I still know a number of you who are not setting goals. I am hopeful that if you read what scientists have written, it might give you an idea of why setting goals is important and how to do it.

Edwin A. Locke and Gary P. Latham, both professors, have summarized 35 years of empirical research on goal-setting theory in a professional paper titled: Building a Practically Useful Theory of Goal Setting and Task Motivation. Here is what they found:

  1. The highest or most difficult goals produced the highest levels of effort and performance until the limits of ability are reached. I have found very few lawyers set goals that are beyond the limits of their ability. So, coaches should encourage junior partners to set goals that “stretch” them.
  2. It is very important to have goals that are specific rather than something general like to do one’s best. In their view when people are asked to “do their best” they generally don’t do it, in part because there is no external reference point.

How do goals affect performance? For me, setting goals always helped me set priorities on my non-billable time. Locke and Latham recognize this function of goals. They say: “…they direct attention and effort toward goal-relevant activities and away form goal-irrelevant activities.”

As illustrated in the scientific research, the problem many people have is setting their goals too low. I like what Evertt Bogue recently wrote How to Succeed by Being Completely Unrealistic. Check out his list of 13 ways to start thinking.

The young lawyers I coached over the years were in big firms and smaller firms, different parts of the United States and Canada, different practice areas, different personality types and a variety of other unique characteristics. The lawyers I am helping find new law firms also differ in many ways.

Yet, to the person, the most successful young lawyers I coached shared these attributes, and I look for these attributes in lawyers seeking my help now.

  1. They were patient, persistent and persevered
  2. They knew their strengths and focused their client development efforts on things that suited those strengths
  3. They developed a plan for their non-billable time and written goals
  4. They worked regularly and consistently on client development
  5. They were seeking to become more visible and credible to their target market
  6. They were getting feedback on their ideas and how they are doing
  7. They found ways to hold themselves accountable
  8. They found meaningful ways to stay in touch with their contacts
  9. They all wished they had started their efforts earlier in their career
  10. They were willing to get outside their comfort zone

Law firms look for lawyers with those attributes. I know, I looked for those lawyers when I was practicing law.

 

 

I loved practicing law in law firms. Then I loved coaching lawyers. Now I love recruiting lawyers, in large part because I am still coaching in the recruiting process.

As you may remember, I graduated from law school, passed the bar exam and was admitted to practice law in 1971. Plenty has changed since I started practicing law in 1971, but I know one thing that has not.

The key to success in private practice with a law firm is the ability to attract, retain and expand relationships with clients.

Many of you became lawyers, less because of loving”the law” and more because you could use your knowledge and skills to help your clients achieve their goals.

If attracting, retaining and expanding relationships with clients motivates lawyers, why aren’t more lawyers doing what it takes to have that opportunity?

As you know, several years ago I wrote a book titled: “Prepare to Win.”  It is available from us, Amazon and is available for your Kindle, Nook or iPad.

Screenshot 2015-08-02 09.44.27

I picked the title based on a quote I had seen many times attributed to various famous coaches.

The essence of the quote is:

Many have the will to win, but only a few have the will to prepare to win.

I encourage you to read my book. Many lawyers have the will to attract, retain and expand relationships with clients, but only a few have the will to do the hard work that leads to getting, retaining and building relationships with clients.

How many lawyers in your firm have a written plan including goals and a method of holding themselves accountable? Do you have one?

How many lawyers in your firm are making a concerted effort to build their profile or build relationships? Are you?

Regardless of your law school, your class rank, your family situation, your age, your firm, your boss, your firm’s clients, you and only you are responsible for your success and only you can define what success is for you.

Over time you will also have to inspire yourself, motivate yourself, hold yourself accountable, stick with it when it is challenging and pick yourself up when things do not go as you had hoped. But, if I have coached you, then you know that encouragement at the right time is also helpful.

I was thinking about my work with lawyers years ago when I read Forbes article: The 3 Most Powerful Ways To Change People Who Don’t Want To Change,

If we worked together you might notice some things in the article that we did in our coaching sessions. I encourage you to read the article and think back to our time together. If anything you read resonates with you, drop me a note.

