The Whole Truth

Dec 13

2010

Who are you taking your business and marketing advice from?

by Alexis Neely - Posted in Business, Entrepreneurism |

I’m seeing a disturbing trend from clients and I want to make sure you aren’t making this same mistake in your business.

Over the years, I have referred people to my web team for graphic design/web work, my customer service peeps for customer service work and my business manager for bookkeeping only to occasionally discover a BIG problem.

After I make the referral, I see these folks asking for marketing and business strategy advice from the people I’ve referred them to for web, customer service, and bookkeeping.

Why is this a big problem?

Because while these folks may have picked up quite a lot of know how from me over the years about how to do marketing and build a business, they do not necessarily have the experience to be giving marketing and business strategy that works.

They are great at web design, HTML, customer support, bookkeeping and all the things it takes to make the business go and that’s what they should be used for.

But, do not rely on them for strategy.  Let me repeat that louder.  DO NOT RELY ON THEM FOR STRATEGY.  If you are taking strategic advice from anyone, make sure you are taking strategic business advice from someone who has done what you want to do.

As the CEO of your company, strategy is your responsibility. You provide the strategy and your team executes on it.

Yes, they can (and should) provide you with their feedback around your strategy (just today my team came through with some awesome feedback from the customer perspective that I would not have tapped into on my own), but they should not be establishing your strategy for you.

That comes from you. Ideally, with the guidance of an experienced business strategist who has done what you want to do if you don’t yet have the experience yourself.  Just don’t take business and marketing advice from folks who mean well, but ultimately are not going to be able to really help you grow your business and in the worst case may actually hurt your business.

Questions? Ask em below. I love to hear from you.


  • Agreed. I don’t understand why anyone would ask for and take strategy advice for web design, customer service, or bookkeeping folks.

  • And, I’d like to add that there is a lot of HYPE out there about what those effective marketing and business strategies are. Carefully select your team of advisers. Check their backgrounds. See what education and training the have. And, ask for the evidence to back up their claims.

    -Susan

  • AMEN Alexis! It’s like asking your sister who ran her kid’s lemonade stand about start-up experience or your Uncle Ira who is a divorce attorney for M&A advice. Opinions are like….you know where this is going. Seek advice in from those with a specialized track-record and experience.

  • Jessica Petrick

    Sometimes stories aren’t always as they seem…although you just call them web design, HTML, customer support and bookkeeping they may have experience or a team of experience behind them that can support business strategy and/or they weren’t giving advice at all and it was a misinterpretation..Either way, posting dirty laundry is both unprofessional and immature.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve found myself taking advice from people who I thought could help me but couldn’t because I didn’t understand what it really took to build a business and frankly I was desperate for advice from anyone who I thought knew what they were talking about. I had to learn the hard way how important it is to take advice from people who really have done what I wanted to do and been through the direct experience of it. Thanks for the comment.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Susan. I find that it really does come down to experience. Education and training are great, but there’s little better than having been through the experience. I have hired people who were educated and trained to the hilt, but ultimately the lack of experience proved to be a major limitation in how much help they could provide. I totally agree re the hype. Lots of it out there.

  • Anonymous

    Amen sister. A very close friend of mine hired a divorce attorney to handle his criminal matter (which should have been a slam dunk for him) and he was wrongly convicted (later discovered and proven) of a major criminal offense. Ruined his life for five years because he hired someone who was great at what he did (handling divorces), but not at all qualified to represent anyone in a criminal matter. Specialization is oh so important in today’s complex world.

  • Anonymous

    Jessica, this was not posting dirty laundry and I’m sorry you took this post personally and saw it that way. I love what you and Chelsea do for clients, which is why I’ve referred you guys so much business. This has been an issue with many of the providers I’ve referred clients to, not just your company, and not with any one single client. It’s a big problem throughout our industry and I hope you will recommend to all of your clients that they seek out experienced strategists for the best possible strategy your team can implement. Doing so will add value to their experience with you.

  • Jjohnson36

    Alexis is right. Don’t take advice from these people who pretend to be experts. Especially Alexis herself.

    Which would make the perfect case not to take tax advice from Alexis Martin Neely, who is not a tax expert, or legal advice as she seems to have only had a few years of legal expereince and seems to have spent most of it marketing, not practicing law.
    Or business advice from her as she does not have an MBA, or any track record of legitimate businesses. Other than trying to sell us how to make millons of dollars. That’s not a busines, that’s a ruse. Oh, and her ex-employees sued her and won. And she lost $800,000 in a business. Great businesswoman.
    She has never shown us that she actualy has made all these “millions of dollars.” No balance sheets, no transperancy nothing.

    Do you guys really believe she would walk away from million-dollar businesses to hawk stuff on the internet?

    She teaches (ok, “coaches” people) how to promote themselves as experts in whatever field they pick. Same thing as these rogue web designers or bookkeepers. Pot calls kettle.

    – Julie

  • Anonymous

    Oh I knew this comment was coming. And this time I have decided not to take it down because its a great example of what we need to be prepared for when we step out and share who we are without shame, guilt or fear. There are people, like this commenter, who will disbelieve, be rude, and block their own abundance. Send them blessings. And don’t let it stop you from living your service and your message.

    I did walk away from jobs and businesses other people would cling to because of the prestige and the money and the “shoulds”. But I don’t run my life on shoulds anymore. I live to learn and teach. Have an experience and share it with others.

    You can believe anything you want about me, but the proof is in the results. Check out http://clientengagmentsystem.com for a few. My programs change lawyers lives. Period.

    And check out my meet me and work with me pages here. My strategic advice and coaching changes the lives of people committed to a life of service who want the time, energy and resources to serve.

    Its my real life experience, especially the $800,000 of mistakes, the lawsuits, and the tax audit that make me such a great strategic advisor. Everyone has challenges along the way to success and I know how to handle them emotionally, spiritually and practically and keep moving forward.

