Making Your Strengths Work For You

You’re probably familiar with the concept of IQ…maybe you’ve even taken a quick IQ test online or in the back of an in-flight magazine.

Bigstock-Chain-breaking-48224465Many years ago, it was believed that IQ and intelligence were synonymous — that there is some sort of magic number that everyone has that can be determined by the right test, and that that number is a reflection of how intelligent they are. Even today, if you ask the average person on the street what intelligence is, the term “IQ” is going to come up more often than not.

Fortunately, these days we know better…as far back as 1983, a psychologist at Harvard named Howard Gardner proposed his theory of “multiple intelligences.” The idea behind Gardner’s framework is simple — namely that intelligence takes many different forms, and that everyone’s “intelligence” is actually a unique combination of their strengths across many different categories. Currently, Gardner has advocated for nine different forms of intelligence:

      Musical – Rhythmic and Harmonic

      Visual – Spatial

      Verbal – Linguistic

      Logical – Mathematical

      Bodily – Kinesthetic





When you look at the list above, it’s not difficult to come up with examples of what Gardner was talking about — history is full of people who achieved at the highest levels in their field, independent of what they may have scored on a traditional IQ test.

IQ wasn’t related to Beethoven’s successes…it was his musical intelligence. Michael Jordan’s IQ had nothing to do with his ability to drive the lane or hit a jump shot — but he absolutely is gifted in the realm of bodily-kinesthetic intelligence. Margaret Thatcher would likely have scored well on a traditional IQ test, but you can also make the case that it was her inter- and intra-personal intelligence that helped her ascend to the top of her field.

So by now you might be wondering why I’m talking about intelligence here.  It’s a fair question, and the answer is actually pretty simple…

When you think about the examples I’ve given above, and the others that surely came to your mind as you read through Gardner’s list, what do they have in common? They all benefited from an extraordinary fit between their gifts and the endeavors they chose to pursue.

In my law firm, we’ve taken this philosophy to heart – working in our strengths (ie., whose doing what to reach goal).

So often you’ve heard me discuss the idea of systems, and how having the right system in place makes all the difference in your practice. Well, an important component in that is making sure that the people — the most important part of any business system — are a good fit with the responsibilities they have.

Take a minute now and think about your team — who is particularly gifted verbally? They have a way with words — are they getting the opportunity to leverage that talent for the benefit of your whole firm? What about your analytical thinkers? Are they getting the opportunity to solve problems and help things run more smoothly on a day-to-day basis?

Next month, LWP is hosting a three day event in Chicago where we’ll be talking systems automation and how you can leverage the right tools, systems, and the natural talents of your staff to exceed your revenue goals! And the beauty is your freed up to focus on the people (i.e. meeting with clients and power partners).

The next Practice with Purpose Program is June 9-11.  There will not be another one until October. Yikes, that’s closer to “year end” than “New Year”.

We’ll provide you with the road map — we’ll teach you how you can use your natural gifts (and those of your team) to get more done at the office and get more time at home as well!

That doesn’t meant that it’s going to be easy, though…one of the benefits of attending an event like this with some of your most successful and forward-thinking peers from around the country is that we're going to challenge you to break through the roadblocks you’re currently facing…to focus on what's really important in your practice…and to eliminate the distractions that take away from your time and focus.

That's our promise to you…that you'll return home with a clear vision for taking your practice to the next level. Taking the all-important first step is up to you – click here to register now. We fully expect that the program will sell out, and you don't want to be left without a seat!

David J. Zumpano, Esq, CPA, Co-founder Lawyers With Purpose, Founder and Senior Partner of Estate Planning Law Center


How To Get In The Door With Nursing Homes

Say you're either a solo practitioner or a Relationship Management Services coordinator and you want to start working the "LWP – RMS" and begin marketing to nursing homes.  How do you get started?

Your first step is to go to and check out their Nursing Home Compare search engine. Enter in your ZIP code and you'll get a list of the nursing homes in your area.  It’ll give you a breakdown on which ones are in Medicare/Medicaid, and which ones have VA.  It’ll give you the total number of beds in the facility.  You can even see the ownership, whether it’s individual or a corporation or who is involved in it.  Then, see if that same name or that same corporation pops up in other homes in the area; if they own multiple chains or multiple units in the area, that’s good to know.

