‘I Am The Greatest’: A Powerful Marketing Secret That Shouldn’t Be Secret

What is a three-letter word in a crossword puzzle for “the greatest”?

“Ali”

Yes, many years after he hung up his gloves and years after his death, he is still synonymous with “the greatest.”  And why is that?

Very simple — he told everyone that he was the greatest.  Who can forget him on TV, in the ring, in front of the newspapers, saying again and again: “I am the greatest.”

I remember it and it was 30 or 40 years ago.  How could I forget it? It was blazed into my mind.

You know if you tell people you are the greatest at something, some of them will believe it.  Even if you are flat-out lying, some will still believe it.

Is that percentage of believers 1 percent or 99 percent?  Of course, that is subjective pertaining to the matter and your believability, but I do know that it will always be greater than 0 percent.

However, if you don’t tell people you are the greatest, then it is pretty sure that 0 percent will believe it.

So — using basic math, which I always love — it is very simple: in marketing you have to come up with something you can credibly say “I am the greatest” in and then tell people about it unreservedly.

And this is the essence of the Power Niche, about which I have written so extensively.

Of course, you can’t say you are the greatest lawyer in the world, as that is kind of ridiculous — but you can narrow down a “niche” that you can own — and with a moderate amount of work you can become “the greatest” in that niche.

Having been a veteran of several thousand pitches — no exaggeration — I have learned that there is simply no way to avoid this somewhat uncomfortable necessity in business development.

Except for commodity work, clients always want “the best” or, in other words, “the greatest.”  And you have to come up with a way to convincingly be the greatest or you won’t get the gig.  Of course, I don’t advocate lying or even stretching the truth — no way on that.  But it is perfectly legitimate to narrow your market so that you have ownership — greatness — in that market.  Then you are 100 percent telling the truth that you are indeed the best in this smaller Power Niche.

By the way, bolstering what I am saying with a bit more math, I believe I read in The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing there is a statistic that the leader in an industry typically gets 50 percent of the market, number two gets 25 percent, and the rest get the remaining 20 percent.  So you really want to be first in your market, don’t you?

As you read this, I bet you are shriveling up inside and thinking, “I just could never do that.”  If so, well, I suggest you just do it anyway and the way to do it is just practice.  First, in front of a mirror, then with your family or close friends, and then finally at work.  You will be amazed at what happens, which is a version of that famous Ted Talk, “Fake it Till You Make It.”

At first you feel like you are faking it and then, all of a sudden, you aren’t faking it because it is absolutely true and the Power Niche feeds on itself.

You can do this!

Artificial Intelligence: Is It Really A Threat To Us Lawyers?

We have all seen the movies where the really smart people build a robot that they expect to be friendly and then unsurprisingly it tries to take over the world.

In the legal world, there are all of these pundits — which is a fancy word for someone who has often self-promoted herself to be an “expert” — who keep telling me in article after article that any day this will happen to us lawyers.  We will be supplanted and irrelevant.  My favorite story is the one that says that 2000 hours of legal work can be done by a machine in 11 minutes, or something like that.

I am no longer the managing partner of my firm — just the chairman — however, I am still on the job thinking about things like this.  And I read EVERY SINGLE THING I hear about artificial intelligence and the law.  Even the books by the pundits.

And I keep thinking I will find something to worry about or care about — but to cut right to the chase, I simply haven’t seen the slightest threat to us lawyers from AI so far.

The only things I have seen are:

  • Machines that can search lots of documents for litigation. Yes, that eliminated the most horrible drudge work for young litigators; however, this is 10 (or more?) years old.
  • Email — oh yes — that eliminated the thrill that us old-timers can remember, when young lawyers stuffed envelopes to send out by Federal Express. This was a thrilling job; sometimes you would literally be running down the street carrying the packages and chasing down an overnight courier truck.  And how old now is email, about 20 years?
  • Merge programs where you kind of type the stuff into a spreadsheet and the merge program makes it — magically — appear in the documents. This too is about 20 years old.
  • Now recently there is AI that can read simple documents — like ten thousand contracts when you buy a company — and tell you certain things about them.

