62. Tri Cities Influencer podcast featuring Maren Bam

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Speaker 1:

I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot. Together, we can do great things, Mother Teresa.

Speaker 1:

My name is Paloma DeHaan and I am a Tri-Cities influencer.

Paul Casey:

Most people fail because of broken focus. Broken focus is one of those things that actually hurt us. So complete your tasks before you move on to another one. The ancient proverb is, if you chase two rabbits, you catch neither.

Speaker 3:

Raising the water level of leadership in the Tri-Cities of Eastern Washington, it's the Tri-Cities Influencer Podcast.

Speaker 3:

Welcome to the TCI Podcast, where local leadership and self leadership expert Paul Casey interviews local CEOs, entrepreneurs, and non-profit executives to hear how they lead themselves and their team so we can all benefit from their wisdom and experience. Here's your host, Paul Casey of Growing Forward Services, coaching and equipping individuals and teams to spark breakthrough success.

Paul Casey:

It's a great day to grow forward. Thanks for joining me for today's episode with Maren Bam. She's an attorney and owner of Salus Law. Funny fact about her she said, it's really more funny about her daughter. So I'm just going to let you tell the story, Maren.

Maren Bam:

So my three-year old is definitely funnier than me. I'm currently pregnant and I have a three-year old who's learning body parts. We recently taught her that what her kidneys are. Who knows why that was the body part that came up, but she now thinks that if you hug her, you squeeze her kidneys and she tells you she has to go to the bathroom and goes running off.

Maren Bam:

So I go to the doctor today and they're doing all the stuff that they do for pregnant women, trying to make sure the baby's okay. They can't find this baby anywhere, and I'm positive it's in there. If you look at me, it's definitely there. Sure enough, this baby is doing a headstand on my bladder in the far-est, lowest part of my anatomy, lying on my bladder. Looks like it's smushing in a pillow. I cannot wait to tell my daughter because she thinks bladders and kidneys are the same thing, that the baby's doing headstands on my bladder. She will just be cracking up. So it's mostly that my child's funny, not really me, but I'm going to take credit for it because I created her.

Paul Casey:

That is awesome. We're going to dive in after checking in with our Tri-City influencer sponsor.

Paul Casey:

Mario Martinez, Northwestern Mutual. Mario, what types of services do you offer?

Mario Martinez:

Hey Paul. Thank you for letting me be on here. We run bifurcated practices, in that we focus in two areas of financial plan. The first one is, we do protection pieces, which include life insurance, disability insurance, longterm care insurance, really the things that people should be focused on to protect their families, their businesses. On the other side of our practice is we do investment services. On the investment platforms, we do both the brokerage platform and we do the advisory level services. So depending on what someone's looking for, as far as guidance on their investment strategies, we can curtail and build a strategy for them that makes sense.

Paul Casey:

Mario, how can people get in touch with you?

Mario Martinez:

The easiest way, you can reach out to me directly on my business cell phone, is (509) 591-5301. You can send me an email at Mario.Martinez@nm.com, or you can reach out to us on our social media platforms. The easiest one being, Mario Martinez Northwestern Mutual on Facebook.

Paul Casey:

Thank you for your support of leadership development in the Tri-Cities.

Paul Casey:

Well, welcome, Maren. I was privileged to meet you through our church connection a year or two ago, wasn't it?

Maren Bam:

It was, I think it was about two years ago. I was trying to think about this and I think you met my husband before church, which is typical because he meets all the cool people in Tri-Cities. Then I try to tag along and see if they'll be my friend too. So far it's working out okay.

Paul Casey:

Yes, Josh works over at Gravis Law, who sponsored our podcast last year. So put in another plug for them.

Maren Bam:

Fantastic, he'll be thrilled.

Paul Casey:

Well so that our Tri-City influencers can get to know you, take us through a couple of your career highlights that led to your current position and why do you love what you do?

