Ep 044

Cracking the Code on Attorney Referrals & Casting a Vision that Inspires Your Team


Triad Member: Victor Medina

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Inside This Episode

Today, I’m joined by Triad Member Victor Medina, the founder of both Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth Advisors.

If you’re interested in cracking the advisor-attorney referral code — today’s episode is for you.

After years as an estate planning attorney, Victor realized he could better serve his clients if he was also able to address their wealth management needs. In 2014, he launched his own RIA, creating a holistic practice that allows him to better follow his north star — helping people lead a great retirement knowing the best is yet to come.

3 of the biggest insights from Victor Medina

  • #1 With experience on both sides of the advisor-attorney relationship, Victor shares the 2 paths advisors can take to build exclusive referral partnerships with attorneys.

  • #2 How implementing a holistic planning approach helped Victor skyrocket his prospect conversion rates to 70%.

  • #3 Tips and strategies for keeping your team and your actions aligned with your long-term purpose as you scale.


  • Who is Victor Medina?
  • The career journey to estate planning
  • The FA + estate planner referral network
  • How advisors can get attorney referrals
  • Treating your practice like a business
  • The jump from attorney to advisor
  • An overlooked factor of referral relationships
  • Increasing prospect conversions
  • The My Great Life exercise
  • Defining a “north star” for your business
  • Tying a financial plan into true purpose
  • How to stay true to your vision as you scale
  • Infusing your team with your vision
  • The destination vs. the journey
  • Removing the line between business and life







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  • “We exist as a firm, as something that we want in the world. We exist in part to make sure that you have a successful journey. And that means I don’t want to bring you on board unless I can see that 10-, 20-, or 30-year path for you.” – Victor Medina

  • “In life, it never works when you overvalue your contributions and undervalue what you’re receiving.” – Victor Medina

  • “Because lawyers tend to be very driven by doing the right thing and they tend to value the people that can do the right thing, you could establish really strong relationships just by being great.” – Victor Medina

  • “There’s a market advantage for just doing the right thing well.” – Victor Medina

  • “When you exist to lead people to great lives, to helping them make sure that the last third of their life is the best of their life and that the best is yet to come, you now have the answer for lots of different questions that you weren’t sure how to answer before.” – Victor Medina

  • “Leadership is the ability to improve the judgment-making ability in the people around you.” – Victor Medina

  • “Too often the definition of what we do and who we are is playing a game where the score of that is measured by somebody outside of us.” – Victor Medina

Brad Johnson: Welcome back to another episode of Do Business Do Life. Today, we have Victor Medina here with us. Welcome to the show, Victor.

Victor Medina: Hey. Thanks, Brad.

Brad Johnson: Well, you had a well-timed text. It is Friday as we sit here and record and you said, “Hey, if you’re cool with it, I think I’m going to crack a nice bottle of wine for this conversation.” And you know you’re speaking my love language right there. So, I went ahead and joined you, so I figured we might as well start by letting the listeners know what we’re sipping on while we have the conversation here today.

Victor Medina: Sounds good. So, proof positive, right? There’s actually a glass of wine that has been poured. I have a bottle of Neal Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley and Neal is one of my favorite vineyards to get wine from. It’s one of those ones where you have to like know the winemaker when you call. You can go visit and it be cool but like we want to put an order in. This is like a small enough one where they can ship to all of the states and you actually have to make a call. They won’t be in any of the stores that are out there. So, I had it special for this recording. I’m very excited for this. I’m excited for the recording, but I’m excited for the wine too.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. Well, I’ll do a little show and tell too. So, for those of you that are watching on video and not just listening to audio, we’re doing a little visual here. So, this is a vineyard actually I just found out about. It’s called The Eyrie Vineyards Pinot Noir. So, it’s out of Willamette Valley. And this was actually my buddy, Dylan, who I think you’ve met. He’s been to a few Triad experiences. My wife, Sara, and I went up there and we said, “Hey, what should we check out?” That was one of his recommendations and it’s officially one of our favorite Pinots. So, it was a great recommendation. And I also went ahead, I don’t know if you can see on camera, but I busted out the Do Business Do Life wine glass as well for today. So, we’re very on-brand today. Well, so as we dive in, I always typically start just I feel like as you dive into a conversation, it’s helpful to know what somebody is about, what makes them tick, where they’re from. And you have a really interesting story because your family was not originally from, as you told me before we hit record, they were from a territory of the United States in America, not one of the states so I’ll let you unpack that.

But also, you have an interesting journey in finance because you were not originally a financial advisor. You were actually originally an attorney and then found your way into finance. So, if you don’t mind, I’d love to hear some stories about just kind of what got you to where you are today and if there’s any lessons along the way because you had a unique upbringing different from many in finance. So, I’d love to hear the lessons learned along the way.

Victor Medina: Yeah, and it is interesting to sort of unpack it all because there is an element where I feel like I’ve forged in new direction everywhere I’ve gone. So, there aren’t a lot of financial advisors that look like me, not a lot of minorities in the fields generally. It’s not the same proportion as there is in the general population. Yeah. And then in addition to that, my journey wasn’t one that was a traditional financial advisor journey because it did start in law school. So, I think the most interesting part for the beginning of this is that my journey to law school was actually prompted by the relationship with my wife. And so, when I came out of college, I came out with not a great GPA from school, nobody beating down my doors for a job. I really wanted to get into pharmaceutical sales because at that time they were giving you a car and an expense account and I thought, “That’s up my alley,” but they said, “You don’t have good grades. You don’t have a science degree. You weren’t on a major sports team. Tell us again why we should hire you. Why don’t you get another sales job, prove that you can do sales, and then come back?”

So, actually, my very first job was selling copiers. And here’s how lucky I was. I got to sell Pitney Bowes copiers. Now, they’re known forever for their mail machines back in the day when you needed a mail machine. But I had a territory that was in Xerox’s hometown. So, I had Stamford, Connecticut selling Pitney Bowes. I was knocking on a lot of doors. People are like, “What are you? Do you even know where you are?” kind of thing. So, I got lucky with some sales and then transitioned that over into pharmaceutical sales. Got lucky again, I think, because we were launching a pharmaceutical that was going to revolutionize antidepressants. In fact, has. The drug that I was selling in 1997 has had a couple of formulations and did very well. I did very well, but I had met my wife at that point in time. And here are her quasi-exact words, which was, “Look, you’re reasonably intelligent, but if you don’t get another degree, people are going to think they’re not going to listen to you unless you go get another degree.” She says, “So, I don’t care what you do. Go to medical school or business school. Go to law school. But if you want to stay with me, you’re going to have to go back to school because I won’t be with you not realizing your potential, which I think you have the opportunity to do.” So, I went back to law school.

Brad Johnson: Real quick, Victor, because I remember you told me a story about how you originally met your wife, which is a really fun one since you brought up the topic of kind of that journey.

Victor Medina: Sure.

Brad Johnson: Because I believe your mother introduced you to your wife, correct?

Victor Medina: Yes. So, what happened was my wife is very highly credentialed and highly educated, and she was in the process of a doctoral program for school psychology. And about everything but the dissertation or so, they call ABD, she needed a break from school and started interviewing for jobs and she was going to her graduate school in New York City. She’s originally from New Jersey. She’s a Brooklyn girl by way of New Jersey. And so, she started to interview for jobs. And one of the jobs that she interviewed for was the district in which my mom was also a school psychologist. And so, the director of that department doesn’t speak Spanish but my mom does and so did my wife as a candidate. So, any time there was a bilingual candidate, they would send my mom out to take this candidate out to lunch. So, my mom does, conducts the entire lunch in Spanish just to see, “Look, recruit him or her, but also see if they’ve got the good, the language goods. If we hire them, will they be able to do the job?” So, then the course of that lunch, my mom says, “Well, listen, it’ll be okay when you come here. My son’s home from school. He can show you around.” That’s like in the first third of the lunch. At the last third of the lunch, she says, “Well, listen, I have to go. I have to take my son to the dermatologist.”

Now, what she meant was my younger brother, who needed to go to the dermatologist, but my wife heard pimply-faced mama’s boy. “No, I’m not interested in having that meeting or that conversation,” and she actually deferred coming over to the house many times. So, my mother invited her over until finally it was impolite to say no anymore. And so, she shows up and I’m there and I have more hair than I have right now, you know, just good-looking Latin man, as I am walking down there. So, my wife was surprised to see me. I asked her out and we never looked back. The nice thing has been, though, that any time that my mom has a problem with my wife or what’s going on in our family, I said, “That’s not my problem. She’s your choice. I just went with what you selected.”

Brad Johnson: I love it. Thanks for sharing that. Okay. So, your wife’s like… So, were you married when she told you to go to school or you were engaged?

Victor Medina: No. We weren’t even engaged. My wife has ideas, as they like to say. She’s got thoughts, notes, so to speak. And one of them was she’s got very clear about whether or not people are meeting their potential just from the outside. My wife is like white rice. She goes with everything. You know, you sit down with her, everyone loves her. Everyone tolerates me, but they really love her. And so, when she says something, she’s a listener. And when she finally speaks, you do kind of pay attention. And so, for her, it was, “Listen, go back to school and go do something more with your life.” Because I was selling copiers and selling pharmaceuticals, I had dreams of maybe opening a restaurant at a whole theme. It was going to sell appetizers and art on the walls like, “Oh, this is what we’ll do, and we’ll put it next to a movie theater.” And good because we didn’t do that. But it was law school that I said, “Okay, great, I’m going to sit down.” I studied for the LSAT barely, took it, did well enough, got a scholarship. Like, all of that was prompted by her discussion. So, really when I went to law school was a decision whether or not to stay in Connecticut near her or go up to Boston and go to school up there.

Brad Johnson: Okay. So, fast forward, you’re officially an attorney. Did you go directly into estate planning? Was that the original goal?

Victor Medina: No. I am like the perfect picture of go and achieve whatever they tell you is the metric for success. So, in law school, what you’re supposed to do is go get on law review and then do a summer clerkship for a big law firm and then do a federal clerkship if you do that so work for a judge, federal judicial clerkship. Unfortunately, I went to a law school that had no grades. So, when it went to going like they were narrative evaluations, “Victor did excellent this quarter, did very good.” They’re all code words off of it. So, I had to go the back way around to work for a large law firm and to clerk for a federal judge in Hartford, Connecticut. And it’s one of those gigs that when they call you and say, “We would like to hire you,” you just say yes to that one. Because all things being equal, I’m not sure I would have decided to live in Hartford for a year but federal judge calls you and says, “We’re going to offer you a job,” you take it. So, I had to do that. I had to go back to a large law firm. We had our first child who’s 8 and who’s now 20. This is about 20 years ago. And we spent one trip coming home for Thanksgiving and it was like nine hours on what was normally like a three-hour drive. You’re stuck on the Palisades over the Tappan Zee in New York.

