Posts with category - mentor


Routines and patterns are important to the thread of many of our daily lives. Things such as getting up at the same time, eating the same breakfast, and driving the same route to work are extremely common. If one of these types of tasks changes, how do you react? If an ingredient you need for your usual breakfast isn’t available, is it easy for you to change course? What if there is an accident on your usual route to your office?

The ability to change mid-course during any action or activity is important. For many people, changing course is very difficult and results either wasted time or squandered opportunities. For those who can adapt quickly, their day is easier or whatever they are involved in at the time has better results.

An example for me is an oral argument before a court. I always prepare an outline, practice, and go in with a plan. Sometimes I go through my outline, finish what I planned to say, and sit down. Most times, I am taken off course from my outline either through positions or arguments taken by the opposing party or questions from the judge. In those situations, you have to adapt quickly. It’s not okay for me to ignore an opposing party’s argument or a judge’s question, and potentially worse for my client. Instead, I have figured out how to include responding to a new argument or answering a judge’s question and returning to where I was on my outline. This type of in the moment situation certainly keeps me focused and ready to change what I’m addressing on a dime.

In every day life, is more likely that an accident or traffic will cause you to want to change your route to work. Today many apps make it easier and will tell you the next best route to take. Sometimes you have to make those decisions.

My family and I were recently on a road trip. On a particular day we had a long drive planned. Of course, we got a late start and various things along the way caused us to be well behind schedule. We could’ve gotten mad. We could’ve pushed through to our destination making it an even longer day than planned. Instead, because we had the ability to be flexible, we changed routes and ended up in a different city than planned that night. We were lucky that our overall plan allowed this and our original destination wasn’t somewhere we had to be that evening. At the same time, this decision wasn’t stressful because both my wife and I are able to adapt to circumstances, make decisions, and then follow them.

Another way to look at the need for immediate change is opportunity. When an ingredient you need for your breakfast is missing, it’s an opportunity to make a change and try something else, if only for a day. I am a big user of Waze. This has taken me through many beautiful neighborhoods between my home and office I never would’ve seen even though they are not that far from my home. The point is the need to change course can bring opportunity, some entertainment, and maybe some enjoyment.

Next time you’re presented with the need to deviate from your usual routine, try to have an open mind and find the good or beauty in the difference from what you usually do.

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How is your year going?

Today is the end of the second quarter 2021. We are halfway through the year. You should constantly be assessing and reassessing where you are in relation to your business and goals. If you haven’t done so this year, it’s better late than never.

If you have written goals, you should review them and assess whether the end goal and the steps to get there still make sense. If so, do any of the steps need adjustment. If a goal is too easy or too difficult, can you adjust to make it more realistic? Note this should not be used to move a goal closer with the idea that it’s the only way you can reach it.

If you don’t have written goals, there is no time like the present to change that. I challenge you to come up with a few goals. Don’t come up with too many. Instead, come up with important goals that will challenge you. Once you do that, turn them into SMART goals. It is easy to search my blog website ( or the Internet to learn how to turn a goal into a SMART goal.

If, in reviewing your goals, you believe you are not going to be able to meet one or more of them, you need to spend time analyzing why. The answers may include the goal was just to aggressive, something in your business or the marketplace changed or some other reason you will easily see. Through analyzation you will be able to determine whether there is a realistic chance to still reach the goal or whether you need to rewrite the goal into something challenging, yet realistic. If your review tells you something related to your goal and business have changed so significantly the goal no longer makes sense or needs to be substantially altered, pivot and do so.

On the other hand, if you have reached one or more annual goals by this point in the year or are going to easily do so well before the end of the year, you also need to adjust. The challenge will be to come up with a more aggressive goal and outline the steps to achieve it. Of course, this is the better problem to have. If you have reached a goal and don’t think it makes sense to make the goal larger, you should challenge yourself and come up with one of two new goals because you were further ahead than you thought you would be. Or, it may be that you are good exceeding your original goal, but can come up with a complementary goal for new opportunities you see.

As I started with, review of your status on reaching goals should be assessed on a regular basis. For instance, my firm’s new fiscal year starts tomorrow. All of the attorneys have new personal plans they have drafted containing new or continuing goals, which have been reviewed by others. In some ways it feels like starting from ground zero and in other ways it feels like (hopefully) continuing positive trends and trying to improve from past success.

Most of you know the axiom about writing your goals providing you a better chance for reaching them. I have found that to be true with myself and others I know or work with. I challenge you to do a mid-year assessment or get going now. A good step is to come up with SMART goals and let others review them. Discussing goals and the steps to reach them will help you reach your goals. It’s also good if the same person will serve as an accountability partner and check in with you on a regular basis on how you are doing.

When you finish reading this paragraph, pull out or up your plan or goals so you can assess your status now or sometime today. If you don’t have goals, block out time on your calendar today or even tonight to do so. I know many people just want to relax at night, but it’s an investment in yourself. The point is no matter where you are to take actions to help you reach your goals.