    Regarding proof of the million dollar businesses, members of my LIFT Foundation System are walked through my tax return and see the first year I brought in a million of revenue. I did that in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. Perhaps it’s time to post the tax returns publicly and put this to rest once and for all.

    I walked away from all of that to “hawk stuff on the internet” for several reasons, the main one being I live to learn, grow and teach. The best way to learn is to experience, the best way to grow is to keep moving on and the best way to teach is online.

    From an educational standpoint, I do not have an MBA, but I did graduate first in my class from Georgetown Law and received some special award I can’t remember the name of now for the highest grades in my tax classes. I don’t talk about that as much as the million dollar businesses because I think it’s far less relevant. The best education comes from experience, not school.

    Thanks for the opportunity to share more truth. Yes, my life can seem unbelievable at times, but it’s all true and I’m grateful to be living it, growing through it and sharing all of it.

  • Robin Nerone

    I just have to say that Alexis is transparent by telling the world that she did indeed lose $800,000. That taught her a valuable lesson in business and the BEST school for this type of thing is “The School of Hard Knocks”. I don’t know if you have had any business education or not but it doesn’t take an MBA to teach business principles and to coach. Sometimes it’s a hindrance, I know this for a fact. Also, once someone goes through hard knocks in their own business and learns tax laws the hard way, they never forget them. I’m an ex-accountant and I still do tax strategies, returns, etc. for a small accounting firm (on the side) and believe me, once you teach someone and they go through it, as I mentioned they don’t forget it. So she is well qualified to give tax advice and her advice isn’t so much “I’ll show you exactly how to do your tax return” it’s more like the big picture. She highlights the BIG picture and warns what is needed and what you can let go for the moment, such as filing an extension. Most people don’t know that you can file an extension and turn the tax return in later but you have to pay what you think you owe and to be on the safe side, pay a little more.

    So in my professional opinion, I would say she is more than qualified.

  • Gloria Perez-Walker

    I don’t have time to post much today but just want to say that I’m a LIFT member and yes, Alexis did share tax returns with us and was extremely transparent about all of that, so whatever this poster is saying is simply not true. The real-life experiences (and failures) are part of learning and sharing. I think this is a new model of openness and truth in business and there are MANY of us who prefer it and who think that’s more viable than another guy with an MBA telling us…the same old stuff.

  • Hey Alexis!

    I see 2 key issues come up again and again with marketing in the online space:

    1) Biz owners trying to get a foothold online simply don’t know what they don’t know.
    2) Web professionals offering bullshit advice and/or shoddy services to those biz owners.

    As long as there is someone willing to pay for the BS, there’ someone happy to give it out.

    It’s either the blind leading the blind or the sheisters leading the blind. It’s not just a matter of strategy either. The market is simply brimming with low quality to mediocre products and services.

    Regardless, biz owners need to stop throwing their brains under the bus just because the Internet can be confusing or overwhelming. Not a good excuse for running your business like a birthday party.

    I’ve seen otherwise intelligent business owners spends GOBS of money on say a website, a bad one with bad copy and bad SEO and no strategic foundation whatsoever. Sometimes they learn. Sometimes … not so much.

    I tell people they don’t have to become an expert to make better decisions with their marketing. That’s why we’re here. But they need to OWN IT and engage with it. Ask questions until they get it. Be assertive. Seek understanding. Pay for the knowledge if you have to.

    On the flip side, more marketing professionals and other specialists need to buck up and be willing to say, “I’m not the right person to help. But here’s someone who can.”

    I see the carnage ALL THE TIME. It’s incredible.

    Keep the conversation going, Alexis. People need to hear it.
    Karri

  • I think, if I am understanding what Alexis just wrote, all she said was

    Allow yourself to question and be open to feedback. But only on the foundation of knowing yourself, understanding your ultimate goal and exploring your options. You are the only one who can claim ownership of your vision.

    As Karri pointed out… OWNING IT. Karri had a few other great points too.

    And if you need help clarifying your vision, find someone who has done what you want to do. Someone who can help you distill your vision and keep you focused.

    Help YOU develop YOUR strategy.

    I am pretty sure, that unless you want to be a web developer, a web developer is not your best business strategist. But hey they would be the first person I called on to help me develop my technology strategy if I could find a really good impartial one.

  • Be careful when considering expertise only based on credentials or length of time in a profession. These are both dated ways of thinking and encouraged by bureaucratic organizations such as unions or income generating professional associations designed to encourage ladder climbing.

    People entrenched in these systems often feel the need to keep people from skipping rungs on the ladder and jumping all the way to the top, because it serves their own self interest of maintaining their own position in the hierarchy.

    I can tell you from experience that the coveted MBA, JD or any other set of letters, are NOT the qualifications that makes you an expert qualified to give advice. I have an MBA and am considered a “tax expert” according to my credentials. I’ve also had business successes and failures, I’ve studied from books, seminars, and coaches and am also on the other side of the fence in providing coaching and consulting.

    Without a doubt, the fastest way to learn business, tax, or any other skill is from lots and lots of self study and coaching from the right coach and then finally jumping in and making mistakes.

    It is far more important that a coach/consultant has the knowledge and is the able to connect with you in a way you can learn, than all of the letters after his or her name. And time in service, which is the union way of ranking people, is often a very poor indicator of skill.

    Many years in a profession usually leads to more experience, but often leads to complacency and laziness and the resistance to consider new ideas that young and hungry entrepreneurs are open to.

    And in response to the comment about spending most of the time marketing instead of practicing whatever trade you’re in, welcome to the world of being a business owner.

    I think we all naively enter a profession because we want to do the thing we do, but quickly learn that in order to run a profitable business and be able to continue helping clients, we have to spend a high percentage of the time marketing. Anyone who says otherwise has never started a business.

    Keep an open mind.

    Chuck J. Rylant, MBA, CFP,

  • Robin Nerone

    Nicely stated.

  • “If you are taking strategic advice from anyone, make sure you are taking strategic business advice from someone who has done what you want to do.” Right on, Alexis!