And we’re like, “We’re done with this.” We want to get closer to family. And my wife has a very large family in New Jersey, and I have a very small family in the United States, bigger family over in Puerto Rico. But we love the social governance of what it was to be in her family. It’s one of these things where it’s like the world could tell you that you’re great, but if your family tells you you’re a jerk, you’re a jerk. It’s the same thing in the opposite. The world can tell you that you’re not meeting their expectations but if your family tells you you’re all right, then you’re all right. And so, she had this large sort of matriarchal family that was over there and we said we want to move close to them. So, I took another large law firm job, and it was at a time where the economy was great so they were paying for me to move. They were hungry to get Boston talent that was working for a large law firm. And so, we relocated in New Jersey in 2003, 04-ish to come back into the state. And that’s when I worked for a large law firm for a little while. And I had what they call an entrepreneurial fit, which is really more like an autonomy fit.

It’s like I can’t work for anyone else. And while my wife is pregnant with our second child, about seven months pregnant, I was like, “You know what? I’m going to ditch the W-2 thing where they pay me every other week. Let’s just go open a new firm with no salary and no payment and no guarantee of anything. Let’s try that.” And so, I went into that and happened to connect with somebody that was selling a law firm that focused on representing public school districts. And when I lost one of the big clients there about a year later, I said, “I can’t do this any longer. I need to have a little bit more steady income.” And at that time, I was negotiating labor contracts for teachers and their unions, and so I couldn’t go into court the next day. I’d be up to 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning negotiating. I couldn’t get into court the next day. So, I went, “Well, estate planning. Either they’re dead already or they want to do the planning because they don’t want to die. But I can schedule that appointment for 11:00 the next day or I can reschedule it if something happens the night before.” And so, that’s sort of what we thought about when we… I always use the royal we but it was me at that time. That’s what I did when I started the estate planning practice.

Brad Johnson: So, that was partially to satisfy the need to control your own schedule was one of the pivots there.

Victor Medina: Very much so. And to diversify the income because the public schools were large chunks of money on annual contracts. And when you lost one, somebody got fired because you just didn’t have enough margin to swing one way or the other. Not me as the owner, but somebody else on my team. So, we can’t do that. So, I’d rather get higher yield with a more frequent lower dollar amount than keep going with a larger contract. And so, it was also a business decision that was not only really to control the schedule, but also diversifying income streams, higher yield with a more diversified base. If I lost one of those, it might be a loss of $2,000 or $3000, but not $99,000.

Brad Johnson: Okay. So, while we’re still on the attorney’s side of the story because one of the common themes ever since I’ve been in finance is how do I unlock this mystical thing called a referral stream from estate planning attorneys? And the cool thing is you can see both sides of that now as a financial advisor but let’s stick with here’s Victor, the estate planning attorney. I guess, number one, first question, when you were an estate planning attorney before you were a financial advisor, were you getting referrals from financial advisors in your marketplace?

Victor Medina: I was. And it was about…

Brad Johnson: How many? How many different advisors?

Victor Medina: It was about 30% of my work and it was probably coming in, I had a good pitch, Brad. You know, I would go in and I would say, “Listen, I’m never going to be able to send you back another client. I just see too many other financial advisors but one of the things we could do because we are holistic in nature is I can help you gather more assets. You sure you have 100% of what they have? If not, the way that we do our planning, which includes funding a trust at the end, we can bring it back in and you can now help them and you can grow your business that way. So, I’m a place that’s safe because I don’t owe somebody else. I just owe you so you won’t ever lose assets and I can help you expand but it’s going to be incremental. It’s going to be a percentage of it. I’m not going to get new clients off of it. So, your relationship with me is not to prospect. It’s not to get new people coming in. It’s to make sure that you’ve done great service. You’ve captured all of the assets that are in there, and you never lose because I owe somebody else and I’m going to try to steal them away.”

And actually, that continues. I know that we’re going to get into the transition of me asking, adding financial services but when I made that transition to adding financial services, I held firm with sort of as a matter of integrity that I never poached from a financial advisor that sent me a client. And I continue to this day to service on the law firm side, some clients that are remaining with their financial advisors. Now, those financial advisors don’t like me. They’ve never sent another client, which we’ll talk about what it was to add them, but I’ve never stolen a client from them. I’ve never proposed my services to them. If clients ever ask about that, I usually flip it right around and says, “Brad is actually a great advisor. You should continue to work with Brad. I think he’s fantastic.” And for the most part that is the case. I mean, I believe that. I worked with financial advisors that I believed in what they were doing and they weren’t people that I disliked. I thought that they did a good job for their clients. But, yeah, at that time, it was a couple of dozen because I marketed well.

Brad Johnson: Wow. You were getting referrals from 24 different financial advisors at the time?

Victor Medina: Sure. Because one of the things that I did was I created a boot camp and in that boot camp, I gave CE credit for insurance, CPA credit, so division accountancy credit, and CFP credit. So, I would do a two-day boot camp and I would just invite in my referral network that I wanted to grow. I do that 2 or 3 times a year and I would be bringing in 60 new people for a continuing education credit that I would then continue to market with afterwards. I’d identify who I wanted a relationship with and I would continue on. I would grow my referral base using that.

Brad Johnson: So, what’s interesting about that, that is very unique from an attorney standpoint. Most attorneys, at least from my career track in finance, most estate planning attorneys are literally there waiting for that financial advisor to refer them to someone over there. They’re doing very little marketing, let’s just put it that way. And so, it sounds like from the very beginning you were really looking this, your law firm, and now your financial services firm. You were really looking at through the lens of an entrepreneur, “I want to grow this thing.” You weren’t sitting there in your office just waiting for a random person to knock on the door or a random financial advisor to send you something. You were taking an active approach to growing the business from the get-go.

Victor Medina: I think that’s a fair way of saying it. And I don’t live most of my life thinking that there’s something that I have to overcome being a minority or worrying about the circumstance. However, there’s nothing about me that has you sending me a client. I didn’t have any community roots in there. I’m a transplant to New Jersey, so it’s not like my family had been around and I knew a lot of people and I went to high school around here, and so I could at least go on reputation. There wasn’t anything particularly about my background. I wasn’t Harvard-trained. There’s nothing in there that brings that into the layer. So, in order for me to be successful, I had to fire out as many different marketing channels to try to grow as possible. So, that was one of them doing the bootcamps but I was also heavily involved in retail seminar-based marketing as a lawyer. So, I would do dinner seminars to create estate plans, which was also a little bit unusual. In other words, they were getting the same mailers. Often we know financial advisers will connect with an estate planning attorney to give the seminar, but then take the appointments or work with them on the appointments but I was doing it just from the law firm. No financial advisor involved at all.

So, I was underwriting it, funding it, and I was also taking all the appointments and I would do the retail dinner seminars or educational seminars to try to get new clients as well. So, I had multiple channels coming in, not just to the referral base. I actually went retail in brand as well as referral or what I call wholesale from the beginning, just because I was a hustler. I needed to get whatever was there and it wasn’t coming to me just by sitting and waiting.

Brad Johnson: That is very unique. That’s cool. I’m glad you shared that. So, on that, let’s go back to when you were just solely an attorney. How many other attorneys did you know in your network that were actively marketing, doing dinner seminars to grow their practice?

Victor Medina: Very few. So, I got lucky in being connected with a marketing company that started a coaching group. And in that coaching group, we were led through how to think about the business as a business and not the way that a traditional lawyer would. And that meant that I was in that environment surrounding myself with a lot of people that thought my way. But I had to fly. I had to fly to Florida, to Texas, to wherever we were having the coaching group to go meet those people because it was a very, very small percentage of it. I’m fond of saying that I don’t do the typical lawyer thing, whatever that is. I don’t go to the bar association. I say this with love to my fellow lawyers. I don’t like a lot of the other lawyers that exist there. They’re not my people. But I would always find the communities to go and do it. For example, one of the things that I did for about a decade is I hosted and ran a conference for Mac-using attorneys. Now, this started in 2008. We’re using a Mac in the law office. They put it on a fringe. It wasn’t everywhere. There was no halo. You might have had an iPod with the click wheel, but you certainly weren’t running your entire business that way. That was dumb. And so, what I did is I created a conference that I wanted to go to.

And so, I said, “Listen, I want this conference because I want to attend and I just don’t want to pay for it. So, why don’t we have about 80 other people do that?” And that was my community because they were collegial. They were forward-thinking. They may not have looked at the business as a business, but they looked at the toolset as their measure was what was effective, not what’s traditional. Not what is always done, it’s like, what do we need and then the way to work off of it. So, it was always those kind of communities I surrounded myself with. Because to answer your question directly, not a lot. I was probably one of the only people in my area that was doing it. The other estate planning attorneys that we’re doing, and I use air quotes for that, were the ones that were connected with financial advisors that were underwriting it. And there was almost exclusively at that time annuity salespeople that that was the only thing. They were insurance-licensed only. They were just there to sell a trust, to write an annuity in the trust, and move on. And that was a very sort of we’re just going to crank the widget wheel to kick those out. And it led to people had a trust mill and it led to people that had an annuity sales department.

That’s all that they did. And those people were in my community but the lawyers themselves never saw either the opportunity to add financial services themselves or the need to then think about their business differently, right? Because they had built the entire infrastructure of their law firm, the size of their revenue, the number of people they employed, beholden to the financial advisor that was propping them up with all of these cases that were going in there. And I would have seen that as risky at the time. So, there were people that were conducting seminars, but it wasn’t them that was funding it like it was their marketing endeavor. It wasn’t their idea. They were just getting propped up by the financial advisor that was putting it on.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. Okay. So, let’s spend a little bit more time here because I do know if there’s advisors listening, it’s like, “Hey, here’s how you crack the code to get estate planning attorney referrals.” They’ll listen. So, we’re going to spend a little time on this. So, from my experience, here’s what I’ve seen, and then please correct me if you see it differently. So, back to when you were an estate planning attorney and that was your sole source of revenue was the attorney side of it, you had 24 different marketing funnels, which consisted of 24 different financial advisors that were sending you basically a one-way street of referrals and you were really upfront. You’re like don’t expect it coming back, but your value proposition is, “I’ll do great legal work and I’ll find some more assets where it’s a win-win on both sides,” right? So, that makes complete sense to me. Would it be fair to say one of the reasons that you didn’t send referrals the other way is because you didn’t want to upset the 23 other guys so you didn’t want to bite the hand that feeds you for lack of a better term?

