2015 was the year I decided to take matters into my own hands. With the help of family, friends and colleagues, 2015 was the year I decided to stop receiving a paycheck and start building a business that matches my ambition and my desire to provide dignified service to the elderly and aging in my community.
After years of being told to wait patiently to achieve my goals, I decided the people telling me to wait were only doing so because they could not figure out how to reach my targets either.
Be patient. Wait your turn. These words are killers of dreams.
This year I finally realized that if I wanted to accomplish anything of significance in my career, I would have to do it under my own umbrella, using my own name and brand. This was, and at times still is, a terrifying thought. As a young attorney, we are almost universally instructed that our business will be built by spending countless hours improving our legal skills and techniques, with almost no attention paid to client attainment, client satisfaction or business development. This notion that by developing experience you will automatically develop a clientele and business acumen is one of the worst lies propagated in the legal profession today. For years I have felt the frustration that my practice was not reaching its targets not because I lacked the skill-set or experience necessary to deliver results, but rather that I was bootstrapped into an archaic model of providing legal services that did not reflect current demands or needs, or help solve the problems my clients were experiencing.
Born of this frustration was the idea that by establishing my own personal brand, The Marrone Law Firm, I could continue to develop skills and experience as a relatively young attorney (hey, I’m only 32), while at the same time change the way I provide services to clients to reflect their experiences and relieve some of the pain they were experiencing with issues related to aging, retirement, and estate and long-term care planning.
Now, I knew there would be several moving parts to this challenge. The transition from a law firm where you are coddled as an attorney and don’t have to really do anything except provide the legal service to the client, to a model where I was handling all facets of the business personally or deciding which parts to outsource, was a task I knew would be daunting. I get asked all the time how I made the transition and what specific tools I found most helpful. I am working on another post for legal professionals to outline the specific choices I made (i.e. malpractice insurance, office space, furniture, staffing) and which ones have worked and which have not. For the purposes of this year-end reflection, I want to shout out my good friend Jay DeVoy (DeVoy Law), who provided me with a great template and lots of feedback on some of the choices he made during his transition.
At this point, I thought it would be fun to take a page out of my friend and my wife’s former colleague, Abigail Gardner’s recent blog post and share some of the sources of inspiration, motivation and guidance that I have leaned-on during this past year:
- Boss Life, by Paul Downs: You may remember Paul as the author of the You’re The Boss blog at the NY Times. Paul chronicled a year in the life of his custom conference table business located outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in a way that is honest and resonated with me as a new small business owner. I really loved his discussion of cashflow management, a very bland topic ordinarily, and how big of a factor it actually plays in managing a small business.
- The Ask Gary Vee Show: When I am in doubt about a social media trend or strategy, I turn to Gary Vaynerchuk, and not just because my aunt, Pamela Maret, is Director of Recruiting at Vayner Media. I appreciate Gary’s no-nonsense approach, especially when I am crunched for time and want to cut through all the noise in the social media marketing space,
- Digital Marketer, “Social Media Swipe File“: I don’t have tons of time to study social media marketing trends or what keywords or images generates shareable content, so this swipe file has provided a great launching point for some of our better social media posts from 2015. Our current goal is to post twice daily on our Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. In 2016 I’d like to look into Snapchat and figure out how that can fit into our social media marketing as well, and I will continue to use Digital Marketer to assist with these efforts.
- Elder Law Prof Blog: I consider this blog to be the #1 source of issues related to elder law and aging on the web, especially since the demise of NY Times’ The New Old Age blog last year. Professors Pearson and Morgan do a great job aggregating content that is relevant in this field. I read this blog almost every day to stay on top of trends, new research and new cases in the elder law field.
- 10X Planner: The one thing I don’t leave home without. I really could list all of Grant Cardone’s products here, but those of you who know me have already heard me sing his praises, and to many of you I’ve passed along his books and other materials. This planner not only lets me organize my scheduled day, but it also has a spot for a #quoteoftheday for motivation, and requires you to write down your goals, which I do twice daily. This planner is the reason I don’t have to dream up New Years Resolutions, I’ve written down my goals almost 700 times in the past year, and I revise and refresh them as my situation changes. I’ve got a couple extra planners in stock, so let me know if you’d like to try this out, it will change the way you plan your day, week, month and year.
- Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande: Although I fell short of my 40 book goal for 2015 (thanks a lot Game of Thrones series), I am so glad I read this book early this year. Dr. Gawande provides examples of a better, more socially fulfilling model for elder care in this country, one I think we need to adopt immediately. This book is helping change the way I think about how my law practice provides services to our clients.
- Profit First, by Mike Michalowicz: This one is a late entry to the list, as my friend Dominick Cappuccilli just recommended this to me last week. I’m about halfway through and I can tell you it is going to really change the way cashflow is managed in 2016 and I’m excited to implement a lot of the principles in this book.
This year was one in which I took a leap of faith, and I’ve been rewarded time and time again. I’d like to say I did this all by myself, but the truth is far from that. The success I’ve experienced in my first year in business is the product of a lot of caring people who have taken their time and talent to help me in immeasurable ways. My brother Michael and I started out in my new office space in March of this year looking at each other not knowing what to do next or what would come next. In July we added Renee, and she has truly transformed the way we interact with clients and helped us provide better service to more people. My wife Melissa is my true partner, the one who grounds me but also inspires me to achieve my dreams. She gives me the time and space necessary to put in the long hours on the path to success. The entire rest of my family has helped by listening to my ideas, listening to me vent, providing referrals and being great cheerleaders. I have to thank so many of my professional colleagues for their words of encouragement, helpful feedback and client referrals. I know together we are building a community of people who share my goals of assisting the aging and retirement communities with problems of significance to them.
I am incredibly excited for what 2016 will bring. In addition to continuing to expand The Marrone Law Firm by hiring a law clerk for this summer, we are going to change the way we provide legal services to our elderly clients. We will begin rolling out our new elder life care planning model with an elder-centered approach to help families respond to every challenge caused by chronic illness or disability of an elderly loved one. As a result of this new model, our clients and their families will get access to a wider variety of options for care as well as knowledgeable guidance from a team of compassionate advisors who help them make the right choices about every aspect of their loved one’s well-being.
We will be introducing an inter-disciplinary team that works to identify present and potential future care needs, locate appropriate care, and ensure high-quality care. This approach relies less on crisis-oriented transactions and more on the development of on-going relationships with families. We will begin talking more with new and existing clients about this model in the first quarter of 2016, with a full introduction and marketing campaign expected in the middle of the year.
Additionally, in 2016 we will also be spreading the message of Empire Medicaid Solutions, our company that handles the processing of Medicaid applications for nursing home residents statewide. We are already providing this service in several local nursing homes directly to families, and we will continue to expand this model statewide in 2016.
Thank you for reading my end-of-year post, I hope you found some useful information here. I am excited to have all of you as a follower of our blog and part of our growing family. Cheers to a happy and healthy 2016!