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Episode 103: Second chance Vaughn, Part 2

Part 2 – Overcoming challenges with Vaughn Wamsley
Episode 103: Second chance Vaughn, Part 2


In Part 2, Vaughn looks at how he recovered after his accident, became a personal injury attorney, and started his own software company…


In Part 1 Vaughn talked about some of his business adventures, before his bike accident that turned his life upside down.


This time, he explains some of the learning difficulties he faced due to his injuries and how he overcame them to become a successful personal injury attorney.


Vaughn also shares with us the importance of being flexible, the value of delegation, and why no one should be afraid to ask for help…


“You have to focus on the 10 percent that makes you a winner or a loser.” – Vaughn Wamsley


“Never give up and don’t try to do it on your own.” – Vaughn Wamsley

Time Stamps:

00:40 – The difficulties Vaughn had going back to law school after his accident.

02:32 – The amount of support Vaughn received from his professors and how necessary this was to his recovery.

06:36 – How Vaughn got into law school with only a 1.8 GPA.

08:48 – How Vaughn got his life back together, passed the bar exam, and became a personal injury attorney.

12:35 – Why Vaughn became a personal injury attorney.

13:40 – The largest settlement Vaughn’s achieved for a client.

14:38 – How Vaughn started a software company and got into real estate.

17:05 – The best financial lessons you can teach your children.

21:09 – The dangers of lifestyle creep.





Connect with Vaughn Wamsley:



Connect with Ben Jones:




BEN: Welcome back. In Episode One, Vaughn spoke about undergraduate life at Indiana University, some of his business adventures, then his bike accident which threw him off the path he intended. His road recovery was long, but he started work and was later let go. He always planned on going back to law school. So we get back to him where he struggles with learning due to his injuries. Here is the second and final portion of our discussion with Vaughn Walmsley.


VAUGHN: Gotcha. So and that’s even harder when I came back. My problems would be organization speech, basically those two things alone and understanding complex concepts and that’s exactly what you have to be good at to law school. So I first your law school.


BEN: So let’s just put it in perspective. You’re gonna graduate may did you start a year? Like a year and a half later, because you had a year off? Then you went in like September of the following….


VAUGHN: I started a year. I think I missed a year and then went the following.


BEN: Okay, so it was like a little over two years by the time that…..


VAUGHN: I think so.


BEN: Okay.


VAUGHN: Well, so I got in there. And it took me five years to get to law school, right? No, it takes three. I got an 83 or four I think may have been 84. And the first year I couldn’t understand anything they called me that’s doing law school psych. I’m on TV. And class would just laugh because I could barely sound like I was from Mexico. My occlusion got changed when my jaw broke and my okay, my speech center got messed up and my left front left parietal lobe, right. So I sounded Mexican. And interestingly, I speak a little Spanish. I can speak Spanish, I can remember Spanish…


TONY: Abogado.


VAUGHN: Yo intent Yala. Spaniel para dos sinus me a square, the primo sin Quinta and you’ll see comprender.


TONY: si por supuesto.


VAUGHN: Masa Manos.


BEN: Masa Manos.


TONY: Masum.


BEN: Little masa Manos and surveysay.


VAUGHN: So basically I got straight after the first semester.


TONY: But so you had a perfect streak going though.


BEN: So you flag flag flag.


VAUGHN: The one thing I….


BEN: Please don’t do this.


VAUGHN: I had several good friends Sean Maloney and Jim Nolan. Couple other guys that took me out of their arms felt sorry for me they let me in their law. They have their own little law groups review groups.


BEN: Right.


VAUGHN: Top doctor in class they took me under the wings they tried to help me I was getting so frustrated because I couldn’t keep organization and when I do the test would come you know say it’ll all come clear on their exam did come clear for me it got more confusing. The pressure made things worse. And I remember Sean Maloney said Vaughn was in during an income tax with Professor Oliver, you know Oliver Winery? That’s my pressure here on that.


BEN: Wow. Okay.


VAUGHN: And as he shines Vaughn Do not leave this test. You sit back as the front more says I’ll stop if you try to leave because I love these guys. They liked me and I got up. I want to talk doctor out if Professor all arrested professional runner understands. He goes Vaughn. Just write something down. He goes I know you know this stuff. Just write something down what you understand he was you’ll pass. I go I can’t do it. I was that much of a perfectionist. I couldn’t accept them. This was good performance. I said I’m out here


BEN: So you walked out.


