How to Escape the Debate Loop

The Endless Loop is a set of instructions that lacks a functional exit so it repeats indefinitely until it is terminated by some external action or force. The term comes from the computer programming world.

It’s also the thing that sabotages professional careers and businesses.

The endless debate loop happens when you find yourself debating which step(s) to take to improve your professional and personal life – but you’re not exploring them.

The unchecked debate loop can take on a life of its own as your active imagination creates stories about why exploring options is a bad idea, too hard, too complicated, or that you might not like what discover. Or that maybe you will like what you discover and then have to make a choice?

I’ve seen so many successful professionals and business owners who’ve come to regret getting caught in the debate loop. Like Harry, who had a successful dental practice. His internal debate loop around retirement lasted nearly 10 years until time and the market left him with few choices.

Here’s how to escape your endless loops.

First, name it. Call it what it is. When you give it a name you give your brain the ability to think clearly about it and figure out how to solve it.

Second, write down what you hope to accomplish. You’re probably debating how to get someplace, but not where you want to go. Getting clear on the destination will help you set waypoints to achieve. The route comes after you set the destination.

Third, pick just one of the options you are debating and give yourself the assignment to investigate it – just as you would if you were assessing a case or a new project for someone else. Pick a defined date to report out what you’ve found – even if it isn’t complete.

Finally, stop trying to do this by yourself. I’ve escaped multiple debate loops because I had the right coach at my side. They helped me learn to ask better questions, evaluate results, make better choices and avoid regressing back to debate loops.

What’s one debate loop you’d love to escape?

Doug BrownHow to Escape the Debate Loop
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Do This 1 Thing To Manage Remote Professionals Effectively

If you want to keep your remote professionals engaged, happy and productive then you need to focus on the results you want – not the time they work.

Focus your management (and leadership) on the outcomes you need the employees to achieve to accomplish your goals. This gets everyone in alignment.

And you will avoid all of the downsides of old-school management focused on physical presence and face time.

Start by reaching an agreement on how you’re going to measure success unrelated to the hours it takes to get there. The word “agreement” is critical because simply transmitting your “expectations” doesn’t achieve the meeting of the minds you need.

Now, you might be thinking that you need a simultaneous physical presence for things to work well. And you might be right – for some things. But the truth is that asynchronous work can be more effective if you do it properly.

I invite you to:

  1. Start managing your professionals based on outcomes and objectives – not time.
  2. Think critically about which work tasks must be synchronous remote, asynchronous versus in person.

These changes are not easy – but they are essential.

A good coach will guide you through this process to you get results faster, and with less pain.

If you’d like help with that, just CLICK HERE and let’s talk.


Doug BrownDo This 1 Thing To Manage Remote Professionals Effectively
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5 Things You Must Measure to Succeed

All successful businesses use quantifiable measures to track, monitor, and assess the success or failure of a specific business process. They are called metrics.

If you’re not using the right metrics, in the right way then:

  • You’re running your practice by guessing – which means you don’t really have any control.
  • You won’t be able to repeat the success you feel like you’ve achieved.
  • You won’t be able to tell if what you are doing is making things better or worse.
  • You will spend way too much time fighting fires and cleaning up messes.
  • You will not be able to prioritize effectively.
  • Your decisions will be sabotaged by feelings, anecdotal evidence, hearsay, and bias.

Ok, so you can probably agree that not having metrics is bad.

Here are the five types of metrics you need to be measuring in your practice.

Think of these as the dashboard on the car – back when dashboards had actual gauges and information and not just the idiot “check engine” light.

  1. The cost of serving a client, including client acquisition cost, direct costs, and overhead allocation.
  2. Profitability. You must understand the contribution of each matter to your bottom line to guide your decision-making on client and matter acquisition strategies. Make sure you understand this by timekeeper, client, matter, practice area, and firm.
  3. Marketing Expenses as a percent of revenue.
  4. Technology Expenses as a percent of revenue.
  5. Realization. This measures how much you make against how much you work, including: billed vs collected, discounts and write-downs, write-offs, and accounts receivable.

