Lindsey Markus: Saying Yes and Building Powerhouse Connections

In this episode, Steve Fretzin and Lindsey Markus discuss:

  • Putting yourself out there to build your brand, network, and show yourself as an authority in your space.
  • Adding value through connections.
  • Why Lindsey created a publication house to publish her book.
  • Overcoming challenges of business development as a woman.

Key Takeaways:

  • Just say yes. Be willing to meet with people who have powerful connections that you may not have to grow your own network.
  • The only thing better than getting a referral, is being able to give one.
  • Be willing to make the ask. You never know who will say yes.
  • We all need support. If you are passionate about something, support those things that resonate with you at whatever points in your career you are in.

“You need to figure out what works for you, and you need to do something that you’re passionate about and care about.” —  Lindsey Markus

Connect with Lindsey Markus:  

Website: &

Email: [email protected]




Book: A Gift For The Future: Conversations About Estate Planning

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Show notes by Podcastologist Chelsea Taylor-Sturkie

Audio production by Turnkey Podcast Productions. You’re the expert. Your podcast will prove it.




Lindsey Markus  [00:00]

You need to figure out what works for you. And you need to do something that you’re passionate and care about.


Narrator  [00:13]

You’re listening to be that lawyer, life changing strategies and resources for growing a successful law practice. Each episode, your host, author and lawyer, coach, Steve Fretzin, will take a deeper dive helping you grow your law practice in less time with greater results. Now, here’s your host, Steve Fretzin.


Steve Fretzin  [00:35]

Hey, everybody, welcome to be that lawyer. I hope you are having a fabulous day. As you may know, I’m Steve Fretzin. I’m the host of the show. And the goal is always to help you be that lawyer someone who’s competent, organized in a skilled Rainmaker, and, you know, part of my job in hosting this show is to bring on fabulous guests, people that you can get great tips and takeaways from that have a great story to tell. And today is no different. I’ve got Lindsey, who I’m going to introduce in a moment, and she’s fantastic. And we’ve known each other for how long have we known each other? It’s got to be like 10 years, right? Something like that. Oh, more? More than that. Maybe? Well, okay, well, then that is longer. Okay. That’s my, my small brain at work, anyway. Well, let me just mention that legalese marketing does a fantastic job of helping me market my business. I do not do a lot of the social media posts that you think I’m doing. I’m not really putting out my newsletter, I’m reviewing the newsletter, but I’m not putting it out. This is a company that can take all that junk off your plate to help you market effectively and not have to worry is it going to get out on time they get it out, okay, and it looks good. It looks professional. And they really care about their clients and how their clients look and the feel of the marketing that that they help with. And of course, money Penny, who has a live chat bot or not live chat bot a live chat person on my website. So if you want to talk to me, you got to get through my gatekeepers on my website. That’s no problem. And of course, they do virtual reception. So talk to legalese and Moneypenny more about them soon on the mini commercial that happens somewhere in the middle that you don’t know when it’s going to pop up, but it’s gonna All right, Lindsay was so kind to send me the most cheerful and lovely quote of Ben Franklin, in this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes. Oh, my God. How depressing. I


Lindsey Markus  [02:21]

don’t mean for it to be depressing. But it is apropos for our conversation today. Yeah. And it’s also very accurate.


Steve Fretzin  [02:29]

It is it’s sad and true. And we use it all the time is a quote, and some people use it. They don’t even know that it’s Ben Franklin. But, you know, talk about that, and why why did you submit that quote? I mean, it’s it’s obviously something we all need to think about. And you being an estate planning tax attorney, falls right into right into line, right?


Lindsey Markus  [02:48]

Absolutely. I think that what happens is, is when we take the quote, just as a quote, it can be, you know, depressing and overwhelming. But for those individuals and clients that have been proactive in addressing these concepts of death and taxes, it can actually be somewhat empowering, you know, knowing that your life that is in order, regardless of incapacity death, that taxes have been addressed and planned for, I think it doesn’t have to necessarily be a downer.


