Episode 50 is a milestone because it’s also the 1-year anniversary of the show. In this episode, Victor goes behind the scenes to share some of his origin story. It’s like Spiderman’s story, except without the super powers.
Make It Last with Victor Medina is hosted by Victor J. Medina, an estate planning and elder law attorney and Certified Financial Planner™. Through his law firm and independent registered investment advisory company, Victor provides 360º Wealth Protection Strategies for individuals in or nearing retirement.
Click below to read the full transcript…
Announcer: Welcome to “Make It Last”. Helping you keep your legal ducks in a row, and your nest eggs secure. With your host Victor Medina, an estate planning and elder law attorney, and certified financial planner.
Victor J. Medina: Everybody, welcome back to Make It Last. I am your host Victor Medina. I can’t tell you how excited I am. In fact, this is show number 50. In addition to it being the 50th show, it is our one year anniversary. Man, what a rollercoaster it’s been.
I want to do something a little bit different for this show. I hope you’re up for it, as well. I have spent the last part of the year trying to put together a show every week that hit on something new ‑‑ a new topic, maybe there’s something in the news, maybe there’s something that’s going on in my practice that I thought I wanted to share with the group ‑‑ I was putting together this show about education.
I wanted to educate people along the way. I thought that was probably the best use of the 30 minutes. I didn’t spend a lot of time talking about myself, my firm, what it is I do, how I got here.
If you will indulge me for the next 30 minutes or so. I think what I would like to do in this show is because it is a special anniversary show. Break the fourth wall a little bit and talk to you now a little bit about myself, talk to you a little bit about the practice, how I arrived here.
We’re going to call this little behind the scenes with Victor, and it’s always nice when I talk about myself in the third person, I guess, but I’m here to share that information.
I hope you find it interesting along the way. If you don’t, after 30 minutes, it’s OK. We’re going to come back next week with another show because I’m pleased to announce that in fact, we are continuing on for at least another six months.
We’ll be on the radio and we’ll be on the podcast, and we’ll be producing these. You have an opportunity to get back into the regular swing of things. If you only attend for the education say, “What the heck is this guy doing talking about himself.” Let me do that.
I want to give you some background into how I arrived here, because I think unless you’re a client of mine, you really don’t know the story. What’s been interesting as I’ve been doing this show over the last year or so is that people have arrived at the show in different ways.
People will show up and there’ll be clients of mine and they’ll tune in, because I’m promoting the show. We’ll have people that listen on the radio. We’ll have people that were made aware of the show because of a talk that I’ve done out in the community work, one of the books that I’ve written.
I never quite know who’s listening in at any particular time. I always assumed that, coming into this show, I didn’t want to use it as a platform to always be promoting me, our practice and what it is that we do. Truth of the matter is that we have a good practice.
We see clients on a regular basis. I don’t need, necessarily, to be using this as a marketing tool from time to time. It’s great when we get to meet people. This is not the sole purpose of the show at all.
In fact, we do this show really as a service ‑‑ one of the reasons why we’re on the radio, why we take the show and then go ahead and give it away on the podcast. One of the deals that I had arranged was to be able to own the rights to the show. That way I could rebroadcast in different places.
I never really thought about the show as a self‑promotion opportunity. I tried to stay away from talking about myself. I don’t want people to be turned off and somehow mix the message for the intent.
I don’t want them to hear about what it is we’re doing and say, “Well, obviously, that’s just being told or shared because he wants us to call them,” or whatever it is. We stayed away from that.
From time to time, we’ll get emails that say, “We don’t know enough about you. We’d like to know more about you.” I want to share that. I’m going to break this up into different areas, some personal, some professional ‑‑ a little bit about the journey. If I don’t have organization and structure to this show, I don’t know if I can pull it off.
I will tell you this is a delightful show to be able to do this week. Unlike prior weeks, where I have to come in with piles of paper and prep and get ready to go, this one I know everything I need to talk about. I just need to stay organized, get through 30 minutes and we’ll get through it all.
Let me tell you a little bit about me just personally without revealing too much information so you don’t break into my home. I want to tell you a little bit about what my home and my family life is like. I think that is really instructive to the professional life that I’ve created and the things that I do in my practice.
I am married. I’ve been married for the last 17 years. I married a wonderful woman who is a school psychologist in a local school district. The story of us getting together is actually that she used to work with my mother in the school district in Connecticut.
