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Pink Headphones | Service: it’s a Family Affair w/ Justin Nepola

unsplash-logoMay Lawrence

Welcome to the Dreamers Succeed podcast. We are joined today by Justin Nepola: attorney extraordinaire, volunteer, points of light winner, family of the year, and just an all-around great guy. If you guys don’t know him yet, you will over the course of this podcast. I guarantee you, you are in for a real treat. I still count my blessings that I get to call him a friend. Welcome, Justin! I’m so happy you’re here.

Justin

Thank you so much it’s a pleasure to be here. Very excited.

Berta

So how’s 2020?

Justin

2020’s been amazing so far. I’ve really tried to start the year off on a good, positive note. On a good, positive foot. So far, so good! Knock on wood. I’ve got no complaints.

Berta

Good! I love it. So what, we’re 8 days in. I’ve already seen you volunteering more than most people do in a lifetime. I know that it’s such a part of your DNA and who you are.

Justin

It is.

Berta so we’ll talk a little bit about that, but for right now (just for the sake of our listeners) – I have a huge real estate tribe, just because I was in that world for 28 years.

Justin

But you got out. You’re one of the lucky ones.

Berta

I got out, but I left loving it. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to shift. It was menopausal time. It was just a big time in life.

Justin

I can’t use that excuse… damn it! I’m stuck!

Berta

But I loved every minute of every legal description that I typed over the course of those 28 years. I know that you’ve been in this field for a very long time. Your law firm – Napola and Yanta has been going strong. You guys are serving the entire state of Florida and doing it really ethically and beautifully. I know that you treat your clients holistically. It’s not just about the closing. It’s not just about the table. It’s how you can be of service to them in and out of the process. So can you tell us a little bit about your firm – a little bit about your history in real estate?

Justin

Sure. The firm is Nepola Yonta Attorneys at Law. We have offices in Hollywood and Stuart (Florida). Our main focus is transactional real estate. We don’t want to be anywhere near court rooms, we always say. We also do estate planning and probate work and now we’re getting into influencer law. We’re going to start. It’s a big thing now – a lot of these (people) are getting into influencing and they don’t have anybody representing them or assisting them in their transactions. We’re excited to start doing that now. I’ve personally been an attorney for over 20 years. My partner and I just started three years ago. Our anniversary was last week. We’re very excited.

It’s been a lot of fun. Every week, every month, every year has been better than the last. We keep growing and moving forward. We’re expecting big things in 2020.

Berta

I didn’t know about this influencer law.

Justin

I just sprung that on you! It is a new thing, yes.

Berta

This is what I mean, guys. We’re all going to be learning so much more than I even thought already coming into this. Can you tell me a little bit about what that entails? That’s such a big word now.

Justin

It is a big word. It’s a very new area of the law. This is the eighth day of the year and we’re just putting our big toe in the water. Social media influencers – people with big followings online whether it be Instagram or YouTube or Tik Tok… they are approached by corporations. Some little mom and pop people or products or companies up to the big boys – your Coke and Pepsis and what-not. They approach these influencers to advertise their product online because they have such a huge following.

Unfortunately, because it’s the wild wild west right now, nobody is helping these people review contracts or not be taken advantage of – make sure their intellectual property is owned by them and not the corporation. If nothing else – making sure they get paid. As you know from real estate, you don’t want to sign a contract if you don’t know what you’re reading. We’re looking at it and going, you know what? There’s a big need for this right now. We’re just putting some feelers out there, starting to talk to people, and we’re happy to help them review their contracts. If they need a contract written – from either side. If a company wants to hire an influencer and they want to hire an influencer and they’re like, “Okay I need a contract for them.” We can help them with that as well.

Berta

You just blew me away. I’m sitting here, like, in shock right now. It’s something so obvious. How does that not exist? You might just be among the first people that are even starting to do this.

Justin

There’s very few. In Florida, particularly, it’s hard to find. You can get an attorney who will review a contract, but anybody who’s really focusing on that – it’s pretty new.

Berta

You’re so ahead of the game. You always are.

Justin

I don’t know about with real estate.

Berta

It’s not our fault that we’re so young and we didn’t start the monopoly game.

