Want Early and Ad-Free Episodes? How about Bonus Content with Former Guests? Check out the Patreon Tab!
May 16, 2023

Entrepreneurship, Family, and Mental Health: Learning Life Lessons from Tragedy | Larry Sprung

In this episode, entrepreneur and financial expert Larry Sprung shares his journey of overcoming loss and tragedy in his family to help others. Larry's experiences taught him valuable lessons about the importance of mental health and seeking help when needed.

“If you're walking down the street and there's a pebble on the ground, and you pick up the pebble, and you put it right here up against your eye. It looks like a boulder. You're never gonna get around it. But if you take that same pebble and you put it out at arm's length and then you look at it, you're like, well, it's just a pebble. I could get around that thing”

Apple Podcasts podcast player badge
Spotify podcast player badge
Goodpods podcast player badge
Podchaser podcast player badge
YouTube Channel podcast player badge
Google Podcasts podcast player badge
PocketCasts podcast player badge
RSS Feed podcast player badge

In this episode, entrepreneur and financial expert Larry Sprung shares his journey of overcoming loss and tragedy in his family to help others. Larry's experiences taught him valuable lessons about the importance of mental health and seeking help when needed.

“If you're walking down the street and there's a pebble on the ground, and you pick up the pebble, and you put it right here up against your eye. It looks like a boulder. You're never gonna get around it. But if you take that same pebble and you put it out at arm's length and then you look at it, you're like, well, it's just a pebble. I could get around that thing”


Larry's mother's battle with cancer instilled a level of fight and battle in him. He also shares how his brother-in-law's suicide reinforced the idea that life is short and that if we're not healthy, the outcomes could be detrimental. As a result, Larry became passionate about raising awareness for mental health, serving on the National Board of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention for over 12 years and raising over $1.7 million through the Keith Milano Memorial Fund with his wife, Denise.


Larry encourages others to prioritize relationships and family and to create a life by design, not by default.


Larry Sprung is the founder and wealth advisor at Mitlin Financial, Inc® www.mitlinfinancial.com and the host of the Mitlin Money Mindset™ Podcast www.mitlinmoneymindset.com. He has been named an Investopedia Top 10 Advisor and has received several other industry recognitions. Outside of work, Larry volunteers through Family Reach, providing pro-bono financial planning services to those dealing with a cancer diagnosis. He values his family tremendously and strives to do right by his wife and two sons.


Purchase Larry’s New Book: https://www.mitlinfinancial.com/financial-planning-made-personal/


Connect on Social:






Get access to ad-free episodes released two days early and bonus episodes with past guests through Patreon.https://patreon.com/thelifeshiftpodcast


Connect with me:

Instagram: www.instagram.com/thelifeshiftpodcast

Facebook: www.facebook.com/thelifeshiftpodcast

YouTube: https://bit.ly/thelifeshift_youtube

Twitter: www.twitter.com/thelifeshiftpod

Website: www.thelifeshiftpodcast.com


Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.



Hello, my friends, welcome to the Life Shift podcast. I am here with a connection. Larry. Hey, Larry. Hey, how are you? I am good. And I have told people this before, this has been the most fulfilling journey that I've ever been on and anything that I've created and because people like you either reach out and like, hey, I have a story that I'd love to share so that your audience, you know, can, can connect with or feel less alone. And I think the, the moments that you're going to share in today's episode, I think are very relatable and I think both situations, a lot of people might feel like they're the only ones going through it. And so, you know, having you on the show and others like you to just trust me enough to come on and have this conversation is really fulfilling in my own like selfish podcasting journey. So thanks again for being here. Yeah, my pleasure. Listen, I get asked all the time. You know, what, what's your R O I on your podcast? And you know, what's the return of, what do you get out of it? And I like you know, for me it's not even a financial aspect. 

I really just enjoy talking to cool people and hearing their stories. It's, it's uh inspiring. I get good ideas and in some cases I get to speak with people that ordinarily if I didn't have the podcast would probably never have a conversation with me. But because I have a podcast, they do. So, it, it's a great outlet and if I don't make uh a red cent from it or ascent from it, I should say, um it really doesn't matter to me, which is, which is a little bit ironic since you are in the financial space and help people build wealth and, and use their money wisely. So it's interesting that, that you also find this value that's not tied to money because I think so many of us are conditioned to everything. 

Must have some kind of return on it. That's financial. And I've also found the same thing on the podcast. People are like, why do you, why do you do it, you know, are you make, do you have sponsors? Do you have ads? And I was like, well, eventually maybe, but for right now it's really filling my cup in these ways. 

And, and so I'm glad to hear that you also find that even with your Midland Money Mindset podcast, kind of more focused on entrepreneurial people and people making or tips on how to use their money wisely. Is that is that correct? Is that what you guys talk about? 

Yeah, we talk about money. I have cool entrepreneurs with great stories. We talk a lot about mental health on it. Um, and I have uh a number of sports, uh, you know, figures, athletes, uh team owners, you know, and Matt, one of the last question we ask all of our guests on my show and it's not all about the money. 

It's also about joy. And the last question we ask is, what did you do today that brought you joy and put you in the right mindset for success. And, you know, although a lot of times the financial aspects of things are very important, um as you know, your listeners can see, I have a book coming out in April of this year 2023 it's called Financial Planning, Made Personal. Uh what did you do today that brought you joy or, you know, and it's about joy and it's, you know, it's part financial, but you also have to be getting joy out of what you're doing. And uh one of the things I talk about a lot is, you know, people go to advisors and have their uh budget ready, right? And the advisor goes and looks at it and if the uh family actually puts a budget together because sometimes they're hesitant in doing that because advisors have a tendency to do what I call expense shame. 

