Scalable coaching services: myth or reality?

Four years ago I started to get busy in my consulting and coaching practice. It was great, I was finally making more money than I had been as a lawyer. I got busier and busier over the next few years but I soon realized I had a major bottleneck in my business—me. My time and energy were finite commodities and there was no way to replicate myself. Some people gave me this advice, “Stephen Covey did it, so why can’t you?”

Stephen Covey was different though, he was teaching leadership and time management—a simple skill set that applied across the board to almost any business of any type so he could have junior coaches and trainers that were paid little to give high price training. He didn’t have a lot of competitors and the market was ready for his message. His format wouldn’t translate as well into the legal vertical because in the legal vertical lawyers demand personal attention and individually designed strategies for their particular market and network. That kind of high-touch coaching is hard to replicate. And it certainly can’t be farmed out to underlings. But that doesn’t mean people aren’t trying.

There are numerous efforts or I guess you could call them “experiments” into scaling the coaching experience. I’m sure there are more than these, but these are a few that have caught my eye.

Take Mike Ohoro, who invented a virtual training software called RainmakerVT. This very clever software provides a virtual environment where young and old lawyers can put themselves in imaginary situations, like at a cocktail party, and have to make decisions about how to interact with people. If the wrong options are decided, the software teaches you why it isn’t the best thing to say or do in that particular situation. Rather than scale high-end coaching, Mike is working to scale inexpensive coaching for the masses within law firms. I don’t know how widespread the adoptions is, but Mike seems to be gaining some traction.

David Freeman created a DVD with top CMO’s teaching about important legal topics called the CMO’s Playbook. There were sessions on business development, networking, cross-selling along with other topics from some really terrific speakers, some of the best in the industry. David was kind enough to share with me some of his materials, and it was all high-quality stuff, but it didn’t catch on because watching a show on DVD, no matter how engaging, won’t keep the attention of busy lawyers. I wouldn’t call it a failed experiment because it was used by a number of top firms, but I don’t think it scaled as easily as David was hoping it would.

Then you have David Ackert, inventor of Practice Boomers. His program has turned his experience coaching lawyers into short 5 minute videos that lawyers can watch quickly but that have actionable takeaways that can constantly drip on the lawyers tips and tactics to help them improve. The training is combined with metrics and goal tools that are part of an online app. Now there is a physical coaching component as well, every two weeks or month there are mastermind sessions—with an actual coach (not David, this is where he gets scale) that allows lawyers to share and compete with each other. It is still in the early phases, but Practice Boomers seems to be gaining traction.

All three of the above solutions use technology to scale, but the other way to scale is through what I will call a group coaching model. Law Vision and Akina both have what appear to be similar models. Every single coach is outstanding and is a partner in the business. Both of these organizations appear to be very successful and work with some of the largest law firms in the world, but having multiple partners seems to offer them synergies and cross-selling opportunities but falls short of allowing them to scale exponentially. They do however get scale from doing a lot of group coaching or mastermind training. There is a limit to how far that can scale though.

Scaling of coaching services has definitely been done before in other industries, but I’m still waiting to see a big success in legal. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the companies or people I mentioned above cracks the code first. Whoever can do this well and whoever is able to do it first is going win a large piece of the pie.

You Reap What You Sow Online

Blank white speech bubblesOriginally posted in The National Law Journal on December 16, 2013

“Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” – Galatians 6:7

A few months ago I addressed a large group of lawyers about building their online presence. I explained the importance of demonstrating what Aristotle called “ethos”—strength of character and authority as tools of persuasion. In social media, this entails a three-step process that involves building a robust profile, using tools like LinkedIn and writing articles or blog posts demonstrating your mastery of your particular field.

There was one big problem: They weren’t willing to pay the price to build credibility online.

“How much time is this going to take?” one partner asked, complaining he lacked time even to read all his emails. Read more

Gut Check on New Year’s Resolutions

For 7 weeks I have been checking off boxes and completing my goals like clockwork.68254_491_m4-9_c_md

5:30 am wake up

6:00-7:00 am CrossFit workout

7:30-8:15 family time, get kids on the bus

8:30 write a new blog post

9:15 start my workday like a champion, ahead of the game.

Then I hurt my shoulder. It started bugging me after my workout last Wednesday—so I gave it a few days off and didn’t return to CrossFit until Saturday for a normal workout. Big mistake, Sunday morning I could barely lift my arm above my head.

A few minutes of internet research confirmed that I probably injured my rotator cuff and at worst needed surgery, at best I was out of commission for a few weeks. So disappointing, and definitely not part of my goals and plans for 2014.

Monday morning I had to break my entire routine, went to see the Doctor instead of working out, missed seeing my kids off to school and was running late by the time I got back and didn’t get a blog post written. No exercise and no blog post. So frustrating.

It was a setback, a change in plans. I believe that how we respond to set-backs determines how successful we are in life at all the things we work towards. I’ve missed a few days of blogging and I’ll have to replace my CrossFit routine with running or biking for a while, but I want to keep my momentum going. It is so hard to get momentum started, but so easy to lose it. Here’s to a serious gut check on your New Year’s resolutions and getting over the hurdles thrown your way.

Adrian Dayton to launch social media app for attorneys

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Legal marketing consultant Adrian Dayton to launch social media app for attorneys

Start-up receives $400,000 from tech incubator and angel investors

BUFFALO, NY (Feb. 21, 2014) – Legal social media expert Adrian Dayton will launch a social media sharing and analytics tool for law firms in April. Called ClearView Social, the software application helps attorneys more easily share content with their professional networks through LinkedIn, Twitter, and other platforms. The start-up recently received $400,000 in funding from technology incubator Z80 Labs Inc. and several angel investors. Currently being tested by a select group of large law firms, ClearView Social will be widely available in April.

