Changing the Rules

Episode 93: Our Past Experiences Help to Change Us, Guest: Marc Bernstein

Episode Summary

This week we talk with Marc Bernstein, a financial planner, attorney, and returning guest of Changing the Rules. Marc shares with us some of his background and how a particular moment in his life impacted him in the future. He shares with us where he was as an attorney and financial planner. He talks with us about his book and shares where he's going. He shares with us how he is working with manufacturers and that he believes manufacturing is coming back to the United States.

Episode Notes

Podcast Guest:  Marc Bernstein:



Kris Parsons00:00

Welcome to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life and how you can figure out how to do it too. Join us with your lively host Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Ray Loewe00:15

Good morning, everybody and uh welcome to our next uh Podcast. I'm not sure what episode it is. But we're getting up there near a 100 over here. And we have a great guest today as Marc Bernstein. And you've, you've met Marc before. And we're gonna talk about some new and other interesting things today. And you can go back to his old podcast if you need more details after we're there. But before we bring Marc on, let's talk for a minute about the purpose of our podcast and what we're trying to do. You know, all through my last, I guess, 25 years of being a financial advisor, I kind of studied a group of people that I thought were the luckiest people in the world. And I kept sitting there and saying, Why are these people? Why do they have an edge? Why do they seem to enjoy life more? Why do they seem to always be lucky? And it wasn't that they were lucky, they made their own luck. And I decided that I wanted to know more about this group. And actually, I wanted to join it if I could, because they seemed to just have a great life. And Marc Bernstein is one of these people today. And, uh, Marc has figured out how to make the rules work for him. You know, all through our lives, we're fed a batch of rules. They're given to us in high school our parents start us that church hits us with rules. Our jobs hit us with rules. And when you live your life by other people's rules, you're not living your own life. So Marc is one of those people that's figured out how to make those rules work for him, uh Marc is an attorney. He's a great financial advisor. He's doing exciting things with his clients and mapping out a place as to where he's going to go. And Marc, Good morning. Welcome to joining the changing the rules.

Marc Bernstein02:18

Good morning, Ray. Always a pleasure to be with you.

Ray Loewe02:22

Okay, so let's go back into history because we've had this on one of our other podcasts. But the event that I want to talk about is so could be so devastating to people's lives. And yet you took it and built something positive out of it. So long ago, in your early life om I think you had a fire involved, give us an example and tell us what was going on?

Marc Bernstein02:49

Sure. So it's my, it's in my book, it's called the fiscal therapy solution 1.0. And in writing that book, I realized what a formative event that was, I don't know that I knew it. At the time, but my father was in the greeting card business. He was a greeting card wholesaler. My brother is still in that business today. Although he sold the family business, he works for the company that he sold it to. And so he had we always worked in we call it the warehouse, there was always a warehouse that had, you know, inventory was cards and, you know, packaging and wrapping paper and things like that. So all perishable goods. And my father got a call one evening, I believe it was that the place was on fire. And I went with him to see the fire and it was pretty bad when we got there. Most of his inventory had been destroyed by fire, but what wasn't was getting destroyed by water and smoke, of course. So we're literally watching, you know, a business that he had built working seven days a week for most of my life. Um burned to the ground. And as we're talking, he said, You know, it's really been bothering me, but I really never updated my insurance I knew I should have, but this is going to be a problem. And he didn't have enough, you know, casualty coverage, and knew was going to be a challenge. And over the next few months were hard. He went from at one point, he just decided he was going to throw in the towel and he's going to take a job with one of the greeting card companies in Kansas City. Which is where a lot of them were in our I think so. And he, um, and I remember talking to him and said, you've always worked for yourself, you know, how's that going to be? And he said, Well, I think it's something I have to do and he was gonna move the family to Kansas City. I was a senior in high school at the time. And I had very important things in my plate. I had a rock and roll band. I had a girlfriend, and I was like I'm not going to Kansas City. So I don't know that and then we never really talked about it or not, but a few months later, um somewhere in there, his brother died as well. I remember being at the as my brother at my uncle's funeral, and we were walking around the block. And I remember him saying, This is what he was kind of really thinking about throwing in the towel. But the end result was he decided not to do that. He decided to rebuild the business, he upped his insurance, the but he was, you know, as well behind. So he basically had decided he knew what he had to do, he had to triple the size of the business. This is a 55 years old, or so. And he'd been working very hard his whole lifetime. And he made a decision that he was going to go back after it, expand his territory, grow it, so we could afford the losses and the increased overhead he was going to have because he had to move out of this building as well. So in hindsight, you know, I changed, I was supposed to go away to college this first year, I didn't go away to college, I stayed home for college. I, I you know, it later on, when I developed my sort of, I call it my fiscal therapy pyramid. You know, it's the kind of the hierarchy of needs, it starts with protection because I learned that, you know, that fire hurt our family, much, much worse than anything in the stock market could have done. So I realized that if you're going to have a good financial plan, it's got to be built on protection. And I say savings and debt, and growth and income, and then legacy. But, you know, when I started in the business that was all about what products do people need, you know, there's a lot of pressure to sort of sell people stuff. And I decided early on, I really needed to look at where their needs, we're kind of going through this hierarchy of needs before we kind of identify goals and identifying their vision for the future and all that before we go on. And that's what this fiscal therapy is about. And that fire, I think has had a really powerful influence on my definition of fiscal therapy and what that means.

