Eido Walny is the Founder, Managing Partner, and Estate Planning Attorney of Walny Legal Group. He is a nationally noted speaker, writer, and lawyer. Eido is named one of the best lawyers in America by US News and World Report and a “Forty Under 40” honoree by the Milwaukee Business Journal. Milwaukee Magazine recognizes him as a Wisconsin Rising Star and has named him a Five Star: Best in Client Satisfaction Wealth Manager since 2009. He was awarded the international TEP designation from the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners. Eido serves on the national Board of Directors of the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils, is a member of the Real Property, Probate, and Trust Law section of the State Bar of Wisconsin, the New York State Bar Association, Illinois State Bar Association, and the American Bar Association, as well as a member of the Milwaukee Bar Association and past president in the Milwaukee Estate Planning Forum.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Eido Walny discusses mentally preparing to grow a firm and generating a business
- Why you need accountability as a business owner to maintain growth
- How can you make transparent and good hiring decisions?
- Eido explains why marketing needs to be a priority for your everyday business
In this episode…
What should you be doing every day to strengthen and scale your firm? How can you place yourself in a position to succeed?
If you ask Eido Walny, marketing is the answer. To avoid the cyclical nature of business highs and lows, you should engage with your audience every day through marketing — whether by email, social media, articles, or speaking at events. Eido began his firm with the understanding that you need to work diligently to achieve desirable outcomes, which is why he spends time each day marketing his firm. If you want to turn your firm into something exceptional, you do not want to miss this episode.
In this episode of 15 Minutes, join Chad Franzen as he sits down with Eido Walny, Founder, Managing Partner, and Estate Planning Attorney at Walny Legal Group, to discuss marketing as a necessity. Eido talks about steps to building a business, finding people that will hold you accountable, and avoiding mistakes that slow your growth.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
Sponsor for this episode…
This episode is brought to you by Gladiator Law Marketing, where we deliver tailor-made services to help you accomplish your objectives and maximize your growth potential.
To have a successful marketing campaign and make sure you’re getting the best ROI, your firm needs to have a better website and better content. At Gladiator Law Marketing, we use artificial intelligence, machine learning, and decades of experience to outperform the competition.
You’re listening to 15 Minutes, where we feature community leaders sharing what the rest of us should know, but likely don’t.
Chad Franzen 00:1
Hi, Chad Franzen here I’m one of the hosts of 15 Minutes where we talk with top notch law firms and lawyers about what it takes to grow a successful law practice. This episode is brought to you by Gladiator Law Marketing, delivering tailor made services to help you accomplish your objectives and maximize your growth potential to have a successful marketing campaign and make sure you’re getting the best ROI your firm needs to have the a better website and better content. Gladiator Law Marketing uses artificial intelligence, AI Artificial Intelligence machine and artificial intelligence, machine learning and decades of experience to outperform the competition. To learn more, go to gladiatorlawmarketing.com or schedule a free marketing consultation. Eido Walny is the Founder and Managing Partner of estate planning firm Walny Legal Group LLC where he’s a nationally noted speaker, writer and lawyer. Among the numerous awards, he has won our best lawyer in America, a Business Journal 40 under 40, and a leader in the law, when he’s not lawyering. He sits on numerous boards and is the editor in chief of the new pack journal and editor investor friend editor for Investopedia. And as the President of Bayside, Wisconsin, restores cars, makes cufflinks and manages his son’s hockey career, among other things. Hey, Eido. Thanks so much for joining me today. How are you?
Eido Walny 1:28
Thanks for having me Chad. I’m great. How are you?
Chad Franzen 1:30
Great. Thank you so much. Hey, so tell me a little bit about how you got started in the legal industry.
Eido Walny 1:37
So I’ve got a number of lawyers in my family. When I was in high school, I had the benefit of spending some summers with some of them as a clerk. More than anything I learned about areas of the law that I did not want to help with. Obviously, my family had some legal things come up as I was growing up and got to see how various family members were treated some good, some bad. As those issues arose, I had an opportunity to go to law school and got introduced to estate planning as an area of the law by virtue of the the attorney who recruited me. And 21 years later here I am.
Chad Franzen 2:16
Very nice, very nice. So you are how long has Walny Legal Group in existence?
Eido Walny 2:21
So I founded the firm in May of 2011. So the firm has been in existence for a little over 11 years. And I founded the firm about 10 years after I started practicing.
