Michael Rutkowski is the Owner of TrustFunding.com and the Rutkowski Law Firm, which focuses on asset protection, estate planning, business succession planning, and elder law. He combines his passion for helping people with his law degree to deliver tailored estate planning and business coaching.
After graduating from Western Michigan University Cooley Law School with his JD, Michael was an Attorney for EvansPletkovic, P.C. before establishing his practice. He has been a featured speaker throughout Metro Detroit at numerous events, from corporate engagements to university forums.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Michael Rutkowski talks about combining his passion for helping people with estate planning
- How Michael’s core values helped his business grow exponentially
- Michael explains how he pivoted his business model and succeeded during the pandemic
- Ways to implement processes and systems to run your business
- The best advice Michael has received from a mentor
In this episode…
Life can be overwhelming, especially when you’re unfamiliar with estate planning. How can you help your clients better prepare for their future? What steps can you take to help your clients reach the finish line?
Michael Rutkowski knew what to do to provide peace of mind for his clients: build relationships. Estate planning doesn’t need to be stressful, and when clients are educated to make the best decisions, they’re satisfied. By taking a unique and personal approach to his firm, Michael gives his clients what they need without them having to leave the comfort of their couch!
In this episode of 15 Minutes, Chad Franzen sits down with Michael Rutkowski, Owner of TrustFunding.com and Rutkowski Law Firm, to discuss shattering the stereotypes surrounding estate planning. Michael talks about combining your passion with creating a business, why core values matter, and pivoting your business model for growth.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Gladiator Law Marketing
- Chad Franzen on LinkedIn
- Michael Rutkowski on LinkedIn
- Rutkowski Law Firm
- Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine by Mike Michalowicz
- The Pumpkin Plan: A Simple Strategy to Grow a Remarkable Business in Any Field by Mike Michalowicz
- Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman
- The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure by Grant Cardone
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 00:13
Hi, Chad Franzen here co host 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 data a successful marketing campaign and make sure you’re getting the best ROI your firm needs to have a better website and better content. Gladiator Law Marketing uses 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. Michael Rutkoski is the owner of TrustFunding.com and right and Rutkowski Law Firm which is focused on asset protection, estate planning, business succession planning and elder law. Michael’s passion is helping people whether it’s in estate planning, business coaching or the gym, he runs out of his garage, helping others is what gets him out of bed every day. Hey, Michael, thanks for joining me today. How are you?
Michael Rutkowski 1:13
Yeah, my pleasure. Thank you for detailed intro. Love it.
Chad Franzen 1:17
Hey, tell me about everything that you have going on. And before we get into kind of your story, you got trust funding that come here, you’ve got your own law firm. Tell me a little bit about some of that. Yeah, I’ve
Michael Rutkowski 1:27
been. So I have a law firm, which focuses on things you just, you just went over. I’ve been doing that for 15 years, I’ve been growing that kind of exponentially. And we’ve had to pivot during during COVID. Obviously, now we’re 100% virtual, and we’re planning to stay that way. I’ve got some, some young daughters are 10, eight, and six. And I plan to be here with them every day. So it’s just great. Over the last year, we launched her turn to go put your stuff into that trust, you want to draft it. And so this company is kind of just like taking it over the finish line for clients. Because a lot of times it gets overwhelming life gets in the way, and then nothing ends up going into your trust, which doesn’t then accomplish your goals in the state planning.
Chad Franzen 2:09
Okay, great. So hey, how did you get started? Tell me how you guys kind of got started. In your career? Attorney?
Michael Rutkowski 2:16
Yeah, great, great question. So I originally started out like the more litigation type work, I was doing worker’s comp, insurance, defense, I was doing trials, depositions, you name it, like the TV lawyer, that was me. And all sudden, my friend started having kids, and they were like, Mike, you know, I need to I know, I need to do something here. Is it a will? Is it a trust? I don’t know. But can you help me? And I was like, Well, I’m a lawyer, you know, I could download a couple forms and figure this out. And so I did. And I just like absolutely fell in love with it. So instead of, you know, your typical attorney, like, no one’s ever happy with the results, or the bill or all these things. It’s like a totally different world and estate planning where like, you’re done and like someone hugs you, and you’re like, what, what, just what just happened? Like, this is amazing. And so you know, I have a passion for helping people. And I just knew like, this is what I need to do going forward.
