Thursday, April 30, 2009

Month 3 of the Virtue Experiment

Please come to to see my latest post! My RSS reader is working now!



Saturday, April 25, 2009

Video 1: Why Twitter?


Here is the video that you can see there!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

My Last and Final Post

This last month I lost my job. Then I was offered a great new job, much better than the old one. Great benefits, expense account, sweet commission structure and a cool industry. I turned it down. It just didn't feel right to take another job, and my wife agreed. It was time to do my own thing- full time. According to a book I read, that only takes four hours a week, right?

This is the month of courage for the members of my Virtue Experiment, so it is fitting that I have a chance to show courage for myself. Leave the fringe benefits, leave behind a steady paycheck, and make it happen for myself and for my family. What better way to kick it off, than to officially launch my new website (Feel free to take a look, although it is only 90% complete)

To be more specific, this is my last and final post on blogger. I am moving up in the world, in a manner of speaking. My new site will debut in the next day, and I wanted to let everyone know in advance. My new site will still include my blog, but it will include some other fun features as well. 1 Minute Twitter Training Videos, weekly podcasts (where I interview who's who in social media and the law), and updated information on the release of my book The Year of 12 Virtues.

If you currently subscribe to my feed, please follow me over to my new site! I promise you it will be worth your while.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Can Large Law Firms Benefit from Social Media?

"Large law firms will never go for social media."

How many times have I heard this? Well, in this interview I asked Melanie Green (@melaniegreen for those on Twitter) how she was able to implement social media at her international firm of over 300 attorneys. Listen to find out how Melanie and her team are making it happen.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Open Letter to Law Firms: Control The Message

Dear Law Firms:

Why don't you want your attorneys engaging in social media like blogs, Twitter, and Facebook?
Is it because you want to "control the message?" Let's take a look at why this is a flawed strategy.

In the old model, partners with the big firms are pillars of their community (or should be). They are members of the country club, park their boats with the local Yacht Club, participate in great programs like Rotary and United Way, and volunteer with the Boy Scouts. Being engaged in the community is a major component of what makes them so successful. They are involved, and when legal work arises, they are called upon because they are known. This is a great model, and it will continue to be a great model.

Was controlling the message a problem in the old model? No, and why not? Because as firms, you hired trustworthy people that weren't going to embarrass you. What would happen if one of your attorneys got arrested? It would looks bad for your firm, and so firms try not to hire people that might get arrested. You see, with the old model your firm still needed to control the message- you simply had confidence in the people you hired. For attorneys to effectively use social media the firms need to TRUST the attorneys. Is that really too much to ask? (Let me finish before you answer that.)

Besides, there are three major problems with the OLD model. First, memberships at country clubs and chairs on non-profit boards can be very expensive to maintain. Young lawyers can't afford those types of expenditures. Second, it takes years- maybe even decades to garner the stellar reputation needed to land business that way. It is well deserved, but it takes time. Third, community engagement is limited in geographic scope. If you are in a struggling market like Buffalo, NY or Pittsburgh, PA as the market share shrinks- so will your business.

As I have said in previous posts, each attorney in the firm is already a brand unto themselves. As they participate in the community- the brand gains in value. If they write an article for the local newspaper- the brand gains in value. So why not encourage your attorneys to engage in social media and provide them with the tools and training to participate thoughtfully? Each time one of your attorneys writes a blog post about a legally relevant topic, the firm gets free advertising. Each time an attorney post a thoughtful comment on a legal blog, more free press for the firm.

I'm not suggesting a social media free-for-all where attorneys suddenly stop billing because they are on Facebook and Twitter all day, but instead more of a focused individual strategy for each attorney. This strategy would likely entail weekly or monthly blog posts, combined with participation in forums such as Facebook and Twitter.

