1. Brent Sibley, Sibley Dolman – Morning Routines, Focus, and an Amazing Referral Workflow

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Brent Sibley is an elite personal injury lawyer and is the founder of Sibley Law and co-founder of Sibley Dolman Accident Injury Lawyers, LLP.

Brent started Sibley Law with nothing more than a homemade website but grew it into the firm it is today, handling high stake litigations and seven-figure settlements. His second firm, Sibley Dolman Accident Injury Lawyers, has multiple offices across Southeast Florida and is continuing to expand.

Whats in This Episode:
How did Brent start his own firm?
Why are morning rituals so important?
What inspired Brent to start Sibley Dolman with his partner, Matthew Dolman?
And Brent shares how he went from handling $10,000 litigations to securing seven-figure settlements.

all that and so much more

Transcript

Chris Dreyer

We all want to be more productive and get the most out of our days. Some of you might try and get a 10-minute meditation in or go for that morning run before breakfast. But for today’s guests, the morning ritual is a much more regimented process. You’ll find him sharing his morning coffee with the world on his Instagram stories. Well, before the sun has even risen. While the rest of us ease into our morning. He’s busy achieving more by eight-thirty than most of us will in a full day.

Brent Sibley

My morning routine is everything. And I’m very, adamant about you sharing it in my stories. Like I started really using the stories about a year ago. And I really incorporate that. And I’ve experimented with trying to turn it into a blog, but the morning routine is very structured. I play with the wake-up time a little bit. It varies from four to five. So if I do get to bed early, I’ll try and wake up at four. I go downstairs, which if you follow me on Instagram, you see this like every morning I go downstairs, I do one or two posts. I talked to my Instagram, I make my coffee and I started reading my book. I do a little email, obviously, get somewhere between an hour to two hours of quiet. Just “no interruptions time”, which is the Holy grail for, you know, focus, clarity of mind, and everything. And then I go to the gym. Every day, I get a full hour and a little bit there, and then I’m home. I can see my baby around seven-thirty, get a half an hour to an hour with the baby and the wife. And then I’m here in the office again, somewhere between eight to eight-thirty. And, after that morning, it’s just impossible to have a bad day. Nothing can go wrong once you execute a morning like that.

Chris Dreyer

On today’s show, we talk with Brent Sibley of Sibley Dolman Accident Injury Lawyers about how he started a successful law firm with little more than a website. He threw together in an evening. We also find out why he started turning down clients and how he continues to innovate through technology. That’s coming up on the rankings podcast, the show where founders, entrepreneurs, and elite personal injury attorneys share their inspiring stories about what they did to get to the top and what keeps them there. I’m Chris dryer stay with us. Brent’s morning routine. Isn’t just about getting into a good workflow for the day. He uses it to tackle the things he knows he won’t get a chance to take on later. Something that he thinks we would all benefit from doing.

Brent Sibley

In the hectic environment that we live in, if you don’t have a morning routine like mine, you basically are never going to have any solitude. For me, solitude is very important. I don’t need to be isolated all day in a cave, like a hermit, but a little bit of solitude is mission-critical for developing the big picture, seeing clearly just having that time. And it’s just crazy important to have some time by yourself. I mean the business and the way we live now is the cell phone is always going off. It’s nonstop and I’m able to put it down when I’m with my wife, for dinner, with the family, but, as soon as I’m done with whatever I’m doing, I’m right back to the phone, and I just sometimes just put my phone in the corner in the mornings and I just let it charge because I’m just charging it anyway. And I get two, two and a half hours where I can’t even do anything if I wanted to. There’s no compulsion at all that there’s any FOMO or anything like that. You just know that you have complete peace and it just, it allows you to get to a mental place that you just can’t get to. It’s very similar to, like, when you have as an attorney, you might have a really important document, like an appeal that you need to write, or a big brief that you need to write. And I’ve talked to a lot of lawyers in my business – it’s almost just impossible to do those kinds of tasks during business hours. You just know the only time you’re going to write that appeal or that brief is going to be on a Saturday or a Sunday where you just don’t have anybody that you owe an obligation to in the entire world to get back to them. And you can just turn everything off. And do that deep work,

Chris Dreyer

Let’s talk about the firm. Let’s talk about the business. How did you get started? How did Sibley Law start?

