Going to the brink and back forever
changed the way my father did
business and shaped my view of
both business and life in the process.
I began to see that a business is a
community that prospers only when
everyone contributes to growth
and overcoming adversity.
With that history in mind, it is indeed
a deep honor to serve as TMA’s 2016
President and an even deeper honor to
serve and work with TMA’s incredibly
talented and dedicated members.
The work that TMA’s members
undertake to save businesses has
unquantifiable positive personal
implications for countless people. Our
members matter. Their dedication
matters. Their successes matter.
I believe that a core value of TMA
membership that is sometimes
overlooked in the rush to network and
pitch new business is our members’
belief that “paying it forward” matters.
TMA is a community of professionals
dedicated to corporate renewal,
and people invest in communities
because that is the only way a
community grows and prospers.
Paying it forward is the act of helping
others without any expectation of
immediate reciprocity; rather, the
favor is repaid when the beneficiary,
in turn, gives selflessly to another.
In more than 17 years of active
participation in TMA, I have witnessed
and been the beneficiary of one-to-one exchanges of business—the quid
pro quo approach. Far more often, I
have seen a large numbers of members
paying it forward and witnessed
the incredible multiplier effect.
One personal example of how that
actually pays off involved former TMA
Chairman Tom Kim, who introduced me
to a person at a TMA Global conference.
“You should meet this guy—he has an
interesting business proposition,” Tom
said. We met in the hotel lobby bar,
talked for an hour about the business
opportunity and the industry in
general, and something clicked. I knew
there was a client for this person—I
actually knew of a specific opportunity.
I connected the seller to my client
and, as a consequence, that chance
meeting resulted in an engagement
with my client for that person.
One might think there was no
immediate payoff for me. How wrong
that thinking would be! We all made new
friends and business acquaintances.
We listened to each other carefully,
showed dedication, and built trust.
Tom’s introduction, affirmed by the
result, encouraged more pay it forward
behavior, not just for Tom but also
for me, the seller, and my client.
My client engaged a much needed
service and saved money as a result.
The seller booked a deal and grew
revenue. Finally, my client learned that
I listen to what they say and keep my
eyes open for them—that I was invested
in their business. My credibility was
enhanced and trust was strengthened.
The collective impact of repeated
instances of paying it forward among
TMA members has tangible and
intangible benefits. Your pitch and quid
pro quo does work. Don’t stop making
those pitches. But it works much better
if people trust you because they sense
you are a dedicated listener who looks
out for their interests and does not
always act solely out of self-interest.
I am proud to be a longstanding
member of the TMA communities in
Toronto, Canada, North America, and
globally. Let’s pay it forward together. J
My first exposure to restructuring was as a boy growing up in a small town on the East Coast
of Canada. My family had a number
of businesses, but the cornerstone
was a retail furniture chain located
on an island in the Atlantic. The
island was a 12-week delivery in
a just-in-time inventory system.
The business always carried a large
inventory to gain a competitive
advantage in the fight for consumers.
I was 16 in 1981 when the unthinkable
happened: interest rates rocketed to
21 percent, impairing our customers’
buying power while the bank inventory
financing racked up a double-digit
interest rate. The choices for our
business were stark: fix it or watch it
die, along with 150 jobs in a part of
the country where unemployment
was becoming the norm. We rolled
up our sleeves and with the help of
a very understanding lender, a well-seasoned accountant, an amazing
senior executive team, and dedicated
employees—all of whom are lifelong
friends and advisors—my family
avoided the abyss of insolvency.
Paying It Forward:
A Smart Business Strategy
BY DAVID F.W. COHEN, TMA GLOBAL PRESIDENT