They look at the budget and then say, oh, well, you shouldn't be spending on this. And one of the easiest samples is, you know, you see a line item of $567 a day on Starbucks. Right. Who am I to say that you shouldn't be spending that money on Starbucks. 

Maybe you get a lot of joy from that cup of coffee every day that you can't put a monetary value on. So I, I think financial planning is very personal and for an advisor to say, oh, well, you know, if you took that $6 a day and you put it in a rough ira for the next 30 years, you'd have, you know, $45,000 more towards retirement. Ok, great. But maybe I don't make it to retirement, which kind of tie into our conversation today. 

Maybe I'm getting a lot of joy out of that today. And I think that some that is something that has a tendency to get forgotten by a lot of uh advisers out there. I, I think that's a fantastic approach. I think I, I can identify with that. That budget shame. I know this isn't what we're talking about, but I think that, you know, I can imagine people are coming in and sometimes probably even lying about what's, you know, on their budget that they didn't put on that sheet to bring in because, oh, should I spend money on, you know, Netflix or should I go to the movies every once in a while or you know, entertainment. Am I spending too much? 

So, it's, that's awesome that you're putting that book together and, and reminding people that life is to be lived and you know, we do have to take care of our money, but also we have to take care of ourselves, which involves mental health and finding that joy. So I think that's fantastic. Thank you. And by the time this comes out the book is out, so there will be a link in the show notes so people can check out that book as well. And congratulations to you. Thank you. Appreciate it, man. So to get into your story today, I think uh the best thing I like my guest to do is kind of paint the picture of kind of what your life was like leading up to that, that first kind of trigger in your life that that shifted you kind of on a different trajectory uh in your, in your story. 

Yeah, I mean, thank you for letting me share this. And you know, my, my life was probably no different than any other uh kid who was growing up in a uh in a suburban neighborhood. Um You know, in terms of my family, well wise, we were not, you know, super wealthy, we weren't, you know, rich. Uh we weren't poor either. We were really middle class. 

My, I came from a family where my dad was a, a high school teacher. He taught in the high school that he graduated from. Uh, and my mom was a stay at home mom. 

She, uh you know, was a big influence in, in my life. And, uh my dad, in addition to being a teacher, he also did, you know, side gigs before, I guess side gigs were called side gigs or even cool. Uh, he, you know, would teach in, in college doing night classes for extra uh income. And then he also had a business that he had started when my sister and I were kids where he basically created like a snack food line that he would package on his own and distribute to colleges. 

So, you know, I, I, I had a little bit of an entrepreneurial background from that and uh I was always an outgoing kid really enjoying, you know, my childhood, I, I was an athlete and then, you know, when I was about 11, 12 or years old or so, my mom was diagnosed with cancer and, you know, being a kid at that point, you don't really think about somebody passing away. But when you hear cancer, it's, it's something that's really concerning at that point. And, you know, I can truthfully say that it was probably one if not the only time up until that point that I've ever seen my dad cry when he uh delivered us that news that my mom was uh was sick. And, um, you know, without going into the, my whole story. 

But, you know, she ended up passing away at the age of 47. She fought valiantly for about 13 or 14 years. And ultimately, she passed away after my, uh, the day after my 23rd birthday. So that was, that really had an impact on me, uh, growing up and, and impacted me at an early age about how I looked at life and how, you know, I thought about things and how I was going to live my life in terms of career, in terms of relationships, in terms of looking at uh who I would be partnered with in marriage and, and how I would want to raise a family and, and how I would want that to look. So that was really the first instance that really started to shape my view about really everything in the future. And uh you know, it really has an impact when you're that young and you see a parent and a family going through those types of struggles. 

Yeah, it's interesting because when you said that you, that was like the one time or the first time that you saw your father cry is when he had to deliver that news, I instantly think of my own moment. And when my mom died, I was eight and my dad had to do the same thing and he still to this day, I'm in my forties now. Still to this day says that is the hardest thing that he's ever had to put words to, to someone. And I can kind of just empathize with how your, your dad felt at that moment in time. 

It's, it's, it's super impactful. Do you think that your mom passing started to make you think about, you know, life being short or, or did it start earlier when you knew she had cancer? And you did, you, were you someone, I guess the question is really as a teen? Were you someone that, you know, this, you understood that this could be something more serious or did you think she was just gonna kick its butt? Oh, yeah. I mean, listen, it changed me from day one. It didn't take until my mom ended up passing to kind of reframe my thought process and my thinking about life. 

Um, I, I think at, at the age I, I knew, I don't know, I can't speak for other kids but I felt like it was something that, you know, was pretty much gonna be certain at that point because remember she was sick in the, uh, you know, I guess it was in the nineties, you know, around their late eighties, early nineties. So, you know, at that point there weren't the treatments that they had now, you know, today and in my view it was something that was gonna be fatal. It was just, it wasn't a matter of if it was a matter of when, at that point, uh, obviously you always kind of think and hold on to that hope that there would be a cure or something would uh impact the situation so that, uh there would, you know, she would be cured and she was a huge fighter. I mean, she instilled a level of uh battle and fight in me just watching her uh through, go through that battle with cancer that has stuck with me, you know, through today. So I really felt it was gonna be a fatal situation. It's just a matter of not if it was a matter of when. Yeah. Do you feel that it shaded your teen years in a way that there was a impending doom coming or were you able to kind of do the quote unquote normal teenage life? Because I can't imagine. 

I mean, when my grandmother was diagnosed, I was older, I was in my thirties and it was a different experience. I had already lost my mother. So I can't really relate. But as a, as a teenager, do you feel that that did it allow you to be a teenager? 