Brent Sibley

I guess the people that listen to this podcast are probably older, so they’ll remember this time, but Napster had just become a thing and we were able to get an account and I was burning CDs illegally from Napster and selling them for 10 bucks making mix tapes. There was no iTunes. This was 1993. So they couldn’t just buy a single at the time, right? You had to buy the whole album on disc. So I was like, most albums have one or two songs that people like I’m going to just buy all the albums, but all the best songs on a disc and sell a mixtape of the best 15 songs and I’ll sell it for 10 or 15 bucks. And that was the beginning of my journey. And I just, I remember those days, it was DJ Scribbly. and that was the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey. So ever since then it’s been this or that or buying and selling watches. Just entrepreneurial stuff through and through. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. So I went to law school and business school. It just made sense. I was able to get mostly a scholarship for that. and then I was doing business law. And it was really boring. I’m like basically pushing paper for businessmen. And I was like, this is not going to be what I do. So I was like, I guess I’m probably not going to practice law because it’s just boring. And then randomly I had passed the bar and I was figuring out what my first job was going to be. And my Jewish basketball coach from growing up was at the restaurant where we were celebrating dinner. He was a personal injury attorney. He’s like, I just fired this guy, I need someone new, come to my office tomorrow. We’ll talk. I went to his office the next morning. He started showing me how it works in the PI game and the industry. And I really loved it. I loved that there was no hourly billing. I love that you just have the clients. You evaluate each case. It’s like the perfect thing for me as like a deal junkie, always looking for a case or a deal to just attack. And get to meet new people, represent people, help them maximize the amount of recovery that they get, guide them through the whole process. So that’s how I fell in love with it. I started going to court and doing demand letters and the whole nine, then that same day he hired me. So I started working for him and after about two years, I was just like, this is great. I know how this industry works, I’ve settled cases, I’ve signed them up and I’ve gone all the way through to settlement. Obviously, the next step for me is to do this on my own. So I did it on my own. And then I was on my own for basically about five years. Then I wound up meeting my partner, Matt, we did a little bit of à la carte business together. And then a couple of years later we said let’s really, get into bed together fully. And that’s where we are now. So that’s the shortest version. I can tell you of how I came to be sitting in the seat that I’m in right now.

Chris Dreyer

That’s the 80-20. So I’m going to dig in here, Brent. So when you started and you went off on your own and you’re like, I’m going to make the move, I’m going to, I’m going to go out on my own. What was it like? What were some of the actions that you took to get business? Because PI is so saturated. There’s just so much competition. What were some things that you did to hustle to get your name out there?

Brent Sibley

I’m so glad you asked, this is another story that I’ve told many times. The day I quit my job I said, I’m going to do this. I’m going to be on my own. This is 2010. I got barred in ‘08. And then I left to go on my own intents about two years later. I said, all right, if I’m going to do this, I need a website. So how do I do that? I’m pretty technologically savvy, but I have no formal training and no real work experience in tech. So all I have is motivation and a general aptitude for it. So I got home from that day five or six o’clock. I said I’m not going to go to sleep tonight until I have a website that’s on the web. So again, 2010, there’s already a lot of stuff, but it’s by no means where we’re at now in 2020. I was on YouTube, pulling up videos – ” how do I register a domain? How to, where do I go to buy a domain?” And I thought it was going to take me like a couple hours maybe, but I think I went to sleep that night at 4:00 AM. And I had a site, it was live. I got it all the way from zero. Literally – I was an employee at four o’clock in the afternoon and at four in the morning I had my own law firm with a website. Virtually I didn’t have office space, but I had it 99% of what you need to do business And I had my firm, I had my website, it was obviously terrible looking, but it doesn’t matter. It was there. People could see me, it had the validation and when I left the firm, my boss was like, I don’t want these cases, these small little cases anyway, that you’ve been working on. So I got to keep the small cases that I had, nothing crazy. I’m talking maybe seven to 10 cases of settlement value between 10,000 and 50,000. So the little stuff. But for me, if I settle all those cases, that was the same equivalent of my annual salary for the whole year. I think I made 50 K it was my first-year salary. So for me, I was just like, all I need to do is settle five or ten cases and I’m breaking even. So this is a no brainer for me with my entrepreneurial mindset. I know how to make money. There’s nothing that can stop me. I’ll just figure it out. Like, I’m going to make a website. And so people know that I have a website. I can share screenshots of it, whatever I look legit. I am legit in my mind. And that was the first thing and it was a pain in the butt to get it online. I had to make an account with GoDaddy. Then I had to buy a URL, and each of these things, when you’ve never done them before, each of these steps takes half an hour to an hour and a half. If you’re not a real entrepreneur by eight o’clock or nine o’clock at night, you’re going to be like, man, maybe I should just pay someone for this or can I afford that? And maybe I should just go look for a job.

