9 episodes

Multiply. Collaborate. Transform.

The Freedom Practice Podcast Craig R. Hersch

    • Education

Multiply. Collaborate. Transform.

    Freedom Practice Podcast - Practice Xcelerator Event Ep. 19

    Freedom Practice Podcast - Practice Xcelerator Event Ep. 19

     































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    Expanding Your Orbit to A Bigger Future

    Many argue that there’s not a definite process to achieve success within your estate planning practice. I beg to differ. Not only can you follow the seven steps that I’m about to describe, but you can constantly repeat and upgrade them to attain your firm’s next level.



    Step One: Developing New Proficiencies



    Let’s suppose, for example, that you are becoming proficient not only with basic estate planning documents, but in crafting continuing testamentary trusts with embedded income tax planning, like Beneficiary Deemed Income Trusts, the use of Trust Protectors, and the creative powers of appointment. The first step is to become proficient in this area of your practice.



    Step Two: Defining Motivation



    While certain activities energize you and provide motivation, others sap you of energy. Defining your highest and best use provides insight into what tasks you need to focus on within your practice. At the same time, you’re discovering what motivates your clients to select the estate planning strategies that best fit their goals. Understanding what motivates your team is also crucial to your firm’s success. As you work through your newest proficiency, pay attention to these motivating factors.



    Step Three: Building Support Team



    Once you define the activities that motivate you, it’s time to build a support team that compliments your skillset. Placing team members in tasks they enjoy, and filling the holes you inevitably find, creates a stronger, more capable firm. You’re happier because other people are completing the tasks you find mundane.



    Step Four: Systemizing Client Value



    With the proper focus on the first three steps, you’re ready to put frontstage and backstage systems in place to continually provide a uniquely positive client experience that can’t be found anywhere else at any price. While every client’s plan is different, you’ve implemented client intake, drafting, review, signing, and client care systems that attract A+ clients and pay dividends well into the future.



    Step Five: Packaging Your Wisdom



    Now that you’ve systemized your client value proposition, it’s time to package it for sale. Selling a process is more client-friendly than selling a commoditized document or strategy. This includes developing brochures, books, white papers, podcasts, and other media that you’ll use to market your expertise. You’ll mine your existing client base, educate your centers of influence on your unique systems and processes, and use state-of-the-art social media marketing to get the word out to those who aren’t yet familiar with your firm.



    Step Six: Self-Managing Practice



    The goal of the five preceding steps is to create a self-managing practice. Everyone knows their role in your frontstage and backstage processes, is working within their highest and best use, leaving you to have the freedoms necessary to continually upgrade your client value propositions. The byproduct of all this success is increased revenue, profits, and team harmony.



    Step Seven: Increasing Capabilities



    The last step, increasing your firm’s capabilities, leads to the first step again, but with another capability – or two or three! Perhaps you’re interested in maximizing your Client Care Program, or in creating a system for advanced estate planning, or for your trust administration process. Your next orbit around the wheel will be at a higher level. Interestingly, the higher the orbit,

    • 6 min
    Freedom Practice Podcast - Practice Xcelerator Event Ep. 16

    Freedom Practice Podcast - Practice Xcelerator Event Ep. 16

     































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    Is Your Practice a 24/7 Job or the Career You Imagined?

    When I graduated from law school, I imagined an almost utopic vision of what my law practice and life would look like. An endless supply of happy clients. Eager, helpful staff. Free time to enjoy my family and hobbies. Great money.



    When reading this, did you chuckle? “Yeah, right…”



    Twenty years into my practice, I nearly quit. The reality of my life wasn’t anything near that vision. “There are a thousand different ways I can make a living that isn’t the grind that I’ve built for myself,” I thought.  



    Before I threw everything away to start anew, at the advice of a good friend and colleague, I reluctantly enrolled in a coaching program. What I learned changed the arc of my life.



    I hadn’t nurtured a career, instead, I built a 24/7 stressful job. I was doing too much. Despite my cash flow concerns, there wasn’t a good reason to avoid hiring the staff required to enable me to work at my highest and best use.



    My practice took off. I also learned that I am a “Quick Start” on the Kolbe Index, meaning that I am an entrepreneurial visionary, and more comfortable with risk than most. As such, however, I need others who are into detail and follow-through. So, I surrounded myself with attorneys and support staff who have complementary skills to mine.



