Posts with category - business

Playing offense in your professional life will pay dividends

Playing offense in your professional life is adopting a proactive mindset that seeks opportunities and takes decisive actions to achieve one’s goals. It involves being assertive, innovative, and forward-thinking in your approach to setting goals, taking on challenges, and making opportunities. When you play offense, you are not merely reacting to circumstances but actively shaping them to your advantage. This mindset can yield substantial dividends for your career.

One significant benefit of playing offense is the ability to seize opportunities before they become apparent to others. By staying ahead of the curve, you position yourself to capitalize on emerging trends and industry shifts. This proactive stance allows you to be a trailblazer, gaining a competitive edge and establishing yourself as a thought leader in your field. Whether it’s embracing new technologies or identifying gaps in the market, playing offense enables you to be at the forefront of your chosen field.

This type of proactive approach fosters a mindset of continuous improvement and adaptability. Instead of waiting for challenges to arise, you need to actively seek ways to enhance your skills, expand your knowledge, and evolve with the evolving demands of your profession. This commitment to personal and professional growth not only makes you more resilient in the face of change but also positions you as an asset to your team or organization.

For me, in the legal profession, playing offense involves more than just reacting to legal issues; it requires a proactive and strategic approach to navigate the complexities of the legal landscape. I have to be able to anticipate potential legal challenges and stay up to speed on evolving laws to offer preemptive counsel to my clients. This proactive stance enhances my ability to continue to build my practice through attracting interesting clients with interesting transactions and issues. Simply, it gives me choice and allows me to do the types of work I enjoy.

Playing offense in your professional life is closely tied to effective risk management. Rather than avoiding risks altogether, a proactive individual assesses risks strategically and takes calculated chances to achieve greater rewards. This calculated risk-taking is crucial for career advancement and can lead to breakthrough moments that significantly impact your trajectory. It’s about embracing challenges as opportunities for growth and learning, recognizing that some of the most rewarding achievements often involve stepping outside your comfort zone.

Playing offense cultivates a positive and empowering mindset. Instead of dwelling on setbacks or limitations, when you adopt an offensive strategy you focus on solutions and possibilities. This optimistic outlook not only enhances your personal well-being but also inspires those around you. People are naturally drawn to those who exude confidence and resilience, and such qualities can open doors to collaborations, mentorships, and other valuable connections that contribute to your professional success.

It’s a strategic choice to play offense in your professional life and one which can yield substantial dividends. It involves being proactive, innovative, and resilient in the face of challenges. By continuously improving, taking calculated risks, and maintaining a positive mindset, you position yourself for success and create opportunities for significant professional growth. In our dynamic and competitive professional landscape, adopting an offensive mindset is a powerful tool for achieving your goals and making a lasting impact in your chosen field, not to mention enjoying the spoils of your hard work.

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Empowering Success: The Transformative Influence of Accountability on Goals

Accountability serves as a powerful catalyst for reaching goals, offering a range of benefits that propel individuals and teams toward success. At its core, accountability instills a sense of responsibility and ownership. When you commit to being accountable for your actions and objectives, you become more invested in the outcomes. This heightened sense of ownership cultivates a proactive mindset where you are driven to achieve your goals, knowing that you will be answerable for your progress or lack thereof. It fosters a culture of commitment and dedication, pushing you to strive for excellence.

It also serves as a guiding force that promotes consistency and discipline. Knowing that progress will be monitored encourages you to stay focused and maintain consistent efforts toward your goals. This consistency is essential in the pursuit of long-term objectives, preventing procrastination and distractions from derailing progress. By holding yourself and others accountable, you create a framework that emphasizes regularity and discipline, which are crucial elements for sustained progress and eventual goal attainment.

Another significant benefit of accountability is the cultivation of a supportive and collaborative environment. When you hold yourself accountable and encourage others to do the same, it creates a culture of mutual support and encouragement. Within such an environment, individuals feel empowered to share their progress, setbacks, and challenges openly. This transparency not only fosters trust but also enables collective problem-solving and support, providing valuable insights and resources that can aid in overcoming obstacles on the path to achieving goals.

Further, accountability drives measurable results. Setting clear expectations and regularly evaluating progress against predefined benchmarks allows you and your team to track your advancement objectively. This monitoring enables timely adjustments, identifying areas that require improvement and allowing for course corrections as needed. The ability to measure progress not only provides a sense of achievement as milestones are reached but also offers valuable insights into what strategies are effective and what areas need refinement.