Steve Fretzin  [03:19]

Yeah, I mean, look, no one likes health insurance. But we need it, we have to have it. It’s a necessity. And I think a great estate plan and tax planning is is right up there with them. And unfortunately, I mean, I feel like maybe seven out of 10 professionals don’t have an estate plan. Is that kind of what you think are my way off on those numbers. I just kind of


Lindsey Markus  [03:39]

think they might it might actually be an underestimate and my experience.


Steve Fretzin  [03:43]

Yeah. Pretty crazy, right? Absolutely. And


Lindsey Markus  [03:47]

then it’s a question of if they have a plan in place. Do they have the proper plan? Has it been updated? Has it been reviewed?


Steve Fretzin  [03:54]

Yeah, no doubt. So listen, everybody, this is Lindsey Marcus. She’s a principal at shoe hack and Texan which is a full service boutique e type firm in Chicago. Some of the best people some of the best lawyers I know, are at that firm. And I just I love them. In fact, the woman that edits my articles, if you read my articles in the Chicago Daily law bulletin, Sue Robinson is their market person. She has been editing my articles for six years. She’s like, amazing, amazing making me look good. People think I’m a great editor. Not I send her send her my junk and she makes it better. But she’s she’s just the best. So Lindsay, you’ve been sort of like a business developer or Rainmaker, and I’d love to have you share your story. Because I’m sure you didn’t start out that way. There must have been some point where you kind of like drew a line in the sand and said, I need to really do this and why. So let’s let’s start from that point. And then we’re going to move all the way to the new book that you have, which we’re going to we’re going to hit hard to so give us that story.


Lindsey Markus  [04:51]

So I had a late start in the practice of law. I had worked in business and finance and before graduate school and before under grad, I was a theater person, I always enjoyed presenting, performing. And all of that. What I recognize, though early on, in my practice was this awakening, if you will, that the only reason why people don’t have a proper plan in place is really a function of education. And it wasn’t, I wish I could say that I was brilliant. And I laid out this marketing plan that I was going to grow my business through speaking and writing. But it was really out of frustration, and watching families mourn the loss of loved ones, have to pay these large tax bills have to go through the court process of probate, that it was a tremendous source of frustration for me, knowing how easy it would be for them to avoid it. So I figured, let me try and teach people I don’t want, let’s not keep making the same mistakes over and over again, as as a community. And so that was the initial impetus. And lo and behold, even as a second year associate, when I was out there speaking, writing, it allowed me at an early point in my career, to really establish myself in such a way and to validate my skill set and knowledge base. And I think it was through that that really opened doors to some powerhouse connectors. And then, you know, it just keeps building one, I think,


Steve Fretzin  [06:31]

yeah, but I but I think that you just hit on, like you’re building your brand, you’re educating people, you’re getting your, you’re putting yourself out there where a lot of attorneys may not do that, especially early on in their career. And then you transition to saying that you started connecting with some power partners. Now talk to that, because I think people missed the boat on how important it is to have you call them power partners, I might call them strategic partners. And, you know, I’d love a strategic partner. That was powerful, right, because, but talk to that, because that’s where the referrals come from. And so So how did you develop those relationships, because that’s where I think a lot of your referrals probably came from,


Lindsey Markus  [07:09]

you know, looking back, I always said yes, to a breakfast, to a lunch to a tee to a cocktail, whatever it was, any person that someone encouraged me to meet or connect with, I met. And I think some of the pieces that I had published and the presentations I had done, had opened the door for some of those more senior players, relative to where I was, at that point in my career as a second year associate, you know, a named partner at a boutique. You know, family law firm, took a meeting with me, granted, she knew tons of other estate planning attorneys. The last thing she needed was another connection. But there was something that I was doing that was a bit different, that caught her eye that should impress her. And she agreed to a meeting and, and then she said, Oh, I have another fabulous person I want you to meet. So I think it was a lot of saying yes,