Victor Medina: Yep.

Brad Johnson: Okay. And then what’s interesting, though, is being the unicorn in estate planning attorney world, which is an estate planning attorney that actually markets on their own, not bolted on to some other financial services firm. From my experience, you actually were driving revenue through your own means. And like if I look at our friends, SHP up in Boston, they found one of those guys that was actively just cranking and growing his business very aggressively. And he was doing his own marketing. And what he was missing is, “Hey, I don’t have a great financial advisor firm that builds holistic plans that actually does great financial planning, not just selling a product or capturing some AUM and moving on to the next one.” And so, that actually worked pretty well because with him he was running his own revenue so he didn’t have to worry about, “Oh, I’m going to upset these 10 or 20 other advisors that I’m also getting referrals from.” So, back to you in estate planning attorney world, what would it have had to look like at the time if a financial advisor knocked on your door before you were one yourself where it would have made sense to say, “You know what, this might be the guy that I actually send referrals to?”

Victor Medina: I think it would have taken two things. It’s a good question because I don’t think I’ve ever been asked that or thought about it that way. And two things might have worked. And I will preface this by saying anything here that even smells of like, “Well, go talk to compliance. Go talk to compliance,” because there are layers to this. But one of them is there wasn’t a single person that ever offered to cut me in at all. And I know that exists. In other words, in the BD world, you can give somebody up to a 20% solicitation fee without them being licensed and then have that agreement. If they are licensed, you can have a different split. In the insurance world, we can write things and then be able to split the commissions that way. But nobody ever offered that to me. So, when I was looking at that situation, it was only the revenue that came from the referrals for legal work. There wasn’t anything attached to it. So, if I had somebody that said, “Well, listen, I’m going to cut you in, and here’s a little bit extra,” I would have been able to look at that and say, “Well, shoot, if I lose 23 others, but keep this one,” turns out that I’ll probably still be okay.

And I like them. They’re not a jerk. Why don’t we do this? So, there is that one layer off of it. The second layer is that they would have to have a volume where their new prospecting didn’t depend on having other people like me because the flipside is true. As much as I was there having 23 other relationships, financial advisors, especially the new ones at the wirehouses, are taught to call on a guy like me and establish a relationship and make it be the only relationship that I would have with an advisor, yet they’re out in infidelity world having 12 or 15 of those because that’s their method for prospecting. So, the other component, they would say, “But you got it. We’ve got this one-on-one relationship. I’m in but you can’t then be relying entirely on me for everything. Like, you’re out-marketing yourself, aren’t you? You’re doing other things, right?” Because that would have led me to have some confidence that they’re going to be bringing in something that the cut that they’re going to bring me in on, the split. Whatever that would have been would have been something that they could sustain and not just do a one-time with their existing client base and then never come back to it again.

And I saw some of that. I mean, Brad, if 24 were active, let’s say that and I’m making up a number because I certainly don’t remember but let’s say that 15 or 18 of them had gone through 80% or 90% of their clients already with me. And so, it wasn’t like they were constantly finding new ones because most of them didn’t prospect well. Most of them didn’t establish new relationships or grow their business or think about their financial advisory business as a business. They thought about it as a way to make a living and quite a lucrative one but they had to follow whatever the system was, either through the broker-dealer or whoever was giving them advice about how to grow. But whatever that looked like, it was like churning through their existing client base. And they weren’t thinking about growing or scaling. They never had that in their mind. And so, it would have been difficult for me to agree with that. So, for anyone that’s listening off of it, if you want an exclusive relationship with somebody that can help you grow like doing that, you either have to follow 1 or 2 paths or both of them. One is you got to figure out a way to keep them incentivized for you to be the exclusive place where that stuff goes.

And then you also have to not rely on that or other people like them to be the only source of where you get that avenue of revenue. And I’ve seen that a little bit in my own practice because I think like the Rosetta Stone between them are CPAs and as well as I have marketed with financial advisors back when I wasn’t one or retail and building my business sort of meeting new people. I don’t have a big bullpen of CPAs that I work with, probably a handful. And that’s the relationship with them. I don’t cut them in because most of them are not interested in that but it’s very exclusive that it’s a – they’re out prospecting other ways. But the CPAs that I work with are sending me clients all the time sometimes because I am doing both parts of the work, the legal and the financial, and sometimes just because I do one better than the people that they know. But that’s not a big bullpen for me any longer, and I don’t rely on that to grow my business. I want good service from them and I get their best referrals when they come in. And similarly, they’re not relying on me off of it. We have a pretty good, decent relationship, but it’s a handful of people. So, I almost developed it like in contradiction to what was working with me, with the CPA side, and the accountants that I have a relationship with.

Brad Johnson: That’s interesting. You nailed with your tips there, the ones I’ve seen work. So, to kind of break that down, if you look at like it’s almost like the Olympic rings, like three interlocking rings, right? You’ve got estate planning world, financial planning world, tax planning world represented by estate planning attorneys, CPAs, financial advisors. And the first thing I heard you say is mutually exclusive. So, it’s like, “Hey, let’s not date around. Like, if we’re going to really do this for sure, let’s have a true partnership,” and also structured around the mutually beneficial side from a revenue-producing standpoint. Because I look at the flip side of that for a financial advisor, it’s like, well, if you charge $5,000 for a trust or estate planning, well, maybe with this partnership, you give them 20% off or their clients 20% off, 25% off. So, now there’s a win for financial advisor because there’s discounted fees in the partnership. And the flip side of that for you is if I refer you a client that comes from my marketing and you do some sort of financial planning, there’s a revenue share there which is very legal, assuming the insurance licensing someplace, you know, and right in the applications.

So, it’s almost like as long as each party is carrying their own weight where they’re actually driving new organic growth through their marketing efforts and it’s like this cross-pollination where, hey, everybody’s pie can get bigger if we dare and serve the clients at a higher level, but also have some sort of financial incentive that also aligns there. I mean, that’s logical. That’s not even that complicated when you think about it.

Victor Medina: Totally true. And by extension, I think you would agree with me on this is that in life, it never works when you overvalue your contributions and undervalue what you’re receiving. So, in that relationship, everyone’s got to be really comfortable with the trade, right? Because it’s the moment you think, “Well, I bring more to this than they do,” that you start to grow the resentment, and kind of it unravels from that. And I’ve seen that happen. You know, I didn’t develop relationships with financial advisors that were looking for me to reduce my fees. No, no, no, no, no. You don’t kick. That’s not how you win. You don’t win with your client because you brought me down in my average fee and somehow I’m your boy and that goes in because that devalues what I do. It makes me buyable. I can be bought by the relationship. So, we don’t do that. We’re going to keep my fees even with what I do out in the regular world. it’s a sense of integrity. If I charge your people just like they charge everything else because there is no backroom anything. Everything’s above board.

And by the way, that means the same thing for you. I don’t go in and say, “Do you know the cost of those mutual funds that they’re putting you in and the rider fees on that variable annuity that they want to sell you?” So, I’m not going to then demonize what your recommendations are, just the same way that you can demonize what my fees and my recommendations are. And so, I never really had a relationship with people where I would have some form of a deal that I was giving them. Those people that wanted that didn’t last or they just weren’t in the rotation for the people that I was meeting with. So, I think there’s that element too is you have to have a proper allocation of what you’re contributing and what you’re getting are fair one.

Brad Johnson: I would assume it’s not legal for an attorney to share fees with a financial advisor if they’re not…

Victor Medina: Correct, unless that financial advisor has a law degree and is in the practice. With very few exceptions and jurisdictions, there are some in Arizona, you cannot share legal fees with a non-lawyer.

Brad Johnson: Okay. I had a feeling that was the case, and I knew you would know. Cool. Thanks for sharing that. So, let’s now fast forward, unless there’s any other like tips you would give when it comes to just advisors out there trying to establish great relationships with estate planning attorneys. Anything else come to mind before we get to…?

Victor Medina: There is one because I get asked this a lot. You know, there are communities that we run around with, see what my background is, and they said, “Well, can you give me tips? Like, what do you know?” And so, I had an opportunity to answer this and think about this for other people that are looking at it. And I said, “If you were going to take away something from me and what my journey was, take away the idea that I was thinking about the business like a business.” And there are communities that are designed to train lawyers to do that. They’re either coaching companies that get that done or there are companies that, especially in the estate planning world, offer adding estate planning as a practice area as a transition away from another practice area. Like, are you tired of doing litigation and fighting with people? At estate planning, the water’s fine over here, and those companies are training them on how to create it like a business, maybe not at the level of a full entrepreneurial mindset or scaling, but at least thinking about it more than just wait for the phone to pick up.

And if you get connected with and they are national organizations, you get connected with some of those like Wealth Council and the American Academy, the National Network of Estate Planning Attorneys, then what you’ll do is you will meet people that are already teaching those estate planning attorneys to think about it like a business. And you don’t have to take on that obligation. And it shortcuts your kind of dating of them, kissing a lot of frogs to find the occasional prince. It will shortcut that effort on your part because then you’ll be meeting with people that want to grow business, are thinking about the way, have already been indoctrinated into thinking about it that way. And then you’ll date a smaller pool of those individuals that might in fact be great relationships for you to have.

Brad Johnson: Love that. Another tip I’ve given out a lot back to how to find that right relationship, which I’m glad it actually echoes your advice. As you know, many advisors, specifically in the Triad community, public events, dinner seminars, educational events is oftentimes one of the primary marketing funnels they use. And I’ve just said, “Hey, go to your places where you do your seminars. Maybe it’s the schools or the libraries where you do your educational events and ask the people that run the places, ‘Hey, are there any estate planning attorneys that also do events here?’” And guess what, that means they’re actively marketing there which back to your take earlier is those are the ones that are actively driving their own revenue versus depending on other financial advisors to provide it for them. And those are the ones that are most likely going to be okay for the right partnership and the right relationship where there might be that cross-pollination because obviously an estate planning attorney, at least with any ethics, can’t refer you other financial advisor referrals over to you.