Bigstock-Blue-Door--Very-High-Definiti-1429912Once you pinpoint some facilities to target, then it gets a little scary.  Most of the time, you will want to start by just visiting the facility to see what’s going on, and to make sure they don’t have some type of deal worked out with somebody else. You don’t want to step on any toes with existing financial planners or the like, so make sure you know what’s happening there.

Touring the facility will also let you know if they have deficiencies or strengths in any particular area. They might have really good staffing numbers, or they might have no complaints or other issues, putting them above average in these certain categories. Set that in your memory banks and database for sure, so when you’re trying to develop this relationship, you already have some background on the facility.  You kind of know what they’re going through.  You don’t want to look like you’re investigating them, you just want to be able to talk their language. You need to be able to communicate their sense of what their enroll numbers are.  How many rehab numbers do they have?  How many readmits?  Can they pick up any pending?  Are they having any issues with billing Medicare for rehab? Try to create some type of common ground in communication.  That opens up everybody else, from the business office to the director of nursing and up to the administrator.

Now that you've done some preliminary research, it's time to make your approach. You can start with the administrator, which is good – but to be honest, it’s hard to get to them.  They’re probably not going to take your call immediately, but don’t let that hinder you, because you're really trying to get to the person who will actually interact with you more in your role, and that’s the business office manager.  If you can get into that office, that’ll open the key to all the other positions that you’re trying to make a relationship with, including the administrator and the director of nursing, who will see your value. That person knows what you can bring to the situation, and might even advocate for you with the other players in the nursing home.

A good approach is to tell the receptionist you have some new information on Medicaid numbers that would help them, and that you'd like to present them to the business office manager if that person is available. Bring a fact sheet with your contact info on it; it can just show the numbers for this year, and if there have been any updates. The new information is often enough to get their attention, and it can help you  create that conversation on how things are going with their nursing home, if they’ve seen any changes or if they are running into low numbers.  Have they seen anything as far as having to deal with the readmits back to the hospital?  They start wanting to explain things to you and tell you how things are going. So now you’re listening instead of talking, and you’re coming at them from a place of, “We’re here to help you.”  You have to let them know that that’s what you’re there to do, not just to get referrals. You want to ask them, “How can we support you in any way?  What is it that you see us helping you with?” We like to use the term, “We want it to be your back office.”

Starting your conversations with this approach will bring you success in building your nursing home client base. But what happens if they won't let you in at all? Check back for more conversations about marketing your elder law / estate planning practice to nursing homes. 

If you are interested in learning more on this topic of marketing and what Lawyers With Purpose has to offer in legal technical support, join us at the most important event that will change your estate planning, asset protection and elder law practice.  The Asset Protection, Medicaid and VA Benefits Practice with Purpose Program is happening June 9th – 11th in Chicago, IL.  But register today to make sure you reserve your seat!

Roslyn Drotar, Coaching Consulting & Implementation – Lawyers With Purpose


Medicaid Planning: The Ins & Outs of MMMNA #4 – Income Cap States

Thanks for coming back for more about MMMNA, or the minimum monthly maintenance needs allowance, which is the minimum income allowance for the community (or well) spouse in a Medicaid claim. We've already covered some of the basics of determining MMMNA for your clients; If you didn't see the previous posts, click on the links to find numbers One, Two and Three.

Bigstock-Solution-563994One question you might have to deal with in MMMNA calculations is the income cap, if you're in a state that has one. Income cap states are a little bit of a different animal, and they raise a question: Does the insurance allowance include the Medigap premium? Yes it does. So Medicaid will allow you to deduct any cost of insurance and Medicare will be a primary insurer, which means they’re going to allow you any insurance costs related to the Medigap because that benefits Medicaid. In other words, Medicare would be the primary payer, and Medicaid would become the secondary.

Another issue along these lines is income limits. The income limit applies to the institutional spouse only in an income cap state.To review, in our previous posts we talked about the MMMNA individual allowance and the personal needs allowance, and we went over the MMMNA for a person who is married. The income cap is a different provision. In income cap states, it doesn’t matter if you’re married or single. It doesn’t matter what your income allowances are. It’s just a simple test: If a Medicaid applicant’s income exceeds $2,130, then the applicant doesn’t qualify for Medicaid. According to income cap states, that person has too much money.