Steve Fretzin  [08:08]

yeah, just it almost sounds like like, like when you have a great handyman, like, you know, you’re so excited about it that you want to share it with other people. And then you realize later, wow, now he can’t see me because he’s too busy. Different story, I know that I should probably should have gone down that road. But anyway, the point is, is that when you’re good at something, people talk about you and they like to share, they’re there. They’re good people like it makes them feel good. When you can push someone that is an expert, or really a great relationship type person, to other people, it makes you feel good. And you know, you’re doing well for that other CPA, that other divorce attorney that other financial planner, right?


Lindsey Markus  [08:44]

Absolutely. And I think something that I’ve learned from you and some of the seminars and, you know, presentations that you’ve done at our firm has been that this model isn’t the perfect or the right fit for everyone. You know, I have other partners that are much more comfort and that are, you know, the idea of presenting or speaking in front of a large group can send them into a tizzy that it’s the last thing they want to do, but they’re more comfortable with other marketing initiatives. So I think the key is to find something that you’re comfortable with. And from my perspective, another aspect that I loved about it was I didn’t feel like I was selling. I feel much more that when I’m marketing, I’m teaching and I’m educated. And I think that authenticity is also what translates to those connectors.


Steve Fretzin  [09:37]

I think it’s it’s it’s let me just add one thing to that. So you’ve got education, so you’re not selling you’re educating you’re building relationships, right so people like you trust you and can feel good about you. My other guests and you’re going to share this with me in a minute because I’m bringing it up is that you probably were also a selfless giver in the sense of you are always trying to help others and give to others and that’s really the if we Got a triangle, that would be the other point of the of the of the triangle would be being a giver, right?


Lindsey Markus  [10:05]

Without a doubt. Yeah, I often say that the only thing better than getting a referral is being able to give one. And I noticed early on in my practice that I felt in some of those relationships, it was very one sided. And in the sense that people were referring to me, and maybe I didn’t have an opportunity to refer back initially. But by building a group network, it’s kind of like the circle of life, you know. So attorney or strategic partner number one refers something to me, I don’t have anything for that specific individual, but I have something else for a strategic partner number two, and then he or she refers it back. And if you get into that mindset, that it’s not necessarily quid pro quo, but you’re looking to add value in other ways, or other connectors. Or I’ve always made myself available to field questions as a professional courtesy for other strategic partners, if it was a family law attorney working through a complex estate planning issue, wealth advisor preparing to pitch a high net worth individual. And I think that also helped to your point of finding ways that I could reciprocate and adding value.


Steve Fretzin  [11:25]

Okay, so if we put this all together up to this point, in then we’re going to talk about the book is networking, speaking, writing, and there’s a social media component as well. Right to getting that out there. Okay, well, again, I’ve got legalese marketing, I was gonna say I like go talk to legalese. But again, it’s it’s it’s, yeah, having content and being able to put that out on social in a non salesy way, there’s not a whole lot of shameless selfless promotion that I’m doing. There’s always a little bit of it that, you know, some squeaks out here and there, but mostly, it’s education, through articles, videos, podcast content, and, and being available to, you know, talk about some tough issues and, and in situations that come up. And then on top of all that, Lindsay, you decided at some point to write a book and I want to hear about that, that journey of coming up with the concept, just how you came up with it, and then actually moving forward, because you didn’t go through a publisher, you decided to take it a whole, a whole different direction. So let’s, let’s get into that a little bit.