I know there are other things, but so far the only new things I have seen are simply improvements on the same AI that has been around for many years and has the effect of eliminating rote, drudge, miserable, depressing, and cruddy work from lawyers.

But helping someone put together a deal; negotiate an agreement; go to court; argue with anyone about anything; calm an upset client; think of a way to get a client out of trouble; help a client with business advice; become a trusted advisor; or do just about anything that matters – sorry, but I have seen just about none of AI moving the needle even a little bit.

However, the pundits keep on with their punditry (which apparently is a word according to Microsoft), and my sense — sorry to say — of this punditry is similar to the view that to a man with a hammer everything is a nail.

So yes, someday AI may have an impact on our profession that is more than automating drudge business, but in my view not yet, and not for a long while.

Okay, let me end with this.  I am dumb as a post when it comes to technology.  People make fun of me all the time.  Perhaps I am missing something.  If so, I beg you to let me know.  Just shoot me an email.  I will be eternally grateful.

Work Is Just Great!

So, I just turned 60 years old.  Yikes.  I am supposed to be doing golf, and that cross-country trip, or taking my wife around the world, thinking about health issues.

But — knock wood — I am so far in good health, so I can kind of do anything I want.  I have been perplexed for a few months, wondering what on Earth I should do.

I was thinking about learning the piano, writing fiction, buying into a sports team (truly), backing a sports team, writing poetry, meditation (but not yoga, which I hate) — and this is only a fraction of all the crazy ideas I came up with.

But I kept pacing around the house until my wife said, “Well, Bruce, what do you want to do?” (emphasis added).

I looked at her and said, as if describing a guilty pleasure, “Well, I really like what I do.  I like my job helping build my law firm’s culture and marketing and Power Niches and things like that a lot.  I really want to do more of that….”

She is a good wife and she said — looking at me like I was being silly — “Then why don’t you just do that?”

So that is what I am going to do.

Now why am I writing this article?

The reason is that I keep seeing more and more writings, and societal and even philosophical writings and beliefs, that work is “bad” and leisure is “good.”

This is becoming a societal imperative — that people who work “too much” in the judgment of others are “bad” and those who have a lot of leisure time are “good.”

My response to this is one word: fiddlesticks!

Work can be completely fulfilling and exciting and even thrilling — and building my law firm’s culture and marketing and related matters is a thrill ride for me.  I love what I do!

To those who frown, eye-roll, and give dirty looks to those of us who love what we do for our work, I say, “Who are you to judge?”

Are you really cooler and more wonderful than us work-lovers because you hang out and binge-watch a TV show or lie at the beach or go out to trendy bars where conversation is reduced to nods, grins, headshakes, and other body language (because it is too loud to hear)?

Give me a break.  This view is just self-aggrandizing poppycock.

Everyone has the right to decide what they want to do.

My theory is this:  Someone who feels “compelled” to work and hates it, that isn’t “good” in my judgment.  But someone — like me — who says that one of the reasons I was put on this Earth is to be a great lawyer; to build a wonderful law firm of excellent people; to be a great marketer; to teach lawyering and marketing to others; well, I get a lot of fulfillment from that — and if I want to work, say, 70 to 80 hours a week doing that — don’t tell me there is something “wrong” with that.  I am doing what I love.

And here is the clincher that I think makes my point poignantly.  Think about that coolest guy or gal you look up to as an historical hero.  Think what he/she accomplished in his/her lifetime?  I’ll bet that guy or gal worked like a beaver to do it.

This is, in the end, a bit of a philosophical rant.  I think it is just “wrong” to push everyone to the view that leisure time is “better” than work.  That is no doubt true for some, but not for all.  We all get to decide what we want to do on this Earth while we are here.  And there is nothing at all “wrong” with deciding it is just a lot of fun to work, to achieve, and to accomplish things.

13 Marketing Tips For Successful Rainmaking (Part II)

To quell your marketing fears, here is the second half of my marketing tips for successful rainmaking.

