Today we’d like to introduce you to Tony Davis, Esq. Nicole Davis, Ph.D..
Alright, thank you for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us how you got started?
We met in Keflavik, Iceland. We were both in the military. I (Nicole) am from Akron, OH, and Tony is from Baltimore (more specifically Edmonson Village), MD. We considered both of us strong-willed, out-of-the-box thinkers who loved their independence. Yet, somehow, after meeting, we fell in love, got engaged, and married the same year. Such a pace may seem aggressive for anyone, but that was especially true for anyone who knew anything about either of us slightly. One of the great things about being in the military is that we can take college courses at a 75% discount. So, that’s exactly what we did. We lived in Spain for three years before exiting the military and returning to Maryland to establish our family roots. Our oldest son was born one year before we left Spain. So, we returned to the States, seeking employment and endeavoring to finish our educations while raising a baby.
Interestingly, at that time, I (Tony) needed only the equivalent of one semester to complete my undergraduate degree in business. Nicole needed the equivalent of two semesters to complete her undergraduate degree in business. After a chance encounter with a young lady who attended Morgan State University, I (Nicole) decided that I wanted to switch my focus from business to social work. By doing so, I could transfer only 20 credits into my new program. So, I (Nicole) returned to school and completed my undergraduate degree and master’s degree while Tony worked. Then after that, Tony could go back to school and complete his undergraduate degree in business, get his law degree and obtain an MBA. Once he was done, I (Nicole) returned to school to obtain my doctorate in conflict analysis and resolution, emphasizing organizational studies. As I (Nicole) was in school, we gave birth to our second son. They are almost four years apart. As we were working and obtaining degrees, we knew that our primary job was to raise respectful children who had a sense of purpose. We also knew it was important to be examples before our children in work ethics, civility, kindness, and leadership. Whatever we required of our sons, we modeled the same behaviors. We believe it’s important to be role models for our children so that we can build genuine love, trust, and respect. These characteristics are the secret sauce to forming rich and healthy family relationships. Now here we are thirty years later, as the owners of two businesses, Empower to Engage and Davis Family Legal Group, LLP. Our sons have both aggressively pursued higher education as well. One has a master’s degree in conflict analysis and resolution and works in federal law enforcement. The other is working as an entertainment attorney.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been fairly smooth?
When we first met and in the early years of our marriage, we were both talking about the kind of careers we wanted, the businesses we wanted to own, and when we wanted to have these things in place. While we were pursuing our jobs in the corporate and government world, we also dipped our toes in the entrepreneurial waters, whether selling insurance or several multi-level marketing opportunities like selling jewelry or phone systems. We even thought about acquiring a franchise to leave a legacy for our family. None of those structures worked for us because we had lofty ideas of instant wealth. Besides, the reality was that they did not speak to the passion that lay within either of us. There became a point where we got semi-content working in our good corporate and government jobs while we raised our children. I guess many people can relate to that bumpy road.
Put some of the entrepreneurial endeavors on the back burner because we knew we could pursue them after our children left the house. That may sound like we made a rational decision and just followed the plan. But, the reality is that as we went through it, and being in those moments, it was very frustrating at times. It also felt like we would never get to the other side, and what we wanted to accomplish would never happen. The biggest struggle was accepting that the timing just wasn’t right. This was especially true during those times when we needed more money. One thing we did not anticipate when we initially became parents was that growing children did not mean our children needed us less. It told us that they still needed us differently. We had to balance that against pursuing more money.
Back then, we were still planning and envisioning how to do it. Still, we didn’t feel like we could successfully execute without sacrificing what mattered most to us at the time, which was being present and available to fully participate in our son’s life. When different opportunities would come up for either of us, we would talk through them to see how they would impact our family long-term and whether or not the chance was worth it. Often delusion would temporarily prevail when I (Tony) would think that I could effectively balance everything. The conversations would have to be had about our ultimate goals and the opportunity cost of balancing jobs with being present in the lives of our sons and their extra-curricular activities. We had to learn how to support each other. Through those tough times was where we better understood how important it is for couples to work together so that everyone can thrive and grow in their interests. Through trial and error, we gained greater insight and wisdom for ourselves and now to help others going through similar challenges.
We’ve been impressed with We are partners in Empower to Engage, and Tony is a general partner with Davis Family Legal Group LLP, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Empower to Engage is a mediation, coaching, and consulting firm designed to equip people with resources and strategies to create stronger relational dynamics in their marriages, parent-child relationships, families, and organizations.
• More specifically, mediation is offered exclusively by Nicole. The law firm will refer couples who are contemplating divorce service to her. Additionally, she works with companies and organizations to resolve workplace disputes. Conflict management and conflict resolution are two of the biggest challenges for any organization. These challenges do not disappear simply because you are an employee of a company, a leader in your organization, or a church member.
• Nicole also offers consulting services to organizations. The greatest misnomer is that people in management positions are automatically great leaders. Leadership development is necessary for anyone who wants to serve others well. We can assess leadership strengths and organizational culture and help address conflicts impeding productivity. When Nicole worked for the federal government, she performed workplace assessments and made recommendations for change. She has brought those skills to Empower to Engage.
• Coaching is a service that is offered by either of us separately or both of us as a unit. We can provide individual or group coaching if you have a goal, challenge, conflict, or another matter that you would like assistance navigating through. We also offer specialized sessions for husbands and wives who want to be coached together, whether the issue is marriage or parent-child relationship.
To supplement the personal services, we have co-authored several books for those who want to take a personalized approach. These books provide information that will challenge you and require you to act to obtain your desired result.
