Wednesday, April 25, 2012

TOP 5 Reasons YOU Should Start Using Fiverr NOW., or Fiverr to veteran users, seems to be the topic du jour these days.

I've been following an extensive discussion on the amazing Solosez discussion list about Fiverr over the last two weeks.

It was interesting enough for Carolyn Elefant to ask for tips about it in her marvelous blog, My Shingle.

I was attracted to both of these discussions: thanks to Joanne Quinn Smith, aka the technogranny, I have several brain cells called Fiverr, so I see it all over the place now.

If you've never heard of Fiverr, reserve a few brain cells for it. It's a terrific way to get professional help from all over the world, all for $5 per gig. You can go on Fiverr, too, and make a little money if your accounts payable are running behind.

Still need convincing, here are my TOP Five reasons, all based on social proof, why you should use Fiverr for your next project.

1. The wicked cool banner you see at the top of this blog.

I've had some terrific response to the new banner. It looks great. It cost me five dollars. I have two more in the works, and I sort of need to get them finished. They look great, too. My only contribution was to request a pair of red shoes. My designer, Nancy, came up with everything else. Wait until you see what she's done with The-Barefoot-Barrister, my new coaching site.

2. My buddy JG Francoeur, The Messy Manager, loves it.

Here's what JG says: "Got this video done by Fiverr - Best $5 ever spent... MESSY Manager - Grab Your FREE COPY!: via @youtube."

BTW, you should really take him up on his offer because it's a terrific book. 

3. The list of my Solosez colleagues who like Fiverr is as long as my arm.

Solo and small firm lawyerpreneurs (I think I may just have coined a new word!) have to be frugal. The Fivver projects ranged from Facebook makeovers, to web & business card design, to fancy craigslist ads. None of the reviews were negative. But you have to be careful - there are some reports of malware stored in images, and some so-called SEO experts may not be quite reputable - billable professionals would need to steer from - and report - any negative experiences. 

Fiverr rates its providers on timeliness and customer approval, so check around and READ THE RECOMMENDATIONS. Providers do get negative ratings for tardiness, bad customer reaction, and quality issues, so pay attention to that.

4. You'll probably be doing a mitzvah for somebody.

The woman who does my banners is from Greece. Do have any idea how far five hard Washingtons go in Greece? Or Turkey, or India, or Ukraine, or in the United States? Literally, you may be putting food on a family's table for a week. Or you may be buying beer for some hard-up college student. Who cares? Someone is putting themselves out there to make an income they wouldn't otherwise have. And, as Carolyn Elefant notes,  

  • if you’re skilled enough to cut a video opening in 10 minutes and can churn out six in an hour, that’s $30, which honestly, is more than document reviewers earn these days.

5. It's all about the Lincolns, baby.

It's five dollars. Seriously. That's cheaper than some Starbucks drinks. And if you need something done quickly, and reasonably well, you can do that with Fiverr. Nancy turned around drafts of my project in about 36 hours. A few comments later, and within a week I had my banner, and two other sizes for advertising on other blogs (see the small version at Positively Pittsburgh Live Magazine).

For the price and turnaround time, you may not get stellar quality. But you'll get an idea of what the purveyor can do, and you can hire her or him for more expensive gigs.

Happy Birthday PPL!

Speaking of FIVES --- Happy Birthday PPL

Positively Pittsburgh Live Magazine, The Technogrannyshow, and all of their related wonderfulness turn five years old today! In five years, its founder Joanne Quinn Smith, has grown her online web programs into an international empire of wonderful content and fun programs. 

You have to appreciate these impressive stats:

The Positively Pittsburgh Live site has had more than 1 million listeners.

Her sites have:
220,000  hits per month
62,000 unique page views per month
Viewer Growth: 11.6% per month

These stats don't take into account the evangelistic graduates of her many marketing training programs. I'm a recent grad of the Web 2,0 Gorilla Branding training, and the program is freaking amazing. 

Check out her Positive Pittsburghers site. It's a Fiverr banner. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

5 reasons to never postpone writing YOUR book.

I have brainwaves about blog topics. This blog is about the business of running a small, entrepreneurial legal practice, and ideas occur to me all the time.

But I had a major brainwave when I read about the latest offering from the American Bar Association's publishing arm. There it was: MY book.

The book I've wanted to write. The book I am DESTINED to write. It's about the end of lawyers, and what lawyers have to do to meet the new challenges predicted by Sir Richard Susskind in his wonderful book of the same title. I memorized that book while I was speaking in England, Ireland and Southeast Asia last year. The topic? Trends and solutions to the current globalization of the practice.

