Thursday, November 17, 2005

Flying Solo

This is a Dec 1 post, but I forgot how to change the date.

The Maytag repairman isn't the only person that gets lonely on the job.

Most ADR practitioners are solo professionals. I started out that way, and still run a solo, although highly networked shop.

I came across Robert Gerrish's site, Flying Solo. Robert says he's the voice of the solo community. What I really like about it is that the content acknowledges some of the ups and downs of life as a team of one. Articles like, "Are you a Slave to the Bottom Line" are universal and so necessary to avoid pitfalls.

Check it out yourself.


Gone Cruising!

I'm off on an adventure that hopefully will last the next 50 years or so.

Come Saturday, our families and friends will join Peter Eisenberg and I on our wedding cruise. The anticipation is unbearable....

For those of you who remember, our family survived a very scary period this summer when Peter underwent emergency back surgery. He's recovering nicely, but I'm afraid this blog took quite a hit. Mediation Mensch was down for many weeks. This time around there's a much more joyous reason for the hiatus, and it will only be for 11 days or so.

Talk amongst yourselves in the meantime. Which comes first the client or the demand? Discuss!
Or, fall down a rabbit hole and visit these interesting blogs:

Strategic Conversations
Alchemy of the Soulful Work
Brand Autopsy
Business Pundit
Small Business CEO (check out how he uses of Amazon affiliate program)

Besides having provocative, informative content, these blogs all would make great templates for your blog.


Friday, November 11, 2005

Startup Nation

As grows, I find myself filled with new ideas on how to bring ADR services to more people in new, different ways. I need to focus on creating a viable business that can be profitable and complements WWT.

Questions like will the new company be a corporation or LLC; will it be online or real world only; how will the two companies relate to each other, are all instrumental to success. And, frankly, how I set this up will impact my exit strategy. (it's harder to sell a solo practice than a corporation, I think)

When you start your ADR practice, or even if you've already started, don't neglect the business basics.

Decide what your business structure will be: sole proprietor, partnership, collective. Devise a revenue model- how are you going to make money? (Hint: you won't make much by just selling your time- think products). How will you let the world know about how you can help (marketing).

These are critical questions to starting a profitable business, so get lots of help in answering them. Resources are all over the Internet. I recommend, written by the Sloan brothers. Their site is very accessible and chock full of good information. Sure, you'll have to become a member, but it's free.

Ciao, Dina

PS Welcome to all the new readers. Don't be shy about leaving a comment that's ADR related. Thanks!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Online Guide to Mediation

Oy! I made a mistake. Certainly isn't the first, and definitely won't be the last but I deeply regret it all the same.

The CORRECT url for Diane Levin's Online Guide to Mediation is

Diane has an interesting discussion of optical illusions and their interest to mediator going. Check her out.

Ciao, Dina

PS Next time, we'll talk about- gasp- market research. If you want to grow your business, you have to do the math!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

NEACR Conference Rocked

If New England felt a bit more restless on Thursday, it's because the peacemakers were attending the NE-ACR conference in Tyngsboro, MA.

What interesting programs! A neutral could delve into the meaning of life with David Hoffman of Boston Law Collaborative or understand how divorce might work for gay unions with Gail Packer of the Community Dispute Resolution Center. I joined Diane Levin and Robert Ambrogi in a panel discussion on the virtues of blogging. The whole event was fun and informative.

What has a conference got to do with marketing your services? Everything.

When I first started my mediation practice years ago, I focused almost exclusively on getting other people (read: clients) to know about my services. It just didn't occur to me to market to other mediators.

Now I know that helping my peers understand my business is very important. The large majority of my referrals come from colleagues who know and trust my work. But that trust didn't develop because they read my collateral materials. It developed through conversations at conferences just like this one; through working together on pro bono projects; and through sharing work opportunities with each other.

So if you want your practice to grow, go to conferences. Be active at meetings. Get involved. ACR national just announced a call for proposals for the 2006 conference. Why not submit something, and I'll see you there.

Ciao, Dina

PS What would the perfect bumper sticker for an Ombudsman say? I hear that mediators do it until everyone is satisfied, but what about Ombuds???

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Inc. Magazine- My Dream Came True, Almost

I'm a second generation entrepreneur and for a long time my dream has been to be on the cover of Inc. magazine. Lofty goals, I know, but you gotta dream big because even if you miss the moon, you'll still be among the stars.

I made it to the stars!

Check out the November issue of Inc magazine, page 40, and you'll find featured.

The story is entitled, Squelching Office Conflict. While I don't love that title (my aim is to manage not squelch issues, I love that Ombuds work is being discussed on a national level. Imagine how many small business owners will heave a sigh of relief knowing help is waiting for them.

Of course, this is a major marketing breakthrough. I've put together a multi-prong approach to maximize the coverage and build my list. If you ever anticipate getting national coverage, plan and execute early! I waited to see the article and now I'm playing major catch up.

How did this all happen? A simple letter to the editor. I read Inc religiously and noticed a trend over the past few months of more articles about conflict. In June I wrote to the editor to comment on a published piece. My letter was published this August, but in the meantime, the editorial staff got interested in Ombuds and contacted me for an interview.

You could do the same, you know. Start writing letters to the editors of your favorite niche magazines. Contact reporters that write about your topic and suggest articles. Write comments on the blogs you read (you do read niche blogs for your industry, right?)

It could happen to you....more about these adventures soon.

Ciao, Dina