Episode 20 – Live Your Life – In Memory of Mike Ain


Welcome to another episode of the Select Business Team Podcast where this week we want you to live your life.

This podcast is named after our company and we bring business professionals together to create a Team that support each other as we grow and discusses topics that are valuable to business development. A few examples include, hiring, insurance, marketing and exit planning. You’ll find insight on these and many more topics throughout each episode.

In some of our episodes, we interview our members, in some of our episodes, I provide you with insights on a particular topic that I’m hoping you can apply to your business.  As the founder of the company, I’ve learned so much from sitting in these meetings and I’ve been doing this for over 20 years.  Todays episode is a special one to me.  It’s about one of our members and includes some very important lessons learned from him that I believe you will also benefit from.

This episode of Select Business Podcast is dedicated to Mike Ain who was a longtime member of Select Business Team and a very special and dear friend. The episode shares some lessons that are relevant to everyone…and particularly every business person. We always think it can’t happen to us…that we are immune to everything that we hear about…until that one day….

I didn’t get the chance to interview Mike on the podcast, mostly because I started recording after he became ill. A regret on my part for sure. He was a personal injury attorney that specialized in medical malpractice cases, his wisdom is something that would benefit all of our listeners. The stories I’ve heard him tell about how he would prep for a case, how he put medical with technology to present cases for his clients were fascinating and I wish I had those recorded. I know his knowledge, passion and sincerity would have inspired you.

So why is this story so important? The things that happened to Mike over the past 4 years are the exact things that could happen to you, yet you probably think like I do and like so many people do….this only happens to other people. I know that Mike didn’t think this would happen to him. He was a vegetarian, he ate healthy, he wasn’t over weight and he did extensive long distance bike riding, and played tennis all the time, all things that kept him active, healthy in hopes of having a long life.

It was late one Thursday afternoon in the fall of 2013. Select Business Team was having a networking event in Bethesda where we invited members from all of the Teams along with any guests they wanted to bring. We host these types of events every 6 months or so, but we haven’t had one since. Probably because I’m a little concerned I’m jinxed.  Ok, that’s another story!

As the host of these events, I usually purchase some appetizers and it’s a cash bar for everyone. I walk around, make sure everyone is talking to someone, facilitate introductions as much as I can, and truly try to be a good hostess since I know almost everyone and it’s my company!

About half way through this event, I saw Mike and another member, Jon, sitting off to the side, so I walked over to see what was going on.  Mike was sitting on a bar stool, Jon was standing behind him, holding him up, which seemed a little odd to me.  As I walked closer, and looked at Mike, he didn’t look right.  Part of his lip was facing up, the other part was crooked in the opposite direction. Now, I’m not trained in medicine, but I have to say that one of the many Facebook posts that went around about what to look for if someone is having a stroke actually worked.  I immediately said to Mike, I think you are having a stroke, I’m going to call 911.  Of course, we were in a restaurant where there was no cell signal so I had the hostess call for me.  It felt like hours before they arrived, but EMT took him to the local hospital. Jon went with him and I let all the guests know, waited for everyone to leave, then met Jon at the hospital.

Here’s the irony so far. Mike was working alone in his office that late afternoon and at the last minute decided to attend our networking event. Initially, he wasn’t planning to join us, so imagine what might have happened if he had stayed in his office working? There is a very good possibility that no one would have found him for awhile. Also, while we knew Mike from our meetings each week, neither of us knew much about Mike outside of business. Jon assumed that Mike was drunk and was helping him not make a fool of himself. The way Jon was holding up, he really wasn’t looking at Mike’s face at the time, hence he didn’t see the crooked smile that I saw. The good news is that we got him to the hospital in time that there were no long lasting effects from the stroke….or so we thought.

Have you ever saved someone’s life?  Have you ever had your life saved by someone? I think I’ve been in both scenarios. Mike thinks I saved his life. For that gift we were forever bonded. Jon was included in this because he was holding him up and stayed with him at the hospital until his wife arrived. I would say for the three of us, there was a unique bond that I doubt I’ll ever share with someone again.

My life wasn’t really saved like this but I have had heart surgery. It wasn’t an emergency type of surgery, but nonetheless, I am thankful for the surgeon that ‘fixed’ my heart and in many ways potentially saved my life.  Ok, I’m digressing again.

After the stroke, Mike took a few weeks off, but as soon as he was back on his feet, he showered Jon and I with gratitude for saving his life. I believe Jon and I did what anyone would have done, but my ‘hostess’ skills, trying to make sure everyone was ok, definitely paid off this time.

One of the beauties that developed as a result of this event is that every year, Mike, Jon and I would have a special lunch to celebrate Mike’s life. We had 3 of these. Always at Mike’s favorite Italian restaurant in Rockville – Il Pizzico. Always with a bottle of wine, always with great conversation and great food.