Chad Franzen 2:30
It was that kind of your goal the entire time
Eido Walny 2:34
You know, ironically, I remember telling friends in law school that after about 10 years, I’d love to start a firm. And while I’d love to say that it was planned, I think it was more happenstance that I started the firm 10 years with within a few days, it was 10 years to the day from the point I graduated law school, but more coincidental than intentional.
Chad Franzen 2:55
So you had kind of plans? I mean, it’s a no, it’s hard to plan those things. Exactly. But you’d kind of plan to do it 10 years later, did you know it was time? Or was there like a situation? You know, 10 years later, that kind of led you to think okay, now it’s time?
Eido Walny 3:08
Yeah, I mean, so I have a number of entrepreneurs in my family. So I think whether I acknowledged it openly or not, you know, you always have this entrepreneurial spirit behind you. And like a lot of people, I would witness things in the firms that I was at, and some things I liked, and some things I didn’t like. And I’d switched firms a few times, and eventually figured out that it, there were just systems, I thought I could do better. There were methodologies, I thought I could do better. And eventually you realize, you know, there are larger organizations that you as an individual just are not going to change. And so I figured after about 10 years that I had a good enough client base, good enough knowledge skills, and certainly the business acumen to go ahead and do this. And so after 10 years, I took the plunge and have never looked back.
Chad Franzen 3:52
What were what were the early days of Waldo? Well, an illegal group like
Eido Walny 3:58
it was just me working 20 hours a day by myself than an office. I mean, you know, when you take the plunge to start a firm like that people ask, and my wife certainly asked, What if, what if you fail? And I would tell her like I would tell others failure was simply not an option. And when you have that mentality, and you believe in yourself, and I had prepared, right, I mean, I had clients right out of the gate. And to their credit, the firm I was with at the time was very supportive of me making the move. And so failure wasn’t an option. So I just worked really hard. I spent almost every waking moment in the office to make sure that things were going to start off well. And after a while, I got to the point where I could start to hire people. We happen to be in a good environment at the time, it was 2011. So rents were low. There were some changes in the tax code that were beneficial to generating business. And so the timing happened to be good as well. And, you know, failure was not an option and we didn’t
Chad Franzen 4:59
fail. What had been your job prior to starting? Starting your own firm?
Eido Walny 5:05
I always had a large I was the head of an estate planning group and a large law firm.
Chad Franzen 5:10
How was starting your own firm different? You know, that’s, that’s a big job. And I was starting your own different than, than that was there anything that you kind of didn’t know that you didn’t know. So
Eido Walny 5:19
I got set up really nicely, actually. And again, credit to the firm, because it was a large firm with something like 13 or 16 offices across the country. But they had no estate planning group. And so when I was initially recruited to that firm, the sell to me was, you know, even though it’s a big firm come on in, you can kind of run the show how you want. And so I was effectively running a small firm within that firm. Now, the minus was that I had to clear things with people, sometimes I was told no, there were obstacles put up in front of me. But on the plus side, I did get a very good taste of business development, accountability, getting to develop your own clients and your own contacts. And so while I wasn’t at full stride, at the point that I left, I was in a pretty good gallop. And so I really felt like while it wasn’t running my own firm, and I certainly wasn’t paying every bill and things like that, I did have a really good insight to what it was going to be like. And so I think for me, in particular, that transition was smoother than it would be for most people doing what I did,
Chad Franzen 6:26
what would you say the biggest turning points have been for your firm?
Eido Walny 6:31
You know, it’s obviously eye opening when you hire other people, when you you know, when it’s just you, your thought is, well, if I fail, I’ll take myself and my family down, and we’ll have to regroup. And that would be terrible. But when you start to have people who you hire, and you start to realize that it’s it’s not just you now it’s you and that person and their family, and they’re really relying on you to feed them and pay for their kids education and things like that. That’s, that’s a sobering experience. And then on top of that, you know, the legalities of hiring people in the insurance you have to carry and the responsibilities you have, and the payroll structure, you know, when it’s just you, you get paid when there’s money, but, you know, employees, for some odd reason want to be paid fairly regularly. And so, you know, there’s an accountability there that makes you be more accountable to other people. And so that that was a pretty big turning point.
