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Testimonials from the field: A CEO’s Insight on The Conversation Project

Posted on 11/04/2019

People are often asking us for examples of how different professionals are using our materials. In a previous blog, TCP Champion Beth Gamel noted how she shared our resources with her cross-state study and professional development networking group.  We caught up with one of those group members, Ted Sarenski, CPA/PFS, CFP, AEP and CEO of Blue Ocean Strategic Capital, LLC. to hear his thoughts on integrating The Conversation project into his work with clients and families. We hope this example sheds further light for those in professional services work.

What caught your attention when you heard about the Conversation Project? What resonated with you personally, professionally?

I served on the Elder Care Task Force of the American Institute for Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) for a number of years.  My professional practice deals with people ranging in age from 40’s to 80’s.  Many, many times over the years I have heard and witnessed sad stories of conversations that have never been had and the angst and discomfort that exists for the survivors and caretakers. 

Beth introduced the Conversation Project at our Athena group meeting this past spring.  I was immediately impressed with the real life stories and the effective way the literature you have put together guides people through a process.

How are you using TCP tools/resources?

Since our spring meeting, I have been using the materials of The Conversation Project with each of my clients as I meet with them.  The response has been overwhelmingly positive.  It may be a younger client who wants to have the conversation with a parent, an older client who wants to have the conversation with his/her children, but, often, it is a couple who need to have the conversation with each other!  I used the materials and The Conversation Starter Kit at a client education event, which we had about 45 people attend.  I gave a brief description of what the contents were about and every single person wanted a copy to take home.

What have you learned along the way?

What I have learned along the way is that this affects everyone at some point in their life and there is no guidance, hence, no discussions of these topics.  By using the materials you have created, it gives a “soft” introduction to the topic.  In every single case our clients have been thankful to be introduced to the materials and many have begun to use them. 

What your organization has created, especially the humorous videos, should be in every professionals’ office whether they be attorneys, CPAs, financial planners, dentists, doctors, architects, etc.

Thank you, Ted, for championing the importance of these conversations early and often and for sharing your lessons with us!

One of our greatest joys is hearing stories of how “the conversation” is spreading throughout communities and impacting the lives and work of people. Do you have a story to share with us? Email us your thoughts on these three questions at ConversationProject@ihi.org.

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