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The Family Legacy Center


FALL 2014

MEET OUR TEAM and read about why they

Do What They Do

What can you learn from a



~ The Latchkey Mom Series ~

S E P T E M B E R ’S F E AT U R E D FA M I LY A Uniquely Hand-Crafted Small Business and Family Legacy


Get an exclusive “Sneak Peak” of our

Winter Issue

© 2014 FLC, LLC

Magazine | 2014



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Our Featured Family

An amazing story, from an amazing family, living an amazing Legacy. Meet The Thompsons!

Meet our Team

Joanne and Chris, our founders, open up about their work, why they’re so into their work and what the word “Legacy” really means to them.

The Latchkey Mom One of our favorite Mom-Bloggers tells us why she loves to share her strong, funny, crazy and completely inspiring stories!

FLC Blog Spotlight

Each month we highlight a blog from our website. Meet an amazing woman who you may have heard of before!

The Friends of The FLC

Who do we call when we need help? Find out HERE. In each issue we will introduce you to someone new!

Coming Soon....

Find out what’s coming up in our next issue, and let us know what you would like to see!

Share the Love.....

Do you know someone who could use a little help? Tear out this section, YES, it’s ok, you know you want to. Give it to somone you know. They will thank you for it!

The Family Legacy Center

39395 W. 12 Mile Road, Ste. 102 Farmington Hills, MI 48331 “Helping families feel safer and happier, one Legacy at a time.”


2014 | Magazine

A Letter



egacy. What’s yours? Have you thought about what Legacy means?

In today’s world, we see clouded images of what it means to leave a legacy. Does it mean leaving your family a substantial amount of money? Does it mean imparting your values and beliefs to the next generation? Does it involve designating a charity or foundation as the recipient of assets at your death? Does it involve some combination of these?

- What are the best ways to ensure grandchildren are included in the legacy discussion with their grandparents and parents? What important wisdom should be passed along? How? - How do financial decisions come into play when it comes to legacy? - Should a family of multi-generations have detailed discussions about legacy? How should that be done? - How do long term health care decisions affect legacy and family relationships?

Many people struggle with this concept because of the potential inconsistency between the intended legacy and how things actually turn out when we leave this life.

At The Family Legacy Center, we work with you to guide you through a unique and personal thought process when it comes to your family and its legacy.

We help to bring clarity and focus to this concept. It is important to us all, but truly being intentional about our own legacy is what helps bring us joy, security and contentment during life.

Joanne & Chris

FLC Magazine The Family Legacy Center

The Family Legacy Center was founded to help you begin to answer questions such as: - What does legacy mean to each of us and what impact does it have on our actions today? - How do men and women look at legacy? - How are these viewpoints different from one another? How are they similar? - How can communication between parents and their children be enhanced to allow for a discussion of the issues most important to the family?

Magazine | 2014


“We are a family operation that puts our heart and soul into our product. We are American made and we are ‘Pure Michigan’.”

Say “Hello” to

OUR FEATURED FAMILY When we asked them about their purpose, we were told they are committed to:

“Making you the happiest you’ve ever been on the snow.” At the Family Legacy Center, we do quite a bit of research and questioning about legacy and whenever we can find a story that represents family legacy in a unique way, we enjoy sharing it with others. Recently we had the chance to interview the Thompson family from northern Michigan. They were kind enough to take a few minutes away from their busy day running their family business to share their story. We interviewed three of the family members – John, Shari and son Jeff. Their other son, Jonathon, also plays a role in the business from his home in Denver, CO. Originally from the Detroit area, they now reside in northern Michigan and run a family business in Boyne City, Michigan called Shaggy’s Copper Country Skis. ( As their website says: “We are your local ski company, we are Pure Michigan, and we are American Made!” Shaggy’s is an operation that represents the collective passion of their family, the sport of skiing. They have taken a road less traveled - building handcrafted custom skis. When we asked them about their purpose, we were told they are committed to “Making you the happiest you’ve ever been on the snow.”


