Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Cool Things My Friends Do (Week #103) - Rob Hill at the Vatican

Each week on this blog I enjoy highlighting some of the cool things my friends do in their personal and professional lives.

This week Pope Francis lead the ceremony at the Vatican that canonized Popes John XXIII and Pope John Paul II. This was a historic event, having two former Popes declared saints at the same time, as well as it was the first time a reigning Pope and retired Pope (Benedict XVI) celebrated a mass together.

My friend, Rob Hill, flew from Texas to Italy to attend this historic

event. Rob is a "dynamic Catholic", and wanted to be present at the Vatican for this once in a life time opportunity. His trip was quite an adventure, but he had a great experience (I read about his travels on Facebook, as he has not yet returned to Austin. I look forward to buying him lunch and getting to hear more of the details).

Rob began studying the Italian language 6 months ago in preparation for his adventure. The cool part is that he had planned to travel alone, but ended up connecting with a group students from the University of Dallas (who were participating in a semester abroad outside of Rome). They adopted him into their group, and one of them was the niece of a guy from his church in Austin (Random- the world is very small sometimes!!!).

These kids were informed on how the crowds would be handled, and the best places to wait in line to get into St. Peter's. They darted to the barricades to position themselves and then were corralled like sheep down the long via della Conciliazione. The students got separated from him but Rob was among the last 100 people to get into St. Peter's square.

Next he befriended two local Italians (thanks to his ability to speak the language).  They knew what to do and suddenly he was 300 meters from the alter. After 14 hours on his feet (much of it in the rain), he actually got a seat for one of the most historic events of our time. Cool.

I am excited to include Rob's story as week #103 of "Cool Things My Friends Do".

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The ABC's of Legal Marketing - U is for Unique

Have you ever seen very young children play soccer?  Someone kicks the ball to the left, and everyone runs left.  The ball goes right, the crowd follows.  There is little strategy and lots of running back and forth.  This is the perfect analogy for how most law firms market.  If one firm advertises, sponsors an event, or takes another marketing action, their local competitors are sure to follow.

This is how magazines make a lot of money on their regional "Best Lawyers" issues.  Most firms assume they must buy a full page ad congratulating their own attorneys since their competitors are going to be represented in the publication.  This may or many not be a good idea (probably not), but it does not stop firms from spending thousands of dollars.  They are chasing the soccer ball with the wild abandon of a kid on a field.

I enjoy the story about southern law firm in the 1990s that featured the managing partner's bulldog in their local advertising.  Within a year dozens of other firms in their region had dogs and other pets prominently displayed in their advertising.  Really?  What was the purpose of being a copy cat? (yes, some used their cats).  Does this type of planned sameness make you stand out?

Being unique is what gets you remembered.  If you look like every other law firm there is no reason for people to call you.  Go to the websites of your competitors and look at the pictures on their homepage.  Almost all of them will have photos of their local skyline, their state capitol building, or the scales of justice. That is what most law firms select for their image.  I mentioned this at a bar association meeting where I was the speaker, and one lawyer came up laughing as his firm displayed all three of those images.

My advice is to review what other firms are doing with their marketing, and then do something different.  To copy others in your marketing means you are a commodity.  Commodities are not exciting, have to sell on price, and lose business to others regularly.  Does this describe your firm?

Stepping out and being unique is scary for everyone, but apparently more of a stretch for law firms.  While you must abide by your state's bar association advertising rules, you should not care what your competitors will think of your unique position in the marketplace.  In fact, you can rest assured if you get any attention at all for your efforts that many other firms will follow you down the path.  This means you will only be unique for a short time, and then you need to be ready to change again.

Do not leave your marketing strategies to chance.  Hire a professional marketer to help you brainstorm ideas.  As an attorney you are an expert in your legal practice, you are most likely not trained at marketing.  Do not assume attaining a JD means you can effectively promote your business.  Marketing is a learned skill, and if you embrace working with consultants who can assist you then you will create a campaign that will allow you to stand out from all the other lawyers in your area.

Thom Singer is experienced in legal marketing and business development.  He regularly speaks at law firm retreats inspiring attorneys to embrace their brand and increase their sales.  He also teaches lawyers ways to improve their presentation skills as the firm's secret weapon for business development success.  More information at www.ThomSinger.com.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Cool Things My Friends Do (Week #102) - Eve Richter Losses Nearly 150 Pounds

Each week on this blog I enjoy highlighting some of the cool things my friends do in their personal and professional lives.