VAUGHN: I walked out.


BEN: Crashed and burned.


VAUGHN: I walked out and it wasn’t the first test I walked out. I walked out so frustrating. I went over to next my friend tried to walk out Sean tried to trip me he tried to grab me.


BEN: Oh great! You trip the….major accident.


VAUGHN: Its my good friend and red haired guy with you know….


BEN: He was thinking the best for you.


VAUGHN: He was and he basically tried to try to stop me. And I went over next…


BEN: And for people who don’t know from not around here next is actually a bar right? So well known bar at IU.


VAUGHN: And I’m drinking over there. And I wasn’t heavy party. That’s why I live that’s why I survived that accident. I was an all American kid didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, didn’t do anything, didn’t drink. Did my work worked out. And what I thought was good guy. I came over there and Shawn goes, Professor Oliver wants you to take the test again. And I’m like, Are you serious? Oh, can I quit this place? Can you just leave? Can I just go away be a loser? Can you just know Yeah, he wants you to take his gun to Australia. He wants you to take it so. So I take that And surprisingly I get to be on it. That was the turning point. I started getting better. And then I started getting so the following year. So are you getting C’s and B’s instead of straight ups? So went from apps to season D.


BEN: Were you still in IU at that point?


VAUGHN: Yeah, standard IU.


BEN: So your first year of law school, you’re crashing and burning, but you start to pull out second year, you’re now in a pretty good shape.


VAUGHN: Well, C’s and Ds are in great shape. I’ll chase.


BEN: You didn’t matter.


VAUGHN: I’m trying to pull up a point 05 GPA first year, it’s kind of hard. But by the third year, I’m done. I need I started that RV company up in Elkhart.


BEN: In the third year of law school.


VAUGHN: And so I needed to. I was commuting from Elkhart to, to Bloomington going back and forth running my law firm and this RV company at the same time and I’m like, this is gonna work. I gotta transfer up to Notre Dame. And so I go to my girlfriend and Dean from talks. She worked for him. She’s a secretary and he says, well write a letter to them. We’ll see we can get you up there. So a couple weeks go by and he calls me in his office. He was dean of students and let Leonard from love him. He’s no longer with us cancer, but he went up to bat for me. He said, Vaughn, they said Dean Fromm said Vaughn, they weren’t really impressed with your GPA GPA. As they want it out. He was I want you to go up to meet with him. I think that’d be impressed with you. I said, I’m still kind of I’m not 100% yet, but I’m getting there. I got out do it. I can always send me and coach. So I go up there. And Dean Lincoln the McLean Dean lengths to have the law school and McLean’s Dean of Students like Dean Fromm was right, you. And I go in and sit in front of these two guys, and they set out fine, you realize most of our students are in like 90th percentile near all SATs. Right? Yeah. So I got that. They go. Yeah, we know. But most of our students also have 4.0 GPAs. And yours is 1.8. Right? I said, you know, so I said, Well, I can explain that. And I told him the story. But I told you guys, I’ve been describing you guys what happened to me. And they said, Vaughn watch go out in the hall for a little bit. And so I go out in the hall seemed like I was probably out there five minutes, it seemed like five hours. Back in the set, Vaughn we are a Christian school. And we’re going to give you a shot. But if your grades or anything like that, I doubt it. We’re done at IU. We’re setting you back on a rail. Right? So that was in the fall of 1987.


BEN: But this brings up a great point, you know, too many people automatically assume, hey, I’m not going to be able to do something. But trying and putting yourself out there and getting the opportunity. There are always opportunities out there. You just have to, you know, be confident in yourself, and you got to try, right. And that’s what’s good, great about your story.


VAUGHN: You know, I’ll tell you, my friend, good friend of mine, Bob de Veski is my roommate in law school. Bob said, 90%, everything’s showing up.


BEN: Yep, that’s true.


VAUGHN: It said, and then he said, You have to focus on this is important for our audience, you have to focus on the 10% that makes you a winner or a loser. Right? What is the bottom line? What is the main thing you got to accomplish here and do really good at that. So I adopted that mentality I took so when it came time to join….