  1. Follow-Up: If you don’t follow-up with the people you have met, then what was the point of “getting out and about” and being enthusiastic and talking about your Power Niche? You just wasted the chances you created. Your follow-up will help turn these new contacts into potential clients.
  2. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Referrals: It can seem scary or you may think you’re being annoying asking friends/colleagues/family for a referral, but it’s very simple. Think about it — if you asked for one referral every business day, then you would be asking for about 250 referral requests a year. If you convert even 5 percent of these referrals to clients, you have 10 to 15 clients. Not too shabby. This is a phenomenal technique and dramatically underutilized, which is surprising since a large percentage of clients come from referrals.
  1. Never Lose a Contact: In my view, it is a terrible thing, a Marketing Felony, to let contacts in your core industry wither and slip away. You should never, ever let this happen because, as noted at the beginning, marketing is an unpredictable game of statistics. Every contact could lead somewhere. Today’s competitor at a law firm is tomorrow’s in-house counsel. You don’t know what will happen, so keeping as many contacts as possible maximizes your opportunities.
  1. Stand Out: One of the most important lessons I ever learned about marketing was from a book I read called Purple Cow by Seth Godin. YOU MUST STAND OUT. You have to be a purple cow rather than a garden variety brown cow. And the way you stand out has to be by being different in a memorable way. This is terrifying for most people, but it is the price of admission for rainmaking success. The choice is stark: blend in and fade away or stand out and either fail big time or success big time. I know what I have chosen.
  2. Don’t Work Alone: Build a team of people you can work with — your colleagues, family, and friends. Make sure it is a group that you trust and you all have the same goal.  It is always easier to accomplish something as a team — there is power in it. Even for things like going to a networking event, you just look “cooler” and more relaxed if there are two of you. You have someone to talk to if things get awkward. You have another person with whom to bounce ideas around. If you both have different skillsets, you can divide up what each person does, etc.
  1. Remember You Are Always Pitching: Some people may say, “Oh, it’s just drinks,” or “It’s just coffee.” Whether you like it or not, you are always “making a first impression,” and even if you aren’t formally “pitching,” you are de facto sort-of pitching by the impression you make. Do you come off as a winner — dressed sharp — and knowledgeable (with your Power Niche) or a sloppy guy who hardly adds anything to the conversation? Bottom line is that even in the most informal setting you still are giving an impression of yourself to the person you meet with.
  1. Put on a Show: Think of all your prospect/client interactions as performances. Consider making it a core part of your job that when you meet someone, make the meeting so exciting and interesting that the guy or gal you met will want to tell their family/friends about it that evening at dinner. “Honey, I met these crazy lawyers today. Here is what they did….”

Hope you find these tips useful.  Now start marketing!

13 Marketing Tips For Successful Rainmaking (Part I)

It is Halloween time and there is certainly nothing scarier than worrying about how to be a successful rainmaker. So, in my next two articles — straddling Halloween — I will give you 13 tips to help you.  I have written about a few of these before, but they are always worth repeating and remembering (see tip number three!).

  1. Marketing is Pure Statistics: Ask anyone — I mean anyone — how they got their clients or customers, especially the first ones, and it is almost always completely serendipitous. There is no consistency. Indeed, there is a joke that 80 percent of your marketing budget/time is wasted — you just don’t know which is the 80 percent. It is all so completely unpredictable. But this should not cause despair.  By use of pure mathematics, if you know you cannot predict outcomes from independent trials, then the best chances of success will come from making as many marketing attempts as possible.
  2. It is OK to Fail: I even recommend it! Don’t be beaten down by failure. Most of your marketing attempts — especially at first — will end in failure. Indeed, the odds are that 99 percent, or even 100 percent, of your attempts will fail for quite a while. Use them as a learning tool — be brutally honest with yourself why something didn’t work — and continuously rework your marketing strategy until you become a major success.
  1. Repeat Yourself: I recently wrote an article about this — and I mentioned it above — and I am re-mentioning it here. It is kind of something you don’t like to really think about, but like it or not you are not front-and-center in the minds of others. They have their own lives to lead. So if you want your messages to be heard and remembered you have to constantly tell people about what your expertise is — and then repeat it multiple times. Of course, you want to do it in a way that is not annoying.
  2. Get Out & About: This is simpler math. If you “get out and about” something “might” happen. If you don’t “get out and about” then it is pretty certain that nothing will happen. You have to get out of your chair and out into the community of your industry or the odds of success fall dramatically.
  3. Knowledge is Power: When you are out and about, you need something to talk about that is both interesting and useful. This is essentially the Power Niche that I have written extensively about — and yes, my book on this is coming out soon. I will not go over it here, but you can see my prior articles on this subject or wait for the book, only a few months away. Once you are “out and about” talking about your Power Niche, you become unstoppable as a rainmaking force.
  1. Be Enthusiastic: Who wants to hang out with a sad sack? Answer: no one! So don’t be that. Instead, let your passion and joie de vivre out. Have fun. Make it clear how much you love what you are doing — perhaps the thrill in your Power Niche. You will be astonished how contagious your enthusiasm is. And even if you are faking it a bit at first, you will find to your amazement that pretty soon you aren’t faking it at all. That’s how it works.