It doesn’t matter how much the spouse’s income is. This is an income limit on the applicant only. So in the case we had before where the husband made $3,000, he would be over the income cap and therefore would not qualify. It might sounds ridiculous and you might feel bad for people who are in an income cap state, but that's the bottom line.

So our usual approach in such states is to do a Miller trust, which is a qualified income trust, or QIT. In a Miller trust, the husband assigns his income to the trust and then the trust pays the cost of care. It’s kind of silly to have to take that step, but those of you who are in income cap states are probably pretty familiar with the Miller trust, so it's not a big issue. If you’re not in an income cap state, you won't have to worry about it.

That's about all we can cover in today's post.  Check back back soon for a discussion on MMMNA asset tests.

To learn more about Medicaid join us at our Practice With Purpose event in June.  You'll experiece 2.5 days of all that you need training about Asset Protection, Medicaid and VA.

David J. Zumpano, Esq, CPA, Co-founder Lawyers With Purpose, Founder and Senior Partner of Estate Planning Law Center


Lessons from LA Part 2 – Be Prepared, Persistent & Flexible

A few weeks ago, I discussed my trip to Los Angeles to interview a big name – Betty White – for my TV show, Senior Salute.  The topic of choice was how pets enhance the quality of seniors as they age.  Betty White is a huge animal advocate.  A date was set, then reset, then canceled.

LosangelesWas I frustrated, upset and discouraged?  YES!  But, I decided to take the valuable lessons I learned and celebrate the courage it took to put myself out there and be vulnerable.  How many times a day do you or your employees put yourselves out there?  Each time you meet with a prospective client, meet with a new referral source, learn and implement a new practice area, like Veterans Benefits, have a difficult discussion about office policies with team members, and the list goes on. The fact of the matter is that we do it all day after day. But, we don’t recognize it or celebrate it. Often we only feel the pain of it.

Oh, I felt pain. I spent about $2,000 to fly to LA and stay in a hotel three time zones away.  Leaving my children and out of the office not working for three days.  Waiting for the call and the opportunity. Planning in advance, I purchased tickets to attend the live audience taping of Hot in Cleveland, the award winning show that Betty White stars in weekly. I didn’t want the entire week to be a loss. Because entrance is on a first come first seat basis, I wanted to ensure I got a seat so I showed up to the studio 3 hours early (in full stage make up, still with hopes of interviewing Betty).  I was third in line, certain to get a seat. I was told to speak with the floor manager about getting VIP status so I could do a “meet and greet” with the cast after the filming. She turned me down, twice. Yes, twice. I was persistent. But, I was also polite. After all, I had a gift to give to Betty that I had carefully selected and purchased in Atlanta.

Once I realized I was not getting access, I felt sorry for myself for a moment and let the hurt and embarrassment set in. Then, I looked around and thought, “I can and will have a great night and enjoy the good of it all.”

What I learned, that we can all practice in our offices, is that:

1. When you want something, go for it. Make all preparations to succeed. 

2.  Put yourself out there and be persistent but polite. Know when to sit down and enjoy the show.

3.  Be ready for anything, but also be ready to accept nothing in exchange of your efforts except the gratification that you took action. Not every at-bat is a home run. Sitting on the sidelines (once in a while) is enjoyable too.

4.  Congratulate yourself for the courage it takes to make the decisions you make and take the actions you take.  Many people only dream of things they want, but never take the first step toward achieving them.

5.  Recognize that failure is sometimes the thrust you need to move forward. John C. Maxwell wrote the book, Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes Into Stepping Stones, that is worth a read.

If your marketing efforts or the implementation of Veterans Benefits into your estate planning or elder care law firm are not going as you expected, stop and praise yourself for the efforts you have made so far. Then, review and make some changes toward the result you want.

Victoria L. Collier is a Veteran and Certified Elder Law Attorney, Fellow of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Co-Founder of Lawyers With Purpose LLC, and author of “47 Secret Veterans’ Benefits for Seniors—Benefits You Have Earned … but Don’t Know About.”