Victor Medina: And if given the disparate revenue that like ROI on those investments, if they are doing those kind of seminars, they’re ponying up the same amount of money that you are for your stakes for a far lower dollar in for every client that comes in. So, these people that are a little bit more risk takers and they’ve got some system in place, at least if they’ve done it routinely. So, there’s an element of like the proof is in the pudding there because if they’re doing these things, they’ve got a viable business that allows them to convert well, have good conversations. They think about them like sales conversations as opposed to initial consults with, “I hope you hire me and call me if you have any other idea.” They’ve really thought through the system a little bit more because they would have had to, to capitalize on the return on that. Such a significant investment relative to every estate planning cost, 3,500, 4,500, 6,500. Whatever that is, it’s going to be smaller than the kind of revenue that’s generated for financial advisors.

Brad Johnson: Out of curiosity, if you remember, what was your ROI as an estate planning attorney doing public events, paying for an expensive mailer? Were you also paying for meals at the time?

Victor Medina: Sometimes, yeah. Look, it’s kind of interesting. So, it depended on who I wanted to meet. So, for the estate planning ones, they were the steak dinners and those were like $75 for every seat that was in there for the meal and then the normal $5,000 or $6000 at the time for a mailer. And I wanted to do elder law, so I really got heavily into elder law. And so, elder law is doing asset protection for people that are worried about spending it all in a nursing home or an assisted living facility. And what I wanted to do is I wanted to meet the people before they were in the facility, and I wanted to offer them services that would help them safeguard their assets. Well, these are not multimillionaires because by definition they would self-fund. And I would make the joke all the time, “Listen, if you get sick, get a room at the Ritz like the food is better, the room service is better. You’re not going to go to a nursing home.” So, I was really fishing for people that are $1 million or less in net worth. And so, my dinner seminars were, and I don’t know if these exist across the country, but this in the Northeast. There’s a Pizzeria Uno coming from Chicago but they were like these little chain restaurant places that had a little side room.

And I would do a dinner seminar at Pizzeria Uno’s because I was going to find people between $300,000 and $1 million of net worth that were really concerned. They were on the precipice, right? If they got sick, it would devastate them. And so, I needed to meet them at a place that they would normally go and eat, that they would think about as being a nice night out but one they could fund themselves. And so, we kind of lowered that down to something that was the equivalent of an, I mean, it’s slightly better than an Applebee’s but only slightly better than an Applebee’s. And we would do dinner seminars there as well. So, the ROI was much greater, I’m sorry to answer your question, because the price point for elder law or asset protection planning was probably 30% higher than it is for traditional estate planning, at least with the way that I priced it.

Brad Johnson: Got it. Okay. Well, it’s time to get to Victor, the financial advisor. We’ve finally arrived to this part in the story. So, what was it that made you make the jump?

Victor Medina: So, it was a combination of things. One of the things that was routinely happening was that I was getting asked by my clients, “Hey, could you help me with this?” And I was always saying no. And then something stopped me and said, “But why are you saying no?” You know, it was a reflexive thing. I didn’t have a license off of it but you’ve never really examined it. And then I made friends with an attorney in Ohio that had been doing legal and financial together for almost a decade before I met him. And he gave me two lessons, one of them, which doesn’t sound all that generous to financial advisors, but then the other one that will kind of bring it home and make it feel nice is he said, “You know, of the size of the pie that is available in money to be made in professional services, the financial advisors are throwing you the crumbs. You know that, right? You don’t get a slice of the pie. You get the crumbs from the pie. And they’re trying to jam down your price off of it.” So, from the perspective of if you know you can service them well, would you like a bigger slice of that pie? Let’s talk about that. So, he was letting me know that.

The other thing that he let me know and this one was a little bit more towards the heart, what he said was, “You know that you’re out of integrity with your commitment as a lawyer.” “Wait, wait, wait. What do you mean?” “Well, how many of these plans that you put in place do you see being made better by the financial advisor that’s with them?” “50%. 30%.” “What happens in the other ones?” “The financial advisors take advantage of them. It’s a terrible thing. They screw it up.” And he says, “And all it would take was for you to sit for an insurance license and take a security exam, and you would help them?” “Yeah, I guess I could.” “And you don’t?” “No, not really.” “How does that make you feel? You’re leaving them at the altar. Didn’t they trust you with their well-being and they’re asking you to do this and you don’t do that?” Well, I mean, that just put me back on my heels. And I looked at that because above everything else, I mean, all this discussion about me building a business and thinking about it like a business, I take to heart more than anything else the trust and the commitment that clients give me to take care of them.

And so, it was that, I mean, he met me in 2009 and it took until 2014 because he was hammering me for a little while and he would invite me in and whatever else. But it took me about the summer of 2014 before I finally had the courage to pull it all together and actually do it. So, it was that combination. I just had one client that came in after a period of time and said, “I don’t understand why you keep saying no.” And I don’t know if they’d like met an accountant that did wealth management and then they said, “What they do is possible.” They never went through that level but they had come back multiple times and be like, “I’m just waiting for you to be able to do this.” And I “Oh, shucks” it and raised my shoulders, sheepish about the fact that I couldn’t do it. If I only just said, “Why am I saying no? What would it look like if I said yes?” And that sort of propelled me down the path of adding financial services.

Brad Johnson: What could that make possible? Right?

Victor Medina: Yeah.

Brad Johnson: Okay. So, just checking my stats here. So, that was 2014. You started out insurance-focused or just went and got your insurance license, and then pretty quickly, by 2015, you went and sounds like took your 65, were able to become an RIA. Did you immediately make the jump to RIA? Did you start as an IAR kind of folded up underneath somebody?

Victor Medina: I’m sorry. I answered like I knew what the rest of your question was and the answer is yes. I did start out as in RIA. Well, let me give you the whole story off of that, which is it took me into sitting for my insurance license in July, and I was worried about losing the revenue for the financial advisors that were sending me business at that point in time, a third, maybe a little bit more than a third or whatever else. But what ended up happening was I made more from August to December in commissions for annuity products than I had gotten in legal revenue the entire prior nine months or seven months or whatever it was.

Brad Johnson: This is just the end of 2014, to be clear. So, as soon as you went and got your insurance license and started saying yes to a few of your clients that said, “Can you help me?” about what did you say? Three months you had already…

Victor Medina: Basically, by the time I got the commissions, it was in September, right? So, it took three or four weeks or whatever else. So, I started talking to them about it in August and it started coming in September. And so, I made more from September to December than I had received in legal revenue from financial advisor referrals the prior 7 or 8 months. And that was lucky because if I had struggled in doing that, I might have revisited, right? Because I threw my hat over the fence and when I had the insurance license and somebody knew about it, they were never going to send me another client again. So, the hat was over the fence and thank goodness it paid off because it allowed me to keep the momentum going forward. But I was very narrow. I was very, you know, we use the term product-based when we talk about financial advisors because they only sell a product. But I was very product-based because I was solving one particular issue, which was in elder law, we create irrevocable trust. And the best tool for somebody that wants to grow the money that’s inside of there is to use a tax-deferred annuity. And so, I spent those three months doing everything that I would normally do. And in that situation, very few financial advisors.

And by the way, this has been the case even as I’ve become one and talked with the financial advisors. Previous financial advisors knew what to do with that money in the irrevocable trust, how to layer that in with the Medicaid asset protection plan. So, I wasn’t stealing away anything from anybody. I was driving the interest on my retail channels, my seminars, or sometimes the referrals from existing clients’ brand or whatever else. And so, I was just very solution-based. For that three months, I just gave them the solution that I saw failing when they were left to their own devices or working with another financial advisor. It was on the heels of that where we were delivering great service. It was a holistic plan. We increased our value because now we took care of all of that, that they came back and knocked on the door and they said, “Well, but wait, what about the rest of my money? The stuff that’s in the IRA, can’t you handle that?” “No, not unless I’m going to sell you annuities all day. So, the answer is no.” And then by that point in time, I’m no dummy. Why are we saying no? Let’s try that again. Let’s figure out what it would be if we said yes. And we almost put a pause on doing that work while I went out and I got the securities license 65 and I started my RIA from the beginning. So, if anyone listening…

Brad Johnson: Nice. Okay.

Victor Medina: Yeah, if anyone listening has not already heard it by what I’ve shared before, I don’t work well with others. Like, I’m not a good employee. Probably at this point in time, not a great partner. A little too opinionated for that. So, when it came down to what’s to do with the securities license, the answer was, “Go start your own company,” because I had a really clear view about what I need to do and more important than that, I never wanted to be in a position where I had to apologize for what someone I put them in their hands to do, implement it. Like, I had to retain the control for the end product. I also needed to be a fiduciary from the outset because I could never imagine my clients in a deposition sometime later about my services going, “Oh yeah, no, I totally understood. Medina while he was my lawyer, yeah, that’s a fiduciary.” But the moment he was talking to me about his financial services, I know he didn’t have my best interests in mind. I was cool with that. So, I knew that that standard was going to exist in the totality of the relationship from start to finish. So, it only made sense that we were in a setup where that was required.

And then because I never could allow my compliance to be ultimately in a decision of somebody that didn’t have my model, I had to be my own RIA, right? Because the number of lawyers that add financial services is small. I say this with the least amount of modesty that the statement must generate but I trained most of the rest of them. Like, you go find somebody else who’s doing it, they saw me first in designing it. So, there were no models for me to follow. And so, that meant that I had to be 100% independent going through that because I knew what I wanted and I need to be able to create it throughout. So, I went in as an RIA from the beginning. The one thing that happened that was good was I knew the kind of investing that I wanted to do, which is a little more hands-off, a little more passive. And I went through the fund company that was going to do that and they said, “Have you ever done this? You ever push a button to buy anything?” “Nah. How hard is that?” “Maybe you want to have a conversation with somebody that can handle that for you in the back office.”

And so, I made a good relationship with a temp. And that temp happened to have been founded by a lawyer that there was no longer practicing, but kind of understood what we were doing and said, “Now, we got it. We understand what you’ve got in mind. And so, we will do the back office portion of it, but you can go ahead and be the front end of it kind of going forward.” And thus, the RIA was born in 2015.

Brad Johnson: Awesome. One other question, back to Victor, the estate planning attorney. How frequently did you see your trust not yet properly funded by the financial advisors that you were working with at the time? Was that half the time? Was that just…

Victor Medina: Yeah. I was going to say exactly that, Brad. It was going to be about 50% of the time. You know, so we had good people that kind of knew what they were doing. Sometimes they were really diligent. They would ask us how to do it. We would train them to look at this the way it’s supposed to get done the right way. And it wasn’t just the traditional funding of revocable trust. The asset protection component of it was very nuanced, and some of them wanted to do it right and we would tell them. Other times the clients weren’t asking to do anything. They were going back to their trusted advisor. That was the person that was not very knowledgeable what they were doing. And I would meet with them 2 or 3 years later and I was like, “I’m sorry, I don’t know how to tell you this but they screwed it up. Like, we didn’t get what we wanted and we might have to start over.” So, I’d say about half the time they got it right. And what I said when I was first getting started with this before people were coming to me knowing that I could handle the finances for them in the beginning, not do the retirement planning, that’s a bigger part of the people that we meet now.