Okay, happy Halloween everyone.  Hopefully this will ease your rainmaking fears if you have any to begin with.

Opportunity Zones – Ignoring This Major Shift in the Real Estate World is a Big Mistake

I am writing to you about Opportunity Zones.

Apologies if I am outspoken here, but there is a reasonable chance that this is the “biggest thing” to hit the real estate world in perhaps the past thirty or even more years.  The Tax Reform Act of 2017 has made a mega-gift to the real estate world.

My proposition is that whatever you are doing in real estate you need to either:

  • Get involved directly

  • Consider how it will affect you even if you are not involved

Let me take you through my thinking ….

I will start with the first aspect of the “game change” for real estate that hit us in September of 2016 when real estate became a separate asset class.  Instead of being one of various “alternative assets,” real estate is now an asset class on its own.  This means that your average garden variety investment manager is probably advising her clients to put a share of her assets into “real estate” for “diversification purposes.”

This has gradually been unleashing a wall of money to the real estate world over the past two years.  This is evidenced by major players – such as Blackstone and others – raising so-called “permanent capital” vehicles.  And many of our clients are either raising such vehicles or talking about how to achieve permanent capital as an adjunct to their businesses.  In a broad sense, “permanent capital” is generally thought to be capital that likes a current yield but once it gets that yield it is more accepting of a lower overall investment return.  See my article on this from September 2016.

Now all of the sudden the Opportunity Zone initiative has hit us.  For the uninitiated I think of this “Like a 1031 on Steroids” (my phrase).  There is a “good” benefit, a “great” benefit, and an “off-the-charts-benefit” to the real estate world:

  • The “good” benefit is for the investor if it has gains on a sale the investor can effectively “exchange” the gains into an opportunity zone and defer the tax on the gains for up to 8 years and even legitimately avoid some of the gains.

  • The “great” benefit is for the investor that if it invests in an opportunity zone and holds it for ten years then the gain on the investment is tax free

  • This is great stuff, but the “off-the-charts benefit” is to the real estate world in that gains from non-real estate assets can be exchanged into Opportunity Zones.

Taking a step back for a moment, consider how much the stock market has gone up in the past few years and created I am guessing a trillion or so.  All of these are untapped capital gains.  And just about every other asset class has gone up in value too in the past ten years.  The Economic Innovation Group says there are $6T – that is SIX TRILLION DOLLARS — of untapped gains.

What does this mean for us in the real estate world?  Here are my takeaways:

  • For the first time people who have nothing to do with real estate are looking at it.  Sergei Brin who has $50B of Google Stock might, for the first time, think about real estate?  Note I have no relationship with Mr. Brin and I don’t know him – he is purely a metaphor here.  Normally, tech people think that real estate is kind of stodgy and they can make better returns in tech.  But a lot of people in the tech world – and just about every world – are starting to wonder if markets really only go straight up and maybe it is time to diversify – to put some money into things that are stodgy but stable – so that the money might be around for the “next generation” of the family/family office.  It is hard to beat an opportunity zone for this kind of thing due to the tax advantages.  This is already happening as our phones have been ringing off the hook – and I predict it will turn into a stampede. Also, if the non-real-estate markets start to fall, this stampede could gain significant ground.  I mean if you made a million in tech stocks and they drop 20% you might be thinking it is time to take those chips off the table and if you could avoid the tax, well, then, you get my point.

