Who Has Your Back Now?

by Dr. Kevin Pallis

 I saw a cute short story about a guy named Mike Stevens who bought a small print shop years ago only to discover he didn’t know a thing about running a printing business. He had a business degree that was next to useless. He was overwhelmed and didn’t know what to do, or where to turn. Out of desperation, he turned to his father, a retired auto worker, who knew nothing about the printing business, but certainly knew his son.

Upon driving 1500 miles almost non-stop the first thing he did was hug his son, say everything was going to be okay and we’ll get through this together. It was the start of an amazing 23 year journey of working together. That’s what our parents mean to us. That’s the power of a relationship. It transforms/transcends obstacles that paralyze us. They may not know much of the X’s and O’s of our current circumstances, however, they still know how to not only make us feel better, but to make things better in reality.

Here’s Stevens’ excerpt from Guy Kawasaki’s Enchantment ,The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions:

“A few Mike Stevens Print Shop Storydays after I bought my little print shop in 1983, I realized I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I had a degree in business, but I quickly discovered my diploma   was pretty much worthless in this new endeavor. On the second day we were open, a big snow blizzard hit our city, Fargo, North Dakota, and basically shut everything down.

I didn’t have any extra cash and needed to be open because I needed the daily sales to make my first payroll in a few days. Somehow I managed to get to work, thinking I could complete a few of the unfinished jobs in progress so I could invoice them for cash, but I quickly realized I didn’t know how to operate a single piece of equipment.

The joy and excitement of owning a new business was fading fast. It felt hopeless. I did the only thing I could think of: I called my dad, who was a retired auto worker living in Florida. I said, “Dad, I’m lost. I don’t know what to do or which way to turn.” Without even pausing, he said not to worry, he’d be there in forty-eight hours. My dad got in his car and drove fifteen hundred miles–almost nonstop–until he got to Fargo.

When he arrived, the first thing he did was give me a hug and put his arm around my shoulder. (He’d never done that before.) I’ll never forget him looking me in the eyes and saying, “It’s gonna be OK, Mike. We’ll get through this together, one problem at a time.”

The next morning when I got to work at five a.m., my dad was already there. He’d organized and cleaned things up and had breakfast waiting for me. I felt my anxieties begin to melt away. Soon, things did get better. Everyone loved my dad–especially customers. He became my front-counter person, my production manager, my delivery driver, and my inspiration. Sometimes it seemed like he did all the work and I got all the credit. But he wanted it that way. He became my secret weapon…and he ended up staying for twenty-three years.

During those twenty-three years, we worked together, we laughed together, and we learned the printing business together. In the end, my little business became a big success and we won many printing industry awards. But I never forgot that my success was built on the shoulders of a loving dad who didn’t want to see his son fail. He was always there for me, no matter what happened. I got my degree from the university, but it was my auto worker dad who taught me how to run a business.

He finally did retire at age seventy-seven. He died unexpectedly 16 days later at our family’s little lake home that he was visiting on his way back to Florida.

In many ways, I’m not surprised. He probably planned it that way. After all, his job was finally complete.”


I’m reminded of recent Chiropractic graduates. They go through all the time, effort and resources to become the greatest doctor the world has ever seen and then they find themselves in circumstances that overwhelm them and cause them to be paralyzed with fear. This overwhelm can take the form of working as an overworked and under compensated associate. Or perhaps you went through all the time and effort to have your own practice and you can’t find a way to attract and keep great new patients. Let’s not even talk about the crushing weight of student loans and other debt.

Unfortunately, most of our parents can’t stop their lives and come to our rescue. Some of them are not even living. Mentoring and guiding DCs for years has taught me one thing for certain: without having a tremendous relationship in your life, you will have great difficulty attempting something great! There’s an old saying: when the student is ready, the teacher appears, is very true. It gives me such a feeling of joy seeing DCs turn their lives and practices around by entering a relationship that helps them through the sometimes convoluted challenges of serving people.