Funny thing happened when I arrived at “L”…LDI wasn’t on my list. And really, isn’t that one of the main points of all of this? To talk about LDI?
Sure, I have been writing about business. Sure, I have been “talking” about LDI…how we started…what makes us different. The little known truth? There would be no LDI to talk about without the “L” that started it all.
The real “L”…the reason LDI exists…the reason I am sitting at my computer right now typing this, is Marvin Levin, my mentor, partner and friend.
I met Marvin in August 2001 when I started my first job in factoring. He was the lead investor for that firm. To be honest, I did not know what to make of him. Here was this very nice man, who never really asked direct questions, was always kind, and yet, everyone in the office seemed a little afraid of him.
It took about two years to really get a handle on what was going on in that company – that is was failing and no one seemed to know it. I also realized that Marvin was getting a much sanitized version of the challenges we faced, AND, my access to him was being thwarted. I finally screwed up my courage and, armed with a banker box of information; secretly ventured over to his office and laid it all out for him. I felt guilty doing it and he could tell (my shaking voice might have given me away). It was the right thing to do – even when I knew in doing so; I was painting a very grim picture of the future of the company and therefore my own continued employment.
What happened that day was that I realized that there are people in this world who operate at such a high level of integrity that they truly live their lives absent of judging others. He never once (then or since) chastised me for any of the mistakes or choices that had been made. He never bad mouthed anyone involved in those mistakes or choices. He asked me questions, told me stories about his experiences, offered insight into the bigger picture and together we faced some hard truths. There were many hard truths over the next few years. With each truth, my voice shook a little less and his stories became a little more direct. I learned (still a work in progress) to start problem solving with why something happened rather than trying to solve the result of what happened. He taught me that if we understand why, we can resolve just about any situation.
It was roughly three years later that he came to me and offered the LDI opportunity. Knowing that he believed that we could do it was all the motivation necessary to jump in with both feet.
I would love to be able to say that LDI’s approach to factoring is my brain child. It is not. Our philosophy of collaboration, teamwork and problem solving without judgment is a direct reflection of the lessons he continues to teach me, with patience, kindness and a kind of brilliance that is mind boggling.
Life’s greatest blessings often come from the most unlikely places.