Ray Loewe07:07

Yeah, so So what did you do? You came out of college and obviously, this event had a great impact on where you went with your life? Because what did you do? You went into the insurance business, right to start with?

Marc Bernstein07:19

Well, not really, not really, in fact, so that's why I think it wasn't really front and present in my mind. You know, my change in my life that happened over the next couple of years was present, but not really the impact of it. So I actually came out of undergraduate school as a music major and decided, if I couldn't be a rock and roll star, I didn't really want to be a teacher. So somewhere in law school, I had this, I remember in a romantic literature course, Professor Charles Robinson, something that he said about one of the romantic authors, and something that came out of one of the books just had me think outside the box of what I want to do. And I decided, I wanted to be an advocate for musicians in the form of an attorney, or an entertainment lawyer, which honestly was a pretty unheard-of field at that point. But I figured it must exist. And I went out and bought this book called this business of music, I found out there was actually a book about it, and I read it, and I said, that's what I'm going to do. So I went to law school, came out, worked for an entertainment attorney, that I was paid so little really was like slave labor that I had to play in a band to be able to afford my job, was paid $5 an hour and was a glorified receptionist. And the day I finally really did some real legal work, and I was supposed to meet with the clients. And he told me that, you know, I wasn't going to have that meeting that I need to watch his cats while he had the meeting, was the day I quit. That was my last day. So I kind of went through the school of hard knocks and, you know, knocked around in that business. That business, it was a really hard time in the businesses in the early 80s was a big recession. And people were getting fired left and right. And I saw sort of the underbelly of the business. And I thought, Well, I went to law school because I wanted to help people and maybe musicians aren't the only people I want to help after all, and because that's, you know, that's a tough lot to deal with on a daily basis as well. So I decided that you know, that, and actually, I have a brother that told me about this new burgeoning field of financial planning. And I, you know, pursued that, and as you know, Ray, because we knew each other back then it wasn't exactly a smooth road to financial planning because

Ray Loewe09:40

no, no, it was not.

Marc Bernstein09:41

And, and the and the company that I wanted to work for, I was just telling the story the other day, had started the insurance-based financial planning model, which I thought would be perfect for me given my interest in protection and all that and they would not hire me because they gave me a marketing test. And it was for a time I went to an interview for attorneys, but I was 28 years old or 29 years old. And they wanted me today with all my contacts, they wanted a 60-year-old attorney, they didn't want to a 29-year-old attorney. So they wouldn't hire me. They always looked at that as a boy that slowed down my career. But now I look back on it and say, that was the beginning of my luck, you know, that was a lucky thing because it forced me to figure out how I wanted to do things, what I really wanted to do, what was deficient in the places that I worked. And, you know, I was able to see my way through that. But I think you'll learn a lot more from your failures than you do from your successes. So that was actually they actually did me a big favor, and it worked out pretty well.

Ray Loewe10:45

Okay, give us a short version of what you then did, how you built your base business that allowed you to, you know, support your family and things like that. But I want to save some time to talk about where you're going. So uh make this on the short side?

Marc Bernstein11:02

Sure. Well, just basically, I grew up in a family business, and I was always interested in entrepreneurs. And also another thing where I think I was influenced not just a little diversion, but I ended up with a specialty with manufacturers, which I am now again pursuing. So we talked about the future, I can talk about that because I believe manufacturing, coming back to America, and in talking to a business owner yesterday, it kind of came out, I said, you know, I think one of the reasons I was always so interested in manufacturing, is because my father didn't, meaning that he was a wholesaler of cards, I was always very curious about who made the cards, I was an artist by background as well as a musician. So I was like, Who designs these things, you know, who comes up with the ideas who writes and, and that's all part of the manufacturing process of greeting cards. One of my earliest clients was a greeting card manufacturer that I knew through the family. And I worked with him for many years. And from there, I kind of moved on to other manufacturers, and I've just always loved the process of making things. So I decided early on, that my clients would be either entrepreneurs or entrepreneurial professionals, like coders, law firms, accounting firms, things like that, or medical practice firms. And that's pretty much what I've always done. So my challenge was how to best serve them. And over the years, along with the company, where I was, for many years, I, we developed a process and I think I had a lot, ultimately, I developed my process. And it's where we take little chunks of time because those people don't have a lot of time. And often they don't have a lot of attention span outside of their businesses. So you know, we break up the planning process into little chunks of time, over a long period of time, so that we can eventually kind of go through all their complexity and help simplify it for them and help tie up the loose ends, and help them to get where they want to go with regard to retiring or to their estate planning or their legacy planning, in regard to their philanthropic planning, etc. So, that's, you know, that's, that's the process that I developed over the years that I now affectionately call fiscal therapies for entrepreneurs.

