Receivable/Accounts - Information for Credit and Collection Issues

Monday, August 27, 2018

Mike Losak Was One Of My Heroes

Mike Losak is no longer with us, having lost his struggle with cancer this weekend.  Mike was my friend, one of my heroes, and likely the reason I am still in the collection industry, and the reason I have been moderately successful.

Mike was the first manager I had that ever was kind, that was supportive and had empathy, without holding me as an employee to arm’s length.  He joked with his staff, and inspired them through camaraderie rather than driving them with targets and threats of termination.  He took time to make sure each of his employees were successful, and he actually, honestly cared about our wellbeing.

After being a credit manager, and falling into the collection industry, I worked in a couple of collection agencies back in the 80’s and 90’s where people were banging their phones on their desks, yelling at consumers, and making all sorts of outrageous demands – as a younger person, I struggled with this approach, as it wasn’t in my nature and I knew it didn’t work.  When I came to work at Professional Collection Services, Mike was the only other person who I had heard collect with empathy, with a small joke here and there, and had patience for consumers and their financial plights.  He worked out arrangements, settlements, and payments in full, and not once in the two years I worked with him did I ever hear him raise his voice.  He allowed me to do the same, and while everyone shouted and demanded around us, we collected more than they did, and had a better time of it. 

Over the two years we worked together, Mike gave me space and support to build and refine my approach to collections, prove to myself that it works, and then go on to prove it to others.  Negotiation, not intimidation was a rare approach in the 90’s, and now with Google, and social media, and regulation changes, it looks like he was ahead of his time all along, and I appreciate he gave me the opportunity to go on to run other collection agencies with the same approach, and then start my own company and build it on the tenants the collections doesn’t have to be an ugly word, a horrible soul crushing job, or a heartless work environment.

Mike wasn’t just a manager – after I left to work elsewhere, he remained a friend, attended some of my family celebrations when I lived in Hamilton, and we would always find time to chat on the phone or I’d drop in to his office when I was in town.  He always had the best advice, not just professionally – he believed family came first, and our personal well being was far more important than how much money we could make or what kind of car we could drive.  We talked about each other’s family lives, our kids growing up, being the best husbands we could be, and I always felt better after sitting down and talking to him, every single time.

He taught me lessons on how to treat people, whether they are consumers who owe money, clients, co-workers, or employees.  He taught me that I was right that consumers deserved dignity and to listen to what they were saying with words, and read between the lines.  He was right about not sweating the little stuff, and while it’s never been my natural inclination to be relaxed or calm, I attempt to channel Mike’s easy going nature every day.  

I’ve known Mike for 24 years, and in all that time, he was a touchstone for me, where I came from, and what I should remember as I made my way through life.  I will miss our cribbage games, our lunches, and our outrageous work stories. 

Mike, buddy, I’m going to miss you.

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