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Archive for May, 2010

Steve Siebold is a million dollar speaker in the professional speaker circuit.  Steve was a young tennis professional and often tells the story of how he played Bjorn Borg as a junior tennis player.  After his short lived professional tennis career, Steve saw Bill Gove, the father of professional speaking. Eventually, Steve convinced Bill Gove to start a school teaching the public how to become professional speakers. Bill Gove taught most of the top professional speakers of the 70s, 80s and 90s, like Zig Ziglar, Mark Victor Hansen and Nido Qubein. I met Steve a year after Bill Gove passed away when I took the Bill Gove Speech Workshop course with Steve.  I can’t say enough how much it helped me and my career.

Steve’s 20 steps to succeeding as a professional speaker:

  1. Learn professional speaking skills. These skills are very different from public speaking training.  Bill used to say your performance had to be good enough for Vegas.
  2. Learn and develop professional keynote speech writing skills. The keynote is the prize in professional speaking and it requires non-linear format.
  3. Learn the difference between training, teaching and keynote speaking. Keynote speaker are the rock stars of the pro circuit and speak at national conventions as leaders.
  4. Learn to become a personality speaker not a commodity speaker.  Personality speakers are hired for who they are, which means they have no competition.
  5. Develop a strong point of view in your speeches. The stronger your POV the more loyal your audience.
  6. Practice your speech every day. Keynoters are show biz performers.  Get professional training
  7. Memorize your speech, including every pause and movement.
  8. Tape all your rehearsals and hire a successful professional speaker to review and coach you.
  9. Speak at all the civic clubs and chamber of commerce events you can.  Tape them all.
  10. Read, read, read! Read every book on your topic.  (I would include blogs today)
  11. Establish yourself as world class resource  on your topic. If you’re reading this you already know how to do this, even if you’re not yet there.
  12. Create an audio blog to showcase your speaking talent and unique POV.
  13. Don’t take advice from anyone in the speaking business who doesn’t earn at least a million per year speaking.  Ok, a bit self-serving but Steve’s the real deal.  But he’s not the only million dollar speaker.
  14. Learn how to write marketing copy to sell seminars, books etc.  Stve recommends Ted Nicholas.
  15. Select a topic to speak on that will sell to the public market and professional corporate market.
  16. Build a speaking business with multiple sources revenue not directly from speaking. Books, DVDs, websites trainings, etc
  17. Keep 100% ownership of all your IP. BE careful of book publishers and others that want control of your IP.
  18. Build a massive network of referral agents who can generate qualified leads for speaking, training and consulting. Give them a referral agent agreement with % of your gross sales from any leads.
  19. Learn as much as you can about the business of speaking.
  20. Write a great book on your topic of interest. But only when you have a clear philosophy and crafted POV.  When you write the book write it as the definitive book on your topic.

I know from watching Steve, since 2002, implement these principles and become a million a year speaker (top1%), that it was not easy for Steve. He developed a strong POV on mental toughness of which he is a living example of.

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I don’t see you as a threat I see you as a proud example of a dying breed whose value as an advocate can’t be disputed. I regret the loss as much as you do.” Richard Granat to Brian Tannebaum in the May 7th Debate on Virtual Lawyering on Twitter

And Richard you may not see me as a threat, but you’ve made it clear my opinion is a threat to your attempt to make a business out of convincing lawyers to go virtual.”  One of Brian Tannebaum’s responses to Richard.

My overall impression of this debate is in the form of a question: why do the proponents of virtual or elawyering sound so defensive?

The overall tone of the VLO promoters comes from a defensive posture. Is Brian T. accurate in saying that those making these arguments are invested as entrepreneurs in the infrastructure of lawyers going virtual? Maybe. But so what? It does not change the fact that change is coming.  What I still don’ t understand is why, if the future is theirs, do they sound defensive, as if they were under attack.  I assume that attack is coming from the Brians out there and the inertia that fights for the status quo to its last breath.

Nothing, not even Brian’s brilliant arguments nor Richard’s passionate ones, have the slightest effect on change. It’s our own vanity to believe it so. The phenomena of lawyers “practicing” online, providing advice directly over the internet without meeting clients face to face, and all that will go with it is not a “breakthrough” of any kind. It is an evolutionary leap.  For many solo and small firms, it is an evolutionary leap motivated by an act of survival in a growing global market for legal services.

Change is not in our hands, nor in anyone camp’s.  Stand back for a moment and study how inexorably technology has rushed along a path of exponential growth for the last 100 years.  Not world wars nor great depressions have stopped it. We can debate all we like….which as lawyers we no doubt enjoy!  But the tide is here and rising.

What you do now is the only question worth answering.