    Over the years, I enjoyed free time and vacations with my growing family. My three daughters are now all adults, the oldest will be married next July. My wife and I recently celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary.



    My success building this machine, however, caused more stress. As we grew, I discovered that solving some problems led to others. I hadn’t paid attention to the types of clients I was bringing in. Our hiring, on-boarding, and training process wasn’t fine-tuned, not all team members were right-fit.



    I was like the proverbial frog in the pot of water. Ironically, during a swim with my triathlon team, I suddenly felt a crushing feeling in my chest. Thankfully, I didn’t suffer a heart attack, but the ER trip resulted in an emergency triple bypass.



    My surgery resulted in self-reflection and more changes.  That’s the thing about learning. It never ends, you constantly strive for better.



    A source of joy that I have is sharing my knowledge and experience running a boutique practice with 30+ years in trust and estate work. That’s why I started The Freedom Practice. I continue to attend several coaching and mastermind groups, spending tens of thousands of dollars annually. Two weeks ago, I was in a marketing mastermind group where we gained unique insight into social media strategies.



    Several other members of my office team also attend coaching groups from technology to team building. We invest in ourselves and in our future.



    We take what we learn, adapting it into our practice to see if it works. When I say “works” it must work on many different levels. For our clients, and for ourselves in the sense that new systems and processes must reduce, not add to, stress.



    In our programs, we share everything with you. Implementing systems and processes, hiring right-fit team members, incorporating automation and technology, marketing for A+ clients. I’m much closer to that career I envisioned upon graduating from law school. Since we’re wills, trust, and estate office, that’s what we know, and who we coach. No one else.



    On your journey to your vision, you can avoid the potholes in the road that I experie...

    • 5 min
    Freedom Practice Podcast - Practice Xcelerator Event Ep. 15

    Freedom Practice Podcast - Practice Xcelerator Event Ep. 15

     































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    Taking Care of Yourself in Stressful Times

    If you owned a million-dollar racehorse, you’d feed it the best diet, give it plenty of exercise, training, and ensure it had enough sleep. You’d take all necessary steps to protect a major income-generating investment.



    Aren’t YOU that million-dollar racehorse? 



    I understand that your estate planning practice is going gangbusters due to proposed tax legislation and clients’ mortality concerns. You might be working sixty-hour weeks plus. Your clients are grumpy, and your staff is harried. There are not enough hours in the day or hands in the office to get the work done. At home, your spouse and children spend too much screen time conducting work or learning virtually. Everyone around you is on edge.



    You’re racing the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes. Every. Single. Week. 



    Overwork and stress can seriously injure that racehorse. Take it from me. Two years ago, before the pandemic, and despite having recently competed in three Ironman, nine half-Ironman, and 40 other endurance races of various distances, I underwent an emergency triple bypass.



    How did an Ironman triathlete end up in the operating room for life-saving heart surgery? Bad genes coupled with stress. Thankfully, we caught the problem before I had a heart attack. My cardiologist, who is also a fellow athlete and friend, told me to cut out as much stress from my life as possible. Six months after my surgery, while still recovering, the pandemic hit!



    Last week I attended Brian Kurtz’ Titan Marketing mastermind class in Connecticut, where Melinda Cohan, founder of “The Coaches Console,” shared her insight into how to take care of yourself in stressful times. Cohan points out that when you’re under constant stress, you can’t focus well, your work-product suffers, as does your home life. You're in reactionary mode, missing opportunities.



    If your mantra is “I’m fine,” she says, then you’re probably not. 



    Cohan describes six aspects to self-care: Emotional, Practical, Physical, Mental, Social and Spiritual. She suggests proactively managing each.



    Emotionally, it’s important to recognize where you are in any given moment. If your tank is on empty, then take time off to recharge. The number of major projects you take on is directly proportional to the free time you require to stay healthy. Therefore, more work should mean blocking out more free time. During your free time, don’t review emails, work on files, or make a neglected phone call. Cohan recognizes this is easier said than done, yet it’s vital to maintaining high energy, focused concentration, and excellent work product.



    Decluttering a workspace is an example of practical self-care. Dozens of files piled high on a desk can be draining and discouraging.



    Physically, get out and exercise, even if it’s a walk outdoors. As an aside, my psychologist made an enlightening point that I had turned my swimming, bicycling, and jogging hobbies into stressful competitions with ever-increasing triathlon distances. Training became a necessary obligation, a second full-time job. I’ve fully recovered from my surgery and am back to biking and swimming which I enjoy immensely, but I’ve quit racing.