P.S.  I plan to write Betty White a personal letter, sending her the gift I got for her, and asking for an interview directly.  Let’s see what happens!

If you want to come see what Lawyers With Purpose has to offer your estate and elder law practice, please join us in June for 2.5 days full of training on Asset Protection, Medicaid & VA Practice With Purpose program. 



Controlled Growth

Sometimes just showing up is more than enough. There’s a quote that says, “90% of life is showing up.” I couldn’t agree more. Our last LWP Practice Enhancement Retreat brought home a powerful message: The Power of Community. The groundswell of last February's retreat was interest in “controlled growth.”  I have personally attended all 10 of our Practice Enhancement Retreats, and February's was life-changing and practice-changing for over 150 estate planning professionals from across the nation.  We were sharing values and goals with other like-minded entrepreneurs, law students, paralegals, client service coordinators, marketing coordinators – all of these different roles joined together to create a plan where there is controlled growth.

Bigstock-Three-plants-in-soil-Isolated-26041667The ongoing conversation about controlled growth played a big role in the success firms are seeing today, a little over two months since the last retreat. Some of the goals set in February have been met, some are on course to be met and some simply are not – and will not. Does that make those unmet goals a miserable failure? I would say no, quite the opposite. Those firms showed up and put pen to paper to create a path and a plan, and that alone is a success. The fact that they have the guidance system to know when to embark on the goal journey, and when it doesn’t necessarily fit and/or is no longer important, is success enough. They chose short-term pain over long-term pain and gave themselves permission to re-choose in real time. 

Being there means you hear things from other members – we call them your Board of Directors – like “You have to slow down and manage that growth,” or “You just need the faith. It will work if you do X, Y and Z because we have a tried, tested and proven track record.”  It means you can share what has worked and what hasn’t.  One of our  members declared in the room that he would be launching consistent workshops starting in a few months.  His Board of Directors responded, “You can’t wait!  You’ve got to do it now to leverage your time!” 

These conversations with others support you with controlled and consistent growth.  Most people are afraid of growth and success.  It’s scary.  They don’t know if they are doing it right.  They are afraid they are going to blow up what is working right now. Community can be the antidote for those fears.

The 150 folks leaving Orlando after retreat week were on a high – but we are seeing now that people are beginning to gap out.   June is just around the corner, and they’ll be back in the room for the next Practice Enhancement Retreat.  That will bring accountability.  Collaboration.  Meeting with their Board of Directors.   And there will be over 12 breakout sessions geared toward legal technical, practice efficiency, confidence building, creating a financial and client advisory board, a complete system for an annual client maintenance program and much, much more.

It’s hard to believe there are two short months remaining until the June Practice Enhancement Retreat. After the second week of June, most people start summer “break.” And next thing you know, Labor Day turns the corner and we are fast and furious into the holidays and the year-end wrap-up. Where does the time GO??! We were going to do X, Y and possibly Z, but…….

Sometimes we talk – but we don’t plan. Sometimes we plan, but we don’t pick the path. If every business owner were to achieve everything they’ve declared they’re going to do, we would have a bazillion fulfilled entrepreneurs, team and clients. Right about now some folks may have seven valid reasons why they are going to take a break from this retreat and join the next one so they can catch up on what they said they were going to do in February. They should consider the words of Victor Hugo, the author of “Les Misérables” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” who said:

“He who every morning plans the transaction of the day and follows out that plan, carries a thread that will guide him through the maze of the most busy life. But where no plan is laid, where the disposal of time is surrendered merely to the chance of incidence, chaos will soon reign.”

The way to avoid chaos and lack in your life and in the lives of those you serve is to plan your work, work your plan, revise your plan, repeat cycle. And that is how you create controlled growth. Most of us just don’t know how to do it on our own. Reserve your seat for your firm at the June Tri-Annual Retreat now.  In the words of Yoda, “Do or do not. There is no Try.”

If you not a member and are interested in experiencing what Lawyers With Purpose has to offer, join us at our Practice With Purpose program June 9th, 10th & 11th.  But don't hesitate – register today, spots are filling up fast!  We'll see you there!