When I worked with lawyers in my old firm, I learned a very important lesson. I could make an inspiring presentation on career and client development. But, if it was a one-shot program, very few lawyers changed. That was the reason I started coaching.

What will it take for you to win in 2019?

Several years ago, I presented a program Success: Determining and Achieving Your Purpose, Values and Goals for the ABA YLD fall meeting. 

Before I finished I asked for questions. One lawyer asked:

Cordell, in your experience, what separates the superstar young lawyers from the rest of the pack?

I did not hesitate:

The very best young lawyers I know have a “burning desire” to be the best at something they have chosen, and they work hard achieve it. I call it the “fire in the belly.”

I coached several of those lawyers and I recently helped one connect with a great firm. In each case, the lawyer put more into the coaching program, and his or her other learning, than just about any other lawyer I have ever met. Within minutes of meeting those lawyers for the first time, I knew they had a burning desire to learn and serve her clients.

I receive emails and letters from those lawyers sharing with me their great success-the success I believed they would have right from the beginning.

I learned about burning desire one summer while visiting my grandparents in Chester, Virginia. I didn’t know many teenagers in Chester so I spent more time at my grandparents home than I would have liked. One day I discovered that the sliding doors in their hallway opened to shelves and shelves of historical books.

One of the books I found that summer was “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. I included the book in my post: 18 Business and Law Books that Changed My Life.

As a teenager, I had never read a “self-help” book. I doubt I would have read this one if I had anything else I could do. Reading Think and Grow Rich really did change my life, in part, because I learned the concept of having a DEFINITE MAJOR PURPOSE. When I decided to become a lawyer, I asked myself why I wanted to practice law. That was a helpful exercise for me. 

Napoleon Hill was born into poverty in the coal fields of Wise County, Virginia in 1883.  You can learn more about his life by reading: Rich Man, Poor Man. As you will see, Hill accomplished some great things as an attorney and journalist but also had many failures along the way.

His big break came when he interviewed the wealthy steel baron, Andrew Carnegie. As you will see in the article, later Carnegie convinced Hill to write the book:

He issued a challenge to Hill: Commit the next 20 years, without compensation, to documenting and recording such a philosophy of success, and he would introduce him to the wealthiest and most successful men of the time. Hill jumped at the opportunity.

Because the book copyright has expired, there are many places where you can download the book at no charge. Here is one site to download Think and Grow Rich.

I have read the book many times over the last 50 years. I like to read it to re-energize myself. I believe the 13 principles he outlined in the early 1900s still apply today, almost 100 years later.

Consistent with my answer to the young lawyer’s question at the ABA YLD meeting, Hill’s first principle was “Desire.” He believed desire is the starting point of all achievement.

I was inspired by this statement in the chapter:

Every person who wins in any undertaking must be willing to burn his ships and cut all sources of retreat. Only by so doing can one be sure of maintaining that state of mind known as a BURNING DESIRE TO WIN, essential to success.

As you know, I love working with young, motivated lawyers, I focus on career success through taking control, setting energizing goals and planning. Each young lawyer with whom I work has unique talents, opportunities and challenges. 

I know that if the lawyers I coach set goals that will inspire them and energize them, they will be successful (as they choose to define success). Why? Put simply they will succeed because they have the BURNING DESIRE to achieve their own unique goals.

I think you will find this book extremely valuable just as I did, because it will give you a foundation it the 13 principles that can lead you towards achieving what you desire.

If you have 5 minutes, watch this video to get a preview of what you might learn from the book.

Have I convinced you? What do you have a BURNING DESIRE to achieve and become?

Before I get to the point of this post I want to share a couple of things with you.

First, I had two surgeries in November. The first was an eye muscle surgery, to correct my left eye seeing below the right eye. I now realize why fly balls in the outfield kept bouncing up and down when I played baseball. The eye surgery was a walk in the park compared to the second surgery.

On November 8, my right foot was fused under my big toe because arthritis was so bad there was no joint and I could barely walk. I was humbled by the experience. After the surgery, I felt pain like never before and I have a new appreciation for people who are unable to walk or drive.