Ray Loewe13:14

Great. Okay. So maybe we'll have time to go into your process a little bit. But before we do that, again, you know, the luckiest people in the world make their lives and the luckiest people in the world kind of change as they need to change. And sometimes that change is because things around you change. Excuse me. Sometimes, though, it's because we want to change, and we find new things that we get excited about. So you told me the other day, I hope I'm not diverging secrets here, but you're 66 years old ok and you are now ready.

Marc Bernstein13:55

That was a secret until now. But

Ray Loewe13:57

That was a secret. Okay. Well, every, you know, that's what you get. If you listen to changing the rules, we divulge the secrets of the world, right?

Marc Bernstein14:06

The best theme song ever for I just want to say that, you know,

Ray Loewe14:09

well, anybody who has a band called herding cats, you know, what can I say? But you made a couple of comments to me that I found exceptionally interesting and exceptionally poignant. And one of them was I think I have a lot left to give. Now, many people that I've met at 66 are saying, Okay, I'm tired of giving, you know, I'm gonna run off and live my life and play golf and do all these other things. And yet, here you are, you're starting a whole new world because you wrote a book. How long ago did you start writing this book?

Marc Bernstein14:53

Probably four years, four or five years ago.

Ray Loewe14:55

Okay, but But you were over 60 And you decided you needed to To write a book, and you need to take this process that you've been developing all your life and put it down into terms that people can build on. Alright, yeah. And you started something called the manufacturer's group. And you're, you're just going on and on. And there doesn't seem to be any end to your involvement in helping people move forward with their lives and getting their lives under control. So talk a little bit about the book, talk a little bit about the manufacturer's group, talk a little bit about where you're going.

Marc Bernstein15:37

Yeah, so there's a lot there. So I'm going to start with like, kind of the recent changes to changes, you know, that I had, which, which, by the way, most great rock and roll artists at one time or another do a song with a stutter in it. So, so like to change and so I, I have a song on my, our album that we just did, quote, should I, and there's a part at the end where it goes, sh sh sh should I. So it just came out. But I realized that's a sign of a great rock and roll song. So I decided the change look, I've always and re another thing you and I share because when we reconnected a number of years ago, we realized we're both in the Strategic Coach Program, and Dan Sullivan who created that, and talks about his life out to 156. And I was in the program like you were for many years, and it kind of expanded my vision in terms of, you know, it's not just retire at age 70. And then, you know, wait to die kind of thing. And so I've always had that. But I will tell you a couple years ago, I was kind of struggling because I wasn't sure if I was keeping up with my younger partners, I wasn't sure if I you know, had the stamina to keep, I believe you have to keep changing and, and moving forward or you go backward, and I wasn't sure about that. But I will tell you that this pandemic revitalized me, um, you know, one of the things I found out was because I was used to kind of going out and having lunches with people and meeting people. And that's how I did business. And I couldn't do that anymore. So, and around the same time, not long before the pandemic started, I took a course called create powerful, and it was about and that also really opened up my eyes is about my presence, how people perceive me how I experienced myself, and the impact that I'm having or not having on people with my conversations and my work. And I always thought I was pretty good. I probably was pretty good in that regard. But I also realized how much I had to learn about it. So that evolved into, I had some coaching. And through the coaching, I realized, boy, I can really, I could really take this up several notches and I and this the vision that I then had is something that I've always had, I said, I really have the opportunity to create this now. There's no way I'm quitting now. So one of the things that happened was I developed new ways to meet people. One was Ray, you were a part of it. I had a web series called financial leadership in turbulent times. And we brought people onto that. And I started making clients over the internet, you know, who knew you could do that? Some clients I never actually met before they became clients. But we met on Zoom, but we didn't meet in person. I then as you mentioned, I started something that's actually called manufacturers forward focus forum, as a way to get back to a passion of mine working with manufacturers, especially since you know, manufacturing, I believe is coming back to America. I just posted an article yesterday, from New Jersey Business Journal, I believe it was that talks about how you know, reshoring, you know, people were coming from offshore back here because of supply chain issues because of the labor costs rising in other countries and, you know, just the whole pandemic issues and all that. So I think the time is right for that. And I ran a pilot on that. Now I'm going to have a full-time group that's beginning in January. And that's just about full. And so this has really been a time of re-creation and understand the word recreation really is re-creation. You know, if you look at it, and I'm finding that that's what I like to do for fun now is to create, you know, whether it's creating a business, whether it's creating music, whether it's creating, I have a music management company that I've started, you know, I have a lot of diverse interests. But I'm most passionate about taking my business to the level with my partners that that that we want to take it to. And it's the kind of business I can always stay engaged with. And so what I do most of my days is having conversations like this, having conversations with entrepreneurs about their future vision about their life about What brought them to where they are, and where they want to go and help them get there. And of course, financial was a lot of it, but it's not all of it. So I'm somewhat in a coaching position with them. And I really enjoy that. And I could do that as little or as much as I want to, into my 100's, you know, into my next century, so again I believe that that could very well happen. So, so I'm working on my next 25-year plan. Now another thing I learned from Dan Sullivan, at 66. So that takes me into my 90s. And I'm very excited about that.

