Denise_Farris_TSEName: Denise E. Farris

Business Name: Farris Law Firm LLC, a legal representations firm for small and large businesses

Type of Business:  Other — Law and Legislative Advocacy

Business Location: Kansas City, Kansas, United States

Twitter   @denisefarris2

Reason for starting
As a young girl, I lived “the best of times, and the worst of times”. I attended a prestigious private girls school in West Palm Beach, FL, but detoured around immediate college. Four years later I was unemployed, a divorced single parent, and feeling like a failure. Enrollment in night time college courses exposed me to a course in State and Federal Government, which lit a fire! I became the first adult continuing education student at University of Missouri – Kansas City to gain accelerated admission into their law school where I graduated with honors. I was immediately employed by one of Kansas City’s largest law firms, but after five years wanted the flexibility to “give back” to the community without clearing it through executive committee channels. The Farris Law Firm LLC was born in 1996 and is now an AV rated, nationally preeminent ranked law firm in the areas of commercial construction and business law, government contracting, and equine law.

How do you define success?
Success is the ability to view your challenges and failures with anticipation and empathy, understanding that its not your successes that build you and your business, but rather withstanding and overcoming the challenges and failures that provide the fire that tempers your strengths to move onwards and upwards to the higher levels.

Biggest Success
In my long career, I am most proud of the work I’ve done “pro bono” (i.e. “free”), in the areas of public policy advocacy training for minority, women and small business owners in general. Its an amazing feeling to be able to educate powerful individuals who have temporarily silenced their voices, where they feel disenfranchised from the political spectrum. The training teaches them how important their input is, from all perspectives, but also teaches them how to review the issues and to provide thoughtful and meaningful input. Good legislation cannot be created in a void, and working with business owners to get their voices heard has been very rewarding.

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it? 
At one point early in my career, my employer declared bankruptcy leaving me unpaid for approximately six weeks of work. A single parent at that time, my car was repossessed and I was evicted from my apartment. Seriously depressed, I spent the next six months living off of friends’ couches until I could get back on my feet, get a stable job, and start rebuilding my life. At the time I felt like such a failure and at times, felt suicidal. Incrementally, step by step, I got my life back on track and rebuilt it in a newer, stronger fashion. In retrospect, this was the most valuable lesson in my life. Already experiencing the “loss of everything”, I’m ok with taking chances. Losing material things is uncomfortable but survivable; its people, relationships, helping others, maintaining a sense of humor and “hope” that really matter in life and in business!

Who is your most important role model?
Every person I encounter who demonstrates greeting adversity with grace, a smile, and the acknowledgment they will get through this experience and come out a stronger, better person for having lived it.