Chad Franzen 7:26
How do you kind of set that, you know, there’s some some pretty big responsibility when you think of it, how do you kind of set it, acknowledge it, realize the gravity of it, but yet set it aside and still kind of, you know, plow forward.
Eido Walny 7:42
For me, whether right or wrong, and I know, there’s different opinions on this, I always put my employees first and so early on, if there were cash shortages, or the employee needed something, or we needed business equipment, or whatever, I always took the philosophy that I needed to take care of that person first. And so there were times early on, where I would skip a paycheck or skip a couple or several paychecks in a row, because I knew I would be okay. And I needed to make sure that we had the computers and the systems and the payroll and the taxes that all needed to be taken care of. Again, coming from a business background, I knew that, you know, that was just something you had to do as a business owner, sometimes you just had to suck it up and do what was best for the business, even though in the short term, it wasn’t best for you, it would be best for you in the long term. And so that’s just what I did.
Chad Franzen 8:35
Are there some big milestones in over the past 11 years that you’re particularly proud of?
Eido Walny 8:40
Absolutely. I mean, we are now in our third office, I would say this is our long term office, you know, we started out in kind of a room, and from the room went to a small, reasonably priced office. But now we’re on the 17th floor of business building in the middle of downtown Milwaukee, where rent is, you know, one month of rent is more than I paid for a year’s rent at my original office. So that’s a milestone. I think, you know, bringing on partners that some of the original hire lawyers that I brought on are now my partners. And so that’s a pretty interesting milestone, because you go from the point of being the person in charge to now running things through other people and profit sharing and things like that. But I think I’ve seen with other small law firms where the founding partner is the only partner there the sun in that solar system, and it makes it while financially that may be great. I think it causes other political issues and succession issues. And I had a lot of clients say, Well, if you get hit by a bus, what happens the next day, and I always didn’t like that question, and now I’ve got a really good answer to that question. You’re going to be fine. I’ve got really great partners. We have really great staff. We have other attorneys. If I got hit by bus today would be just fine.
Chad Franzen 10:01
Has there been a, you know, along the way, kind of a big pitfall or a mistake that you ended up learning a lot from? or learning a lot from?
Eido Walny 10:10
Absolutely. I mean, everybody makes mistakes. The person who is the business owner who never makes the mistake is the biggest liar on Earth, right? You will, you always make mistakes. But I think you we have a healthy attitude about mistakes, mistakes are learning opportunities. Mistakes can sometimes be costly, but we look at that as the tuition at the school of hard knocks, you know, those lessons are not free, you cannot learn from other people’s mistakes. You know, the old adage is just false. You can learn some lessons from other people’s mistakes, but you still have to make mistakes and learn from them. And so, you know, we’ve made hiring mistakes, we’ve made purchase mistakes, we’ve made system mistakes. We’ve had to spend some money to undo those mistakes. But again, it’s the cost of doing business and, and the tuition at the school of hard knocks.
Chad Franzen 10:57
Is there one that stands out where you’re like, I, you know, I really that stands out to me every time you’re in that situation, I realized that I made this mistake, you know, years ago, and I’ll never do it again.
Eido Walny 11:09
No, because I think if you take that kind of attitude, then you have an opportunity to miss some opportunities. So this is a pitfall that I think even here we discuss sometimes, you know, this, this thing happened to us. So we never want that to happen again. Well, my answer to that is always well, what put us in the position to have done that and made those decisions in the first place. And maybe it was a personality issue, or maybe it was a vendor issue. But we shouldn’t dismiss every candidate or every vendor, because that situation didn’t turn out how we wanted. And so, you know, you live and learn, you learn to ask better questions, or more pointed questions, or maybe do better due diligence. But I think it’s really those lessons that you learn to try to get it better. The next time is what we’ve learned from that. So there’s probably no surprise, especially in 2022, you know, hiring is really hard. It’s, it’s hard to make good hiring decisions, people lie on their resumes, they embellish, they put their best face forward, their best foot forward, you’ve got to make the best decisions that you can for your business. And sometimes you’re going to make mistakes. Nobody is pitching 1,000% When it comes to hiring decisions. And so we’re always looking for the next good person. I’m really proud of the staff and the people that we’ve got. But undoubtedly, we’ve made some costly mistakes along the way, but we live and learn from those.
