In this episode, we discuss:
- Every time you go out, you represent your business.
- When you’re speaking on a stage, you might be in front of your ideal client.
- The mindset has to be that every opportunity produces multiple opportunities.
- How to perfect your follow-up and engage with potential clients or opportunities.
SEE THE FULL TRANSCRIPT BELOW
Allison Williams: [00:00:05] Hi, everybody. It’s Allison Williams here. Your host of The Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast. Law Firm Mentor is a business coaching service for solo and small law firm attorneys. We help you to grow your revenues, crush chaos in business and make more money.
Allison Williams: [00:00:30] Hi everybody and welcome back to another episode of The Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast, where today we’re going to talk about adding two zeros to your income. All right. So this is a fun topic. I actually, I’m inspired to bring you this topic straight from the mastermind here at Law Firm Mentor. I just spent an amazing week with our clients in the Mastermind. We went down to South Beach, Florida, and we spent a week together really diving deep and giving them a lot of immersive content structure, guidance, coaching, and masterminding with each other about the brilliance that they were going to create in their law firm. So the Mastermind is actually for our clients that are at seven figures plus. And in this group, we have the opportunity to talk about a lot of interesting topics, including what would life look like if we added two zeros to our personal income. So I want you to go with me on a journey to contemplate that for a moment. If you are a law firm owner and you have ever contemplated the idea of adding more money into your business and more money into your personal income, I’m sure you’ve thought about having more, right? That’s kind of the first place that we all start. I don’t like what I have because I want more.
Allison Williams: [00:01:45] Well, how much more oftentimes comes up, and people just kind of throw ideas out. They kind of say, Well, I think I’d be happy if I had 100,000 more. Or by the time I pay taxes and the time I buy X, Y, and Z, I’ll probably need 150,000 more. Right? There’s kind of a rationality to it. But when we talk about adding two zeros to your income, rationality completely goes out the window, right? So if you are already earning 200,000 a year, then adding one zero gets you to 2 million and adding a second zero gets you to 20 million dollars. So if you’re at a 200,000-dollar income level, I want you to think about what your life would look like at $20 million dollars. It’s just obscene. Right?
Allison Williams: [00:02:33] Well, it’s interesting. One of the coaches here comes from the brilliance of our lead coach, our finance coach, Wolfgang Tsoutsouris. And Wolfgang came up with this, with this protocol for walking our clients through this very specific exercise. Now, I’m not going to go into the exercise, but one part of it that I thought was really, really illustrative of how important it is to visualize your success in the future comes from the two zeros exercise.
Allison Williams: [00:02:58] So we were taking this yacht trip and we were looking out at all of the celebrity homes that are right on the water with their own individual yachts in each slip. And I just thought, Wow, this is really inspiration for what we want to create. Some people are really moved by the idea of having $100 million house other people, not so much. But whatever your vision is, ultimately, at some point we had to think about where these people started before they acquired the multimillion-dollar residence. Right, before they acquire their own personal yacht, they had to have started somewhere. So we all are on a journey. We all are looking for creating more in our businesses. And oftentimes we think about things in terms of just acquiring more, a little bit more. That’s usually where the mind goes, right? If I’m at $200,000 a year, I want to have a $300,000 a year or I want to have a $500,000 a year. But when you start thinking about scale, it becomes impossible for you to conceptualize what life would look like at that level, except in some of the most superficial ways. Right? So we can think about things like What is my house going to look like? Or What types of vacations am I going to have? And a lot of us think of that as being somewhat frivolous because right now you’re living in the house you’re living in, you’re taking the kinds of vacations that you’re taking. But what would happen in your own frame of reference if instead of thinking about some of those niceties that you would add to your life, you start thinking about the freedom that would come with having those niceties right.
Allison Williams: [00:04:34] If you had $100 million house and it’s time to put one of your children through college, you wouldn’t be thinking, Oh, how much money do I have to make next year? You’d probably be saying, Well, let me tap the line of credit, because the amount of interest that I can get on my line of credit is going to be less than what I would ultimately have to pay in terms of student loan interest over the course of my parent loan or even once my child gets out of college over the course of their working years to pay it back. This is a better form of debt, right? Or perhaps you’d be thinking things like, if I wanted to have a vacation, I can vacation anywhere in the world once I have that amount of money. What about the idea of actually picking myself up and transporting myself to another country to live part-time? Right. What if I wanted to run my law firm here in the United States, but I wanted to situate myself on an island, or perhaps I wanted to move to a foreign country that’s completely dissimilar from my own country. Maybe I wanted to move somewhere in Asia and I don’t speak the language, so I had to hire myself a private tutor in order to learn the language and also to have an aide with me who speaks the local language. So I’d be able to communicate fluently and have my resources provided to me as I need them. Right.