Dayton developed ClearView Social based on hundreds of interviews with client firms on their social media usage. Dayton is a weekly columnist for The National Law Journal and a published author of two books, Social Media for Lawyers: Twitter Edition and LinkedIn and Blogs for Lawyers: Building High-Value Relationships in a Digital Age (co-authored by Amy Knapp). He speaks and trains on social media for law firms throughout the U.S. and globally.

“Lawyers today are blogging, writing articles, publishing e-alerts and more to educate their clients and demonstrate their expertise,” Dayton said. “However a lot of that content never gets shared by other attorneys in the firm who have large professional networks who might be interested in the content. This tool solves that problem by making it incredibly easy to share content.”

With ClearView Social, one person in the firm (likely the chief marketer) will create a queue of content to be shared in an email template. When attorneys receive the email, they will click a link, which will automatically launch the software. There they’ll find a pre-populated box with the content and links to share via various social media platforms. Twitter and LinkedIn are integrated in the tool, allowing attorneys to share on those networks without leaving the ClearView Social application.

The application also tracks each link, enabling law firms to see how many attorneys in the firm are actually sharing content, and how popular the content is with audiences. A “leaderboard” will showcase the top sharers as well as whose links get the most clicks.

“When I first started speaking to large law firms about social media, the attorneys looked at me as if I was speaking another language,” Dayton said. “Five years later, I have worked with dozens of the largest firms in the U.S. and across the world. Every firm I work with wants to get a better handle on social media.”

Dayton will be posting details on ClearView Social, including the launch date, on Twitter (@adriandayton) and his website, adriandayton.com.

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MEDIA CONTACT
Adrian Dayton
(801) 414-7675 (Mobile)

Make sure tomorrow isn’t Groundhog Day, again

In Bill Murray’s classic film Groundhog Day, his character wakes up every morning to the same thing. The same song playing on his alarm, the same annoying radio djs, and the same Groundhog day routine. Enlightenment comes for his character when he realizes that every day he can change even if the day doesn’t. He learns to play the piano, finds people he can help and ultimately wins over the woman of his dreams.

Just a comedy, but an insightful message. Those things that change us in life are the most meaningful.

I spoke with an older lawyer a couple of weeks ago that complained that she hated her job, didn’t want to go to another day of it. What she really wanted to do was follow her dream of becoming a writer and a speaker. But she was stuck in the Groundhog day loop. Not actually living the same day over and over again, but practically living the same day over and over without much hope of change in site.

I think lawyers are especially prone to this type of inertia because the billable hour frame work is extremely structured and it never stops. If you had a great month, you start over at zero for the next month—at the end of the year, the whole counter starts over. How do you achieve progress and change? How do you break the loop? The simple solution isn’t an easy solution, start forming new habits and learning new skills. Anybody can break out of the Groundhog day loop, but it takes individual decision. Nobody else is going to do it for you.

No Need to Fear Profile Updates

linkedin for lawyersOriginally posted in The National Law Journal on January 6, 2014

During 2013, I spoke to thousands of lawyers across the United States, Canada, and England about how to develop business using the professional social network LinkedIn.com. I heard almost every question imaginable, but the one that made the least sense was this: “How do I change my settings on LinkedIn so that people won’t see that I’ve updated my LinkedIn profile?”

To understand why this misses the point of LinkedIn, you need to understand the site’s mechanics. If you win an award—let ‘s say the Nobel Peace Prize—you can go into your LinkedIn profile and note this achievement under your “Awards” section. LinkedIn will highlight the award and notify your followers. Read more

What should I blog about? 3 simple ways to generate ideas

“What should I blog about?”the_idea_generator_by_debbiefong-d52nyt1

“How can I figure out a new topic every week?”

“After my first blog post, I was out of ideas.”

I hear these comments all the time. It is especially difficult for lawyers dealing with case law that has been around for decades and in some cases centuries to create new content from whole cloth. So today I decided to share with you three simple ways to come up with ideas for your next blog post.

1. Look at the “most read articles” on the Wall Street Journal website or on your favorite business publication site. Do you have something to add to the discusion? Is there an angle they have missed that you could hit? This technique is called piggy-backing because you already know people are interested in reading and talking about the topic- now you just need join the party and add your article to the miss. This simple strategy is very effective.

2. Listen to your clients. What questions are you clients asking you? What is keeping your clients up at night? What recurring themes have you been addressing repeatedly from clients? If you can write a blog post that answers a commonly asked question, not only will it resonate with your clients, but the article is also likely to be “evergreen” meaning that five years from now people will still be finding your article through Google searches.

3. Search for conversations in your practice area on Twitter. Before you look at #3 and say, “but I hate Twitter” just hear me out. If are constantly running a search for “environmental law” for example or “false claims act” on Twitter you will see daily and weekly trends emerge. People will start talking about and sharing articles about topics that matter to them. These conversations will give you hints as to what topics people seem to care about right now.

Thinking up new blog posts isn’t easy, it requires creativity, attention and work. But each blog post you create is like a statue carved out of the internet. It will remain online for a long time as a testament of your ideas and knowledge. It isn’t easy creating new blog posts every week, but it is meaningful and will have a lasting positive impact on your visibility.

What other ways do you use to generate ideas for blog posts? I’d love to hear them.

Adrian Dayton is a non-practicing lawyer, author of two books on social media and a leading social media consultant to law firms. You can read his blog at http://adriandayton.com/blog

 

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