I, I feel like I had a, you know, a quote unquote, normal teenage years and childhood. I, I did, uh, and I do and I, I think part of that was because of my mom's, you know, inherent, you know, battle and fight and, you know, it definitely changed my views about started changing my views about things. I think I also grew up a lot quicker than some, uh, kids that were my age in terms of, I had a si, you know, I have a sister that's four years younger than me. So I had to, you know, to some degree I felt like I had to be strong for her and a beacon for her as well and, and, and be there because one of the things that's, you know, definitely been uh a shaping factor for me is the fact that, you know, watching my dad juggle all of these things. 

You know, he, as I mentioned, he was a teacher, he did night school, he had this business and now you throw in the fact that my mom was ill and, you know, they had a loving relationship, married for 20 plus years. At that point, it was just an added, you know, I hate to use the word burden, but it was an added thing that he had to be concerned with now and he did a great job taking care of her and making sure everything was, you know, was uh as good as it could be for her. Uh But at the same time I saw him struggle with that. So I felt like as the oldest child in the family that I had to pitch in and kind of grow up a little bit maybe quicker than I wanted to or should or most people that are, you know, kids that are teenagers normally do if you will. Yeah. And so when you were 20, the day after your 23rd birthday, is that what you said you were 23, in I'm assuming close to the end of college or some part of college or around that age. 

I was, I was out of school for about a year or so at that point. And how did that when she passed, what changed in your life besides obviously the big loss of your mother? Yeah. So I, if I could just bring you backwards like uh six or eight months, I, I ended up, uh you know, coming out of college working in a financial services firm right out of the gate in, uh you know, at the end of my uh college years spent a year at the firm that I was at and I ended up separating with them, uh the year later. So around June July of uh, you know, 1997 and I made a decision that I wasn't going to go back and find another job right away. 

I actually uh decided to come back home and I spent several months with my mom just, you know, not working but being available. I tried to do some kind of part time work just to have some income, but uh was with her through her passing in that October, uh which to me was invaluable time that I will never forget and I will take with me. And it was probably the best thing that ever happened to me in terms of separating from that employer. Uh because it gave me that time that obviously I will never be able to get back. So, you know, that, that definitely shaped me and then, you know, upon her passing, you know, I ended up in a situation where I obviously realized and knew that I had to get back into, you know, working and kind of more of the, the normal routine if you will. And I have a, had a friend of mine that was starting a firm uh out here on Long Island where I'm located and it was an interesting thing. 

It, it's a very long and complicated story, but the, the law, the short version is we ended up uh going out to Colorado. We were supposed to be out there for three days. This was literally probably within a month after my mom's passing. And I was like, all right, let's go to Colorado. 

Sounds like a good place, go there for three days, get away, ended up there for several months. Um But it was, it was great. It gave me an experience that I never would, you know, to some degree, I feel like it probably was me, you know, looking back now as an adult on that situation, not that I was an adult now, but maybe a wiser adult today. It was probably, it was probably me running away from the situation more than anything else and kind of just, uh, keeping myself busy. But it's also time that I would never, uh, you know, I, I don't regret it. It was, it was a time that I got to go out experience different things. 

I had never been out of really New York for the most part. So it, it gave me great opportunities that uh and friendships that have still stuck with me today. I was, I was gonna ask, do you feel that you were equipped with how to grieve the loss of your mother at that age? I know it's, it's pretty young and we're talking nineties here. So a lot of people weren't talking about mental health and, and whatnot. Do you feel that you were equipped or do you feel like you were able to grieve her in a, in the way that served you best? Probably not. I mean, again, this is all in retrospect right now, looking as an older wiser adult back on those years. Uh Probably not. I probably did what a lot of uh people do, especially men, which is, I probably pushed it down and, and said, hey, I'm gonna plug, you know, plug through this and to some degree, I modeled my mom. My mom was tough, you know, she was a warrior and I was like, you know what? 

I, I'm gonna tough this out Um but um you know, looking back now, you know, probably was not equipped but I will tell you this, between family, friends, good relationships that I had built uh over the years. Uh It, it, they, they were invaluable to me and definitely helpful in that uh in that grieving process and, and going through that, I asked that because in my own experience losing my mother, I was, I was significantly younger than you were. But looking back as this semi wiser version of myself, uh I realized that the people around me were not equipped to help me. And I certainly wasn't equipped because I was a kid. And so the people around me were not equipped and much of it was like, let's make him happy. 

You know, he's a kid, let's take him to Disney, let's buy him gifts, let's drown him in the joy part of it, which really stunted my experience of, of grieving. And it took me a very long time to, to finally what I say, close the door on grief for my mother. And so that's kind of where that question comes from is that, you know, at 20 something, I don't know, you know, does, does a 20 something year old have an understanding of grief? But you're to your point, we're not equipped, but also men tend to have to be the quote unquote strong one in some way or we feel like we have to be and So, yeah. And, and I think Matt, the other thing is I think in my situation I can't speak for others. Right. And I'm not sure exactly how your situation played out with your mom. But it wasn't like I woke up one day and my mom had passed. Right. I had basically a ten-year window give or take a few years to kind of reconcile this, you know, that day. 

So, you know, we're always surprised when we lose that person whenever that day is. But the reality in her situation was I really had a, a 10 year period of time to kind of come to grips that this day was coming, you know, it wasn't like a total shock at that at that point. So I, I think that that kind of also uh helped me get through that situation um and not have to worry about it or be as concerned about it in that moment, right? But it also you said that it made you start to or kind of that journey towards her final passing. It, it started to make you kind of set priorities or the things that you wanted to occur in your life, uh in career, family, all those things, how did that play out? Did it? Were you able to intentionally drive towards those things? Oh, listen, I, I basically made it uh you know, inherent core values, you know, uh you know, for example, a couple of things, right? 