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How have they done it? Jeff Thompson was 19 years old when his hobby of crafting skis became a fulltime family endeavor. Shari described Jeff’s passion as “pretty much a hobby which then exploded”. It wasn’t always the family intention to create the business that Shaggy’s is today, but they all came together and as Shari said “I’ve never worked so many hours for so little pay and had so much fun doing it”. The Thompson family lives and breathes the common pitfalls of a family owned and operated business. The mindset of “we’re stuck with each other” can come in to play and perhaps the family may not express their occasional frustrations as they don’t want to hurt another family member’s feelings. By and large, they have managed to work through the communication issues together. Like many family businesses, the generational gap can add some complexity and variety to family communication. Jeff and Jonathon’s generation is full of technology and social media knowledge. Their skills are critical in getting the message out in today’s changing marketplace. At the same time, Mom and Dad provide foundational support and wisdom from many years of running businesses, and Shari runs the very important function, the accounting. We questioned “what would make a family want to take on a project like this?” “What kind of mindset is necessary?” It turns out that the Thompson boys grew up in an entrepreneurial family where Mom and Dad led the way with their ventures in home building, remodeling and real estate for many years. Growing up in that environment, it became second nature to believe that they could make something of this business. “Have belief; will build”! They took what was a hobby and are growing it into an enterprise. The Thompson family is building their family legacy - together. Shaggy’s website encompasses the family’s sense of fun. It provides the flavor of the family and describes how they blend their talents and all pitch in. They see things differently and balance one another. They leverage the strengths of each person and each generation. According to John and Shari, building this business takes a lot of work, a lot of trust in who you work with, along with many laughs to get through the bumps in the road. They’re here to stay the course and are having a great time along the way. We are excited to watch this story unfold over time and we wish them all the success they are working for! See them on the web at and like them on Facebook at:

Magazine | 2014


JOANNE G I A R D I N I -R U S S E L L “If you want something that you’ve never had before, you have to do something that you’ve never done before.” - Lou Cassara

We can laugh, we can be serious, we can strategize with the best of them. I truly believe that clients and families are extremely well served with Chris Cousins and myself as their teammates. I’ve watched it play out over and over again. The clients are happy and it’s extremely rewarding work for us. If you weren’t a planner, what would you be doing? I’d have $50M and be a full time philanthropist. Nothing on this planet, to me, would be more fun than that.

Life is short, you better make it something memorable – for yourself and for others around you. Take some time to think about how you want things to play out… why not plan what you can? Why not focus on what you want? You can orchestrate a lot more than you believe that you can. Many people may not want to say that they’d like to control their legacies, but they do want to. So, what if you want to control the outcome? Start controlling and planning for more in your life – it’ll serve you and your family much better along the journey. Keep in mind, this isn’t “death planning”, this is Life Planning. Why Chris? - It’s a great fit. We both in our practices prefer to work with nice people that want to have nice lives. It doesn’t get easier than that. So, we help nice people craft nice lives! We each have our strengths that we bring to our clients world – the client is better served with our team approach.


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Did you ever think you would be a published author? Actually, yes. After getting divorced over a decade ago, I was told a number of times to ‘write a book’. I thought about it, liked the idea but never sat with my fingers to the keyboard. I think it was nice – now that I have “age” behind me – and something more to say, to take the time out to write. It was a fun process – long, but fun! The next book will be easier. I’ve always thought I’d be on the Oprah Show as well, so if anyone has any connections… What do you want people to take away from your book? - I want women to take notice and take action. If they can only do one of those? That’s fine. But, I want them to learn, to learn that this “stuff” isn’t that difficult to implement and that they have wonderful and important ideas pertaining to their families – express them. Make your ideas play out. Have yourself live on for hundreds of years…. Click HERE to purchase Joanne’s newest book, “Women and Legacy”. Visit our website to find out how you can meet Joanne at an exclusive book signing event!

CHRIS COUSINS “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference “. -Reinhold Niebuhr rock band and acoustic group – playing more often than I do now. Also, a hobby I would take up is car racing. Yeah, I know. Just what you thought.

In the work we do for clients, the emphasis has always been on helping them take a more holistic, macro economic approach to their financial decisions. Legacy is a logical extension of this mindset, bringing the discussion beyond the subject of finance to a conversation about personal and family legacy. Successive generations of families will have to handle the transfer of money from one generation to the next, having a legacy framework will be useful in this eventuality. Why Joanne? Our firm has always worked within the arenas of lifestyle and legacy. We have ensured that both of these important areas tie into our planning process with clients. When Joanne joined the firm, she brought with her a skill set that allowed us to bring this concept to a new level. Working with her has broadened our plans. If you weren’t a planner, what would you be doing? I would probably own a music store and play in a