In essence, accountability serves as a cornerstone in the journey toward reaching goals. It cultivates a sense of responsibility, promotes consistency and discipline, fosters a collaborative environment, and drives measurable results. Embracing accountability not only enhances individual performance but also contributes to the overall success and effectiveness of teams and organizations. It’s a fundamental component that fuels motivation, encourages growth, and paves the way for achieving even the most ambitious aspirations.

Try it, you will like it.

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Communicate effectively by not repeating yourself when trying to make a point

Effective communication involves conveying your message clearly and understandably without repetition. I find that many people make their point and then pound on it, repeating it multiple times. This is frustrating to listen to and can cause some people to tune out the speaker, which turns into ineffective communication.

A key to avoiding this type of repetition lies in structuring your thoughts and ideas in a coherent and concise manner. Begin by organizing your message logically, ensuring a clear flow from one point to the next. Avoid circular or repetitive explanations as they might confuse your listener. What this really means is you should plan for important conversations or communications using drafts, outlines, practicing what you want to convey, or whatever similar action works for you.

To communicate without repeating yourself, focus on the essence of your message. Eliminate redundant words or phrases that don’t contribute significantly to the point you’re making. This requires a conscious effort to articulate your thoughts concisely while maintaining clarity. Additionally, practice active listening, allowing room for feedback or questions to address any potential areas of confusion. Try to tailor your communication style to your audience so what you want to convey is easily understood without the need for repetition.

If the setting is right, the use of visual aids including charts, diagrams, pictures, or even a summary of what you’re saying can complement what you’re saying, making it easier for listeners to understand your point without the need for you to be repetitive. Whether or not you use such ideas for your communications, remember to gauge the listener’s response in all situations to ensure that they’ve grasped the information you’re trying to communicate, which can minimize the need for reiteration.

In essence, clarity, brevity, and adaptability in communication are fundamental to being understood. By organizing your thoughts coherently, avoiding redundancy, employing various communication strategies, and actively engaging with your audience, you can effectively convey your message while minimizing the necessity for repetition. And the shorter and more to the point your communication is, the more likely it is to be understood.

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Take actions to prevent self-created emergencies

Dwight D. Eisenhower said “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.” When I recently saw this quote I thought of self-created emergencies versus real emergencies. I have had many clients over the years who have important matters that need to be resolved and understand that takes time. I have had other clients for whom everything important is an emergency. When those situations involve actual emergencies I find they usually are self-created.

Most self-created emergencies arise due to poor planning, procrastination, or impulsive decision-making, resulting in unnecessary stress, chaos, and inefficiency. These emergencies often stem from a lack of foresight, inadequate time management, or neglecting responsibilities. One major negative aspect of self-created emergencies is the toll they take on the mental health of the person who created the emergency or the professionals they look to in trying to resolve the emergency. Continuously dealing with crises induced by poor planning can lead to heightened stress levels, anxiety, and burnout, impacting both personal well-being and professional performance. To avoid these detrimental consequences, implementing proactive strategies in your business and how you work is crucial. It also helps people such as attorneys be in a position to help you with out a client created time crunch.

Effective time management plays a pivotal role in preventing self-created emergencies. Procrastination is a significant contributor to such situations. By establishing a structured schedule, setting realistic deadlines, and prioritizing tasks, you can reduce the likelihood of last-minute rushes. Breaking down larger projects into smaller, manageable tasks and allocating specific time slots for each task aids in better organization and prevents the accumulation of work. When you do this, important issues are not urgent and you and your team, or you and your professionals, have time to think through options, come up with a game plan, and execute differently and more efficiently than when you procrastinate and turn the situation into an emergency.

Another contributing factor to self-created emergencies is a lack of contingency planning. Failing to anticipate potential obstacles or ignoring warning signs can escalate minor issues into full-blown emergencies. To mitigate this, incorporate buffer time into your schedule, anticipating potential setbacks, and have a backup plan in place can help you navigate unforeseen challenges more effectively.

Additionally, fostering a proactive rather than reactive mindset is instrumental in avoiding stressful and urgent emergencies. Being proactive helps you to identify potential issues and take preventive measures to address them before they turn into an emergency. This involves regularly assessing your priorities, staying ahead of deadlines, and consistently reviewing and adjusting plans as needed. Moreover, effective communication and collaboration within your internal team or your external professionals can prevent misunderstandings and last-minute scrambles, reducing the likelihood of emergencies arising from miscommunication or lack of coordination.

Cultivating self-discipline and accountability is fundamental in preventing self-created emergencies. It involves adhering to set timelines, avoiding distractions, and being accountable for your own actions. When you seek mentorship or guidance to improve your organizational skills and you adopt strategies from successful individuals it contributes to better planning and decision-making.

