Negative…the other N

A week or so ago, I was taking my niece to school early for tutoring in math.  I asked what they were working on and she said they were just getting to negative numbers and she was having a hard time.  I tried to explain how negative numbers work in math.  All I could come up with was “just remember, a negative times a negative equals a positive”.  My niece just looked at me like I had sprouted horns and told me that I made no sense.  I understand her frustration.

When I was her age, I constantly argued with my Mom that math was stupid and there was no way it was going to matter when I grew up.  We had that same argument until I was in college (and, ironically, thought I was grown up).  I would get indignant and she would just smile and tell me that it was not about the math; it was about problem solving and how to use specific rules and processes to find solutions.

Let’s be honest, the idea of a negative times a negative equaling a positive is just plain silly.  And yet, it is one of those very specific rules that we use every day to problem solve.

I have worked in two industries that are viewed in a very negative light.

I started my career in commercial collections.  Talk about a conversation killer at parties.  Inevitably, when I told someone what I did for a living, I could watch the panic cross their face.  Had I called them about a bill they owe?  Did I know they had financial problems?

Once the panic subsided, inevitably I would hear a war story about a “friend” and some horrible experience with a bill collector. ~sigh~

When I gave notice at the collection agency and told my boss I had accepted a job at a local factoring firm, he told me that I was taking a step backward…that I would now have clients who didn’t pay their bills and would probably come across one that I had collected money from and/or sued.

He was right.

My first week, I was handed a portfolio of clients.  One was a business I had processed out for litigation right before I left the agency.  My boss and I decided that another Account Executive would handle that account.

She ended up being a great factoring client AND she utilized factoring to get her past due bills paid and get her business on the right track.  After about six months, I took the account back and called her.  She remembered me.  She told me that she appreciated my professionalism when I was trying to collect from her and that there were no hard feelings when we sued her.  In fact, she said that not only did she not blame me; it was the lawsuit that prompted her to find a way to get it together.  For her, the negative of being sued by a collection agency and the negative perception of using factoring was a positive game changer for her in business.

Between my first career in collections (11 years) and my second career in factoring (year 15), I have heard just about every story about bad collection and factoring experiences.  Rather than get upset about it, I have worked to turn those negatives into positives.  I understand that most of the negativity comes from lack of knowledge and understanding.

It has been a primary goal and focus of LDI from its inception to get information out there into the business community about the benefits of Factoring.  It has been one of my personal goals to help business owners who see only the negatives to begin pairing up some of those negatives and get positive results.

The lessons:

Negatives are rarely stand alone experiences.  Always look at the big picture and you will see how to combine your negatives and turn them into positives.


Even though it is not about the math, it is the math that teaches us the process.  We use the process every single day.


My Mom was really smart!