Michael demonstrated to me how hard work plays into success: he just never stops. Much of his drive came from the fallout from his family business when he was still young: he was determined to succeed. Coming to terms with his father was formative.
An Excerpt from the Book:
“I am the richest guy you know – and it’s got nothing to do with money”
After graduating from the UMKC law school in 1976, Michael worked for several firms before becoming a partner at Thompson Mitchell. In 1998, he started The Lowenbaum Partnership, a different kind of law firm focused exclusively on the client in a unique non-competitive legal environment. Areas of expertise include labor and municipal law, benefits, immigration, HR and employee relations
I came from a family that had everything and lost it: in the 1930’s, there was a book about the five richest Jewish families in St. Louis: The Lowenbaum’s were included along with the May and Schoenberg families. At that time we ran the oldest dress manufacturing company in the United States.
By the late ‘60s, the company was just a shell: we were slow to adjust to changes in manufacturing and the marketplace; the company folded when I was about 15 years old. Although my Dad was in charge when it happened, it’s not fair to lay all of the blame on him. I believe that my grandfather treated Lowenbaum Manufacturing like his own personal piggy bank. So by the time my father took over, there really wasn’t much left. But the closing happened on his watch and was a burden he had to carry for the rest of his life.
The truth is that my father had no business running the place but was forced into it after his dad died and left him in charge. He was brilliantly creative, and as is so often the case with brilliantly creative people, managing employees and processes was very frustrating and the last thing he wanted to do or was good at. He was a very accomplished painter and sculptor, and he could build or repair absolutely anything. He had a strong personality and made an impression on everyone who met him.
I mention all of this because the failure of the family business and the subsequent fallout from a loss of security formed who I became. I had a front row seat to my father’s personal demons, which spiked during all of this. Even from a young age, I recognized that financial freedom equaled personal freedom. And the most reliable way to financial freedom was to get a job and work hard. I wasn’t smarter than the guy next to me, but I almost always worked harder.
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