My wife took her first job. My mom had been there for about 20 years. My mom arranged for us to meet. My mom was a little sneaky about that. She invited Jennifer over to be able to just get to know the area. She was new to that part of Connecticut.
She arranged for a time that I would be home, pass by each other. I was instantly smitten with my wife. I asked her out on a date for the next night. We went on a date two days later after that and haven’t been apart since.
We’ve been together for over 20 years and married for 17 of those. The best thing about having your mom set you up is that she can’t complain about anything that your wife does. You picked her mom. This is your horse.
Anyway, in addition to being married, we have three children. I have three wonderful boys. They are spread across in ages. I have a 14‑year‑old. I have an 11‑year‑old, and I have a 5‑year‑old.
The 14‑year‑old will be going to high school next year. The 11‑year‑old will be going to middle school next year. The five‑year‑old will be going to elementary school next year. For next year, I’ve got one in each of the different categories of grades that are out there.
They’re also different. I’m constantly impressed with the young men that they are becoming. I find that my biggest challenge as a father is we need to prepare them for the world. There’ll be some point in time where they’ve got to leave the nest. They’ve got to men on their own.
They have to be willing to contributing to a family, and all the stuff that comes with that. That’s my biggest worry. I worry am I being successful in that? Other things we do too harsh. There are things we don’t do enough. I am also optimistic. I see in them just this incredible light that they bring, each of them skilled in their individual ways.
I would tell you if you ask me what a dream scenario would be. I would love all three of them to take over the businesses that I have created. I try to show them every day, first, how much fun it is to do what we do, how helpful we are, and how rewarding it is.
I’m also a little bit biased, because I feel that if I got them involved, then that would mean that they would stick close by, and they would be with me. Anyway, if you’re watching the video feed, over on my back shoulder here, there’s a picture of all three of them. I keep them on my desk all the time. I’m always thinking about them.
Most of what I do links back to service of them. I think about those in what I do in these terms of how can I make sure they’ve got a great life as well, and how am I setting them up for that?
We’ve lived in central Jersey, my family, for the last 13 years. Basically, just after my oldest son was born, we relocated to this area from Massachusetts where I went to school, law school. I started my career out there.
It was largely because the family that was here in New Jersey, on my wife side was this large family that my kids would be able to have an opportunity to get to know and be around. I have a smaller family. I have a brother, and a sister. They’re in New York and in South Carolina. I don’t have the number of cousins that my wife has.
We don’t have the next generation in there. As we started relocating, it did make a lot of sense to think about them being around that family. When we relocated to New Jersey, the reason for doing that was really so that they can be raised in a social governance, this tribe that my wife’s family had it around here.
To a large extent, we’ve been successful. That family is still around. They know their cousins well. We’ve been able to carve out this life. I wasn’t somebody who was licensed in New Jersey. When I came here, part of the deal was to go and take the license again.
It was important enough to reestablish ourselves in this area that I went back and took that hellish exam, called the bar exam, when we relocated to the area. That’s probably enough about me.
Victor: When we come after the break, I want to talk a little bit about my professional career, and give you some background about how I arrived, where I am in the businesses that I own, and of course talk about how we started the radio show, some of the other outlets that we have, and why it all kind of comes together. Stick with us. We’ll be right back on Make It Last.
Victor: Welcome back to Make It Last. We are in a special one‑year anniversary show. I’m sharing a little bit about myself and behind the scenes. We’ve spent the last 49 episodes basically giving all the education that we can. Taxes, retirement, investing, legal planning, nursing home, medicate, all crazy stuff.
Now finally having the opportunity, I figure in this one special show to share a little bit about me and our practice, and what we’ve done. Last segment, if you missed it, was just talking about my personal family life. Now, we’ll get to the stuff that’s relevant for you, which is the practice that I’ve built and how I arrived here.
When I started my legal career, I didn’t get into estate planning. I wasn’t really interested at that time in owning a firm. I’ve got to be honest, I went out, I was looking for a job. I went out and clerked for a federal judge and did that for a year.
Then after that, I ended up working for a large law firm, specifically working in mergers and acquisitions. That was the hot thing to do when I got out of school. I did that for about a year or so.
Loved the job that I had with the judge ‑‑ if nothing else, it gave me a great opportunity to see right at the interaction between people and the law, and how that worked. When I moved to the large law firm, I don’t think I saw a client, or a real person with a real problem. I was very much a cog in a machine on that.
The clerkship that I had with my federal judge in Hartford, Connecticut, really opened my eyes to ways to be really intelligent about the law and in the practice.
