Posts tagged - law

Why you always must be prepared

In my world preparation is everything, whether for trial, a transaction, oral argument or the first meeting with a new client.  In your world there are equivalents where you can win or lose business based on your preparation or lack thereof.

I am heading into a trial in a few weeks and am in the process of preparing. While I think my client has a great chance of success at the trial based on the facts and evidence, I know that my level of preparation can greatly affect those chances and the ultimate outcome.  My goal always is to be as prepared as possible because it not only gives me the best chance for success, but also the best chance to not miss something that can help win the day.

In this situation with the trial my preparation is compensated, but in many situations I am preparing by spending my uncompensated time.  Why?  Because the more prepared you are the better the possible outcome.  If you think you are the only one your potential client, customer, etc. is speaking with, you are being naïve.  And even if they are not talking to someone else, the confidence you instill in them because of your preparation will give you a better opportunity to reach the outcome you seek.

Plus, it can turn those people into your cheerleaders too, which never hurts.

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Why you need to prepare for meetings

When new or potential clients ask me how we can make our first meeting as productive as possible it is an easy answer.  Prepare.  That means me too.  I ask them to look through all of the documents, emails and information they have that is relevant to their issues.  And I ask them to send me the operative contract, documents, emails and or an outline of the pertinent facts prior to the meeting.

This applies to you too.  You cannot prepare too much.  Knowledge is power.

If you are meeting with a salesperson, know what you need and have a plan.  This helps you order what you need, not make emotional decisions and keep the meeting on point.

If you are the salesman, know the company or person you are trying to sell.  Research.  It helps to keep notes about people, their companies, their families, etc. The personal touch is everything (but you need to be sincere and care, or you will hurt your cause).  Search the Internet, review your notes, or take whatever actions will help you be prepared for your meetings.  Knowledge and preparation make meetings go smoother, and better, and more productive.

By doing so you will help yourself, and help others.  Time is money is true.  Most people would like more money, and we all can use more time, so prepare as well as you can and you will have a better opportunities for more of both.

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Appearances Don’t Matter; Never Assume!

We all run into people who appear to be successful.  It can be how they carry themselves, the car they drive, the clothes they wear or the words they say.  Some are. Some aren’t.  Fake it till you make it, the saying goes.

Of course, some of the most successful people won’t look like many of us picture success.  How about Sam Walton driving a pickup truck his whole life despite starting what is arguably the biggest business in America, Walmart?  Or in your world, what about the mechanic with grease under his fingernails?  Maybe he owns a chain of garages. Maybe not. Maybe he owns one garage, but is successful enough to live comfortably or more and that business put his children through college.

That mechanic may be a great client for me or you. He may need help whether from a lawyer, accountant, financial planner, etc.  Maybe he needs your company to help with SEO and boost where he shows up on Google.

If you make assumptions based on appearances you may miss out on a great connection, client, or even making a new friend.  Of course it is not always so easy to know who to speak to first at an event or gathering.  It shouldn’t take too long to figure out whether the person you are speaking to is someone you want to know or not. Look for real substance and true success.

Try to choose wisely, or move on…

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I Can’t Thank You Enough!

Of course, you think, another person telling you to be thankful during the holiday season. Kind of, but not really. You should be thankful for what you have, but year round, not just because it is this time of year. But that is not what I am talking about.


This time of year is a good time to remember to show gratitude. Yes, you should do so year round, but it is better late than never, and should be done in both your professional and personal worlds. Lucky enough to have someone clean your home? Some extra money may be sufficient without a card or hand written note (yes, there are still times a hand written note is appropriate), and arguably will be more appreciated than a gift.

But what about the guy or gal who referred you the big lead or client? Arguably shouldn’t be money (think kickbacks!).  Here a hand written note and thoughtful gift is the right idea. Not sure what to get them? You should be because you want to get to know people better who help you succeed and earn your living.

So remember to thank timely and often, and do it throughout the year. If you haven’t lived this way until now, this is a good time of year to start.

And to those of you kind enough to have referred a client to me, provided me with a lead or trusted me enough to connect me to one of your contacts, thank you!! And who knows, you still may be getting that hand written note and a gift…

Happy Holidays!

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Life is a Negotiation so be Prepared

As an attorney my life involves negotiation on a daily basis, professionally. But so does yours. You may negotiate with clients, customers, suppliers, co-workers, spouses or children. Is it for that big sale or to get your kid to do something? It doesn’t matter, prepare.

The preparation may just be thinking about the conversation. Or it may be strategizing with others or conducting role playing scenarios. There are many commentators out there who do a great job on writing about negotiation strategies and issues (For example, see Marty Latz’s (@MartyLatz) columns: Maybe your preparation can be researching his or other columns on the Internet. The point is do something; Think. It will help.