BEN: And you get no I mean, you get to Notre Dame now, now you’re getting through school. And we want to make sure because I know you’re on a tight schedule. But you’re getting through school, and now you’re starting to do well, and you get out of school. I was just hoping you could kind of get us through that so we can get you to the point where you’re saying, Hey, this is kind of what I was doing what I’m doing now and being successful.


VAUGHN: So basically, I did do better. I got straight A’s that semester.


BEN: Hey, all right.


VAUGHN: And I had to because the RV under she went under October 19. Unit SEVEN was Black Monday and the bank pulled my line of credit my parents had secured their house. So I’m using my tuition money when I’m around buying Stepford refrigerators or toilets and Middlebury hardwood cabinets and shoving them in these RVs that are already pre sold. Got her and $20,000 back. Getting law school running from Elkhart to Notre Dame to South Bend, sold eight units got her and $20,000 out of them paid line of credit off of my parents house back Yeah, then lived in the basement of the Notre Dame Law Firm. Pretty much. I mean, literally, but I was there 24 hours a day, you know, and that’s how it gets when your butts on the line. That’s when you perform.


BEN: Because everybody always thinks when you’re successful. Oh, you had it’s so easy. It was hard. It was good.


VAUGHN: I mean, when I first started, I you could study 19 hours a day and couldn’t remember anything


BEN: Right. That must have made you feel just super right.


VAUGHN: It was very discouraging. But I graduated and then basically I was gonna take the bar exam, and my roommate savings is going to come in late a little later. I said Don’t wake me up. He woke me up. I set my reset my alarm. I get there an hour late. I miss passing by the first time a bar by five points.


BEN: Because you’re an hour late.




BEN: How long is the bar exam?


VAUGHN: Two days.


BEN: So it’s two days.


VAUGHN: I was an hour late, but I missed the introduction to it. And they told you, you got to call 30, not 12. So I ended at 12 exam, I put it in the fingerprint and all it’s very secure. I put it in the slot. And then I went and sat down, no one else is getting up. And I’m like, because I missed the instructions. So an hour late and a half hour less a four and a half hours stretch. I missed three hour and a half. And it was torts and contracts, which is the hardest part of the test. Gotcha. So yeah, Tony was messed up that is best. So I didn’t pass the bar. The first time I passed. Took it again pass second time. And i i My GPA when I graduated was probably what 2122 was. I mean, I pulled it up but just barely above see.


BEN: Your life story. Almost sounds like a full of second chances. The Lord’s been good to me second chance to live.




BEN: Second Chance for a law school. Second Chance to pass the bar.


VAUGHN: Right. Right. Good point.


BEN: I don’t know how many times you’ve been married, but if you’re married twice, and I’ll put that in there. Only married once or twice. Okay. Second Chance. Yeah. Okay. Well, we’ll take it as a positive.


VAUGHN: Yeah. Good guy. That gives us a lot of grace. Yeah, do couldn’t couldn’t get a job. Literally a good friend of mine. Terry plank loaned me money to buy his Polly’s ugly suit. And I really want my shoes I wore. I’m not kidding. With the soles walking downtown. I’m not lying. I have my soles out on my shoe. I’ve never done that. Okay. I mean, there’s holes in the inside of them. Okay. And finally got a job. Stewart Stewart here in Carmel. I was Stewart Stewart ran through. Yeah, in fact, I had a job as deputy prosecutor in Madison County. And then I did a couple of trials that wouldn’t be that good. I think one one out of four slot hard.


BEN: Let’s not put that on the commercial.


VAUGHN: It’s well no, you’re beyond reasonable doubt different standard than I know. But then they saw me and they thought I had a lot of trucks parents retired and some they hired me and they gave me all their hard cases. And I was up for it. I won most of them I became their…



Hard cases personal injury cases. Yep. Because I….


VAUGHN: Couple of criminal where I was doing fun with criminals.


BEN: Okay. When I heard your stuff on the news.


TONY: A legit criminal.


BEN: A legit criminal. Crazy stuff on the news, you made it kind of like your life mission that personal injury because of your personal story right? Injured that you wanted to help others.