Lindsey Markus  [12:38]

Sure. I was presenting on a regular basis. And I remember there was this one powerhouse, networking group of males, C suite executives that asked me to come and speak. And they kept saying to me, like, Where can I read more about this? Like, is there a book is there a treatise, and a lot of the information available, in my experience was one extreme or the other. Like, on the one hand, it was incredibly rudimentary. And sometimes, if the reader wasn’t reading an article, particularly on point with their fact pattern in their needs, it could send them down a very misleading path. Maybe the law was not applicable in our state, or the piece was written really to market or sell something as opposed to address the client’s particular issues. And then on the other extreme, we have these outstanding treatises, reports, Treasury regulations, that dive into these complex issues. And the audience that I was speaking to really needed something in between, I had had the privilege of writing an article a column regularly in the Chicago daily blog bulletin as well called the buzz. And I think I was a bit delusional, thinking initially that I could just take this series of articles I had written and put them together into a book. That did not happen. It was certainly a labor of love and one of the most challenging projects I ever took on, especially at the peak of the pandemic, when death and taxes and the demand for planning and tax reform were out of control. There were countless people in my inner circle that encouraged me to shelf the book, like put the project back on the shelf. But I knew that if I put it back on the shelf, it wasn’t coming back off. Yeah. So I wanted to create a book that would more or less provide a roadmap for clients exploring estate planning at different points in their lives, but still balance it in such a way that, you know, I didn’t want the audience to be other practitioners. I wanted Get it to be everyday folk who were really those individuals that I was trying to reach. Yeah,


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Steve Fretzin  [15:57]

And so you know, you’re taking content and having to read rework and retool it, put it into a book that’s going to be that’s going to hit home for people at different levels or different stages in their life, which I think is brilliant, because there are people in their 30s that need certain things and maybe no progresses they go on. And so how did you determine that you were going to not only self publish, but also create a publishing company to make it to make it work?


Lindsey Markus  [16:23]

You know, just before we were getting on, we were talking about the shoemaker shoes. And I’ve seen that over and over in my practice, in terms of how many attorneys themselves don’t have estate plans. And oh, yeah, and I’m a firm believer, you have to lead by example. So how can I in good faith? If you are a client of mine called me about a new project, publishing a book with all about death and taxes? Or on any topic? How could I in good faith tell you that I’d recommend a separate purpose vehicle, you know, an LLC to limit you from any potential liability, and to also open the door for additional tax planning opportunities if the book went gangbusters, or if the book went bust? So I formed my own LLC. The name of the publishing company is Ida rose publishing LLC named after my two grandmother’s, and here I am, we’ll see which direction No, but I’m in it for the ride.


Steve Fretzin  [17:24]

Okay. And so the other thing that I found so interesting is that you were able to acquire a top tax chief tax counsel and staff director at the Senate Finance Committee to write the foreword How did you do that?


Lindsey Markus  [17:38]

Yeah, it was a big, big, big deal to get someone of Ross Sullivan’s reputation and caliber to make any contribution. For anyone listening who hasn’t heard him speak any opportunity, you have to hear him present, go, I mean, talk about someone that makes tax reform, engaging and exhilarating of a topic. But interestingly enough, we met through a philanthropic organization known as the American friends of Technion, so I have the pleasure of sitting in a co chairing their gift Planning Committee, and on an annual basis in an effort to raise awareness about the extraordinary work the university the Technion, is doing in the field of innovation and technology in Haifa, Israel. We host tax seminar for strategic partners and professionals. And for as long as I can remember, at least 14 years, Ross has flown in and presented. You know, of course, the past two years it was more remote, but shared his insights in terms of what was going on in Capitol Hill. He is the former head of the Senate Finance Tax Committee, and now he’s in private practice doing extraordinary policy work with Brownstein Hyatt in Washington, DC. But just as what is remarkable as he is a practitioner, he is a remarkable human being. He’s acted as guardian of the estate for more than 22 young men. And I reached out to him, I was bold enough to make the ask sweating during the process, and asked if he would be kind enough to consider providing me with a testimonial, or it would be a tremendous honor for him to author the foreword. And he did that and I am incredibly grateful.