Maren Bam:

I've been really lucky that the legal practice and the legal field can be really diverse. You can go in a ton of different directions, but I found my direction in law school because I didn't get into a program I wanted to, and it was a blessing in disguise. I was one of those people who knew I wanted to go to law school, thought I wanted to help people, but didn't have vision beyond that. I thought I wanted to work with women and that was really as far as I had gotten in my career planning.

Maren Bam:

So we had a family law clinic at our school and they did some protection from abuse orders for women as a very small part of it. So I applied to get that hands-on experience, but really the part that interested me was this teeny part of it. The professor pulled me aside and said, "Look, you want to help people? This is helping people but what you're looking for, this isn't it," and moved me to the disability law clinic. This was during my second year. I've done disability law my entire career. I started in a non-profit, switched to a firm, and then ultimately when I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband and I opened Salus Law together. I bought him out about a year later and he went over to Gravis Law and I've been running Salus since.

Maren Bam:

My biggest, coolest thing that I've done this year, we were able to do some lobbying to try to change some of social security's laws. Social security has a great policy that they're working towards, which was to fast track decisions, to get people approved faster. People wait a really long time and this is awful. Unfortunately, the way they wrote this was fast tracking the decision, but then no one brought in enough funding to pay those decisions. They didn't even create a process. So people get stuck in limbo and they're approved, they know the money's going to come in some day, but they're just waiting. It takes this happy result to this really bad result for our clients, especially when they're waiting, their attorney has no answers, there's no contact for us to call. We can call and get a little bit of an update but it's usually we're working on it, call us again in 60 days. Well, when you have been out of work for a year or sometimes longer, 60 days is a long time to go without your income, and with no real answer.

Maren Bam:

So this year, we lobbied Congress and got Congress to pass a 60-day deadline for people with disabilities to get their payments and their back pay, so not just their forward facing money but all the money owed to them while they waited. Now unfortunately, we didn't make it through the Senate, the Senate just has not passed any bills this year. That's just the political climate unfortunately, but this directive language is still available from Congress and is hopefully going to move the needle forward for some of our clients. So that was my biggest success, and it was such an important thing for our clients.

Paul Casey:

Such a huge win, so that's probably why you love to do what you do is embedded in that answer, right?

Maren Bam:

I think a lot of it is embedded in that. I love the people we serve, I love working with them. Everybody's story's unique and the process is run through an agency so it dehumanizes people a lot through the process. Not a critique and I'm not even saying it's an intentional thing, it's to try to boost efficiency and make good decision. We try to bring the human element back and learning people's story, learning about their experience and taking their medical file when we're talking about their conditions, and bringing it to court and humanizing that. How does this impact you? You're more than just your back surgery, you're more than just your multiple sclerosis, you're a person who suffers from impairments. How are they impacting you? How do we tell your story? That's the part I love the most.

Paul Casey:

Humanizing it, that's so neat. There were key moments along your journey that you just described. What helped you make decision about starting this business? I mean you were probably at a crossroads, you could go this way or this way. What advice would you give our listeners for when they reach a crossroads?

Maren Bam:

So the timing of this question is actually perfect because I'm four months pregnant with my second child, and I was four months pregnant with my daughter when I made this decision.

Paul Casey:

Wow.

Maren Bam:

I had been working at a firm that I loved the work I did. Unfortunately it was still a small to medium size law firm, didn't really have the policies and things in place for maternity leave for me to be out. I was seeing some challenges arising. I unfortunately get very sick when I'm pregnant, lots of people do. So not to complain, but I was having to try to get work from home opportunities and some of these challenges, reducing my travel. There wasn't a lot of flexibility. I realized that that wasn't a work environment that would work with children. At that point I'm thinking, someday I'm going to have a child who might have little league or this or that, and I want to be able to cut out at 4:00 because I worked the last two Saturdays and I want to be a grownup with that autonomy. I decided the only way I could carve out that flexibility was for me to work for myself.

Maren Bam:

So my husband and I decided to, on a complete whim, revamp everything and go out on our own. I was an associate so I left with no case file, four months pregnant, and we went for it. It was the best decision we ever made.