    Mentally, it’s important to engage in rituals that separate work from home life, and to maintain healthy boundaries between the two. Speaking of boundaries, just because your clients pay fees doesn’t translate into ownership of you or your team. Establish clear boundaries,

    • 5 min
    Freedom Practice Podcast - Practice Xcelerator Event Ep. 14

    Freedom Practice Podcast - Practice Xcelerator Event Ep. 14

     































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    Automating Your Practice on the Cheap

    Gina, who’s been my logistics support team member for many years, has a daunting job. Not only does she keep the calendars straight for four attorneys, but she also schedules conference rooms, calls clients to remind them of their next-day appointments, prepares new files, inputs new matters into our CRM, and her daily tasks go on and on.



    We’re using free and low-cost technology to automate many of her functions, such as Zapier and Lawmatics. We upgraded our CRM to a Microsoft Dynamics model so that it communicates better with the other programs we use. This isn’t replacing Gina, it’s just freeing her up to do the many things that she does best. The more you automate, the easier life is not only for you but for your clients. Moreover, when you use today’s amazing technology, you don’t have to hire more hands as quickly, saving money.



    How about keeping track of files? I can look at my Smartphone to see what stage any given file is in, who has it, and what the next step is. We started that with Trello but are now moving that to Lawmatics as well. Keeping track of our work-in-progress is no small task when you have more than 220 estate administration files, 850 clients in our Client Care Program and more than 250 active estate planning files in the process.



    Even if you don’t have that volume, it’s important to automate now. It’s easier to put good systems in place before your practice grows to an unmanageable level where files are slipping through the cracks. If that’s happening already, then you have some work to do now!



    It’s been my feeling that estate planning firms are behind the curve implementing technology, and those that catch up are more likely to be the winners in today’s highly competitive marketplace. As I said above, most of the technology we use to automate and save time is not expensive.   



    One of the programs that I’ve really fallen in love with is Loom. Loom enables me to create and send a recording of me reviewing documents. It’s as if I’m on a Teams or Zoom call sharing draft documents, discussing various provisions. This enables the client to watch and listen, and to share it with one of her family members. Sometimes we send my Looms to a client’s accountant and financial advisor. Doing so saves enormous amounts of time at the document review stage.



    Did this email give you some great ideas? Imagine all of the others you’ll get over two days at Practice Xcelerator!



    To your bigger future,  





















    Craig R. Hersch

    Florida Bar Board Certified Wills, Trusts & Estates Attorney

    Senior Partner, The Sheppard Law Firm

    Founder, The Freedom Practice®

    PS – Remember – September 17th at noon ET is a free preview! Put it on your calendar now!  

























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    Learn More about Practice Xcelerator

    • 3 min
    Freedom Practice Podcast - Practice Xcelerator Event Ep. 13

    Freedom Practice Podcast - Practice Xcelerator Event Ep. 13

     































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    What Motivates Millennials and Gen X?

    Are Millennial and GenX individuals tough to manage? Is it fair to categorize anyone, as we’re all different, with different skills, propensities, and motivations?



    When I first arrived at my firm, I was the youngest attorney. Most of the support staff was older than me, composed mainly of Baby Boomers (I was born in 1964, the last Baby Boom year). Fast forward to today. I’m a 57-year-old Senior Partner, and most of the staff we hire are closer to the ages of my three daughters.



    What motivates today’s workers? Let’s begin by recognizing take-home pay and benefits, especially health insurance and retirement, are important to everyone. My law partners and I are motivated to do our best in these areas every year. Since our team knows this, they go the extra mile to satisfy our clients.



    In team meetings, we spend time instructing how client satisfaction is directly related to referrals and income, which then corresponds to how much we can afford to pay salaries, distribute bonuses, and provide benefits. Not only do we state the obvious, but we make it a point to share when a client sends a note of recognition or makes a favorable comment.



    Beyond those biggies, what motivates Millennials and GenX, and more specifically, how do you determine a right fit team member before hiring?



    Let’s begin with propensities. Our firm has found exceptional results with the Kolbe Index. In fact, team member Maria Reimer is a Kolbe Certified Specialist, who helps many of our Freedom Practice law firms ensure that they have the right individuals in the right job, and when hiring, narrowly qualified candidates to a specific job opening. 



