Archives for September 2013

Positive Reviews and Feedback Must be Earned

Most people I know talk about the need to work hard to be successful and earn a good reputation. Yes, I said “earn a good reputation.” That is what you hope to achieve if you put in the hard work.

But some people, not just the 20 somethings, have unrealistic expectations, which at times results in cutting corners and avoiding the hard work part. I just read about a San Diego law firm being sued by Yelp because it allegedly had its employees paste fake reviews on Yelp because the posting of fake reviews violates the website’s terms of service contract (you know, the long thing you don’t read and just click the “Accept” button blindly). In addition to pointing out that it is easy to trace IP addresses and having employees post fake reviews from your office is bad form, that firm was forgetting the part where you have to work hard and provide good service to customers to earn praise.

If you work hard and provide a good service experience you will build your reputation. This in turn may lead to many positive results including positive online reviews, peer recognition and a good reputation, which will lead to what individuals and business seek: more work, customers, income, etc.

This leads to an old saying that is true: you need to take the time to invest in yourself. If you do, success is not guaranteed, but if it does come it will be earned and that much sweeter.

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We All Need To Try Something New

If you’re not successful, you’ve got to change something. Funny thing is that if you are successful it helps to change something. Trying something new is good for all of us. It could be regarding how you generate or create business. It could be how you organize your workspace. It could be stopping at the corner coffee shop in the morning and meeting your neighbors or other professionals and business owners.

Back to if you are not successful or are on a bad streak. The problem is you, but not in the way you think. Odds are it is not your work product. It is that you are stuck in routine and maybe with things that used to work. We are in a new world: post-recession, surrounded by technology twenty-four hours a day, sucked into interactions with or through machines that used to happen in person, or at least by phone. Change something.

One idea is to reconnect with people. I know people thirty and younger may be rolling their eyes, but life previously didn’t involve texting, Facebook and twitter. Make a list and call someone from that list each morning. All it takes is three to five minutes a day, but that personal touch means something. If not that, change something else, regularly.

Don’t let lack of success or success define you. Interact with people. For most of us, it is those people and their memory of you that will define us, not a witty tweet…

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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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Know the Rules

Only ask for a favor if you’ve got something you can give in return. Because favors are expensive. And if you don’t acknowledge or return favors, don’t expect those people to do any for you in the future. Really what we are talking about is the golden rule: do unto others as you have them do unto you; In modern language it means treat people how you want to be treated.

You know you have skills, but you have to know the rules. Last night I watched a Denver Bronco defensive player intercept a ball, go straight to the end zone, but drop the ball half a step before he crossed the goal line. He almost had a touchdown. My kids remind me that almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. That player had the skills, but didn’t know the rules.

There’s more information out there than ever on how the game works. If you want to work in any industry or profession you have to know who the players are, learn about where they started out, and then not only how they got to where they are, but where they are going. This will take work. But the payoff is great. For most of us, the areas in which we are trying to find success are not new roads, but old, well-travelled roads. Desire and will only go so far. While traveling down those old, well-travelled roads there is no reason to reinvent the wheel. And by the way there is a reason why clichés became clichés, but I will leave that story to another day.

If you want to discuss the rules, or anything else, feel free to contact me.

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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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