Paul Casey:

So it sounds like it was values based, that decision. It's like the work-life balance, you really prioritized the life part of that to make sure that would work for you and your family.

Maren Bam:

It had to. The work is stressful, it's hard, you're dealing with people with tragic stories all the time. I needed to be able to have other elements of my life too. I needed to have a career where the boss or the owner treated me like the adult and the high performer I was, where I was bringing in good revenue, my numbers weren't dropping off, and where I could then have some autonomy to make decisions. So I've taken that lesson with me as now I have a staff and a team, and trying to cultivate the culture at Salus where people do have some autonomy and flexibility.

Paul Casey:

Yeah, keep going on that. So what... there are leaders of teams that are listening to this podcast. How can they best treat them as the professionals they are and not... well, let's just say the opposite.

Maren Bam:

So when I brought on my team, the first thing I did is I made everyone salaried, even if they were part-time, their salary was pegged to a part-time hours, versus an hourly rate because work is messy and especially in the legal field and especially in our field which is a high volume caseload. So you're going to have ebbs and flows and I wanted to be able to account for that, that there are going to be some times where especially my full-time staff, they're going to have to put in some extra work. We're on a deadline, we got slammed, we have to do that. Then there are going to be times where are the lulls and they should get to recover. We talk in my household a lot about having these periods of time where you do recovery and do rest and rejuvenation, and then times where you're really buckled down and sprinting a marathon for a period of time. So I wanted my staff to have the ability to do those things, but it was even more than that.

Maren Bam:

There was nothing worse when I was at the last law firm I was at, and it really was a great business so I hate to take it back to some of the negatives, but some of the culture there was, you have a doctor's appointment. You're actually taking your hours. You could flex your time and say, "Hey, I'll just work late an hour here or an hour there." So every doctor's appointment was, you had to ask permission, you had to get approved. If you've been to the doctor's office recently, and I go all the time because I'm pregnant now, you stand there and they're like, "What day can you come in next?" You're like, "I have to ask my boss if I'm allowed to take off." You start to feel panicked and you don't want to miss it because then you leave and you forget to reschedule if you're anything like me. I wanted them to be able to do that without having to ask. Sure, we have good communication where they'll check in and say, "Hey, I have a doctor's appointment today," and I say, "Okay, great. Let me know when you're back or if you need anything. Hope everything's okay," but they don't have to ask permission, get your work done. That I felt really gave people some flexibility and the better their quality of life was, the better their performance was.

Paul Casey:

Say that again.

Maren Bam:

The better their quality of life was, the better their performance was.

Paul Casey:

Oh, that's so good. What a great culture.

Maren Bam:

But it's so true.

Paul Casey:

It is true, and use those three R's. Recover, rest, rejuvenate, if you don't have that in your life, you're staying in overdrive and we can't stay in overdrive for too long without burning out.

Maren Bam:

We call it survival mode at our house. We're like, oh, we're running in survival mode, and we're like, we need a reset because survival mode is just this horrible experience where your adrenaline is just fueling everything. Then your emotions get all haywire, everything goes sideways. We try to at least reality check when we're in that survival mode because it's not a place you want to stay.

Paul Casey:

No, and that's good to be able to recognize that as soon as possible so that the negative consequences don't ensue.

Maren Bam:

Yes, and well I've learned from when I don't do that as soon as possible too, so we all have our learning moments.

Paul Casey:

Yep, and we're not saying that there aren't seasons in every job where it's ramped up and you've got to put in the extra hours, work overtime to do that, but you can't do that for too long without recovery. So good principles there.

Paul Casey:

So you talked about the stresses in your job, the hassles, the disappointments, the stress, the long hours, the case load. How do you stay focused on the rewarding part? What do you do in your mindset? Stay optimistic and positive?

