Above and Beyond
The story on how one business can change the direction of a person’s entire life.
By: Bryan Adamson
As I was reading the New York Times Newspaper a couple of days ago, I saw an article about a Fortune 500 Female CEO describing a situation where she was face to face with her high school counselor who told her that she would never be more than a receptionist. I decided that my next article was going to describe a business that is more than just a business and without them, I wouldn’t be the successful individual that I am today.
When I was a little boy around the age of five, I started to disobey my mother. Wait, wait, timeout, correction, when I was out of the womb, I started to disobey my mother! While I was growing up and beginning to hold a conversation at the age of two or three, my mother started noticing the difficulty that I was having hearing whenever she talked with my back towards her. Her suspicion was that I had inherited the gene of my father, selective hearing with a minor case of a hearing loss (there is a joke there, you see)
I was taken to our pediatrician who at the time dismissed that I had hearing loss because his nurses gave me a hearing exam face to face and I passed with flying colors! Not once, but twice! We switched to a great pediatrician named Dr. Sey who became the steady family doctor, some of us not naming names still see him and have not moved on to different doctors. He immediately suggested that we see the fine, talented and educated red headed audiologist who will eventually change my life and my family’s life.
After sitting down with the audiologist, and doing lots of exams which included sitting in a funky grey box inside the office of a hearing center, she concluded that not only was I hard of hearing but I had 85% loss in both ears. I think you can guess my mom was not relieved that her suspicions were true, but that her life had been turned upside down. (Warning: There have been several people that say she still skates around life on top of her head.)
Mom had no idea what to do at the current point. She was being pushed and prodded every different way as a mother at that point. My grandmother, on my father’s side of the family recommended that I go to the Philadelphia School for the Deaf, which meant I would have only learned sign language and never be taught how to speak. (Some of my friends are probably wishing that this happened because I never seem to shut up sometimes on issues.) Later in life, we found that some of the kids that went there were several grades behind us. People told my mother that I would never be successful, that I couldn’t go to a real school.
The point of my story is walking into what was a little known business at the time. The business owner Liz took us under the wing, she didn’t just test and fit me with a hearing aid. She took the situation to talk to my mother, to find out what she really wanted for her kid, which was to have no limitations for me. She wanted me to go through life normally with as little of a speed bump. Little did she know, having a hearing impairment was a huge speed bump for me, but through the use of the relationship they developed, they crafted a plan of success for me. Not only that, the business took the entire family under her wing, and enabled us to fly by encouraging us to be our best. Liz always sought to get the best hearing aids on the market to help us succeed in school. Liz was also very helpful in making sure our Individual Education plan through the Philadelphia School District was made to cement our foundation to success. She didn’t have to do any of this, but she CHOSE to. Some businesses try to create as much profit without regards to service and relationships. She didn’t look at us and say “Next!”
Author note: This business now has three offices and continuing to grow immensely. The story above says it all.
When I was in fourth grade, I was destroyed by the use of a “trainer”, now called a FM system, which is a special device that enables me to hear the teacher. The teacher speaks into a microphone that blocks out background noises. I was against it simply because I didn’t want to wear it. It was restricting me. I felt I looked horrendous wearing this “big box” around my neck! I wish I had a picture to show you!
In 1997, my parents were tired of our family growing up in a drug-infested neighborhood. Philadelphia Weekly newspaper ranked the intersection of Kensington Avenue and Somerset Street as the worst drug sale corner in the city. This is also the same neighborhood that the movie Rocky was filmed in, so you can get a sense of how bad it was then and how much worse it did get afterwards. My parents were faced with a major decision, they wanted out, but they didn’t know where to go due to educational issues. The family wanted to move to New Jersey but after talking to our audiologist and school psychologist Pam (another amazing woman) about their conundrum, they advised us against moving to New Jersey. The school district would not be able to support us and our insurance would no longer be able to provide us with our needs. (New Jersey school system is very different in regards to special needs student and without having insurance, we would have to pay for hearing aids, which are expensive. We, as a family get new hearing aids about every three to four years. Sometimes less, due to our excessive use and our athleticism, Hearing aids do not like sweat and often times, we have to carry on without them; I played my entire varsity football career without them or with my old hearing aids.
Mrs. Liz Patterson (The red headed audiologist) also encouraged my parents to allow me to go to a top program in Philadelphia, which was the magnet program at Northeast High school not Lincoln. Lincoln is a high school that had a special wing for hard of hearing students who at times, were excluded from the main population of the school. Without her helping us make this decision, I never would have went to college where I succeeded there and without college, I wouldn’t be where I am today!
In conclusion, Liz went above and beyond her description of an audiologist. She didn’t follow the definition; she used her position as a place where she could create art. She didn’t look at her entrepreneurial business as a way to grow money on trees, she looked at it as what can I do to make a difference. I have noticed that some businesses are striving away from this; they want to get you in and get you out as fast as possible. Especially the larger a company gets. They don’t strive to develop relationships; they don’t strive to create raving fans (too much work apparently) I love small companies, I hope to create one where one day I can create something that will change the world.
I encourage not just all audiologists to read this story but I encourage everyone out there to read this article.
I wish individuals would understand that work is not work, work is an environment where you can make a difference. Work is not how you get paid in monetary terms; work is how you can make yourself internally better. How you live is by helping others live. We experience life so much better by giving more of ourselves than what the other person can give back.
Liz created the ultimate raving fan. Thank you Liz for all that you have done. I hope this shows up in a York College Business class someday.