My family always would come first. And those relationships that I had close to me would always come first because I learned that life was short, right? I wanted to be successful. 

I wanted to have income and, and, and, you know, grow a legacy that I'd be able to potentially pass on to my next generation. But I was never going to do that at the cost of those relationships or my friends and family. So as I got older and I met my wife and then we started having kids, you know, a lot of those values still stuck with me at that point in time, you know, uh exam, you know, direct examples are one I wanted to create a, a firm. Number one, I didn't want to be beholden to an employer. Uh That was 12, uh you know, when I first started my practice and it was just me, I had an office that was about 25 miles from my house at that point. And on a good day, it would take me 40 minutes to get there on a bad day. It could be an hour and a half. And I said, you know what, when my kids were about, uh you know, very young. 

My, my uh my, you know, my oldest was about to enter school. I circled the 10 mile radius around my house and said I am going to find an office within that 10 mile radius because I want to be there and be available so I can see those things that he's gonna experience and experience it with him. So, if he had something going on at school, I wanted to be able to pop out of the office, go see him and come back to the office if need be, um, you know, so that during the summers when my kids were little, I started taking Fridays off, uh, you know, during the summer to spend with them. And, uh, you know, uh, as they got older I did more. So what happened was, I think I started first, I took all the Fridays in July and then I noticed that business was still relatively the same. And then I started July and August. Then I started half of June, July and August and we have families till today that still call on a Friday in the summer and they'll get me on the phone now and they're like, wait, I thought you'd take Fridays off. 

Um, and I said, well, I don't do it anymore because my kids are out and about doing their own thing. But, you know, we were very open about telling families that I wouldn't be in the office Friday because I'm a family guy. So, a lot of these things that I went through at a young age. Yeah, they're still instilled and, you know, if I'm, I'm given the option, you know, to have a business meeting at seven o'clock, let's say, in the evening. And my son has a hockey game that I can either attend in person or watch being streamed because he's living out of town. 

Uh, I'm gonna tell the family that I can't meet with them that day and that's gonna come first and, and I think that that is something that a lot of the families we work with appreciate. Um, and it's not something that's an detractor from working with us. It's actually an attractor. 

So, you know, all throughout my life, that's kind of been the lens that I um you know, put all decision making. Uh you know, decisions through is that family first kind of mentality and you feel that that was triggered because you lost your mother or your mom was so young when she passed and kind of it, it made you think, ok, I need to be intentional about this and spend more time with my family. Yeah, not even her passing. I mean, that, that was definitely the end result. I think just the fact that she was even sick and that, you know, for example, my dad didn't have the time or the ability to come to all my hockey games or all my sister's soccer games. 

Not because he didn't want to, not because he didn't want to be there. He didn't have time. He was either working or he was caring for my mom, taking her to doctors or what have you and he was doing what he had to do. And I, you know, that's, that's what he had to do. So I think not even the fact that she passed was that trigger, but seeing his inability to do that just because of the illness really said to me, hey, if I'm healthy and good and if we all have our health, that's all we need then and I'm gonna make sure that I'm there and present for all those things because, you know, you only get one pass at this and, uh, you know, I wanted to make sure that I'd be available in there. And if it meant not growing the business as fast, not being as successful as fast, then that, that was fine for me. 

That was AAA give or take that I was willing to uh to partake in. I just think of myself at 20 something. I think of a lot of people at 20 something that just don't have these core values set or they do, but they're not as intentional about making them happen. And so I commend you on that because I think a lot of things could happen when, when someone has faced that and seen all that and you chose the path that would, would serve you well, but also serve your family. 

Well, I just think of, I mean, I teach at a local college here and I, I have a lot of students in their twenties that are, that don't yet have the direction or don't yet know exactly what their priorities are. And so it's, there's something to be said about how you absorbed that journey that you went through, uh, as a teenager and into your twenties and what you did with it because it's, I don't know that it's common. Yeah, I, I appreciate it and listen, I give all the credit to my dad and mom. 

You know, they, they, they were really the role models that kind of showed me and, and, and looked at that, you know, listen, I had, I had similar, you know, I, I remember having conversations with my dad, how I want, talking to him when I was really little, hey, I wanna be rich. I want to have a lot of money and he was like, you know, that's all well and good. But remember, you know, you know, it doesn't matter if we had a lot of money, your mom's health situation would be the same and, you know, they were really good role models and, and goal oriented and, you know, my mom always encouraged me to reach for the stars. So I, you know, I give the credit to them because I think they were a tremendous influence on me. I don't think I inherently said, hey, this is the way I want to be. 

I think that they had a lot of influence on who I am today, just like, uh my wife and I are having a strong influence on our, how our kids are today. And, you know, as, you know, that's probably how, you know, things happen in family cycles and when you see history kind of repeating itself in a family, that's usually where it's coming from, from instilling, you know, whether it's good values and, and good, you know, options and good mindset or on the other side, you know, not a great mindset. Both of those have lasting impacts and things that we have to think about when we're interacting and, and talking and, and modeling for our, for our Children. And, you know, I think I had great role models, definitely. 

I mean, it sounds like you did, but I would also give yourself credit for absorbing that and using it in a way that serves you best as well because I think there are a lot of people that have well intentioned parents that do a lot of those things and they still don't follow through. So take some of that. I think some of that is, is you're, you're deserving of and it's wonderful to hear that you're, you're instilling that in your kids and you're seeing the product of that, that they're following through and kind of creating these healthy cycles, I would say. So that's, I think there's a piece of a piece of you, they can, you know, be proud of that particular aspect that you, that you took what your parents taught you. I know a lot of people that don't listen to their parents even though their parents were very well intentioned and, and did the things that you describe as well. I know you mentioned there was another part of your life that really influence kind of what you're doing now even more. So maybe you can kind of tell us a little bit about that pivotal moment. Yeah. So about 19 years ago, September 2004, uh I was kind of reminded about all these core values that we're talking about, you know, life being short and, and, you know, spending time with family and close relationships. Uh when we lost my brother-in-law, my wife's brother uh to suicide after a uh a long battle with bipolar disorder. 

