Friday, June 30, 2006

3 Tips for Creating Success

The light bulb just went on!

An old law school professor of mine was fond of saying, "sometimes it's a horse, not a zebra." Odd? A little bit, but what he meant to say was one can complicate things too much in search for the perfect answer. Sometimes the simplest path or explanation is the right one. (I think there's a corresponding maxim in medicine, too.) Simple is good.

Entrepreneurs tend to complicate things. At least the ones I know do, including me. Do you do that, too? Do you plot, plan, research, and revise until you're exhausted? I call it "hyperplanning" and I'm guilty of it,too.

What I experience is that projects get bogged down; my attention gets diverted and progress doesn't come as quickly or as easily as I'd like as a result of hyperplanning.

What I discovered (here's the light bulb) is that I only need three basic steps to succeed and they're really so simple you'll laugh out loud.

Three Tips for Creating Success

  1. Start

  2. Focus

  3. Finish

You're laughing, of course. I did too until I realized how powerful this idea can be for anyone with a goal. Let me expand the idea a bit.

Start- That's right, actually start your project or task even if you haven't dotted every "i". Waiting until you've got all the conditions exactly right means you may wait so long you doubt your own abilities. Building a business is a fairly forgiving process. Start now and learn as you grow.

Focus- There are so many things in business, on the Internet, and in life to learn, it's easy to be distracted. I get distracted by new marketing stuff all the time.

I help myself stay focused by asking: Will this xxx help me achieve what I'm working on right now? It's a yes or no, maybe's aren't allowed. If the idea or tool isn't immediately helpful, I put it in my "check this out later" file.

Finish- It's hard to do. When I was creating there was always some new twist, tool, tweak that I could do. Each one was very cool and highly desirable, but delayed the launch further. What spurred me to completion was knowing that mediators I wanted to help were waiting for me. Think about your target market. Are they waiting for you? Let that desire to serve motivate you to finish.

Remember, a zebra is fancier to look at, but a horse gets the job done.

Try. Fail. Learn. Grow.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Websites for Making Websites

Did I mention that I'm deep, deep in the process of creating websites? is a great site, but it's desperately in need of a facelift. It doesn't offer the image I want, and frankly, has many, many more features than I currently use. I've decided to re-shape it with some help from professionals.

I found some interesting treasures while falling down the Internet rabbit hole to help you launch or tune up your website. You DO have a website, right? Here are the gems I came across. I plan to use one of these tools to put up a new non-ADR website (a destination wedding site about Boston) but haven't gotten to it yet. Let me know about your experiences if you use these tools.

Website Building Tools will provide an almost ready-made site from a variety of templates. Their Readyweb package includes design, hosting, and maintenance. Bonus, if you can't reach your regular tech person, they can do minor adjustments to your current site for only $40 for 30 minutes. Not bad if you're in a pinch. will also give you many options for creating a fast, easy template website. They offer a 15 page site for around $650 and other packages are even less expensive.

Come August, I'll share my ups and downs building in a Laser Call titled, "Get a Great Website for under $800". I used to find a knowledgeable designer with a modest hourly rate. It's not a complicated process but it helps to have a few pointers to avoid common mistakes. Stay tuned for more about it.

Try. Fail. Learn. Grow.


Thursday, June 22, 2006

Making Money as a Mediator

I'm going to say something controversial. Ready?

Mediators must stop volunteering their services so often.

I'm convinced that we are dooming ourselves as a profession because we insist on giving away our services. Now, I'm not saying all volunteering is bad. Certainly there are many good causes that we should support for the common good. What I'm talking about is working without pay as a way of generating business. I'm frustrated by the faulty thinking that suggests that mediation clients will someday decide to pay for services they previously received for free.

Honestly, I don't get that logic. And, as my mom, Mary Louise, used to say: "Who buys the cow when they can get the milk for free?" Huhhhhh?

Now, I'm a big fan of sampling - offering a portion of your expertise for free in exchange for building a relationship and trust. (see my June 19 post) But that's vastly different, at least to me, than mediating for free. OK, I hear some of you saying it's the same thing.

I agree up to a point. My question to you is: How many dollars are you willing to give away of your services - 5 hours worth, 10 hours, before trying something else? Is that amount reasonable when you consider the potential lifetime value of the client and the reality that most mediations result in multiple sessions?

Mediation is a vital service that adds enormous value to the lives and businesses of people and deserves decent compensation.

Sorry, if I'm testy on this topic but this is really one of my biggest pet peeves. is my way of showing people that mediators, facilitators, Ombuds, all ADR practitioners can create a profitable practice, make a good living and serve others. It's not rocket science. It is work.

If you want to read what others say about making money, visit Steve Marsh's discussion.

Try. Fail. Learn. Grow.


PS ADRPracticebuilder goes LIVE on June 30th. Anyone want a sneak peek? Yes? Drop me a note!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Turning Free Time into Cash

Got your attention, didn't I?

A similar title caught my attention while reading Entrepreneur magazine this month. Basically, a savvy entrepreneur prices his consulting services on a flat-rate, project basis for his clients. Because of this, he needs to be exceptionally good at estimating the hours needed as he could easily lose money on a job. Conversely, when he doesn't have current work or projects finish early he has excess capacity that represents lost opportunity and revenue. That's when this guy gets creative.