I do a lot of career days at schools and I come in and talk about the power of mission work and the power of giving and how much more we receive from giving. I give access to these kids that are amazing and go around and ask them what their dreams are. We always hear the typical things – things that we’re used to hearing ever since I’ve been doing this.

Last year, I did two specific ones that I remember. One was in Seminole county and one was in Key Biscayne. I got five kids in Seminole county that said, “I want to be a YouTuber.” That was when it flipped over and I think now, when I do this next round, I’ll probably be hearing about Tik Tok-ers and influencers. I thought, “What an amazing way that the world is just changing. If we’re not changing with it… how many of these people have been out on a limb for so long until somebody realizes there’s going to be a need for this.

Congratulations! That’s a big deal.

Justin

Thank you. Hopefully it will be. It’s really new and we’re just starting to put it out there. It definitely seems like there’s an opportunity and a need for sure.

Berta

I think because it’s new, you’re going to be so well-positioned that you can’t help but succeed. It’s just how it is.

So what are the big goals for 2020 for your business?

Justin

To continue to grow. To continue to be able to help people – homeowners, property buyers, state planning, and influencers. We just want to be able to help as many people as possible and continue to grow the business. We ran our numbers last week for 2019 and we did considerably better than 2018 so the goal is to just do better in 2020.

Berta

It’s so funny because you can always tell by how many 1099s you’re submitting.

Justin

Exactly!

Berta

We have to recount and do that at the end of the year and it’s just a confirmation of, “No wonder I’m not sleeping. No wonder I’m so busy.”

Speaking of busy: for someone who’s running a well-oiled law firm and you have offices and you’re catering to everyone in the state and I’ve even sent you a lot of realtors that I know who love working with you and who love you… I know there are many out there and you’ve got a great list of clientele and people in your tribe. How do you make time? I’m not going to say, “Have time.” Everybody has the same amount of time. How do you make so much time to serve in our community?

Justin

Like I said, “We all have the time.” It’s just how we prioritize it. I always joke that this community service is kind of my hobby, because it’s a lot cheaper than golf. It’s kind of true, you know? I could spend three or four hours every Saturday on a golf course and nobody would think anything of it. I just enjoying doing the community projects. It’s a great opportunity to do them with my family. It’s a good way to do something together. We all do enjoy it. You do meet absolutely amazing people; people who work in the non-profit sector… people who give their time. They’re just great people. That’s how they are – it’s how they’re spending their free time.

It’s just something we enjoy, so we don’t even look at it as trying to find time or make time. It’s our recreation. It’s just part of what we do.

Berta

I love that you do it as a family. I love seeing the posts. The girls are just as into it as you and Jackie are. I love that. When we first moved to Broward, I was a project coordinator in Hands-On Miami. When we moved here, it was Volunteer Broward. My volunteer idol – Cindy from Miami – had moved to Broward as well. I went and became a volunteer coordinator. What was always a trip for me was that when I was putting together these projects, we had maybe ten slots to go hug babies and kids in distress or something like that.

Those spots would fill in immediately. I’d have people calling me sort of like begging, “Can I get in on this project?” At that point, you’re following parameters, you’re starting a waiting list. It was always very enjoyable for me to see that people are tripping over themselves and going out of their way, which is not what we hear on the news. Not me, because I don’t watch the news, but there’s just so much good going on in the world.

Being a Thousand Points of Light family of the year is a HUGE deal. Can you tell us a little bit about what that is?

Justin

So it’s actually two different things. We’ve been awarded the Thousand Points of Light award as a family probably a year and a half or two years ago. It was a great honor – we love it. I don’t know if your listeners are familiar with the Points of Light Foundation. It was started by George H. W. Bush in the early 90s to honor civic engagement. Every day since his presidency, they’ve honored somebody. We’re like number 6000 something. It was a great thrill. Then Points of Light partnered with Disney about a little under a year ago to create the first ever Disney points of light volunteer family of the year. We were honored to be nominated by Hands-On Broward. We were one of – we believe – 2,000 families in the country. They then whittled it down to 80 families and they asked us all to submit videos. We had a lot of fun with the video.

We went out to the park, filmed it, and had a great time. My older daughter is a little editor. She really had a good time mixing it up. We submitted that. Apparently, they loved it, and we made the cut to the 30 families. Then they did the online interview, a Zoom call. That was done during the hurricane. We didn’t really get hit by the hurricane this year. We’re sitting in the house with the shutters all closed just sitting there doing the Zoom call.

