Prior to becoming a trained credit counselor, Bob Cornick was a house parent to five boys in foster care. He cooked their meals, bought their clothes, got them to school and took them to the doctor. And on weekends he took them out to dinner, movies and ball games. He loved his job but he says it was 24/7. He wanted to find a regular job but one where he could continue helping people. And now, having a 9 to 5 job doing what he also enjoys is a breeze.
What inspired you to become a counselor?
Life kind of took me there the first time but I just loved it. Because where else can you talk to people on a daily basis and be able to change their lives? And you get the “thank you’s.” I can still remember 1991 – getting that first call and all the client wanted to do was thank me. And I thought, “Well this isn’t just a job, this really is changing someone’s life.” Then I was hooked.
How do potential clients react upon making that initial phone call for help?
You hear the common phrases – “I feel a weight’s been lifted off my shoulders,” “I see a light at the end of the tunnel,” “I can breathe again.” I think the worst thing they feel up until they call is a sense of hopelessness. We try and give them, it’s not hopeless, there is a way out and we can walk you through the steps.
How do you feel when you know you’ve helped someone?
It feels wonderful. If you can touch another one’s life, you can’t ask for more than that. I enjoy this tremendously. There’s an expression, “If you find a job you like, you never work a day in your life.” It’s true! It’s true! At the end of the call you can hear it in their voice – the desperation is not there, you can hear them breathing easier. I spoke to a lady the other day; she was crying but they were good tears. She was happy, she was just relieved.
What’s the most bizarre reason that someone has given for falling into debt?
There are medical reasons; people have been shot, unfortunately – I remember they sent in an x-ray of their head and in their brain there was a bullet. The fact that they sent in the x-rays was bizarre. So, they had medical bills that were backed up.
What’s another bizarre reason they’ve given?
I had two gentlemen within a month with the same reason – that’s weird. I asked them how they got into debt – $25,000 – and they both said, “I met a lady, it’s not what you think.” But once they say it’s not what you think, it’s gonna be what you think.
“She’s from Nigeria, we met online.”
“Have you met her?’
“Well, No. I haven’t met her but I’ve spoken to her and she sent me pictures online and she wants to visit, but ?”
And of course he’s supporting her and sending her thousands and thousands of dollars. And when it came to her visiting here, “there was something wrong at the airport and it’s not her fault.”
“It’s not what you think.” He knew it sounded funny but he was in denial ? “She’s real. She exists.”
And it’s not what you think…
Well, that’s weird but the fact that I had two of those in a month was peculiar – twenty something thousand dollars. The weird ones always come from lack of knowledge.
What’s one of the biggest misconceptions people have of this company, Consolidated Credit?
Every day I’ll speak to someone and they’ll say, “Well my friends have warned me not to do it because” and the “because” is always debt settlement. We are not a debt settlement company. That’s why I incorporate what we do into what I tell people about the program. Everyone gets a payment every month, so clearly the two are separate.
How do you separate your work life from your personal life?
You have to, you just do it. You learn real fast. So you know I have learned to be thankful for everything. You never lose the challenge to try and help people. I treat it as a challenge. No matter how bad the story is I turn it around. I tell them the story isn’t over until there is a happy ending. We’re not done, we’re still writing the last chapter.
What’s the worst reason people give for being in debt?
The worst reason is just a lack of financial knowledge. The people who are in this are for medical reasons, they have more bills and less money, you lose your job, your hours are cut, you’re helping family. Those are things that happen to you that if they didn’t happen you’d be fine. The people who don’t have the financial finesse to get through life, that’s an accident waiting to happen. So to me, in a way that’s an easier fix. People will get sick, people will lose their jobs but if you financially educate them… it’s like the old expression, “If you give a man a fish he’s fed for a day, teach him how to fish he eats for a lifetime.” If you don’t give them the tools they’ll be a repeat.
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