/she does a lot of pre-planning and sets up a practice based on knowing the important element of starting a practice. The 3 elements are INFRASTRUCTURE, COMPETENCY AND MARKETING.  Careful research and reasonable expectations have been met and for the first year, growth is small but constant as expected. Then whamO , the beginning of the second year finds a drop in the economy and the practice starts to slide downward.  If the attorney can feed off the skills that he/she learned from the first year’s success, there is a much higher likelihood of coming back strong. Simply going back over the 3 elements of a solo practice can even be the best answer.  As you can tell even from the little information you have, Marketing is probably the area that needs to undergo change.  To see this, however, will also boost the attorney’s ability to revise and reinvigorate  the resolve to face this as a challenge and not a threat.  After all, the attorney had very few or no clients when the practice was started. So this is the very same obstacle that was overcome earlier. Sometimes the attorney needs this pointed out to him/her. That’s one of the coach’s jobs!Time after time, however, I see experienced attorneys who want to change because they are no longer satisfied with their practices.  The excuses they use for not being able to change are enormous.

  •  they are too old,
  • they don’t have the time to become competent in another area,
  • they don’t have the financial ability to change,
  • they don’t want people to think they haven’t been successful
  • and on and on.

This is,of course, all “Malarkey” as my mother would say. I have had 2 major and 1 minor career change before I went to law school at 38 years old. Since practicing the past 33 years I have “morphed” 3 times, ending up with my favorite job as a legal coach.I will probably wind up with my head on my desk when the grim reaper comes but I had fun…most of the time.

My mother was an RN and my father only got to complete the 6th grade but they both had self-efficacy. Good examples of this concept are important as well as being told you can do it by someone you respect.

There’s more to this subject. Join me next week and we’ll go on this journey even further. 

OK, I’M BACK AND BRACED FOR A LONG FIGHT

 Were you there?

This is only the beginning of four years of doing everything we can to uphold the Constitution and our civil rights and more important, save our children’s future!

I have, for the past few years, made this blog about giving attorneys things to think about during each week and hints about actions they can take to make their practices better.  I have the overwhelming need now to change direction, at least for awhile, to keep my audience aware of what they can do each week to resist the destruction of our beautiful nation.

This week Paul Ryan’s office is conducting a phone poll and wants to hear overwhelming opposition to the Affordable Care Act.  So here’s what to do:   call (202)225-0600 and press 2.  You will then hear instructions to press 1 if you continue to support  ACA or press 2 if you don’t support continuation.  There are a lot of other people calling in, so be patient and keep trying.  This doesn’t mean that you might feel the ACA needs tweaking but the basics need to stay in place. Please press “1” and send a message. Thanks to my friend Elena Nini Cohen for this information.

Many people are telling you to contact your senator and congressperson.  Living in California and in Santa Cruz, my representatives are aware of what the majority of their constituents  are wanting them to do.  This is why I think it is important that each individual takes the responsibility of acting each week to keep the values of the Women’s March alive and well.

You might also want to follow THINK PROGRESS on the internet and facebook.  The publication has hired 2 investigators to give us blow by blow accounts of Trump’s actions which are destructive for all humanity.  They are looking to hire 2 more investigators and are about $40,000 short of being able to do that.

I hope you will continue with me in this journey of resistance!

OH,OH, IT’S ALMOST RESOLUTION TIME AGAIN!


Dear Readers,

As the year comes to an end, you know I like to give advice about how to handle the new year.  Well, this year is no different. Both you and your clients have had some real difficult times and some very unique challenges this past year.  Between the stock market behavior , job problems and the election debacle, doom and gloom has run rampant.  Many lawyers have suffered significant disruption of their businesses as clients and employers try to keep their heads above water.

Now, some of the experts tell us that the recession has turned around.  Other experts tell us that there is more disruption to come as the government goes crazy.Whatever happens, guess what?  WE STILL ALL HAVE THAT PIECE OF PAPER THAT SAYS WE ARE LAWYERS! Most people in the world don’t have that piece of paper. We have infinite possibilities to use that piece of paper to not only provide us with a living but to give us job satisfaction as well.