There it was. Avoiding Extinction: Reimagining Legal Services for the 21st Century, by Mitchell Kawalski. Interested parties can find it here.

Staring at me in the face like a mocking, but very polite (Kawaaski is Canadian) older brother. That is an AWFUL feeling.  I've been telling myself all weekend that it's not so bad, the Canadian system isn't anything like the American legal system, and I still have time to tell people what I think of the antiquated ABA policies on electronic media, law firm  ownership and investment, and countless other topics addressed in Susskind's book.

But I haven't written it YET. I spent the weekend painting and complaining about the rain and the wind.

I wrote this topic on my whiteboard, so I could think about it. My husband wrote the small print editorial:


Bless his little heart. Don't put off writing a book. Here are the top five reasons you should start AND FINISH a book:


An additional bonus for lawyers - it makes you published. And we all know how much other lawyers are impress by lawyers who are published.

You can be an author even before your book is published. I have friends all over the world who are getting speaking gigs and client leads based on a cover design and some nice postcards. They introduce themselves as authors and create workshops around a cover design and some nice postcards.

Being an author instantly makes you an authority on the topic you've addressed. All of a sudden people want - NEED - to talk to you, which generates publicity.  You can promote yourself through your book. And, people think you're cool.


We are designed to respond to authority. It's how we survived. Robert Cialdini, who has spent his life studying the power of influence on behavior did this experiment. He had a student give directions to tell people when to cross a busy intersection. The student was dressed like most students. He looked Cheap and grubby. No one paid attention to him, and crossed whenever they liked.

Then the kid put a suit on. EVERYONE listened to his instructions, because he looked authoritative.

Your book is your suit.


There are lots of systems out there that teach you how to throw a book together. Just get it down, whether you use the normal outline system, or someone else's tried and true method. Just get it down and fix it later. 

Besides, no one reads it. how many books have you been given and actually read? I rest my case. And if people do read it and respond, awesome. fix the problems in the second edition.


This whole myth of writing in a garret, sending the manuscript to Knopff and hoping for the best is piffle. Publish it yourself. People really don't care. Honestly. Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen found a publisher and paid for their first printings of Chicken Soup for the Soul. Find a small to midlevel publisher, get some sponsors to help pay for the thing, and publish it. 

Better yet, while you're looking for a publisher and figuring out a way to pay for it, throw it up on Kindle, or offer a downloadable version on your website.


In our lovely unique culture known as America, we have one cardinal rule:


(c) Harlequin Romance
I HAVE read this one.
I threw away a boxful of Harlequin Romances last year while finalizing my mother's estate. They are sort of fun to read, but they are crap. (Sorry HR fans. Wait. No I'm not.) But that didn't stop me from feeling terribly guilty for tossing "Love's Tender Heart" or whatever into the recycle dumpster. I felt like I was taking part in Nuremberg rally in the '40's when I tossed that box. 

People throw aways business cards, but they don't throw away a book. While your contact information languishes in Outlook, your book will be staring down at your prospective client for years to come.

One my mentors, Gerry Robert, got a recurring speaking gig from the president of a huge company 15 years after Gerry presented his book to the man. He found it 15 years later, as he was moving into the corner office. He called Gerry, paid him  a big fee, and brought him back for years.

NO ONE THROWS AWAY A BOOK. Especially if you give it to them. And, you can write something inside that will permanently fix you in your prospective client's mind.

SO write it already:

Pick your objective for the book, identify your target population, figure out what makes them tick, outline your topic and go for it. One more thing: do not spend more than 5 minutes at a time writing your book. Be disciplined. If you spend more than five minutes, your brain starts to think that it will take too long to write the thing and you will talk yourself out of finishing it, like I have. 

5 minutes. That's all it takes - neither you nor I have any more excuses.

Monday, April 2, 2012

7 things Lawyers should do to set goals and keep them - My Fifty by 50 Reboot

It's Monday. Usually it's my day to "reboot," which is tough for a barefoot barrister. Nevertheless, the office is cleaned out from a month of neglect, the week is new, taxes are at least to the accountant, so I can lean back a little and try to figure out what happened to March and what will happen in April.

This is a good idea for any practitioner. When I was deep in the bowels of Big Law, I would close my door Monday morning and do the same thing. Usually closed my eyes and wondered what I was doing in the bowels of a big firm instead of pulling weeds in New Hampshire. But gradually problems would present themselves, thoughts and solutions would form, and I could be effective for at least some of the week.

Every coach and mentor worth their speaking fee tells you to have goals. Long term goals, short term goals, and goals for the in between, whenever that is. They have to be S.M.A.R.T. or whatever, and you have to have tasks and plans to follow through on them.