Yesterday was my first stand up with a walker shower and today, I will be able for the first time to put 20% weight on my right leg while using a walker. Believe it or not, it’s a little scary.

Ok, my second bit of news is that I have spent the last month in a chair, foot raised with a laptop working on my second novel. It has been an interesting experience. I have been working on this story for four years and have made incredible changes over time. Most recently during my month in the chair, I went back to the first person.

Why am I sharing my novel writing with you? As a favor, I would like for three or four of you to read my draft before I publish it. I still have line editing to do, but I am looking for people who can share if they enjoy reading the story, or suggestions on how I could make it even More interesting. Let me know if you are interested.

Are You an A, B or C Player?

In my career, I worked with dozens of young lawyers, I coached well over 1500 lawyers and I am now helping place lawyers. Interestingly, I am most enjoying placing A Players who have the potential to achieve great things in their career.

Over time, I put lawyers into three main categories: A Players, B Players, and C Players. Let me describe each type because I am willing to bet you fall into one of the three classifications.

C Players

C Players are competent and bright lawyers. They show up about the same time each day and do quality legal work to the best of their ability and they leave at about the same time each day.

For them, being a lawyer is a job and a means to something else in their life. Because they view their work as a job, they do not take responsibility for their careers, they spend very little non-billable time on their career development or on client development.

B Players

B Players are somewhat similar to C Players, except they bill more hours. They work very hard and in some cases burn out prematurely. They focus on what they do rather than what their clients need. They rarely build a team of lawyers working for them because they don’t take time to develop the junior lawyers working with them.

A Players

I was thrilled to have A players in my practice group. I was even more thrilled to coach A players and now help them find the right firm.

A Players have high energy and are extremely motivated. I could tell from their first year that they were future stars. When coaching, I could tell from our first session together they were future stars.

A Players know what they want, take responsibility for their own success and have a plan to achieve their goals. They know when there is a crisis and they pitch in to help without being asked. They have a passion for their work and their clients. Finally, they strive each and every day to become a better lawyer and be more responsive to their clients’ needs

So, which description best fits you?

Recently I posted a blog that made available for the first time my Client Development Video Coaching Program with the Participant’s Guide. Want to get the most out of the experience? I hope this helps.

I am only rarely coaching lawyers in person these days. But, in the hopes you will get the most out of the free video program, I wanted to share with you a summary of an email I received years ago from a lawyer I coached. He sent this email to a group of his colleagues who were just starting to work with me.

Cordell’s Coaching Program is a transformational opportunity for people who buy in completely. The main shortcoming is that people who are cynical/skeptical about the process won’t invest the time and effort to reform their daily lives to make the lessons (and the year-long program) work for them.

Cordell’s like a personal trainer – he’s going to work if I show up at 6 am for our meeting and follow his plans but he’s not much good to me if I still am eating Twinkies every day after the workout.

Cordell’s program provides a solid foundation on identifying the skills a person needs to be personally and professionally happy as their career progresses to more advanced stages.

Cordell has helped me focus on what I want long-term, middle-term and short-term out of life and my experience at an AMLAW 100 firm. I think that’s invaluable and suspect many others have reached the same level of enhanced personal and professional satisfaction through this program.

I’m happier today with myself and the firm than I was before I started this program. Nothing the firm has ever done for my development matches the investment that this program has made in my maturation as a lawyer, leader, and person.

During the past year, I have read books Cordell recommended on marketing, self-improvement, public speaking/persuasive skills, new media, people management, building client trust, etc. Cordell has convinced me that I must look to master a range of business skills that will (1) complement my legal expertise, (2) make me more attractive to clients, (3) a better teammate to others in the firm, and (4) a better leader of those who will work under me in the future.

Without Cordell’s pushing/prodding and recommending specific books (and following up on me to discuss them) I doubt I would have read any of this or found time to focus on self-improvement.