Firms certainly need to control the message, but that will be best accomplished by hiring good lawyers, and trusting them to engage, in whatever venue, in a thoughtful and respectful way.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

4 Reasons NOT to Self Publish

I just finished having a meeting with the publishing house Shadow Mountain, an imprint of Deseret Book. Like most publishing houses, they are slow, but when it comes to traditional publishing that is the name of the game. The meeting was awesome, they are sold on my concept and they love the product I have put together. They had a lot of critiques for me as well, and it made me think a lot about a big question people have asked me lately:

Are you going through a traditional publishing house, or self-publishing?

Now I know that self-publishing has made some great strides in recent years, and that many authors have made a lot of money through self-publishing, but that is the exception certainly not the rule. Here is my list of reasons why going the traditional publishing route (especially for the first book) makes so much sense.

1. Validation- publishers validate the quality of your manuscript. They get thousands of submission, and if they pick yours- it must be good- or at least significantly better than a lot of the junk they receive. By publishing it, they also send a message that THEY believe it is good. Its as if the book has already passed the "peer review" step.

2. Experience- publishers have a full team of editors, copy experts, and business people. These people can sift through your manuscript taking out all the typos, and making sure it is ready for the big time. They don't charge you for this either, so that means no out of pocket for you.

3. Publicity- well let's assume your book is GOOD. If the book really resonates with people, then you need to get the word our. A NYC publicist will charge $20,000 to publicize your book. A good publishing house however has their own in-house publicists. Again, no out of pocket, and it is in their best interest to get as much publicity for the book as possible. (I have read many articles claiming Publishers won't promote your book unless you are a big name, but that doesn't make sense- publishers run a business, and for the business to be profitable your book needs to do well.)

4. Money- unless you are Malcom Gladwell or Stephen King, you won't make a ton of money on book sales. A book is more of a stepping stone to bigger and better things. It gives you success that you can leverage into more books, speaking engagements, and whatever else you can dream up. Well known authors can make from $5,000 to $50,000 a pop for a 1-hour keynote adresses. The Today Show, Oprah, Dr. Phil, and CNN won't take you seriously if your book is self-published, and that is the type of fame that can turn into something big.

Now going through a traditional publishing house may not make sense for everyone, but it has some huge advantages. For authors and agents that have tried both, I would love to hear your opinions.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

RANT- Lawyers Don't Need Social Media?

"My firm is very interested in launching a new marketing campaign. You should talk to them," Sarah told me after discovering I helped law firms with PR.

I then went on to expound on the powerful tools and searches that can be used on Twitter and Facebook to identify specific leads, and to bring traffic to your blog and website.

"Twitter? I don't think our Estates Practice could really benefit from that; we only work with high-net-worth individuals. We are thinking more along the lines of mailing out a newsletter or something."

"Those old marketing tactics are so outdated," Brian, my friend who works for Omniture, chimed in.

"Well, I just don't think our firm is into Twitter or Facebook."

How common is this? The leaders of large firms, many of them who still think fax machines are a pretty nifty idea, are making the technological decisions for the firm and every individual that is a part of it. Or check this out, the ABA's latest article on GREAT law firm websites. Here it is. The author? A 3rd year law student, Rex Gradeless. He makes some great points- and Senior Partners need to start listening.

Here was another conversation:

"We just want to control the message coming from the firm," a Marketing Director from a medium sized firm told me.

How is that even possible? In a large firm made up of dozens or hundreds of attorneys, each attorney is a brand unto themselves. That's what many firms don't get; as the brand and star rises of each individual attorney, so goes the firm. The firm's marketing committee should be giving the attorneys the support and tools they need to get that message out. They certainly should not be discouraging attorneys from using these cutting-edge tools.

Besides, these are lawyers we are talking about. When doctors were still putting leeches on sick people, lawyers were drafting the United States Constitution. Lawyers have a long history of not just being part of the discussion, but leading the discussion. Applications like Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin aren't just passing fads, they are increasingly becoming the way we communicate. The faster lawyers learn this, the better chance they have of surviving in the new economy.