Allison Williams: [00:05:46] A lot of different thoughts come to mind when we start thinking about scale of income, not just growth of income, but scale. So I wanted to give you guys a little frame of reference for this little fun exercise. A lot of us could probably have fun all day just looking out on visualizing life with two more zeros. But I wanted to give you a frame of reference for how you can use this to actually start the process of scale in your law firm. So three things that you need to do.
Allison Williams: [00:06:13] The first thing that you absolutely must do is you must seek inspiration. Inspiration is not something insignificant in the process of creating in a business. In fact, it is inspiration that led you to create your business in the first place. You looked around, you started to see how other people had created businesses. You started drawing from what their experiences were. This one over here has Fridays off. This one over here has a part-time secretary that does some of the paperwork. This one over here has multiple associates. And so they don’t have to go to court anymore. Right. You started looking at what other people were doing and you drew inspiration from that. And then that helped you to start conceptualizing what your law firm would look like.
Allison Williams: [00:06:57] Now, for all of us, we are individuals, right? So you are creating your own personal freedom, your own personal design of business. But it comes from somewhere, right? None of us has a 100% organically created, completely independent, thought-based business. All of us got some idea of what the structure of a business would look like from looking at others, whether it’s looking at other law firms, or looking at other businesses, or both. Right. So you have to start with the process of seeking inspiration from other people, not just to fuel the fire of creating something, but to start thinking about what your something could look like in order to serve your needs.
Allison Williams: [00:07:36] All right. The second step in the process, and this is a really important one, this is the one that a lot of law firm, law firm owners skip over is the idea of debating reality. Now, when I say debating reality, I don’t mean that you should throw all caution to the wind and just start throwing things together without any regard for ethics or law or conduct or appropriateness, etc. You have to have some basis in reality, but the reality is most of us don’t have a problem being rooted in reality. To the contrary, most of us have a problem with actually accepting reality as a limitation for us. So when you start thinking about what your law firm is going to look like, and I don’t mean just your law firm the day you open it, I mean a year from now, five years from now, ten years from now, 30 years from now, when you start thinking about your legacy in the business that you created, I want you to debate reality. I want you to instead of saying, this is where I am today, these are the confines that I’m working within. I want you to start asking yourself the what-if questions? What if money was no object? What if I am not constrained by the practice area that I’m in? What if I don’t have to restrict myself to a certain region of the state or of the country? Right. Those what-if questions allow us to start the process of visualizing things outside of our immediate reach? And the more that we do that, the more we can fuel the fire of creating things that we’ve not yet created. If you just stick yourself into a limiting belief system, if you say this is what has been done, so therefore this is all I can do, you oftentimes restrict your source of supply.
Allison Williams: [00:09:20] So I’m going to give you a very realistic example, and it comes from the annals of my own life. So as many of you know, I’m a family law attorney. I’ve been a family law attorney for 18 years. But a good portion of that time has been spent dedicated to the topic of child abuse and neglect parental representation. Now, I fell into doing that work as an associate. Someone walked into our office, they had the money, they needed help. And I was the youngest associate. And so therefore, you know, shit flows downstream. So I landed on me and I was told, here, go figure out how to handle this case. So I started reading the rules, I read the complaint, and I didn’t really have a firm grasp on procedurally what these cases looked like. So I started calling around to people that I knew that had done the work right. I was inspired to help the person by the opportunity to help her, but then I had to get rooted in reality to start thinking about how I would create a plan to actually help her. So I did that work, and the next thing you know, I was able to help this person get a very good result, not immediately. It was an uphill battle. She had some very, very difficult facts on her side. But eventually, we got to a great outcome and it felt amazing. It felt even better than when I would help people in divorce matters or domestic violence matters. So my heart was pulled to do this work and I said, Well, I want to do this work, but I don’t want to be poor. And from what I’m hearing, the only people that handle cases as parents, attorneys in the state cases are people who are getting $50 an hour to serve the public in this way through the public defender’s office. And I’m an attorney in private practice. I worked at that time for a prestigious law firm. There was no way they were going to let me take $50 an hour for the representation. I was told to charge my hourly rate, which at that time was only a couple hundred dollars an hour. This was many, many years ago, and I continue to charge that rate to every person that walked in that wanted my help. Well, I started getting more and more of these cases, and eventually my inspiration really, really spurred me to start pursuing this work. So I started publishing articles about it, I started speaking about it, and next thing you know, I would get more and more referrals. But even then I was still only generating a couple hundred thousand dollars a year in child abuse and neglect cases. So knowing that, I had to have more in order to sustain the income that I wanted for myself and ultimately to be made partner where I was, eventually, of course, the goal of making partner kind of fell by the wayside. I decided to start my own law firm, but I knew I needed more than a couple hundred thousand dollars in revenue to give me the life that I wanted and to support the people that would work in my business.
