Posts tagged - law

Be on time

Be on time. Yes, it is that simple. Everyone’s time is valuable. We all have one more thing we can do before walking down the hall for that scheduled meeting or leaving to make it on time to that lunch meeting. What this really boils down to is that we all need to honor our commitments.

When you show up late you are saying “what I was doing is more important than being on time for you.” If it is worth scheduling, it must be worth showing up on time, right? If not, then you need to question why you scheduled the meeting. Sometimes it is not your choice and those above you require you to attend yet another meeting you think is a waste of time.

If that is the case you should think about what you are saying to your superiors by showing up on time or not (or not paying attention such as checking your phone…). If you are not showing up on time you may on purpose or by mistake be sending a non-verbal message about what you think. And that may stick in the mind of your superior and will it affect your ability to move up through the ranks in the future? Do you want to take that chance?

Like him or loathe him, Woody Allen has a great quote on this: “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” Again, it is simple: be on time.

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The 2015 version of why it is time for an annual “checkup” for you and your company

Last year, many of you probably read my blog regarding having a checkup for you and your business. This does not involve the doctor, but it does involve all the other professionals in your personal and business life. Since that time, I decided to make this topic an annual tradition. This is based in part on the range of feedback I received last year.

Some of you said “What a great idea. I am definitely going to do that.” Other said “Sounds like a good idea, maybe I will look into that.” Most of you were busy with the holidays and all that it entails, and probably ignored my advice. To be honest, any of these responses is okay and ignoring my advice may not have had detrimental effects to 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 the risk comes in. For example, I always check in with my accountant at the end of the year to ensure that all is right with taxes, i.e. to find out whether my wife sand I need to send the IRS a check before the end of the year.

This year I had a reminder of a different kind. My wife and I are having an issue with a vendor related to our home. In speaking with a client earlier this week who is in the same business, I learned that we have been over-charged for the last few years and likely will be able to lower the cost for the service in question. With the time constraints of life, it is sometimes hard for me to move beyond the higher-level checkup to things like home vendors, but it actually all is the same. Unfortunately, in our time-crunched world,  it expands the question of who to check in with at year end to possibly include shopping rates for vendors for your home or business too.

I know, I know, who has the time? None of us do, which is why the choices yours. Are your contracts up to date? Did you pay enough estimated taxes or withholding? Are you paying the cleaning service at your office or your lawn guy for your home too much? 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 last year, here is my blog post from last year 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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Don’t Let Your Communication be an Illusion; Communicate to be Understood!

Communication is a singular important matter in all contacts between people. But it does not always happen in a way leading to understanding on the same level between the participants in the conversation. This is high-lighted by a quote that I like:

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place – George Bernard Shaw

Do the people you communicate with understand what you are trying to convey? If you think so, how do you know? Odds are the communications are not as clear as you think.

That is because it takes more than just you speaking. It also takes the other person listening fully. And it takes the other person understanding what you said.

Think about yourself. When someone is speaking with you, are you listening or thinking about what you are going to say next. If you are thinking about what to say next, you are not listening fully. If so, it is likely you will miss something the other person wants you to know and understand.

Listening fully is challenging whether in person or on the phone. In person you may be able to tell someone is not understanding or listening to you based on their responses (or lack of responses!) and body language. How can you tell on the phone? Maybe by the response. Or do you hear typing or mouse clicks, signaling the person on the other end of the line is focused on something on their computer, not what you are saying.

So actual communication where both people listen and understand each other is hard. This is true in business and at home. You can ask questions to make sure the other person understands what you are saying. Or at home, you can ask your child to stop texting while the two of you talk! And, you should look at how you listen in live conversations or over the phone to make sure you are not missing anything.

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You must take action to expand your network and control your destiny

So my question to you is are you green and growing or ripe and rotting? No, you are not a vegetable or a piece of fruit, but you either are taking action to improve yourself and your business or you are not. The difference is like that between talk and action. Knowing what to do and doing it are not the same.

You also need to think about whether whatever your doing is achieving your desired results. If not, why do you keep doing it?

If all I can do is write about what to do, but not do it, that is to my detriment. Sure, I like writing on these type of topics, which is why you are reading this today. But my goal is not to be a writer, but an attorney who is constantly trying to expand his network and develop meaningful relationships with the people I deal with. By doing so I have better control over my professional path and create opportunities.

One of the things I like best about what I do is meeting and working with all different types of people including other attorneys (really), accountants and other professionals, business owners, and many others. The diversity in the people I deal with keeps me engaged, interested and energized to keep networking. It keeps me trying new things in my effort to expand my network and develop interesting work for me and my colleagues. I always say if we were all the same the world would be a boring place, which I truly believe.

So are you the ripening banana looking better day by day or the old one on the counter no one wants to touch? It may only be a  metaphor, but it is true that you either are improving yourself or not. If you do not do so you are destined to the life of the worker bee, which is not necessarily a bad place to be. But if you want to be higher up the food chain, no matter if it is in your profession, your company, or your industry, start by expanding your network and see where it can take you.

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You must have substance because reputation matters in the long run

You might be able to baffle people with you know what initially, but it won’t last if you are all flash and no substance.  If you make a sale by saying the right things, but don’t have the employees or equipment to correctly and timely get the job done, it will be the last time you work for that customer, or anyone that customer tells of your failure. You likely will lose business you will never know you lost. That is how reputation works.

Substance comes a number of ways. It can be through experience, or learning, or building on past successes. But every step you take forward will be lost if you are all smoke and mirrors. The point is not to mislead people about what you can do or your experience.  You may get away with it once in a while, but it will hurt you in the long run.

And therefore you will hurt your reputation. Once your reputation is tarnished, it will follow you for a long time.

So respect yourself. Respect the hard work it takes to become a person of substance. If you do, you are heading in the right direction, and have or are building substance.

 

 

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Why you shouldn’t put your cell phone on the table at lunch or let it kill your creativity!

Putting your phone on the table at a meal sends the wrong message whether you are dining with someone you are looking to connect or network with, or when you are with your spouse or kids. It is the equivalent of telling whoever you are with that the people who text, email or call you are potentially and likely more important than they are.  If not, why would you leave open the possibility of having your phone interrupt the conversation and meal?

And yes, I acknowledge that phones and other devices have most of us hooked. We all are addicts. You know the feeling or thought: “Yes, I just checked for new emails and texts two minutes ago, but I may have missed one…I just can’t help myself.”

It really is all of us just filling any empty time by checking our phones or other devices. In the past we would have had to do things such as think, daydream, or stare out of the car window.  Now, I have a child who is a teen and barely knows directions because his face is buried in his phone anytime he is in a car.  Observing teens and their friends leads to the conclusion that they do not know how to enjoy a moment of quiet.

I have read what others think we should do. Don’t bring your phone into a business meeting. Turn off your phone at night. Makes rules about its use at the dinner table. Don’t check work email after a certain time. Great ideas, but hard to actually do.

That is why I am trying to follow my new, self-instituted rule of not placing my phone on the table when I am dining with someone.  It may seem like a small step, but you have to start somewhere.  And as a big believer in paying attention to those you are dining with, it definitely makes sense.

If any of you have ideas or rules that work and result in better face to face communication in your offices or homes, I would like to hear about them.

 

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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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