In line with that thinking, for many of you it may well be time to review your work situation and make decisions about how you might want to change your practice in the coming year. Take a minute and do a quite survey about your present career situation by answering the following questions:

  1.  Am I making enough money to cover my business and personal expenses?
  2. Am I making enough money to fund my retirement account each month?
  3. Do I like to go to work each day?
  4. Do I like the people I work with?
  5. Do I like most all of my clients?
  6. Can I get my work done in 40-50 hours a week?
  7. Do I have enough time for my family each day?
  8. Do I exercise enough?
  9. Am I eating a healthy diet?
  10. Am I taking enough classes to keep up to date in my practice areas?
  11. Do I often feel lonely?
  12. Do I have mentors?
  13. Do I play and have fun on a regular basis?

OK, OK, you get the idea.  If you answered NO to a lot of these questions, then you need to start on your New Year’s resolutions early.  Think of change ( which is scary) as MORPHING.  Morph yourself into a more fulfilling career.

How do you do this?  Look at the “nos” above. Now decide one thing you could do today to start changing  that answer to a “yes”. Some people call that shifting your outlook. Yes, it takes work and focus but its certainly better than being whiny ( you know I hate that) and depressed. Call me.  I’d love to discuss 2017 with you.

Wishing you all a glorious and prosperous New Year…..

DON’T BE STUPID, BE INFORMED AND ACT!

business man with his head buried in the sand

I’M FINALLY COMING OUT OF MY POLITICAL FUNK.  HOW ABOUT YOU?  OR ARE YOU STILL WITH YOUR HEAD IN THE SAND AND TRYING TO WAIT TO COME OUT UNTIL THINGS GET BETTER?

One of the things that helped me come back to the world of the living was to decide what actions I could take to fight the obvious screwed up thinking of many American voters.  I started with a subject that I have written about previously which was Why Do People Choose to Do Things that Injure Themselves?  Why would someone not take a life saving drug? Why do people vote for something directly opposed to their self interest?

The drug analogy came from an article that I read and also from my Ophthalmologist who has me on eye drops that slows and maybe even stops Glaucoma if taken every day. Malcom Gladwell wrote about this saying that, as I recall 35% of the people who need this drug, don’t use it every day. It is clear, if you use the drops you won’t get Glaucoma, if you don’t use the drops you will get Glaucoma because it has already been determined that you have the beginning signs of the disease.  Blindness is the result. Isn’t that a heck of an analogy to our present situation!

Now we come to why people vote against what would be best for them.  The basic answer I believe, is that they do not take the time to be informed about the facts of their decision.  I was appalled at the latest news that the internet is  allowing “false” news to be broadcast.  Unfortunately, both CNN and Fox News were guilty of this.  Most people now rely on the internet for their news.  They expect the entity publishing the news to have fact checked it.  If that were true, how did we get a report that Clintons had a child porno ring at their home? At least this was a news story that people might question.  More insidious was the half fact/half truth stories that came out. They sounded real, and lots of Americans bought them.

Also the news media needs to be held accountable for making an obviously unsuitable candidate seem suitable by giving his campaign so much coverage.  He didn’t even have to buy ads, because he was getting so much coverage.  Also none of the media (except a few) did any fact checking before publishing what they found to be “news”.  This was all done in the name of GREED for selling their product.

Bottom line however, as an example, is still why would people vote for closing down immigration and deporting millions and other stupid ideas?  Americans all came here first as immigrants.  Everyone single American, except the indigenous peoples, can trace their ancestry back to another country.  Also, from this kind of legislation comes all sorts of bad laws that will affect our society.  China, Japan and India will not be sending their best people for those high level jobs because of the new laws.  We will all suffer a “brain drain”.  Immigrants who have lived here since they were babies, live in constant fear.  Families who have been here for sometimes 30 years, working, paying taxes and contributing to our society, will be separated and sent back to a country they escaped from and found a better life.  Again, don’t be stupid, these people will find a way to come back to their US families, wall or no wall. If Americans were more informed about our present immigration laws, they would know that it is arduous to obtain a green card and certainly, if a immigrant commits a crime they are sent back to their country already! You can fact check this or take my word as a former immigration attorney….I insist you fact check!

