Are you ready to scale that peak in 2012?

Originally posted in the National Law Journal on January 12, 2012

Last month, my father-in-law invited me to climb Mount Kilimanjaro with him next spring. The problem is, starting my own business and entering my third decade have left me out of shape and about 20 pounds overweight. I decided I needed to educate myself about how to get in shape and lose weight — two things I never had to worry about when I was younger.

At first I thought I could just go run on a treadmill for an hour each day, but a friend who specializes in helping people train for triathlons said that wouldn’t work.

“Your body gets used to the machines,” she explained.

“So what do I do?”

“You need interval training.”

The idea is simple — you need to keep your body guessing. Once your body knows what to expect, the exercise becomes much easier. Easy is nice, but the problem is that your body stops getting stronger. Interval training — alternating intensive and moderate exercise — is designed to get around this. We build muscles by breaking them down so the body can rebuild them, but the same exercises eventually become less and less productive. The best workout programs require frequent change. Our minds work in a similar way. New challenges help us grow.

So what does this have to do with lawyers? During the past year I have advised hundreds of lawyers on bringing in more business, and the vast majority of them start out stuck. They bring in a certain level of business, but it doesn’t vary much from year to year. They want to break out.

It may seem obvious, but to accomplish things you never have before, you need to do things you have never done before.

Here is how I respond to some of the most frequent complaints I hear from lawyers who are feeling stuck: Read more

What Steve Jobs Can Teach Law Firms About Marketing

Originally published in Thew National Law Journal on December 7, 2011

Most of you will have seen the famous Apple commercial, “Think Different” — if not, you can see it here. The ad featured clips of the “crazy ones” — Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., John Lennon, Charlie Chaplin, Richard Branson, to name a few.

Originally, Steve Jobs cut a track with his own voice narrating, but in the end he used the voice of Richard Dreyfuss. He explained to biographer Wal­ter Isaacson that he didn’t want the commercial to be about him. He wanted it to be about Apple.

The commercial isn’t really about Apple either, though; it is about a concept. The concept that even though you are mocked, fired, kicked out of your own company or worse, you still can change the world. The commercial was effective because ideas are so much more powerful than advertisements. Most commercials leave us entertained at best; the Apple spot actually is inspiring. Read more