And, uh you know, although a different situation, uh you know, it was another reinforcement that, hey, you know, life is short and if we're not healthy, uh you know, the outcomes could be, you know, uh you know, detrimental and, uh, you know, that was like my second entree into saying at that point what I had done between, you know, graduating and my mom's passing to that point. This just reinforced that and almost had me doubling down on those same values and, and refocusing uh in areas that maybe I wasn't, um you know, refocusing on that because his passing was definitely eye opening. Um But at the same time, we've learned a lot from it. Uh, we've turned his passing into a lot of good, you know, I think that families, when you go through events like these, whatever, whatever they are, you know, you're faced with a decision, you can either kind of crumble up in a ball and, and, uh, you know, just be, uh, a reactive to it or, and absorb it or you could be proactive and kind of go out there and do something about it. And my wife and I decided that we were gonna be proactive and we weren't going to let him go quietly and we've become mental health advocates. 

We've learned a lot about the mental health uh space. Uh We've raised a lot of money for mental health. Uh I've sat on the board for 12 years plus of the American Foundation for suicide Prevention. Uh Currently, I'm still on their finance and investment committees. Um And it's a lifelong uh partnership in terms of working with that organization and helping people uh because of the experiences we had and have um we're very open about it. 

We talk about it openly about his struggles about what we went through as a family and how we, you know, what we've turned this into. So we become de facto resources for people in our local community and those that we're connected with, even through social media and, and the greater community at large. And we have people reaching out to us, you know, to help navigate. 

You know, I'm going through this for my brother or my nephew. What do I do? Where do I go? And we, you know, we're not mental health professionals, we're not doctors, but we can just share our experience and our knowledge with these people. And I say all the time, you know, all the good that we've done all the money that we've raised is awesome. It is. But we know from some of those interactions that we've had with people and guiding them in the right direction, we've uh really saved lives. And that to me is worth, you know, worth negating all the money and all the other stuff. Uh If you will, it's been tremendously rewarding to know that we've had an impact in, you know, people who are here today that were struggling 1 to 5 years ago and, you know, now they're lead, leading healthy lives because they were able to navigate it, figure it out and, uh and work through, uh and work with their uh their struggles. 

It's, it's so impressive because you made the point that so many people that would face something similar to this, a tragic event in their life. It's a lot easier to crumble and, and fall apart than it is to use that as a trigger to help other people. And, you know, like you said, you kind of double down on those core values that you had from your parents. And then from the experience that you had with your mom, I mean, that's, that's amazing. 

You are saving lives by, through your devastating experience. And in some kind of like, tiny little way, I always hope that the stories that people share on the life shift podcast are kind of like someone feels less alone. They feel like, oh, I'm not the only one that's gone through that and they're doing well now or they, they found that space. And so just hearing this story on this episode, I hope people can just hear that and then realize there are resources like what you and your wife have created for people to, you know, to get help or not necessarily in the, in the, in the doctor space. But you know, you probably have connections that are and listen just to, just to be clear, I mean, no disrespect to those people that crumble up in a ball and, and, you know, I don't know how to face it. 

There's, there's no difference between me and them. The only difference is how we process what's going on. My point for those folks are, if you're in that situation is to encourage them to find some help. 

You know, there, there are people out there, there are uh uh mental health professionals therapists that can help you work through those. You don't have to turn it into this lifesaving mission or fundraising, but just get yourself in a way that you can operate on a day to day basis. And I think, you know, what we try to impart upon people is what you're saying, which is seeking help is not a sign of weakness. 

It's actually a sign of strength. And if you're going through it, there are plenty of others that are going through it as, as well. And I think to some degree, the mental health space has been fraught with misunderstanding in terms of people have a, have a tendency to align that if they go seek mental health help or a therapist, that that's something they're gonna have to do for the rest of their lives. And that's not necessarily the case. 

We all go through events in our lives that we can all benefit from a mental health professional and it may be a month long engagement, it may be six months, but it doesn't have to be this lifelong process. Some people it is don't get me wrong and that and that's fine, but not every situation is we have stressors in our lives that we've never dealt with. We don't know how to and therapists and mental health professionals work really well. I mean, you think about some of the most successful people um depending on how you define success or the most well known people like athletes or actors, these folks have people at their beck and call especially athletes with the mental health, uh you know, uh mental um performance, uh you know, they get into slumps and a lot of it is, you know, up here, it's not that they're not physically ready or physically prepared. It's up here. So if they're utilizing that tool to get over a hump, why can't we, why shouldn't we? 

So, uh it doesn't have to be this lifelong commitment. It may just be, hey, I need some help to process the grieving of my mother, my grandmother, my, this situation and, and getting past that and there's, there's no weakness in asking for and getting help. And that's really the message we want to put out there. Right? I mean, the same thing, if you have a physical ailment, you go to a doctor, that's not always a lifelong thing. 

That can be a certain period of time or it could be a lifelong thing. And I think we're getting closer to people understanding that mental health is as if not more important than physical health. Um, because they're all kind of tied together because we're humans. 

And, and so I, I, I don't, I don't want to shame anyone else either for crumbling into a ball after something like that because let's be honest, something tragic like that warrants in some way, a breakdown. And my, my and me, my experience is I spent a lot of time in that crumpled up stage and until I was ready, you know, and I saw other people doing what I wanted to do then I found the help that I needed and I was able to pull myself out of that space. And so I don't think there's anything wrong with, with not starting an, uh, you know, a fundraiser or any of these things that you've done with your wife. And, but I think it's, it's fantastic what you have done with it. 