At the second lunch, Mike and I had a conversation about an operating/buy sell agreement with he and his partner, but he said they hadn’t done anything. I know I got him thinking, but I don’t’ know if he ever took action.  I say this because I didn’t want to pry. I gave him my spiel…..it was up to him to take it from there.

A few months after our second lunch, Mike was found wondering around Baltimore City, lost.  Mike was a very intelligent individual, a brilliant attorney, so this was very unusual behavior. After some research, he went in for an MRI and they found a brain tumor. My heart sank when I heard this news.

Personally, I lost one of my high school girlfriends and another member of SBT a few years earlier to brain tumors, so I had some knowledge of what was ahead of him. Honestly, loosing two members to a brain tumor is a little unsettling to me. I know that there isn’t any connection to the two individuals, but as the owner of the company, it causes me to pause.

Once diagnosed, Mike was very aggressive with his treatment and always optimistic,

but two years later….I’m saying goodbye to him.

Before having his stroke and being diagnosed with his brain tumor, Mike was an avid bike rider. He rode in many long distance races and I believe the last big race he rode was the 5 Burroughs race in NYC. Since I hadn’t really done much bike riding before doing a 50 mile bike ride in 2014, Mike gave me a lot of pointers on what to do, how to train and he even gave me an old bike to practice on.

We would regularly talk about his bike rides and my training (or sometimes lack thereof) so from this we strengthened our friendship. After each race he called me and asked how it was.  Considering I was in new territory, it was nice to have support in the bleachers!

After the last meeting he attended in October 2016, he approached me to say that he was going in for another surgery. He’d missed a lot of meetings and wanted to let me know so that he didn’t loose his spot on the Team. In my mind, there was no replacing him. I told him he had a seat with the Team whenever he wanted to return. I didn’t realize that would be his last meeting, but I did give him a big hug and told him how wonderful he was.

The surgery didn’t go well and 3 months later he’s looking over us.

What I would like for you to take away from this episode are two things from Mikes circumstances.  The first, you are not immune to getting sick tomorrow. You could have a stroke, you could get diagnosed with a brain tumor.  We don’t know what will happen tomorrow. For that reason, you must do everything you can to enjoy today.

People think I’m a little crazy because I’m trying to qualify for the NYC Marathon….it means that I have to go to NYC 9 times and volunteer as well. For me right now, that is living (if you listened to episode 16), you know that last year was pretty rough for me. It’s much better now, but I’m still a caregiver and still trying to do the right thing which is an emotionally draining).

Back to living now…..As someone that had never been to NYC before 2014, I feel like a little kid ….it’s an exciting city with a lot of things to do. I don’t have any desire to live there, but it is so vibrant with so many things to do and it is such a different lifestyle that what I live at home. I don’t like to shop, but I do like to look at architecture and there is so much beauty there. I absorb so much with each trip.  I’m living, and I hope you are too.

The other take away for those of you that are business owners is to get your documents in order. If you have a partner, have a buy sell in place. How will you handle your departure if you can’t work any longer…or if you want to retire or just move away? Decide how this process will take place now, get it in writing and have it reviewed by your attorney.

Mike and his partner didn’t have an exit strategy, they were going to work forever, both were health.  Instead they just closed the doors and their practice is no longer in existence. Is that how you want to exit your business? If so, than don’t do anything, but if it isn’t, you need to take some action.

As an insurance agent, these are the types of conversations I have with clients on a regular basis. I’m very passionate about having an exit strategy because I have seen first hand the horrible problems that can arise when there is no plan in place.

People probably think I harp too much about it, but there are many that thank me for motivating them because they too know the consequences.  Please put a date on your calendar to map out your exit strategy. If you have a partner, have a meeting to discuss ideas. Have the legal document created and put it in a place where someone knows where to find it. This also applies to you if you are an individual, but since I do so much work with business owners, that’s really who I am addressing here.

Don’t wait until it is too late – Live Your Life 

Get out and enjoy your life and create some opportunities in the process!

One last tidbit I want to add …and this is something that I picked up at the service.

Once Mike had his stroke, which he called an event, he started having breakfast with his brothers every Sunday morning.  It really brought home to me what we do at Select Business Team -we have breakfast together every week.  For us, it’s a time to have a business conversation but the concept of doing this regularly, and the value that it brought to Mike and his family and the value that it brings to members of Select Business Team, is priceless.  I’d like to encourage you to schedule a breakfast with someone that you love or care about every week.  From a business perspective, I want to encourage you to schedule a breakfast with someone every week.  Yes, we get busy, yes, it is time consuming, but I honestly believe that the good that can come from it in the long run is what will make the investment of your time valuable.  For me, it was a wake up call that I need to schedule more breakfasts, well, in my case, a meeting after my breakfast meeting, and really talk with my clients. In my heart it’s what I’ve wanted to do for a long time but thought I was too busy….While I do have a lot going on, it’s the best way to re-engage with members and guests of Select Business Team. So, thank you Mike for reminding me of what is so important in life.

Until next time…