Maren Bam:

Part of the reason I stay positive and stay optimistic is my team feeds off of my energy. So I have a responsibility to them to stay positive and stay optimistic. I take it very seriously that while I may not do everything perfectly and while I am absolutely still learning, that if I don't cultivate that positivity, they can't cultivate it for me. They may not be feeling it in themselves, it can have this really bad trickle down effect on morale. Part of it is a straight forward efficiency concept that I can actually just think about the efficiency of the business and the power of positive thinking and how it has to trickle down.

Maren Bam:

Part of it is, I'm so fortunate, I am so blessed in the work I do. I have a team that is my family in more ways than one. They are my daughter's god mother and my parents and some lifelong friends who've jumped in to help. So I have this team who is really important to me and that team is why I'm able to constantly come back to the positive. That we're carving out this life not just for me, not just for the Bam household, but for my team as well. I keep coming back to that, but we're also carving it out for our clients. The biggest thing about social security is that financial security. At the end of the day, we are fighting for them to have that financial security. As I think about that every time, it's like, no matter what we're doing, if we are working towards that objective, we're doing something right. That's something that makes it easier to go to sleep at night even when the days are hard.

Paul Casey:

Yeah, love the quote. Your team feeds off your energy and that morale trickles down, good or bad. We could probably put in there the customers feed off your energy too.

Maren Bam:

They 100% do. I can tell when our energy at Salus is bad and that the client communication gets more difficult because they already are in stress mode, they're in panic mode. So they're coming to us with not the best energy oftentimes, not everyone but a lot. So if we're not in a good place, those conversations get exponentially more challenging, and to the extent that I've actually in the middle of the day told my team. I said, "No more client calls, we have to step away. Wrap up your last project, take the rest of the day. Go do something fun and come back tomorrow," because we weren't effective, we weren't having good communication and we all needed just to breathe.

Paul Casey:

Wow, so you called an audible, as they say in football and say, "We got to reset." You literally hit the refresh button on the computer-

Maren Bam:

Sometimes-

Paul Casey:

... which resets all the factory settings.

Maren Bam:

Sometimes you just need to do that.

Paul Casey:

Love it. So you have to keep growing or you become irrelevant in your field and all the fields of our listeners. How have you matured as an entrepreneur, as a leader of a team in recent years?

Maren Bam:

I was a disaster of a business owner when I started this. I wanted to be really a solo practitioner, I thought that that would give me the ultimate in freedom and flexibility that I would be able to just do my work by myself, I could take on as much as I could, and that would be good. Then that didn't work, there was too much work, there was one of me, there were tasks that I was not particularly good at. I am not detail oriented, I needed somebody who was, you need to be in a lot of stuff that we do. So I needed a team and I brought on a team. I was like, okay, I can't do this, I'm going to bring people on. Then that was it, that was where I stopped for about six months.

Paul Casey:

Here they are.

Maren Bam:

Don't do that. Don't do that.

Paul Casey:

No plan but here they are.

Maren Bam:

But I had them and I was paying them and that was good. I thought that was great. They had skills that I didn't, so that was also good. I also did not have any people management skills and really wouldn't have considered myself a people person at all. So I had... my thought was, I'll give you these projects and then we won't talk again. Don't do that either. So I've come a long way. We talk a lot, I've spent the vast majority of this week doing staff meetings, we talk every week. I talk to each person about what they're doing, what the goals are, and keep trying to move it forward.

Maren Bam:

It took somebody explaining to me that even if I didn't like people management, which I have now come to like, that in order for the business to be efficient and grow, it was a step that had to occur for that growth. They could give me a numbers reason why it made sense, and that really worked with my mind. I was like, okay, I'm going to be really good at this because I want that number to be really, really big at the end of the day. So I'm a work in progress but definitely don't start a business and bring people on, and then try not to talk to them.

Paul Casey:

So communication is huge. So you need a team in order to grow but then once you have the team you need good communication. You need delegation skills and I heard one-to-ones and staff meetings in there. I would assume clear expectations for everybody's job.

Maren Bam:

Yes, that is-

Paul Casey:

You had to figure that out too.

