The Real Question is “Why?”

I recently did a PowerPoint presentation for my BNI chapter in which the first slide showed my photo, contact information, and the statement: “What We Do - How We Do It - Why We Do It.”

What I do is clear: I solve estate planning and business problems for individuals, families and business owners (who, conveniently, are individuals and families). I do that through almost 50 years of experience, legal drafting and advocacy. So the “money shot” is why I do it. Here is my story:

My father was a lawyer for whom I had great affection and respect. When I was 6 years old, I said to him, “I want to be a lawyer just like you.” For reasons that I learned only long after his death, his response was “You may not become a lawyer. It is a very competitive profession, so you’d be better off doing something else – like becoming a CPA.” I was heartbroken and it was the source of confusion for many years. Worst of all, math wasn’t my strong suit.

I majored in Romance Languages and Literature in college during which time I worked as a draftsman for a large New York electrical contracting company (I went to Bronx High School of Science, where I learned mechanical drawing). As I was nearing graduation and planning to get a doctorate, the owner of the company urged me to do something “real” instead of becoming an academic.

Through a strange set of circumstances, I did, in fact, become a CPA after earning my MBA in Accounting and Finance at night. I didn’t much care for accounting, but I worked as the controller for my old boss until the firm was sold, and then went on to a 40+ year career in financial executive, management consulting, and other business positions.

When turned 50 – 16 years after my father’s death – I decided to go to law school (again, at night) and become a lawyer. I was in my element and those may have been the most satisfying years of my life, even though I worked all day and went to school and studied every night and every weekend. The downside was that I missed some of the best years of my daughter’s childhood.

I graduated with honors and as managing editor of the Law Review. I was then hired by a large law firm, which launched me on my legal career. I worked with that firm for almost 7 years until I’d had enough of the “biglaw” grind and then joined a small startup firm where I was able to do all different types of law – what my father used to call “door law” (anything that came through the door).

Ultimately, I chose estate planning because I help people secure their legacies, and business law, because I have been in the business world my entire working life and I’ve seen so much of its problems and their solutions.

That is the story of my WHY? It was once analyzed by a “Why” coach as making the complex simple. As they say, “simple isn’t always easy,” but it brings me great fulfilment and satisfaction, and I hope it does the same for my clients.