Steve Fretzin  [19:35]

Yeah. What’s a wonderful feeling? I I got Jerry madmen over at Cypher to do my fourth book forward and just you know, when you get a rainmaker of that caliber to write the foreword, it’s amazing and then the back covers just littered with all the top legal marketing professionals that that are in the in the industry. It just, it just makes you feel so good that you’re impacting way right And


Lindsey Markus  [20:00]

it’s just a huge honor. I want to know when you got Jerry’s forward Did you cry?


Steve Fretzin  [20:06]

I did not cry.


Lindsey Markus  [20:09]

cried when I got it. Oh


Steve Fretzin  [20:11]

my god. Maybe I have to have him write a mushier Walworth? No, no, no, it’s not that it was my die though


Lindsey Markus  [20:17]

it was touching art, it was touching. It was an integral part of the process. And just like, it was also like a final thing I needed to do.


Steve Fretzin  [20:28]

Right, it was the icing on the cake. Exactly. I think I wasn’t going to cry, I didn’t cry. But I think I was just filled with, like emotional like gratefulness. Just gratitude that someone would be willing, that’s a friend of mine would be willing to write such a wonderful for and talk so wonderfully about me and the writing and the work I do. It just it just, you know, kind of supports the initiative of of my dreams of helping this industry be better. And so you know, it’s just, that’s a great part of writing a book is getting that support I know. So really cool. Really cool. So if listeners want to buy a copy of your book, what’s the what’s the best way for them to reach out and grab a copy, because I think it’s all something we need to freshen up on?


Lindsey Markus  [21:12]

Absolutely, it’s on Amazon, just search a gift for the future. Last I loved it was the number one, it was the number one best seller in Michael selfhelp. And the number one new release in several categories. Nice. So I’m excited. And I would encourage listeners to also check out your books, I think, to really alter for you, I’ve


Steve Fretzin  [21:35]

got four new one


Lindsey Markus  [21:37]

almost killed me, I have no idea how you get far. And I would also be incredibly grateful as I know you would be for those that are gracious enough to purchase a copy, once you check it out to also consider going back and leaving a review. It helps tremendously with the algorithms so that our works of art don’t get lost in the world of Amazon.


Steve Fretzin  [22:01]

Yeah. And I think that’s really important, whether it’s the podcast, a book or restaurant, like if you have a good experience, like that’s how we get, you know, the benefits called the Social buyer. And I know there’s another name for this. It’s escaping me though. But it really is what moves people to make decisions into, you know, want to make an investment in a book or a movie or a restaurant or a product. I mean, the negative reviews obviously do the, you know, that helps us protect us from making a bad a bad decision. But five star reviews on Amazon are really important for books. I know that from from experience. So please take care of Lindsay get the book and then give her a nice review. Because I haven’t read it yet. I haven’t got a copy. But it’s but it’s one that I intend to


Lindsey Markus  [22:44]

make sure you got one.


Steve Fretzin  [22:46]

Yeah. All right. Oh, I’ll buy one I don’t want to. I like to I like to support by buying the book and then writing a review. And you know, that’s what I like when people do for me. So support my son’s 529. By Fretzin books. It’s what I’m doing. Absolutely. There you go. And so in kind of wrapping things up a little bit, you know, another just kind of final thought is, is a woman building a law practice. And I’ve had a number of women on my show to talk about that. It seems like you just sort of bulldoze through whatever types of of anxiety and issues and stress that that everyone feels in building a law practice. But as a woman in particular, there are more challenges generally than then for men. How did you bulldoze through that? What kind of advice would you give to women that are that are having angst about about Yeah, how do I do business development or get out there and do this stuff. Because I’m so busy with everything going on in my life.