Maren Bam:

Yes, you can't just hand them something and say, "Go for it, run with it." We had to outline expectations and the steps to achieve those expectations and break it down piece by piece, write it up, talk about it. It took both written communication and telephonic, we're a virtual law firm model so we're not a lot of face to face even pre-COVID. So yes, there was a lot of growth there. There's a lot of growth still happening.

Paul Casey:

Yeah, I think if you're humble... I mean we're all works in progress. That's why we have to keep growing.

Maren Bam:

Yes, because that would've been a disaster.

Paul Casey:

Well you got a lot on your to-do list like most leaders do. So how do you decided each day what your priorities are, what you need to delegate or outsource, so that you can focus on the things that only Maren Bam can do?

Maren Bam:

So a lot of it is I set up a system of what gets delegated to whom and I know what each person's role is really well, to the extent that I have them pretty well fully memorized. So I know when something comes in, who it's going to go to, whose task that falls in. So it's become to a point where it's routine that as things come in it's very easy to funnel it out because we carved out these clear roles and not a ton of overlap, we're still a smaller company. As we grow there might be places where two people do a role but for now we have really one person each role, so it's very clear who does what.

Maren Bam:

Creating that clarity really helped us, it makes it easy for me at the beginning of the week to send out assignments and I do. I send out, this is a priority in your realm, this is a priority in your realm. Hey, this needs to get done, and I able to do that-

Paul Casey:

That's on Mondays?

Maren Bam:

I work through it on Sunday night because that gets me ahead for the week. I don't like to go into Monday blind but I send it out Sunday night and I used to not because I don't want to give people the Sunday night blues, but because we're in diverse locations, some of my team is on the east coast and then some of them are in central, and then some of us are in Pacific. So if I wait until Monday morning, they're three hours into their work day because I'm not getting up at 4:00 AM, it's just not happening.

Paul Casey:

The Sunday night blues, yeah. I think most heart attacks happen on Sunday night.

Maren Bam:

Oh, that's terrible.

Paul Casey:

Isn't that a sad stat?

Maren Bam:

That is so sad.

Paul Casey:

Because people are dreading the next day, but you're setting them up for success the next day, which is totally opposite, right?

Maren Bam:

That's the goal, is that you know what's coming, you know what's ahead of you. You can dive in and say, "Okay, here are the things I knew I needed to do in my realm and then here are these other things. How do I carve out my week and make it work?" I'm giving them a full week to work on that and to know. Sometimes emergencies are going to happen, fires happen, we put them out but by starting out with a weekly plan that's based on what our structure is all the time, it sets us up for a good week each week.

Paul Casey:

Well before we head into our next question to find out what Maren's key relationships are, hey, shout out to our sponsor.

Paul Casey:

Mario Martinez, Northwestern Mutual. Mario, why should people work with a financial advisor?

Mario Martinez:

Hey, Paul, that's a great question. Really, I think there's two types of people who should be seeking out a financial professional. The one person is somebody who has very limited access to financial guidance. Maybe they're a younger professional or somebody who just hasn't had an introduction to a financial professional yet. The other type of person is really someone who has a lot of different exposure to different professionals. They just haven't found the one person that they really trust to take guidance from, so there's really an over-information in that sense. So those are really the two types of people that should be looking to be introduced to a financial professional.

Paul Casey:

Fantastic, so Mario, how can people get in touch with you?

Mario Martinez:

The easiest way is to reach out to me directly on my business cell phone, which is (509) 591-5301. You can send an email to Mario.Martinez@nm.com, or you can find us on our business Facebook page, which is Mario Martinez Northwestern Mutual.

Paul Casey:

Well Maren, you probably believe like I do that leadership is relationships. So talk to us about what relationships are key to your success and how do you intentionally develop those relationships?

Maren Bam:

So as I mentioned, when I started this I started blind, but one of the biggest blessings that happened for my business is I started it in Seattle with my husband. Ultimately, he left the firm. I used to joke that he left me but that was misconstrued so he went to Gravis Law and I was running Salus on my own, the disability side was picking up.