With Cordell, I have updated a personal mission/vision statement with personal values of importance to me and a list of 100 experiences in life I want to have; while I have had these things for 15 years, Cordell helped me to really reshape them to reflect who I have become and what I want in the future. Now I have the list handy and I am focused on living up to the statement and figuring out how to fulfill those life experiences, a few each year.

Cordell helped me focus on the basics of client services, in terms of making sure I have regular contact with all my clients and that the contact is always positive in nature. From little things, like sending them articles of interest, or calling to say happy birthday, or sending Christmas gifts telling them I appreciate the chance to represent them, I think I have seen progress with the clients. I’m much less frustrated with my relationships with clients and feel better prepared to handle the difficulties that inevitably arise.

I hope you will find these ideas helpful as you view the videos and use the Participant’s Guide to create a plan, have a better idea on how to build your profile and repuation and work on developing relationship.

 

 

I was sitting in the barber chair and looked over and Tina Turner was on the cover of People Magazine. In the magazine was an excerpt from her autobiography that was recently published. Being a huge fan, I had to read the excerpt which was a bit challenging while my hair was being cut.

Reading reminded me of how Tina Turner influenced my presentations when I practiced law.

After I made a presentation at an ABA YLD meeting a young lawyer came up to me and asked how I learned to make presentations? I responded that Tina Turner had taught me all I needed to learn.

It was 1971, I was in my last year in law school when Nancy and I and two other couples sat in the second row to watch The Ike and Tina Turner Revue.

First, Ike and the band came out, then the Ikettes came out and sang.

Then the announcer, in a very deep voice said:

“Let’s welcome the star of the show, the hardest working girl in show biz…Ladies and Gentlemen: Tina Turner.”

Tina was unbelievable. She had the entire audience clapping and singing along to “I Want to Take You Higher.” I don’t remember many of the songs in the middle of the concert, but as it was reaching the end, she sang: “Proud Mary.”

When she finished the crowd was standing and asking to hear more from Tina. Here is a video clip from the 1971 concert tour with Tina Singing “Proud Mary.”

Fast forward to 2000. Tina Turner is live at Wembley Stadium in London. Her opening song: “I Want to Take You Higher.”

Like the concert in 1971, Tina came to the end of the Wembley Stadium concert and sang “Proud Mary.” Once again the audience clamored for more.

Other than my enjoyment of Tina Turner in concert, what is the point for you?

I suggest you take a lesson from Tina Turner when you are giving a presentation.

Start strong and end strong. You have about 90 seconds for the audience to answer the question: “What’s in this for me?” Do not end your presentation with: “Are there any questions?” Instead, as you are approaching the end, say: “Before I conclude are there any questions?” Then, conclude powerfully with a call to action.

In an interview author and expert, Nick Morgan said:

“The last thing you do with an audience is the most important and what they will remember the best. Q&A is open-ended and not in your control. A great speech can be undermined by a hostile or stupid question at the end. So save the last three minutes for a knock-them-dead wrap up that sends the audience on its way with jaws agape.”

Clearly when Tina Turner ends a concert with “Proud Mary” she knocks-them-dead and has the audience wanting to hear more. If you open strong and close strong your audience will want to hear more, and maybe they will even want to hire you.

Big wheel keeps on turning…

When I was busy practicing law, there came a time when I had an Ah Ha Moment. It was the day I discovered that some of the lawyers who were working for me were pessimists who were not very motivated to succeed. It seems obvious now, but at the time I was surprised.

If you have read my recent posts, you know that when I coached lawyers, I frequently told firm leaders I could not help pessimists or unmotivated lawyers.

Now that I am recruiting lawyers, I have been asked how I can tell if a lawyer I am helping is optimistic and motivated. It’s really pretty simple. I listen to the lawyer.