VAUGHN: Well, I learned that people that are Christian lie their life and they get knocked off. Yeah, they get off track, which is like happened to me. It’s really hard to get back on track. And I knew that and then it people that you know, a lot of people that call me hire personally to train so once that their lives are they don’t know attorneys, and they’re hanging on to paycheck to paycheck when you hit them and they get hurt. And don’t have any money coming in. It’s devastation. It gets them off. And so I I made that my mission was to help people that would find themselves in the situation I was, I found myself


BEN: How many cases have you actually?…


VAUGHN: I don’t know if over 4000 litigated. I haven’t litigated, but I’ve represented over 4000 people.


BEN: 4000. So if you just multiply that times the number of people times the number of people affected by those people the Lord’s use, you’ve helped 1000s and 1000s of pedia.


Unknown Speaker 

Yeah it has been a great privilege than a great honor. And I’m glad I’m very happy in my career that I’ve been able to do this. The biggest but one overriding thing is as I was becoming more the first time I got I’ve had multimillion dollar settlements all over the country. And I’m talking big settlements.


BEN: What’s your largest can ask that?


VAUGHN: Seven figure fist assists the seven figures. Okay. Okay. I had several of those. And I’ve gone against incredible odds. I’ve taken hate lawyers on down to Dallas, Texas, really? I’m sorry, in Las Vegas, Nevada. And…


BEN: oh, no.


TONY: But you’re at least you’re not bitter.


VAUGHN: Yeah. It’s fun. So, you know, I think I lost maybe five or six trials in 30 years. So I’ve been blessed. I’m quick on my feet because of my accident and the way I had to rethink I had to reorganize how I think and it’s like that movie. What About Bob taking baby steps? And I restructured my brain the way I analyze stuff. And so since then, you know, I started making a bunch of money in personal injury. And like, what am I going to do this money? Well, first of all, I left the firm that I thought they needed better organization software. So I hired a couple program and started a software company called case Pacer. Actually, it’s called Pitts personality tracking system which Tony’s involved with. And then he sees staring the whole thing now trust him. That’s my baby. I put lots of money lots of time in that. 10 years total Sure. I That’s my dream. And the whole purpose of that software was to do a better job for the client prints out what needs to be done in every case every day, so and I have patents on it. So I used a lot of the money I was making my first salaries to do invest in a software company did a better job for my clients, I’m like, then the software allowed me to do more cases, so make it even more money. So I’m like, wealthy, I’ll start another software company. So I got involved with a company called Smart file. It’s a file sharing system on the internet. And then I’m like, Okay, well, I got more money, what am I gonna do that? Well, I’m gonna start buying real estate. So I go back to my old first love, I started buying real estate. And, and that bought, I did really well, in real estate. I mean, I make, you know, a lot more money that can make us a percentage return Mm, I make a lot of money. He’s personally trying to make 10 times that in real estate, and building the big box warehouses of Amazon, right. And talking about that he commerce, and I’ve just bought another facility, another park down in Memphis, I may buy one in Columbus, Ohio, I’ve got one here in Indianapolis.


BEN: Conversations that we continue to have with people is that their path isn’t just a clear street shot to one. And yours, you got knocked off the path then got kicked down the road, and then it got knocked again, and you keep jumping back. Right? It’s real estate, it’s painting. It’s, it’s law, it’s oh my gosh, my life’s over, hey, my life’s back. Now I’m going to be a lawyer, hey, I want to RV company. And so the whole idea is just to open these kids minds up to there are so many opportunities out there, so many different ways to get there. And it’s not always a straight shot.


VAUGHN: You know, I agree with that. 100%. And just never give up. Never give up, never give up. And don’t try to do it on your own.


BEN: You know, all the books that, you know, we went through one season, we had like six or seven books, almost every one of those books says exactly that same thing. If they would have given up, they wouldn’t be the person that they were, if they wouldn’t give it up. You know, it just keeps saying it over and over. And you’re a great example of that.


VAUGHN: Thank you. I think the thing that just you need to realize is you’re not in control. And if you think you’re in control, then you think can guide your path, right? You’ll get frustrated when you get off what you think your path should be.


BEN: Any other ideas on money, let you maybe something you’ve taught your kids about money, so well. I’ve done a bad job. Okay, that’s good. You’re honest about it.