Ray Loewe20:33

Yeah, now I know, you've also changed your work ethic a lot, the work ethic is still strong. But you've found a way to weave more of family in they're more of other things. I know you've found a place up in the mountains, you can go hide, and you can rejuvenate. I know you were out visiting kids recently, and so the family and everything else plays a part of this. And I

Marc Bernstein21:00

You know I got a puppy too, which was just, yeah, major new part of my family.

Ray Loewe21:06

So So you know, when you look at this, it is a combination of learning it's, you're still actively engaged, I think you're probably more engaged than you ever were. But you've also figured out how to make time for the family, how to make time for your spouse, how to go hide in the mountains occasionally, and more important the puppy, right? We can't forget the puppy.

Marc Bernstein21:28

Well, and as you and I both know, being fully engaged, does not mean working as many hours as you possibly can. It means working effectively. It's working, you know, intelligently, it means focusing on your unique abilities, and having other people to do the other stuff for you. That's what to me is engaged means. So it's so and by the way, I also come I've mentioned my father worked seven days a week up to the fire. And then for a long time after that, I basically come from a family of workaholics. So it's a lot of training to not become that and to do what's necessary to keep engaged and to be fresh and be rejuvenated. But not to burn yourself out for work. So I'm there now, I don't do that.

Ray Loewe22:14

Yeah, and I think you learned as many of us did, that. We don't have to be on the road all the time, we learned this from the pandemic, that you can do a lot without commuting anymore, which creates hours for you to do something with and I guess let's sum up.  We are about out of time, we may be out of town too. But but but this whole view of retirement, can you capsulize at all? What do you think of this thing called retirement and where you're going with it?


Marc Bernstein22:45

Well, so my view, look, it is for when I work with clients, it's whatever they want it to be. And I do have some clients that are fully retired, that are very engaged in their life, and they're very happy and they love it. And that's fine if that's what we spend a lot of time exploring that make sure that I also have a number of clients that are around my age, that have recently retired, and they're telling me how miserable they are, that they really don't. And I had the conversation beforehand, they said I got plenty to do. And I'm going to play a lot of golf. And they realize there's only so much golf they can play and they used to work in their whole life. So they want to find something else to be engaged in. So it depends on the person. But for me, I would rather think and I talked about this in the book about instead of retirement, refirement, or aspirement, if that's a word. You know, like, like, to me once you stop, or I know at least once I stop that begins the you know, the slow cycle of I hate to call it this but dying. And if you're not moving forward, you're moving backward in my opinion. So for me, I need to keep engaged, keeping engaged means keep moving forward in various aspects of my life. I'm sure the definition of what that means will change over time. But that's what I want to do. I want to keep meeting new friends, new people having new social circles, new intellectual circles. I'm on a board I've mentioned to you before, I'm one of the youngest members. And I realized that all these people, it's called the American Technion Society. It's a fundraising arm of the Technion, which is like the MIT of Israel. And what we usually talk about those board meetings are innovation and new technologies in all different fields. And I realized that a lot of the older people are on their own there because they want to stay engaged and they want to keep their minds active. So that's, that's definitely something I'll continue to do as well. So that to me is, you know, it's retirement is changing how you use your time. But it doesn't mean necessarily that, you know, I don't want to think of myself as someone who's not working anymore because working to me means being productive and creating and I want to continue to do that.

Ray Loewe24:57

Well, that's a perfect way to end this segment, because we're out of time. And I think that people really need to think about this thing called retirement and figure out what their vision is going to be. And Marc is going to be back with us over the next couple of weeks in a different capacity. He's going to be my co-host. And he's bringing on some people that I didn't know before that are just magnificent people. They're interesting. They're fascinating, and they are the luckiest people in the world. So uh, Marc, thank you so much for being here today. And thanks again for being one of the luckiest people in the world. Have a great day, Taylor.

Kris Parsons25:36

Thank you for listening to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life and how you can figure out how to do that too. Join us with your lively host Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.