Then, I had a family member with an estate administration problem, which was that when they passed away, they had this plan that they had paid a ton of money for, and thought that it should have worked really well for them. It turns out that that plan just blew up.
They called me because I was the only lawyer in the family at that time. Since then, my cousin’s got into law school, but at that time I was the only person with a law degree. I suppose I should consider myself lucky that I didn’t have a medical degree, because they’d be calling all the time [laughs] with health problems.
I was called in, and I thought that the work that the estate planning attorney had done would have qualified for malpractice, because the way that the plan just blew up shocked me. It couldn’t possibly be the case that that’s something that would work out in the community and be acceptable.
It turns out, not only was it not malpractice, it was common practice. It gave me an opportunity as I was transitioning away from the large law firm and thinking about opening my own practice, to think about how we work in this world.
How is it that estate planning attorneys really do their job? If we focus on the right things, can we change the approach so we get better results? That set me on the path as I created the law firm of changing up a lot of the things that had been standard ways of doing this work.
I’ll give you a couple of examples. You put an estate plan in place, and many people think about it as a, “Once and done,” activity, so when it’s done, they never have to think about it again. That’s such a false sense of security, because the laws change and your personal and your financial circumstances change.
I understand, nobody wants to be thinking about doing their estate plan brand‑new every year, and certainly they don’t want to be paying for those retail costs every year.
What I came up with was this way of putting a plan in place, and then being able to visit with clients on a regular basis. Let’s say, once a year, or even once every three years, depending on how people wanted to do it. I was firmly committed to them having a plan that worked when they needed it.
They spent a lot, they were really hoping that what they got out of it was this peace of mind, and really an effective plan, that if they became incapacitated or when they died, then this plan would work. I knew that if they didn’t attend to that on a regular basis, if they didn’t review it, there’s an opportunity that it wouldn’t work when they needed it.
We created this client care program. The client care program is an opportunity for people to review their estate planning documents at a very cost‑effective rate, and then make these updates.
That way, their plan stays up to date all the years. Not just when they set it up, but even when there’s tax and laws changes, and their financial and personal circumstances change over our life. That idea of creating a firm, brand‑new, and just thinking about really, “What is our goal?”
If it’s to have these plans work, and not just to produce these papers so that people hit the checklist on the to‑do, how is it that we can do that? How is it we can do that, make it work? This client care program is one of those ways.
That began the evolution of the other services that we provide. As you might know, as the tagline says, we are not only working the legal space, but we are also working the financial space. That evolved out of the work that we were doing in legal.
What would happen is, we would put these plans in place and people would go off and work with their own financial advisors. I would say about 50 percent of the time, it worked out.
The other half of the time that it didn’t work out, it was a catastrophic disaster. It was really because either the financial advisor didn’t know what they were doing or was looking out for their best interests instead of the clients’.
That’s one of the reasons why I’m such a stickler for staying on top of fiduciary obligations and working with somebody that works with your best interests because for me, I saw what happens to clients when advisors put their own interest ahead of their clients’. When they’re not thinking about their clients’ best interests, and they’re thinking about their wallet, things go badly.
We said to ourselves, “If we care about our clients, if we truly care about making sure that plans work when we need them, then we ought to think about adding our financial services as what we can help with them, because there’s an opportunity for them to do better.”
Victor: When I come back from the next break, I’ll actually give you the rest of the evolution on that including all the things that we do to make sure that we share this information.
It started with the idea that we can bring in these collaborative, complimentary services, to make sure that people had it all, when it came to putting the professional advice that legal or financial lives together. Anyway, we come back to give you the rest of the story. Stick with us on Make It Last, we’ll be right back.
Victor: Welcome back to Make It Last, and this was our special anniversary show. I’ve been chatting a little bit about me and the behind‑the‑scenes. For me, I think it’s always been a labor of love, this idea about educating people.
When we took the break, I was talking about this new adventure that we went on to add financial services. It was born out of this idea that if we really cared about our clients, then we owed them the ability to see their plan through the whole way. Not to stop short of the finish line, simply because we couldn’t provide those other services.
That lead to all of these additional credentials and things that we’re able to do. I went out and I got a life insurance license, and then I got the ability to put annuities in place. I got a securities license, and then when I went out and I took the CFP exam, for the certified financial planner.
Let me tell you, that exam was [laughs] really, really difficult. It covers all these different areas of financial matters, like investments, income taxes, insurance, estate planning, retirement, and education planning, all of these different things. I was so proud when I passed that exam [laughs] because I felt it was even more rewarding than the bar exam.