Chris Dreyer

I got to applaud you. you hear the term wantrepreneur it’s like all these people have these big ideas, but they never take action. And you just, you took action. So let’s take it to the next level, you’re getting business, you‘re, you’re accelerating. What was one of the biggest turning points in your company to take it to that seven-figure level. What was going on there?

Brent Sibley

I went on my own at 2010, just grinding and I was doing PI cases, but I was also doing non PI cases, ‘cause when you’re that young and that hungry you don’t want to say no to anything. Which can be a good and a bad thing, but eventually you just need to start saying no, which is where this story’s going. In 2014, 2015, right around there. One of my cases started to really materialize. And I had a really good relationship with the client, been dealing with her directly now for two years. I brought, another firm on to try to litigate the case with me because I knew that in order to get the true big money on cases, you need to have a team, you need to have recognition within the industry – the insurance companies need to know who you are, or at least somebody on the case that has tried cases. I worked the case up and I got it into a nice posture where I was able to go to a friend of mine that I went to law school with, him and his dad had an amazing firm and tried a lot of cases. And I said, look, this is a great case. let’s work on it together and let’s do a 50/50 split and they were okay with that. So long story short. We put in the work on that case, we pushed that case, so finally got a good trial setting and we settled the case for not even seven figures, but close to seven figures. And I think I made 140 grand or whatever it was in my fees on that case. And I said, okay, now I’m officially a PI lawyer. Now I can say no to all the little stuff that was basically a distraction. Paid somebody to redo my website, started branding myself as a PI lawyer. And so really the biggest thing for me was getting to a point where I felt like, okay, now this is what I do. This is what I tell people what I do. This is my brand. This is my website. And I say no to everything else. And this is all I do. So that’s the answer of really where I started to get traction in terms of business. That was the point right there. It was around 2014, 2016.

Chris Dreyer

So Brent had established his firm and he was finally getting the cases he wanted. But with his venture growing so quickly, he was getting the attention of lots of non-PI clients too. I asked Brent how he took action to keep his firm moving in the right direction so he could turn the vision of this practice into a reality.

Brent Sibley

Yeah. I think it goes along the same topic of saying no and being disciplined but within the practice. So like, now not only did I have to say no to the other stuff, which for me came relatively easily, but then I had to apply the same thing within the practice, which is like, “Oh, I got this lead about this case, but it has all these problems”, but I want to sign up more cases. I want to do this, blah, blah, blah. So I had to get much more disciplined as we go. And this is something that I’m a big proponent that there are some things, if not everything, that you just have to learn through experience. My buddy just took a case to trial and I was waiting for the result. I was actually there. He text messages me at the end of the trial saying “client credibility is everything”. And I knew what happened. He got a defense verdict because his client was not believable. And that’s what I had to become more disciplined in and realize look, even though a case, sounds good – you have to follow your instincts and you have to hone your instincts and you don’t learn these things until you’ve had a case that sounded great and then it turns out the client was lying to you the whole time. You look back and you say, now I know. When I see those warning signs, I’m going to know that I’m not going to take a case like that. I’m not going to be blinded by. “Oh, it sounds so good. And who cares about this or that” like these things about this case sound great so I’m going to fall for it. And, like I said, I think you have to fall for it a few times. So that was a big thing. I think. Learning how to say no within the industry, getting better, getting more disciplined and just forming a criteria for what is allowed in your funnel of your life, and your case flow. And what’s not allowed. Pretty much every day is a chance to get simpler and better at refining what’s allowed in.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah, that’s incredible. You’ve identified those red flags and now you can recognize and identify those so you don’t take the wrong cases. So, what are some of the tools that you’re using that you strongly recommend for running a practice? What are some of your favorite tools?