Maren Bam:

Coming to the Tri-Cities was the best thing for relationship building because as we're sitting here in Fuse right now, my husband's business at Gravis was, the team was, in Fuse. So he's like, "Come over here, work here." That's how I met the key relationships that have helped my business take off. I've worked with Rocco Luongo who helped us with some of the business coaching. I've worked with I Love Tax who was located right here. I worked with both Brand Craft and Level 510 to helped with my website design, hosting, all those things I know nothing about. I surrounded myself with these experts, these people who could do the things I couldn't, which really takes your business to that next level. You go from that mom and pop shop, that one-off solo firm who maybe happens to have staff, to that next level once you start bringing in experts in all the fields. I have Paloma helping me with marketing, everyone in Fuse became my go-to resources. I met all of these really smart people who were good at what they did.

Maren Bam:

So having these relationships and building these friendships and surrounding myself with other smart and successful people pushed me to work harder but it helped me stay in my lane too. It helped me realize that I have some good talents and I really believe that everyone does, but that I cannot do everything. Even though I can learn things, I needed to have relationships with other people and I needed to learn how to rely on other people. I hope that they've learned that they can rely upon me too for the parts that they need help with.

Maren Bam:

But between all of them and then my husband who I bring up all the time because he's wonderful, is my business attorney. So when I needed contracts or figuring out those things, he was right there. So I had this strong team by my side and that's where Salus really pivoted from a hot mess to success and is continuing to grow.

Paul Casey:

Love it, you're like a poster child for Fuse. I mean, you literally used just someone in every office.

Maren Bam:

There was at one point except for one office, and it wasn't their fault but they were 3D printing and I couldn't make that work with disability law. I was utilizing every service that was located-

Paul Casey:

That's amazing.

Maren Bam:

... in Fuse at the same time.

Paul Casey:

That is really amazing. Outsourcing to people who are gifted in areas really help your business grow. I've got Bill here who does my social media and is recording the podcast, and website guy, and a graphic designer, and I mean I'm not good at those things. I would procrastinate them or I would do a poor quality job on that. Why not just let the professional run with that?

Maren Bam:

That is so true. I would procrastinate on the things that I didn't know how to do so they would just never make it to the top of the to-do list. They were holding me back and it was so freeing to give them away and to work with these people who were talented.

Paul Casey:

Freeing, what a great word. So self care is essential, we've talked about for the recharge, the reboot, the reset, all the R words. So what recharges your batteries when you do those reboots and recharges, so that your mental health and your performance stays top notch?

Maren Bam:

My favorite recharge is date night. So I have a toddler at home and a little one on the way. We have three crazy dogs so our house is chaos which is 99.9% of the time the most fun place to be. Before COVID, we had neighbors, half our block would just walk in unannounced, there'd be people in my house all the time. Normally I love all of that, but going on date night with my husband, my number one top favorite thing. We love to play board games, and we are shameless. We will go to your restaurant and bring our own cribbage board and we will tip accordingly, but we will absolutely make the date night last. There is nothing I love more, I think Tri-Cities has some of the best food ever, and I came from Seattle, and I still stand by that, and some of the best ambiance and best service. So going out to all the different restaurants with my favorite person in the world, playing a game, having a glass of wine, that is my number one recharge. No wine now during pregnancy, PSA, but otherwise, yes.

Paul Casey:

Love it, love it. Such a key to nurturing that most important relationship on the planet for you.

Paul Casey:

Well, we rarely discussed money on this podcast, but every leader, every entrepreneur has to know their organization's financials. So what does that evaluation look like in your position?

Maren Bam:

I both love and hate financials. I am type-A to the max and I love math so I love to know all the data. I also am still working on, I'm a recovering person who has a bad emotional baggage with the concept of debt. Business owners need to get comfortable with debt. I'm not saying you should take out bad debt, don't run up your credit cards, I'm not saying that but there is an element of investing in your company and in yourself and in your vision, and that takes money. For us to do that, I've had to get comfortable with seeing the numbers. I Love Tax Works is my accountant, they do all of our payroll, they do my profit and loss statements every single month, but I'm also tracking the bank account, what's coming in, how cashflow is managing almost on a daily basis. It doesn't take a lot of time, just a couple minutes, just a quick pulse on where everything's at, to make sure things are coming in because the way our financials work for social security, the bulk of our earnings are contingency fee based paid by the government. Like I talked about when we did our lobbying, there is not cadence for that payment part after you win. So there's this uncertainty element that a lot of other legal practices don't really have.