So my job now is to stand up as soon as I see our beautiful Constitution being threatened and to hopefully find a way to harass the internet to be a strong proponent for the truth. I will keep you posted as I find out the most effective ways to do this.

THANKS FOR LETTING ME RANT……I FEEL BETTER ALREADY. 

MY TARGET MARKET: HERE I COME!

Last week we went over some ideas in how to figure out who your target market(s) is.

THIS WEEK, WE ARE GOING TO FIND OUT HOW TO CONNECT AND ALLOW THOSE TMs TO KNOW WHO YOU ARE AND HOW YOU CAN HELP THEM.

There are a few rules that should be discussed before we begin:

  • Always identify what your main TM’s needs are before you start.
  • Be sure to get as much information as set out last week, about your TM before starting.
  • Identify any person or entity that your TM might go for legal advice or referral.
  • Designate these “gatekeepers” as a new TMs and devise a strategy to contact them in the same way you are doing for other TMs.
  • Widdle down your TM’s description to the specifics.  Don’t worry about excluding anyone at this point.(for example- “People who don’t have a will or have an outdated one” TO “Parents  who don’t have a will or have an outdated one” TO ” Parents  who own their home and don’t have a will or have an outdated one.)
  • Ask yourself: What could I give to this TM that he/she can’t get anywhere else. (here it can be personal service like coming to their home or with the above example, it might be expert tax and wealth saving information).
  • Be creative. Think Outside the Box.
  • Decide what  tangible small value you can give to your TM right away. (example: A planning booklet to keep all the necessary probate information in and to let their heirs know what’s available).

NEXT MAJOR PLANNING ITEM FOR YOUR MARKETING PLAN IS TO DETERMINE YOUR BRAND.

How are you going to brand yourself????? As an expert? As an experienced attorney who can save time and money? As a parent and care giver yourself who understands the needs of his/her client?

Whatever your BRAND may be, it should reflect and answer the needs of your TM.  No client wants to hire an attorney who doesn’t know what they need and want.  Use stories of past successful results to assure your potential client that you want to take care of his/her problems. You have the knowledge and the expertise to do it!

PLEASE NOTE THAT I AM TRYING TO MAKE MARKETING AS SIMPLE AND DIRECT AS POSSIBLE. AS YOU GO THROUGH THESE EXERCISES YOU SHOULD BE KEEPING THEM SEPARATE FROM YOUR OTHER WORK. BE FOCUSED ON GETTING THAT GPS TO ALL THE CLIENTS YOU WANT. MORE NEXT WEEK……

WHY ATTORNEYS DON’T ASK FOR HELP: Or ask for the wrong help

One of the hardest things attorneys find to do is ask for the right help.

Why is that:

  • Many attorneys have big egos and don’t want to admit they need help. They are afraid they will look weak and not competent.
  • Many attorneys don’t want to admit that they actually had lots of help just graduating from Law School, passing the Bar and finding work.  They actually feel they did it all on their own when in fact, family, teachers and others provided much needed help along the way.
  • They don’t believe there is good, effective help available to them.
  • They don’t know where to look or find the appropriate help.
  • Many would rather self medicate than admit they need help.  Oh, boy does this cause more problems!
  • Many attorneys can’t identify what kind of help they need.  Or exactly what the problems may be.
  • Some attorneys will ask another attorney/friend for help but get the wrong advice and give up.
  • Attorneys are skeptics.  They have been taught to doubt the validity of many things, including help.
  • Some attorneys are in deep denial and don’t admit they need help
  • And most important, many attorneys don’t want to go through the changes they need to resolve their problems. They would rather stay in denial.

DO YOU KNOW A COLLEAGUE WHO NEEDS HELP BUT WON’T REACH OUT?  OR ARE YOU THAT PERSON?