I’m not saying that elawyering or virtual lawyering is better or worse for our profession.  I’m saying it’s inevitable that many lawyers and clients will move in this direction. If you’re motivated to move into the new world of elawyering, whatever that is for you,  please have the confidence to do so with conviction.  And allow those whose romance with inertia keeps them shouting at the ocean to retreat.  Their world is not your world anymore. Don’t make theirs any worse for them.  Have some sense of decency and kindness, and stop gloating to the point of being defensive.

Can we get back to being friends and lawyers now? 🙂

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When SSFs (sole and small firms) around the world launch Legal Virtual Enterprise Networks (L-VENs) that successfully compete with multinational law firms, they will themselves have become big law – but in 1 year, not the 100+ years of development it took a firm like Baker McKenzie.

These L-VENs will be virtual, lean, fast, everywhere and nowhere. Being in an L-VEN will feel like sitting in a high speed train, comfortable, quiet, and smooth. To those outside it will look more like this traffic intersection video (10 seconds).

To refer to these L-VENs using industrial era parameters and measurements will fail – repeatedly. Yet, L-VENs will succeed with such speed and frightening effectiveness that many will scramble to copy them and fail.

One cannot adapt to become an L-VEN, it requires evolution at accelerated speeds.

Failure is assured if you compete against an entity you cannot perceive accurately. Established firms will begin to compete amongst themselves to adapt to the speed of L-VENs. But to adapt assumes rearranging the existing building blocks. You can’t put a jet rocket engine on a car and call it a space vehicle. It’s still a car – a really fast one!

L-VENs predictably have no perceived central administration. There will be many cores, but those cores endlessly shift and appear to move chaotically. In contrast, the product will appear like a movie in that you don’t see the years of work, the countless people handling every minute detail that goes into making a movie. The client will see only the spectacularly elegant, fast, flexibility and mostly predictable results.

Not everyone can play this game.

L-VENs are by necessity the exclusive playground of the self-motivated. L-VENs are made up of lawyers that can balance life and work, those that can easily observe a system and step into it with synchronicity. These individuals play nice, have many friends, work joyfully from anywhere in the world and have a high standard of living. They understand the ability to work and collaborate as if ONE entity, while remaining an autonomous individual.

These self-motivated “elites” will simply live in another realm of experience imperceptible to the violent, forceful and command driven. If you have ever experienced how people can live in the same geographic location, but live radically different lives, you will have a reference point. One person can see and experience the world as violent, as a life of struggle and ever present threats. Another, living close by, sees the world as peaceful, loving, generous and prosperous.  They live in different worlds of experience separated only by their choices and consciousness.

Those working in L-VENs or other highly adaptable, self-directed and self-motivated enterprises will trade at rates and speeds that will “shock and awe” those left behind. They will be left behind because they cannot perceive the opportunities or how to take advantage of them.

May you evolve at an accelerated pace. May you choose a peaceful and joyful life with friends that support you in life.

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“Until you see Fred Logue’s 3 little children, appearing one by one on his webcam, with beaming smiles and curiosity, you don’t really know Fred.”

Last Saturday afternoon, it was perfect day for the beach in Florida.  We had scheduled a call with Fred Logue to talk about him leading an OBA – Ireland group.  Fred lives in Brussels, but travels and works in Ireland consistently, where he is a lawyer. Fred also started a linked in group for the Irish Law Society with about 350 members.

We enjoyed meeting Fred, answering his questions about OBA, where we’re headed and most importantly, why.  I’m not sure how he felt being tag-teamed by Mayra and I on video!  It can be quite intense to engage us at the same time, let alone through a Mac cam on Skype! 😉  Still, Fred kept himself composed and professional, until he could no longer contain his children’s curiosity, after an hour of us talking us on a Saturday.

They burst forth from behind Fred’s chair and presented themselves with little timidity. They were so delightfully curious and polite that we were almost speechless – first time that hour!  I can talk to you about Fred’s very interesting career, but his linked in summary here spells it out better.  But what was more important was what it was like meeting him and his children.

OBA is about building friendships first and business second.  Spending time with each other, not necessarily talking about business, but about life, family and becoming friends is crucial to building a tight-knit group of colleagues that can support each other in life and business.  I may not be friends with Fred from one Skype call, but I know him better already.  Thank you, Fred.

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Is Litigation in America Heading Toward A Perfect Storm?

This is the tile of Gabe Acevedo’s recent article in Above The Law.  Acevedo writes on legal technology and discovery issues for Above The Law.

Gabe concludes:  “Today, litigation matters are striking like lightning bolts all over the place. The amount of data we will be processing in the near future is unfathomable, and the amount of attorneys, lit support, and paralegals that will be needed to get through all that information should be something like we have never seen.”

