I’m a lawyer with a good reputation for teaching people how to run a business and make it work for them. But Ale’s sudden severe sickness has blindsided me. I can’t emotionally function. And I’m failing to practice what I professionally preach.
The stress is unbearable. I’m about to lose everything.
One morning, bullets started hitting our house. (A business associate sent someone to kill my Dad.)
Although Dad escaped, the law eventually caught him. For years, I visited him in jail. (He later lost his fortune, remade it, and lost it again.) I also saw my mother and stepfather endure multiple multimillion-dollar bankruptcies.
By 10th grade, I ran various businesses, from lawn mowing to boat washing. I didn’t need the money – I was just fascinated with business.
Again, I felt like an outsider. The culture celebrated suffering – you couldn’t feel good unless it was hard. I quickly figured out how to graduate six months early with top grades.
The natural progression was then starting my own practice. It was a disaster. With no plan, systems, or controls, I drifted.
Out of options, I called The Florida Bar. They had a program to assist struggling business owners. My advisor said:
“Your problems are effects preceded by causes. If we fix the causes, the effects will take care of themselves.”
Over several months I called back repeatedly – each time with a new problem after solving the previous one.
Running a business became more fun than practicing law. So when my advisor (a living legend in legal circles) offered me a job and mentoring, I couldn’t refuse.
I was in my late 20s and learned more about the practical realities of running a business than most would ever experience. I fielded thousands of calls from people needing help on every aspect of their business and visited multiple broken law firms to fix them. Patterns emerged –
the root cause was systems and mindset.
Then she got sick, losing 25% body weight over 18 months.
Despite preaching the virtues of building a sustainable business, my business was me working from the dining room table. There were no systems. Predictably, it crumbled.
We burned through our savings and credit. Despite selling everything of value, we still lost our home to foreclosure. It was humiliating.
We celebrated with IKEA furniture upgrades – that’s how broke we were before!
At IKEA, Ale scribbled me a note with the little pencil
Coming to America broke without speaking English, she found solutions (libraries, community college courses) and got results (rising to the highest levels for MTV, VH1, and Nickelodeon).
So when Ale said, TAYE ASTUYA, I listened.
It became our rallying cry whenever we
wanted to quit.
I’m grateful to have graduated from The School of Hard Knocks and channeled my wildly messed-up experiences. I’m now uniquely qualified to help small business owners.