My friend Eve Richter has lost 148 pounds. That is cool. 

Eve's weight loss journey began as she was leaving her old job and was under a lot of stress.  She could not eat or sleep. At that time she weighed 368 pounds.

Once her appetite returned, she decided to consciously eat less food.  She basically ate about half of anything in front of her. This meant she lost more weight. 

A year later a women's boxing gym, Pink Gloves Boxing, re-opened.  Her friend Brenda Porta was leading the charge, and Eve, who had tried boxing before, was psyched they were starting up again. So she started with that, just 2 days a week. It was hard. Because of her size she had to modify a lot of things, but she enjoyed it more than any other activity she had done -which meant she would stick with it. It was such a supportive group of women, and she was happy to have them in her life.  There was no embarrassment with her body or limitations. She steadily lost more weight and got stronger.

By summer Eve joined a summer intensive boxing class, which was 4 days a week at an hour and a half instead of an hour. Next she got some TV coverage, and it was fun to show the fat girl getting in shape, keeping up with this challenging workout.

When the summer intensive ended, she knew twice a week was no longer enough of a work out. She joined Gold's Gym and started working with a trainer. At that point, nutrition became an issue. It turned out she wasn't eating enough to support her active lifestyle. The trainers helped her learn to eat right.  (It was pretty surreal to be told she needed to work out less, eat more, and eat more fat. Insane!)

These days she is trying lots of new things.  Her activities now include boxing, working with a trainer, strength training, sports cardio and core classes at the gym, and this week she just started running.  Soon she begins an aerial classes (trapeze and lyra), and is super excited about it!  Her future also included fun things like hang gliding and fun runs.

Eve has lost almost 150 pounds since January of 2013. She is now

more concerned with her health and fitness instead of what the scale says.  The proudest moment of the journey was being written up in Austin Fit Magazine   She said "Me! In Austin Fit Magazine! Wow! I love that people find my story inspirational, and use it to make positive changes in their own lives".

Most importantly, Eve wants people to know that it doesn't take crazy diets or fad activities or surgery to get in shape - even when you have hundreds of pounds to lose. She has not given up ANYTHING that she didn't want to give up (She did stop eating fast food many years ago, and mostly avoids highly processed foods and junk food). If she craves something, she eats it. She NEVER goes hungry. Conversely, if she is  not hungry, she does not have to eat (but does try and get in the right number of calories, protein and carbs daily). She does not do low-carb or cut out "fun" foods. She still drinks beer, eats chocolate, and anything else she wants.  It is about balancing her foods.

Eve says she will not continue to workout 10-12 hours a week forever. That is what she does now.  She foresees settling into a routine that will include other activities as well. But now she is having fun and enjoys it when friends come up and say "WOW - you look great!".  She says "It never gets old". 

Congrats to Eve Richter. She is an inspiration to everyone.  I am proud to have her as week #102 of "Cool Things My Friends Do".

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Cool Things My Friends Do (Week #101) - Vision to Reality by Honoree Corder

Each week on this blog I enjoy highlighting some of the cool things my friends do in their personal and professional lives.

My friend Honorée Corder has released a new book.  She is the creator of the phenomenal STMA (Short Term Massive Action) Coaching Program, and in this book she shares the principles and tools she's studied, coached, and lived for more than 20 years.  

Vision to Reality™ will teach you how to increase your efficiency and effectiveness, overcome challenges, increase your productivity, live with passion and purpose, and turn your wildest visions into your true reality. 

Not merely a collection of good ideas, this book spells out the steps used by successful men and women to transform their daily actions into the life of their dreams. With daily practical application, Honorée’s formula for success will transform your business and life beyond your wildest dreams!

I have known Honorée for several years, and she is an inspiration to those she meets.  She works hard, is always seeking new business ideas, and goes out of her way to promote others.  This is the second time I have included her in the "Cool Things My Friends Do" posts.

Join me in saying "Cheers" to Honorée for her newest publication.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Monday, April 07, 2014

5 Reasons To Hire A Master of Ceremonies

A friend, who is the CEO of a tech firm, asked me why his company should hire a professional Master of Ceremonies to host their "Users Conference" instead of having the VP of Marketing (who has a "great personality") serve in this role.  They have had varied levels of success by having their own people run the show, but he liked the idea that his employees did not cost him any additional fees.