  • If you are a sponsor of course the upside is obvious. If you are capable of putting together deals in an opportunity zone, you should be able to achieve a less expensive and more readily available source of capital. As a side note, I emphasize that I personally am strongly against people putting together deals “because” they are in an opportunity zone – that just encourages foolish deals.  I am sure us old-timers will recall, and never forget, the “see-through” empty building built in the 1980’s – ultimately, a terrible result of tax advantages run amok in the real estate world.  This time, instead of just doing “opportunity zone deals,” I advocate that people should put together what they believe are “good” deals that are in opportunity zones with the tax benefits just being gravy; however, my guess is people will not listen to this advice and instead that unscrupulous, over-aggressive or over-eager, players will raise opportunity zone money just to get the fees and a lot of foolish deals will get done.

  • If you are a fund raiser type, there should – for the first time – be an ability to raise money from parties not in the real estate world who have never looked at real estate that intently.

  • If you are just a rich gal or guy – or have friends who are such – the odds are you have gains and you might at least consider opportunity zone investments.

  • If you are a rich guy or gal in the real estate world, who is not afraid of real estate development investments, it may make sense to talk to your rich friends who are not in the real estate world about teaming up to invest in opportunity zone deals.  They may be less afraid of real estate development investing if they see you putting your money in side by side, perhaps with a promote or other advantage – or maybe not if they are your buddies.

  • If you are an opportunity or investment fund that in your view has nothing at all to do with this since perhaps most of your investors are tax exempt, I think it is a major mistake to ignore this.  This is because this wall of opportunity zone money will likely (i) divert sponsors away from you, (ii) provide competitive and cheaper sources of capital, and (iii) divert investor interest away from your business.  All of these are competitive risks that should be carefully considered.  Perhaps instead of being shoved around by the competition you might raise your own opportunity zone fund?

  • If you are a non-profit out to do some good things – perhaps in blighted areas – this can be a way to achieve your mission without the necessity of actually raising money for it……  Hold on – what did I just say?  You mean you could achieve your mission without the – intensively miserable and annoying and time consuming and expensive – process of raising money?  Yes that is exactly what I just said.  Just get people interested in building whatever is needed in the opportunity zone (perhaps to create jobs, etc.) and get out of the way.  People can feel doubly good – they are doing good and getting a chance to make some money – and even save their taxes.  Too good to be true?

  • Lenders – you may not realize this, but there are some severe timing issues pertaining to how the money has to go into the opportunity zone investment in order to qualify.  A quick note here is that you “cannot” put in equity for an opportunity zone deal and repatriate it back and keep the tax deduction – it doesn’t work that way.  However, you can put in legitimate debt and pay it off with opportunity zone investment money.  This means that lenders that understand opportunity zones – and can be flexible – will become in great demand.  So far no one is really planting a flag to focus on this kind of lending.  If you are lender in this position give me a call!

  • Lawyers, accountants, and other professionals, well, I guess that is obvious.  You really don’t want to answer the phone when your client calls to ask about opportunity zones to ask if that is the place inside ten yard line in a football game…

  • Finally, even if after really thinking about it you don’t think it will have that much effect on your business, you really should know what is going on so at the next cocktail party with your real estate friends you can be the center of attention.

To wrap this up – I have been doing this a long time now – about 35 years since 1983 – to date myself.  I can’t say this is the “biggest” thing I have ever seen – yet – but it might be.

I don’t like to advertise for my firm in The Real Estate Philosopher – so please forgive me – but we are the industry leader in this space right now – both from the tax and the real estate sides.  If you want the skinny on any of this or guidance give me a call.

Research Who You Are Meeting With Before You Meet

Whenever a law firm is contemplating hiring someone, it asks for a résumé and a cover letter.  This is standard.  This is because any law firm that is contemplating hiring anyone wants to know as much as possible about that person before the interview.  At worst it saves time by potentially obviating the interview, and at best it will make the interview more productive.