    Full disclosure: I’m a private client of Alexis’. Why? Because Alexis has done what I want to do. In particular she has a deep desire to provide ideas and solutions that both drive profitable bottom lines and create meaningful, positive impacts in real people’s lives (both her client’s & her client’s clients…).

    And as a Harvard MBA & CFA, I’d also like to echo Chuck’s comment which I think is spot on: “It is far more important that a coach/consultant has the knowledge and is the able to connect with you in a way you can learn, than all of the letters after his or her name. And time in service, which is the union way of ranking people, is often a very poor indicator of skill.” The most impactful lessons in my life have come from wonderful people like Alexis who have “been here, done that.”

    As I see it the purpose of Alexis’ post – as with all her work – is providing thought provoking, heartfelt practical advice. As with any advice you have to tailor it to your situation. Perhaps you do have a graphic designer who has a natural knack for business strategy. If so, great – you’ve got match. What I took from Alexis’ post was the importance of looking at the tangible results of the person you are seeking guidance from. To me, that’s just plain, powerful common sense & I’m grateful for the reminder.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, unless you want to be a web developer, a web developer is not your best business strategist. Unless of course that web developer had built a business similar in nature to the business you are looking to build. Thank you for getting me Cathy!

  • Jacob Purly

    Manisha,

    That might be what Alexis is doing now as her main focus, but she still has a lawyer coaching program, and that’s where she started. The problem with that is she never built a successful law firm. Her law firm was around for 3 maybr 4 years and then she sold it and then she got it back and then she closed. Whether the problem was with the person who purchased it or with the systems she’s selling – it doesn’t matter. She hasn’t done what she says you should do, now has anyone she’s coached as far as I’m aware.

    Arguably the lawyer coaching program is the most successful thing she’s done since she’s gotten a book published about it, etc. But that program is a fraction of what it once was in terms of membership and I haven’t seen a lot of former members of that program talking about how much they learned from it. To be fair, I think there have gotten to be some lawyers that got something out of it, but others probably didn’t. But even former members aren’t out there saying “I was a student of Alexis and my law practice is great because of it.”

    I think people are looking for an answer to “your law practice operation and sale didn’t work out – how can you coach about that” and “your lawyer coaching program petered out – how can you coach about that” – It would be one thing if she shut the second one down too, but she’s still out there promoting it.

    This comment may not stay up here, but if it does, I’m looking for an answer from Alexis about how that can all be true at the same time. IT just doesn’t seem to add up.

  • Anonymous

    Jacob,

    How would you define a successful law firm? My law firm brought in $1,000,000+ in 2006, $1,000,000+ in 2007 (with me working 2 days a week) and I sold it in 2008 so I could focus on teaching other lawyers my systems. What about that is not successful to you?

    Unfortunately, I made a big error when I sold it and sold it to a guy who had never run a million dollar business, stopped paying the bills within 6 months and was not handling the clients properly. Rather than walking away from it and claiming no responsibility, I took total responsibility, took the firm back, ran it out of my own savings and credit line for the 6 months it took to close it down and distribute the clients to the lawyers I had trained throughout Los Angeles. If I had wanted to go back into the practice and revive it after the sale, I could have, but I chose to close it and move on so I could stay focused on my purpose of changing the way lawyers serve clients, not continue to serve clients one on one.

    Regarding the lawyer coaching program, read the testimonials from lawyers who have worked with me and whose lives and businesses I’ve changed. Talk to Rebecca Prien, talk to David Feakes, talk to Robert Galliano, Nicole Newman, etc., etc., etc.

    The program has by no means petered out. I spent the last year deconstructing it and reconstructing it to better fit with my values, my life and the way I want to serve lawyers, which I’ll be talking all about on a call I’m hosting for evolutionary entrepreneurs on 12/31 – you are more than welcome to attend.

    I grew that business from nothing to more than $1,500,000 in a very short time (during the worst economic challenges) and the rapid growth without the right executive team created problems that I had to fix before I could grow it anymore. Read Les McKeown’s book Predictable Success and you may understand a bit more. It’s ready now for substantial growth in 2011 and beyond.

    Life and business does not happen in a straight line. We learn far more from our failures than we do from our successes. In fact, I know of many people who would not invest in anyone who had not “failed” – I am not afraid to share my failures because I know how they helped me and they help others. I will not stop failing. And therefore I will not stop succeeding.

    As Michael Jordan said: “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

    You have not at all mentioned my two other businesses – the Dave and Alexis business, which was a multi-six figure business while he and I were partners. And my LIFT Foundation Systems business, which is also a multi-six figure business.

    And I’ve coached a number of other business owners, including Max Simon, Dave Dee himself, and others you can read about on my blog to 6 and 7 figure businesses of their own.

    But what’s more important about my coaching is that it’s not all about the money – it’s about loving what you do, making a great impact in the world, and having your business in alignment with your life and who you really are. That’s sustainable and that’s what I am creating for myself and others.

    Jacob, I see you are highly focused on my failures. I’d encourage you to look within and see where this focus keeps you from success in your own life.

    I welcome all questions that provide the opportunity to reveal more truth.

    Alexis

  • Anonymous

    Thank you Manisha. It’s an honor and a great pleasure to support you to a life and business in alignment with all of who you are. Alexis

  • Dave Dee

    Now, some might consider me to be bias because I was in a relationship with Alexis for three years. But here is the truth from someone who was closer to her than anyone.

    1. Alexis struggled day and night over the decision to leave her successful law practice. (And it was successful.) Her decision was based on her love of teaching. It was a huge financial and emotional risk for her but she did it because that is what her heart told her to do.

    2. “Credentials” do not make a coach. Results do. Ask Max Simon (or better yet watch the video he made for her) about what her coaching did for him. Ask her Personal Family Lawyers who had their lives and law practices transformed. Is Alexis the perfect coach for everyone? Of course, not. She would freely admit that because there is no perfect coach for everyone.

