Sprint to the Finish and into the New Year

The finish line is in sight!  In less than 4 weeks we’ll start another year.

For some, that means it’s time to slow down and cruise to the end of the year.

Don’t let that be you.

Races are won or lost in the final stretch.  The stretch we are in right now.

And you’ve got another race starting on January 1st – so you want to carry momentum and not have a cold start.

This short and simple exercise will make it easier for you to both finish strong and carry the momentum you need into the new year.


Turn to a new page in your handy notebook and write down your answers to the 3 questions below. The act of physically writing out your thoughts, either in bullet points or sentences will help you remember and get into action. It will also be a handy reference when you do this again at the beginning of next quarter.

1) What has worked really well for me in the last quarter?

2) How am I doing on my cash flow and time/productivity goals?

3) What can I improve in the next quarter?

Answering these 3 questions will allow you to celebrate your wins, and to course-correct to make sure you achieve your goals for the year!

And if you’d like the “TL;DR” version – and how to do it – keep reading.

Read on to learn more …

Ok, you’re still here.

1) What has worked really well for me in the last quarter?

Starting with your wins helps get you in the right state of mind – especially if you are not in the habit of celebrating as the wins come along.

If you’re struggling to find wins it might help to think of it in categories. You might use business categories like time & productivity, cash flow, clients, the team that supports you, your network, and your own well-being. You might also use personal categories like career, family, fun, relationships, community, or spirituality.

2) How am I doing on my cash flow and time/productivity goals?

This gets its very own question because these are the primary causes of stress for most attorneys and entrepreneurs. How has your cash flow and productivity been over the last 6 weeks? What do you need it to be in the next 6 weeks?

If you’re ahead of plan then don’t let up – see how much better you can do. If you are behind the plan, or you are unsure, then this is the time to decide what concrete thing you can do in the coming week to improve. Commit to working on that for 30 minutes in 3 of the next 5 days.

If your thing is getting more qualified cases then you might start with the referral strategy. Simply identify one person who has been a great referral source in the past. You can call them – on the phone. Have a conversation about what is going on in their business, and see if there is a way you can be of service to them. They will ask the same of you, and that will be your opportunity to share with them (or remind them) the profile of a good and qualified referral for you.

One of my clients did this and after a single phone call got 3 additional referrals. Just imagine what it could do for you if you make one of those calls each week for the next 6 weeks. Remember, you are not calling to ask for referrals – you are calling in the spirit of service to that person because the relationship is important.

If you are not sure how to describe a qualified referral then it is time to get busy working on that. Because if you can’t describe the referral you want then there is little chance that your people can deliver those referrals to you. If you’d like help with that just hit REPLY and we’ll find a time to talk.

3) What can I improve in the next quarter?

You’ll probably have a lot here besides money and time. Most professionals are so self-critical that this can be a pretty long list. That’s ok, for now. Let the thoughts flow so they are all right in front of you. Don’t get hung up on what didn’t work. Focus on what you can do to make it better. Then pick the top 3 things that you control, and block time to work on one of them each week for the next 3 weeks. Then repeat for the following 3 weeks. You’ll have a chance to review how you did at the end of the quarter.

You will get whatever you focus on. If you focus on problems you will get more of those. If you focus on opportunities and growth then you will get more opportunities and growth. So use the experience of the quarter to find the opportunities in the next – and work on those.



Doug BrownSprint to the Finish and into the New Year
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The Dog Catches Car Problem

You’ve worked really hard to get where you are.

Now you’ve got the work coming and you’re really busy doing the work you’ve always wanted to do – work that pays you well – if you could just get to it all.

You’ve started to get the help that’s easy to get – like outsourcing your bookkeeping and getting someone other than you to worry about your IT and your copiers – maybe even your phones.

But you need to do more if you’re going to keep up.

You might have the dog catches car problem. You know, where the dog finally latches on to the bumper of the car it was chasing only to wonder “… now what?!!”

If this sounds familiar then you’re ready to do more than just grow your practice. You’re ready to do something businesses call “scaling”.

When you simply grow you’re increasing revenue and resources (expense) at the same rate. That makes it difficult to make more profit – which is why you’re in business in the first place.