Metrics only work for you when you have simple ways to gather the information repeatable routines to review and respond to what you’re seeing. Establishing these habits takes time and effort. But once you’ve got it down you’ll be in complete control of your practice. And who wouldn’t want that?


P.S… I know how difficult it is to build these business processes while you feel like you are running at full speed hoping to just “get through” whatever the next thing is. I’ve lived it. So I can show you how to get there without unnecessary stress and stumbles. If you’d like to know more just reach out and we’ll talk.

Doug Brown5 Things You Must Measure to Succeed
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The Dreaded DDL

“I got the DDL again”, I overheard her whisper to a friend at work.

I’d heard vague references to this before and my curiosity got the best of me. So I asked, “So, what is this DDL?”. I’m really glad I did.

DDL was shorthand for “Disappointed Dad Look”.

It was a look they saw on my face from time to time when I wasn’t pleased about something. It wasn’t intentional, and I didn’t even know I was doing it. But it was a message they received just as strongly as if I had said it out loud.

Being in on the secret helped us communicate more clearly with less stress. When they saw it they could call me on it. Awareness allowed me to be intentional and adapt when needed.

The DDL was a great reminder for me that what we say only accounts for 7% of what we communicate. 38% is the tone of voice, and 55% is body language.

If we want to motivate people and build relationships and trust then we must pay attention to everything about how we communicate – especially when we’re not using words.

What’s one way that you make sure you know how your communications are being received?

P.S… Email is a great miscommunication tool. Click here to check out my 5 Tips to Improve Email Communication – and leave email chaos behind.

Doug BrownThe Dreaded DDL
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It’s not Complicated… Simple is better.

You’re really busy with lots of really important stuff going on.

It all feels so complicated and precarious that it’s easy to believe that a simple solution won’t work.

In fact, our higher education leads us down a road of complexity when it just isn’t necessary.

Warren Buffett has observed that “Business schools reward difficult complex behavior more than simple behavior, but simple behavior is more effective.” 

Warren is right.

One simple practice makes things much better for me when I feel up to my you-know-what in alligators: gratitude.

Yes, gratitude.

For me, gratitude is a very specific, and practical business strategy.

Gratitude helped me pivot to try new things and eventually to start living the life I’d always wanted – but didn’t know how to find.

A simple 10 minute a day gratitude practice helped me

  1. Reduce stress & sleep better.
  2. Improve relationships with clients and referral sources.
  3. Increase creativity, engagement, and mental function.

Even when it felt like the wheels were coming off and I felt stuck.

These prompts can help you get started if you are stuck. Here are some that I like and use:

  1. People. Start with family and think of one individual person and one thing you’re grateful for about them or your time together. You can do the same thing for friends, clients, referral sources. The list gets pretty long when you think about it.
  2. Places. Your home, or your community. Places you’ve traveled, vacations you’ve taken.
  3. Moments. Something you are looking forward to. A happy or satisfying memory. A time when you turned around a difficult situation. It could be as simple as the place where you enjoy your morning coffee.
  4. Your career. What you’ve accomplished. The people you’ve helped. What your job has allowed you to accomplish.
  5. Yourself. Your knowledge, skills, and abilities. Your relationship. Your ability to learn and solve problems. Your energy, passion, and presence.

How will you simplify this week?

Doug BrownIt’s not Complicated… Simple is better.
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A Storm Brewing?

In this video, I share why leading indicators are important, and how to use them to prepare for storms over the horizon.


Doug BrownA Storm Brewing?
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How To Avoid Collapsing at the Finish Line and Build Momentum Instead!

Have you noticed that time seems to pass more quickly as we age? Or maybe it’s just me.

We’re always coming up on a month-end, quarter-end, year-end, or some other big milestone.

It’s exhausting, right?

So it’s pretty tempting to give ourselves a break and coast over the finish line.

Unfortunately when you do that you can lose your edge and can make little mistakes that can have a big impact.