For me, professionally, negotiation can involve mediation, which is a more formal form of negotiation and usually is my client’s last opportunity to settle a dispute on terms agreeable to them before a judge or jury makes a decision that will impact their life or business in potentially unpredictable ways. That is a big deal. But so is the potential sale or going to the football game with your friends next Sunday.

One thing I always tell clients (and do when negotiating in my personal life) is to think about the person(s) you are negotiating with and the potential outcomes: your best case,  your worst case and what is an acceptable result (or range of results) to you. Know your audience because how you wrap the message is important.

I challenge you to try preparing for your next negotiation, whatever it is. And please let me know if you think your preparation helped or not (and if not, why).

If you want to talk about preparation for an important conversation or negotiation you plan to have, please feel free to call me (which is preparation too) because I may have a few ideas based on my experiences negotiating personally, professionally and as a mediator.

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Good Communication Must be Lucid, Cogent, Succinct, Interesting, Informative, and Convincing

Those are a lot of five star words I read in an interview answer United States Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy gave when asked what qualities he admires in the briefs presented to his court. I think what he said has broader application in our daily lives, both professional and personal. Whether you are writing, on the phone, meeting with someone or a group, giving presentation, etc. you need to think about your audience and the result you are seeking.

It takes work to be clear, logical, and short (my three star understandable translation of Justice Kennedy’s words), let alone interesting, informative and convincing. This does not mean practice and plan every communication because thinking on your feet is another important skill to have and some communications need to and are meant to be spontaneous. It means know your audience and the context of your communication.

For example, if you are negotiating anything (we all negotiate in all aspects of our lives daily! You do….think about it), and here I am specifically thinking in our business or professional roles, do you have a strategy going in? If you don’t, you likely will not get to the result you seek or accept a result that would have been unacceptable to you going in. How you prepare is up to you and should be based on the context and type of communication. Negotiating a lower price for a curio on vacation is different than negotiating a business contract is different than negotiating settlement of a lawsuit.

In my world this mostly means dealing with clients, other attorneys and courts. What it means to you is relative to where you sit. And, again, the context of the communication. And it includes tweets and Facebook posts for business related accounts, and most certainly texts and email.

It goes back to something many of us have heard our entire lives: think before you speak (or in this case, before you write/type/tweet…or maybe blog).

If you have any thoughts or want to add to this conversation, please feel free to email me, text me, tweet me, message me on LinkedIn, comment here, call me or stop me in the hall!

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All Business is Relationships

It is important to remember how to be a member of the group. And don’t make it only about  business. Relax. All business is relationships, and it is where you need to do a good job. If you are not, you’ve got to tweak the formula.

Even if you know the answer, don’t always volunteer it. Many people don’t want to be wrong. Never. If you correct them, they’re alienated from you, and that might work against you…for years.

Generally try to avoid behaviors and actions that alienate people, like desperation, complaining or emotional reactions. It does not mean you should sublimate your personality. For example, you often meet bullies and people with a chip on their shoulder at the pinnacle of business. With some the only way you can gain their respect (sometimes begrudgingly) is to act just like they do. They may end up respecting you, they may not. But they will realize you know how to play the game.

But it’s much more complicated than that. And I’m still learning. This is why you always should try new things to find both what works for you and what you are comfortable with. And remember that important things such as friendship, respect and success are earned.

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Things you need to know for business and life

I am sharing some things I was thinking about over the holiday weekend. I hope you all were able to relax and recharge, and are ready for you and your business to head strongly into the fall.

1. Being the star may be short-lived

Being a rainmaker or achieve success usually takes hard work and time. At points it feels like it is easy to break through, but it can be much harder to sustain.

2. Quality counts.

If you want to maintain your reputation and have longevity at a high level expect to work hard. It’s hard to game the system for your career. Your best bet is to focus on your work and do your best for your clients or customers.

3. Talent is not something you are born with.

There is no way around the fact that you have to do your work and homework to do your best for your clients or customers. Find a niche you like, or yet love, learn and do your best. If you do it is likely your clients, customers and professional acquaintances will help spread the word for you. The goal is longevity.

4. Throwing it all at the wall doesn’t work well.

Even if it makes you feel good to get the message out every way you can, unless your target market is listening it is wasted time and effort. It is not a numbers game, but about being personal. One personal email to an important connector is more important than a press release sent out randomly; The personal touch is everything today. People remember personal emails, phone calls and meetings, which can pay dividends in the future.

At the same time, if using the written word, use spellcheck!

5. Invest in yourself.

Success is slow. Learn well, put what you learn into practice and treat clients, customers and everyone you deal with how you would want to be treated. Yes, try to be professional even when others are not because people will remember the one time you lack professionalism if it happens. And there’s plenty of money to be made in the long run and it comes easier if you don’t make it your number one priority.

Please think of me if you or anyone you know want to discuss these type of issues or have any legal needs.


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