Maren Bam:

A lot of other legal practices are billable hour or a flat fee model where they know that 30 days post service, they'll likely get paid and maybe 10% of people won't pay and they'll have to write that off so they'll have to account for that. We don't know that, so I have to have a pulse on our numbers on what's coming in from that and what type of work can we be doing that's lower dollar value that can supplement that and keep this stable income for when the money doesn't come in. That's a tricky element that until we grow large enough and have enough saved, we still have to keep adding that in, and it's none of our favorite work because it's often writing briefs for another firm so there's that human disconnect when we're not really working with them. You also know that they make a lot more money off the product than you do so that's not super fun, but you know what? It's necessary to keep us stable so there's the element of focusing on that work and making sure we balance percentage of that without taking away from our true mission to keep everything afloat.

Paul Casey:

About the word pulse that you said, have the pulse on the business, you're checking it every day, and then you're checking it probably more in depth every week or every month. It's something I need to do more in my business because that's the least favorite part of the business.

Maren Bam:

Yep, it's the least favorite activity.

Paul Casey:

Two other things I like to outsource as well, taxes and wealth management and bookkeeping. Yeah, so there's three there but they do a great job.

Paul Casey:

How do you determine the next hill to climb or conquer? What's your process for vision, continuous improvement looking to the horizon?

Maren Bam:

This has been an interesting creative process for me because I feel like I've shifted on it a few different times. Initially when we started it was growth. We needed as many social security claimants as possible, we had zero to start, so zero is a long way to up. We're now over the 200 mark and we keep it pretty stable. I'd like to see us hit another round of doubling, so that's one element of growth there that's been critical, but as I've mentioned some of the cash flow side and the protection against some of the uncertainties that come in our business, I've really been focused on how to solve that dilemma while staying true to our mission of serving the disabled population. I'm really excited about what's next.

Maren Bam:

So the first thing I did to try to work on this is I mentioned before, was the lobbying to try to fix the problem. While we've made great strides and I think it's going to continue to improve, it's not there yet. So we're back to the drawing board. What I decided to do is add in some disability related services. I'm very hesitant to become a jack of all trades law firm, I believe I work with the disabled population very well, I believe that I work to empathize and understand some of their experiences. In doing so, I was trying to determine, how can we better serve them? Where are the gaps in service? That's where our next piece of growth is coming in and our next vision, which is focusing on solving some of the short term cash flows issues in that uncertainty piece, with providing service to the people we're already working with.

Maren Bam:

So we've started doing a few services such as student loan discharges, it's not a bankruptcy element but once somebody's approved for social security, they're often right away eligible. I researched this issue and there are hundreds of thousands of people nationwide who are eligible today as we speak, who either the barrier to entry of just completing the forms or aren't aware of it or have never been notified by their lender, who have not applied for that discharge. So we've made the service affordable for our clients because we're recognizing the situation they're in, but it provides us some stability for the business, and something that has a huge value to them. I mean we can be talking five to six figures of debt that can be resolved, that's a significant value month over month.

Maren Bam:

We also started doing disability planning. I don't want to dive into estate planning, we don't want to do true guardianship, probate, but there's an element to planning for individuals with disabilities that needs to occur. A small portion of our client base is young adults with mental illness. They really need trusts, they may even need able accounts. Some of the planning so that when their family leaves, they don't get kicked off the benefits we've worked so hard to get them on, to protect them from having too much access to the money and potentially causing some problems in the future. So we've worked on helping that for our clients.

