When I titled one of my earlier blogs Super-Rich Or Bankrupt – You Could Be Anybody, I wasn’t far off the mark. Sometimes I think about the way life’s reversals can change everything, at least for awhile, even for the most famous, the most important, and the most talented people. Then I reflect on the tens of thousands of bankruptcy clients from all over Indiana whom I’ve been able to help make a new start. Believe me, in my line of work, I appreciate how very important it is for all of us to know that, just in case, there’s a safety net in place.
One thing that’s always evident in my conversations with bankruptcy clients in Anderson, Indiana (which is where one of my four bankruptcy law offices is located), is the hurt and self-blame. Remember, Anderson’s been a community where people have always worked, paid their bills, and led their lives. No small town, Anderson, by any means, just a place where good old folks live with good old Hoosier values. Sure, some people have been more successful in business than others. Some have been more successful managing their own finances than others, but the general culture is to work hard and to pay your bills. So, when clients end up in my bankruptcy office in Anderson, Indiana, they’re hurting; most see bankruptcy as their personal failure. That’s why I like to share stories with them about some very successful and very admired people who ended up needing to file personal bankruptcy, business bankruptcy, or both. Upon hearing some of these stories, bankruptcy clients can begin to realize they’re not alone.
One very unusual story that comes to mind is the one about Ky Nguyen Cao, Premier of Viet Nam from 1965 to 1965. After the Communists took over his country, Ky emigrated to the U.S., opening the Saigon Deli in Westminster, California. Eight years later, this former world leader filed bankruptcy. The details of his case are less important to share than what Ky Nguyen Cao himself had to say about the how the situation had affected him and his wife. “We are enjoying life. The bankruptcy is just another difficult step we will take during our lifetime. You try to do the right thing, but sometimes it’s just your destiny.” These same words are true for so many of my Indiana bankruptcy clients.
As parents, as employees, as entrepreneurs like Ky, and as citizens, most clients did try to do the right thing. Their plans were derailed by a divorce, a catastrophic medical illness in the family, a job layoff, or some combination of these and other things. I like to think the bankruptcy system was set in place to give those people a chance to re-create their destiny!