You know, I just, we need more, we need more people to understand that. If you go for your physical every year, it's, it's ok if you need to do a little mental health maintenance every year as well, you know, just to touch base, there's, it's so important and, and I love that, that you're doing that with the experience that you had, especially because it is, I guess, you know, I, you think about people dying of cancer that seems common, unfortunately, right? It feels like everyone can, can accept that at some point that, that that happens. But suicide still seems taboo in a way to talk about. So the reality is, and, you know, after my mom's passing, I was very involved with breast cancer and raising money for that until I lost my brother-in-law. And then I was doing some research and learned that we lose uh almost an exact equal number of women to breast cancer as we do people to suicide. 

It's almost like 40,000 women took breast cancer and 40,000 to suicide. So that said to me, and if you look at the funding that breast cancer gets versus suicide. It's, it's, you know, suicide is a fraction of that. And the reality is, you know, to your point is the person who has cancer and the person who's having mental health struggles and these are more longer term mental health struggles. 

There's really no difference. It's the same one has a disease that's attacking their body uh through cells and one has a disease of the brain that they cannot process things on a day to day basis in the way that you or I could, right? If you or I go through stressors, uh or I, I guess a better example would be my brother-in-law, right? If my brother-in-law and I were given the same stressor when he was alive, his brain would process that stressor a lot differently than I would. 

Maybe I would blow it off. Maybe I would figure a way around it for him. It may become a consuming thing that, you know, makes him feel anxious or issues with. 

Really, that's the only difference is the way that our brain functions. So there's no difference between me and somebody who has cancer. The difference is their cancer cells are morphed. Mine aren't difference between me and somebody with a mental health issue is my brain is functioning, you know, as properly as I guess it should be and theirs is not functioning as it should be. It's the same, it's the same thing but we have this kind of roadblock on the mental health space and, and to your point again, I think things, you know, definitely since my brother-in-law's passing 19 years ago, almost, things are definitely better than where we were back then. Ok. But we still have a long way to go and, and that's fine. We'll get there. It's just with conversations like this, it's super helpful to uh to pushing that down the path to uh to equalizing them. Right? And you know what I think? 

I don't know, I don't, I haven't done the research that you've probably done, but I would imagine that a majority of human beings face some sort of mental health issue. I don't know what we want to say at some point in their life. Maybe not as drastic as some. But I think, and just as we take care of our bodies through what we eat and exercise and those kind of things, I think we need to take care of our brain as well and, and pieces that come along with that. No doubt, no doubt. 

We, we talk a lot with our families about the three legged stool, which is uh financial health, physical health and mental health. And if you think about them, they're very interrelated and very interconnected. If you're suffering in one area, it's gonna cause issue in the other. If you, if you don't feel financially secure, you're not gonna take care of your physical health, which is gonna impact your mental health. If your mental health isn't, you know, in prime shape, you're maybe not taking care of your physical or your financial, they all have to be addressed and, and maintained in a similar fashion. Personally. Did you find after this, this just popped into my head after your mother died? Did you find yourself more focused on your physical health at all? And then when your, when your brother-in-law passed, did you kind of think about mental health more? Like, was there a, did you kind of hone in on anything? 

I feel like I would. But I was curious if you did. Yeah, I don't know. 

You know, it's hard to, it's hard for me to kind of go back all the way to when my mom passed. You know, being 23, I was still playing hockey, then I was in good shape. I, I was, I was never in a position where I was like, overweight. 

I was usually underweight. I was a tall, skinny guy. Um, you know, after my brother-in-law is passing, you know, mental health was definitely, uh, something that I honed in on and I, I, I think I was a little bit more in tune too and we paid a lot more attention. My oldest was about a year and a half old when, uh, when Keith passed. 

And, uh, my youngest wasn't born at that point, but, you know, we definitely made it a point to have mental health as a conversation uh for them, uh throughout, throughout their childhoods. Um And to this day, you know, it's something that they feel very comfortable and open talking about and, you know, it's got to be age appropriate. When, you know, a kid's two years old, you're not talking about suicide and, you know, bipolar disorder. But, you know, you talk about in terms of disease of the brain and, you know, talking about your feelings and things like that and as they get older, you can change and adjust the conversation. 

Uh, but you know, to, to that point, you know, like my older son has been on the phone with people he's known at school who were struggling and having issues and he's been, you know, he stayed on the phone with somebody till three or four o'clock in the morning, uh, who was a gal who was thinking about harming herself. And when he said, why aren't you having this conversation with your parents? Uh, you know, the, the response was, they won't listen to me. 

They think that I just need to get my head straight and figure it out and that's not what you want because that's what leads to, uh, you know, bad results. You want to be able to have that open and honest conversation. So it's, it's definitely impacted how we talk about it in our house and we've been very, uh very, uh, you know, intentional about having those conversations with our kids from a very young age. That, I mean, that's fantastic. I mean, you're raising, it sounds like you're raising some, some young adults or are they fully formed adults at this point? Yeah. I mean, our job is to raise good humans. 

That, that was, that's like my wife and I, uh, uh, you know, mantra, you know, that's, our job is not to be their best friend. Our job is not to do everything they want. We need to raise good humans. So my two boys, you know, right now are almost 20 and almost 17. 