He gives away his free time to local non-profits. Talk about a win-win: the organizations get the help they need and the business reaps the benefits of being a good neighbor and showcasing its talents.

OK, I hear you saying, "Pro bono - that's not a new idea. Mediators are always volunteering!", I agree. ADR professionals do a lot of free work, and that's a really good thing. Here's an idea that puts a unique spin on pro bono.

Why not offer some of your excess capacity to a local business in exchange for being paid with the savings you create?

Envision a non-profit that's struggling with a failing relationship between a supervisor and employee. Saving that relationship and restoring order could potentially save the organization thousands of dollars in recruiting and training costs.

What if you could ask that those savings be earmarked as your "compensation" for resolving other issues that you'd no doubt learn about during the assignment. Or, use the savings as a way to persuade the organization that working with a mediator could be valuable over the long term (paid work, of course). True, you might not get your regular rate, but for those starting out, it's nice to say you're a paid mediator.

Take this idea and use it as a spark for more creative uses of your time. And, for goodness sake, please let me know how you make don't call or write. What's a mensch to do?!

Try. Fail. Learn. Grow.


Tuesday, June 13th at 12noon EST - Build a Client Base with Speaking

Call 617.553.0423 to register

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Networking Summer Style

I love summer. I do. Really. People are laid back and relaxed. The sun is warm and energizing, and even the most dreaded task, like networking, doesn't seem so bad if done during the summer. It's just an excellent time to plant seeds for connections and referrals you'll want to harvest in the fall.

Robert Middleton, who is the marketing guru for independent professionals like us, talked about networking in his last newsletter. I'd encourage you to listen to the free snippet of the interview I posted here. I listened and benefited from it.

You know, I forget just how important it is to get out and talk about what I'm doing. Not only because I might make sales, but because I get excited thinking and talking about other ADR folks owning businesses that fulfill their dreams. I live a wonderful lifestyle because I was willing to step outside of my comfort zone and do something different. You can, too.

Here's the link to 17 minutes of the longer interview with Andrea Nierenberg, the Queen of Networking:

And, here's the link to Robert's Inforguru Manual. Yep, it's an affiliate link. I felt so strongly about the value of Robert's program, including an ongoing discussion group, that I wanted to help him reach more people. And, yes, this product competes with but so what? What matters is that every mediator, trainer, and Ombuds does well financially. Click on the book to learn more.

Infoguru Marketing Manual

Try. Fail. Learn. Grow.


Friday, June 09, 2006

Is there a national ADR Professional Directory?

Here's a question for you:

Is there a national directory of ADR professionals?

I ask because I've been looking for one without much luck. Sure, I can find associations and organizations across the country that have membership lists but one comprehensive list would be a terrific resource. If you know of one, let me know, please.

Lately, I've thought a lot about the idea of social networking and how it might be used in our community. We need our own version of LinkedIn.

If you're not up on social networks, you can learn more by visiting Scott Allen's blog, the Virtual Handshake. It's the leading resource on virtual communities, social networking, and social software.

Imagine how powerful and meaningful it would be to have a virtual community designed to meet our unique needs and challenges?

Hey, did I hear someone volunteer to start one???

Try. Fail. Learn. Grow.


ADRPracticeBuilder launches soon. Get on the announcement list so you don't miss out!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Eric Walter Makes Good

Who is Eric Walter you ask. I don't really know, but I like his moxie.

Eric sent me an email asking if we could partner with him around referrals. He found my name in the Coachville directory and thought my Conflict Coaching work complemented his life coaching practice. So he reached out to me.

While I had to say no to Eric's request, I was impressed with his offer. He suggested that I help him accelerate the growth of his practice and when he had a steady client base he'd refer folks to me. A win/win!

It's not a bad idea. I think it would work better if you establish a relationship first and have some experience with the other person's services. Referrals are essentially endorsements, and I'm becoming very careful about who I lend my name to in cyberspace. Other than the fact the email was spam, I liked it.

What's the take-away for you?

Making good happens when you take a risk. Find five people either in or related to your target market and get to know them. Then figure out a way to partner and ASK.

(Then email me with your success story!)

Try. Fail. Learn. Grow.


Thursday, June 01, 2006

NIACR Recognizes Mediation Mensch as Note-Worthy!

The mediation world is filled with wonderful people. It's almost an occupational imperative!

You've heard me rave about folks like Chuck Doran of MWI, Tammy Lenski of MediatorTech and Moshe Cohen of the Negotiation Table. The community is filled with great folks who are kind, caring and driven to bring peace to the work.

That's why I was especially pleased to learn that Diane Levin of the Online Guide to Mediation was selected as The Editor's Choice by the National Institute for Advanced Conflict Resolution. Diane's blog is the gold standard for all blogs. It's informative, thought-provoking, and downright fun to read!

Once I heard the news I went to look at the NIACR site to see for myself. Well, you can imagine my surprise when I found Mediation Mensch at the top of the honorable mention section.

"Your blog addresses an important but sometimes overlooked aspect of mediation, i.e. that mediators often need to be good business men and women in order to be successful over the long haul."

Kind words from JJ Johnston of NIACR and, without being too immodest, I couldn't agree more.

Many thanks to NIACR. I also want to thank my readers. You inspire me to be bigger, reach higher and be fearless for the good of all of us.

ADRPracticeBuilder launches in less than 10 days or so. I can't wait to hear what you think.

Try. Fail. Learn. Grow.