Friday, December 28, 2007

Take This Idea, Pls: Teach Teens/Parents Conflict Skills Online

Blogs are an important tool. For mediators, a blog is an essential communication tool that's ideally suited for being rapport and trust with potential clients and referrals sources. Think of it as conversation over coffee gone digital.

While most of our efforts are focused on adults. I can't help wonder about the value of helping teens and young adults deal with conflict more productively. I learned how valuable that can be early in my practice when I did conflict workshops for colleges. What if you used technology to reach an under served ADR market- teens and young adults?

Everyone blogs

Need more convincing. OK, about these facts from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, the leading think tank on how Americans use the Internet:

  1. 64% of teenagers ages 12-17 create online content like blogs

  2. 35% of teen girls blog and 54% of those post photos online

  3. 55% of all online teens belong to a social networking site

  4. 32% of online teens say they have experienced 'cyberbullying'

  5. 87% of parents of teens are online, 17% more than the average adult

  6. 45% of adults (60 million people) said the Internet played a major role
    as they made decisions or faced major life transitions

  7. Women tend to view the Internet as a way to gather and filter information from a support group with a deeper focus

  8. Men tend to search more broadly for information on a variety of topics and use search engines more

What do those numbers mean?

Of course, more research is necessary, but from these initial figures I can see a few market opportunities.

    Host an interactive blogging experience that enables teens/young adults to share ideas on how to handle their most common disputes. Offer information and techniques in a way that appeals to them.

    Get a programmer to build a software application, sometimes called a widget, that allows teens to enter in what they'd like to say to resolve a problem and get back either a neutrally-phrased sentence or a variety of options to move forward.

    Create an interactive blogging experience for parents of teens so they can share their hard-earned wisdom and support with each other. Offer resources, ebooks, talking scripts, etc.

    Develop a website that drills down deep into the conflicts moms experience in parenting teens, i.e. letting go of control or talking without hurting.

A quick search over at Blogflux suggests that while there are many parenting blogs, most are personal chronicles and few deal directly with teenagers. There is an knowledge gap you can fill.

And, if building and maintaining a blog seems daunting, work up to it by creating an information product first. Jan Marie Dore will talk about the easy steps to creating passive income on Jan. 10th. It promises to be a very popular call.

As always, I'd be thrilled to hear what you think so please comment below.

Try. Fail. Learn. Grow!


Friday, December 21, 2007

Biz, Net, Info or Not: Picking a Domain Extension

It never ceases to amaze me how complicated something very easy can become. Got a problem. Easy solution- talk it out. Want a domain name- get the .com. Quick,simple, easy...right? Wrong, there are many options about domain strategy. This is my take on it.

Which One is Best?

Monica, one of our members, recently made the huge transition from her day job to full-time ADR professional (Yeah, Monica!) She wondered about whether she should get the .biz,net,info domain extensions when she purchased her .com. Here's my answer:

    Way to go! About domain extension. It's personal choice although Go Daddy will tell you that it protects your site from future competitors or loss of redirected traffic (i.e. grabs traffic from It's a toss up.

    So this last shopping trip I split the different and bought one domain with 'all the sides' and one without. We'll see over the year ifthe investment pays off.

Of course, there's a better answer than this. So, if you know it, please leave a comment.

Getting a Bargain Domain

Every little penny adds up when you're building a practice. Get in the habit of looking for less expensive options (that doesn't just mean low cost but also high value).

Before purchasing domains from Go Daddy ( the registrar I use) SEARCH for a COUPON. I got the annual rate down from 9.99 to 6.95. HOw? I Googled 'go daddy coupons' found a site and plugged in codes until one worked in the shopping cart

What's this mean to you?

Pick what you want. It's highly unlikely that failing to get the extra extensions will be the end of your practice. The real gem I got from Monica is: TAKE ACTION.

Try. Fail.Learn. Grow!



Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Divorce-proof your Marriage with Mediators

December is the most popular month for popping the question, which fills this mediator with loads of holiday cheer. Why? A skillful family or marriage mediator can build a practice by assisting couples to answer the second big question: I will, then what?