Did you ever think you would be a published author? I am one! My last experience as a published author was in mid 2004 as part of a collective author project. The book, Masters of Success, was nationally sold and hit #1 on the Wall Street Journal best seller list in June 2004. I enjoyed the writing experience; including the interviews required to find the right story for my article, the public book signings at nationally known book stores, and finally the opportunity to give books to clients. I have enjoyed writing for a long time, but the legacy content is more a part of who I am and is now an outlet for expressing my personal values and experiences. These factors make writing even more enjoyable and rewarding. What do you want people to take away from your book? My hope is that the book helps people, of all levels of wealth, pay attention to their legacy today. We all have parts of our lives that we would do differently if given the chance. Therefore, if we have awareness of the fact that we do have a second chance in everything we do, we can be proactive and begin to shape our family and personal legacies. The ideal result of the legacy conversation could result in people working to be better versions of themselves, which can lead to great things in the world. Click HERE to purchase Chris’ newest book, “Your Living Legacy”.

Your Livin

g Legacy

The Impo rtant Conv ersation

Christophe r Cousins , ChFC ®


Magazine | 2014


MOTHER, WIFE, FRIEND, WRITER, BLOGGER..... Meet our friend “The Latchkey Mom” “It terrifies me to ask people to read what I wrote, but worse than that is the possibility that no one is reading it.”


hy do you do what you do? Because I love it. I love to write and blogging gives me an outlet for that and provides me with a “platform.” My ultimate goal is to be a published author, and research has taught me that writers today need a platform. It’s also been an incredible means to network with other moms and writers. How is it different than what you thought it would be? Honestly, I naïvely thought I’d come up with clever and thoughtful posts 2-3 times a week and my readers would come in droves and an agent would discover me and sign me to a multiple book contract. It hasn’t played out that way. It’s harder than I ever imagined. In addition to writing (and I now finally understand writer’s block), there’s an embarrassing amount of self-promotion involved - if you want to grow your readership. I regularly visit and comment on other blogs in the hopes of building a loyal tribe. I also submit essays to various sites and publications to add to my writing/blogging resume. Luckily, I have had some success with this. In addition to all the time and effort, I’ve had to face rejection and bruised feelings when other bloggers haven’t reciprocated my cyber love.


2014 | Magazine

How do you view Legacy today How has the FLC chang ed how versus 5 years ago? In leg acy you view your Legacy? Honresume terms, I can fin ally add estly, until meeting Joa nne and writer – with published proof. discussing blog topics , I didn’t More importantly, in the last give my legacy much thought. I five years our family ha s expejust wanted to be rem embered rienced quite a few hig hs and as a good person and be in a lows, and I hope the ma nner position to leave a nest egg in which I tried to hand le both for my kids – especiall y our extremes will add gra ce to my son with autism. Since I began legacy. What has been the scariest contributing to the FL C, I thing so far? Putting my self out think about my legacy in much there. I’ve been worki ng with broader terms – memo ries, traa blog consultant and she’s ditions, advice, characte r, eduurged me to be more op en and cation, material goods, fin ancial raw and that’s really ha rd for matters and all the em otions of me. I’m trying though! My first the rainbow. It’s all encompassFLC post is an example of that. ing. When you look at the future It terrifies me to ask pe ople to of The Latchkey Mom, wh at do read what I wrote, but worse you see? That’s a tough questhan that is the possibil ity tion. Honestly, I’m kin d of at a that no one is reading it. The crossroads. Recently, I’v e had self-promotion part is not fun. a number of freelance wr iting Criticism isn’t fun, eit her. assignments and, theref ore, less original material on my blog. Although I love practici ng different types of writing, it does beg the question abou t what I plan for The Latchkey Mom. Consequently, I haven’t had a lot of free time to work on my manuscript, which de feats the original purpose of my blog. There’s also the debate about monetizing a blog. Do I go that route with sponsored po sts Allie is not only the Latchk and advertisers? Do I have the she is also a contributing ey Mom, boo numbers to do that? I’m er at Chick Lit Central and k reviewattenda at My Forsyth Magazine. columnist ing two blogger conferences Her writing has also been published this fall, so hopefully I’ll have Mommy and the Huffingtoat Scary n Post. Be a clearer picture (and be sure to follow Allie’s blog tter at… answer) after that. www.TheLatchkeyMom .com

You meet people in the strangest places. Not in my wildest dreams (and I dream wild, believe me) would I have imagined that giving a eulogy would lead to a writing gig. But, here I am!