    3. I know Alexis cares DEEPLY about her clients and members. I would literally lie awake in bed with her at night and listen to her talk about, worry about and work out strategies for her clients – when I much rather would have been doing something else – in many cases sleeping. 🙂

    This is my very real personal experience with Alexis and I have absolutely nothing to gain by writing. But it is the the truth.

    Dave Dee

  • Interesting discussion. I can see how people accidentally get into this zone as I often have people ask me questions I’m not qualified to answer. For example they might ask me about my legal contracts or how I do my book keeping. I’ll say that I’m not an expert in that area but I find they often push back with “I don’t care, I just want to know how you do it!”. I’ll usually answer with the disclaimer that I have limited knowledge and I might not be doing it right, but maybe I shouldn’t answer at all.

  • Jjohnson36

    I have read your “success” stories. You were gouging your clients, charging them triple or quadruple what other lawyers charged them. And teaching your personal family lawyers how to do the same. I see those lawyers praising you. That’s not success. Maybe for the lawyers who now “lead a better lifestyle.” What about all those clients?
    Didn’t an employee sue you..she was trying to tell on you with her confidential information- maybe go to the authorities I imagine? I’ve never heard of employees suing like that unless there were something seriously wrong.
    How to teach others to quadruple their rates. And these same folks you taught to do that are singing your praises.
    What about all the people they ripped off? You say, oh the clients are so happy to pay astronomical rates. They hug and kiss me for ripping them off. I don’t believe it and neither do most people.
    Your “success” is based on sleazy tactics and lying. Thats’ not way of the Universe.

    Julie

  • Anonymous

    Believe it or not, that’s your choice. I wonder how your disbelief and skepticism is reflected in other areas of your life.

    What I teach lawyers is how to provide a new level of service and experience to their clients that not only justifies higher fees, but does result in clients happier to pay them. Why? Because the reality is that what most lawyers are doing for their clients does not work for the clients. Sure, it might be cheap, but it doesn’t work!

    Lawyers are putting in place form documents for clients that will not and do not work when they need them – the estate plan fails and sticks the family in court or with unnecessary taxes, the business documents don’t prevent the lawsuit or the partnership from falling apart, the divorce spins out of control and escalates into massive conflict, the bankruptcy is never complete, etc.

    The model I’ve created for lawyers based on my own experience is one in which clients do pay one-time flat fees or on a recurring monthly or annual basis and they are all agreed to in advance with no surprises. Clients love that because they don’t get surprise invoices in the mail and their matters get handled the right way. Lawyers love it because they can provide a higher level of service and build a real business with revenue they can count on, which means they can hire support people and thereby provide even better service.

    Yes, one of the people who worked for me sued me. This is one of the biggets mistakes I made. I considered my team members friends and did not require anyone to keep any records of their time. I let them work flexible schedules as long as the work got done. After working for months with this team member to create a partnership and then finding out that she was using my firm resources to do work for other lawyers and charging me for her time, so I fired her. She sued me claiming I didn’t provide break time or pay overtime. And in California, the law says that if the employer doesn’t keep records, the employer loses. I didn’t have the correct insurance to fight that claim and after paying my lawyer $10k out of my own pocket, decided to settle. I learned many big lessons through that experience, which I now teach my clients.

    The Personal Family Lawyers routinely receive testimonials from their clients singing their praises and any lawyer who wants happier clients and a better way of life would be smart to do things the PFL Way.

    Best wishes,
    Alexis

  • Purlyjacob

    Alexis,

    I’m not being kept from success, and this discussion isn’t about me because I don’t put myself out there and I’m not the person trying to advise people on their life. And, while you haven’t addressed the issues here which I’ll get to, at least you haven’t avoided the discussion either. I give you credit for that.

    I think this is my point – your original post said “If you are taking strategic advice from anyone, make sure you are taking strategic business advice from someone who has done what you want to do.” Except you haven’t done the things you are trying to give strategic business advice on.

    I’m not really impressed with revenue numbers of $1,000,000+ because if it cost you $1,000,001+ to get there – that’s not a profitable business. Doesn’t mean anything. But profitability really isn’t even relevant.

    This is – two years of revenue is not building a business. If you’d been at it 10 or even 5 years, maybe that’s something that’s sustainable. 2 years is a fluke, not a system because you could have easily squeezed the market dry in that time as built a model for success.

    My definition of a successful law practice is one that has longevity not short moments of brilliance. Lots of people are making money in mortgage defaults or bankruptcy, but that’s not the model of a law practice that’s hitting a target rich market hard and getting them to buy what you’re selling. I say the law practice wasn’t successful because it wasn’t capable of being successfully solds – for whatever reason. At the end, you can’t say you have experience successfully selling a law practice.

    The lawyer program has had varying degrees of success. It was big, then you grew too fast (by your own admission), now you’ve retooled and its smaller and it will be bigger (you say). But you haven’t done it yet. It’s the same point as the law practice revenue numbers – the $1,500,000 wasn’t sustainable, that kind of revenue is not there today unless I misread something. (and you haven’t said otherwise, so I’m not saying you’ve misrepresented anything).

    So these are my questions. Are you teaching people how to have quick success and then move onto some other model or version or business? That you’ve done very successfully. Are you offering the folks that signed up for the versions of your approach that didn’t work a refund? I’d be pretty pissed off if I paid you to fail and then teach success to other folks.

    I guess I just think you should be clearer about what you’ve been successful at and whatever the project of this quarter is. You’ve had more awakenings that I can count on one hand. At some point it just looks like you can’t stay in one spot very long.

    Jacob

  • Anonymous

    No, I don’t avoid discussions. I appreciate them.

    I totally disagree that 2 years of revenue is a fluke, especially when done twice in two separate businesses. Unless it’s a recurring fluke, an oxymoron if I’ve ever heard one.

    99.5% of people will never build a million dollar business even once, so it’s got to mean something that I’ve done it twice in 4 years and at the same time built another two multi-hundred thousand dollar businesses. What I think it means is that I am really good at building highly effective marketing and sales systems that resonate with the marketplace.