According to a Boston Globe article, couples, who were once surrounded my family and friends who could offer marriage advice, now need a different kind of support system to navigate the challenges of learning to live together and be happily married. Social workers like Mimi Licht counsel couples before they get married.

And, mediators like Laurie Israel of Brookline, MA who specializes in helping married couples negotiate better, can be part of that support, too. In fact, if I recall correctly, I blogged about the wedding opportunity a year ago. When you consider that almost half of all marriages end in divorce and that the average cost for a wedding has now risen to $30K, it seems very likely that couples (and their bill-paying parents) are ready to invest in this kind of wedding planning.

If you're interested in learning more about this emerging field, here are some suggestions:

  1. Reach out your local family mediation council or association for social workers to investigate the market further

  2. Identify a local service provider: therapist, wedding shop, event planner, who may want to expand their services and partner with you

  3. Consider joining our Family Learning Circle- our first topic for discussion is Marriage Mediation lead by Mediator Ned Busch on Jan. 4th at 11 a.m. PST/2 p.m. EST

  4. Listen to a Day in the Life of an attorney and therapist mediation team, Diana Mercer and Tara Fass on Monday, Feb. 11th. Sign up here

Try. Fail. Learn. Grow!


Sunday, December 16, 2007

mediator blah...blah...: Two interesting questions

The secret is out mediation has the potential to be a million dollar business.

Stop, and read that again. What a powerfully motivating statement. I get teary just thinking about how much good that means in the world.

Count Me In

I glean a lot of valuable information from the small business and women entrepreneur markets but we have a sort of love/hate relationship. Wonk that I am, I love pouring over articles for business principles that can be applied to mediators. But, it annoys me to have to 'read between the lines' and extrapolate so much.

So when I read that Count Me In, the leading national non-profit for micro-loans for women entrepreneurs, selected a mediation practice as one of the winners in it's Make Mine A Million Program you know THAT got my interest. The program goal is to inspire a million women entrepreneurs to develop businesses that reach 1 million in annual revenues by 2010. I'm intending to be one of them, and I hope you are, too.

Peace Talks

Diana Mercer, Esq. and Tara Fass, LMFT run Peace Talks, a multi-disciplinary mediation practice servicing family and divorce clients, which won the honor. (not only did they get bragging rights, they got mentors, money and a wonderful community) I was so excited at the news I called Diana immediately.

Although I was nearly tongue-tied with admiration, I managed to convince her and Tara to do an interview with me. The notion of a holistic practice combining the knowledge a therapist and attorney makes a ton of sense to me. (I'm an affiliate for the Boston Law Collaborative, a blended practice in Boston) The question for many practitioners, perhaps even you, is how do you do that successfully? Happily, these dynamic women will share their insights with us.


Day in the Life: Diana Mercer, Esq. and Tara Fass, LMFT of

February 11 at 10 am PST/1 pm EST

This is going to be a popular call for family/divorce folks so
you may want to register now. Also, there'll a slight increase in tuition after 12/31 so you'll save a few bucks by signing up now.

Thanks Geoff

And, you can read Diana's thoughts on practice on a recent post by Geoff Sharp. Click here to read mediator blah...blah...: Two interesting practice questions

Try. Fail. Learn. Grow! Dina


Monday, December 10, 2007

Learning Circles Offer Accountability and Resources

What do mediators have in common with the Maytag repairman?

Both can be lonely jobs.
That's one reason why we created a new way for family or workplace mediators to interact: Learning Circles! I'll share the outcomes from the first calls in two posts. First, the Family Learning Circle, then the Workplace Circle.

Everyone Teaching everybody to Fish

A Learning Circle is a group of people with like interests who gather to gain knowledge together. What makes it different than a teleseminar or group coaching is that members teach each other and facilitate their own learning.

In each circle the members decide what topics to address and then develop short 'lesson plans' to share with each other. Everyone benefits: the teacher deepens his or her own personal skills and resources by researching and presenting the topic;and, members expand their expertise on a variety of niche-specific or marketing topics. It's a new twist on the old saying, "two heads are better than one".