That's my rant; thanks for reading.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Courage Quotes: Turn Quotes into Action

We see courage quotes all over the place. One courage quote makes us feel like we can take over the world, while another quote makes us feel wise and accomplished just for having read it. But the truth is, the quotes aren't going to change us, only our actions will. An all time great act of courage in action is shown in this now famous picture of one of the chinese students standing up for what he believed in, and forcing the Chinese tanks to turn back in Tienemen Square. We may not keep tanks back, but we can still be courageous.

My participants in the Virtue Experiment have set some great goals that I am sure will bring action. The Courage goals haven't come easily for the participants, and I think that's because they want to make sure their goals are meaningful. Here are some of the thoughtful goals:

I think my biggest fear is the fear of failure. I believe that the fear of not succeeding prevents me from beginning many things for fear I will fail, either myself, others or the project. It does not take courage for me to be myself with others, to be honest in a relationship or to get up in front of a group of people. Those things aren't things I have a hard time with. I took a look at the different aspects of my life... physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, etc. and the one I accomplish the least due to lack of courage is physical. My body is capable of much more than I allow it to accomplish because of fear. Fear of failure. I am also quite a whimp when it comes to physical pain and pushing myself past the limits of comfortable to reach a new physical milestone takes courage for me.
I am registered to run a half-marathon in the fall. I have plenty of time to train and be prepared, but have delayed getting serious about it. I need to pick up my courage and make significant progress this month. I have set a certain number of miles that I'd like to be able to run by the end of April. Perhaps running doesn't require courage for most people, but it's the getting started and sticking with it that takes it for me. I will overcome my fear of failure and open the door to great things by having the couage to begin.
I sure hope this works for you... I'll keep you posted


Don't we all deal with this same fear of failure on some level? By recognizing it, I think Amberly is shining a bright light on her fear. Often, simply recognizing our fear helps us realize how ridiculous it is.

Here is another participant who included a brief report of her Month of Integrity:

As for the month of integrity, I'm happy to report that I have not eaten a shred of cheese since the start of Lent! I made the commitment and although it has been extremely difficult, I have stuck to it! I'm very proud of myself and have realized many other unintended side effects - this month I have gone to the gym more frequently, which paired with abstaining from all cheese has helped me to lose 5 pounds! I guess that I feel healthier although I miss my cheese terribly...

(Great job! I am so happy to hear when people keep committments. You can't accomplish your goals if you aren't true to yourself and what you belive in.)

For the next month, the month of Courage, I'm not completely sure what my goal is. I often think that I am too nice and let people take advantage of me more than I should. I have a hard time saying no to others and often spread myself too thin because of it or wind up taking on other peoples' problems when most of the time I can't even tackle my own. Since I always want to make everyone happy I have a hard time doing what I know is best for me. I guess if I could integrate courage into this month in any way I would want to have the courage to speak up for myself, make myself a priority, and have the courage to know that I cannot make everyone happy but that if nothing else, I have to make myself happy. In the end, true strength and courage is being happy with who you are and shedding the idea that what other people think is paramount. Hopefully this month will help me to discover my voice and give me the courage to use it. We'll see how it goes....

Every goal is so different, but that's because people are so different. Here are a few other brief goals that my participants made for the Month of Courage:

-start driving around my neighborhood. :) This may or may not include my scooter bike.

-share my feelings on faith with 20 new people

-find a new apartment, and MOVE OUT!

-I have decided to move forward on getting information to be certified as a personal trainer. I plan to talk to at least 3 trainers at the gym I go to to find out where they received their certification and what they recommend. By the end of the month my goal is to have an action plan in place.

-This month my goal has two parts. 1) Don’t put off having difficult conversations 2) Don’t be afraid to tell people no. I have a hard time with both of those things. Just this week the symphony called me to ask me to buy season tickets. I couldn’t tell him no so I said I would think about it. That’s not true. I’m not going to think about it I just didn’t want to say no. This month I’m going to say no when I mean no.

I will update this with other goals as they come in. The thing I love about these goals is this: these participants OWN their goals. They chose them, and that makes them personally comitted to them. Own your goal for the month, and feel free to share it here.