Lindsey Markus  [23:39]

I was incredibly fortunate that some of the powerhouses and strategic partners that I met early on in my career were women. And they helped guide me and lead me not to mention all of the women who have come before me, who helped pave the way for me to have an opportunity to be here. I would also be remiss, though, if I did not highlight the extraordinary men at my firm, and strategic partners that were also warm and welcoming and supportive and encouraging. But there is a dynamic to how over time, especially as a woman and her life and her career, has often, not always but often has different demands. Two years ago, I had the pleasure of becoming a mother. I’m a single mother by choice. I never imagined that I would do this on my own but a client came to see me shared with me what she was doing. And suddenly it was something in my gut that I needed to do. I was fortunate enough to be at a point in my practice and to have already established my report the firm such that to hawk and toxin was extraordinarily supportive. I had a pack and play in my office. My little guy would come with me about one day a week with the nanny to the office. And I think, at the end of the day, whether it’s childcare, whether it’s this, whether it’s that we all need support. And in the marketing and business development sector, I think a lot of it goes back to what we were talking about at the beginning, the idea that you need to figure out what works for you. And you need to do something that you’re passionate and care about. Because, you know, oftentimes, when Junior associates come to see me with marketing advice, or ask me if they should join a board, or do this or do that, I am a huge, huge proponent of philanthropy, it’s made a meaningful difference in my life. But I advise them, if you’re passionate about the organization, I would strongly encourage you to pursue it, there’s no greater gift you can give. But if you’re doing it with the purpose of getting clients or making connections, it’s never going to work. Because the energy around it will be inauthentic. Yeah. So I think you need to listen to your gut in terms of what resonates for you and recognize that it in different points of your career, for women in particular, but also for men, there are different things we can and need to do. And listen to it, reach out to friends, strategic partners who’ve been there, coaches, like yourself, to help guide us, because sometimes we don’t have all the answers.


Steve Fretzin  [26:38]

It sounds like it, you know, it takes a village, right? Whether that’s your firm, whether that’s your your strategic partners, your network, your fate, your actual family, right. And so I think, you know, we’re trying to do something on our own, without any help at all probably isn’t the best strategy. And in the end, we need to leverage the best people we can find and meet, whether those are direct partners or people in your network or actual family. Really good stuff. Lindsay, thanks so much for being on the show and sharing your wisdom and your story. And people, I love for you to go to Amazon and grab the book a gift for the future. Your Game Changing book, though, although yours is a game changing book, the one that you mentioned is called dare to lead. And that’s a who authored that, And why’d you submit that as your game changing book


Lindsey Markus  [27:24]

Brene Brown, who’s just a brilliant, brilliant woman, leader, all of that, and I think it kind of hits on what we were talking about previously, in this book, in particular, she highlights and studies how vulnerability and connection are really the key characteristics to powerful leaders, and, you know, successful leaders much more so than power and strength which we historically had associated with leadership. Right. And I think it’s a it’s a wonderful lesson for all of us. And a reminder that the way to build consensus and camaraderie and support isn’t always from a position of strength. But there are other ways to get there.


Steve Fretzin  [28:14]

Yeah. Awesome. If people want to get in touch with you for a state planning help or to network or to rev up you know, talk to you about your book, your your life, your experience, how do they reach you?


Lindsey Markus  [28:26]

Look at my personal website, www dot Linzi I created it as an educational tool. You can also look at a gift for the future. Or reach out to me directly an email at L Marcus, ma RK us at Chu Hawk, CH u h. J Connect with me on social media. I love meeting good people.


Steve Fretzin  [28:49]

Yeah. Awesome. Well, thank you for being on the show and sharing your wisdom. I mean, this is this has been fantastic. And you know, I hope I get you back again, maybe in a year and we’ll see how the time has progressed. Thank you. And hey, everybody. Thank you for spending some time with Lindsay and today. Again, number of great takeaways, great story and an opportunity to learn and advance your interests as a as a practicing attorney looking to grow a law firm looking to grow a law practice. This is the show be that lawyer confident organize the skilled Rainmaker be safe be well. We’ll talk again soon everybody, take care.


Narrator  [29:28]

Thanks for listening to be that lawyer. Life changing strategies and resources for growing a successful law practice. Visit Steve’s website For additional information, and to stay up to date on the latest legal business development and marketing trends. For more information and important links about today’s episode, check out today’s show notes