Brent Sibley

Oh, man. I’ve used so many over the years. Right now we’re using a software called Lead Docket, which I really love. I’ve been working with the owners directly. Eric, the owner is a programmer himself, so he’s been implementing a lot of this stuff for me. And I’ve customized it and I’m not even getting close to what I could do with it, but, I’ll tell you one workflow that I have and it’s pretty cool. So if somebody messages us and it’s for a case in Georgia, for example. We’re not licensed in Georgia, but because of all the work we’ve done with you over the years, Google sends a lot of people to our website. So someone messaged us in Georgia and Patrice, who’s my high school friend who works for us, he’ll see that and he’ll immediately, in our lead docket portal, he’ll assign it to one of the firms that we’ve worked with in the past, in Let’s just say Atlanta. And what’ll happen is the client will get a text message from us telling them “thank you for contacting us, because your case originated outside of where we practice law we’re going to introduce you to a firm in your area that we’ve worked with before that’s got great results.” And it automatically pulls like a merge field from whoever Patrice assigned, to automatically pull the name of the firm, it says the whole message and then also what it does is it puts a link to a YouTube video that I filmed of me specifically introducing myself to the client so that they get to see my face and they know that we’re working on their case. We know, they know we’re grateful, and that’s been helpful in the conversion and the human factor there. And actually that YouTube video has gotten a bunch of comments and posts because people, they appreciate it. They get caught off guard. They think they’re just messaging like a random law firm for some quick legal advice about the, about a possible case, now they get this message, they get a law firm in their area that we know is good and they get a personal video from me. So that’s just like a really cool workflow. You know, honestly, I set that whole thing up in probably 20 minutes worth of effort, but that’s a cool little hack that I used and it’s working well for us.

Chris Dreyer

That is an incredible workflow. So first of all, the conversion rates for referrals are very low. In many cases, because there’s like this weird handoff, when you’re referring someone by phone and the other person’s got to contact them, but having that text and a video from you is amazing. Not only that the experience too. So a lot of times, when these firms have great reputations on Google My Business, they have great five star reviews and they’ll get a one-star review. Many times it’s because they didn’t take the case. And they referred them out and they didn’t, and the individual didn’t have a good experience. So even though they didn’t work, the case that person will leave them a one-star review. So in your case, you’re going out of your way to help this individual. And so they have that experience, they’ll remember it so they may recommend you to the friends and family in your location. Brent took his firm from a DIY website to a national brand, with connections to other practices all over the country. With all that knowledge and experience I had asked what one piece of advice he would give to all of us to put us on the same track to success.

Brent Sibley

One of the things that I’m working on right now that I think is really important is a concept called time boxing. And some people call it batching. I think, especially for like lawyers and people that are busy and have just a million things going at them in all directions, is to be hyper, aware of what you’re working on, and try and do certain activities in batches. Like the classic example is email. I used to do email on my phone because who doesn’t do email on their phone – it’s convenient and you want to catch up you have 10 minutes while you’re ordering your food on your lunch break. And you want to catch up on some emails. What I realized though, is that on any task that you’re going to do. If you’re going to do it correctly, you need full focus. You really, ideally, you need to be at your desk. But you need to be like really aware of what you’re doing and tracking everything that you’re doing. And if you just do things casually, like off the cuff, you won’t flag that email or you won’t properly categorize it. And if you just time box things and you do certain activities in clumps with tasks and follow ups and to do lists and everything. If you just do it. like super early in the morning or late at night or at a time where you can just be offline, you can be really efficient with it and you can get into a flow where you can do it better if you isolate yourself off and you do everything in clumps like that. And then you’ll also have the benefit of you won’t be distracted by your email during the other points of the day. You cannot allow distractions to come into your world when you’re doing important work. If you want to see some drastic results start being very selfish with your barrier while you’re trying to get work done. And it actually has a lot of benefits too, in terms of like family time. I’ve been putting these practices into play with my family time. And my wife’s a lot happier because when I’m with her now, I don’t feel the urge to check my phone as much, because I know that I can’t really do a good job if I look at my phone anyway. And I don’t even want to look at my phone when I’m at dinner anymore, or when I’m with the family, because I can’t do what I really need and should be doing anyway. So it builds a kind of a revolving virtuous cycle there. So that’s a big thing. I think a lot of people that are going to listen to this will get a lot of value from that.

Chris Dreyer

Great advice, Brent. I think time boxing is certainly something we can all take with us into the office and into our homes and amazing to see what really can be achieved through focusing your efforts and applying a bit of entrepreneurial determination. You’ve been listening to the rankings podcast. I’m Chris dryer, a huge thank you to today’s guest, Brett Sibley for joining us. You can find all of the links from today’s conversation in the show notes. And we want to hear from you. Is there a process that you use to manage your time? Or do you have your own system for managing tasks? Drop us a review and share your thoughts. Thanks for joining us. We’ll see you next time.

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