I have this vivid memory of peeking through the door to my parents’ office one night and seeing strangers sitting around the table.
It was the early 1980s, and my parents ran a small trucking business out of an office that was a part of our home in rural Lebanon, Illinois.
I wasn’t yet 10 years old, but I was old enough to know that things were not going well with the business. I didn’t know much about business or economics, but I had heard my Dad talking about fuel prices going “through the roof.” It didn’t sound good.
My brother and I could feel the anxiety in the house. Mom and Dad were very short with us, and with each other. It seemed like they had no time for us, and Dad was working later and later hours. Some nights, he wouldn’t come home for dinner. Others he would eat in silence, then disappear into the office. We wouldn’t see him again until the morning.
The stress was palpable.
As soon as I was old enough to reach the phone on the wall, I had been trained to answer it, “Stock Transport, how can I help you?” I had heard that other people’s parents went to jobs, but all I knew was that my parents worked out of the house all day. In my mind, the family business was intertwined with our family identity. Stock Transport was part of my identity, too.
Though I’d always been a problem solver, in that situation, I felt helpless. There was nothing I could do.
I remember thinking, “What happens if my parents lose the business? Where will we live? What will we do?”
Full disclosure: I also wondered, “Am I ever going to get to buy that pair of Guess jeans?”
My feelings of safety and security were shaken.
Until, that is, the night I snuck a peek into the office, and saw all those strangers around that table.
After I noticed the strangers, and before my dad noticed me and shooed my away, I noticed the smile on his face. He looked more relaxed, and less stressed, that he had in months.
The next day, my parents explained to my brother and me who those strangers were: they were trusted advisors for the business. There was an accountant, a banker, a financial planner, and a lawyer. Together, they were helping my parents develop a plan to help the business get through the crisis.
Those strangers started showing up at our house once a week or so, sometimes staying late into the night, and every time they came over, I felt a sense of relief. (I was also relentlessly curious about what was happening with those meetings, and always tried to find a way to be within earshot of the office whenever they were there.)
Even when the advisors weren’t there for a meeting, a sense of calm returned to the house. Once that plan was in place, and they could see a way out of their struggles, my parents were happier. They had more time to spend with me. They took a bigger interest in my life. I felt safe and secure again.
So yes, I argued a lot as a kid, and from a young age, my parents told me that I would make a good lawyer. Perhaps my career path was woven into my DNA.
The kind of law that I practice today, though, is the result of the team around that table that kept Stock Transport alive through the crises of the ‘80s to become the thriving business it is today, run by my younger brother.
Without that team of trusted advisors, the business would have gone under. Because of those trusted advisors, I grew up wanting to be one of those people who helps businesses either avoid those kinds of crises, or helps them get through those kinds of crises when they inevitably arise.
Those advisors were there for our family business, and they made an indelible impact on me, and on my family. The role they played in our story is why I’m so driven to do this work. It’s why I consider it such a privilege to serve as a trusted advisor today, and why I would consider it an honor for Stock Legal to be part of your team of trusted advisors.