When you scale you’ll be adding revenue at a faster rate than you take on costs. Which means you get to keep more of the additional revenue as profit. And probably work less if that’s your choice.

To avoid the dog catches car problem you’re going to need to go even deeper in creating bulletproof systems and processes so your business can run without you needing to be everywhere all the time. When you do that your business can run without you – and you’ll still have the control you need.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for these kinds of systems. But there are common principles that work in virtually every firm.

You could spend the time learning how to scale all by yourself – and hope you get it right in time.

Or, you could follow the example of the world’s top athletes and enlist the help of an experienced guide to help you avoid hidden obstacles and accelerate your success.

If you’d like to know more about that just get in touch and we’ll talk.

Doug BrownThe Dog Catches Car Problem
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One Mistake that Costs Big $$

Mike is a busy criminal defense attorney with a cash flow problem.

He manages to get his bills out mostly on time – most of the time.

But his clients are slow to pay – or they don’t pay at all.

Many of my new clients have a problem like Mike’s because they make the mistake of not having an operating procedure to follow up on their outstanding invoices.

Instead, they try to do it themselves and make it up as they go along. They put it off – because the conversations can be awkward – and then it becomes a crisis when the bank balance gets low.

As a result, they leave thousands – or sometimes tens of thousands – of dollars on the table because, unlike a fine wine, receivables don’t get better with age.

We fixed Mike’s problem by implementing a simple written procedure for his assistant to follow.

The procedure outlined each step in the process when it needed to happen, the words to use, what to do when she got stuck and how to escalate back to Mike at the right time. She also understood when and how to pester Mike so that he got his responsibilities done on time.

This experience showed Mike how important it was to have written procedures to improve efficiency and reduce mistakes and frustration. With my guidance, he went on to learn how to create them quickly and easily as part of his regular workflow. And he got more time to do what he really liked to do – and to achieve his goals.

Every attorney can improve their effectiveness by implementing or improving procedures. It’s not hard to do once you get started – and learn the right way to do it. The time you invest will come back to you many times over.

What’s one thing holding you back from using or improving your office procedures? What would it be like if that problem magically went away?

Here’s a great place to start building procedures, it’s my Guide to Tame Your To Do List.  CLICK HERE for your FREE COPY.

Doug BrownOne Mistake that Costs Big $$
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Happy Clients …

Satisfied clients are the most credible ambassadors for your practice.

Potential clients really want to know what your prior clients have experienced with you. It helps them know you are the real deal.

The only way you’ll discover what your clients would say to someone thinking about working with you is to ask them the question.

Some attorneys are reluctant to ask for testimonials because they are uncertain what the client would say.

They fear negative feedback, don’t want to impose on the client’s time, or find other excuses not to do it.

But when you do ask you can get amazing feedback that makes you feel good – and helps others know what it is like to work with you. It allows you to help more of the people you were meant to serve.

Like what happened when I asked a recent client: “What would you say to someone thinking of working with me?”

Here’s what he said:

“Doug was very insightful in making suggestions to better manage time and helped me focus on developing goal-oriented plans. I feel that I now have a great roadmap to reach my goals in the short, intermediate, and long terms. Doug’s coaching produced tangible results for me in the form of increased profits for my firm and general attitude improvement. … I can truly say that I feel happier, more productive, and am on my way to reaching my ultimate goals.”

I was honored to receive David’s heartfelt words. That’s why I do this work. To make a lasting difference for my clients.

That’s probably why you do your work as well.

Wouldn’t it be nice to know what they say about you when you’re not around?

Go ahead and ask. You’ll be happy you did.


P.S. … Coaches help successful athletes see possibilities they cannot. They stay focused on the goal while the athlete says focused on preparing and executing to meet the goal. Coaches act as the beacon to direct them when they lose focus. Successful business owners, like you, hire coaches for the same reasons. If you’re thinking that you might be ready for coaching – then you are. If you’d like to talk and learn more, and see if we’re a fit just CLICK HERE and we’ll set it up. No expectations or obligations. Just a conversation in service to you as a loyal reader of my messages.


Doug BrownHappy Clients …
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It’s Just Not Logical …

Your clients do not hire you based on logic.