Chad Franzen 3:04
So Rutkowski law has been in place for, you know, more than a decade. What were you doing up until that time?
Michael Rutkowski 3:11
Yeah, so I had a background in sales and business marketing. So I’ve been in kind of sales all my life went to law school. When I graduated law school, I jumped right into the practice. So I did like a two year accelerated Law School, which was absolutely terrible, pass the bar exam, and then jump right into practice. But again, it was more like the the TV style lawyering versus now what I’m doing today, which is helping families all over the state of Michigan, you know, get their ducks in a row providing peace of mind.
Chad Franzen 3:43
When you first started, what were kind of the How did that transition? Go? What were the early days of your company life?
Michael Rutkowski 3:48
Yeah, it was, you know, a lot of hustling to network, right, because like in estate planning, it’s very relationship based. So I’m joining every type of networking group out there, whether it’s a BNI, which I would highly recommend, if you’re just getting started to like your local, you know, business chapter, you know, your your cities, you know, they all have their things, but it was just all like relationships, tapping into my friends and family now, work to just see who I can help. And in the beginning days, I would do I would pretty much do stuff for free just to learn how to do it. That was a long time ago, obviously now, but you know, it’s a relationship based practice. And so, you know, I lean heavily on my professional relationship, friendships, as well as my personal relationships, to to help as many families as we can.
Chad Franzen 4:38
Was there a time in your life that you knew that this is what you said you you’ve had a passion for helping people? What? When did you decide that this was how you were going to do it?
Michael Rutkowski 4:47
Yeah, it was almost immediate. And, you know, that’s a great question, too. As soon as I saw that, that the legal profession could provide a career for me that allowed me to still be passionate about what I do, I was like, I need to, I just absolutely need to do this. And, and I think the clients we work with feel that to just like, you know, my empathy for them and, and just my love for helping and I think that’s why we just started exponentially growing because you know what, it’s funny one of our core values is don’t be an attorney, right? Because like your stereotypical attorney just like tells you what to do, they don’t listen to you, they just know more than you and they kind of are condescending a little bit. And I’m like, I just want to be the complete opposite of that, like, we have, you know, two ears and one mouth for a reason, like, listen to people and, and help them.
Chad Franzen 5:35
When did you know that that would be an important quality to have given the stereotype for attorneys?
Michael Rutkowski 5:41
I think when it started growing faster than I anticipated, I think that the the families we worked with just absolutely loved it. And they were referring their, their, their friends and family to us. And I was like, you know, I think there’s something unique here. And then also just as a leader, you know, people wanted to work in the organization, we started growing, you know, in no time at all were to like 1516 employees. And before COVID, we were like five offices spread out all over the state. So we’re just the demand for working with a law firm that understands people is out there, it’s definitely a thing.
Chad Franzen 6:19
Is there a what are some big turning points in your company with Rutkowski Law?
Michael Rutkowski 6:24
Yeah, great day, another, you’re not going to have a perfect, thank you. I think what really, there was one meeting in particular, I will remember for the rest of my life, I was meeting with a pre planning funeral director, right? Like there’s pre selling your services in the funeral space. And he kind of gave me some insight. He’s like, You need to start, like talking in large groups of people start doing presentations. And he’s like, just put an ad in the newspaper. That’s what we do. I guarantee you people are going to show up. And so all this was probably five years into my practice, I started doing like group presentations. And it just became a staple in how we grew so quickly. It’s just in estate planning, you got to educate the people kind of know that they need it. But they have no idea what that looks like. I mean, most families call our office looking for a will. So anytime opportunity I can get up to be out there talking to a group is where I find the most value. And I just love public speaking. I didn’t know I did, until I started doing it. I’m like, this is just absolutely amazing. So up until the pandemic. I mean, we were probably doing 10 presentations a month all over the place. And it was so much fun.
Chad Franzen 7:34
Wow, great. Hey, is there a big challenge that you’ve had to overcome? either personally or professionally?
