In 1994 I decided I would start a non-profit charity to help find good solutions for bad debt problems, all I really knew was that I wanted to help people.
Almost every organization at the time was named something with credit counseling in it. I figured that I did not want to counsel people about credit, but about debt, so Debt Counselors of America seemed like a much more logical name. And that’s how Debt Counselors of America was born.
I learned a lot of things as Debt Counselors of America grew. Some of them were good lessons, some, not so good. I thought I’d share those insights here with you.
Lessons Learned by the Founder of Debt Counselors of America
- It is hard to help people who don’t always really want help.
- Running a non-profit company is a very difficult balance between generating money to continue the mission and doing the right thing.
- All I wanted to do was help people but it takes a lot of work just to get to that point.
- I learned that I really don’t enjoy being the leader and the manager. I’d rather be one or the other.
- It is damn easy to wander towards the dark side. The dark side pays better.
- I learned a lot about other non-profit credit counseling groups and discovered that there are a lot of wolves in sheep’s clothing out there.
- As long as creditors control the funding, they control the credit counseling agencies.
- Very few people really fight for consumers. Even state consumer affair people have their own agenda to clear complaints rather than really investigate and intervene.
- Even through the very unhappy times, I still care deeply about people and just want to be of assistance.
- I learned that there are very few good solutions to really help people with money troubles.
- I learned to respect bankruptcy more as a good solution and not one to fear as much.
- I learned from watching clients that often it is our thoughts and emotions that drive our actions rather than logic or commonsense.
- I learned to develop solutions by first identifying the goal that needs to be achieved and then working backwards to plan the way to do that.
- Unfortunately I discovered that some credit counseling groups are deceptive, corrupted and do not operate in the best interest of the consumer.
- I can’t work harder for my clients than they want to work for themselves or I burn out.
- I learned that credit counseling is more of an industry than a peaceful mission. It is competitive and not a collaborative group that always works for the best interest of the consumer.
- I learned that the best reward in life is being able to be part of making a positive change in others and altering thousands of lives to be able to move on and live a better life.
- I learned the power of hugs.
- I realized that I would be honored to spend the rest of my life being of service to others if I could find a way to do that.
- I learned that being the boss is not always fun.
- I discovered that being responsible for the income and success of a company that employees people is a stressful and massive responsibility.
- I learned that some regulators are stupid and don’t care.
- I learned that there is no substitution for hard work and dedication.
- I learned that if you are passionate about what you do, it makes life more enjoyable.
- I discovered the secrets to getting out of debt and how both magically simple and intensely complex they are at the exact same time.
- I learned how much I could care about my employees as individuals and how happy I was to watch them succeed, even when they moved on to other jobs.
- I learned to appreciate every client as a friend and was thankful for the trust they placed in the group I created, Debt Counselors of America.
So if you have a money, credit or debt problem that you would help with, ask me for free help and I’ll be happy to assist you with answers and advice. I’ve always been and hopefully will always be here to help you and others.
SteveDebt Counselors of America - What I Learned by Steve Rhode