And, uh, you know, they're doing very well for themselves. You know, my oldest son's in college, he plays, uh, hockey at a collegiate level if in Philly and my, my younger son moved away at the age of 15 to follow his hockey passion and lives in Minnesota and, uh, is playing hockey at a very high level. So they, you know, they're both in great shape and in, in good position. So we're, we're excited to see where it goes from here. Do you think that again, this is just going to be my ignorance and you're more in the space of mental health and working on suicide prevention and stuff? Do you think that a lot of people that, that come to need help or family members of people? 

Is it, is it a kind of a thing where it's until it happens to you. Are you seeing that a lot in which you don't really understand until, unfortunately something rough happens in your life or in a life of someone around you? You mean for, for suicide in particular? Yeah. Or, I mean, any kind of mental health do you think people don't understand until, until it happens to them in some capacity? 

I mean, that's a good question. I, I'm not sure. I, I think we all, you know, including myself, we all have mental health struggles along the way. 

Um, I, I think the problem is, you know, we've been kind of programmed to, you know, push through it, work through it. It's, you know, it's a phase you'll get over it. And I think that many times it, it's just easier if you go have a conversation with somebody. Right. At first it doesn't have to be a mental health professional. 

Maybe it's a spouse, maybe it's a significant other, maybe it's a good friend and having a conversation about it. And I think, you know, us as friends, as spouses, as significant others also have to be in a position of realizing that something's out of the norm and not, not uh regular about the person or out of their normal situation and ask them, hey, are you OK. Uh Because that's a proven fact, right? If somebody's having a negative thought pattern that by asking them if they're OK and getting them to talk about it it may get them on the right path. Um So I, I don't know, I, I think inherently we all know that people have struggles. 

I think we want to deny that we actually have them. I think where it's easier to identify in others than ourselves. But I think when you really sit down and think about it, you, you can look at those times and really identify with when you were going through it. And I think we just have to understand that and have conversation about it and also be in a position to notice it in others and be willing to and able to open up that conversation because it may be helpful to them. But it also may be helpful to you by having that uh conversation too. 

Yeah, having having these struggles throughout my life at, at different parts of my life. Some were much harder, mostly probably when I was trying to still figure out the loss of my mother. But nowadays, one of my things that I feel really helpful for me is to acknowledge. However, I'm feeling at that moment in time and somewhat make it public to other people, whether that is like to people. 

I don't even know just publicly on social media. Like look today is not good and here's why. But I'm acknowledging this, I want it out here. 

I want other people to know that I'm aware of that and that I will be ok. But I need, this is how I process it. And so that's kind of been my thing for like probably the last 10 years or so because I realize there are so many after I do that, I get so many messages behind the scenes that are like I just needed to see that today because I'm feeling the same way, you know, to your point is the door. 

Yeah, nobody's life is uh 365 days a year, every year, year in and year out Instagram worthy. You know, I think that's one of the issues with social media is because people have this sense that oh everybody's living this great, fantastic life and the reality is all you're seeing is the good stuff for the most part you're not seeing the vulnerable stuff. So it gives you, yeah, there you go. It gives you a false sense of uh you know, what, what's really going on and what's really happening in people's lives which, you know, that's a struggle in itself. But uh yeah, I mean, listen, I've, I've reached out to people and sent the message, hey, just wanted to check in, how's everything going? 

I think, I think those things go a long way for sure. Yeah, I think you're doing wonderful things of just having these resources for people and, and raising funding for. Is it for research? Is it to help other people? 

What is, what is the, the funding and the fundraising go to. Yeah. So we have a fund called the Keith Milano Memorial Fund, which is actually housed at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. So it's a fund under their purview. And essentially, if you look at uh A F S A F S P's mission, uh the American Foundation for suicide prevention, they're really on, uh you know, their, their kind of pillars are uh research driven, which is where the foundation was founded on research that at one point that's all they did. So they, they fund somewhere in the neighborhood of $78 million a year of research grants and research studies. Um And then they have a lot of uh um initiatives for survivors. So those who've been affected by suicide, um they have a lot of initiatives to help those families. Uh and then the area of those who may be struggling or who have attempted and really helping and providing resources for and to them. Uh None of the resources are connected through medical professionals. 

It's, it's really uh you know, resources in terms of educational materials and things like that. They're not giving uh advice and guidance or support in that fashion. Uh But, you know, predominantly research and then supporting those that have either experienced or gone through a family member, uh having a struggle or dying by suicide or somebody themselves who may be struggling on their own. And I guess the fourth component, which uh would the ad advocacy, which is, you know, lobbying governments, whether local or, you know, the, uh national level uh to implement uh more services and, and needs for uh mental health, uh studying et cetera. 

I mean, you're just, you're doing a lot of good in the world, not only with, you know, being an advocate for, for this mental health space and, and raising the money, but also just in your regular day to day job, you're helping people financially in a way, you know, find their space and that joy and all those pieces. And I can't help but think that, I mean, you probably attribute it as well as just this experience of having these wonderful parents and then experiencing kind of the end time, you know, like working through, seeing your mother fight and fight and fight and then that creating this life that you have moved forward with. I mean, is there any advice that you could give to someone that's, that's facing something really hard in their life that might not have these, these great parents and what they could do to step into that joy and financial freedom and, and the pieces that could come with it. Yeah, I mean, I, I think you have to start with the end in mind, right? And you know, if you're not in that position that you have those things that can help steer you, guide you even push you in that direction, then, you know, a lot of the heavy lifting is on you. And I think what you have to do in those cases is kind of start putting a framework together. Yes, you're going through whatever you're going through right now. Ok? And that's gonna last for a period of time, whatever that time may be. But what do you want things to look like, feel like? And what position do you want to be in when that subsides and start, you know, building out a framework for what that looks like and then, you know, write it down, you know, commit to it and start working towards it, looking at it, reviewing it, you know, it, it's no different than putting a financial plan together and trying to put uh financial goals in order and working towards those goals. 