    Where I have gotten stuck each time is in building the support teams to sustain the growth and vision. I have chosen the wrong people, trained ineffectively, and not made clear agreements with the people I hired. I became emotionally involved and made decisions from guilt, fear and people pleasing instead of from a place of smart business.

    The versions of my approach that “didn’t work” did not affect the people in my programs, it affected me and my family. It meant my business model was not sustainable because I was giving too much – too much of my time, too much of my life, and too much of my soul – and not keeping enough for myself and my family.

    I’ve learned those lessons well. I’ve revamped the lawyer program so that it can continue to provide tremendous value to the lawyers it serves with a much smaller team, a lot less of my personal time and without me hiding who I really am – a creative, evolutionary entrepreneur who lives what some might call an eccentric life.

    And today, I know more about building support teams than I ever have. I know that I have to be exceedingly clear about my vision, not settle for anyone less than the right people, hire slow and fire fast, and I’m still (always) learning. To me, that’s what life is about – evolution, growth, constant learning.

    I’ll never stop evolving. The business I am building now is focused on serving people who want that too – they want to keep evolving, growing and changing. And they see their own business life as a vehicle for that evolution.

    If you get a chance, read the book by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh – embracing change is one of the Zappos company core values. And if more of us got better at embracing change, the world would be a better place.

    Alexis

    PS – yes, I didn’t successfully sell my law firm, but I totally disagree that means it wasn’t successful. Had I wanted to continue running it, I’d have a $2,000,000+ firm today, but I’d have to be living in Redondo Beach running a law firm and I probably wouldn’t be wearing feathers in my hair, traveling to Peru, and have total flexibility about where and when I work.

  • Jacob – You ask a very interesting question… how can someone coach about an experience (like the sale of a law practice) that didn’t work out? Here’s my take:

    For over 15 years I worked in the financial services industry, the bulk of that time as an analyst & portfolio manager studying publicly traded companies and deciding whether or not it made sense to invest in them. Time and again I found a direct correlation between the willingness of leaders to be open, honest, and learn from mistakes… and the long term success of those businesses and they grew and evolved with market conditions. By contrast, if you look at any of the flaming corporate disasters – from Enron to WorldCom… you will see leaders that refused to ever admit to a poor decison, wrong turn, or temporary defeat.

    When I say I want to learn from people who have “been there, done that” – I mean the good and the bad. No business or entrepreneur experiences smooth, linear success. What makes Alexis so gifted as a business strategist is precisely the variety of different experiences (good & bad) she has had and the introspective way in which she has consistently striven to learn from – and share with others – each one. As a result of these experiences Alexis is extremely qualified to speak to other small business owners about how to navigate the inevitable speed bumps that entrepreneurial life entails. By being so brutally honest about her experiences she is absolutely doing what she is telling others to do. She is saying grow, try new things, and learn from your mistakes.

    To take your argument to the extreme – it would be like saying no one should coach a football team unless they’ve never lost a game and have won a Heisman Trophy. Personally, I don’t want to learn about building a small business from someone who has never experienced ups and downs – as it exactly those experiences that make what they can teach me so valuable.

    This is by far and away the longest comment(s) I’ve ever made on a blog post – and I don’t mean to sound, well… mean :). I just want to highlight that I believe there is enormous value in learning from someone who is so transparent about the good and the bad of their previous experiences. Study any thriving large corporation around the globe – and you’ll find a leader who is honest, heartfelt, and authentic… like Alexis. And those leaders are rare indeed.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for commenting Laura and sharing your experience. This actually came up for me recently when I was helping a client with Twitter. Even though I am a power Twitter user, I am so not a social media teacher. So I directed her to your Twitter in 10 minutes a day program. When people are asking you about legal contracts or bookkeeping, send them over to me. I’ll make sure they are doing it in the right way.

  • alitage

    I was Alexis’ client when she had her law firm in Redondo Beach. She provided me and my family with a stellar estate plan for a reasonable rate, much more reasonable and much better tailored to my specific needs than a prior plan written for me by a very well-known Los Angeles estate planner. The system she developed was a better way to practice law not only for lawyers (and I know- I used to practice law myself) but also for their clients.

    I do not know what is causing your anger against Alexis but from my direct experience with Alexis personally and professionally, I would have to say you have it all wrong.

  • Linda Sherfey

    It is obvious to me – someone who knows you and your work – that the critical comments are petty and uninformed. For example, your book was not about the PFL program. I ramped up my law firm services until I believed that the value justified the higher fee you recommended. My clients are also happy and willing to pay the higher fee because they can see the value. Alexis is totally honest and one of the most giving people I know. I’ve seen all her programs, PFL, LIFT, Money Map, etc and would not hesitate to recommend them all (I’ve got them.) If someone is going to write negative things, they should at least investigate instead of guessing. It makes them look petty and envious. Love you Alexis.

  • Christiane

    I have to add my experience here too. I agree with Alexis that there are really three areas of expertise. Each invaluable but different:
    1. Strategy; 2. Management; 3. Execution
    More often than not, when I see my entrepreneurial clients or friends ask for “web-, VA-, project-management-, etc. support, they are not prepared to guide these great resources to success. As entrepreneurs we are leaders, leaders of those who want to make our business successful. For that, we either learn the right strategies ourselves via trial and error or we get sound advice.

    Let’s just think of the famous “E-myth Revisited” by Michael Gerber. He talks about the 3 roles a business needs to cover: The entrepreneur, the manager and the technician. We NEED managers and technicians but it wouldn’t be fair to make them the strategist-entrepreneur. That doesn’t mean, we don’t want to listen to their suggestions but as a leader, we as entrepreneurs need to know what advice to take and when we are serving our teams best by giving them clear instructions on how to succeed in their work.

    Thanks Alexis for bringing this up. I absolutely agree with you and from my work with you, I know you are a great strategist and I know that you strive to get better and better every day.