It is just as important before a meeting with a prospective client — or for a job interview.  In either case, you want to know as much as possible before the meeting.  Before every meeting I attend, I make sure that I know all of the attendees’ names, their background information, and details about their company.  It can be as detailed as “CEO John Smith likes cigars” or as vague as “John Smith’s company is based in New York.”

If I am contemplating hiring you, I am always impressed if you quote back to me one of my speeches or if you mention that it is cool that I did an Ironman race.  Sorry to be boastful, but I can’t help bragging about my Ironman every chance I get.  I hope I am not one of those dumb guys who “falls for flattery,” but either way, I am impressed that you took the time to be prepared.  Trust me, it is the same for me when I am meeting with a prospective client; the prospect can’t help but feel the respect I am showing by having taken the time to prepare for the meeting in advance.

Okay, maybe the foregoing is nothing you don’t already know, but let’s dig a little deeper as to how this kind of preparation can be useful at a pitch.

I have already written extensively that the worst thing you can do is just walk into a room and start telling the guy/gal why you are so wonderful; instead, you want your prospect to go first and explain her needs for a lawyer.  After all, law is a “personal” service business and each “person” has different needs for a lawyer.  The more you can learn about the “person(s)” you are meeting with, the more likely you will be able to explain precisely how you can address their specific needs, strike a common cord, and build a relationship.

You might discover that you have a hobby or other interest in common.  You might learn of conversational topics to engage in — or to avoid.  You might also discover reasons why certain of your teammates should accompany you to the pitch.

As a matter of course, we do extensive research on the people and companies we are meeting.  This includes Google searches, database searches, or asking around internally if anyone has further information.  From there, my team is now armed with valuable information that can give us insight into the company and potentially help the pitch go more successfully.

Here are a few ways that you can quickly gather research on the person you are meeting:

  • LinkedIn or Relationship Science
  • Twitter, Facebook, or any other social media platforms
  • Asking colleagues (this is just a quick email to everyone — a no-brainer)
  • Google Searches

All of these are great resources for unearthing a plethora of information on whoever you are researching.  And the best part is that most of these platforms are free to use!

The bottom line is that one of the best ways to prepare for a pitch is to learn as much as you can about the people you are meeting with, both on a business level and a personal level.

Just to drive the point home, as I finish typing this, I am preparing for a pitch right now.  And as soon as I submit this article, I am going to take my own advice and Google the people I will be meeting with — because I want to do everything possible to make sure that my pitch goes well.

Anti-Fragility – Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Some of the greatest “thinkers” are often not afraid to get ideas from other people – and so it is for The Real Estate Philosopher.  My thinking in this article comes from Nassim Nicholas Taleb, in his new book called Antifragile.

I just finished his book and it is quite a read.  He is so arrogant that you start out reading his book and are almost offended by the condescension, but soon (halfway through) you feel like a teammate – kind of like he is a pompous arrogant intellectual, but he is “my” pompous arrogant intellectual.  Anyway, I have become a major fan of his iconoclastic thinking.  And I think it is one of the “best” books to read for one running a business of any kind.

I guess I might say that he is just a “better” Philosopher than me…

In a nutshell, his theme is that organizations are either:

  • Fragile – where an outside adverse event – such a financial crisis – could wipe the organization out

  • Robust – where an outside adverse event – will hurt but the organization will recover

  • Antifragile (his word) – where the organization will actually be enhanced by an adverse outside event

He devotes a fair amount of space on:

  • The folly of trying to predict the future.  Indeed – he points out that possibly the best “prediction” is that those who are “predicting” will eventually be very wrong and blow up, although of course you cannot predict when or how.

  • The equally great folly of centralized management, which often masks trouble until it is too late.

  • The safety of being a small organization and the dangers of being a large organization.

  • And the benefits of optionality.  As a quickie aside, he mentions that over centuries the real estate business has been one of the best for creating wealth due to the implied optionality that the real estate player has and the lack of optionality that the banks and lenders have.  An interesting point to be sure for this readership.

So what can one do with this thinking?

Well, for me, as I always do, I apply it to my law firm.  Is my firm fragile, robust or antifragile?

