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Examples of reasonable: flexible work-from-home options, different lighting (once we’re back to work in person), software that “zooms” text or reads the screen, or a captioned video training. Examples of unreasonable: changing qualifications for job vacancies, reducing performance standards, altering the architecture of a building protected by historic monument status (and many others related to structural changes). The best resource for hosting is www.askjan.orga free and confidential source of information on business hosting.

A sixth piece of advice I would like to add is to better understand the causes of disability. Of course, some people are unfortunately born with a disability or develop one after suffering an accident. But you might not know that strokes are one of the leading causes of disability.

My personal story

I can tell you from personal experience that this is true. In early 2014, I had a stroke. I was very lucky to have recovered very quickly, at least from a physical point of view. Only about one in 12 stroke victims (8%) survive without a physical disability. However, for the better part of five years, I struggled with feelings of melancholy, despair, and yes, depression. I was lucky to have a great support network around me and I didn’t hide my fight. I could tell my wife everything that was happening to me. I saw great counselors to help me understand what was going on in my brain. It’s been a long road to recovery, but I’m proud to say I’ve been melancholy free for two years and counting.

With all that the pandemic and COVID-induced economic challenges have brought to us, I’m sure it would be easy for someone to have mental health issues. If you are having difficulty, please don’t hide it. Share what’s going on with your family and find someone to talk to. It worked for me.

Another great resource is Stroke survivors empower themselves. ESSEO has been an invaluable source of comfort and assistance for my family and me when we really needed it. I continue to stay involved and am honored to be the current President of ESSEO.

One of the positive outcomes of my stroke and my recovery is that I decided to evaluate my role in our company, Tri-Merit Specialist Tax Professionals, which I co-founded in 2007. I had assumed the role of managing partner, almost by default, when we started. I’ve always been good at starting and growing businesses. I was also very good at educating our partners at the CPA firm on tax credits and incentives. But I was not good at managing the day-to-day operations of the business. In 2017, those of us in top management decided to change responsibilities. My partner has taken over the role of Managing Partner, which leverages his management strengths, allowing me to focus more on business development. I have always enjoyed generating new business, supporting our business development team, and spending time educating CPAs across the country on tax credits and incentives. By changing roles, we have helped our business grow by more than 300% over the past four years.

My stroke was the catalyst for these bold changes, but it wouldn’t have been possible without my great support team and my willingness to get help when I needed it. By taking a careful look at my health and my real skills, I was able to combine my passions for teaching and business development. Finding your strengths and passions, and surrounding yourself with others who have strengths different from yours, is essential for success. It took a traumatic experience for me to realize this, but this kind of self-reflection is something I urge you to do every year. Taking a little time out of the daily grind can pay off big for your business and personal growth.