    Keep up the good work.

    Christiane

  • Karri has a point, people don’t know what they don’t know. They may not understand that just because a VA may know how to set up an autoresponder or shopping cart doesn’t necessarily mean that he/she is the go-to person to put together your marketing strategy. They’d be charging a lot more – trust me! 🙂

    As an online business manager, one of my prerequisites before I take on a client is that they need to have their own coach – someone who can guide them as they plan, create a vision, and strategize to connect with their audience. These are not things that a service provider or even an OBM should be doing for your business.

    Karri said it best: business owners need to ask questions, pay for coaching/consulting, be more engaged, and OWN it – not turn over their business to the VAs who provide administrative tasks.

  • Alexis – I was just thinking today of the people who blessed me in 2010 and you were definitely one of them. So I am quite surprised at what is happening here. We didn’t work together very long but I know in those 30 minutes here and there where I got to share your wisdom, you could clearly see where my struggles were and besides your amazing STRATEGIC insight, one of the things I so appreciated was how real you are. Hearing about your constant struggle to be the you without guilt or fear and how you would share your failures without shame so we ourselves could avoid them – Bravo. I am sending you (and your detractors too) much love.

  • alison

    ok…listen up. i am a sales professional. and damn good at what i do. it is not that alexis is a sleezy lawyer/hawker of crap, OR that the peeps she refers biz to are doing a disservice to clients by offering marketing and strategic advice.

    it is a very simple sales strategy that i see SOOOOO many coaches/online entrepreneurs not doing. you do all of this INCREDIBLE WORK and really cool marketing, but when it’s time to ANTE UP… sometimes (ahem–many times) these–and yes, potentially you, alexis–fail to ASK. i ALWAYS ASK. it’s part of MY JOB. it is not my prospects job, or my colleagues job to REMEMBER LITTLE OLD ALISON. at best, i am an afterthought in people’s minds when what i have sold them or helped them to incorporate into their business/life increases revenue/improves their lives. it’s not that i am not DAMN GOOD at what i do…it’s just human nature.

    alexis, you are such a kind soul. and even though you are clearly moving through not giving two shits what people think about you…you DO CARE. which is what makes you unique and valuable. HOWEVER, it is also why you are so quick to REFER business. i am just throwin out a guess here…many of these referrals you make are actually coming from the bottom of your heart. many times, you haven’t been asked to make the referral, but you do. bc A. you are logical. and you can clearly see the value in referring and working with experts. and B. bc you are loyal. here’s the third and final reason: C. you CARE. you can clearly see that caring is a HUGE part of what makes you tick. not everyone is like that. that doesn’t make them bad. just different.

    i am probably going to get accosted for making this suggestion to a top strategic biz woman, but here goes: stop assuming that those people you make referrals for will return the favor. get on the horn, hire someone to do it..whatever…devise a plan wherein you call your varied past clients on a rotating schedule (depending on what level of client they are, A, B, C, etc)…you don’t want to call everyone, perhaps just your top 10-20? once a month/once a quarter. CALL THEM. chat em up. see whats cookin. then ask them for business. period. end. of. discussion. i repeat: ask them for business.

    the reason i assume that you are not asking for referrals is bc in my experience (and i have studied form the same school of marketing thought as alexis) i have never been tapped into for business. i have been marketed to, but never sold to. there have been a few times where i literally TRIED to sign up for a program, not with alexis, but with someone else…and i never heard back from the person! i had some questions and i wanted to chat. lollll!!!!!!!!!!!!!! last time i checked anyone would want an extra $2 grand in their monthly earnings. i mean unless you are a really serious baller. and then, when you are a really serious baller…the reason you ARE is bc you do care about the $2 grand.

    in this wild world of internet marketing, one in which i have spent thousands of dollars in…without so much as a thank you note a phone call…nada…zero. (and i have more money to spend)…i don’t buy stuff sometimes bc i feel like i am just a damn number on a spreadsheet. a name on a list. a tweet in a stream of nonsense.

    in real life, i only spend money REPEATEDLY with people who have the balls and the follow through to engage me in conversation. who ask me to make a referral. (hello–can you say “APPLE STORE” anyone? a little conversation goes a lonnnnng way).

    i am a DIE HARD abraham-hicks/LOA practitioner, and i STILL know (my sales numbers prove it) that the people who GET the referrals, the people who GET the business, the people who get the REPEAT business are the ones who ask for it.

    the RAVING FAN concept (a concept made popular by the online marketing community in which your raving fans will refer you) is great in theory…but it doesn’t account for many referrals that are there waiting for you to ask for them. and until i become a pop star…i am probably still going to have to actually ask questions to my past clients/prospects, listen to what they are saying, solve a problem, and then ask if they want to work with me, sell my product, and do they have any friends/family/colleagues who are in the market presently. it’s not cheesy. it’s a lost art. and just to repeat, you do not have to ask for referrals from everyone. pick out 10 ppl who have the clients that you want, that you can help. then, go get it.

    BUSINESS ISN’T PERSONAL. it feels personal. but it’s really not.

    my final point is this, i was at my first live event a month ago. RHH LIVE and it was AMAZING. but at one point someone in the crowd asked a question to the panel something like this, “how do you deal with people coming up to you at events…does it get annoying, etc” apparently the lady asking the question had had this experience, and had a PROBLEM with it. i almost fell out of my chair LOL-ing. ok..let me get this straight, you’re in a room with the vast majority of your target market waiting in line to talk to you, and you found that ANNOYING? ::scratching head in confusion::

    seems to me that many online entrepreneurs are missing some very basic business acumen. not one you get with an MBA…one you get with a sales job and a quota. it’s called hustle.

    sincerely,
    alison

  • alison

    ok…listen up. i am a sales professional. and damn good at what i do. it is not that alexis is a sleezy lawyer/hawker of crap, OR that the peeps she refers biz to are doing a disservice to clients by offering marketing and strategic advice.