Yes, he was thinking of hiring me to weave the "Conference Catalyst" program into the role as EmCee -- but my answer had nothing to do with if I was chosen for this conference.  Having an MC is a smart move.  The company is investing a lot of time and money in the conference, and the "face of the conference" is not a place to cut costs. I have found that events that have "just anyone" serve in this role often come up short on maximizing "conference attendee experience".

Five Reasons for A Professional EmCee

1.  Experience Matters.  Seasoned event professionals hire a Master of Ceremonies for the same reason that experienced keynote speakers are selected (I did not say "professional speaker", as there are many great speakers who do not charge a fee.  But speakers who have not delivered a minimum of 25 keynote level presentations -or more - could fail to achieve the desired result of content and charisma).

Being the MC involves a different set of skills from giving a speech, and thus having someone who has a great personality and some presentation experience does not guarantee they can oversee the energy, flow and transitions of your show.  A good MC will set the tone for the whole event.

2.  Conflicting Responsibilities.  The VP of Sales and Marketing (or other team member) has many responsibilities at the company's customer conference.  They need to always be "on" for clients, and have to be able to make time for any variety of conversations.  The MC role is both time consuming and emotionally intense.  Thinking that a senior level employee can juggle all that they need to do at a conference while also being the on-stage host means that their efforts will not be 100% effective.

3.  A Fresh Perspective.  Company or association events are often overrun with "insiders" about whom audience members already have pre-set opinions.  Reputations and past interactions (positive and negative) can cloud the way an audience views your Master of Ceremonies.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it takes a way the fresh edge that a professional MC can bring to the event.

4.  The Event is NOT a Commercial.  Smart organizations resist the temptation to make the focus of their event about the company that is planning the conference.  When your MC is from the executive team, or board of directors, you are indirectly placing the spotlight on the company.  When you have an outside MC it will move the attention to the audience experience.

5.  Keeping On Schedule.  The most important thing the MC can do is ensure the event runs on time and has the right energy and "vibe".  Too many speakers (especially those who are not professionals) have little regard to the importance of timing.  An experienced MC knows how to set expectations of the allotted schedule for all speakers, and can politely "give them the hook" should they go long.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Thom Singer is known as "The Conference Catalyst". He works with meeting planners and conference organizers to set the tone for a meeting. His presentations educate, inspire and motivate attendees to engage deeper in the event and make meaningful connections. http://www.conferencecatalyst.com 

Friday, April 04, 2014

Cool Things My Friends Do (Week #100) - Stormi Boyd Joins Red Velvet Events

Each week on this blog I enjoy highlighting some of the cool things my friends do in their personal and professional lives.

It is always cool when two people I know and respect join forces and work together.  The combination of "amazing" plus "amazing" always equals more than the sum of the parts.

This week my friend Stromi Boyd joined the team at Red Velvet Events  (founded and run by another friend, Cindy Lo).  Stormi has a long resume as a meeting professional, and joins RVE as the director of professional services.  In this role Boyd will oversee a team of seasoned meeting planners and event producers. She will also be in charge of the management of Red Velvet Events' larger productions worldwide.

Stormi and I first met on a plane headed toward the PCMA (Professional Convention Management Association) annual Convene Conference in San Diego in 2012 (where I was speaking). While we had known each other via social media (and had many mutual friends) we never met until we were traveling to an out of town event. Since that time I have come to know her as a great leader in our local meetings industry community.

The best is yet to come now that these powerhouses have come together!!!

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Celebrating Five Years as a Solo-preneur - Thank You

April 1, 2014 marks five years that I have been in business for myself (full-time), and I am honored to work for wonderful clients as a speaker, trainer and consultant. 

Thank you for being part of this journey. If you are reading my blog you may have seen me speak, read one of my books, or you are a personal / professional friend. However our paths have crossed, I am aware that none of this could have happened without you.

The new year brings exciting changes. Several opportunities have appeared that will allow me to offer high quality training and consulting products for my clients that included programs on leadership, sales, negotiations and creating better teams. I am also continuing to expand "The Conference Catalyst" program (serving business and association events as a keynote speaker or EmCee).

I am excited for the future and appreciate YOU for being part of this adventure.

Have A Great Day

thom singer