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The quality of your life is determined by the quality of your decisions. And the quality of your decisions is determined by the quality of your thinking. We’re not talking about intelligence, by the way. We’re talking about thinking, and making good decisions. Here’s a thinking test that supposedly only 50% of students at Harvard got right. It’s a test developed by Nobel prize-winning psychologist . Are you ready to test your thinking? Here’s the question: A bat and ball together cost $1.10. The bat costs one dollar more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?…
Playwright Anton Chekov once observed that “any idiot can face a crisis.” Unfortunately, while that makes for a nice theatre quote, it’s not true in everyday life. I was thinking about Chekov during in New Orleans, which was caused . In hurricanes you see people making some poor decisions, and making a challenging situation even worse. These folks are not necessarily dumb. They just aren’t dealing with effectively with reality. You don’t need a crisis to observe people distorting reality. It happens all the time, everywhere. But, let’s just focus on disasters. Crisis Management…
Sixteen years after Hurricane Katrina pummeled New Orleans, we got pummeled again by Ida. Back in 2005, I wrote this blog post predicting that “massive change was coming” to the city. That turned out to be true. Change came. And it was sudden, harrowing, and frightening. Intense hurricanes are like that. Waiting for the impact is scary, especially in the low lying areas near the coast. Hurricane Ida hit the coast with sustained winds of 149 mph (i.e. a Category 4). That’s severe. The wind was extremely high everywhere and sent all kinds of objects flying, or…
The problem with living in a complex, rapidly changing world is that many things are not as they seem. Our brains want to simplify the world. But sometimes that’s dangerous. Superficiality is not dependable enough, for me at least. So, I prefer to dig deeper to make sure I understand what’s really going on. And I’ve discovered, mostly the hard way, that… The “learned” are not always as learned as they appear. Their seemingly well-intentioned advice is often flawed in ways that aren’t readily apparent. And, when you follow good-and-well-intentioned advice, you often wind up sinking in quicksand. Or worse.…
Communicating with people in today’s world is like playing a fast-paced video game. Act, react. Act, react. Ad nauseam. But, back in the day… When George Washington was President, he once remarked: “We haven’t heard from Ben Franklin in Paris. Perhaps we should write him a letter.” Think about that. And consider that maybe, in our incessant communications frenzy… We’re losing our sense of what’s really important.…
In other blog posts I’ve covered some important lessons regarding how to create a better law practice. Before I get to the next lesson, here’s a quick recap of those past important lessons: Lawyers are who get paid to solve problems merely by thinking. In the “Information Age,” you can (e.g. even non-lawyers, like have made millions from simple ideas about how to solve common legal problems) Those who learn to think better will more easily make more money, but isn’t easy. For…
A lot of lawyers think that it’s “woo woo” to talk about stuff like “having a vision” for a law firm. I understand that perspective because I used to believe that too. But that was before I discovered how truly successful business owners operate. Before I read the book Traction, by Gino Wickman. (the subtitle is “get a grip on your business,” which is what the book is mostly about). Many lawyers have now discovered Traction and used its advice to make big changes in their practices. Why is this book, in particular? What makes it so powerful and…
Law school tries to teach us to think well, and perhaps it gets us started on the right path. But, learning to think well is an ongoing challenge. This Farnam St. article explains the problem concisely: “The best way to improve your ability to think is to spend time thinking. The problem is we want thinking to be easy and it’s often not. Easy thinking carries a high cost.” People tend to believe that they’re thinking simply because thoughts flow through their minds. But, at best, that’s just “easy thinking,” which often leads to huge mistakes. As lawyers, we need…
I got an email from a nice fellow the other day that asked for advice on starting a new practice. I thought his question and my response might be helpful to other folks in his situation, so (with some light editing) I’m reproducing his question and my response below. The Email Question “I am writing to ask for some advice. I was hoping you might be able to offer a couple of general principles for a 3L getting ready to practice in a small firm or as a solo. I’m a 35-year-old, nontraditional law student. Before law school, I was an…
Amazing opportunities abound because of digital tech (as I’ve ), but… You need to cultivate insight to be able to (1) see valuable opportunities, and then (2) leverage them effectively. So what is “insight” exactly? Well, here’s what it’s not: haphazardly collecting information from various sources and rummaging through it all hoping to find something valuable. I subscribe to many blogs where the authors vigorously collect links to news sources and then share those links. That’s not insight. That’s information. At this point, it’s safe to say that all of us have too much information to deal with.…
If you want to market effectively (without feeling smarmy, or like too much of an ‘attention seeker’) you need to focus on authenticity. And when I say “market” I also am referring to what’s known as “branding.” Now, before I explain a good process for getting started doing this well, I want to say this (since the words “marketing” or “branding” are loaded with preconceptions and personal interpretations)… Solo and small firm business owners (including lawyers) are all entrepreneurs. As such, we need to make money from our thinking and problem solving, etc. And to do that, it’s…
The digital tech revolution has created a tsunami of amazing opportunities. The trick is to (1) discover the best ones, and then (2) leverage them. Lawyers have historically been slow to discover the best ones. The Ted Nicholas example is one early case study. His million dollar opportunity is easy to understand now. Ted Nicholas had to work harder exploiting his idea back in the 1990s than he would now. More recently LegalZoom took Ted’s same idea and adapted it to the online world. They scaled up faster, and made even more money. Exploiting low-level opportunities at scale (like LegalZoom…
I’m not right for everyone, as I’ve explained here. So, who do I prefer to work with? Well, here are 3 important characteristics: People who are curious about how things actually work in real life (not just how they appear to work, or how they “theoretically” work). People who look for deeper reasons, and deeper meaning (as opposed to superficial, flimsy reasons). People who want to learn fundamental principles more than just tactics. Because principles are often timeless and universal (as opposed to tactics, which constantly have to be updated to deal with changing circumstances). Technology changes constantly so…
Over the years I’ve worked with hundreds of lawyers who aspired to improve their practices. Some I could help, some I couldn’t. And some flat out disliked my approach. At first, I had trouble accepting the harsh reality, which is that I’m not for everyone. So, here’s something you might want to know… My approach is probably not for you if: You’re addicted to superficial advice (i.e. the kind that seems like it will work in theory, but in practice doesn’t). You like the excitement of chasing shiny tech objects more than improving mundane but important workflows. You think freewheeling discussions…
We lawyers need to to grasp how to run our law business better. We need to think of ourselves as “” competing against other knowledge workers (as opposed to lawyers competing against other lawyers). Obviously, technology is an important element in our law businesses. But there‘s something else that’s even moreimportant… Which is: . The more complex the problem (or, the more valuable the solution is to your clients) the more you can charge and the more profit you’ll reap. But solving complex problems requires you to