They don’t often meet me as a lawyer only or lawyer first but back then, I would say to them, “Look, here’s been my experience. This works out about half the time. I just can’t tell which half you’ll be in until it’s after it’s done. And so, if that’s something that you’re interested in getting to 100%, then we can help you with that.” But it’s going to mean telling the other person that you’re working with that they’re not going to do this portion of it. And then more and more, they would see our work in that area and be like, “We really like what you do. We really like the way that you do it. We like the streamlined effect that we get from having kind of one bat phone to pick up if there’s a problem in Gotham and not three different places that we have to call. What would it take to just move everything over?” And they were sometimes reaching out towards us as much as we were reaching towards them saying, “Are you interested in what we do?” They were the ones that were driving it.

Brad Johnson: Well, that’s another tip for your advisors out there listening in. I’ve seen firms it goes back to if I’m trying to develop a relationship with an estate planning attorney, it’s like kind of what’s in it for them. And so, I have seen firms, financial services firms that will literally, actually, I know one firm specifically, they hired a full-time employee to do nothing but properly fund the trust work for their attorney. So, it was like, “Hey, we’ll make sure every trust that you write up is properly funded.” Just walk them across the hallway and we have a full-time team member to take care of that. So, the cool thing in your world… Yeah, go ahead.

Victor Medina: No. I was going to say, Brad, so if somebody is listening can’t find those business owners because lawyers tend to be very driven by doing the right thing and they tend to value the people that can do the right thing, you could establish really strong relationships just being great. And I find that to be something that is still surprising to me 20 years into running businesses, running professional services business, that there’s a market advantage for just doing the right thing well. It’s like I know we have to get good at this other stuff. I just have to do what I promise. And sometimes that will separate me out from the rest of the crowd and I would say that with respect to establishing referral relationships with estate planning attorneys, just being good at what needs to get done and helping them that don’t have, and I think this is where you’re going about having a full-time funder in the financial services office. Having something that the estate planning attorney can’t carry as a labor matter in their payroll, and their pricing for most of them, they can’t have a full-time funder if they’re not going to be unprofitable if they do that.

But if you can offer that service, well, all of a sudden you’ve helped them expand not necessarily the profitability of their business, but the how good their service, their product. It’s like you elevated what they can accomplish because they know what needs to get done and that few clients will do it of their own volition. You’ve helped them do that in a way that increases how confident they are about the planning that they do, and they’re going to feel great about that. So, that tends to be, I think, even a different way than what we’ve talked about so far about being able to establish those relationships.

Brad Johnson: Love that. Okay. So, I’m going to jump forward because there’s some cool stuff that you’ve been doing. I mean, we were just talking before we hit record here. And I mean, we’re right at the one-year anniversary, coming up on the one-year anniversary of Triad and Victor and the amount of growth I’ve seen from you, the firm in one year, it’s in the upper echelon of any financial services firm that I’ve worked with over the last decade and a half. So, I definitely want to get to that. There’s a lot of lessons there. But just to give perspective, so still running a legal firm, which was founded in 2006, bolted on a different– it’s not really a different division, it’s literally a full different business, which is a financial planning firm in 2014 out of the RIA in 2015 and just under 30 million of assets gathered last year between all of the planning you’re doing as you build out financial plans for your clients.

What’s awesome is a lot of financial advisors don’t touch 30 mil and that’s the only thing they do. And you’re literally running that and the law firm. So, that’s really incredible. And so, any lessons learned along the way, if you’re to say, hey, here’s one, two, three things along the way that just, wow, I wouldn’t do that again, or no, this actually worked out pretty well in that close to decade since you’ve been running a financial services firm? What I wouldn’t do again is be so secretive about how I can help. So, I was big into the numbers. I look at my numbers in terms of, let’s say the number of clients, how many of them become clients who had meetings? Maybe what my average fee was, I really had paid attention to building my law firm to be a business.

Victor Medina: And I want to be really clear about this, I didn’t do it because I was greedy about what that number was. I have from the beginning been very, very attuned to creating something that was stable in large part for our clients and for the team that surrounds me because most lawyers and, I think we would agree, many financial advisors have such a heroific approach to their practice that if they get hit by a bus crossing the street and they’re laid up for six months, the business is going under, or at least bunch of people are getting laid off. So, the better that I could build my business to operate without me being involved, if I could dehero-wise, what my business was, the better was going to be for my clients because we would be around to serve them and the better would be for my team because they would continue to have jobs along the way.

And so, when I was rolling out the financial services in the beginning of it, I thought about financial services as a, for lack of a better term, second sale for our existing clients, and we would position it that way a bit because I suffered from imposter syndrome. And so, who am I to be a financial advisor? I think when I got my license last year, maybe I don’t really want to have this conversation. So, we would say after meeting four, would you like to have a discussion about this other thing?

And we continue down that path being about 30% to 40% effective in any given year. In other words, 30% or 40% of our legal clients would become financial services clients when we had that conversation. And we did that for a while and then COVID hit. And this is good for the story, which is that my mom came to live with us for about six to eight weeks. In fact, my mom had my older two kids in Puerto Rico. They fled there as they were closing the island. I picked them up from a flight at Newark, ran them up to their apartment in New York City. They cleared it out like there was a zombie apocalypse, came down. They lived with…

Brad Johnson: Yeah, because you were close to the city, which is where the ground zero for kind of COVID in the US, at least.

Victor Medina: Absolutely. And you saw the death numbers going up and they were worried about it. They came in, like they shed their clothes when they got off the plane and threw them away in the garbages, like that kind of stuff. We didn’t know anything about it, right? We were worried. So, she came and lived with us. And my mom’s delightful. But my wife did not agree to marry me and live with my mom full time.

So, my wife was working part-time for the schools. They were done at 12:30 and then she would walk. I have an office that’s about a mile from my home. She would walk over here and she would sit across from where I’m recording right now, this table over there. She’d sit across from there, put her feet up and be on the phone, just scrolling off or anything. And I was like, “Listen, I got to work. You got to work. We’re going to figure out how to put you to work.”

And at that time, I was trying to revamp our workflow and our process about how we brought people in. And I said, “Listen, I’m going to use this downtime to fix some stuff.” And by the way, we’ve got to think about changing it because now we’re online all the time. So, I said to my wife, I said, “Will you help me with this?” Because I’m converting about 30%, 40% of these people and I know we can do better.

So, my wife, in her usual brilliance, said, “Well, wait a second. Help me understand something. You can help me as a client with A, B, C. You can do investing. You can do the insurance off of it. You can help me with the Medicaid planning.” “Yeah, yeah.” “But you make me wait till meeting four before you tell me.” “Yeah, yeah.” “Well, why don’t you tell me up front?” “Well, I don’t know, you might say no.” “Well, I’m going to say no anyway. Aren’t 60% of the people saying no? Why don’t we just ask them up front and get rid of all of that and we get rid of one meeting for you? Then they don’t feel like it’s a bait and switch kind of thing. That’s what we do. Therefore, let’s just tell them what we do and how we can help.”

And so, we made that one switch to just talking about everything that we did right from the beginning and not doing it in a sales method that says, “Well, if you don’t want to buy A, would you like to buy B?” But say, “Here’s what we believe. We believe that you deserve to be served as broadly as what we can do for you, and here are the reasons why we think you should think about doing that, all of the efficiency, all the streamlining. Do you like us? We can do all this stuff.”

And what it did is it rocketed our conversion rate to 70%. So, now 70% of the people that came in looking for legal as the marketing arm as their inquiry became financial services clients as well. And we adopted a lot of the modalities of showing a little bit of the plan, talking about what the relationship was about, like that stuff we had integrated from that beginning because it was the only way to talk about doing financial services when somebody called for a trust or a will was to say, actually, we’re holistic. And let me talk to you about what that looks like. I can’t just give you a ham sandwich because you wanted a ham sandwich. I’m a dietitian. So, a ham sandwich might be okay with you, but actually, we’re going to take a look at everything when we run some blood work off of you. And then from that, we’re going to tell you what you need.

Whether or not you choose to do that is entirely up to you, but I’ll have met my obligation to tell you if you’re having an issue and you visit the cardiologist, you might want to run, lose some weight, and this pill and all three of those things. And we’re going to do all of that from up front. And so, we were offering what was the semblance of a plan from the beginning of the engagement. And I would have done that from the beginning because it was a serious game changer. And of course, I only discovered it being a moron for six or seven years. I’m going to have my wife be brilliant during COVID and fixing everything for me. So, have a wife like mine and introduce her into the practice sooner than when you think and you’ll probably get there faster too.

Brad Johnson: There’s such a simple lesson there. It’s just don’t be scared to talk about how you add value. And I see that, by the way, with financial advisors that aren’t also attorneys, where it’s just like, don’t be– we say it a lot in the Triad community, like going as a leader there to serve, not as a financial advisor there to sell. And it’s amazing what comes out of that when you do and case in point.

So, let’s keep rolling down this path. And so, one of the things and I’m looking at the clock here and there’s still too much to talk about, just observing the work that you have done in the year as a Triad member. One of the things back to the messaging that we focused on a lot is what we call the launch plan, which is a step by step process. We take new Triad members through and then what comes out of that is mission control, which is really, it’s the vision where you’re headed, which is oftentimes missing for many advisors and business owners in general, but many financial advisors. Then the messaging, how do we message, how we’re distinct, unique, and what really sets us apart kind of a DNA of our firm. And then lastly, the identity and how all of that kind of, it’s like the packaging around everything you do.

And so, I have seen you go really, really deep in the messaging piece of that, not just for you, the guy at the front of the live event talking with prospective clients, but also, like you’ve gone really deep with your team. So, I would love like, I have your doc here, but if there’s any key phrases that came out of that that you’ve seen just, wow, light bulbs go on when I say those, versus what I said before. And then, also how you can infuse that not just for you, but throughout the team at the firm. I think there’s so many lessons that have come out of that.

Victor Medina: There are few and I’ll leave it up to your expert guidance to make sure I hit all of them. Don’t spend too much time in any one of them because you’re incredible at doing this, Brad, when you’re on the podcast. But the first one that comes to me is one of the side hustles that I have is I coach other lawyers to build great practices. And there was a lesson in doing that that it took me a while to realize is what I should be doing for my clients.