I know I spend a lot of time “predicting” and using these predictions to “manage” my law firm.  But – being very honest with myself – as I evaluate my predictions — few have gone as predicted.  Certainly, less than half of my predictions have come to pass.  And centralized management of lawyers has almost never worked out.  The more I “manage” my lawyers, the more the friction it creates, and in the end, I have learned that the best thing is to hire and grow talent, set firm values and principles, and then just get out of the way and hope for the best.

Over the years this has really upended my thinking about the optimal way to run a law firm.

So, how would this apply to your real estate business?  Here are some thoughts:

Certainly don’t try to predict the future or what the markets will do.  Set things up so you benefit as much as possible from “good” surprises and aren’t hurt that much by “bad” surprises.  See my prior article on this.

Center your organization around attracting and retaining and inspiring talent.  Give your talent the tools they need and try your best to get out of the way and let them achieve.  This is outlined in another article I wrote, which was largely based on Jim Collins’ book Built to Last.

Set up some values and general principles about what your organization should be about at heart, i.e. the inspiration and “why” you are in business.  See my prior article on this concept based on Simon Sinek’s book Start With Why.

Keep your overhead low – high overhead pressures an organization to make poor business decisions and certainly increases fragility.  Anything that can be outsourced should be.

Be brutally honest with yourself – on a consistent basis – about what has worked and why, and what has not worked and why, and then act accordingly.

Keep as much optionality as possible in all matters.  This is as simple as evaluating all decisions with the goal that they should be low risk and high reward.

Buy some insurance.  I have always wondered why investment funds don’t sacrifice – say 1% of their returns – in order to buy puts/calls and other financial products that will multiply upside in the event of a major adverse event that harms their investment thesis.  Sooner or later something bad will happen and it would be “nice” to be able to say “whew” after that wouldn’t it?

Whatever you do, don’t ever put the company’s franchise at risk, i.e. never take a risk that you cannot recover from if the outcome goes the wrong way.  Although, I guess the exception to that rule would be if your company is going down and the end is in sight, then perhaps a so-called Hail Mary might make sense.

Marketing Yourself: How To Create A Powerful Résumé (Part III)

A résumé is one of the top ways that you market yourself in any industry and most likely the first impression you give to a potential employer — and, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

Aside from the usual items that you need to look out for (grammatical errors, typos, formatting issues, etc.) you have to be acutely aware of what message you want to deliver.

So, here is how I would put together a great résumé:

  1. Get Creative. Your résumé is your chance to STAND OUT. As long as it remains professional, try to make your résumé “look” different than those of other candidates.  For example, use pops of color and different designs to differentiate yourself.
  1. This is the most important part of the résumé. If you are an expert in a field or if you have a developing/developed Power Niche, that should be highlighted right at the top. If you have a lot of work experience or if you’re just starting off in your field and have many extracurricular activities, its fine to list those, but don’t bury your best assets.  It is crucial that you grab the reader’s attention and spark interest right at the top of your résumé.
  1. Choose Your message. As I have written in previous articles, it is important that you leave the employer with one message. People are more likely to remember you have expertise in one field rather than all of them.  And it bears repeating, this message should be highlighted at the top of your résumé.  Read #2 again! 
  1. Give Facts. If you have proof about your Power Niche (e.g., deals you have worked on, articles you have written, cool clients, etc.), then you should include that in your résumé.
  1. Make It Easy. Make sure your contact information and your name is clear and right at the top, so that employers can easily reach you.  Fancy font that is basically illegible is unhelpful and annoying to the reader.
  1. Keep It short. No employer has the time to read a 10-page résumé. Make sure you are concise and that you haven’t gone over two pages.  In fact, it can work to your advantage if the résumé merely hints at intriguing aspects of your career or life, which make the reader want to meet you to find out more.

Using these tools, you should be able to land any job in your industry!  Also, if you need help developing a Power Niche, look out for my new book being published early next year.

**********

My book is about the Power Niche — and also contains my other marketing secrets and ideas.  It is called:

If You Want to Get Rich, Build a Power Niche

It is being published by Morgan James Publishing with a target publishing date of April 2019, with advance copies available in the next few months.