    it is a very simple sales strategy that i see SOOOOO many coaches/online entrepreneurs not doing. you do all of this INCREDIBLE WORK and really cool marketing, but when it’s time to ANTE UP… sometimes (ahem–many times) these–and yes, potentially you, alexis–fail to ASK. i ALWAYS ASK. it’s part of MY JOB. it is not my prospects job, or my colleagues job to REMEMBER LITTLE OLD ALISON. at best, i am an afterthought in people’s minds when what i have sold them or helped them to incorporate into their business/life increases revenue/improves their lives. it’s not that i am not DAMN GOOD at what i do…it’s just human nature.

    alexis, you are such a kind soul. and even though you are clearly moving through not giving two shits what people think about you…you DO CARE. which is what makes you unique and valuable. HOWEVER, it is also why you are so quick to REFER business. i am just throwin out a guess here…many of these referrals you make are actually coming from the bottom of your heart. many times, you haven’t been asked to make the referral, but you do. bc A. you are logical. and you can clearly see the value in referring and working with experts. and B. bc you are loyal. here’s the third and final reason: C. you CARE. you can clearly see that caring is a HUGE part of what makes you tick. not everyone is like that. that doesn’t make them bad. just different.

    i am probably going to get accosted for making this suggestion to a top strategic biz woman, but here goes: stop assuming that those people you make referrals for will return the favor. get on the horn, hire someone to do it..whatever…devise a plan wherein you call your varied past clients on a rotating schedule (depending on what level of client they are, A, B, C, etc)…you don’t want to call everyone, perhaps just your top 10-20? once a month/once a quarter. CALL THEM. chat em up. see whats cookin. then ask them for business. period. end. of. discussion. i repeat: ask them for business.

    the reason i assume that you are not asking for referrals is bc in my experience (and i have studied form the same school of marketing thought as alexis) i have never been tapped into for business. i have been marketed to, but never sold to. there have been a few times where i literally TRIED to sign up for a program, not with alexis, but with someone else…and i never heard back from the person! i had some questions and i wanted to chat. lollll!!!!!!!!!!!!!! last time i checked anyone would want an extra $2 grand in their monthly earnings. i mean unless you are a really serious baller. and then, when you are a really serious baller…the reason you ARE is bc you do care about the $2 grand.

    in this wild world of internet marketing, one in which i have spent thousands of dollars in…without so much as a thank you note a phone call…nada…zero. (and i have more money to spend)…i don’t buy stuff sometimes bc i feel like i am just a damn number on a spreadsheet. a name on a list. a tweet in a stream of nonsense.

    in real life, i only spend money REPEATEDLY with people who have the balls and the follow through to engage me in conversation. who ask me to make a referral. (hello–can you say “APPLE STORE” anyone? a little conversation goes a lonnnnng way).

    i am a DIE HARD abraham-hicks/LOA practitioner, and i STILL know (my sales numbers prove it) that the people who GET the referrals, the people who GET the business, the people who get the REPEAT business are the ones who ask for it.

    the RAVING FAN concept (a concept made popular by the online marketing community in which your raving fans will refer you) is great in theory…but it doesn’t account for many referrals that are there waiting for you to ask for them. and until i become a pop star…i am probably still going to have to actually ask questions to my past clients/prospects, listen to what they are saying, solve a problem, and then ask if they want to work with me, sell my product, and do they have any friends/family/colleagues who are in the market presently. it’s not cheesy. it’s a lost art. and just to repeat, you do not have to ask for referrals from everyone. pick out 10 ppl who have the clients that you want, that you can help. then, go get it.

    BUSINESS ISN’T PERSONAL. it feels personal. but it’s really not.

    my final point is this, i was at my first live event a month ago. RHH LIVE and it was AMAZING. but at one point someone in the crowd asked a question to the panel something like this, “how do you deal with people coming up to you at events…does it get annoying, etc” apparently the lady asking the question had had this experience, and had a PROBLEM with it. i almost fell out of my chair LOL-ing. ok..let me get this straight, you’re in a room with the vast majority of your target market waiting in line to talk to you, and you found that ANNOYING? ::scratching head in confusion::

    seems to me that many online entrepreneurs are missing some very basic business acumen. not one you get with an MBA…one you get with a sales job and a quota. it’s called hustle.

    sincerely,
    alison

  • Anonymous

    Wow. I am astounded by the negativity directed toward Alexis! As a small business owner, I have been following her for over two years now, have invested in some of her programs, referred others to her and will continue to invest.

    Alexis is a breath of fresh air. In my opinion, she’s completely transparent — sometimes to a fault. But I do respect and admire that about her. She’s not perfect and that’s what’s great about her. Her mistakes don’t need to be my mistakes and that’s a good thing. She’s a brilliant strategist, brimming with ideas for all types of businesses — and is excellent at inspiring and motivating others to “live their truth.”

    From my experience with her, I believe her to be one of the most caring and giving people I know. I have gained FAR more (value, insight and knowledge) from her than I have ever invested. I thank her and will continue to follow, and invest my time and dollars with her.

  • Anonymous

    Thank yo so much Colleen. 🙂

  • James Altucher

    This is a fascinating discussion. At the end of the day its about relationship management, which is very tricky for a service provider who also recommends other service providers. A couple of things we should recognize as inevitables:

    A) I used to run a web design company. If Arthur Andersen (I’m dating myself) recommended a client to me I was CERTAINLY going to attempt to steal that client to do web strategy, etc. Not every web designer will do that but I was transitioning my business to do strategy.
    B) Whenever I did recommend a client to someone else to perform another service I always tried to keep the project management function for my firm, even if it meant overloading myself or personnel. This was, of course, very difficult to do and sometimes I failed at it (and then, failed occasionally at keeping the client when the service provider I recommended would chip away at the relationship).

    Its just a fact of life that people do that. Everyone (or, I should say, most) is trying to build their business, extend their skillsets, provide for their families, etc.