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Be present

I know you think you can multitask. We all do at least with certain tasks or situations. In reality, none of us really do it well. Ever.

The obvious one is when you’re on a call or a Zoom meeting. We hear you clicking on your keyboard either opening and responding to email or surfing the Internet. On Zoom, we see where you’re looking, and it’s down at your phone. Yes, we all do it, but it is a good idea to try and stop.

Active listening and participation is important. If you disagree, you should think about why you are on the call or in the meeting. Even if the answer is you’re required to be there because of your job, either suck it up and focus, or think about whether you’re in the right job or role.

I understand focusing on something you don’t think is important or find uninteresting is difficult. It’s no more difficult than when your boss follows up with you about the call or meeting and you didn’t pay attention enough to answer their questions.

Try to change your focus and presence one day at a time. It’s a challenge for all of us, and it’s made more difficult by the speed at which we all are moving, let alone if you’re tired or have other stresses in your life, which we all do. Make it a goal to start being present and focused on your next call or meeting because there is no time like the present to try.

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We all need a break

It’s been a long 15 months. Many people continue to work remotely, with some never to return to an office. Others never stopped going in. One thing most of us didn’t do was take real and meaningful breaks.

I don’t mean going for a walk or a family barbeque. I am speaking to vacation, to time away, where you can relax. Based on the numbers of people flying and travelling this summer, our country is waking from the long slumber of the pandemic. Are you getting away and really taking a long needed break?

Maybe you’re still not comfortable traveling because you don’t want to fly or stay in hotels. Then go camping where you can control the narrative (other than Mother Nature). There always is way to figure things out, especially something like this, which you need for your mental health.

I encourage you to find a way to take a real break in whatever way you are comfortable. The benefits are innumerable, and your work and life will be better for it.

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What is the soundtrack of your life?

Those of you who know me well have to be thinking about me and music, but that is not exactly what I am speaking to today. Instead, I’m asking what are the things you like to do that drive you, bring you joy and keep you centered? For me music is definitely high on the list, as is hiking and travel. I also like to combine these activities with my family and friends. By doing so, I create a flow in my life where I believe I end up in a work hard-play hard existence allowing me to live life to its fullest in each moment.

This doesn’t mean in each moment I feel that I’m living life to its fullest. It’s a combination of all of these things, including the high highs and low lows, which allow it to happen. There a good moments and there are bad moments personally and professionally. Together, they make up the fabric of your day, your month, your year.

During the pandemic many people made significant changes to their life voluntarily or involuntarily. For each person who discovered the ability to live somewhere else while working remotely, someone else lost their job or business. Even when changes are not voluntary, there are silver linings, though they may not always be obvious until you look for them or they find you. The first step is to try to be self-aware enough to understand what gives you your rhythm or roll. The answer(s) to this can help you through difficult times and to embrace the good times.

I’ve had people ask me how to do this. The question is it depends on you. Do you need to meditate and clear your mind to find what’s important to you or drives you? Do you need to sit and think with your favorite music on the background nursing a cup of coffee? Do you need to journal and get your thoughts out in that manner? Part of what’s interesting to me in this process is we all approach it differently with the same opportunity for success.

However you approach defining your soundtrack, it’s an investment in yourself. Given my line of work and the fact that I bill every six minutes of my day long ago taught me the value of time. There is a cost in time to any activity you choose and the choice is not always obvious.

What if I told you at the end of a long day I was deciding between sitting down and playing a video game or going on a hike? Most of you who know me will think my choice would be to hike. What if I reframe the options and they are to sit down and play a video game with my son or hike? Then the choice may be less obvious. In either scenario, I have the ability to choose what is important to me in the moment and move forward accordingly.

I challenge you to, in whatever manner works for you, take the time define the soundtrack of your life. Sometimes the soundtrack is altered by you. Sometimes by others. But once you figure it out it is much easier to get back on track and do the things that make life meaningful to you. And, of course, there are rewards to those who spend time jamming to their soundtrack for even a few short minutes a day instead of blindly stumbling one step after the other. I challenge you to find your soundtrack, your rhythm, and follow the path.

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You need to be able to execute, or find someone to work with who can

Ideas are important. If you have them and don’t act, then ideas don’t matter. The ability to put ideas into action is a separate skill, and one you need to succeed.

This may not be you. Many people are the idea people, but follow through isn’t their strong suit. What can you do if that’s you? The first thing is to work with someone who has complimentary skills, someone who will take action and move ideas forward. If you are that person, but not an idea person, you need to work with an idea person.

The point of teams is to have a group of people work together with complimentary and sometimes overlapping skillsets. It helps if you have self-awareness of your strengths and weaknesses, and can be honest about them. We all can’t do everything well. If you figure out what you do well, you will in turn be figuring out the types of people you need to create a good team.