Molly L. Hall, Co-Founder, Lawyers with Purpose, LLC, and author of Don’t Be a Yes Chick: How to Stop Babysitting Your Boss, Transform Your Job and Work with a Dream Team Without Losing Your Sanity or Your Spirit in the Process.


April 2014 Member of the Month – Lloyd Copenbarger / Irvine, CA

Member-of-the-month-lloyd-copenbargerWhat is the greatest success you've had since joining LWP?

The greatest success we have enjoyed thus far has been the improvement in teamwork. Our internal communication has improved tremendously which means fewer mistakes and greater efficiency as well as serving our clients more efficiently.

What is your favorite LWP tool?

If you can consider the workshops a "tool" then that would be it. We have experienced great success in holding the 7 Threats workshops in our main office in Irvine, California. We have been able to host about 12 and every one of them has been full, and has resulted in a number of quality appointments.

How has being a part of LWP impacted your team and your practice?

Again, the increase in internal communication has made a big difference for us. The other major impact is that we now have a unified plan we all understand and believe in.

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Lessons From Los Angeles

California is known for being different a place where stars rise and fall every day, working hard to make a name for themselves, then smearing it all over town.

How does this relate to your VA benefits law practice?

Photo copyI spent four days in L.A. in an effort to interview a big name who would propel my TV show, "Senior Salute," to new levels. The better the show is, the more it can help a broader audience of caregivers and people who are aging.

I had a date for the interview, but no set time. I spent time and money to be present for the meeting, even hiring a local makeup artist to come to my hotel to dress me up.  The interview didn't happen. So, why was I there for four long days when I could have been with my family or at the office?

My agent strung me along with little to no communication. It wasn't intentional, but it was frustrating nonetheless.

And it raised a question: How often do you string your clients along without communicating?

I arrived on a Tuesday night for a Wednesday interview. No word from my agent until 11:23 a.m. Wednesday saying, "Not today."  At 8:16 p.m., new message received: "Just heard back, we are in for Friday afternoon."  The next day, Thursday, February 27, next message, "Are you here tomorrow? They are getting us in about 3:00." Friday morning, no news. I call for a status and my agent tells me we are still only about a 50/50 chance. By 3:00 I knew there was no interview, but not because my agent told me, because if there had been one I would already have received my special pass. Instead, I used a ticket I got on the Internet to watch from the general audience the live filming of a show that night, featuring my big-name star. No VIP status.

Reading the above, it looks like there was constant communication.  And if I had complained to my agent about not hearing from her, she would have argued that she was doing everything she could and telling me everything she knew.  The problem, from the client perspective, is that she was telling me projections, possibilities and hopeful deliverables. What I wanted were the details of her efforts, the positive and negative conversations between her and her "contacts," so I could set up my own expectations and not feel so duped when the interview didn't take place.

How often and how detailed are you when communicating with your clients? Only when you have good news? Only when you need something from them? Only when they are calling you?

The VA application process can take an uncertain amount of time, sometimes more than nine months. Getting that monthly check to pay for care is the client's only focus, and you are the means of achieving that. It's very much like getting that interview, with my agent being my vessel. Even when there is no new news, clients want to hear that, which is why our office calls the VA each month for a status and then passes the information to our waiting clients. Just showing the details of our efforts is enough to keep them content, if not yet satisfied with the results.

Thus, my lessons from L.A. include:

1. Set and manage client expectations;

2.  Use clear, constant and honest communication;

3. And understand the unspoken gratitude from your clients when they are aware of your efforts.

P.S. While at the show, I even took actions to "do it myself" by approaching the set's floor supervisor to plead my case. One of the worst things that can happen is when clients take matters into their own hands because they have lost confidence in you. It rarely makes a difference in the result. It didn't in mine.

Victoria L. Collier is a Veteran and Certified Elder Law Attorney, Fellow of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Co-Founder of Lawyers With Purpose LLC, and author of “47 Secret Veterans’ Benefits for Seniors—Benefits You Have Earned … but Don’t Know About.”





Your Legal Hour – March 24, 2014

Welcome to Your Legal Hour!

This week’s topic is The LWP Relationship Management System (RMS).

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Supporting Materials from This Session

Supporting Materials from Prior Sessions