    The real solution (other than keeping the project management function in every case) is building a rock-solid relationship at the C-level of the client. That means providing services other than what they are paying for (being their friend, wining and dining, helping them with other areas of their life/business, etc.) Almost by being a consigliere of sorts.

    As far as this discussion goes – its great to see human nature at its finest. People are very angry from the crisis of the past 2 years. They are, of course, taking it out (often anonymously) on an ambitious successful woman who is building her business and attempting to be a success in these difficult times. I don’t know how to handle negative comments. I use four strategies in equal doses:
    A) delete them when i can.
    B) ignore them (typical media relations strategy is to not respond to negativity. Its how clinton survived so long)
    C) argue with them
    D) joke with them

    But, its almost always painful. I give Alexis a lot of credit for standing up to the negativity here.

  • This is hugely important. I see clients rely on business and marketing advice from people ranging from their hair dressers to their Web designers. Mistake! The results are shotgun approaches to marketing, inept sales conversations, and Web sites that don’t meet the needs or wants of visitors.

    Look for people who have done what you want to do and have done it in the style in which you want to do it. If you don’t want to be a hyped-up marketer, don’t get guidance from a hyped-up marketer. If you want to make a profit, don’t take advice from someone who does not have a track record helping people do that.

    You wouldn’t get a haircut from that Web designer or vice versa, would you?

  • Pingback: How to Handle Negative Comments (on Your Blog & in Life) in a New Paradigm Way « Life, Business, and the Pursuit of Truth()

  • The JD Turner Group

    Julie,
    I am one of the former clients of Alexis’ past law ‘estate’ practice in Redondo Beach, Ca. She oversold estate planning with a hyped-up ‘family plan’ system that produced a 300+ page estate plan/will which could have and should have been produced on
    25 pages. I found this out because I had to hire and pay for another attorney to do amendments on my estate plan that Alexis’ law firm didn’t finish and had to hire a new estate plan attorney, when Alexis had let me and many other clients believe this was ‘her passion’ her ‘desired calling’ and she saw herself building this practice and being in the community. Two years or less, she was gone. She used some of the same similar phrasing that I now read about her new ‘found passion’ on her internet site when she first started her ‘family estate planning’ practice. Truth is she left many in Redondo Beach high and dry with a very unprofessional short notice that she was ending her practice; left her very nice employees in the lurch and fielding all the upset and attacks that Alexis should have been taking directly, considering that she caused the avalanche of upset within the community. Most people I know lost respect for her because of she handled all of this and collectively voiced that it seemed selfish and unnecessary; not because she wanted to end her practice, but by the self-absorbed way she went about it. Her most ardent supporter, Susan, her best employee, should never have had to go through what Alexis put her through. We regret having been duped by Alexis’ business practice that ended almost as quickly as it began. There are mindful ways to end business practices and there are self-absorbed, self-serving ways to end things. For me, it speaks to character.

    DT, Redondo Beach, CA.

  • Anonymous

    Dear D,

    Let me begin with this … I hear your upset. I wish I would have heard it from you directly as opposed to in this forum, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to hear you and respond rather than having you carry this with you.

    I take full responsibility for how my firm was closed. I did the best I could under the circumstances and I also understand that for some folks my best was not good enough.

    Just to give you some background … I had entered into an agreement for the sale of the firm to another lawyer who I believed would take excellent care of my clients and my team as I began to feel the pull to something else. The agreement called for a transition over time.

    Within a few short months of signing the agreement and during the transition period, I began to realize he was not following the systems I had created. The old practice model patterns were far too ingrained. He was not willing to invest in marketing, he was not treating my clients the way I wanted them treated, and he was not running the systems.

    Within six months of our agreement and before we could even issue a formal announcement about the sale, he stopped paying the bills and my entire team and all of my clients were going to be left high and dry if I didn’t step back in and do something.

    By that time, I had another f/t business requiring my attention with a full team of people and clients there depending on me plus my kids to raise. I prayed for guidance. Should I step back into the firm and start taking on new clients again? Should I sue the guy I had entered into an agreement with and force him to perform? Or was there another alternative?

    I decided the right thing to do would be to personally absorb all of the costs of running the firm until I could find new homes for my clients and my team. And that is what I did. I took on more than $150,000 of debt to maintain the office, the staff and service the clients without taking on any new clients while we worked hard to make sure everyone was taken care of.

    We hosted a gathering for our clients to introduce them to the lawyers I had trained via my Personal Family Lawyer program who would take over their files and agreed to update and maintain their plans w/o making them start over from scratch.

    We sent letters, wrote emails, and worked to finalize any plans that were incomplete before the office closed for good.

    This was, as you can imagine, a very trying time for everyone. I grieved deeply over the closure. And yet, when it came down to it, I had to let go.

    I did it in the best way I knew how to make sure my clients and team were taken care of, even if I could not be the one to do it.

    I am so sorry that this came across as selfish and unnecessary. I can assure you that the entire time all of this was happening, I was thinking of everyone else and not putting myself first. If I had done that, I would have just walked away and said — “sorry, not my responsibility anymore.” But, of course I could not and would not have done that.

    So, having said all that … the reason we provided all of our clients with a list of the lawyers we recommended who shared our planning philosophies is because there are many lawyers out there who are simply not doing things the right way. Please do not think your wishes can be carried out w/ a 25 page trust.

    The reason our plans were more than 300+ pages (and not all of them were, I believe you had a complex situation if I recall correctly – but there were all far more than 25 pages) is because we do not know what will happen when you die. We don’t know when you will die. We don’t know what the law will be when you die. So, we created plans to be flexible and handle as many unknowns as possible up front. A 25 page plan cannot do that. If you would like to discuss this personally, please email me at alexis@martinneely.com and I would be happy to get on the phone with you.

    With love and blessings, Alexis

  • Keepapi Jacs

    Wow.  Thanks for leaving all this up Alexis.  It has given me alot of perspective on what it is like to put yourself out there.  Thankyou. x