If your job is selling or marketing a product or service and it seems like every day you do the same thing and just aren’t succeeding, If You Want to Get Rich, Build a Power Niche is for you. In my book, I show readers exactly how to transform themselves from a disastrous salesperson or marketer into a superstar, whether they are just starting their career, just sick and tired of failing, an entrepreneur starting a business, or are super-successful and simply recognize they can always learn more.

My ideas and insights come from actual day-to-day experiences as one of the most successful real estate lawyers in the toughest market for legal services in the world: New York City. As a veteran of hundreds of ideas and thousands of pitches, I share what I have learned about what shouldn’t work but somehow does, what should work but somehow doesn’t, and everything in between.

If you want to grow your sales and increase revenues while becoming a valued resource in your industry and professional circles, stop losing valuable chances to get rich and build your Power Niche!

My proposition is that I can help “anyone” who has the desire to become a great salesman and/or a great marketer if she/he just follows the steps outlined in my book.

Click Here to see a preview of the book’s content.

  • To stay apprised of information about the Power Niche book and its release date, go to www.brucestachenfeld.com and sign up for the newsletter there.
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Marketing Yourself: How To Create A Powerful Résumé (Part II)

In my last article, I spoke about how to write a strong cover letter to tee up your résumé.  In the next article, I will talk about the résumé itself, but before that, let me explain how to use the cover letter.

Let’s start out with a hypothetical.  You want to get a job as a real estate lawyer, ideally in-house.  You love real estate and have learned a ton about it in your current job.  In addition, you have a particular expertise in joint ventures and particularly international joint ventures.  You have a friend — named Toby, of course — who has a ton of contacts in the real estate world.  He could really help you out.

What do most people do?

They meet with Toby or talk to him.  Toby agrees to help and asks them to send him their résumé and he says he will help.

What does this do?

It makes it a real pain in the (neck) for Toby to help you.  He now has to effectively write the cover letter for you and tell the other person all about you.  And Toby — who maybe loves you like a sister — maybe he is your sister — is super busy.  He has a day job still and finding you a job has to take second place.

Wouldn’t it be “nice” if you did all the work for Toby so that all he has to do is basically forward it with the following note:

“Hey Jenny — I wonder if you want someone in international real estate joint ventures?  If so, my friend Tobina seems perfect.  She says it all in the email I am forwarding.  Happy to connect you or reach out yourself.  Best, Toby”

Toby can do this in about 90 seconds — actually I typed it in about 45 seconds just now.  Better yet, Toby can easily forward this same email to 100 of his best friends.

Bottom line is you are making it really easy for Toby to help you.  You are being respectful of his time.

Also — and this is “really” important — if you just got bumped from your current job or perhaps you are getting desperate to find “a job” — resist the urge to go to your buddy/sister Toby and say, “Hey Toby, I really ‘need’ a job — can you help me — I am getting desperate!”

Think what this implies?  You are a sad sack seeking help.  What in the heck is Toby supposed to do now?  Call his most critical business contact and stick his neck out and say, “You would be nuts not to hire Tobina.  She is the best person on the planet!”

Even if Toby is your sister, she will be a bit scared to stick her neck out.

So instead of the sad sack meeting — figure out ahead of time exactly the job you want.  Dress up sharp.  And when you meet with Toby, project confidence, excitement, determination and a specific game plan.

Now think what this implies.  You are not a sad sack any more — instead, you really are someone that Toby’s friend would be crazy not to hire, and Toby will be eager to say so.

Once again, you are making it easy for Toby to help you out.  Now when he gets your cover letter and résumé — see above — he is eagerly selling you and forwarding your email.

Finally, when Toby gets a nibble, where his friend Toboggan says that he doesn’t have a job but would talk to you, by all means absolutely take the meeting.  Treat it like an interview.  Worst case, it is a waste of time.  Medium case, it results in networking and Toboggan sends you to someone else who might be more useful.  And best case, Toboggan falls in love with you and offers you a job.

A funny story — one of my star associates came here just this way.  I reluctantly agreed to meet with someone I would never consider hiring, but here she is and kicking serious butt.  These things do happen.

Okay — enough for here — I hope this is helpful.  In the final article in this series, I will talk about the résumé itself.