The starting place is to admit it. Then take some ACTION STEPS to first:

  • Grind the problem down to its elements. Is it money? Is it time? Is it burnout? etc.
  • Once you have flushed out the elements, develop a plan to attack the gap between the problem you see it  today and the vision of what it will look like when it is solved.
  • Get some professional help such as a coach to help identify the gap, help you with the steps and hold you to the commitment to overcome the problem.

 NOW IS THE TIME TO HAVE THE CAREER THAT YOU WANT!

WHY SOLOS DON’T MARKET EFFECTIVELY

THEY ARE SCARED AT SOME LEVEL

I know you don’t want to hear this, but there are many attorneys who don’t really want to market themselves or their firm out of pure fear.  Unfortunately, solo attorneys don’t have a choice and have to market their services or be working at a severe disadvantage.

Introverts especially don’t like to feel that they are “imposing” on others.  So let’s look at some of the reasons that solos may be afraid to even do a marketing plan for their firm.

  • they feel their services are not worthy
  • they think that they might offend someone by asking for business
  • they think that they are entitled to business without having to extend themselves
  • they are afraid of the time it takes to market correctly
  • they don’t like to plan because then they have to try to meet goals
  • they don’t buy the notion that every solo has to be a marketing guru
  • they think that they don’t know how or have the skills to market

This last one leads to real trouble because frequently solos will spend big dollars to hire someone to market for them.  Unfortunately, this only really works when the attorney knows how to market and exactly what he wants the outcome of the relationship with the “marketer” to be.

In other words, it is the preplanning of an entire marketing campaign that coordinates the various outlets (Linkedin, Avvo, website, blog, networking) with a  targeting of your specific market that reduces the mistakes and overspending.  Read my previous three blogs to get even more information.

If you are unsure how to market or your marketing is not working, it’s time to review what you are doing and to revise your marketing plan (or get one LOL). In this economic climate, the best way to do this is to not only take into consideration how you want to market, but what this diverse culture needs.  Marketing to millennials is different from the people in Generation X, let alone Y.

GOT YOUR ATTENTION?  HOW ABOUT IMMEDIATELY REVIEWING OR CREATING A SOLID MARKETING PLAN FOR YOUR FIRM. CALL ME IF YOU NEED HELP WITH THIS.  I HAVE SUCCESSFULLY HELPED AT LEAST 100 LAWYERS WITH THIS!

THE ”REAL” TRUTH OF MARKETING FOR SOLOS

HERE IT IS:  IT’S HARD WORK!!!

 

Marketing starts with( in this order):

  • Carefully Defining Your Target Market
  • Mission Statement
  • Elevator Speech to Incorporate into Marketing
  • Three Month Marketing Plan including all the marketing categories.
  • Goal Setting for the First Month
  • Calendaring the Goals Faithfully Each Week.

The only thing I left out was the different marketing categories which you need to take one by one and set out your goals.  They are:

  • Risk Reduction (what clients don’t you want).
  • Advertising
  • Public Relations
  • Direct Mail
  • Website and E Promotions
  • Endorsements
  • Branding
  • Networking
  • Budget

Take each of categories and write down how you will market through them.  Do some reading or call me for some help if you get stuck.

NOW YOU HAVE THE TRUTH, GO FORTH AND GET ORGANIZED FOR SUCCESS!

YOUR WEBSITE AND YOUR BEST BROCHURE

NOW THAT YOU HAVE YOUR “MISSION STATEMENT” IT’S TIME TO WORK ON YOUR WEBSITE.

Taking into account, the value you are going to give to your Target Market, you begin to build or modify your website.  Remember last week we  talked about a Probate/Trusts/Wills attorney’s possible mission statement? If you don’t recall, take a look at that blog and intertwine those values into the website outline that I’m going to give you.  Or even better, take out your mission statement and use it as a inspirational tool for updating or building your website.

CUTTING EDGE WEBSITE RENOVATION

Your website is your best brochure and your blog is your most effective device to keep in contact with your clients and colleagues.