Allison Williams: [00:12:02] So what did I do? Well, I knew there wasn’t a market for what I was doing at that point in time. No one was advertising that they handle child abuse and neglect cases. Those people who handle those cases typically did it through the public defender’s office or the occasional case might walk into your average family law firm, and people would charge their standard hourly rates and just hope that the case was simple enough that they could handle it competently for the client. But I decided that I wanted to make a career of this, that I really wanted to devote myself to this work. So how was I going to do that when there was no market for it? Well, the first thing I had to do is debate the reality that there was no market for it. There hadn’t been a market that I had been able to see. I hadn’t been able to reach out and pick up on a market. I wasn’t able to attach myself to a market that already existed. I had to go create the market. But one of the things that I saw early on is that no one was advertising for this work.
Allison Williams: [00:12:59] So how was the market going to be created? Simple. I had to create it. I had to tell people that this is what I do. I had to start speaking on a lot of stages. I had to start passing out my business cards. Yes. Back in the day we actually use business cards. Right? I actually had to start telling people that I was available to handle that work and then I had to promote it. So back before blogging was the thing, I actually created my own little homemade blog on WordPress and I bought the URL so I could take out the DOT WordPress.com from the address that I called my blog. And then I started just putting it out there and seeing if people would be interested. And next thing you know, people were, right, people were interested in representation. And I started getting cases all over the state and I would tell people, look, I’m at the tippy, tippy top of the state and you’re at the bottom of the state. We’re like two and one-half hours away. And the very first time I said that to somebody very disappointed that I couldn’t help them. And I heard the disappointment in their voice that I could not help them. What happened? They said, you know what, we can make this work. So they ultimately came back to me and said, If you’ll work with me on this, on the travel, because the travel would be 5 hours a day round trip. Every time I had to go to court, they’d be 5 hours. And by that time I was charging $300 an hour. So that’s a lot of money. That’s 1500 dollars just to transport me to and from court. But they said, you know what, you’re the one. I can just feel it. We will make this work. And so ultimately, the very first time I took a case that was well out of my practice area, well out of my region, it was a full day in court from one of the most sexy, intricate cases I have ever handled at that time in my career and I loved every minute of it. And I knew at that point that if that person was willing to pay me even the extra amount that they would have had to pay to have me be transported all that distance down to the southern part of my state to represent them, that there would be others, too. And that hunch proved to be accurate because I debated the reality that there was no market, that people wouldn’t pay me my full hourly rate, that people would never hire me to travel hours every day, that I had to go to court. All of the assumptions, all the stories that other people had given me about this practice area, I had to disagree with them. Right, in order to test my hypothesis.
Allison Williams: [00:15:26] Now, every time you debate reality. You might not land it truth. You might not get to a Yes, but here’s the thing. Far more often than you realize, you’ll get to a yes. The only time you are assured a no, is if you don’t bother asking the question. So you have to debate reality as a part of this process.