Chad Franzen 12:36
Sure, sure. Hey, is there a big challenge maybe that you’ve had to overcome, either personally or professionally? Yes, I
Eido Walny 12:44
mean, there’s always stuff right. I mean, I I, professionally, I think we’re always fighting the stigma of being a relatively small firm, I see our best competitors as being big firms, ones with massive resources, they can steal stuff from us and do because we simply can’t compete in terms of paycheck, we can certainly compete in terms of lifestyle, but some people buy that and some people don’t. But we’ve had really good people and big firms come and swoop our talented people away for sometimes more than twice what we can pay them and we just, we can’t compete with that. So I would say that’s a challenge professionally, you know, as you mentioned, in the introduction, I’ve got a lot going on. Part of that is because I legitimately cannot sleep I sleep about two to three hours a night. And so what I’ve done rather than just waste that time is find ways to make that time productive. Some of it is professionally productive, some of it is personally productive. Some of it is just there to disengage my brain from the turmoils of the various days. I am not particularly mechanically inclined, but I’ve learned how to restore cars, because I have to focus on that. And that focus means that I’m not thinking about my clients issues, or revenue or taxes. And that helps me sleep the couple or three hours a night that I need. I do get tired. Never I don’t get tired. So I can go two or three days without sleep at all. It’s weird. But then I hit a brick wall. So I do need to sleep some but I am perfectly refreshed after two or three hours.
Chad Franzen 14:16
Wow. It’s weird. It’s weird. What? What is your proudest moment? So far? A moment the look back on you’re particularly proud of maybe a career highlights something like that.
Eido Walny 14:31
You know, there’s lots of awards that we’ve won that I’m really proud of me being named to the Best Lawyers of America list is a goal that I’d had for myself professionally. And so having done that, I think 2021 was the first year that I got that. I was really proud of that being named to the Business Journal Milwaukee Business Journal 40 under 40 was a proud moment for me. I mean, obviously there’s a very limited, you know, timeline where you can get that once you’re over 40 That goal is is never going to be realized. And so I think Okay, got that at 38. So I was really proud of that. But honestly, my proudest moments come from the successes of my partners and employees. I hired my two partners, as very, very young attorneys, one was fresh out of law school. And so to see them now be recognized as experts in their field, for them to win awards on the level that I expect of myself, is really makes me proud. I mean, almost like a dad, I’m certainly not their dad, they are adults and professionals. And, you know, they deserve the honors and accolades that they win, and they’ve worked hard to get those but no, I have always run my shop very transparently and help them and showed them the things that I did to be successful. So to see them embrace that and be recognized for their efforts makes me super proud, really proud.
Chad Franzen 15:51
You said you grew up kind of in a family with with attorneys or like kind of a legal, legal bent, when did you know that this was going to be for you. Um,
Eido Walny 16:03
probably some time in college, I had a number of friends who were all either going to law school or med school, and I definitely was not going to med school. And so I thought that this would be a really good area for me. Initially, I thought I would do corporate law. But then as I started practicing, I had a much better acumen for estate planning, I had some visions about where the industry was going in a way that I didn’t for corporate law, and a lot of the things that I thought would happen, ended up happening, which really put me in a great position to succeed. And so I would say that, you know, early, probably midway through college is when I thought that this was a good move for me. And then early on in my legal career is when I found estate planning, and it’s just been a great marriage for me ever since.
Chad Franzen 16:53
Who are I’m sure you have a few of them who are maybe who’s a mentor of yours, or a couple of mentors of yours. And is there any advice that you’ve received that really stands out is really great for you.
Eido Walny 17:05
Without a doubt, my dad is my mentor when it comes to business issues. My dad, it sounds cheesy, but you know, my dad is someone who never graduated from college. He has a PhD from the school of hard knocks, as I like to say, and he’s got great business acumen. And so sometimes there are issues that come up in business that are counterintuitive, you really have to understand psychology and business and economics. And those are hard lessons to learn. And I think a lot of lawyers are good at telling other people how to run their business, but terrible about running their own business. And so I always try to stay tried and true to my dad’s PhD from the school of hard knocks the lessons he taught me about how business works and how people operate. Because it’s different than you learn in, you know, law school or law books. If it were mechanical, then you know, lawyers wouldn’t be necessary there, there would be computer programs for everything that we do. But there’s a reason that isn’t the case. And so understanding that I think separates me in the marketplace. And I think those lessons have been absolutely invaluable to me. Of course, there are other professionals that are my age, you know, a good friend of mine who started a boutique litigation firm, right around the time that I started my boutique estate planning firm, he and I riff with each other about business issues all the time, because we face a lot of the same issues. You know, you always rely on other peers and professionals to help you through various challenges and issues so that you try to avoid issues because they’re costly.