Now that we have millions of websites to evaluate we have learned a few basic rules that are replacing the sort of random marketing that websites have produced.  Among those are that it needs to be EXTREMELY USER FRIENDLY, have great EYE CANDY  and allow the viewer to have a PERSONAL EXPERIENCE.

DETERMINE YOUR TARGET MARKET:

What group of people do you want to reach? Where do they live? What is their wealth status? Is there anything unusual about them?

Define your target market as narrowly as possible.  Get it down to the ideal client that you would like to see walk in the door.  See the difference between “has a family law problem” and “has a family law problem and is financially able to retain an attorney”. One target market is very different from the other.  One narrows and one widens.  Exactly who you want to call you and take your precious time needs to be carefully thought out.

DETERMINE THEIR “WEED”:

After you have determined your target market, you need to find your target Market’s weed. What would be the most troubling thing to them? What is the “weed” in their garden that you can get rid of.  We have recently found out that lay clients look for their “weed” in your home page.  If they can relate to what you are saying you can help them with, they will be much more inclined to hire you than if you lay out in detail your credentials, etc.  They assume since you are a lawyer, that you will know what to do.

So find out what troubles your clients.  Ask old ones or pretend you are a client.  What would you want to see on an attorney’s Home Page that would tell you he or she recognizes your exact problem.

You might also want to explore the circumstances that has brought on their need.  In family law, it may be an unhappy or scary  scene.  In probate law, the actual need is a little different because the  need is for the future.  Being aware of these problems will help you to focus on what exactly is important to your future clients and create an up to date website.

WEBSITE HOME PAGE:

Simply and clearly restate your target market’s “WEED”. Use the magic words that will hit the search engines.

PROFILE PAGE:

 First of all, this is where your picture goes.  What kind of a picture should you have?  The usual rule is that you dress like your client would expect a lawyer to dress if he or she were to appear in court.  This does not meant that you flash the Rolex watch nor other expensive jewelry. And for heaven sake, smile.  Warm, friendly is what you are going for.

Then, the most important part of this page is to tell your story here.  Why did you become a lawyer? What type of cases have you handled? What has brought you joy as an attorney.  This is not a time to spill your guts but to be sincere and forthright about why you are doing what you are doing.  Don’t brag.  At the very end you can give a brief overlay of your education and experience.  Also do a link to a more extensive resume.

ENDORSEMENTS:

Get people to write comments about their experience with you.  Be sure to get their OK to use their full names.  No one believes testimonials that are from Jane D.

PRACTICE AREA PAGES:

Simple, Simple, Simple.  Again go back to the “Weed” and identify  and then address the client’s need in each area.

LINKS:

Make sure these are helpful and not just fill ins.

Add in anything which will make the site more useful and allow for more in depth viewing if the reader wants it.  This could be publications you have written.  Helpful tips about your area of the law or your blog.

EYE CANDY

Your entire site has to be attractive and something that an audience wants to look at for more than 20 seconds.  Choose your colors carefully.  If you are a Probate Attorney you don’t want a predominately black website.

Remember that most of your audience is visually oriented.  A few are auditorally oriented and even less are tactilely oriented.  So, if you have no sense of color or are unsure, get some help.  But do this with guidance from you.  What “feeling” do you want your viewers to bring away from your site.  Is it calming?  Is it aggressive?  Is it exciting?  It is very important that any designer or webmaster understand that you are at the helm and determining what is best for you.

THE FUTURE:

We are going to see a lot more video in websites.  These will be either a quick introduction on the Home Page with the attorney addressing the audience or links to videos in different areas.

If you want to venture into this area, make sure that you get professional help if you need it. Make sure that you have the right light and camera equipment to do good production.  Remember you are competing with 12 year olds that can whip out a professional looking You Tube rendition which will make them millions.

In helping clients cope with the new technology I have found that David Scott’s book, NEW RULES OF MARKETING AND PR to be very informative.

NOW I’VE GIVEN YOU YOUR MARCHING ORDERS.  I WANT TO SEE YOUR NEW WEBSITE.  PLEASE SEND ME YOUR LINK. I WILL BE GLAD TO ADD MY COMMENTS AND PRAISE.