Normally, very few solos and small firms (SSFs) even take part in perfect storms of litigation. Some do as Plaintiffs attorneys, but almost none did as defense counsel. Let’s assume Gabe’s facts are accurate, and his conclusion is at least 50% accurate. That alone is the perfect storm of opportunity for small and solos to build scale with virtual enterprise networks (VENs) and compete with larger firms.

If you read the comments below Gabe’s blog, you will find political and moral arguments against his conclusion. I’ll leave the judgments to those who feel empowered to judge, I choose to focus on the opportunity. And this is a unique opportunity for many SSFs to formally structure temporary alliances (VENs) that can scale up to provide the services only big firms were capable of before. A group of committed SSFs can temporarily join their efforts, expertise and share their resources in ways that surpass the resources of many Big Firms.

Until the last few years, it was not convenient to build these types of VENs between lawyers. The primary difference was that our mindset has changed. Lawyers are more willing than ever before to invest in building the requisite relationship foundation for building a VEN. Technology has also made it possible to manage teams, share resources and expertise in real time without the need for investment in capital intensive technology.

Anyone interested in learning more about VENs for lawyers contact me at jorge.colon@theonlinebar.com.

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In a world all hot and panting over organizational team work and collaboration, no team works better than fictional character Danny Ocean’s and his merry band of thieves in Ocean’s 11 Ocean’s13.

10 essential elements of a Danny Ocean team:

  1. Charismatic leader: Danny Ocean demonstrates commitment, inspiration and a proven record for getting the job done.
  2. First follower: Brad Pitt’s, Rusty Ryan.  Danny and Ryan are the core leaders and management team.
  3. Funding: In this case a venture capitalist  (Reuben Tishkoff) with an emotional reason for the venture. Revenge in this case. Funding source should be willing to take the risk with you.
  4. Recruiting the team:  Hopefully you built strong, trusted relationships. Choose your team with 3 main concerns in mind: availability, ability and trustworthiness. The latter is crucial as we’ve all seen how often after a heist the thieves kill or outsmart each other for the entire loot.
  5. The plan: A precise, ultra-detailed second by second plan. Have several versions, including plans B to D…maybe all the way to M. Movie thieves are so meticulous!
  6. The surveillance: Know everything your competition is doing until you can predict your target’s moves.
  7. Adaptability: be able and willing to change the plan within minutes and begin retraining, obtaining the resources within hours.
  8. Spontaneous: ability to think quickly on your feet, under extreme stress, including when your wife shows up unexpectedly with another man.
  9. Instant Communication between members: Another can’t do without element. Like a Bioteam Danny’s group can update and adapt to second by second input and feedback loops.
  10. Make it look easy.

Art and fiction can teach us much more than we give it credit for.  After all life does imitate art more than we care to admit.

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When guests see 12 microphones in a row at an event, they cringe and look for the exit!

Penelope Burk is the fundraising market’s foremost authority on fundraising research, training and strategic planning. Burk’s research into donor relationships is the considered the most important innovation in fundraising today.  Her book is Donor Centered Fundraising. Although, not exactly a catchy title, Burk’s research into donors is perfect advise for anyone in professional services and business.

Burk’s 6 year intensive research into donors, including fundraising events, is analogous to the many conferences lawyers host for clients. These are some of Burk’s guidelines from her seminar last week:

  1. Getting invited: The most important effect on a donor of receiving an invitation to a fundraising event is getting invited. No matter how many they are invited to, they still appreciate being invited.
  2. Few Speakers: The best donors are invited to so many events, they know more about what an event will be like than most professionals organizing them. When they see a long table with a row of microphones they run.  They don’t want to listen to 12 speakers.  Experience tells them it will be long and tiresome.
  3. Choose speakers carefully: On the subject of speakers, donors consistently respond that people who cannot speak should not. Too often because of leadership positions in an organization, people who can’t speak publicly do and the results are obvious – less donors.
  4. Too long; too late: Fundraising events should be short, about an hour max.  The earlier the better. Breakfast meetings are the most popular because they present few conflicts.
  5. Donors are people too: Even though some donors may have many friends and contacts, they dread going to events and being left alone. At many events, donors are left alone while staff is grouped together chatting away. Greet them personally and never leave them alone. Introduce them to other guests and don’t miss talking to any of the donors.
  6. Treat donors as if they were guests at your house: introduce your donor guests to each other and to influential leader volunteers of your organization. Sit them at tables with compatible people that they can talk to.

Seems common sense when someone else does the research and presents it so simply.  It’s not that we don’t know; it’s that we forget and someone needs to reminds us.  Thanks, Penelope.

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