Legacy Guest post by The Latchkey Mom March 03, 2014 I was contacted by the co-founder of the Family Legacy Center, who heard me deliver a eulogy and started following my blog. After reading my posts for a while, she said that my blog could end up being a part of my legacy. This got me to wondering about what determines our legacy. My blog is all about my family and me, and will leave few questions about who I am, which might be good - or it might be bad. It’s all in the interpretation. My own experience has taught me that what you don’t know about a person can be just as important to legacy as what you do know.

“You may know what you want your legacy to be, but you’ll never have control over how it’s interpreted.” Recently, I lost someone I love very much, my brother, who left quite a legacy. He enjoyed life and lived it loudly. Apparently my eulogy brought down the house, because everybody was laughing – and he would have loved it. Funny thing is, I don’t remember what I said! I just made some notes and spoke from the heart about the brother I knew. Since actions speak louder than words, I shared some over-the-top stories that were so typical of him. As he would always say, “It is what it is.” Because my children are so young, my greatest fear is that they’ll forget him, so I talk about him often. So often that we occasionally forget he’s no longer here. The loss is fresh and his legacy is still evolving. However, I’m certain that it’ll consist of courage, patriotism, loyalty, kindness, passion for the Red Sox, and the tendency to live life on the edge. When a person dies too young and/or unexpectedly, their legacy may also be about lost opportunities. I lost my mother when I was young, before I was old enough to be curious about her life prior to marriage and motherhood. I didn’t ask questions. Honestly, I’m not sure I really knew her. I was able to put some pieces together, through talking to family and looking at old photo albums. But oh, what I would have given for a journal – or better yet.....

Read the rest of this blog post by visitng our website HERE. Magazine | 2014



of the

Each month we like to take the time to introduce one of our friends and colleagues, who help us to “Do What We Do”. This is one of our favorite features, as it highlights those who we have come to know, respect, refer to and lean on for support.


James G. Wald

Jim Wald is an attorney licensed to practice law in the state of Michigan. For more than fifteen years Jim has dedicated his practice primarily to estate planning, special needs planning, estate and trust administration and litigation, guardianships and conservatorships, elder law, and veterans benefits. Jim also practices in the areas of real estate and business law. When we meet with new clients, we talk about estate planning. “Have you done any estate planning? When was the last time you reviewed your documents? Has anything in your world changed that would require you to do so?” This is where our estate planning attorney partners come in. This area of a family’s world is so very important that we must look for, understand and listen to the family. Both are a key component in getting the type of plan done that is meaningful to you and your family. Recently, we held a “Trustees 101” event at Oak Pointe Country Club in Brighton, MI and Jim was our featured speaker. We felt that it was very informative and thank Jim for his expert advice and knowledge that we all got the chance to absorb! We all learned so much and can’t wait to have an event like that again soon! On a personal note, Jim is married to Jan, has two cats and plays the guitar like you wouldn’t believe! We enjoy working with Jim and know you will as well. Jim maintains his office in downtown Brighton. Although he concentrates his practice in Livingston County, Jim also represents clients in Oakland, Wayne, Washtenaw, and Macomb counties, and is available to meet his clients in their homes or other locations convenient to his clients. Contact Jim at: 517-518-0576 /

10 2014 | Magazine

Coming Soon

The Winter Issue

What are ethical wills?

Learn more about these rather simple tools that can make a big impact on you and your family.

Our Featured Legacy Meet two phenomenal women that have intertwined their business AND their charitable endeavors – with an extremely successful result!

Meet Our Team

Joanne and Chris explain why legacy based conversations are important to their work - learn how it can affect your family.

Friends of The FLC Introducing Terri Singer, our referral partner spotlight.

Any suggestions as to what you’d like to read about? Email us at: Magazine | 2014 11

“Helping families feel safer and happier, one Legacy at a time.”

© The Family Legacy Center FLC, LLC 2014 39395 W. Twelve Mile Rd. Farmington Hills, MI 48331

12 2014 | Magazine

Profile for Joanne Giardini-Russell

The Family Legacy Center Quarterly - Fall 2014  

Explore your family's legacy with the new Family Legacy Center magazine.

The Family Legacy Center Quarterly - Fall 2014  

Explore your family's legacy with the new Family Legacy Center magazine.

Profile for jgrussell