You can lose the momentum you need for the next period – or lose the race altogether.

My kids were ski racers through high school.

They were trained to accelerate through the last turn and power through the finish line – because the difference between a podium and 5th place was measured in hundredths of a second – even at the junior level.

The next time you’re coming up on a big milestone – which seems like all the time – use these tips to power through the finish and carry your momentum forward.

#1 Stay Focused

Maintain your focus on what you are trying to accomplish by the end of the year. Watch out for distractions or interruptions.

Cull through your to-do list and prioritize the items that will have the biggest impact this year – especially around maximizing revenue and cash flow.

If your list is like mine there are plenty of “nice to have” or “I’d love to get to” items that are not essential. They have waited this long so they can wait a bit longer.

#2 Commit to the Future You Really Want

Decide once and for all that you are finally done tolerating what doesn’t work and playing games or settling for table scraps.

Decide that this is the time you will begin achieving your potential.

You will build a great practice that you love.

You will make better time choices.

You will have less stress.

Create a vision for what you want your life and your practice to be like 12 months from now.

Get really specific – in Technicolor and Dolby Surround Sound (yes, I know I’m dating myself with those references). The more clear and specific your goal is the more likely you are to achieve it.

Once you’ve got the vision – break it down into specific, measurable, and achievable goals or milestones. Make it really concrete. But don’t get so hung up in creating the perfect plan that you don’t start. You need to be in action.

Once you have decided: Don’t waffle. Don’t equivocate. The future you will create for yourself cannot be a “should” it has to be a must. Once the decision is made. Once you have committed, you can be in action.

#3 Create Ambitious Deadlines.

If you really want to get something done you need a non-negotiable deadline. If you make it easy on yourself it won’t get done. A deadline gives you a tangible sense of urgency that will drive you to accomplish more than you thought possible. The end of a calendar year is a great non-negotiable deadline.

When you make the commitment to others then it takes away your wiggle room. When you set a tight deadline (like the end of the year) it creates a sense of urgency that you need to get into action. And that’s a good thing.

#4 Get Comfortable Saying “No”.

There is only so much of you to go around. If you are like most professionals I know then you are over-committed to things you are only marginally interested in – typically out of a sense of obligation to others.

Stop it. Stop doing things that do not serve you. Make “no” your default answer. I know that is easy for me to say, and difficult to do. That doesn’t make it less important. When you start saying “no” to others then you have more bandwidth to start saying “yes” to what matters.

Give yourself the freedom to make a “stop doing” list. If it doesn’t interest you. If it doesn’t have a direct and proximate correlation to achieving your goals then add it to the stop doing list. It will be a bigger list than you think. Even if you took just 1 or 2 things off that list you can probably save significant time and mental energy for what really matters.

#5 Get into Action – Massive Action

Once you have decided what you want to do then get going. There is no time to waste. You don’t need a perfect plan to start. You need to have an idea of where you want to go and the first and maybe second step to getting started. Then do it. Don’t just “dip your toe” in the water. Dive in and take massive action.

You’re probably trying to break years of habits of incrementalism or tolerating a less than optimum situation. The only way to do that is with massive focused and persistent action. You will probably stumble and fall. Most of us do. That’s not a reason not to be in action.

#6 Commit to Self Care.

Don’t wait until January 1st to (re)start your self-care routines. Sure, you’ll have some cheat days through the holidays, but there are still days to get good habits going. Get up at the same time each day, hydrate, meditate, eat well, sleep more. You are your most important asset. You are worth at least the same care that you give your car, right?

Which one (or more) of these will you implement for the next quarter?

Doug BrownHow To Avoid Collapsing at the Finish Line and Build Momentum Instead!
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Cross 50% Off your To Do List

So many professionals struggle with time management because they feel like they need to be available to their clients at all hours of the day or night. The truth is you can keep clients happy. And you can protect your time. That’s the topic of today’s video.


Doug BrownCross 50% Off your To Do List
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