It went great, so we were thrilled. That’s when we were told we were allowed to tell people we were a finalist. We started announcing, hey, we’re one of the thirty, let’s see what happens. Then we got an email congratulations. You’re one of the top five families. Good Morning America is coming to your house. They’re going to film. You will be on Good Morning America and the voting will start.

We coordinated with them and it was great. It was just a funny, fluke-y day where they decided to come out where I was doing a habitat project in the morning. The girls were doing a hands-on Broward project in the afternoon. They were able to film all of that. We just had a ton of fun with that. They showed it on Good Morning America. We encouraged everybody to vote. We had a blast – it was just wonderful.

They then announced that they were going to go to all five houses live to announce the winner. First of all, they told us, “We’re going to be there at 6 AM to set up.” We were like, oh geez. We had to get up bright and early to have them come in and set up. The producer was the nicest woman in the world. She couldn’t tell us initially if we won, if we didn’t – nothing. Then, after about an hour, she’s like, okay, I have to tell you because we don’t want the kids to be upset, but don’t worry you’re going to get a great prize. You’re all going to be honored, but you’re not the winner-winner.

The kids could not care less. Jackie and I were so upset. We were so mad. We were so competitive. But the family that did get the grand prize – lovely family. They do amazing work. Absolutely worthy. But because it’s Disney and they’re great people, they said, “We’re going to give a check to all five nominated organizations and we’re going to give you all the trip to Disney World. It was amazing. It was so much fun.

Berta

Is this where you were over the new year?

Justin

It was actually on family volunteer day, which is in mid-November. We just went up for a long weekend and we were treated like royalty and we had the best time. It was just so much fun.

Berta

Justin, that’s such a big deal. I’m thinking top five? Seriously! In the country?! I just love it. I know how deserving you are and I just love that you’ve made this a family thing. The reason I got really close to Cindy is that there was a project at Charlie house that the earliest age of eight. All you were doing was sorting the goods. We do the gift-wrapping at the end of the year. My kids – their eighth birthday – that’s what they got. Happy birthday, you get to start volunteering at Charlie house. It just became a normal part of the DNA and the kids grow up realizing that that’s just normal, you know?

I just love that. It’s just a whole different feel. The kids are different.

Justin

I don’t know if it’s normal. My younger one now is taking it to an extreme. Last year, I don’t know why, but I decided to do the 24 hours sort-a-thon at Feeding South Florida. It was just a crazy thing. I was like, “Alright, I’ll give it a shot.” Well, it comes up this year. Twelve-year-old is like, “I want to do it now.”

And I was like, “Now I have to do it again!” She’s hooked. She’s like, “Nope! We’re going back next year. I don’t need you now.”

Berta

It’s what you’re saying: you’re the truest form of a testimonial to running a business, do everything that everyone is doing in life, attending to your family, and being dad and husband, and still making time to give so much back to the community.

Tell me about this Martin Luther King Day event.

Justin

Sure! Martin Luther King Day is actually January 20th and a lot of organizations have now decided to create national days of service. On the 18th, which is Saturday, we’re going to be doing a project with Rebuilding Together Broward, which is an amazing organization that goes in and helps low income families, seniors, veterans (people who need getting their homes up to snuff) and a little bit of pride in their house and their neighborhood.

They’ll do big stuff too – they’ll take a house from the slab and completely redo it. But what they’re going to be doing on the 18th is beautifying the neighborhood. It’s just an amazing experience. I love the work that Rebuilding Broward does. And then, on the 20th, we’ll be doing a project with Hands-On Broward where we’ll go to a local school and do some gardening and murals and paintings. That’s a great opportunity because kids as young as five can come out and help. It’s been a lot of fun. We’ve invited a lot of friends and family to come out.

If you’re free, we’d love for you to join us on one of the two days. It’s just great. We’ve had a lot of other families that want to do it and so we’re really excited to see the kids get out for the first time.

Berta

Yeah. I think that’s one of the most exciting things: you’re just pulling, not pushing, and people want to get a piece of it. I always say, all you need to do is get to that first one. There are people my age that will tell me, “I’ve never volunteered anywhere.” A lot of times, they don’t know where to go. They don’t know where to look. They don’t know how to do it – what’s going to be involved. There are so many little things. That’s why I love the Hands-On programs. They just make it easy. They’ve got a calendar. Pick an event. Contact the volunteer coordinator.

