- Who & Why?
A common conversation I have with attorneys revolves around the almighty billable hour. Depending on how long they have been in practice and where they are in their career, they are either wondering how to monitor the hours (i.e., hire/fire others who don’t meet them) or trying to figure out how to meet their own hours.
One thing applies to all of them across the board when it comes to billable hours- they are all stressed out. Many are to the point of obsession about their billable requirements. This obsession leads to all sorts of nasty things- like paralysis, I dare say. According to my research, there is a direct inverse correlation between your self confidence and stress. The higher your stress, the lower your self-confidence and thus, the poorer your personal brand for others.
So what, you say? What does this have to do with my billable requirement?
Well, I believe that the pressure to bill X number of hours leads to higher stress and less productivity. In other words, lawyers produce worse and less. The other detriment of this is of course that lawyers are angry, anxious and perhaps at the point of desperation where they’ll compromise their integrity to bill enough….all leading to a bad public brand perception of our industry.
What if there was a peaceful, productive atmosphere and less angst around the almighty billable? I’m not disillusioned when I suggest this- I’ve been there, done that. It didn’t work then, it hasn’t worked for others since. And it is only getting worse.
If you are “in charge” and reading this consider creating a work atmosphere that is less tense and focused on the billable hour. Try something new and be daring. It can’t fail.
If you are reading this and you are identifying with my message because you “must bill”, then what about trying something new. What if you work it the other way: set your PERSONAL weekly billable goal lower and exceed it. Watch the stress go down and your productivity and happiness go up. Also, consider what’s the worst that can happen if you don’t bill “enough”? If the answer isn’t “death” then I think you know what to do.
I was working with a band last week and this issue came up again- so I thought I would address it again. The reason I love working with artists and musicians on their personal brand management is because I like to see them in control- of their music, talent and business growth. So often artists who “just want to make music” or “just want to sing” forget that they can and should be responsible for the entire brand they project.
So my question is always the same: who do you want in your audience? The initial response is always something like, “whoever wants to come listen to us perform”. That’s the same as when I ask lawyers who they want as clients and they respond with, “anyone who can pay me”. Wrong answer, in my book.
After all, do you really want to cater to anyone and everyone? Even if you did, do you really have the time and/or money to spend on marketing to every one of us on the planet? Where do you start and where do you stop?
The answer always rests within yourself. What do I mean? Well, in the example of the band mentioned above here’s how it went: after about 20 minutes of asking the same question, the lead singer finally said that he wanted himself in his audience. Bingo!
If the personal brand premise is to connect with people who like you, “get” you and want to be around you, then your target marketing/audience goal should be the same- you should aim at getting people in your audience who are like you or share your similarities and personal brand value. They can look different but in general be “like” you.
How do you figure out who is “like” you, so that you can market to them as your potential audience? Well, that’s why your Personal Connection Story is so important. Once you figure out your story- who you really are and why you are an artist (fill-in the blank with any profession), then it becomes so much easier (and more fun!) to get your perfect audience in place. I promise!
Ever stop to think about how much your thoughts shape your world? Most of us tend to never even stop and think about our thoughts. We are too busy doing our “thing” in life.
Consider the fact that on the Internet I read we have anywhere from 50,000 to 80,000 thoughts a day. How in control of your thoughts are you? Do you think it matters to the overall scheme of your life- to make money, get rich, retire wealthy and then finally “be happy”?
In this post, I ask you to consider that your thoughts impact your everyday behavior and interactions with others. As such, your thoughts impact your personal brand tremendously.
For instance, if you are running around like crazy because you have so much on your “to-do” list, the odds are you have random (and maybe not so random) thoughts flying through your head. If you never stop to assess the situation here’s what we likely see- a frantic, out of control, less-than credible person running around trying to get their life in control. On top of it all, odds are you are likely cranky or unhappy- with friends, family, colleagues, with yourself and with the world.
So try this challenge on for size: For an entire day try to be as aware as you can of every thought you have. Then quickly assess: if you met someone who didn’t know you, would they want to get to know you and then hire you based on your thoughts? Put yourself in our shoes and try to imagine what we all see when you are “thinking” and running around. Is it a personal brand you want to own?
For more on this topic, stay tuned for my interview with Byron Katie on June 19, 2014.
I’m a big proponent of everyone having their story (Personal Connection Story, is my terminology) down well as part of their effective personal brand. But this is always the hardest part of personal brand development for all our clients. For starters, no one appreciates their story- not just the significance of it, but the need for it, how to communicate it, etc.
People always ask me what parts of their story they should lead with because otherwise they feel overwhelmed by their own story. After all, if you know your story well enough and have developed it well, your total story should be significantly lengthy. I’m assuming you have all lived at least 25 years, which means you’ve got a lot to share with the rest of us.
Always keep in mind that you are looking for a connection with whoever is in front of you. What do you have in common with them? Why? Once they know this information, people extrapolate an assumption that you “get” them. Connections come once I think you are on my team.
In other words, people want to know if you are on their side. WHY do you do what you do and how can you help them? So look at when and how you are an ADVOCATE for your clients and/or customers. Then convey that part of your story to prospects/whomever you are trying to connect (i.e., network) with. That’s what I need to feel/know from you when I meet you.
I am very blessed to live in San Diego because of the all the really cool activities we have got going on. (Yes, I am ignoring the wild fires and the high taxes!). Just this past weekend, San Diego was home to The Weekend Of Grace whereby the Oneness Meditation community brought meditation to the masses/public in San Diego. There was a group meditation in Balboa Park plus other group meditations throughout the city. I was fortunate enough to attend.
I observed the crowds. The regular meditators were very different than the rest of us. In what way, you may ask? While there will always be exceptions, for the most part it was very clear to me that the folks who meditate regularly had all the ingredients we always speak of for a great personal brand. They were much more calm, happy and balanced. They had focus, clarity and could hold a conversation without the need to check their phones constantly or be looking around all the time. In short, they had an effective personal brand.
I am always encouraging (well, requiring it for my clients) you to make meditation a part of your daily life. At least just sit in silence and try to think of nothing. In that space of stillness and silence great things happen. You become focused, clear, self-confident, well-put together and super powerful. You can then go into a meeting composed and effective.
If you doubt it, just try it to prove me wrong. Shut your door, find a comfortable place to sit, remove all distractions and for at least 10 minutes sit in silence and try to be still. See if you can gradually graduate up to 25 minutes a day.
Here’s to your fantastic personal brand!