Your clients decide to hire you – and refer their friends to you – based almost entirely on how you make them feel. Based on emotion and unconscious urges.

In fact, researchers find that emotion is the thing that really drives purchasing behavior – and decision-making in general. The evidence supports this conclusion. Just consider why people buy one brand of a vehicle over another or live in a certain neighborhood, wear certain clothes. First and foremost it’s about how those things make them feel.

Sure, people use logic as part of the rationalization or justification for what they want to do. But logic comes second, not first. Without the emotional connection, you never get to logic.

This is why so many lawyers struggle with generating referrals and securing new clients. They are trying to appeal to a person’s logical brain – and that brain isn’t listening.

Clients hire lawyers because they have great big problems, or opportunities, that they can’t solve by themselves. These problems are charged with emotion – most often based on some fear, uncertainty, or doubt.

If you want to attract your ideal clients then you’re going to need to meet them where they are on an emotional level. Then you’ll need to show them how their life will be better when their problems are solved – and how that feels.

Take a look at your marketing messaging – on your LinkedIn or your website. Or even your “elevator pitch”. How are you connecting with them emotionally? How do you know?


P.S. … If you’d like to know more about how to connect with clients then you need to understand the journey that brings them to you. This blog post will show you how.

Getting more great clients requires more

Doug BrownIt’s Just Not Logical …
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How to Find Qualified Clients

You want clients who are good to work with, who appreciate you, who listen to you (and follow your advice), and who pay you on time. You want them to tell all of their friends about you so that you get more people just like them. And you need them to bring you the particular kind of legal problems that you love to solve. You want “Qualified Clients”.

How can you tell in advance that someone is going to be a qualified client for you?

The answer lies in the profile of your great client; and your not-so-great client. This is the work I do with clients early on in our practice growth program. We get very specific about the identifying characteristics of A-level, B-level, and C-level clients. We do it based on actual clients from the past, and preferences for the future. And we build an avatar for each one, along with a few key indicators we can see to give us insights on whether a client is qualified.

This is the foundation of any effective marketing program. It helps you decide where and how to focus your marketing energy. It is embedded in your client onboarding process and guides how you do the work you do. It allows you to be your clients’ lawyer avatar as well.

If you are having trouble finding qualified clients then make sure you are clear and specific on your avatar and leading indicators. Have a very clear picture of exactly what each client looks like. And while you’re at it, profile your clients from hell as well. You’ll want to avoid those.

You’ll need to do this in writing – not just in your head. If you want it to work – and you actually want to bring A-level qualified clients into your practice then you need to write it down, analyze it, adjust, edit and refine it until the avatar is crystal clear – and that others can see it too.

Or, you can accept the kind of clients that are coming in your door today – when they manage to find you. Ultimately it is your choice. Choose wisely.


P.S… If you’d like to know more about finding your avatar just click here and let’s have a strategy call.

Doug BrownHow to Find Qualified Clients
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How to Reason with an Unreasonable Client

Your clients come to you because they have a complicated and high-stakes problem they can’t solve by themselves. They are stressed out, anxious and uncertain. This triggers primal fear responses that can make even the most reasonable person behave in unreasonable ways.

How do you reason with an unreasonable person? The truth is you can’t. But there are things you can do to help lead your client back to a place of reason so you can move your matter forward – or at least avoid further melt-down.

First, recognize that your fight, freeze, flee reflex is likely activated when you are confronted with this situation. You are going to need to engage your conscious mind to move through these primal reactions and respond effectively. It can be really difficult to do this even after years of practice and experience. A good first step is simply recognizing that this is happening to you, and giving yourself some mental space is  to get control and decide how to respond, rather than react.