Michael Rutkowski 7:40
Yes, yes. Call it marks are 2020 I think we all remember that. That time our life. So estate planning is a very in person thing, right? I like I just said, we were doing in person presentations, it was probably 85 to 90% of our revenue was coming from those presentations. And all sudden, we can’t meet with people in person. We can’t do presentations in person, the whole business model needs to switch. And so two points, you know, we use Eos, if you’re familiar with it from the book traction, highly recommended to any entrepreneur small business out there. That really was a turning point for us. And then once we switch to a virtual model, like using the EOS process to get the leadership team together, quickly pivot to how are we going to do this and move the, you know, the ship going forward. And then we did and we absolutely fell in love with it. And we’re not going back. You know, so many estate planning attorneys have, you know, the pandemic’s over there like right back to being in person, not us now we have employees all over the country, we’re doing everything virtual and truly our client base just loves it. They’re like I can do this from my kitchen table from my couch, like this is the way to do it. And it’s just been great. Now we had to replace the revenue that was coming from all of those all of those in person workshops. We’re doing webinars and we’re doing other things but we’ve been able to do it and now we’re growing again and it’s amazing.
Chad Franzen 9:03
Great Hey, was there when you when you started Rutkoski Law was there anything you’d had an experience as an attorney and things like that? Was there anything though, upon becoming like the guy who’s in charge that you you didn’t know that you didn’t know? Like you like oh, I didn’t realize this was gonna be happening.
Michael Rutkowski 9:21
Yeah, I mean, I would say running a business is pretty eye opening and to this day I joke but kind of don’t joke that like I’m still making it up every day. Like you know, I constantly reading books and talking to people about how to improve but like every day I’m trying to get better at it because there’s so many things I still don’t know and I’m learning every day and it’s just a wild ride but I absolutely love it.
Chad Franzen 9:46
How are things going with your your new business that you started this summer?
Michael Rutkowski 9:50
Good good. Yes sir. Started launch that July 1. Initially the the it was supposed to be for consumers right for consumers. universe to have their individuals to have their trust funded that maybe it was done by another attorney. I’ve been been reached out to by so many other estate planning attorneys to reaching out to me saying like, can you take this off my plate, I want nothing to do with it. And so we’ve now developed this model that we didn’t even anticipate from the beginning that we’re just like a back office solution to other estate planners out there. Because they all know the value in doing this. They just don’t want the headache that comes along with it. So that’s been and it’s just, it’s taken off like crazy, too.
Chad Franzen 10:32
What elements of business would you say you you enjoy the most and which one are you stay with? Like he’s here like on the treadmill trying to learn fast.
Michael Rutkowski 10:41
I enjoy the most helping others truly, I’m part of other estate planning, masterminds, and just providing help to others, like maybe a step or two behind me to like, you know, hit that next level, it’s where I absolutely love it. And so I’m actually doing some coaching of other attorneys to kind of, you know, if they want to get to seven figures, or whatever their goals are to just put in place a plan to get there. That’s what really excites me, it’s kind of like you mentioned in the beginning, like I run a gym out of my garage, I got like, 10 guys from the subdivision that come over every morning at 5:30am I don’t make $1 off it, but that is probably like the favorite part of every day. It’s just helping others, you know, reach their fitness goals or whatever it is what happens every morning. Oh, that’s CrossFit. So it’s you know, we’re doing box jumps and, and power cleans and squats and all that fun stuff.
Chad Franzen 11:34
Very nice. Very nice. Hey, has there been a big mistake or pitfall that you’ve had to learn a lot from?
Michael Rutkowski 11:42
You know, I would say if you want to block and do this all over some financial controls would have been like an a book I highly recommend to anyone is profit first by Mike Michalowicz, this just really, if I could have known that, from the beginning, I would have grown it a lot differently. Because you know, like, when the pandemic hit, it was like, Oh, my gosh, the revenue that supports the firm is taking a dive, you’re like, what are we going to do? And I think just financial controls would have been really nice, because back when it was so a back pre pandemic, we were at like a $2 million revenue firm at the time. And I’m, I’m take home more now from my firm than I did back then. Just because of financial controls, and I just wish I would have had that. So anyone at any point in your career, read that book. It’s incredible.
