By Trish Cooper
Here I am almost 53 years old, experiencing an amazing time in my life as I go on a journey that’s boosting my confidence as I meet amazing new people along the way…all very unexpectedly!
I was the CFO of a telecommunications company until it was sold to a larger company out of state, thus ending my 13-year-long stint with them. I had agreed to stay with the company to the end through the transition period when, as timing would have it, my job ended just as the jobs and financial crisis hit in 2009. Here I was, left questioning my choice to stay on instead of jumping ship earlier to secure a job elsewhere. Like so many in my situation, I’m mid-life, was unable to find another job and certainly not ready nor financially able to retire. What was I going to do? I felt lost and devastated, not knowing what the future held in store.
Quelling my inner fears and self doubts, I looked to the bright spot in my life. I had a new grandchild. I decided to use this time as an opportunity to spend my free time with her. What I could never have imagined was our simple game we played with my photos to teach her face recognition of who’s who in our family would turn out to be my re-invention in a completely different field! Inspired by my granddaughter, my entrepreneurial spirit kicked in. I decided to just go for it! Completely immersing myself in research and doing due diligence, I brought into the marketplace what is now known as Zatswho® Soft Photo Recognition Flashcard game. It’s a fun educational/developmental game for babies, toddlers and special needs children. The colorful, soft flashcards work like flexible photo frames. You just slip in your photos, keeping them safe and protected as you teach face recognition of who’s in the photo helping your child develop skills to communicate and interact while also teaching colors, names, shapes and more.
Just as I was getting to ready to launch my product in Feb 2010, I was asked to appear on live national TV! I’ve never spoken publicly before, let alone talk on live TV! I thought I was going to bomb, but the passion I feel along with the value and benefits my granddaughter‘s received using Zatswho® made it an amazingly wonderful experience. Since then, my story, product and desire to build my business with my daughter has continued to generate a buzz, attracting impressive media coverage from respected TV and print publications alike. I’ve even been called the grandmother of invention, how funny is that! Strangers tell me I inspire them to move forward!
Recently, I was with three of my girlfriends; three of us go all the way back to kindergarten. They flew in for a weekend slumber party for us to collectively celebrate our belated 50th birthdays; we always said we would celebrate it together. One of my dearest friends said, "Tricia, you know, I always thought you were so intelligent and talented but you married (19) and started a family so young, that I always thought you never achieved your full potential…I’m so proud of you, Zatswho® is amazing and you are finally hitting your stride and look beautiful doing it." WOW, what a great birthday gift along with being the best compliment and ego booster a dear old friend could give!
I often think of the irony in my life. I had wanted to go to college to become an Art Therapist, which I never did. Here it is some 35 years later and my own art therapy is giving me the education of my life and confidence as I come out of my comfort zone daily to learn and achieve personal success on so many levels. My company’s philosophy and mission is to fully embrace the core concept of love of one's family. This includes the need to know about family members, as well as the pursuit of wisdom by intellectual means through simple, fun, educational and developmental products geared toward encouraging family interaction with children of all abilities. I’m proud to say that from development to marketplace we’ve worked to support our local economy, including the services when possible of a non-profit community rehabilitation program providing vocational training and employment services to the disabled and disadvantaged. We are giving back to various organizations and I’m getting the opportunity to work with my daughter while spending time with my granddaughter as we make new friends, build our brand with a product we know is making a difference in the lives of others… Empowering!
My only sadness for me personally, is that my dad, who was my rock, passed suddenly at 83 years of age just prior to my launching Zatswho®. He was an amazing man who performed random acts of kindness throughout his life. You would have thought he was some iconic figure when over 700 people attended his service, bringing many to tears as they told us story after story of how this man, who was the owner of a local service station, had touched their lives. He was there to cradle his great-granddaughter in his big hands the day she was born, dressed up and played Santa for her on her first Christmas; so although she will never feel the touch of his hands or his loving arms around her again, each night as my daughter prepares her to go to bed, she says her prayers with her “treasured keepsake” his photo flashcard in her little hand and then kisses him goodnight, thus giving me comfort that although we no longer have him here with us, he will always remain in her heart!
In keeping with Identity’s mission of Accept Appreciate Achieve, below are some more questions that fit in with that theme:
1. What have you accepted in your life that took time?
I appreciate having learned very early on from my dad that success is not measured nor defined by the money nor things you have, it’s how you live your life that defines your own success as a person.
2. What do you appreciate the most in your life?
I’ve accepted that you need to be patient; sometimes your best work comes at the latter stage of your life.
3. What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life?
One of my most rewarding achievements in my life is that I embraced the detour that is taking me along this amazing journey that led to creating Zatswho®. Whether it’s a new dad that purchases it as a way to interact with his new child, a mom who emails us to say it’s helping with her child’s therapy, a gram who says they use them as memory cards or even when a granddad said they wanted it so that “the other” grandparents who live close by don’t get more “face time” then him, a broad smile crosses my face knowing one day my granddaughter will know that out of our love, we brought joy to others’!
4. What is your not-so-perfect way?
My not so perfect way is trying to stop wasting time with self doubt and worrying about things I have no control over as things always have a way of working out.
5. Complete this phrase, “I Love My…”
I would complete the phase even though cliché “I love my family and feel blessed that my children who are now adults consider me to be their friend, vacationing and spend much of their free time with us.”