So, in these lawyers’ lives, I help them lead great lives. That’s really what it’s about. And many of them are struggling with that because they think about it building great practices. The corollary exists in the Do Business, Do Life kind of framework off of it, that they focus on the doing business part to the exclusion of having a great life around it. And so, I thought to myself, well, geez, isn’t that what I’m doing for my clients? Isn’t it what I should be doing for my clients? And then, by extension, isn’t it what I should be doing for my team?

And so, I thought, well, geez, there’s an exercise we do called My Great Life, which is about looking at where you’re at now and looking at what you want in your tombstone, your five biggest goals. But then, what are the intermediary steps? Where are you going to be in 10 years that will help serve that? What will you be in three years to help serve that and forever as I was doing that? Because it is an exercise that I regularly do it, do once a quarter, sometimes once a month.

On My Great Life was creating great lives in the world around me. And I had put that on there for other lawyers that I was coaching. I had done that for my family, for my wife and my kids, that I wanted them to have a great life. And just as importantly, I know that I can’t control what they say. And I’m not doing it from that kind of egotistical or paternalistic standpoint. But I would love if they said that I was the best coach that they ever had. Like, that would be, I would know I would have led a great life if I could have played that role in their lives.

And what was missing was that I could do the same thing for my team and my clients. So, what if I led them to leading a great life and living a great life? And that’s how I framed what that relationship would look like. And what it did was it melted the lines between the legal and the financial. While for compliance and ethics purposes, there are strict companies that are going to do independent things. From the perspective of the new client that’s coming in here or the relationship that’s being established, they don’t look at it as being independent. They look at it as saying, “We’re going to help you in however you need help and what we can do off of that.”

But our bigger goal is to serve a role in your life that will say that the next 10 or 20 or 30 years that we’ve got together are going to be the best years that you spend. From here at this point, we absolve you of anything that’s happened in the past. But if we’re going to take a measure, it’s going to be from here going forward and you’ll reflect back on this time and say, “These are the best years that I’ve ever spent.” And that will be as true for our clients that come through our doors as it will be for the team that joins me in that journey.

I want the team that we’ve built to say, “Man, the 10, 20, 30 years that I spent with Palante Wealth, with Medina himself, those are the best 30 years that I’ve ever spent, the better years than I’ve ever could have imagined spending.” And it is my obligation to give them the resources and lead them in that direction. So, that’s one of the one. And it really was kind of imported in from the coaching I was doing outside that I didn’t quite make that connection until I really started thinking about what do I want to be known for? How do I want to engage in every day so that there are no lines of what do I do when I walk into law firm versus what I do when I walk into the financial services versus what do I do when I walk home and walking through those doors? I want to be that same leader. I want to see the same coach. I want them to be thinking that my involvement with them leads them to having those great lives and they’re so optimistic about where they’re going with that.

Brad Johnson: Well, you were kind enough, Victor. Before we hit record here, I have your mission control back here in front of me that came out of the launch plan. And so, I’m going to share because you said you’re open to me sharing a few phrases. But at Pelante Wealth Advisors, what we are known for is helping our clients lead great lives to your point there, and what we mean by a great life is you have a retirement that is worth living and you have a profound impact in the lives of those you care about most. Because at the end of the day, the last third of your life is the best third of your life. The best is yet to come.

I’m just going to assume and I’m not saying you say that verbatim in every meeting, maybe it’s a different version of that, right? But I’m going to assume when you sit there and look a retired couple in the face and message that here’s what we’re about, here’s what we’re known for, I’m going to guess that hits very different than back in the day when you were like, hey, here’s this financial product that helps you with the nursing home that you don’t want to make sure drains all your family’s assets. So, give me the before and after. What have you seen from the prospects or the client side of the table?

Victor Medina: We talked a little bit before we started to hit record that sometimes you can pull yourself back into a surrounding and know exactly where you were and what was in there. There’s a picture that anchors you back in there and there’s a picture of me giving an educational seminar in the second floor room at a satellite campus for a major university. And I’m doing a retirement education seminar. It’s the first time. And by the way, it doesn’t feel comfortable. I don’t feel like it’s something that I have adopted because I’m still trying it on. There’s jeans haven’t broken in yet from that. But I’m trying it and I’m going to say it because I believe it. I believe it.

Interestingly, that last phrase that you went through about the best is yet to come is the one that my team centered on. And those people that are not only loyal listeners, but really sharp listeners will pay attention to, that was actually something. And it’s an incredible source of pride for me that Kristin Shea latched on to when she was describing what the benefit was. She used that phrase, like it was good enough to be there. I can tell you, I share that with my team with an enormous sense of pride that we celebrate it. It’s like, “Look, we got into Kristin’s head. She was sharing that on a completely different podcast.”

But I remember being in that room and watching heads nod in what was going on because I finally connected with the worry or concern, desire that was most important for them. It wasn’t about the technical part of what we were doing. That was the rational element that justified a decision to say I was confident, I could have a decision. It wasn’t all fluff that there was something there behind it, right? So, if I talk about Roth conversions and tax planning, that element was there just to justify the feeling that they got that says (a), this guy gets me; and (b), I’ll be okay if I go in this direction or at least explore this direction. And you’re right, it hits home completely differently.

Let me tell you the other thing that it does, though. It clarifies what your decision should be in any circumstance. It limits your options. And I say that in the best possible way because when you exist to do that thing, when you exist to lead people to great lives, to helping them make sure that the last third of their life is the best of their life and that the best is yet to come, you now have the answer for lots of different questions that you weren’t sure how to answer before because there’s only one thing and that’s the thing that leads you in that direction. And it’s the same thing when you think about what you do to lead your team and what decisions you need to make for them, what products and services to offer, how to branch out, all of those things, it clarifies what is the right decision because it’s the thing that serves the mission that we’ve agreed that we’re going to be on.

And also, I always say that leadership, Brad, is the ability to improve the judgment-making ability in the people around you. You want to raise their ability to exercise judgment in your absence, that’s what leadership is. You want to continue to encourage their ability to exercise judgment at a higher and higher level, ultimately, without you having to inform what that decision is, well, shoot. What are you going to leave them as instruction manuals when you’re not there? As they develop the experience and go through that, how do we put our thumb on the scale so they’re making more of the right decisions and fewer of the wrong decisions?

Well, when you have a document, a mission, or a vision, not as, I don’t want to say that’s just as clear as mine because it makes it feel like it’s the only one or like I’ve got it all figured out yet, which I don’t think that I do. But when you have something that is clear, when the picture is something that is in focus, then it helps everybody around you see the same thing. And it increases the ability for people to exercise judgment because they kind of know what true north is. They know what church they need to pray at because there is the doctrine that informs a decision in the absence of asking me as the leader, hey, what should I do? Is it A or a B? Is the goal to look at the document? Like, what’s A or B? Oh, what’s A? Let’s do A. And we can do that even when I’m not around.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. One of the phrases we use a lot at Triad is what comes from the heart enters the heart. And when you’re saying this is what we’re about and this is what we’re known for and it’s like true to what you actually believe and you see those heads nodding, I mean, it’s not about here’s the product of the day that any financial advisor can offer you. It’s like, here’s why we exist, here’s what we’re meant to do, here’s how we serve you all. And when you say, the best is yet to come, it’s not like, hey, you need a financial plan and you need tax planning. And it feels very sterile. It’s no, here’s what having this actually means to you in life, which is typically how most people make decisions. It’s most people tend to make emotion-based decisions versus logic, which isn’t always a good thing. But you got to tap into that emotional core if you’re truly going to get people to make a change. And I love hearing that story.

Victor Medina: And the connection of the other financial plan does have a role in that, right? It’s not that it’s brushed aside or that it is that’s somehow diminished because we’re focusing on these other things. We think about our client journey as the first step being transformation. And that’s really where we take people who are worried about where they are and we eliminate the worry. Because I firmly believe that you can’t go, like, there’s two different ways of doing it. The business lesson is I feel that you can’t see any further than your cash flow. You can’t tell me about a 10-year dream if you’re worrying about making payroll next week. In the same way, clients can’t dream and lead a great life if they’re worried about where their income is coming. And will they be okay next month or whatever happens in the market?

So, the transformation is that first step, so that liberates the client to then go lead that great life because they’ll never be free to go do that unless we untether them from the concerns of will they be okay. And so, that financial plan is step one. And it liberates that. The second portion of it is to go lead that great life. And then we firmly believe that step three is contribution and that’s where we come back around and set up the next generation of leaders. And so, that only happens in that order. We think about the client journey as being 10, 20, or 30 years.

Now, I use those three different numbers because somebody meets me at 90. I’m not going to tell them they got 30 years unless they want 30 years. But similarly, when we meet somebody that’s just on the verge of retirement, we say it’s all the rest of the time that you have left. But what I want for them in that journey, just in the same as I want for my team is I want them to know that they’re going to be okay. So, in my team’s view, it’s what do we do for salary? We’ve got a base minimum salary and everybody works at that. I don’t try to get anything lower than that because I believe in having a living wage that says, “I want to take this off the plate for you. I don’t want you to be worried about this.” So, we take care of the things that say, “Are you going to be okay?” So, that they can be free to go lead great lives, not just in their own personal life, but how they lead with our clients.

And what is the contribution that they get from doing the work that they do? What’s the reward from that? And that, in the last step, both our clients and our team take on that responsibility to lead the next generation. I firmly believe that this is an obligation that we have. For those that have been blessed with the opportunity to help, with the opportunity to serve, there’s a concomitant obligation to leave that behind for the next generation. You didn’t get these gifts by accident and you didn’t get these gifts to be selfish with them. You got these gifts to be able to leave them to someone else.

And so, it’s that last step that we ultimately hope to get all of our clients, too, to say, I only get to spend these last three years, not hedonistically, like they were the best, but I spent them in a way that says I have absolutely zero regrets when I’m gone in every aspect, not just in financial planning off of it, your personal development, your health, your spirituality, your relationship with your family, your sense of contribution.

And then that last component of it, I left the world a little bit better than the way that I found it. And I was free to do that because I didn’t feel like I had to get mine. I had enough of what that was. I didn’t have to be protective about it. I can be very generous with it. And I think that that three-step journey is a function of that that takes something as pedantic as a financial plan, an income plan, and says this has a really valuable role in the entirety of the journey that we’re going through.

Brad Johnson: Well, what I’ve also seen you do is it hasn’t. One of the things we talk a lot about at Triad is we want to unlock a founder like you that obviously is very passionate about the business, has done a great job scaling the business, but it’s not a big enough dream if it doesn’t require a team. And as you scale, how do you take kind of what’s locked away in Victor’s head and the vision and kind of the foundation of why you created the firm in the first place? And now, how do we get that into new players on the team, new talent on the team? And how do we make sure we’re all aligned and running the same direction?