Urgent situations resulting from self-created emergencies have significant adverse effects on both personal and professional aspects of life. If you focus on effective time management, proactive planning, fostering a proactive mindset, promoting accountability, and seeking guidance when needed, these tools will substantially reduce your stress, increase your organization, and hopefully prevent the occurrence of such emergencies as much as possible.

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The 2023 version of why it’s time for an annual checkup for you and, if you have one, your company

Beginning in 2014, many of you probably read my blog regarding having a checkup for you and, if you have one, your business. This does not involve the doctor, but it does involve all the other professionals in your personal and business life. Based on the positive feedback, I have made this an annual tradition.

Some of you said “What a great idea. I am definitely going to do that.” Others said “Sounds like a good idea, maybe I will look into that.” Another response was “I wish I had thought about this before the end of the year or when certain contracts automatically renewed.

That feedback was based on me usually making this post the week between Christmas and New Year’s, when many people have time and are thinking about actions they want to take going into the next year. This is why I now share this a few weeks prior to the end of the year to give you time to take action and look into possible changes before year end.

I’ll bet in most years the majority of you were busy with or recovering from the holidays and all that they entail, and probably did nothing in response to my push for you to do this type of “annual checkup.” To be honest, this response is okay and ignoring my advice may not have had detrimental effects on you or your business.

The point of the advice is that you only know what you know. If you do not check in with your professionals and, for example, make sure contracts or your estate plan remain enforceable and up-to-date, that is where risk comes in. For example, I always check in with my accountant prior to the end of the year to ensure that all is right with taxes and withholding because I don’t want a big surprise that I owe more money.

A few years ago I had a reminder related to a different item you should check on annually, auto insurance. We had teenagers on our policy at the time and a number of vehicles, and the premiums always seemed so high to me. But my insurance person knows me and shops the policy every year looking for the best rates rates for similar coverage from quality insurers. He did that for me and we ended up with a new insurer, with pretty significant savings.

Does your insurance person do this? If not, why not? You should ask. Or you should switch to a new insurance person who cares as much about you as they do about the commissions and income you represent to them.

With the time constraints of life, it’s sometimes hard for me to move beyond the higher-level checkup, but when I do I usually end up with some benefit. Unfortunately, in our time-crunched world, the question of who to check in with at year end is expansive, from your estate planning attorney, to your investment person, to your insurance person, to vendors you may use such as a yard or pool maintenance company, or your cell phone carrier or your Internet provider. You may be surprised what a company will do in lowering monthly costs to satisfy or keep a current or longtime customer. Try it and see what happens. A good one to start with is your cable or satellite television provider (assuming you haven’t cut the cable). Another is your cell phone provider.

I know, I know, who has the time? None of us do, which is why the choices are yours. Are your contracts up to date? Did you pay enough estimated taxes or withholding? Are you paying too much for the cleaning service at your office or your lawn service for your home ? The choice of what professionals to consult, what costs to check or compare, and what services to put out to bid is yours. Choose wisely.

And for those of you seeking a reminder or who did not see it in years past, here is my original blog post on getting an annual checkup:

The end of the year is always a good time to take stock of where you are personally and professionally. This can be checking in with your personal accountant to make sure you have withheld/paid enough taxes during the year or planning for deductions to planning for large corporate expenditures on things such as upcoming projects, planned corporate initiatives or planned equipment purchases. But the one thing that is a constant is that we all should be doing this.

In the past I have mentioned why it is good to sit down with various professionals you or your company work with just to check-in, be they attorneys, accountants, insurance professionals, financial planners, investment professionals, etc. The list depends on you and your business.

This does not have to be a formal appointment unless you think that is appropriate depending on the nature of the planned conversation. Instead, it can be you offering to buy them lunch or a drink. The point is the better the professionals you work with know you, the more they are able to make recommendations aimed to benefit you or your company.

So don’t wait, start making plans today to meet with these people this year, or at least first thing next year. We all are busy this time of year, but if you take these actions it will help you now and in the future.

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The power of lifting up others

The power of lifting up others cannot be overstated. Mentoring and supporting colleagues or subordinates fosters an environment of growth and productivity. This practice not only benefits the individual being supported but also enriches the overall team dynamics and organizational culture. When individuals are lifted up and empowered, they gain confidence, skills, and insights that contribute to their professional development and chances for greater individual and organizational success. This often leads to increased innovation, higher job satisfaction, and a stronger sense of loyalty to the company.

Accountability plays a crucial role in lifting up others. Encouraging accountability within a team sets the stage for personal and collective growth. When someone who works with or for you is held accountable for their actions and responsibilities, they understand the importance of their contributions. This, in turn, motivates them to strive for excellence, knowing that their efforts are recognized and valued. Accountability fosters a culture of trust and reliability, enabling people to support each other without fear of being let down.

