Nov 30, 2019
ORIGIN STORY – Insurance and Estates
I was let go, just like that, from a six-figure salary job. The world seemed to slow down, as my boss, a type A real estate developer, tried to let me down easy. He looked at me, seemed kind of confused and said that the position wasn’t working and that “maybe I needed to be a bit more entrepreneurial.”
It was 2005 and the height of the real estate boom in FL, and I’d just purchased a $650,000 home with a big fat “jumbo” mortgage. My mind began to spin around on what I would do to avoid total financial collapse. I was overextended with minimal reserves. I was living in South Florida, and the economy seemed to be shifting. I had two small children and a wife depending on me.
As I drove home that evening, I felt a mixed sense of relief and panic. To say that I felt a bit numb and hazy would be an understatement. On one hand, my 10-year foray into finding a “stable” job had just come to an abrupt and highly ironic end. On the other hand, I really couldn’t make sense of anything out at that point.
Reflecting back, I’d come from a family of self-made business people. I watched my dad as a real estate agent, go through many business cycles, and our family life often alternated between feast and famine. I could still feel the fear of financial lack, listening to my parents talking quietly in the other room about how they would afford Christmas presents, and whether last minute closing might literally save Christmas.
My life after that was on ongoing battle between my internal desire for freedom AND purpose. I knew in my bones that I wanted the freedom and opportunity offered in game of self made business, demonstrated by my dad, uncle and grandpa. Yet I couldn’t shake the pressing need to pursue what I felt would be a more “stable” lifestyle for my family. I’d learned the tools to start a business and sell at a young age yet never exercised the courage or confidence to pursue my own freedom. So my external goals had been to make as much money as possible working for others. I wanted to make money to achieve success in my eyes and the eyes of others. To gain the status and esteem of my parents and friends. Internally I wanted to overcome the sense of futility and regain a sense freedom, purpose and adventure in my life. At the deepest level, I wanted to make my family proud, to be loved.
After my firing AND the sense of total futility in working for others, putting into a 401k, etc., as I considered my options, since I had no law license yet in FL, my wife and I decided for some odd reason to start a commercial office cleaning business. So, we cooked up some marketing and within a couple of weeks I began door-to-door sales with a blue shirt, freshly minted “Cleaning Frenzy”. I had been thrown into a basic entrepreneurial start up…my real learning was about to begin.
The combination of Midwest work ethic, creative marketing and customer service, allowed me to secure a number of cleaning accounts within a relatively short time, and over the next 18 months, we had about $15,000 a month in gross cleaning accounts. This time taught me that humility, service and relationships are the key to all business. It also served as a springboard for me reenter the legal arena with a new focus.
During my time as a small business owner, I heard an ad on the radio about family living trusts.
Epiphany#1: A light bulb went on at that moment as I realized that this is something in law that I can do. I was reflecting back to something that my uncle, who’d been a life insurance agent, about making sure to have a good “defense”. This value certainly stemmed from my experiences with my dad, having all offense and no defense if things went wrong…I went back to the main reason that I’d become a lawyer, to protect people from fallout and bad choices. The kind of potential fallout that I was facing now.
These values would form the basis for an estate planning law practice that I started in from the ground up and minimal reserves in 2008. Since then, having met with thousands of clients and learning their stories has taught, I’ve learned more people and choices than from the prior 20 years and all of my schooling combined. I still observe and learn something new from others every day. Yet after about 5 years of practice, I found something was still missing.
You see, I still often dealt the same nagging feeling of instability that I’d experienced with my dad’s business. Some months offered bucco sales and others required some belt tightening, something I learned that most business owners can relate to. Over the years, I’d tried to invest in stocks and real estate and yet these avenues alone did little to level out the sales roller coaster that I’d experienced. I was going from check to check, client to client, trying to figure out how much to do or spend to increase sales, without over extending.
Epiphany#2: One day, a colleague of mine mentioned using whole life insurance as a way to create financial stability. He described it kind of like having a ready reserve of cash to draw from if needed. He also said that this reserve could be borrowed against kind of like real estate but with less hassles in order to fund other higher risk investments like stocks or business expansion. My memory clicked back again to conversations with my uncle of 10 years earlier because this is what he’d said and I hadn’t been ready to listen at that time.
This time, the idea of using permanent life insurance for financial stability got my wheels turning and I began digging, reading Nelson Nash’s book and looking into all things related to what is often called infinite banking or private family finance. My search got me thinking about what an important part of estate planning life insurance fulfills, even more than just the death benefit for loved ones and I started thinking about all of the ways to integrate estate planning education and products with life insurance education.
Even more important, I started thinking about the plight of entrepreneurial business owners in general and how they need to prepare for and weather the lean times as well as the abundant ones.
When these pieces of the puzzle fell into place, I knew I’d found my perfect mission. To bring together the need to create a family legacy estate plan with the important factor of life insurance protection AND to make this protection not only about a potential death, but also to accommodate the cycles of business and life.
I began to apply these truths, my wife and I and had a shift in belief and confidence in our future. As our policies grew, so did our confidence and happiness.
These shifts have now created a sense of control that comes with a clear path to financial freedom that comes with stability, but more important has solidified within me the courage to defy conventional thinking, pursue my dreams, and to encourage others to do the same.
As a sidenote, I learned through hardship that it was never about pursuing a “stable job” or career and I no longer worry about making “safe” career choices. I’ve found the opposite is true. There is zero security in a job or career. The key to both internal and external freedom has everything to do with attaining the right mindset about your purpose, and then freeing yourself to pursue it with everything you have, and while doing this using the right powerful tools every day to eventually take the financial roller coaster ride out of the equation so that when trouble comes, you have an awesome safety net.