It's the same thing. If there's a specific life you want to have, you know, you can create a life by design, it doesn't have to be by default. And I think unfortunately, a lot of folks out there are living life by default, which, you know, adds to a lot of these struggles that we're talking about. And, you know, I think people inherently we have the ability to shape our own destiny. 

I know it sounds a little cliche but you know what if, if you lay out this road map for yourself and let's say 100% of it doesn't come to fruition if 90% of that happens, 80%, 70%. How much better off are you gonna be potentially than you are today? And I think we forget that. And I think once we get into that mindset of understanding that we can do more than what we think about right now and thinking about that expansive universe that we can create, then that puts us on the right path and that works in financial, that works in mental health that works in just your your life circumstances, period. So would you say or am I ga gathering like think with the end in mind and then reverse engineer, how you're gonna get there and kind of create those milestones to, to build you to that and then kind of stick with them or move forward. Absolutely. Absolutely. You know, listen, if let, let's, let's take an example, right? 

Let, let's say you have this, this goal that you wanna be an entrepreneur, you want to have your own business. Ok. It may not make sense for you personally, you know, based upon your family situation to just drop what you're doing today, the income and start this business, it may not be viable and it doesn't have to be viable in a, in a day and age. Like we're today where the side hustle is real. 

You know, if there's something you're passionate about that you think could be an entrepreneurial venture that has merit. Well, why don't you start it as a side gig? Do it in between, you know, while, while you're working. So you don't have to give up that income and slowly and steadily start building it up to a point where you might be able to drop that, uh, that full time job and make your entrepreneurial venture full time. It doesn't have to be all and run. But if you start thinking about it in terms of, oh, well, I want to do this but I can't because I can't get rid of my career. 

I can't get rid of the income. I have these expenses, it becomes overwhelming and you're like, I'm not gonna do this. But if you start figuring it out in a way, ok, well, you know, for me to do that and to be fully entrepreneurial, I need X number of dollars of income, which means I need X number of, you know, clients that I'm gonna work with at X number of dollars and that's gonna be my goal. And what I'm gonna do is start out now putting in two hours a week or whatever that may be and start working towards that. And you'll be surprised and you know what, what we found with folks who kind of follow that uh model and, and, you know, start putting themselves on a path to do that is they're so passionate about that entrepreneurial venture because it's something they really love and usually it's something much different than what they're doing. Now. They may not love it as much. 

Just that love gets them motivated and energized and start moving in that direction more quickly. So I think we get overwhelmed. You know, I think, uh I, I best example is I talk about this, uh I, I've talked about this a lot, right. If you're walking down the street and there's a pebble on the ground and you pick up the pebble and you put it right here up against your eye. It looks like a boulder. 

You're never gonna get around it. But if you take that same pebble and you put it out in arm's length and then you look at it, you're like, well, it's just a pebble. I could get around that thing, right? And it's not a big deal and the same thing here, you know, build the end of mind, work backwards, figure it out, you know what? Maybe you have a goal of doing it in two years. Maybe it takes three. So what? Right. So what, maybe, maybe you're happier now, you're getting more joy just from this, this uh what you're doing. So it, it's, it's, it sounds hard. It is hard. I'm not gonna make it, you know, but you have to have a game plan to get there. Uh If you just sit there and say I can't do it, I'm not gonna do it, then it's not gonna happen. Yeah. Well, I, I, I think your story is, is super inspiring. Because you've faced really hard moments in your life. But you've also taken those moments and created the life that, that you seemingly want and building uh and continuing to build that and, and create wonderful humans in your Children. And so I think what's inspiring about your story is that like thing, we can overcome these things, despite these things that have happened in our lives. And I appreciate you sharing that and sometimes I have guests go back to that person. But it seems like you've kind of your family, your parents have created this version of you since you were very little and you've just been able to move forward with it. So it's like not, you couldn't even give your younger self good advice because you're still doing it. Yeah, I mean, listen, my, the name of my firm, Milin uh is a combination of my wife's grandfather, Mitchell M I T was uh to him L I N is uh relevant to my mom, Linda and uh we named the firm after them because my wife's grandfather was a New York City police officer, a uh uh a veteran, just a really good guy. He was the type of guy that when the ice cream man came down the block, not because he was wealthy, but he got a lot of joy would buy everybody ice cream. My mom was a tough as nails, human being a warrior, just a real all around great person. I mean to this day people reach out to me on her birthday, my birthday reminding me on Mother's day, reminding me of how great a human she was. So when we wanted to, you know, create this firm, we were like, you know, what, why don't we use something that's meaningful and use something whose values really exemplify what we and who we want to be as a firm. So that's why we use their name. So I'm lucky because every day I come into my office, I come into my firm, I see the name there, I see the name in my email and it reminds me and reinforces every day what I'm doing why I'm doing it and why I do what I do from a family perspective. And one of our core values here is uh client equals, family equals team. We're all one family. If you know, we want our clients, we call them families. We serve, we want the people that work here, our stakeholders and we want everybody feeling like we're one big team, one big family. And you know, I'm reminded of it every day. So it's a, it's a blessing for me and I'm very grateful for that you're doing, you're doing it and it's, it is inspiring and I hope that people listening, if they're going through something similar can realize that they can create the life that they want and just one step at a time and, and, and work your way towards there. So thank you for being a part of the life shift podcast. I, I really appreciate you coming on and sharing your story. Thanks Matt. I appreciate it greatly. And as Larry knows if you are enjoying these episodes and would like to help us out, uh go listen to his Midland money mindset. There'll be a link to that in the show notes. If you like this show, then go on to Apple podcasts and give a little review and a rating five stars would be nice. And, uh, we will see you next week with a brand new episode of the Life shift podcast.