The act of lifting others up is not just about providing guidance; it’s about creating opportunities for growth and learning. It allows experienced individuals to share their knowledge, experiences, and networks with others, which opens doors for new possibilities. By investing this time and effort in these types of actions and activities, organizations cultivate a culture of continuous learning and development, ensuring that valuable expertise is passed down and built upon as the company moves forward.

Businesses that prioritize lifting up others tend to witness a positive ripple effect throughout their employees. When employees feel supported and empowered, they become more engaged and motivated. This heightened engagement often leads to increased productivity, improved teamwork, and a greater willingness to collaborate on projects. Furthermore, the positive atmosphere created can attract top talent, as word spreads about the nurturing and growth-oriented environment within the organization.

Ultimately, the power of lifting up others goes beyond individual achievements; it creates a sense of community and interconnectedness. When individuals feel valued, supported, and inspired by their peers or mentors, they are more likely to pay it forward, perpetuating a cycle of encouragement and support that strengthens the fabric of any business or workplace culture. Empowering others isn’t just an action; it’s a catalyst for creating an environment where everyone can thrive and succeed together.

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Show gratitude always; the 2023 version

In a few days it will be Thanksgiving 2023 in what seems like a world gone crazy. In thinking about writing about being thankful or gratitude, I looked back to my posts from the week of Thanksgiving in prior years. I can’t say it better, so here is my annual blog for the week of Thanksgiving.

This is a good time of year to think of gratitude generally and what you’re thankful for specifically. At the same time, it’s a great time of year to spread good feelings, which you can do by letting others know when you appreciate something they have done for you. It may mean a phone call, email, or text, but it’s import to take the time to reach out, thereby investing in your relationships.

Those of you who have younger children (or older ones…) know you end up reminding them to say “thank you” all of the time. That is because thanking someone or showing gratitude is a learned behavior. If it came naturally or from observing others we wouldn’t have to teach children to do so.

Hopefully you remember to thank people as appropriate in your daily life. This may be thanking someone holding the door for me when I get to my office, for holding the elevator for me, or for making a pot of hot water so I can have tea and get that needed caffeine injection upon arriving for work. It includes thanking people on my team for their hard work to complete tasks needed to serve my clients’ interests. Many of these situations are universal to all of us, but I am sure we all remember holding a door for someone when they walked through without saying anything.

Of course, if you go through your day looking for when people should be thanking you, you will be disappointed. Instead, you should think about how you want to come across to others, as well as ways you don’t want to come across to others.

We all have bad days, but most days we should recognize when thanking someone is proper and appropriate. This time of year is a reminder to says things you may usually only think to yourself. Positive feedback is energizing, and hopefully the person you provide it to pays it forward. Plus, it has the added bonus of making you or the other person feel good, making it a great way to go through life.

Think about how to make gratitude part of your daily life and have a great Thanksgiving.

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Prepare, prepare, prepare

A recent experience reminded me why preparation matters to all of us heading into an important meeting, presentation, or even a networking event. I called a client to set up time to prepare for an important meeting. The client didn’t understand why we needed to meet and thought we would meet with the other side and see what they had to say. Even though this is a common misconception, it reminded me that many people don’t prepare and just wing it. Many of those people thinks that’s how most people do it. That’s how most people do it who end up not obtaining the outcome they hoped for.

Based on my client’s response, I had to explain why preparation matters if she wanted to achieve the best possible result. In this instance the meeting involved a negotiation between two people with a similar main goal in a situation where only one could reach it. The type of negotiation we were going to be involved in requires strategy and therefore calls for preparation and planning. As I explained to my client, why wouldn’t you prepare for such an important meeting?

It begs the question as to why any of us wouldn’t prepare for an important event or conversation. Defining your goals, knowing the message you want to communicate, and trying to roadmap responses to anticipated obstacles provides a foundation to work from instead of winging it. It allows you to make sure you and your positions are understood and will set you up to achieve your goals or desired results.

In the big picture, being known as someone who is prepared also will bolster your reputation and what others who deal with you think about you. And remember, reputation is everything.

So prepare, prepare, prepare, and see where it gets you. If not you stand a great chance of living what Benjamin Franklin smartly said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

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Find comfort in discomfort

I recently read a quote that said something along the lines of anyone living at the edge of their comfort zone has imposter syndrome and if they don’t, they need to go further. The point of course is to continually push yourself further and harder, to always be striving for more. If you’re comfortable you may remain so for a time, but someone will come along, push you from your perch and pass you by. Instead, enjoy your successes and then challenge yourself to do better, to do more.

