“THARG!” What the heck does it mean? It kind of sounds like something a pirate might say when provoked, doesn’t it? In this case THARG is an acronym developed by Indiana’s own Amy Stark in her book “The 2009 Tweeter’s Almanac.” THARG stands for:

T – Transparency

H – Honesty

A – Authenticity

R – Reciprocity

G – Gratuity

I’d like to put the spotlight on a local business person I think does a good job of exemplifying THARG principles: Scott Swinford, Credit Repair and Mortgage Modification Specialist in Valparaiso, Indiana.

I first met Scott Swinford about a year ago at a networking event. Some time later, Scott hired me to do some consulting work for him. We took a look at his social media profiles on several sites. When we looked at his LinkedIn profile, I was impressed when I realized Scott previously worked as a paramedic. Scott asked me if his past experience “really belonged” since it “had nothing to do” with what he does today. I asked Scott who he thought a new client would rather work with–a generic loan officer with no past or someone people had trusted with their lives?

I’m happy to say that Scott embraced this advice and rewrote his LinkedIn summary of his career overview this way:

In my “previous life” I was a firefighter / paramedic with a private ambulance service, a volunteer fire department, a full-time municipal fire department and finally a busy emergency department. My focus was on saving lives, protecting property and helping others learn to do the same.

Since leaving that life behind due to an injury, I have focused on saving financial lives, protecting assets, writing mortgage loans, improving credit and helping others learn to do the same. While very different fields, I still wake up in the morning with a sense of purpose and go to bed with the feeling of accomplishment.

My goal is to provide my client with far more worth than what they pay for. While I may not advertise the “lowest rates”, my clients always get the best deal.

My motto: I do as I say, I say as I do and if I mess up, I’ll fess up and do my best to make it right.

Scott’s credit repair site similarly reveals why he is uniquely qualified to help clients who come to him with less than perfect credit. He admits to once being in their shoes–when his injury made it impossible for him to return to work as a paramedic, looming medical bills challenged his family. Scott writes,

Fast forward 18 months when I was finally released by my doctor, but had no jobs to go back to. In fact, due to complications, I could not do much that required lifting with my arm. By then, the pay had run out and I had drained all my savings including my retirement just to put food on the table. We nearly lost our home and I was returning baby gifts just to buy formula. I was thankful that we had good friends who had baby clothes to give us, and at the same time very embarrassed by what I had to resort to doing.

I wonder how others feel when they read this? For me, it is hard not to be moved and to trust someone who admits to their own challenges. I want to know the whole story of the people I meet–not just the highlight reel and the top accomplishments. Some of the best learning happens during our time at the School of Hard Knocks. Rather than try to sweep these experiences under the rug, Scott has used his personal story to reach out and connect with clients in a much more meaningful way than might be possible for someone standing upon a pedestal and preaching credit restoration as an “expert” but with no personal experience.

Here’s how I see Scott embodying THARG:

Tranparency – He’s not hiding his past–he’s sharing the good, the bad and the ugly.

Honesty – He’s not afraid to admit that he felt uncomfortable and even embarrassed about some of the situations he went through.

Authenticity – The language in his profile feels very “real” — this was obviously not written by a slick ghost blogger.

Reciprocity – Scott found a way to help himself out of his negative credit situation and now uses that enthusiasm to share lessons about how debt relief can help others. This is the passion that drives his success.

Gratuity – Scott appears to be truly grateful for the chance to start again and that positive energy infuses everything he does.

Thanks for sharing your story, Scott. I hope that those who need to find you will do so. There are many people who have been challenged by job loss and inability to keep or purchase a home. Your skills and experience are especially needed at this time. Keep up the great work!