I grew up in a small town, and when I say small town, I mean it was tiny. I graduated with a total of 43 kids in my class. The biggest lessons I learned from my time in that small town is that communities thrive on relationships. I learned quickly if my friends and I did something across town, my parents would know before I made it back home! It is the personal responsibility and the commitment to others well- being that makes communities work, run, and most importantly, thrive.
I spent a few years as a paper boy when I was 11 years old and I went all over town delivering papers to everyone. It took hours for me to get around on my bike, but my favorite spot to deliver was the senior housing development we had in our town.
It always took the most time to get through that stretch, because most of the tenants would meet me at the door as I approached. I always shared a smile, and some conversation and I learned many lessons from the folks who lived there. The most important lesson I learned is the value of being heard and understood. I would always listen to the wisdom they had to share and even from a young age, I really connected with them. I learned that interacting with others is more valuable than the tip I would receive for delivering the papers. Those important lessons stay with me as I grow in my professional life. I value relationships above everything and, I understand how important it is to let my clients be heard.
One of the first clients I ever worked with when I started my firm in 2002 reminds me so much of why I do what I do. I spent hours getting to know them and listening to what their dreams and desires were. I learned about their life experiences and who they really were. They have since moved on to be with the Lord but while they were here, they left a lasting impact on my life, and I am forever grateful to have known them.
After many conversations and talks, they made an appointment with me to move forward with a financial solution I proposed. They sat in my office across from me and wrote a check in the amount of $100,000.00. When Mr. B handed it to me, I was shaking like a leaf! I was not insecure about what we were doing, but I realized the enormous trust they had in me as a person. That moment is a constant reminder to me that I never take for granted what it took to earn the large sum of money and my responsibility to safeguard it. Over the years, Mrs. B would give my children gifts at Christmas, invite us over for trick or treat, or have meals together at a diner to talk and laugh. That is truly why I believe that community, regardless of whether the graduating class is 43, or 543 kids, is about our sphere and pockets of people we cherish and care about. That is the foundation that built my business and my life.