Keeping It Real (and Other Life Lessons)

Jackie Bedard
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Attorney, Author, and Founder of Carolina Family Estate Planning

The following is an article from the December 2018 issue of "Get Your Ducks in a Row" Carolina Family Estate Planning's free newsletter. You can read the rest of the issue, as well as back issues of our newsletter online at www.carolinafep.com/library/newsletters/ or subscribe for free at www.carolinafep.com/newsletter.cfm

During the week of Thanksgiving, on the Monday and Tuesday before the holiday, we found ourselves smack in the middle of Amish country in Pennsylvania.

We were there to meet with our mentor, Attorney Julie Steinbacher. Julie has been my coach for years. She’s the force behind, among other things, Dan’s transition from leading a group of software engineers to being the Executive Director of our firm. Suffice it to say, she plays an important role in our business and our lives. We drove up to Williamsport for coaching with Julie and to observe and learn how she runs two offices in a firm more than twice the size of our own. 

What did we learn there? Over the past two years, our firm has more than doubled. All the while, we have been cautious to make sure that we aren’t diluting our vision, our values, and our commitment to our clients. It has always been a concern of mine that growing might require us to be different people than we started out as —that we wouldn’t have time to mentor our team members or talk with our clients. 

What we observed from Julie is that authenticity isn’t an effect: it’s a cause. 

Julie began her career years ago as a gerontologist, helping senior communities identify ways to improve the lives of their residents. Today, as an elder law attorney, she still has a passion for helping the elderly and partnering with others who help the elderly for a living.

Julie is a busy woman: she manages and mentors a talented team distributed among two offices an hour and a half apart. There is no way she she can accept every invitation she receives. She cannot present at every event and to every organization she believes in. There are simply too many. 

So, Julie chooses the presentations that best use her skills and entrusts the rest to her talented team. She has hired team members she trusts to treat clients as she would treat her own family members. And she is direct and engaged with those team members—and she is extremely generous. 

The more authentic Julie is, the more her firm grows. You cannot be everything to everyone. Julie’s firm didn’t grow by becoming a volume business: she is focused on increasing the value her firm can provide to their clients. Sometimes that involves challenging conversations. It always leads to better results for her clients. 

But why am I telling you about a firm in Williamsport, Pennsylvania and the woman who owns it? What does a good dose of Pennsylvania authenticity mean for Carolina Family Estate Planning in 2019? It means we will continue to grow into who we are. As we continue to upgrade our new office, we’ve started a fun committee. We are doing a little reorganization and tweaking to keep improving our clients’ experience—giving our team members more room to grow. We continue to work on adding more value to wealth protection, long term care and special needs planning, and, of course, traditional estate planning. We are investing in our associate attorneys, Robert and Kellie, to continue to advance the state of estate planning in the Triangle. 

And as we continue to provide opportunities for our team members to grow, we will always find ways to secure our clients’ futures so they can live better, richer, happier lives. May your 2019 be full of happiness and truth! 

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