In my world I live in a state of constant discomfort purposefully. I have to mostly reinvent my law practice every year by continually bringing in new business because most of my clients have discreet deals or issues and are not a source of continual business. Based on this I set goals each year on the amount of business I hope to generate and then have to go about putting in the time and work to do so. Even when my year is going well, I’m aware that it takes one or two slow months to knock me off track. I use this purposeful discomfort to keep focus on my goals and taking the steps and actions to put me in the best position to reach them. For me, this has translated to success, but I am well aware if I sit back for any period of time all of this long building forward momentum will quickly fade.

I challenge you to look at your circumstances. Are you in your own state of purposeful discomfort looking to challenge yourself and grow or are you just cruising along, relying on past success and taking what comes your way? There are always steps you can take to move your life out of neutral and drive forward. This is another way to invest in yourself. When you improve or have success you need to look back at your hard work and give yourself credit while at the same time knowing and acknowledging that those around you helped take you to the next level. This should be a rinse and repeat exercise as you reach one goal and set a new one.

By doing this you always should be moving through stages of comfort and discomfort. You should be reaching or exceeding your goals and then setting new ones. To do so you have to realize there is no top of the mountain to reach in business. It’s a series of hard climbs to a false summit where you can rest in comfort for a moment before taking on the challenge of the next steep section of the climb. Conquering the steep sections is what brings satisfaction and enjoyment when you reach a summit. The fact is it’s up to you how high that mountain is and how far you climb.

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Weathering disappointment

We all experience inevitable setbacks and unforeseen challenges in various aspects of our lives. Much like weather patterns, disappointments are unpredictable and can come unexpectedly. These disappointments can manifest in personal relationships, career pursuits, or even everyday activities, causing you to feel frustration, sadness, or disillusionment. Weathering disappointment requires you to be resilient, adaptable, and maintain a positive mindset to navigate through the storm and emerge stronger on the other side.

We all have to come to terms with the fact that setbacks are a natural part of life. Just as weather conditions change, so do circumstances, and disappointments are an inherent part of the human experience. Embracing this reality can help you cope with setbacks more effectively, enabling you to bounce back with newfound determination and grit.

I regularly have to advise clients of good news and bad. One is more enjoyable to communicate than the other, but being able to communicate bad news is an important task and skill. The news I’m communicating can have a serious impact on my clients’ lives and businesses and may relate to a disappointing outcome for me professionally. Even when I am seriously disappointed with an outcome or situation that I may view as a professional failure or shortcoming by me or someone on my team, or a bad decision by a judge, I have to put that disappointment and frustration to the side and take the next step in speaking with my client, acknowledging how the news will impact them. These situations bring up other life lessons including expressing empathy and learning to walk in my client’s shoes.

Furthermore, disappointment often serves as a valuable teacher. It teaches you to be patient, flexible, and resourceful. Just as you prepare for unexpected weather changes by carrying an umbrella or wearing layers, you can prepare for life’s disappointments by developing coping mechanisms, seeking support from co-workers, family, or friends, and cultivating a positive mindset. In the face of disappointment, you can learn to recalibrate your expectations, set realistic goals, and find alternative paths to achieve your objectives.

Last night I watched the Arizona Diamondbacks get behind the Texas Rangers by a score of 10-0 in the third inning of the fourth game of the World Series. It was early in the game that, at that point, seemed like an inevitable loss. The Diamondbacks did lose, but by a score of 11-7. The team could have phoned it in and looked to the next game. Instead, they scored 6 runs in the last two innings, never giving up despite how disappointing it had to be to let up 10 runs to the Rangers over two early innings in the game.

Watching, I saw this as a lesson in knowing things can change fast and bring profound disappointment. Just as the Rangers had big innings, the Diamondbacks could too. Of course, in the game of life it also is important to know when to throw in the towel and move on, but that is a topic for another day.

When you weather disappointment it can foster personal growth and resilience. Adversity has the power to reveal your inner strength and character. Overcoming disappointments requires tenacity and the ability to learn from failures, leading to increased self-awareness and emotional intelligence. When you navigate through disappointments with grace and perseverance you often emerge wiser and more resilient, equipped to handle future challenges with greater ease.

Even though disappointment is an unavoidable aspect of life, learning skills to deal with it can make those moments easier to navigate and faster to pass. By acknowledging the inevitability of disappointing moments and embracing the lessons they offer, you can develop the resilience and adaptability needed to overcome setbacks. Weathering disappointment with a positive attitude and a willingness to learn will lead you to less stress and better outcomes in disappointing and frustrating moments in the future.

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