In early 2013, I took a HUGE risk when I voided all our client contracts in the middle of the night and switched our customers over to a low flat fee. I now refer to that moment as my "Jerry Maguire moment". My conscience finally caught up with me that night. I knew we could provide the same great results for a lot less money. The creation of our Research Database allowed us to do just that. To be even more honest, I began building the Research Database as a tool I intended to lease to many of our 1,100 competitors. It was going give me a green light to a better life, a well earned, early retirement. However, just before we finished some trial runs with the Research Database, somewhat of a coincidence took place. Someone (a competitor I imagine who gives big campaign funds) had a former Commissioner at the Cook County Board of Review launched an investigation on us. This occurred almost "instantly" after we announced being the FIRST in the industry to get rid of our percentage while still providing full customer service! Go figure. We were investigated by some agency with a very long name. From memory it was something like "The Illinois Attorney Reprimand and Disciplinary Agency...." for the "illegal practice of law". Months later we were cleared with no finding of any wrong doing ever found. Obviously or you wouldn't be reading this right now. However, the event was nonetheless very stressful. It aged me, I am certain of this. It stressed both me and my mother. It caused some sleepless nights. Not because we were worried but because it's something looming over you. F*cking with your happiness, pardon the French but I feel my blood start to boil just recalling the events. You can mess with me, but you cannot mess with my mother or my family. Like I said, in the instant we were cleared, I said to myself "SCREW THE COMPETITION". I decided our Research Database would be best put to use with the customers we already had and I was certain they would help us get more! I knew they would be thrilled about our new, low flat fee and even better evidence for their appeals. Yes, the Research Database does research better than any human could every do by hand. We ran with our flat fee and kept praying all the way. I still pray all the time. It was not an easy change. We took an immediate and overnight revenue loss of 80% the instant I removed our contingency fee for both reductions and refunds. I could not have done it without my mother. Those of you who know her, knew she was a in the office just as much as I was. Sadly she had a severe stroke in February of 2017. I noticed she was pretty down and sad after my sister left with her only grand daughter a couple months earlier before her stroke. Mom went from being a full time nurse to a full time grandma, as soon as my sister gave her a grandchild. She helped my sister raise her the first 14 years of her life. I decided to stay at moms for a few week and I was there the night our lives changed forever. I blame myself too, I worked in the office until 10:30 PM that night. I got to moms house and sat in my car checking messages on my cell phone because we were so busy I couldn't look at my cell phone during work hours. I play with my phone to unwind my mind from all the pressure that comes with amazing growth. I walked into her house about 10:45PM to find her on the floor, confused, struggling to speak and trying to stand. The stroke took out all of her right side and 75% of her speech. I wish I could of came home sooner, like a regular guy who gets to punch out at 5. I wished I was the guy who could leave work at work. Anyways, there is a miracle drug that can only be administered within 3 hours of a stroke that pretty much reverses the paralysis a stroke can cause and gets the person right back to normal. Unfortunately, you cannot give the drug if you are NOT 100% certain it's been less than 3 hours or administering the drug can cause internal bleeding and/or death. We had to take a pass on the miracle drug because none of us were sure what time her stroke actually occurred. Two years later, I've noticed that I no longer blame myself as often as I use to. In fact, I have honestly become a little more thankful and grateful for everything I have, even if it's not much. By some miracle, mom became a much nicer woman than she was before her stroke. She use to be a smoker, snappy and moody all the time. She was funny though, even before the stroke but she was even funnier after the stroke. It was like the stroke killed the angry section of Ma's brain. I thanked God for that. Sometimes I wonder if she was just "making it look easier" as not to worry or stress us. She was a nurse and I wouldn't put that past her. She never wanted to be dependent. She would often say in her good days "If I'm like that (pointing to someone in a wheelchair) take me out to the Back 40". A turn farmers use when they have to put down horses who break a leg or become lame. Did you know that until just recently, if a horse broke it's leg you had to put it down? They could not stay off it long enough for it to heal and they are simply too heavy. Mom didn't want to be a weight to anyone, ever. The life changing event made my whole family, including my mother, stronger and tighter. Finding a loved one on the floor is something I pray none of you ever have to experience. A few years ago I created the video below to honor my mother and all of the sacrifices she made for us, again and again, without thinking twice. My mom was a tough cookie. She took a lot of risks as a single mother, raising not one but two kids completely on here own. From the day my sister was born, three years after me, she never relied on a man again. My mother taught me and my sister many of life's most valuable lessons. I know that "Life without risk, isn't life at all". Taking care of my mom was not easy, but it was a great pleasure and a GREAT HONOR. It also comes with a great internal satisfaction that I cannot completely describe. At the end of her life I got to be the son I should of always been. My sister and I actually shared her one month at a time between Chicago and Ohio. In closing, I want you to know that I had no idea how soft my mothers hair is, until I had to help her brush it. When I am brushing her hair, I can't hep but recall how she use to brush mine and get me ready for school. I got to return the favor, I got to help her get dressed and ready for the day and that felt good inside.
I would like to thank you all for "taking a risk on me" and for seeing my family through some of the darkest of our days. Now you know why I end most of my emails with "Call your mother, tell her you love her..." Tomorrow isn't promised to anyone, not even you. Take care of each other. It is never too late to right some wrongs. Below is mom's video, I hope you enjoy it. We are a family business that will NEVER stop caring about our customers.
Yaya (mom) passed away right after a beautiful Florida vacation. The very next days she started suffering from dizziness and shaky eyes. It took the doctors at Sweedish Covenant 10 days to figure out it was small cell lung cancer. We were not surprised, nor was Ma. She smoked from age 13 right up to her stroke. She stopped after the stroke. Go figure. I think it was nice of God to let me have that last vacation with her. I know she is never further than one prayer away. Call your mother, tell her you love her...
Farlap & Associates
3447 W. Foster Avenue Suite B
Chicago, IL USA 773-409-4405