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Let's Start Talking - A Word From Tom
18 Mar 2019
LifeSearch turned 21 this year. During my speech at our birthday ball, I described the night of the company's conception as one of fiery heat and furious passion in Portugal … but it's entirely not what you think.
In 1996, in a holiday house in the dead of night, my brain raced as my wife and kids tried to sleep. I'd like to blame the humidity, but the sound of me seething and scribbling like a man possessed didn't help.
I didn't know it at the time, but I was writing a manifesto of sorts: a vision for a business that would launch, in 1998, as LifeSearch.
The inspiration for my maniacal scribblings was a conversation. A heartbreaking, crucial, inspiring conversation that began at a cricket ground some years prior.
Rain had stopped play, so to pass the time – and ever the salesman – I talked a fellow young father into protecting the little twins his wife was shepherding around the outfield.
Just two years later, this young mum was diagnosed with breast cancer. She died two years after that. With the family going through an unimaginable ordeal, the insurance policies I had arranged on their behalf all played a part in protecting the twins and their dad financially.
I had always believed in protection, but through conversations with this family over the course of several painful years, belief became passion. It was this passion that poured itself on paper in Portugal as my family tried to sleep.
LifeSearch began because too many families up and down the country are under-protected or unprotected. When parents or loved ones die or fall seriously ill, mortgages don't get paid, bills stack up and lifestyles are ruined. Death without a contingency plan costs us big.
I don't mean to make this all about money, of course it's not. But having financial woes on top of a family catastrophe amplifies the emotional impact and uncertainty hugely. In financial, emotional and in terms of relationships, catastrophe can indefinitely alter the course of a family's future.
For 21 years, I have argued, shouted and pleaded that people take a simple action today that can safeguard the lives they love for tomorrow. But new research, coupled with LifeSearchers' experience on the front line, now tells us that a big barrier to taking that simple action is even more simple - a lack of honest conversation.
So we have to speak up. We being LifeSearch. We being every one of us.
We need to let on about our financial contingency plans and our intentions. We need to speak up about our physical and mental health. We need to talk in truths about our habits and history if we're to put meaningful provisions in place for those we love.
I'm not a quiet or a shy man: I speak my mind. It's not always an endearing trait, ask my wife … or the insurance industry. But I don't give myself too hard a time about it any more.
Because talking openly and honestly and awkwardly is the bedrock of LifeSearch – it's what we have to do to protect people. And it's what we're asking people to do to protect themselves.
We need to engage in the chats we don't want to have. We need to ask advice and speak our truths. We need to understand where the people we love stand so we can put provisions in place.
We need to #GetUncomfortable for just a few moments if we're to enjoy financial peace-of-mind for ourselves and the generations below us.
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