Maren Bam:

We also were doing power of attorneys, specifically a healthcare proxy and your living will, so that you can have a plan in place even if you are now on disability and don't have a ton of assets and don't feel like you need an estate plan because there's nothing to divvy up, you do deserve a voice in your medical treatment. You deserve to get to appoint somebody to be your voice if you're no longer able to. So by providing some of these services, we're stabilizing our cash flow and still aligning with our mission. I felt like this was a creative endeavor for us, trying to figure out, what do our clients need? What is missing for them? That's what we're trying to fill that niche now.

Paul Casey:

Yeah, multiple streams of income but all within a theme. Jim Collins would say, "Preserve the core and stimulate progress." You got to keep your core services core and give that the most energy but then you're going to stimulate progress, see what else you can dabble in.

Maren Bam:

Yes.

Paul Casey:

Awesome, well finally, what advice would you give to new leaders or anyone who wants to keep growing and gaining more influence?

Maren Bam:

So when I was starting a business my grandfather told me the most important thing for me to do was to invest in myself. Investment wasn't just monetary, he meant believe in myself. Believe in what I thought, trust my gut, trust my instincts. It didn't mean don't grow, doesn't mean don't learn, but it did mean that my investment needed to be in my vision and what I was going to do.

Maren Bam:

So I would say that if you want to start a business, have started a business and are considering taking it to the next level, or maybe it's gotten stagnant and you need to revamp. Trust your instincts. As I've said that I'm not able to do everything, I surround myself with a core group of positive, smart people who can help flesh out some of those instincts, but even that, even in those relationships, I'm investing myself. I think it's critical when you are starting a business to continually work on that journey of confidence and self confidence. Part of that is building relationships that nurture you, that rejuvenate you, that bring you up, that remind you why you're doing what you do. That investment in yourself I think is key for starting your business-

Paul Casey:

Great stuff.

Maren Bam:

... and keeping it going.

Paul Casey:

Great stuff. Well, how can our listeners best connect with you, Maren?

Maren Bam:

I would say the best way to reach me is via email, it's Maren@Salus-Law.com. I'll spell that, it's M-A-R-E-N, @ sign, Salus, S-A-L-U-S-Law, L-A-W.com.

Paul Casey:

Well thank you for all you do to make the Tri-Cities a great place and keep leading well.

Maren Bam:

Thank you so much for having me.

Paul Casey:

Let me wrap up our podcast today with a leadership resource to recommend. I would love to give you my top traits of terrific team leaders. It's just a one-page cheat sheet on 11 inspirational actions for leading your team. All you need to do is go over to your text message and open a text to 72,000, that's 7-2-0-0-0, and type in the words team lead. Put a space in between those two words. Team lead to 72,000 and I will send you that cheat sheet and get you those reminders on how to be a top terrific team leader.

Paul Casey:

Again, this is Paul Casey and I want to thank my guest Maren Bam from Salus Law for being here today on the Tri-City Influencer Podcast. We want to thank our TCI sponsor and invite you to support them. We appreciate you making this possible so that we can collaborate to inspire leaders in our community.

Paul Casey:

Finally, one more leadership tidbit for the road to help you make a difference in your circle of influence. It's from JFK, he said, "Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction." Until next time, KGF, keep growing forward.

Speaker 3:

Thank you to our listeners for tuning into today's show. Paul Casey is on a mission to add value to leaders by providing practical tools and strategies that reduce stress in their lives and on their teams so that they could enjoy life and leadership and experience their key desired results.

Speaker 3:

If you'd like more help from Paul in your leadership development, connect with him at growingforward@paulcasey.org for a consultation that can help you pass your current challenges and create a strategy for growing your life or your team forward.

Speaker 3:

Paul would also like to help you restore your sanity to your crazy schedule and getting your priorities done every day by offering you his free control my calender checklist. Go to ww.takebackmycalender.com for that productivity tool or open a text message to 7-2-0-0-0 and type the word growing.

Paul Casey:

The Tri-Cities Influencer Podcast was recorded at Fuse SPC by Bill Wagner of Safe Strategies.

67 episodes