What would you say to a family who’s kids are getting to the age where they have to do volunteer hours. A lot of times – if I had friends or cousins that maybe didn’t have the time or couldn’t make the time – they’d say, “Oh, you’re going here, take so and so.” I’d be happy to do it. The kids really would leave there receiving so much more than they gave. What would you say to those people that have those teenagers that are getting into that age.

Justin

The people who have teenagers… I would encourage the families to do it together. There are a lot of parents who are like, “Oh… the kid has to do community service hours for school.” They’ll just drop them off and come back. It’s just my opinion, but I feel like it creates a punishment. Here you go, you have to do this. But when the whole family does it, they go and enjoy it and have a good time. It’s just a part of life. It’s not a punishment. It’s something we’re going to do. When families do it together, they enjoy it a lot more. You don’t see the kids that are disappointed that they have to be there.

The other thing I would encourage people to do is try different activities. There is this perception that I’ve run across where people think, “I have to have my thing. My one thing that I’m passionate about. I’m going to volunteer there all the time.” If that’s the case: great. But life is short. Try as many things as you can. Why not? You may discover that you do love animals but working at animal rescue is not for you. Food and security may not be a passion, but you may enjoy the work that feeding South Florida does. Just give things a shot… you never know.

Berta

That’s really important for the parents. I always say, “Families that volunteer together stay together.” It just elevates everything that’s going on when you just put yourself in that position. Before I get into Justin, Justin… I’m going to put you on the spot a little bit. I didn’t want to prepare you for it. But before we get there, can you tell me just from a professional perspective, just because there were so many times that… we try to educate our clients, let’s say on the real estate side. We try to educate them once they’ve been working with us for a while. They sort of know the flow, know the things to look out for.

What would you say if you could give just three tips to people in the real estate industry? There are many people out there who are doing it. Most of them are doing it ethically. Some of them just plain old don’t know. But what would you say is the most important thing from your perspective that either buyers, investors, or realtors really need to be doing that you’ve noticed that they’re not doing.

Justin

It’s funny you say that. I just had somebody contact me yesterday with a listing agreement that the sellers were hoping to get out of. Clearly, they had not read this at all. It wasn’t that it was written in really complex legal jargon that they couldn’t understand. It clearly said, “It’s for three years.” That automatically renewed indefinitely. You really need to be careful and read what you’re signing. Or have somebody take a look at it. Sadly, I don’t know if they just trusted the person who brought this agreement to them or what.

But they’re kind of stuck, and I feel terrible, because they had not been advised properly or just been taken advantage of. It’s a shame. I definitely encourage people to get good advice. Know the people you’re working with. Review these documents. Any attorney or title company or realtor worth their salt will take as much time as possible to go over everything… to answer any questions that somebody has. Unfortunately, because of where we live or the nature of many industries, there are people that will try to take advantage. You really need to be careful.

Berta

You know what’s crazy? You say that about where we live. I did a lot of business in Orlando. I had an office in Orlando. I had great realtors and brokers that I worked with there on the mortgage and real estate side. My company – the name was Title Professionals of South Florida – and one of the brokers one day confessed to me (he was an older gentleman and had been in the business for a long time). He said having South Florida in my name gave me a bad reputation. Everything bad that happens seems to start in South Florida.

Justin

A lot of that is just perception. We’re not that different from any other city of the same size. Orlando is a much, much smaller town. It’s harder to not get caught when it’s a small town like that. People will flush it out quickly. Miami – it’s very transient and it’s a big city. It creates a perception that there’s more.

Berta

I was born and raised in Miami. 305 ‘till I die. Unless there’s a hurricane.

Justin

Then you’re 407!

Berta

Yeah! But it sort of took me aback a little bit. I was like, what the hell are you talking about? This is my town. I can love it all I want, but it was something that just stuck with me. Thank god the name never created an issue for me and it was just your reputation. You get to that point where you’re not even marketing any more. It’s all referral-based. It was just funny – that comment. At first I took offense, but then I could see it unfortunately.