The bar exam, I went to law school for three years for. I should be able to know enough about legal. For the financial, I really had to put in the work to make sure. It wasn’t my area of professional training before that point in time.
I think there was something to the idea that I was already working in that area. I already knew a lot of this stuff. Being able to prepare just for the exam made it possible for me to pass, and do well in doing so.
After the CFP, I got additional credential with the RICP, which stands for Retirement Income Certified Professional. It’s really for people that are focusing in retirement, which is what we’re doing. We don’t focus on debt reduction.
We focus on real people with real issues, and trying to help them through. Specifically, in the retirement, making it through the rest of the way. Making it last, if you would say. All those credentials came together.
What we’ve been working on, I think, most recently, is a way of presenting that information to new clients, so that they understand that we are the place that they can come to when they have questions about their professional lives, their legal, and their financial planning, and they want the right answer, and they want it under‑one‑roof.
We focus on ways of reducing the complexity of that to a very simple conversation with one provider, one place that they can trust, the place that they know has their back, and then put it all in place with that person, with that firm.
We’ve worked a lot of that. To come full circle, I love the process of educating people. For me, there is something really rewarding about being in a situation in which you can teach something and then see people recognize and get it.
A lot of what we’ve been doing in the way that we communicate with our existing clients, our new clients, obviously, this stuff that we do, like the radio show and the podcast, is we go ahead and we take the approach of the educator.
We educate to empower people to make great decisions. We feel that if we give them the education, they’ll make the decision to work with us, because we are one of the few providers that work in that way.
Satisfy the questions that are raised by being educated about all of the subjects. We’re not afraid. We’re not afraid of sharing information. For a long time, I would go out and I would do these seminars. I would go and speak with these large crowds. I would do them regularly, every month.
We’d invite people in. We would do dinner seminars. The point of dinner seminar was, really, just to put the education out there. Teach people about what it is that they needed to know, with the idea that once they heard it, more people than not would want to come and work with us. We proved that out to be true.
Here we are, busy in that area, and we realize we need to spread this out. That in fact, we’ll serve as many people as we can fit in the door over the course of the year. At some point in time we’re going to max out on that. Still, we want people to have the right information to be able to make great decisions.
It’s a world of abundance. We won’t be able to serve everybody, but we can teach more and more people. A few years ago, I ended up publishing two books. One book in the area of legal planning, called “Make It Last, How to Get, and Keep, Your Legal Ducks in a Row.”
Another one in the financial world, called, “Make It Last, Ensuring Your Nest Egg Is Around as Long as You Are.” I’m in the process of writing a couple of additional books. Those are the foundation books that set out a lot of our philosophy about what is that we’re doing.
It teaches people in really accessible ways about these higher‑level principles. We’ll go ahead and we’ll talk about expense ratios. We’ll talk about trust. We’ll talk about legal planning. We’ll talk about how to deal with insurance and spin down for retirement.
All of those things are in those books in a way to give them that information, but there’s a barrier to entry there. Someone has to buy the book. Or they have to meet us and be in a situation where we might give them the book. It’s not like I can give out the book to everybody. We needed to lower the barrier entry even more.
That’s when I approached the radio station, and said, “Well, what about a show, 30 minutes? Here are all the credentials I have. Here’s the books that I’ve written,” and they loved the idea. What we did was say, “OK, but if we’re going to do them, we’re going to own the rights for it. Because what I want to do is I want to spread this out further.
You’ve got the radio station and you’re going to broadcast this on the weekends, but we’re also going to have this show. We’re going to have the opportunity to share that information on a podcast, or on a video feed, or however else we can spread it out.” We came to those arrangements. Worked out really well.
This show is now the natural extension of us wanting to continue to teach people, and give them the information that we feel that they need in order to make great decisions about legal, financial planning, retirement, all of that stuff.
It’s great that we have the show because it gives me an opportunity to focus on news, clarify the message that we have. Not only things that are topical, and present in there, new tax law changes, for instance.
It also gives me a time to think through the message that we want to share, and clarifying that message in a way that we think is accessible over the course of the 30‑minute show. In the past week, we tackled some heady topics.
Some fairly difficult subject matter, and we only have the voice to do that. We only have the video on the show. I don’t have a form I can give you. I don’t have a worksheet in this format. It helps focus that message so that people have the opportunity to understand what it is that we need to share in that moment.