Family Learning Circle

Family mediation is one of the most widely known niches in mediation. Our Circle members, who met today for the first time, practice primarily as divorce and elder care mediators. Besides deciding on the logistics of the calls (we meet the first Friday of every month, the group explored expanding the meaning of family mediation to beyond divorce to include things like relationship mediation (think: mother/daughter disputes).

The conversation really got interesting when we considered a unique niche: lifespan mediation. We're defining this as offering services for the lifespan of the dispute. For example, offering mediation based on changing milestones within a family's post-divorce life like when the kids hit puberty, or when college decisions have to be made. It was fascinating and highlighted a dilemma most mediators face- generating repeat business.

This Circle plans to present on such cool topics as the pros/cons/differences of mediating by phone; building a marriage mediation practice; multi-generational mediations and which networking groups work best for mediators. If this call is any indication, it's gonna be a very productive and informative six months.

Sound good? A Learning circle might be the solution to your marketing troubles. Do you want to meet interesting people; brainstorm new markets to conquer; do some collaborative problem-solving and get your feet held to the fire-in the nicest way possible? Are you committed to your own success? If so, check us out.

The Circle meets next on January 4th and if you'd like to take part you can learn more and join here.

More on the Workplace Learning Circle to come...

Try. Fail. Learn. Grow!

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Friday, December 07, 2007

Take This Idea: Commerical Mediators Wheel & Deal with Entrepreneurs

Finding the right niche is critical to your success as a mediator. While most folks can identify a broad niche, say family or workplace, it's those who dig a bit deeper that find the gold.

Reading NY Report while in bed this morning I saw a great article on Buy/Sell Agreements. Entrepreneurship is fraught with conflicts, and one of the stickiest is when owners want or need to sell. Great, I thought- this article will make excellent content for Mediation Mensch.

Imagine my surprise and delight when I noticed that the author's name- Richard Lutringer- a member of! Richard Lutringer is counsel at the New York City office of Chicago-based Schiff Hardin LLP, a full-service law firm. His primary areas of concentration are corporate transactions and mediation.

Here's what Richard has to say about this opportunity:

    Alternative Ways to Resolve a Buy-Sell Dispute

    Litigation and, recently, arbitration, the traditional means of dispute settlement, are expensive, time-consuming and unpredictable. More and more businesses and their attorneys are choosing to use a third-party mediator to assist them in resolving contentious issues in one or two days, leaving good relationships and bank accounts intact. Mediators, usually paid on an hourly or daily basis, are trained in negotiation and dispute-settlement skills and have no stake in the outcome. Lists of experienced commercial mediators are available through many state and federal courts as well as such organizations as JAMS ( and the American Arbitration Association (

What does this mean to you?

For all those workplace and commercial mediators who are chasing corporate clients, this means you may want to look at the small business market instead. Serving newly formed and established partnerships can be a very lucrative business for mediators.

The variety of disputes that can arise within a partnership are almost unlimited. A mediator could specialize in partnership formation or charters, and assist the entrepreneurs to define and standardize their relationship, responsibilities and decision-making abilities. Once, I worked with partners in a three person law firm who had formed on a handshake and then got stymied when one partner decided not to practice law any longer. If they'd taken the time at the beginning, the end of their partnership would've been much smoother and less costly.

You could specialize in buy/sell agreements as Richard suggests. Valuation is a very emotional issue. It would be important to have a third party to help process hard feelings and make a space for good judgment to prevail.

How do you find clients?

The old fashioned way: research. Happily there are some new technology tools to make this process easier. Turn to or to get a big picture of what companies meet your target market criteria, then use business social networking sites like LinkedIn to make connections.

Then do a Google alert for your small group to understand what the company is doing or needs now. It won't guarantee that you'll get the business but you'll be much better position with a warm introduction and a sense of the company's current needs.

Many thanks to Richard Lutringer for leading the way...

Try. Fail. Learn . Grow! Dina

PS The Workplace Learning Circle, which will discuss these types of opportunities, launches on Monday, Dec. 10th. Visit my website for more details.