Justin

The statistics prove it. We’re not really any different than any other city of the same size. We are a little more transient and there’s probably some other issues that create a perception that Miami is different than other places, but we’re not.

Berta

Have you noticed anything that realtors aren’t doing that they could or should be doing?

Justin

Good realtors – there are a lot of them – really know how to get out there. They know the importance of building those relationships. I find a lot of the new realtors don’t realize that their job is just to meet people. Get out and meet as many people as possible. Their job is just a connector. Bring a person who wants to buy with a person who wants to sell… bring them together. You can do as much social media or online marketing and you can work with the best company in the world; until you really get out there shaking hands and kissing babies, you can’t build your business. It’s all a numbers game. Meet as many people as possible. I don’t know that they’re taught that early enough: the importance of networking, meeting people, and getting out in the community.

Berta

I think just part of the entire real estate world… the schooling, the academic part of it is so transactional. But real estate really is a relational game. I know that you are one of the best networkers and relationship marketers that I’ve ever met. Tell me about what it has meant to you. I know you serve on the board of many organizations and chambers. You always rise to that leadership capacity, whether you want to or not. How has that made a difference in your business and the community you’ve created.

Justin

Like you said: the industry is all about relationships. Just getting out there and meeting people. There are quite a few realtors out there. We’ve got a lot of them and so it’s a matter of just getting out there and meeting as many people and referral sources as possible. Moving up into leadership is just another way of creating visibility. If you’re a speaker, if you’re on stage, if you have a name badge that’s a little different from everyone else’s it creates the appearance that you are committed to the organization. You’re willing to work a little harder.

People tend to notice that. Sometimes I do it begrudgingly because I have a bad habit of not being able to say, “no” as often as I should. You get a full calendar. There’s also so many great organizations that I’m so happy to support. There are more that I’d like to support that I can’t. If it’s something I can do, I’m happy to.

Berta

Speaking of that: you know I’m going to put you on the spot. I ask you all the time. You know you have to be leading the world right now. You know what I mean. Even starting at a community level, can we talk politics for just two minutes. About Justin in office.

Justin

It’s on the bucket list for sure. It has been for a long time. I am good friends with the local state rep. I’ve really considered running for that seat when he termed out. But because the law firm is still so new it just economically didn’t make sense. I could not focus on running a campaign and running the business. I needed to work on the bank account first and then worry about that. Also going to Tallahassee for three months out of the year while the kids are still relatively young is not ideal. When the right opportunity comes along, I will definitely consider it.

Berta

I’m glad it’s in your bucket. I think it’s just that you’re a natural leader. You’re bringing so much heart to everything you’re doing. I don’t care if it’s a real estate transaction or you’re out there helping build houses with Jimmy Carter. It’s just one of those things. You know?

Justin

I’m so flattered. That is one of the nicest things people can say to me… they encourage me to do that one day. The timing has to be right. Sadly, it’s an expensive endeavor. Until you’re in office, you can’t change that, so…

Berta

Right! Absolutely. I did want to put you on the spot, because I know you know it’s a big thing for me when it comes to you.

Justin

I wish I could have announced something right now.

Berta

This is not a tease, but when you’re ready, you can come back. I’ll volunteer for your campaign to make that happen.

So tell me about Justin. If I looked you up in the dictionary, what would it say?

Justin

You know… I think I’m way more boring than the dictionary or my Wikipedia would say. I’m just perfectly happy sitting on the couch, watching Star Wars with the kids or the Heat game tonight. I’ve been fortunate to do some cool things in my life, as we discussed. The Disney Points of Light last year. Then I had the opportunity to go build houses with Jimmy Carter. I’ve done some cool stuff and I can’t complain. But at heart, I’m just a dad and a husband and a person who wants to go to work and spend time with the family.

Berta

That’s the beauty of simplicity in all that you’re doing. It can seem so simple, but you’re really out there doing so much. I wanted to ask you earlier about your list, which you know I’m a big fan of your list. I don’t know how he does it or finds the time, but he manages to keep us all abreast of all the networking events going on in the community, of all the volunteer opportunities that are going on. He does this on a weekly basis. I love it because it makes things easier for me. I don’t have to go dig around. He makes it in a way that I just click, look into the information, and it’s there.

How did that list come to be and what are you going to do with it?