Athena popped out of Zeus's head, a fully formed goddess.
This will not happen with your goals.
I hate 'em. HATE. THEM. I hate them because you can go through life setting goals and beating yourself up for not meeting them. I hate them because people expect their goals to spring out of their heads like Athena -- fully formed and doable. That is not going to happen.

There's a lot of planning, learning and underpinning beneath a decent set of goals. Instead, I set initiatives. These are just goals tied to a purpose. Business have "initiatives" all the time, generally after some manager has read "From Good to Great" by Jim Collins, which I also don't like. So instead of setting goals for the week, think about your obligations as initiatives.

Here are some quick tips to making initiatives I've found valuable. They are based on ideas from my friend and coach, Yoshi Ariizumi.

  1. Understand and own each problem underlying your initiative. Part of ownership is determining whether the problem is worth solving, and whether becoming embroiled in it is in line with your values. Believe me, if a goal is not deeply aligned with your core values, you won't be interested at all in meeting it. Determine what pieces of the problem belong to you. Ask what challenges the problem brings to you to be solved. More fundamentally and Zen-like, ask yourself what you bring to the problem or the question that needs to be answered. Ohm.
  2. A corollary to Ownership is ACCOUNTABILITY. Find someone to work with you who will keep you on track and advise you when you hit a bump in your desire to own and solve the problem. Usually these people are called coaches. They just aren't for rich golfers and football teams, so find one. A friend will sometimes work, but at times being kept on task by a friend can really strain the relationship. Get a third party who will facilitate your thinking and work with you in the learning experience. Pay this person. It's a business expense anyway.
  3. Assess what resources you have around you to help you solve the problem. These local resources can be indispensable, especially when they have skills you don't. Sometimes they cost money, or sometimes they could be a quick jog down the hall or a phone call away. Know what you need before you go looking around.
  4. Be totally engaged in the "practice" or the set of activities needed to accomplish the initiative. This is the learning process everyone goes through when they successfully achieve a goal. Practice is messy. Practice is chaotic, non-linear, and dynamic. Accordingly, your practice will have stops and starts and cycles. That's why a facilitator can help you assess your learning. Let's use a really good example. Tiger Woods, the best golfer ever, has had a bad run of it lately. He cheats on his beautiful Swedish wife, wrecks his car, and goes nearly 3 years without a win. The streak was compounded because other golfers were learning to swing like him, and learning his game.  He was also physically depleted, returning from Achilles tendon and knee surgery.
  5. Keep at it. But now, most golf experts are calling for a Tiger victory at the Master's Tournament this month. Why? Tiger has become totally engaged in the practice of winning. Not that he wasn't engaged before, he just wasn't TOTALLY engaged. He got distracted, and had to go back to the lab to rework his formula. Now, he has a great new caddie and several coaches who facilitate his learning. He has assessed his failures with his facilitators and learned from them. He's focused again: after his first win in 924 days, he said: "It was just a matter of staying the course and staying patient, keep working on fine tuning what we are doing and, well, here we are."
  6. PREPARE-ACT-REFLECT.  You can't just wander through an initiative without a plan. Your initiative is no good if you don't prepare yourself for phases of learning. Your preparation is no good if you don't act on it. You can't learn anything if you don't take time and reflect on the results of your actions. Be ready to do it over, and over.  At Bay Hill, Tiger's first victory since his collapse, he was constantly reassessing his game, fine-tuning and adjusting with his physical condition and conditions on the course.
  7. RECORD-REVIEW-REFLECT. You can bet Tiger's team was keeping immaculate records of his swing, his stringer, and everything else in his toolbox by every means possible. I'm willing to bet Tiger spends as much time staring at video of himself playing, and taking mental and physical notes on his playing. I'm willing to bet he thinks hard about the things he did right, but more especially how he could have prevented the things that went wrong.
So what, you ask, does the title mean? That's my initiative. There are some things I wanted to do for each of my core values before I turned 50.  There aren't 50 actual things - they all have something to do with the number 50. As I confidently stare 51 in the face, I'm not even remotely close to achieving ONE of them. But I'm still focused on the initiative. 

And the journey, well, that's been the fun of it. It's been a richly chaotic learning experience, and I've met some amazing characters along the way. Sort of like travelling my own Route 66 or something. 

And it's better that staring at a long sheet of goals I haven't met, mocking me each time I open my journal to the first day of January.

Now, what's YOUR initiative? 

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© Tamar J Cerafici, The Barefoot Barrister™ 412-467-6141