One way to figure out how well you execute is to think of good ideas you’ve had. Think about whether you’ve taken any action to move an idea forward or is it just that, an idea. Even if you aren’t one who can execute well, you can come up with a list of what needs to be done to implement your idea. This will allow you to think about who you need to help you do so. Any steps forward are better than no steps.

Think about you and your ideas, and take the first step towards executing and moving forward to your future.

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Successful people talk about ideas. Unsuccessful people talk about people.

Many people can’t help but compare themselves to others and judge others. This accomplishes nothing other than maybe making the person doing so feel good, at least for a moment. Talking about people doesn’t breed success or opportunity. Nor does it reflect well on those who do it.

On the other hand, talking about ideas and thoughts leads to learning, growing and success. I can talk about successful attorneys who develop a lot of work or I can talk about ideas to develop business myself and come up with a plan to do so. One has a chance to lead me to success, while the other is hot air leading me nowhere. I know which one is more attractive to me.

In talking about ideas, engage people you think will add to the conversation and tell you the negatives related to your ideas, not just the positives. Having people you trust as sounding boards will help you hone your ideas into action plans. Once you have that, it’s up to you to take the next step.

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The importance of relationships can’t be overstated

People and relationships provide opportunities. Ignoring this in the course of business and life is at your own peril. The saying “everything is who you know” is true. These people make up your world, which is expanded by people one person knows, but another doesn’t. Connecting with your connection’s connections is a learnable skill with the possibility to expand your network, world and possibilities.

Sometimes it works to ask people you know to introduce you to someone they know who has a specific expertise, whether an accountant or a plumber. I regularly ask people I know well who they know who I need to know. That is the start of connecting and the chance to forge a new relationship. By doing this you exponentially increase the reach of your network and opportunity for good connections.

You may be thinking this seems like real life LinkedIn. Of course, LinkedIn is an online technology driven world trying to imitate real life. The difference to me is I have many connections on LinkedIn I haven’t met and don’t actually know. This doesn’t mean LinkedIn has no value, just that it’s different than connecting in person and through people you know.

One year I tried to meet any new local LinkedIn connections for lunch or coffee to see if I could forge any meaningful relationships beneficial to me professionally. I met some nice people, but, for what I do professionally, the time and money spent didn’t result in any work or good connections. Instead, I was offered a lot of insurance products and asked to trust people I just met to invest my money. It was a failed experiment, but resulted in me honing my focus on connection through real human contact and interaction through people know. In the years since, this has proven to be a good path to follow.

Of course, these are what is referred to as “warm connections” because they come through someone you know. There is a more immediate trust when someone who knows two people is willing to introduce them. It doesn’t mean every connection made will bear fruit, but you don’t know if you don’t try. Start today.

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Experience and opportunity

If you didn’t know experience and opportunity matter before, I’ll bet you do now after being trapped inside for so long during the pandemic. Think of travelling or meeting new and different people. In the near future you may be offered an opportunity for an experience. Will you take it? Does it challenge the boundaries of your comfort zone? It’s even better if so. Experiences and people make you and your life more interesting, which will provide you with other opportunities.

Sometimes the experience will breed opportunity. I recently sold a car. The couple who purchased it were very nice. After they had seen and decided to buy the car, they came to pick it up. In the course of speaking, one asked me about an area of law and whether I practiced in the area. I do. From speaking with these people we learned a bit about each other resulting in the possibility of a business opportunity. If I had solely viewed this as transactional, only spoken about the car, negotiated the price, etc., this wouldn’t have happened. I like learning about people and taking the opportunity to do so creates opportunity even when you don’t expect it.

Everyone can be interesting to speak with. You need to picture people you meet as wearing a hat saying “make me interesting.” This is a reminder it takes asking questions and good listening to learn things about people. This is where opportunity comes from. It could be a business opportunity as I describe above, or an invite to a cool event, or a spot on an amazing sounding trip. The possibilities are endless, at least if you’re open to people and possibilities.

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Going deep

Many people exist on the surface. By this I mean they know a little about a lot, but not the opposite. This can create a short conversation, but no chance to really learn more on a subject. The more knowledge you have on a subject, the better chance for you to be viewed as an expert and someone people look to.

Whatever you do for a living, people are looking for your expertise. All day everyday, people are looking for help from people who have gone deep and know what it takes to get the job done. People don’t hire me to assist on their legal matters because I’m a nice guy and friendly (though these things are helpful in the big picture), but because, when we meet or speak, it’s apparent I have the experience and knowledge to help them. If I can talk the talk, but not walk the walk, it will become obvious soon enough, and only lead to problems for me and my client.

This applies to you whether you are in sales, an attorney, an auto mechanic, or something else. By going deep in areas important to your work you’re investing in yourself. This is the type of investment that pays off, makes you a person of substance, and allows you to move forward in your chosen line of work with the best opportunity for success.

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