We say goodbye to a trusted voice for federal retirees and those who will retire some day

For a couple of decades, the For Your Benefit show has aired here on Federal News Network. Host Bob Leins broadcast his final show this past Monday.

For a couple of decades, the For Your Benefit show has aired here on Federal News Network. It was regular listening for anyone planning to retire someday. Host Bob Leins broadcast his final show this past Monday. Because he was such a fixture for our listeners and for those of us at the station, the Federal Drive with Tom Temin didn’t want Mr. Leins to get away without a final interview.

Interview Transcript: 

Tom Temin Now just review for us. How many years have you been doing for your benefit?

Bob Leins How many years? I’d have to say close to 30.

Tom Temin But on Federal News Network, since we started about 24 years ago. Where did you do it before that?

Bob Leins I would go on a radio station. And I have a friend, would you come on and talk about taxes? And I said, you want me to talk about taxes? How long do you expect the show to last? And I said, I’m going for about 5 or 10 minutes but I don’t think I could do an hour. And that’s how I got into it. Actually, I learned how to stand on my feet and talk in front of a group of more than one. And it was my boss in the 70s. Hot tempered Irishman. But if you got beyond the tough part, he was a piece of cake. Very nice, extremely smart. And he took me out. It was a franchise for him and we had franchises all around the country to do consulting work. So he says, we’re going to do the annual tour. And I said, does that mean I have to talk or do I just carry the phone? He said no, you’re going to talk. I didn’t sleep for a month. I looked at everything I could. The first time we went out, I forget what state it was, and he looked up at me and said listen, you’re doing pretty good. I’ll see you at lunch.

Tom Temin Left you there in front of a crowd.

Bob Leins In front of a crowd on your own. And I had lunch, and I said, do I have to do this again after. He said you should be a pro to this now, yeah.

Tom Temin He knew you better than you knew yourself.

Bob Leins Yes he did. And very, very thankful.

Tom Temin And we should tell people that have been listening to the show for 24 years at 10:00 on Mondays. Who is Bob Liens? What’s your actual job and profession?

Bob Leins Well, I didn’t graduate at the top of my class in college. So I took a job and it paid decent, but it wasn’t particularly pretty, and it was like working in a closet. But I learned things that I would have never learned otherwise. And we have some really sharp people. And I would ask, and then my boss would come out and he said, look at this. And they come back and give me a brief on this. All he was doing is trying to find a way to beat me up, verbally. And he says, now, next time you come in here, do better homework. And again, I’ll go to the grave thanking him. And he didn’t let many people in behind the fence. Somehow I got there. I don’t know what it was, it certainly wasn’t talking about taxes. And that’s what I did. And then I said, I think I can do this. And I went to work for my friend Don Gold.

Tom Temin What exactly are you? You’ve described herself as an accountant who doesn’t like accounting.

Bob Leins But what I realized when I got out of school is, I could do the accounting, but to me it was boring. And so I kind of looked at doing tax work. Taxes, generally speaking, there’s no balance sheet. You don’t have to do this or that. You should do things if they’re aggressive. You can be aggressive, but you can’t be overly aggressive because once that hits IRS’ computers, they’re going to come after you. So I can give them ideas that I like. And that’s what I did. And then I went to work for my friend Don Gold. And we grew a large firm, more so from taxes than it was for the accounting. And Don liked accounting more than I did. And that’s where I am.

Tom Temin And how did you get into the idea? What interested you in helping federal civil servants with their not just taxes, but general financial advice and life advice that you’ve been giving them through you and your guests all these years?

Bob Leins Well, when I went out on my own, I started a firm and called it For Your Benefit. The radio show was that too. And that’s what I did. So I would go out and talk, and then after a while, I was talking to the people in government agencies, can you do this with other people? And I go, yeah, we got somebody that can do benefits, we got somebody tax, somebody can do this or that. Everybody’s got their own niche.

Tom Temin And you get a lot of feedback too, don’t you? The listeners, they write to us about you. So you must get a lot of ideas from the listeners as to what concerns them.

Bob Leins That’s it. So you get the feedback from that, you get the feedback from clients and it just grew.

Tom Temin And some of your regular guests have become well known in the market in their own right.

Bob Leins Oh, yeah. Well known in the market. Tammy Flanagan, when I first met her, she just left the government. And, it was just started [National Institute of Transition Planning (NITP)], the retirement firm. And I said, Tammy, we’re going to go down to. And she like me the first time, studied and studied and studied and studies. Well, Tammy didn’t need to study. So I said to her, I said, as we go along, as I see that you got a firm grisp, I’m going to be walking backwards. She goes, why? I said, because it’s your show, not mine.

Tom Temin Yeah. So you did to her what your boss had done to you, knowing she could handle it.

Bob Leins That was it.

Tom Temin What happens to the National Institute of Transition Planning?

Bob Leins We got a fair number of people. Admin, probably got ten admin people. And then we have the speakers. And why are there speakers there? To get clients. But they can’t sell. We have a rule. You can talk, but if you try to sell, you’ll be talking to yourself.

Tom Temin Yeah, that’s the best way to sell, is to not sell in some cases like that.

Bob Leins Create the need.

Tom Temin And earlier you mentioned you weren’t at the top of your class. What was the class? Where did you go to school, where did you grow up? Where do you come from?

Bob Leins I’m a born and raised Wheaton kid, so people around here would know where Wheaton was.

Tom Temin And not Wheaton, Illinois, by the way.

Bob Leins Oh no. Wheaton was a nice place to grow up. Maybe not to stay, but a nice place to grow up. And so I left Wheaton as quickly as I could. I got married, and I went to work for General Business Services. That’s it. That’s my work history.

Tom Temin Right. And we won’t reveal your age on the air, but you’re still a vigorous guy for the age that you are. And what are you going to do next?

Bob Leins My father was like this, so my mother, we paid no attention to age. And my mother, how old are you? I don’t know, and she probably didn’t know. My dad, he would know and they were smooth. And I didn’t hear a lot of arguments, maybe a couple raise voice discussions, but nothing nasty. No throwing books around. My dad would take us up to Wheaton High School to play football. Not for the team, but we could play as little kids, and he would do this or that. So I grew up normal. And then, I graduated from school and I went to work for this place called General Business Services. And that’s it. Ten years there and then I said, I can do this. And I told my boss, and I think I can do this. And he says, well, then why don’t you get out.

Tom Temin Now, this coming Monday morning, of course, there will be no ForYourBenefit show.  What will you do when you get up on Monday morning?

Bob Leins I’ll read the paper. I’ll figure out if somebody had emailed me with a question, and then I go to work, and maybe there wasn’t a lot to do, but it was better than sitting at home.

Tom Temin But what are you going to do now on Monday mornings? Every morning?

Bob Leins That’s a good question. It’s an unknown, but it all has something to do with something other than accounting. Sure, I like taxes, but I never liked accounting.

Tom Temin But you don’t make Lego ships, or you don’t pin butterflies on boards or paint pictures.

Bob Leins No. Whatever suits me for the day. Somebody will call up and say, hey, you want to go out and have lunch? Okay. Or somebody else will say, you want to go out and shoot hoops? And I go, okay. It’s that kind of stuff.



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