And I have to say, I don’t know that anyone in the Triad community has done a better job with, number one, you did the work like you distilled it out. We extracted the DNA right of the firm. But instead of just letting that sit on your desk and gather dust, you’ve actively now said, “How can I infuse this messaging, this philosophy throughout all of the team?” And I believe I’m not making this up. You actually brought this into your Monday morning meetings and went section by section, started talking about it. So, I would love to hear, how have you spread the messaging, what we’re about among the team? Are there tips you would give other advisors around vision, messaging? So, it’s not just coming from the founder, but it’s actually coming from every voice, every seat. And then, are there any cool stories once you explain like how you did it of like other team members where you’re like, you’re walking by, like, oh my gosh, they get it, they’re talking with the client on the phone? Or I’d love to hear anything that’s come out of that work.

Victor Medina: I’m going to try to remember all of those because that’s like a six-part question and you’re testing my memory to make sure I hit all of them.

Brad Johnson: How did you infuse it among the team? And then how did you see it show up from other team members?

Victor Medina: Perfect. So, I think the way that we infused the team is it became something that I was or what I allowed to happen is, this be something that I was hammering around and saying and living in a way that was almost nauseating, like, stop saying it. Please stop saying everything that’s in there. I’m done with it. Because I wanted them to see that I believed. And I think that the best thing that happened by accident was I was already in a coaching mentality with my team. So, for me to come back and say, but now this is the clarity of the vision, I didn’t have to do two things at once. I didn’t have to be clear about the vision, but then also establish that I was there to coach and care for them in some fashion. I got better at the toolset. I got a better idea off of it.

And so, I’d already gotten some credibility with saying, I care about you. Let me tell you about what that means. And now, to say, and I got really clear about how we’re going to go and do this. So, those two worked together. And I am extremely passionate about, especially creating distinctions in people that help them transform their lives, I love that element of it. I’m so sorry that Tony Robbins exists because I like to have been him if he didn’t exist already, right? So, I want to go create those changes for people.

But the other thing that ended up happening to help with the infusing it is that we systematized it. So, we found the opportunities for it to live as the standard operating procedure. So, for example, we talked about those meetings that you had. We now have an agenda item so that every week, there’s an agenda item that goes over one element of it. So, we had put it into the fabric of the institution in instances like that, in the hashtags that we use, both internal and external marketing, in the wins that we share. It was interesting because I talked about the fact that one of our team members really highlighted, I wasn’t using the best is yet to come as the hashtag. I was using something else.

But the team members were the one that elevated that and actually adopted it on their own. And who am I to get in their way? So, when that happened, the hashtag of the best is yet to come ended up being everywhere off of it. Kristin adopted it. So, it’s got sort of this earworm version of it that goes beyond our team, but we then institutionalized that and the wins that we were having or if we were on vacation or whatever else. The internal communication had the hashtag. The internal communication was linked to that. So, we just made it a piece of the fabric that we were living when that happened. And that helped to take root, I think, a little bit faster than if it was top down and only me. The second thing…

Brad Johnson: You hit one thing there that I want to piggyback off of. What’s really cool once you extract it out of your brain and you get it in a translatable format, piece of paper or document that you can bring in to meetings and share with the team, we’ve seen the same thing at Triad, like DBDL did not come from Brad and it did not come from Shawn. It came from Nick Whitaker because we were saying, “Hey, we want to do business and do life with our members, guys like you.” And Nick is just like, “Like DBDL?” I’m like, “Dang, that kind of has a cool ring to it.” Actually, it’s right here on my shirt sleeve. Thank you, Nick Whitaker, right?

So, what’s cool is when you actually take that next step and infuse that into the team conversation, we all want great talent on the team. We all want A players. You’ll be amazed what A players do with that and how it evolves and changes and how they take it and run with it. And it sounds like the exact same thing happened inside of your firm.

Victor Medina: It did. And then we come to the part that has got a little bit of grit but is worth everyone hearing, which is when you have clarity of a vision like that and you’ve been running an entity for 15 years at that point in time, I liken it to changing the destination of the bus. So, you had everybody in the right seat in the bus, but the bus was going to Albuquerque. And now, you said, “We’re going to Austin.” And people are like, “But I don’t want to go to Austin.” You’re like, “I know. And so, maybe it’s time for you to get off the bus.”

Brad Johnson: Your team that wants to go to Albuquerque over Austin, I need to talk to these people.

Victor Medina: How about the fact that maybe I was the one that said we should go to Albuquerque or allowed that we go to Albuquerque? And I finally got why. I said, “Listen, Austin is weird. Let’s go to Austin.” Those of you who don’t know, that’s their tagline. So, there was a change that happened because I don’t know, and I’ll say it in the affirmative because I’m confident about this. In doing this, I think it’s impossible to be 100% successful, especially with an existing entity, existing team that maybe as a leader, you botched it a little bit by not being clear sooner, but you allowed something to happen that wasn’t clear. And now you’re giving a vision that is clear and it’s a little bit different, and what we’ve had to go through over the course of the last year is a certain amount of change over around that, just around the idea this is we’re headed for a different destination. And I do believe as a leader, it’s your obligation to those people that agree with your vision and want to go there, to not permit or tolerate people to take the steering wheel of a bus and keep you headed to Albuquerque. So, from that perspective…

Brad Johnson: Is it fair to say, Victor, on that, and just to clarify?

Victor Medina: Sure.

Brad Johnson: Did a few people have to get off the bus that weren’t up for the new destination? Did that create somehow, like based on where we’re going…

Victor Medina: Some people self-selected off the bus. Some people I had to stop the bus and get them off the bus. So, it manifested itself in different ways. And some people weren’t up for the challenge of where we were going. In other words, they like the destination, but they actually don’t ask me to do anything different than what I was doing before. They wanted me the extra work off of it. So, I think it manifested itself in all of the ways. We had about a 50% turnover in the size of our team and we’re only a team of nine. So, you might say, “Okay, it was 50% of the 50% of your workforce went.”

And so, we had to endure that as part of the changeover. But there’s a silver lining to it. And the silver lining, which is the second part of your question, of what you asked is that we got to the point where the people on the team now are able to drive this from the position of being leaders in the firm, not just me at the top bottom, but everybody understand that they have a leadership obligation. Leadership, as I said before, was the obligation to serve other people and keep them on the path that were working with each other. So, the turnover allowed us to only allow back in the people that are interested in it.

I mean, one of the things that we did with that tool that Triad helped us design is we use it as a recruitment tool and as a, not just recruitment, but as a sales tool for new team members. So, this is what you’re interested in, we wrote the whole ad around it. You come in, we’re going to give you that document, we’re going to show you the vision, and we’re going to have you do Great Life exercise. So, you make sure that if we’re going to lead you through a great life, that you’ve done the exercise to know what the heck a great life is for you. Because if you’re not clear about what a great life is, maybe you’re not supposed to be here for where it is because we’re about leading great lives, not helping you define what that is, let’s say. I don’t know, I’m just extending an analogy, but the idea was it helped us get a team where people could drive that and it was a full team effort.

And boy, does that create momentum when I’m not the only person that’s dragging it or when it’s not me? And I think this is very common in professional services firm, whether financial services, legal firms, or whatever else, where it’s not just me and two other people that are loyal to me. I think that happens a lot, where it’s like the leader, the founder, and their right hand or their co-conspirator or two or three, but then the rest of the team’s not on board and they’re dragging donkeys to get there. But if you get to the point in time where it’s everyone and we have that because we had breakage and had to fill with people that were in there, I think that it makes a big difference and we were able to see us gain a lot of momentum. And I have the proof of that, not like go see the receipts and download this, but we just spent the last 90 days working at about 60% capacity. I know that sounds verboten, like, how would you do that?

But turning away work, sometimes not bringing people on that didn’t fit into the system, but really limiting ourselves to about 60% capacity. And what we did with the other 40% of that capacity is it was called project slow down to speed up, because what I saw coming down the road is that I have to tell this part of it real quick, Brad, which is I’m incredibly coachable for one reason. Meaning, like I take what you’d say and I’ll just do what you tell me. The reason I do that is I want to be bulletproof when it doesn’t work that I can blame you. Like, when it doesn’t work out, I just want to be like, “Hey, I did everything Brad told me.”

Brad Johnson: It’s a selfish pursuit.

Victor Medina: Yeah. So, that’s why I’m coachable. I don’t want to be blamed for when it doesn’t work out. I want to blame somebody else. So, it meant that we took wholesale what you told us to do and suggested would be a good idea for us to do. And we started to run with it and we found incredible success. What Triad has coached us in terms of how to conduct sales meetings or first meetings, how to structure the business got to be really, really successful so much so that I had to hit pause because if I kept going down that path and I poured more gasoline into the marketing fire, what I would have done is I would have broken what this team was. The wheels would have come off the bus because we just couldn’t handle how successful that was going to be. So, we needed to slow down a little bit and we needed to shore up the infrastructure so that it was structurally stable for us to grow the next level.

I mean, Triad is all about encouraging and I’ve agreed that this is the game that I want to play people to scale and grow. That’s what we’re interested in being or I’m interested in being around those people and Triads are interested around having those people be the people that they’re around. So, I want to play that game, but I want to do it to the detriment of the firm and break the people that are around here, especially because I respect how good they are. So, we needed to slow down and get all of those pieces right, the internal processes, all of the team resources, all that kind of stuff.

And where I was going with it was to say, and in these last 90 days, I wasn’t very much involved except to just put a gentle hand in which direction we were going, but it was the nine people on the team that drove all of the leadership that established all the work that we needed to do over the course of the 90 days, and also, were able to exercise that judgment in my absence, as I was talking about, because the vision was clear. So, this is where we’re going. I didn’t have to be involved with micromanaging or making those decisions. They led.

And I was that last part of saying, well, not only is the dream being big enough to require a dream, but that team needs to be able to pull the exact amount of weight that the founder can because if it’s just one person doing it, then it’s going to take us a long time to get there. And I think that’s been the other element. I appreciate your really kind words, and I’m not one that actually takes that and says, “Yeah, I am great.” I’ll take it in this instance just to say that, if that’s true, one of the elements that has made that happen has been that this team has adopted that and run with it and been able to be as clear and working as hard as anything that I said along the way that inspired me to do it.

