The year was 2008. The country was in a financial upheaval! Do you remember? People’s financial well- being was slipping out of their hands like water through their fingers. People were losing their homes and their jobs left and right! Sometime during that year, I can’t remember the month, we were holding one of our monthly pow-wows with Ken, our business advisor. My brother, Ken and I were sitting pretty close. Ken looked worried. He was reviewing our financial statements. He took a big breath and looked at us and said, “The numbers look pretty bad. I think you might have to start thinking of finding a job. This business is HISTORY.”
That particular morning I had gotten up in a very sensitive mood. I had an argument with my daughter, Paula. We were all stressed with our personal lives as well as financial distress was affecting everyone. I was emotional and not in my best state of mind. When Ken looked at us and said, “You are HISTORY,” I could feel tears rushing up to my eyes but I held them back trying to maintain a professional disposition. You do not want to look unprofessional when someone is telling you that you are out of business, do you?
Even though Alfonso was unaware of my emotional state, he interpreted my silence. He was probably thinking that all our hard work could not be lost just like that. Not after all the blood, sweat and tears! He looked at Ken and said, “You do not know my sister. The only way she is going to leave this place is with her feet out in front of her.” This is an expression that we use in my country referring to me leaving in a coffin. (Maybe this compares to the expression, “Over my dead body!)
I need to mention that we have been working with Ken for a few decades. He knew our determination and he believed in our capacity to bounce back. But he was sure this time we were done. This time it was all three of us that sat there in complete silence. After what seemed like an eternity, he looked at us and said, “Okay then . . . Let’s get to work!!” We went back to the meeting and the rest is history! Well, it was not that easy. Paula, Alfonso and I had to run the store with a bare bones staff. Day after day we did all the operations including the most basic ones until we could start rehiring again.
That year lots of people lost almost everything! It was a traumatic time for the economy. It was almost like we were tested by the universe reminding us that we can be very vulnerable. I must not be arrogant because failure or success is always unpredictable. In fact, we all have problems as we journey through life and the problems don’t take us down. It shows we deal with them.
As the economy healed and improved, so did we. Ken has been an instrumental part of our success. Ken is one of my other angels. He literally holds our hands day and night, month after month, year after year. Thirty four years to be exact! He gives us his best advice using all the knowledge he has accumulated through all the years as an advisor. Of course, he is not only someone who works with us. He has become part of our family. Yes, he is one of my angels.