VAUGHN: Yeah. I mean, kids, it’s hard to educate them. But my daughter is getting your first job at 15. She’s done. Okay, my son is now working my real estate ever endeavors. He’s sharp, kid, sharp, young man, he’s 28. As far as money goes, use the experts. I always try to learn from people. I mean…


BEN: That have a good knowledge of what’s going on.


VAUGHN: Yeah, I mean, if you, if you’re gonna be trying to do a tax savings, talk to a tax lawyer, if you’re gonna try to talk to an accountant, if you really have some complex accounting things you understand? Don’t ever think you can do it. All right. I’m known by people who do work with me, as someone who thinks he has to know it all. And I’m just now letting my fist open up a little bit and giving other people delegating. Right. So my advice would be, you need to learn how to delegate and when you delegate, make sure you’re delegating to someone who has character. That is a big one. Yeah, the number one thing if you’re gonna you have to delegate, you can’t do everything. So when you do delegate, make sure you do have references made sure you’ve vetted the person you’ve talked to make sure their character talk to you know where to go to church, you have a family, guys that have had three wives and six girlfriends, and they’ve been filed bankruptcy three times, you don’t really want them as your partner, you don’t want to give them a lot of right, a lot of authorities…


BEN: So character ethics and then different types of things are very important. You know, on the last podcast, one thing we said was, if you are planning from the tax perspective, you can’t do it on April 14, and expect to get a big tax refund on the 15th. You gotta do it well in advance. I tell people all the time. If you don’t get it in September before the year ends, you’re probably a little too late because you got to move things around and get things lined up. But, Tony, anything you want to say you have been incredibly quiet. I’m looking here at the monitor in I have a straight line which…


TONY: Yeah, what in the heck is going on here? I was just listening to story trying to soak it up. And I think you heard some new stuff, right? Heard some new stuff. I’ve heard part of the story before not all the story. I’m sure it’s still not all the story. There’s a lot there. There’s a lot left up now, you know, on the kids piece. I think it’s just such a big taboo thing historically is like when I was growing up, my mom and dad started a business in the house. And I really didn’t feel like I was allowed to ask how much they had. How much do you make a maker? How much does the company make? And if I did ask that I wouldn’t get a straight answer right like So I just kind of learned that that’s not something you ask about. And not understanding that as a kid is horrible because then you grow up Pigeonly same thing, you end up graduating from high school or college and you didn’t your job, and you have no idea how to manage money. Money is an important piece, although I say money is like air, because it’s no big deal. Unless you’re not getting any kids, you know, to learn how to, you know, the power of compounding and investing, saving the power of donating some of your money to, to a cause of your choice of your liking, makes you feel good inside, but then also gives you another incentive to save and have more, so you can share more.


BEN: Do you wanna hear something on compounding I just read the other day, you know, $97 billion of the 100 billion dollars that Warren Buffett made was after the age of 65. And he started investing when he was 10. And the whole point of this book was, you got to compound because if you don’t compound you’ll never get there. So I just thought that was so amazing. Sorry to interrupt.


TONY: Oh, and I’d say on top of that is the whole, you know, the lifestyle creep. So you start getting more, and you start buying more, because you always want to buy something more, and we got to make sure you’re paying yourself and saving first don’t spend it all because when you have one of those corrections, like talking about what the market was Black Monday, and you got crashed, you get crushed, and a lot of people get crushed, because they don’t have that emergency fund. I think I can’t recall what the percentage is and us but sometimes, yeah, it’s people that can’t handle a $400 emergency spend is like 70 80% of America or something.


BEN: But you know, it’s crazy is the average that individuals at a lower socio economic level spend on the lotto. A year is over $400. So it’s really about behavior and making sure that you make better decisions. But you know, there’s a lot tied up in that whole comment too.


TONY: Yeah, absolutely. Anyway.


BEN: But anyway, I know, it’s just a little bit after the time that you want to get out of here. I want to thank you, Mr. Wamsley. For being here. Thank you an incredibly interesting store second chances and having people hear some of that is very helpful. So until the next time, we thank everybody and we’ll talk to you soon.


VAUGHN: Thank you.


BEN: Thanks.


TONY: Cheers.

BEN: Thanks for being here. Don’t forget to like, subscribe and comment on the podcast. We’ll see you next time for more Money with Mak and G.


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