Here are a few of the most effective tactics to address this situation:

  1. Listen & stay calm. The person needs to feel heard and you can’t make progress until that happens. Stay in the moment listening. Don’t be thinking about what you are going to say next, or how to get them to stop. Listen. Don’t let your anger or frustration escalate the situation.
  2. Don’t be defensive. This is a tough one, especially since your client may be frustrated with you or something they believe you did, or didn’t do. And they may be totally wrong. Arguing and being defensive in the moment doesn’t work. Trying to reason and explain while they are in crisis won’t work either. You will have the chance to set the record straight – after you’ve de-escalated the situation.
  3. Look for the hidden need. Look for the bigger picture. What is this person trying to gain? What are they trying to avoid or solve? What are they afraid of? If you can get to the root cause from their point of view you’ll have leverage to bring back reason.
  4. Respect the person. We think we know what the client is going through, but you probably don’t. Avoid judging them, assuming or creating stories in your head about their behavior. Ask good questions and treat them with dignity – the way you would want to be treated.
  5. Help them move back to solid ground. Telling someone to calm down and be quiet will make them more irate. Saying “I understand” typically doesn’t help either. Keep asking questions to understand. Help them move into a place where you can work together on solutions in the future.

Sometimes the client or the situation is just too far gone to have a hope of bringing them back to reasonableness. That’s when it’s helpful to have another perspective to help you resolve the situation in a way that best serves you, and the client.

Finally, unreasonable clients should be the exception for you – not the rule. If you are finding that unreasonable clients are the norm then there is probably something else going on that needs to be addressed. If that sounds familiar, then we should talk – because you ought to be able to have a practice working with clients who you like, who appreciate you, and who pay you what you are worth.


P.S… Do you have a difficult client situation you need to resolve? I might be able to help. Click here for a free and confidential strategy call.

Doug BrownHow to Reason with an Unreasonable Client
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The Secret of Becoming a Top Performer

Top performers in sports and business enlist coaches because they want to be more successful, not because they are weak or have failed. They are committed to being at the top of their game – and they accept the truth that we are better together than we are alone.

So it makes me crazy to hear speakers on attorney ‘wellness’ say things like “Lawyers have to be better at admitting weakness and asking for help”.   Yes, lawyers really do need to be better at asking for help. But why must it be through the lens of being weak or somehow failing?  What if we flipped the script, and tore a page from a business playbook.

What if asking for help is a sign of strength, courage, and resolve?

The truth is that seeking the guidance of others is one of the signs of success, maturity, and wisdom. It’s also good business because trying to figure it out all on your own is inefficient and expensive. It’s also no fun.

Top performers know that the right coach will:

  • Help you move out of your comfort zone and do the work that needs to be done – effectively.
  • Give you unbiased, expert personal attention from someone who knows you and your business inside and out – with the only goal being to help you be your best.
  • Tell you the truth – even when it is uncomfortable and you don’t want to hear it. 
  • Allow you to be yourself without having to worry about politics or being judged. You can share your frustrations, concerns, and fears. You can also test out ideas and decide how to approach challenges and opportunities.
  • Keep you on track to do more of what really matters, and less of what doesn’t.  High performers push themselves pretty hard – often too hard. Everyone wants a piece of them or to pick their brain. The right coach will help you establish priorities and stay on track. Your coach will provide you with an unbiased view of what’s going on – and ask you great questions to help you stay on track.
  • Show you how to make all of the pieces of your business work effectively together towards a common objective, and make the money you were meant to make so you can live the life you were meant to live.

Whether you have people in your life that do some of these things for you, or you hire a professional, or both. The important thing is to know that you do not have to be in this business by yourself. There is no special prize at the end of the road for those who go it alone. Suffering is optional.

I know so many professionals who are deeply unhappy, and unsatisfied. They feel trapped. They want something different but they don’t know what it looks like or how to get there. They are afraid of asking for help. It might be because they don’t want to seem weak, or admit they don’t know what they don’t know.  If that sounds familiar I encourage you to drop the notion that only the broken seek help. It’s just flat wrong.

You don’t have to accept the current state if it doesn’t serve you. You can seek help to change and create the life you really want. You can be satisfied, and make money, and have fun in your practice.

It’s been said that we rise (or fall) to the level of the people we surround ourselves with — the people on our team. I know that’s been true for me in so many ways. The great news is that you are in control, and you get to decide who is on your team – and who will help you perform to your full potential.

Who’s on your team?



P.s… If you’d like to know more about how private coaching might help you accelerate your practice just click here and we’ll talk.

Doug BrownThe Secret of Becoming a Top Performer
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