Justin

I will give credit where credit is due. A good friend of mine, Steve Einhorn, who is a commercial realtor, was sending out a weekly email list. It was a very basic list. He would just write down in an outlook email and send it to his network, saying, “hey, this is what’s going on this week.” I approached him and said that I loved the idea. Do you mind if I steal it? He gave me his blessing.

I needed to do a regular newsletter to stay in front of clients and prospects and things like that. I’m not naïve. I know if I sent them real estate tips or legal news every week, nobody would open it. You couldn’t delete that fast enough. I wouldn’t open it. But if there’s some value to the person, then they’re more inclined to open it. We’re all in the business of bringing in more business – getting out there, meeting more people, and volunteering. It just creates value and gets me in front of the people. I started doing that a little over a year ago. It’s been very popular. People have loved it. People have really appreciated it. It’s gone well. Thanks to the internet and social media… bless Facebook for that interested feature. All I do is just go through the calendar, okay these are all the things, cut and paste and put them there and send it out. But the two that I do every year now are during the holidays where there are no networking or volunteer events. I send two emails out with about ten non-profits in each email that I focus on.

That gives people an opportunity to learn about what’s going on in the community and these great organizations that people can support. During the holidays, it’s a little different.

Berta

We’re in that giving mode and you can really highlight some of these organizations that people may not know about that you know because you’re out there all the time and boots on the ground. I actually emailed you back. That was a really beautiful touch and very timely. I thought it was a great way to give back.

Justin

Because karma is so funny. I really appreciate it when you responded. Some other people responded how much they appreciated the email because it’s not a huge email list. It’s not millions of people. It’s just me doing it. I get notifications every time somebody unsubscribes. I’m not a big company. I know most of these people, so I’m personally hurt when they unsubscribe. Like, “Dang it, what did I do? I’m providing you value. You meet me at these events and you unsubscribe?” But almost every time somebody unsubscribes, somebody else like yourself will just shoot me an email like, “Hey, this is great. Thank you so much.”

You know what? There are still people that appreciate it. That yin and yang always works out.

Berta

I do a lot of talking about becoming competition proof and I talk about staying top of heart. I like it better than staying top of mind. But the way that you’re inviting your clients into this volunteer world that you have… how has that shifted your business?

Justin

It’s been great. I’ve done that in the past, but I really made a commitment to focus on it more. It’s always been a lot of fun to really just work and sweat and grind and get all dirty with people because it builds a deeper bond than just having lunch or a couple of beers. I’ve really focused on that. My family invited a lot of people to come out to these Martin Luther King day events. The response has been phenomenal. I’m really looking forward to growing that bond with people that I’m already connected with on a deeper level.

Berta

This is not a typical business where you can do that. You’ve just been intentional about doing it. Really, what you’re saying is, anybody can do it. You can have great relationships, but when you’re in the service of others… whoever you’re with, it just really tightens the bond. Congratulations for that, I love that. I know it’s going to be a huge blessing for your clients as well.

So before we go, one last question! What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Justin

Wow… my 18-year-old self was much shyer and insecure than my 50-year-old self. As most 18-year-olds probably are. I would definitely encourage my 18-year-old self to just put himself out there, to try things and to meet more people and to not be afraid of failure. To just go for it. I don’t know if my life would be super different, but maybe further along than it was now. And maybe just more opportunities that I’d missed over the years – that I foolishly didn’t take when I was younger.

Berta

I’m so happy you were here. Thank you for coming.

Justin

Thank you for coming Berta.

Berta

Where can we find you?

Justin

I’m all over social media as Mr. Nepola. If you’re interested in getting the email newsletter, just email me at jnepola@gmail.com and I’ll be happy to add you to that list. Yeah, I’m pretty easy to find.

Berta

Guys, seriously. You want to look him up, especially if you can connect with him on Facebook.

Justin

Absolutely: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn.

Berta

You’re in for a treat. It’s going to inspire you to do some big things. If you don’t have that on your plans for this year to get out there and serve in the community, I really encourage you to do it.

Justin

You won’t regret it.

Berta

Yeah. No deed is too small. I guarantee you you’re going to get hooked. Follow Justin. You can find out all this great information. Thank you again, Justin, for taking time out of your crazy busy schedule to be here. I’m so grateful!

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