Allison Williams: [00:15:44] All right. Third and final way that you have to go about the process of adding those two zeros is you have to connect with opulence. Now, when I say connect with opulence, I know some people are going to immediately be triggered by that. They’re going to say, hey, wait a minute, are you talking about I have to like ostentatious things. I have to like big, brassy, gold plated door handles, and I have to have marble tile in my office that I have to be ostentatious. Not saying that at all. When we talk about connecting with opulence, we’re talking about the opulence of what matters to you. So that means for some of us, a highly decadent, ostentatious environment is what really appeals to us. For others of us, we are really understated. That’s not about depriving ourselves of anything. We really are the simple t-shirt and jeans kind of person. Right? So the opulence in that scenario, the person who’s not really driven by the outward appearance of things is not in the physicality of it, but it’s in the opulence of treatment of yourself. Right. It’s in springing for the first class ticket instead of the coach ticket. It’s in buying yourself flowers to be delivered to the office just because you love the smell of fresh flowers. It’s an upper leveling your environment. And for a lot of people, when I say upper level your environment, they think, Oh, that’s a waste of money. I don’t need these things. I don’t necessarily even want these things. Why should I bother? Well, here’s the thing. One of the things that you will start to find when you get into the habit of treating yourself better through connecting with the opulence that is available in every opportunity, in every experience, is that you start demanding more not just of others, but also of yourself. And the more you demand of yourself, the more you deliver from yourself. That means you step up your delivery as you step up your expectations. Right? Game recognize game. I’m sure we all have heard that before. So when you are giving out 110%, it’s only acceptable for you to expect 110% back in return. You start to feel entitled to 110%. Well, why does that matter?
Allison Williams: [00:18:01] Well, if you own a law firm and you are surrounded with a whole bunch of very hardworking, dedicated B-plus players, what you’re going to find is that you give a B-plus effort, right? You’re not willing to come in early or stay late to mentor the B-plus lawyer. You’re not willing to give up part of your weekend in order to review the document that was drafted by your B-Plus paralegal. You’re not willing to stay late in the evening and take a phone call from a B-plus client. Now, you might be saying, hey, my goal is quality of life. I’m not really trying to build an empire. And if that’s true for you, this is probably not the podcast for you. But if that’s true for you, that’s okay, right? You’re allowed to decide for yourself what you want in life. But if you’re somebody who wants more out of life, if you want more out of yourself and out of those around you, it is imperative that you match energy with energy that you put out the A-plus so you can get back the A-plus. And you do that by connecting yourself with the opulence in every experience so that as you are creating better experiences, you can have a better life. And that is the first step, the first three critical steps, rather, in order to get you to those two extra zeros.
Allison Williams: [00:19:22] All right, everyone, I’m Allison Williams, your Law Firm Mentor. You’ve been listening to another episode of The Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor Podcast. We’ll see you on our next show.
Allison Williams: [00:19:40] Thank you for tuning in to the Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast. To learn more about today’s show and take advantage of the resources mentioned, check out our show notes. And if you enjoy today’s episode, take a moment to follow the podcast wherever you get your podcasts and leave us a rating and review. This helps us to reach even more law firm owners from around the country who want to crush chaos in business and make more money. I’m Allison Williams, your Law Firm Mentor, everyone. Have a great day.
Allison C. Williams, Esq., is the Founder and Owner of the Williams Law Group, LLC, with offices in Short Hills and Freehold, New Jersey. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, is Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Law Attorney, and is the first attorney in New Jersey to become Board-Certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy in the field of Family Law.
Ms. Williams is an accomplished businesswoman. In 2017, the Williams Law Group won the LawFirm500 award, ranking 14th of the fastest-growing law firms in the nation, as Ms. Williams grew the firm by 581% in three years. Ms. Williams won the Silver Stevie Award for Female Entrepreneur of the Year in 2017. In 2018, Ms. Williams was voted as NJBIZ’s Top 50 Women in Business and was designated one of the Top 25 Leading Women Entrepreneurs and Business Owners. In 2019, Ms. Williams won the Seminole 100 Award for founding one of the fastest-growing companies among graduates of Florida State University.
In 2018, Ms. Williams created Law Firm Mentor, a business coaching service for lawyers. She helps solo and small law firm attorneys grow their business revenues, crush chaos in business and make more money. Through multi-day intensive business retreats, group and one-to-one coaching, and strategic planning sessions, Ms. Williams advises lawyers on all aspects of creating, sustaining, and scaling a law firm business – and specifically, she teaches them the core foundational principles of marketing, sales, personnel management, communications, and money management in law firms.
My favorite excerpt from the episode:
TIME: 00:02:58 (31 Seconds)
So we were taking this yacht trip and we were looking out at all of the celebrity homes that are right on the water with their own individual yachts in each slip. And I just thought, Wow, this is really inspiration for what we want to create. Some people are really moved by the idea of having $100 million house other people, not so much. But whatever your vision is, ultimately, at some point we had to think about where these people started before they acquired the multimillion-dollar residence.