Brad Johnson: Well, that’s number one. The partnership’s been amazing from both fronts, so I appreciate the kind words on your side as well. One of the themes that I pull out of that conversation there is it’s a filtering system. It’s a filtering system. Once you say, here’s what we’re about here and we’re committed to it, number one, the current group that’s with you, which may or may not be on board with that, there’s a filtering system of, okay, who’s in for the new destination? And then the new talent that you acquire, that’s the thing that I didn’t see coming as well. Like, when you look at vision and you look at messaging, I think a lot of times, you’re like, okay, this is to lead the current team. And obviously, how do we message to clients or prospective clients?

One of the surprises that’s come out of mission control has been how that is applied to acquiring new talent and filtering the right ones in. And you and a number of other members have literally told us, you’re like, yeah, this is part of my– I pulled this up in my interview. Like, this is a lot about what we talk about. Hey, here’s why you would be a fit here, here’s why you wouldn’t. So, if you’re not on board with this, you shouldn’t join. And so, I love the fact that you’re applying it not just internally to people that are already with you, but also the new key members, the new clients that come on.

Victor Medina: Yeah, absolutely. It makes it easier to make the decisions about who to continue a conversation with. It makes it easier. Look, it’s a gift to them, Brad. It’s a gift to the current team because first of all, those people that don’t continue on are absolved of any responsibility going forward. It’s not their fault. I change the destination, it’s not their fault. And I don’t put any blame on them. It’s a gift to say, “It’s okay that you don’t want to come. And I’m sorry that you’re not going to come with us.” But there’s nothing wrong. There’s nothing wrong with doing something different.

And then similarly, it’s a gift to the people that come on board who say, I’m not going to bring you here unless I can really see a path for you being successful. I care enough about your journey. We exist as a firm, as something that we want in the world. We exist in part to make sure that you have a successful journey. And that means I don’t want to bring you on board unless I can see that 10, 20, or 30-year path for you. I’m not here to exploit your work and effort because it puts dollars in my pocket. I’m not here to bring you on because I have a crunch for work that needs to get done and you are a release valve to doing it. We’re going to talk about this up front because everyone that comes on board, I feel a commitment towards to help them lead that great life. And by the way, I also feel a commitment towards the people that are here to not bring somebody on board that wouldn’t fit in there.

Brad Johnson: For sure. For sure.

Victor Medina: And both sides of that are the reason why having a tool like this is so helpful in doing recruiting and in hiring new people and having a true north about where you’re going.

Brad Johnson: Yeah, it’s very common. I’ve seen it a number– I mean, at this stage in my career, I’ve worked with hundreds of independent financial services firms and it is very common when you– you said it earlier, it’s kind of like, oftentimes you see financial advisors, it’s kind of like their small team joined them for kind of their personality and there was a loyalty factor. And the moment you kind of make this put the stake in the ground of like, okay, it’s time to take things to the next level and here’s what we’re about, here’s the destination, and we’re committed to it, oftentimes, that early group, it’s almost like you outgrow a few of them.

And to your point, it’s not like they’re a bad human or bad employee, it’s just like, no, they were great during that season of the firm and they’re just not committed to the next season. And that’s okay. To you, it’s a gift. Like, hey, appreciate the time. I’m going to set you free. You do what’s going to be what’s best for you in your life. But the ones that are staying, here’s where we’re going, let’s go. And I just think the transparency in that is an amazing thing. It’s a gift you can give your team, so.

Victor Medina: It makes the discussions a little easier to have, especially when the things look like they aren’t going to work out because you’re able to make it a thing that’s outside of anything that’s personal. It doesn’t exist. It’s not I’m right and you’re wrong, right? It’s self-filters. This is the stuff that we care about.

Brad Johnson: It’s what you told me about your parents. What was the phrase you said? They were together for a set amount of time. It was to have me. And then what was your phrase?

Victor Medina: Right. Geez, I forgot what it was, but it was clear that they had no business being together afterwards. Their season was over from that.

Brad Johnson: Well, cool. Yeah, please, if you got another thought.

Victor Medina: I just want to add one more concept to it, which is I think it’s really important or I’ve decided that it’s really important, the shift that happens when you stop playing a game of achievement and playing a game of greatness. So, here’s what I mean about that. Too often the definition of what we do and who we are is playing a game where the score of that is measured by somebody outside of us. We see that in the industry, like, who are you? Well, what’s your premium that you’re riding? Well, who are you? How many team members do you have? Are you successful? How many offices off of it, right?

Because it’s an outside metric that drives that. And ultimately, it’s a hollow endeavor because what it does is it drives you towards a destination. And once you’re at that destination, you need another metric from outside of you to have any value for where you are. And so, when you take a document like the mission control or the brand in vision manifesto that clarifies where you’re going, it switches the game because I’ve felt that the game of greatness is not only self-defined, it’s not defined from outside. It’s not an outside driven. What does somebody else think is the measure of the scoreboard, but it changes the focus from the destination to the journey because then what it does is liberate is that every step along the way is what you should be enjoying. Like, I also look at that three-year mission control where you talk about a vision manifesto about where we’re going to be one, three, five years. I don’t look at the destination. I’m not really concerned about arriving there.

What I’m concerned about or what drives me is who will we be while we are going through that? It defines the journey because that journey is how we define the greatness. We look at the how do we engage, what decisions that we make, what were the experiences that we were in that moment? And if those things are awesome because we’ve decided it’s awesome, then the scoreboard that someone else is tracking about how much premium did we ride, how many new assets that we bring on board becomes less important in how we feel in every moment.

This is going to drag the whole thing down, but I’m going there anyway. My mom has stage IV lung cancer and she got diagnosed in 2018. And I have been her primary advocate, confidante. By the way, this was the mom where I have a half-brother and sister. So, obviously, this is the people we were just talking about. And I was her companion when they divorced. And so, I’ve had a very special role in her life.

But in the course of being with her for the last five years, five-plus years, what’s driven the metric of anything that we’ve evaluated, I ask her question of, again, do you want to feel special or do you want to feel normal with the time that we have? The stage IV lung cancer, she’s not getting a cure. It’s just a matter of how much time. So, I said, “Would you want to feel normal? Would you want to feel special?” Because what’s most important is at the end of this, you feel that whatever times you’ve been gifted, you felt wasn’t wasted.

And in the course of that journey, the checking off of it has always been what’s it been like while we’ve been doing this because there’s no destination there, right? Does that make sense? The destination is death, the destination is her departure. That’s the achievement component of it. Do I live five years? Do I live three? What did I live from the moment that I got this diagnosis? So, if I was playing an achievement game, I’d play the game about, did I maximize the time? If I’m playing a game of greatness, it’s what did I do with the time?

And it’s been a sobering experience to be with her because I don’t know how much time I have, I don’t know how much time any of us has. And so, I look at that and say, “I don’t want to reflect that in the time that I have been spending, I have been so concerned about the destination that I haven’t enjoyed the journey.” And so, when we look at something like mission control document, just kind of bring it back, like, great, you talked about your dying mom and you want to talk about some business plan that we put together for you.

But if I look at something like that, the purpose of it is not because it’s an instrument to help me attain a goal. It’s because it is a tool that helps me magnify how I spend that time and how I have the other people around me spend the time and how I have my clients around me spend that time. Because if I don’t know how much it is, if it’s five years versus being 50 from where it is, I don’t want to ever reflect that it was misspent along the way. And if I can have a tool that helps make those decisions to say this is how much I spend that time and really love every moment of it, then know the people around me love it, if they don’t have as much time as what they thought, that while they were engaged and that they did the same thing, if that’s what that tool allows me to do, that’s a frickin home run. That’s what I want. And that’s what I found so liberating about going through that and why we’ve adopted it so feverishly and been able to roll it out so passionately is because I really see it as being the translation of an experience and a way to get very quickly to being in a day to day that we just reflect as being has been awesome.

Brad Johnson: That’s powerful, man. That makes me feel good about the work we do at Triad and that’s powerful. If we’ve helped to create a tool that allows you to do that, number one, I’m going to make sure Kristin listens to that section because she poured her heart and soul into, that was not an easy product to develop. There was many days in the conference room where we were like, “Why the hell did we come up with this idea in the first place?” But right there, that’s why we did it. So, I appreciate you sharing that man, that stuff that matters. Well, I think it’s time to bring this to a close. I’m going to leave you with one final question as we cheers, by the way, virtually. Happy Friday.

Victor Medina: Cheers.

Brad Johnson: Thank you. Thank you, Victor, number one, for just being in the community. You’re a pillar. I love how you show up. I love how you serve others complete abundance mindset. And you’re fun to hang with, you’re fun to do business and do life with. So, I’m glad you’re here. And so, with that, I would love to hear your definition of what Do Business, Do Life means to you.

Victor Medina: I knew this was coming because I’m a fan of the show and I know this is where we were going, so I’m going to do my best to get this pithy and right because I’ve been thinking about what the answer is going to be. I feel like there is an artificial line that people try to draw between the two, one’s business and one’s life. One is over here, the other is over there, and I have a different metric for it. So, if I’ve been successful in doing business and doing life, or if I’ve got a DBDL and I’ve been successful at it, for me, it means that the line doesn’t exist, that for what I do or where I’m engaged at that moment, it’s the best thing for me to be doing.

It’s not just that it’s balance as though that it’s parts of the scale, but that there’s a continuum that says that how you are defined by your business is how you’re defined by your life and vice versa. And so, I try to. I’m not sure that I’m there yet. But I try to think about the moments in which if a line were exist, I was on one side of it or the other, I try to make sure that I’m as comfortable on the other side of whatever that definition is. And that, for me, has been how I’ve sort of translated what that DBDL is, is really the removal of that line.

Brad Johnson: That’s good, man. I like that. That’s how I try to live life, too. So, I love your definition. Well, and with that, we’re about a month out, actually less than a month now, no, a little over a month now to be enable to hang at launch in Scottsdale. So, looking forward to doing this in person. Appreciate the wisdom you shared today. I always enjoy our conversation, so until we get to do it in person.

Victor Medina: Love it. Thank you so much. I appreciate the opportunity. Bye-bye.

Brad Johnson: All right. Take care.


DBDL podcast episode conversations are intended to provide financial advisors with ideas, strategies, concepts and tools that could be incorporated into their business and their life. Financial professionals are responsible for ensuring implementation of anything discussed related to business is done so in accordance with any and all regulatory, compliance responsibilities and obligations.

The Triad member statements reflect their own experience which may not be representative of all Triad Member experiences, and their appearances were not paid for.

Copyright ©️ 2023 Triad Partners. All rights reserved.


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