Less Motivated Pessimists Say: “Yes, but…                     Motivated Optimists Say: “Sure how…”

Less Motivated Pessimists Say: “My problem is…          Motivated Optimists Say: “My opportunity is…”

Less Motivated Pessimists Say: “I need to…”                  Motivated Optimists Say: “I want to…”

Less Motivated Pessimists Say: “I will try my best…”      Motivated Optimists Say: “I will achieve…”

Less Motivated Pessimists Say: “I can’t find time to…”   Motivated Optimists Say: “I will make time to…”

Less Motivated Pessimists Say: ” I want realistic goals” Motivated Optimists Say: “I want goals that challenge me”

I’m sure you know that I gave many presentations about career success and life fulfillment. If you are interested in taking a look at one of them, check out: Secrets to Career Success and Fulfillment. 

 

In my new recruiting work I don’t place a lot of law firm associates because the associates I coached are now partners in their law firms. Some now have leadership positions in their law firms and others have become top rainmakers.

But, when I was coaching, I loved working with law firm associates. Why?  The associates with whom I worked were eager to learn and open to new ideas.

Some of my Lateral Link colleagues focus on associates. I have shared with them, it is important for their candidates to prepare a Personal Development Plan. I  have shared with my colleagues an idea on how their candidates can get started and I want to share it with you also. If you are not a law firm associate, please pass this on to one you know.

Here are steps to get you started on your plan:

  1. Define success for you at the end of 2023 (5 years from now). It could be a number $1 million in business. It could be recognized as go to lawyer in_______ field in _____ (for me Transportation Construction Law in the US.) It could be a variety of other things. The important thing is it must be something that will motivate you.
  2. Next, ask yourself why achieving that goal is important to you. It might be family security. (For me, it was wanting to be recognized as being the best at something.)
  3. Next, write down 10 (it could be 8, it could be 15) stream of conscious things you want to do in 2019 to work toward achieving your 5-year goal. (For my 5-year plan writing articles and speaking at contractor meetings topped my list.)
  4. Then review your list and combine those that are really the same. Then, rank the items on your list 1- (if you could only do one, it would be … if you could only do 2 you would add…).
  5. Once you have ranked the items, ask for each one why you think it will lead you toward your 2023 goals. Write down the reasons.

With this background, you are ready to create your 2019 Development Plan. You can click on the Development Plan for a link to a template.

One final note: Your plan will be worthless if you don’t put it into action and hold yourself accountable.

 

 

Yesterday, I posted a Pele (The Brazilian super-star soccer player) quote that I particularly like on social media sites.

After posting, I received a comment:

Very true, but we may add that luck also is one factor.

Luck is indeed a factor, but I have always believed

Successful people make their own luck.

I also like:

Luck is when opportunity meets preparation.

You might enjoy reading: 5 Things People Who Make Their Own Luck Always Do.

If you are a long-time reader, you know I contend I owe my legal career success to luck. But, in most cases, it was luck meeting preparation. I’ve told these stories before. They illustrate my point.

I had been practicing law 12 years and I was in Roanoke, Virginia, when I received a call from the general counsel of what was then the third largest construction company in the United States. He said:

We have a $30 million problem in Atlanta and we’ve been told you are the lawyer to help us.

At the end of the call, I asked who recommended me. He told me it was a Federal Highway Administration lawyer who had been on a panel with me on the subject of the problem in Atlanta.

Was it luck? Yes. If the general counsel had talked to the lawyer in the office on either side of the lawyer who recommended me, they wouldn’t have known me. I can’t begin to tell you how many non-billable hours I had spent studying, writing and speaking on that subject. The preparation I did months before being asked to be on the panel is what gave me the opportunity.

If you can bear with me, I’ll give one more example.

It was Thanksgiving weekend in 1990. I was still practicing law in Virginia. I watched national news coverage of a bridge collapse on the west coast. Later that evening I received a call from the Transportation Secretary of the state where the collapse occurred. He asked if I could fly to the west coast on Monday and meet with his team.

At the end of the call, I asked: How did you find me? He told me the name of a famous bridge designer who had recommended me.

Was it luck? Yes. The Transportation Secretary talked to a famous bridge designer who had heard me speak and read what I had written on bridge design and bridge failures. Once again, I can’t begin to tell you how many non-billable hours I spent studying those subjects, including documents from a FOIA request of the Federal Highway Administration. My preparation over many, many months before is what gave me the opportunity.