Chad Franzen 18:41
Are there some daily rituals that you find most important? What’s been kind of a typical day for you? Absolutely, I
Eido Walny 18:50
think one of the biggest mistakes that a lot of my peers make is that they only market when things are slow. So they look at marketing as a way to get busy. And so when they are busy, they focus on the work and pull back on the marketing. So I would say that one of the daily rituals that I do, religiously, is do a little bit of marketing, even if it’s just sending a few emails or responding, responding to some, you know, media requests, something anything for about a half hour, 45 minutes, you know, it takes you some time to get your brain acclimated to the day you’re drinking your coffee, whereas most people are reading the news or whatnot. I am engaging in some level of marketing and I do that regardless of if I’m busy or not busy. That and I think thankfully there are very few days where I’m not busy now. But it’s because I avoid the cyclical nature of you’re busy so you don’t mark it so that you not busy. So you start to mark it so you’re busy again. No, I don’t like that cyclical nature. I want things to always be busy. And the way that I do that is by doing some marketing every single day, seven days a week
Chad Franzen 19:55
was marketing having was the necessity Need to have to do marketing? Something that you were well aware of when you started your own firm? Or did you kind of have to grow into it?
Eido Walny 20:06
Yeah, I mean, again, the lessons from my dad and his PhD from the school of hard knocks was that marketing is a necessity. Marketing is not something that you do when you’ve got time, or where you’ve got a little bit of extra money in the budget. Marketing has to be a priority, it is the lifeblood of your business. And so I’ve always done it, it’s something that I’m pretty skilled at. I, you know, obviously, when you’ve got more money, you can do more things. But when you have less money, it doesn’t mean you can’t do anything. In fact, that’s when I find that the best creative solutions come up and and certainly some of the best ideas I’ve had. And now I can be paid to do some of my marketing. You know, I look at marketing as including little things like going to lunch with people or just saying hi over email with referral sources you haven’t heard from from a while, but you’re doing articles and being a speaker and being paid to be a speaker. That’s marketing. And so to be paid to do some of that now is
Chad Franzen 21:06
fantastic. I have one more question for you. But first, how can people find out more about Walny Legal Group?
Eido Walny 21:14
Sure. Our website is www.Walneylegal.com. I would say go there all of our contact information, phone numbers, contacts for all of our attorneys. It’s all on there. When your name is Eido, spelled Eido. Google is your friend because all you have to do is Google Eido. And the first few pages will be various talks and articles that I’ve written. But the website is a great place to start.
Chad Franzen 21:39
Okay, great. Final question. How is your son’s hockey career going?
Eido Walny 21:44
He’s doing great. He’s, he’s playing in South Carolina these days. He’s a US 16. He’s hoping to play division one hockey and get picked up by a junior team. He’s a goalie. But his season is really off to a fantastic start. It’s it’s a double edged sword when your kid is talented in sports because he has not lived at home since he was 13. And I I miss the heck out of him. I miss spending time with him, but to see how well he’s doing and how seriously he takes school when I can’t hover over him and tell him to do his homework. To see him rise to those occasions is is really fantastic. He’s a great kid, a talented goalie and I have really high hopes for him. Not only having a successful hockey career, but a successful life. He’s just a great person. Did you have a background in hockey? None. In fact, never saw a hockey game. I went to my very first so my son is 16 Almost 17 Now, two weekends ago I went to my very first hockey game where he either wasn’t with me or wasn’t playing. So I didn’t know diddly squat about hockey. I always tell people now we’re standing where my son is now. The first time we put goalie pads on him. I honest to goodness, I had to go on YouTube to figure out how to put the equipment on him because I had no idea I didn’t know anything about hockey when he started.
Chad Franzen 22:57
That’s great. Well, hey, we wish him the best of luck and thank you really appreciate your time and and your thoughts and the time you took to join us today. Thanks so much.
Eido Walny 23:06
I appreciate the opportunity. Thanks Chad,
Chad Franzen 23:09
Thanks for listening to 15 Minutes. Be sure to subscribe and we’ll see you next time.