Chad Franzen 12:33
What is your proudest moment, what’s a moment where you look back on that you’re especially proud of in your career?
Michael Rutkowski 12:39
I think it’s it’s just, you know, continuing to grind it out, you know, there’s days that it’s not fun, there’s lots of days that have super fun. But you know, on those days, that it’s just a challenge, to just keep at it, you know, keep at it, I think it’s owning a business is a long game. And you know, you can anticipate a ton of success in the beginning and you just gotta keep doing it. But now, you know, I’m to a point where I’m not meeting with clients as much a more visionary in the business with a marketing role, kind of, you know, to the point now, where it’s like all the effort put in, it’s like freedom of time and money, and all those things are actually happening. You know, and it’s, it’s, it’s been worth it. It was a long road, but it’s been worth it.
Chad Franzen 13:21
What is some of the best advice you’ve received, maybe from a mentor or somebody like that?
Michael Rutkowski 13:27
Ah, that’s how that’s a tough one, I think. I think the EOS was one of the everything that comes along with running a business, just having systems and processes and like, there comes a point in time where you like, you need to treat your business like a grownup business, right? Like, and EOS was really helpful and the implementers and coaches that that I’ve had along along the way to implement that has been just really, really solid.
Chad Franzen 13:57
What are a few of your daily rituals or, or routines that you find most important? What’s kind of in a typical day?
Michael Rutkowski 14:03
Yeah, personal and business? Sure. Yeah. Okay. So you know, usually up super early to work out, like checking the box. And working out is super important, just did have that routine. From there I go, I do like 10 minutes of meditation, like I started that about a year ago. And that’s really, really awesome. So like, my, my morning routine is like, what gets me going every day, you know, it’s like, make the bed and do all those things. But it’s almost like to the minute the same every day. And then I think it’s you know, it’s like the time to put into marketing every day that like is the non negotiable, like put in two hours every day because the effort you put in today provides the referrals and everything in the future. And if you stop today, you’re not going to see the immediate impact but you will in a couple months. So it’s just, you know, my morning structure and then that non negotiable two hours of professional relationship development and the things I do in the two hours and then then the day kind of falls apart after that. Do you drink coffee? All day?
Chad Franzen 15:05
Yeah, you’ve got you’ve got great energy. Hey, I’ve got I’ve got one more question for you. But first, tell me more. Tell me how people can find out more about all the things that you’ve got going on. Whether it’s your law firm or anything else.
Michael Rutkowski 15:16
Yeah, sure. Probably the easiest way to reach me is by email. It’s firstname.lastname@example.org Rutkowskilawfirm.com, go to my website Rutkowski Law Firm connect with me there, I’d be happy to jump on a zoom call with anyone. But I’m not leaving my house. Right. So it’s gonna be zoom. And talk about anything that might be of value to you or, you know, if there’s something I can do to help out I, it’s what I’m passionate about. So I’d be happy to jump on a half hour zoom call if there’s anything I can help someone with.
Chad Franzen 15:48
Hey, last question for you. What are you mentioned that you’re constantly reading books, things like that? You’ve mentioned a few books. What are some books that you have found particularly valuable in your journey, especially as kind of running your own business? Things like that?
Michael Rutkowski 16:02
Yeah, yeah. Some of the best books I’ve read truly like I love this series of the Mike Michalowicz stuff. So Pumpkin Plan, Profit First, those are two absolutely great ones. traction, the EOS model, that one is one to live by. And then you know, there’s some really good ones like the 10x rule. And what are some other good ones? I don’t know. You put me on the spot there. But sure, it seems like I’ve either read them or audiobooks them all. And I bet you know what I do. I do it again. I like so many books. I’ll read again. And I’m like, was that the same book I read five years ago? Just say, yeah, you just catch different things, because you’re just at a different spot in your journey of all this.
Chad Franzen 16:43
Yeah, yeah. But hey, Michael, it’s been great to talk to you. Thanks so much for your time, and best of luck with everything moving forward in the future. Yeah, my pleasure.
Michael Rutkowski 16:51
Thank you so much for having me. So long,
Chad Franzen 16:53
Thanks for listening to 15 Minutes, be sure to subscribe and we’ll see you next time.