Jewish Deaf Business
by Karen Rothschild
Philip W. Bravin Yes You Can, Inc. 17 The Hamlet Pelham Manor, N.Y. 10803-3052
E-MAIL: email@example.com FAX:914/738-0405
Phil Bravin: Yes You Can!
Q: Tell me how you decided to start this business called " Yes You Can, Inc", a private consulting business and why you decided to go for it?
A: It was when IBM offered an early retirement package. At that time, IBM offered seminars for all employees who took advantage of the early retirement offer. One of the things they discussed was going into business for yourself and I said to myself "why not?" and here I am, six years later (with a two year stint at the National Captioning Institute in between) and no regrets and never having so much fun.
Q: Since you left IBM and NCI, I am sure that you had learned a great deal of facing problems to face hearing people if they had never heard of "Yes You Can, Inc."? What were their reaction and any positive results after you had proved your points?
A: Whenever I have hearing clients, it would take some preparation (like arranging for interpreters and explaining how to use the relay); but then, most of the clients I have come from referrals and they have had input from my other clients so they in a way have developed expectations of my ability to do the work. And most importantly, I always felt that the work I did spoke for itself.
Q: How long have you been in this business?
A: It is now almost six years.
Q: What is your key accomplishment in this business?
A: I would not want to pick one out, because all those things are important to my clients and also to myself. The key is that I do not accept assignments for the sake of doing it. I only pick assignments that I know that I will enjoy and that my clients have the full benefit of my experience.
Q: What was your most embarrassing or funniest experience?
A: Nothing really, but most of the unusual experiences come from the traveling itself. I travel around 75,000 miles a year and you never know what happens on the road. I have lost bags, been misrouted, and ended up in cities that I didn't expect, flown in all kinds of weather.
Q: What is your present and future goal?
A: To just continue having fun and doing my best.
Q: What have you been doing traveling for your business such as consultations?
A: Most of my work is in the area of marketing, management and technology. Examples of assignments range from strategic planning to board consultation to software development to developing CD-ROM's for high school students. They run across a wide range but then they reflect my areas of strength and interest.
Q: During your growing up in two different cultures in deaf and hearing family, what were your fondest memories in Jewish environment... how did you feel in participating during Jewish holidays with hearing relatives?
A: My family has always included me in the traditions. I had a mixed deaf/hearing family and the hearing side has always made us feel part of it. I still remember trying to get the afikomen from my grandfather during Passover. My grandfather was hard of hearing but he had usable hearing and always made the holidays an important part of our lives along with my grandmother and my parents as well. I had two Bar Mitzvah celebrations, one with a deaf congregation and the other with a hearing congregation.
Q: Tell us a little about your family...
A: My wife, Judith and I have raised our three deaf children (Jeffrey,
Deborah and Seth) to experience Judaism. They all had Sunday School, Bar
and Bat Mitzvahs and now they are on their own. We felt it was important
for them to acquire exposure to the religious aspect of life. The tradition
continues today; for example, our eldest son, Jeff and his hearing wife
go to a temple near their home on Long Island. The temple has arranged for
interpreting services on a monthly basis. This is a great example of trying
to preserve religious traditions in today's time and age.