June means many things to many people. For some, the sixth month of the year signifies the beginning of the summer season, for others, the end of the school semester. But for most of us (men, in particular), June means just one thing: Father’s Day. And amidst my daydreams of being showered with gifts by my two lovely daughters, the upcoming holiday has got me thinking about my own dad, and the influence he had on my life.
More than anything, my dad was a survivor. He survived the Holocaust, he survived the retail world, and he survived fatherhood. And I wouldn’t be surprised if he did it all by bartering. No matter what my father bought, he would always (and I mean always) negotiate the price. Sticker price meant nothing to him; be it a car or a pair of pants–he always managed to strike a deal. It embarrassed me when I was younger, I would wander away while he made his case to the salesman, or pretend not to know who he was. But the older I got, the more fascinated I was by his ability to negotiate. I couldn’t believe some of the things he got away with, just by asking. That idea really stuck with me as I was growing up–and it’s one of the reasons I’m so successful at negotiating with the IRS.
But I didn’t always know that taxation would be my calling. I majored in business administration in college because I knew I wanted to be part of the business world. Of course, that degree required me to take a fair share of accounting classes–which introduced me to the world of taxation. It was during that time I learned you couldn’t say “common sense” and “tax” in the same sentence–it was an oxymoron! After that, I was hooked.
I worked as a staff accountant for a good chunk of time before receiving my CPA certificate and moving up through the ranks. Eventually, I made the move into the private sector where I learned early on that driving a business required more than a mission statement. It required marketing and advertising (another gem I learned from my dad). Over a decade later, I made a call that saved the company I was working for at the time over 12 million dollars–and all I got was a pat on the back. “Would my dad consider that an acceptable deal?” I thought to myself. The answer was a resounding “No.” I decided to take charge of my own destiny. I quit my job, bought a Dan Kennedy marketing manual for about $700 dollars, and over the next few years I tried every trick in the book until I found the ones that worked.
One of the first things I did was run a 2×2 inch lead generation ad in the local newspaper. Within four days I had over 88 calls. I was watching TV with my wife when I said, “I think I have a business here.” I ran the company from my kitchen table for a few months before moving into a small office with a parking-lot view and a telephone. It wouldn’t have gone any further than that if it weren’t for Howard Stern. Every once in a while, my radio spots would run during his show, and when it did, my one phone would ring off the hook. A few years later I moved into a bigger space, hired a few employees, and worked 12 to 14 hour days, 6 days a week. I was doing everything; consultations, marketing, case resolution, billing–you name it, I was doing it. Why? Because I’m a survivor, just like my dad, and I wasn’t willing to let this enterprise fail. Several years later I brought my best friend on as partner and we took Tax Resolution Services. Co. nationwide.
The very thing that embarrassed me as a child is the very thing that got me where I am today. Sure, he taught me how to negotiate (whether he meant to or not), but he also taught me to do the right thing for the right people–and for that I’m eternally grateful.