On the flip side, while we’re trying to be super clear about the message that we’re sharing, we also, because it’s a 30‑minute show, know that we don’t have to get it all in in 30 minutes. Truth of the matter is, that I have way more material than I cover in the 30 minutes.
If you’re a longtime listener, you know that. I’m a wrapping‑up‑quickly at the end of a segment, at the end of the show, because we have more material than we can get to. There’s always another week. At least until they keep renewing us. There will always be another opportunity to tackle something again.
What I will do is, I will actually set out the next ‑‑ depending on the contract that we’ve got, so we’ve got another six month contract ‑‑ I’ll set out the next 26 shows, and really think about what I want to cover there, allowing for some flexibility, new topical things that might come out.
Making sure that I’m hitting these topics, an equal number of legal and financial topics, so that everyone is getting the broad base education that we want them to have. Then thinking about, “What haven’t I covered yet?”
I will tell you a little secret. The first time that I sat down to do the show, I was scared and just witless. [laughs] I didn’t know how I was going to fill 30 minutes. I remember when the producer came, and said, “OK, well, why don’t you just take a trial run? Why don’t you go? Just talk for a little while and we’ll see how much you can fill.”
I look up and eight minutes has passed, and I need a segment break. I couldn’t believe how quickly it went. What’s nice is, even though we’ve done all of these shows, there’s still so much more to cover. We’re never running out of topics, the things that we want to talk about.
I have to admit something, that you probably don’t remember everything that we’ve covered already. The nicest thing about hosting the show on our own and being able to have all of the past episodes is that, unlike something that’s broadcast once and never seen again, you can go all the way back.
Whether it’s on Spotify, or you can go on the YouTube channel, or you can go to the Website, or you can subscribe to the podcast, you can go through all 49, if you’d like. It’s like a library. It’s a crash course at a PhD level on all of these subjects.
I also understand that not everybody can retain all of that information. If we cover something that we’ve already covered in a prior show, maybe in a different way, or we try a new story for it, a new way of teaching that education, it’s really with the idea that we want them to get it.
We want you as the listener to really understand what it is we’re trying to teach, because we think that it’s super important. What does the future hold? From the perspective of the show, we want to continue to be able to do this and cover these topics. The way that we approach this is really integrating it.
Thinking about the idea of legal planning is creating the castle, and then the financial advisement is putting stuff in the castle and filling it, and making sure that it’s with the best stuff. We think that that’s going to continue to have a future.
I say we, by the way, you hear this, “Well, how many people are on there?” Within the firm and the business that we’ve run, we’ve got a team of about six or seven people. They’re all really strong team members. I think about this all as a collective group.
For me, the way that I run the business is that it’s super important for these people around me to live great lives. That means that I have to be committed to building a business that continues to serve them, even as I grow and do other things.
I think about them as integral parts of, not only my professional life, but also my clients’ lives. I think about their training and their development as ways to serve our client base. Everyone that comes through here has the opportunity to work on different items.
Team members here can work on different areas that we have. We give them the opportunity to grow like that. We support and invest in their growth. From the perspective of the clients, we always think that the legal foundation is the base level of what we need to do, and so people start there.
We also feel an obligation to talk to them about financial stuff. We see that as part of the whole planning process. For anybody, I don’t think I have actually talked about [laughs] any of our service. I went through self‑promotion show and didn’t actually promote anything.
If you’re interested in doing that, you contact Medina Law Group. You start the process and you meet with us, and you hear what we have to say in that area. If it’s something that you’re interested in, we’ve got great solutions for you.
The idea is that we’re going to continue to spread this education and continue to do it for that show. I am so thankful to you as an audience for giving me the platform to be doing this 50 times already. I’m hoping for at least another 50 more.
Come with you next year and share everything that I’ve learned over the next year of doing the show. I ask something from you, which is that, if this is something that you really enjoy, if it’s something that you have a great time listening and you get something out of it, I’m sure that you’ve got friends that want to hear about it too.
The more you can do to spread the news, whether it’s to listen to the show on Saturday morning, or subscribe to the podcast, or the video feed and watch it, I think there are more people that you could help us serve by spreading that word.
Go ahead and do that. We certainly appreciate any words that you would have about the show to friends and family, so that they can learn it as well.
Victor: That’s at 50 shows so far, 50 more. I want to thank you for joining us. This has been Victor Medina, with Make It Last, where we help you keep your legal ducks in a row and your financial nest egg secure. We will catch you next Saturday. Bye‑bye.
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