    You might have a well-rounded, motivated employee who isn’t performing up to her potential. That might be a product of having her in the wrong job. The Kolbe Index classifies individuals according to their propensities. Not everyone enjoys the same workday. When you put someone to their highest and best use, good things happen.



    Generally, though, in my experience Millennials and GenXers are different than baby boomers. They expect to have a personal life. Work is a means to an end. This doesn’t mean that they’re all 9-5. The best ones still work hard, which means extra hours on occasion. They do want balance, however, and the more of that you provide the happier they’ll be.



    These generations want to contribute, not just be told what to do. If you give them the reason “why” they’re supposed to perform a function in a certain way, you’re much more likely to get the sought-after result. They’re also concerned about your overall impact on your community. I believe these are all good traits, rather than ones to be frustrated with.



    At the Practice Xcelerator Event, we’re going to share a thinking tool we named “The Self-Evaluator.” It can serve as a year-end performance review tool unlike any you’ve seen before. Most importantly, it can help you discover what motivates your team so everyone gets the most out of each day!



    For more on this, listen to the podcast episode that accompanies this email.  



    To your bigger future,  





















    Craig R. Hersch

    Florida Bar Board Certified Wills, Trusts & Estates Attorney

    Senior Partner, The Sheppard Law Firm

    Founder, The Freedom Practice®

    PS – Very soon we’re conducting our FREE Practice Xcelerator Preview, noon ET on September 17th.

    • 4 min
    Freedom Practice Podcast - Today's Practice Tip

    Freedom Practice Podcast - Today's Practice Tip

     































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    Avoid My Firm's Costly Marketing Mistakes

    How to spend marketing dollars? None of us have unlimited resources, yet so many choices.



    Social media?



    Google ads?



    I’m now writing “Social Media Advertising – What I Wish I Knew Before Engaging a Specialist” for publication in an upcoming issue of Trusts & Estates Magazine, where I’m on the editorial advisory board. It’s easy to throw away tens of thousands of dollars without a return.



    Unfortunately, I experienced this first-hand. Three years ago, my firm flushed forty thousand dollars down the toilet on a large, well-known media/marketing conglomerate with an amazing platform, before realizing these “experts” were misguided.



    They excitedly shared a monthly dashboard displaying all the “clicks” and “engagements” to our landing page. The numerous clicks defined success to them, but not to us. From the onset, our stated goal was to reach a specific target audience. What we got was a convicted murderer’s handwritten note mailed from the Florida State Prison complaining that his sister was cheating him out of his inheritance.



    We laugh about it now. Not so much then.



    We provide premium services to wealthy clientele. That’s not an easy sale. Consider tax and financial service advertisements. TurboTax prepares free tax returns. Fidelity, Schwab, and Vanguard offer zero-cost trades. Traditional marketers know how to promote freebies. Obviously, our needs are different.



    We turned things around. I attended several expensive national marketing symposiums. My unique ability breaks down general business strategies into specific action plans relevant to a boutique practice. We hired an excellent social media outfit.



    So, how should a firm leader approach 21st-century marketing?



    You start by identifying your target market. It’s not generally like, “elderly people looking to establish an estate plan.” Be specific. What attributes describe a client that you’ve been a hero to? What are her demographics? What differentiates your A+ client from your B- clients?



    You must consistently develop relevant content. That’s a subject for another email.



    Your marketing firm must understand your economics. How much are you willing to spend?  The number of clicks is irrelevant and costly. The quality of those clicks leads to success. Your landing page should only have one – or perhaps two – calls to action.



    To guide your efforts, The Practice Xcelerator Live Event includes a deep-dive, fifteen-point worksheet, along with other thinking tools, progressing towards a cost-effective, high-return marketing plan.



    I share my knowledge and experience with you. We’ve automated and integrated our CRM and marketing platform, working 24/7 whether we’re asleep or on vacation. Low-cost technology that’s available to you, too, is what we use.



    The tuition pays for itself, many times over. Check out our course curriculum, with more than fifteen modules on systems and processes, right-fit teams, technology, law firm economics, client care programs, and, of course, packaging your wisdom.



    You truly can’t miss it.



    To your bigger future,





















    Craig R. Hersch

    Florida Bar Board Certified Wills, Trusts & Estates Attorney

    Senior Partner, The Sheppard Law Firm

    Founder, The Freedom Practice ®

    PS – Don’t forget our upcoming free fifty-minute Practice Xce...

    • 6 min

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