Those books are:
Leadership Done Right Is Hard Work (But It’s Worth It!) is a 31-day leadership guide that challenges everyone to lead themselves first and provides the strategies to do so. How we make decisions, conduct ourselves, and interact with others are the ultimate tests of our level of success in every area of life. I can use this book for personal, Bible, and small group studies. Improving yourself will make you the person that others will want to follow.
As easy as it is today to walk away from the marriage covenant, it is just as easy to stay if we commit to living out marriage God’s way. Marriage Done Right Is Hard Work (But It’s Worth It!) is a 31-day marriage guide that shows couples how to get the absolute best out of themselves and their marriage. This book is an excellent resource for married couples, couples contemplating marriage, marriage Bible studies, and small groups. Here’s your access to a more loving and unified marriage!
Parenting Done Right Is Hard Work (But It’s Worth It!) is a 31-day parenting guide that helps parents navigate the challenging, stressful, yet rewarding parenting role. It is a go-to handbook to help address some of the most challenging issues we face in our increasingly not-so-child-friendly world. This book is an excellent resource for parents, family Bible studies, and small groups. This book is a must-have for you if you are a parent or someone you know is a parent.
Additionally, Nicole authored a book Eve, Where Are You? Confronting Toxic Practices Against the Advancement of Women. Without question, having competent women in leadership can certainly enhance the vitality of any organization. Sadly, women are often not given equal opportunities and are left doubting their sense of self and abilities. As a conflict coach and resolutionist, Nicole boldly addresses possible causal effects of toxic practices against women and then offers strategic solutions and guidance to both women and organizations. This book encourages women to maximize their gifts and provides the tools for men and women to work together as partners instead of competitors. Also available in Spanish. We also have traditional children’s books available at the end of the second quarter of 2022. We are excited about that work because they are written in a way to encourage the children to pursue a more active and fun relationship with their parents. And we will release other books for parents in the first quarter of 2023.
Davis Family Legal Group is a family law firm specializing in estate and family planning. We help our clients understand the legal and financial consequences of not having a comprehensive estate plan to protect your family legacy, protect your children and protect your assets. We work with our clients to help them design an estate plan, which, when done properly and maintained over time, should help their families avoid probate costs and delays and minimize or eliminate estate taxes. Additionally, the firm will assist couples who need pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreements. While the firm is a law firm, the primary impetus is ensuring that your family establishes the relationship dynamics you desire. Then we apply the law relating to estate planning to ensure our clients achieve exactly what they want for their families.
What should we know?
Family planning is as unique as there are individual families. That’s why family planning in general and estate planning, in particular, is not a one size fits all approach. Inheritance planning is much more than the money you leave behind when you die. When done right and well, estate planning can be a gateway to understanding the meaning of life and death and open us to a new level of family connection, harmony, health, and well-being. When estate planning is done wrong (or not at all), a family member’s death can destroy families. Long buried family conflicts often resurface, which unfortunately often create irrevocable breaks in the family structure. We love to “leave our children better off” than we were. If you ask most parents, they will tell you that that’s one of their primary motivating factors for doing what they do. Today, many families can leave more to their children than their parents and grandparents. But, without taking proper precautions, the wealth you pass to your children is at serious risk of being accidentally lost or even wasted due to everyday life events, such as divorce, severe debt, devastating illness, and unfortunate accidents. Therefore, every family must have an estate plan in place. And, no, estate planning is not something that’s only reserved for the super-rich!
What do you do, what do you specialize in / what are you known for?
We help people work on the “how to’s” of acquired knowledge. People may know what they SHOULD do. However, they rarely possess the know-how to get it done. Not getting it done often leads to low self-esteem, unfulfilled lives, failing marriages, and poor relationships with their children. We help people see themselves, see the situation, and see a way to overcome it through our personal development and relationship coaching, workshops, and alternative dispute resolution options such as mediation, facilitation, and conflict coaching. As to what we are known for, our greatest asset is that we can simplify what others may deem to be complex and daunting tasks and create a realistic and workable solution for achieving goals.
Additionally, after encountering us, people are often willing to do the hard work necessary to achieve those goals. The words we speak indeed carry a lot of weight in that regard. However, equally important, we have the personal life experiences to substantiate any advice we offer.
What sets you apart from others?
When possible, we do most of our family work together. It’s important to us to model what we teach. It’s also essential to provide different perspectives on real-life issues that couples and parents face. We allow our clients to observe us talking through some of the topics being discussed and how we work through various options for them to consider. We have different perspectives and are passionate about our convictions. However, we understand that reasonable minds can often come to different conclusions. We allow people to see that differences can be an asset rather than a detriment. Modeling is highly effective as many people have not seen healthy, productive, and respectful communication between spouses, parents, and often leaders and their staff. Whether a couple is trying to determine the best academic route for their son or daughter or facing a hard time in their marriage, we can do a “show and tell” (demonstrating through our behavior and sharing some of our own experiences) to help them get back on track. Through Davis Family Legal Group, we like to distinguish ourselves from the “typical” estate planning experience. You see an attorney, and he prepares a set of documents without a clear understanding of your unique family situation and understanding all of your goals, objectives, and desires. You sign the form documents without fully understanding everything and place those documents in a drawer or on a shelf. Instead, we consult with the client to establish an estate plan that captures their specific desires for their family legacy. Our fees are always flat, which is chosen based on needs. We do not charge by the hour. We will have continued follow-up to ensure that each client’s plan is up to date and that those plans work to keep families out of court and conflict.
What are you most proud of brand-wise?
That we are who we say we are. There are no smoke and mirrors. We are making sure we are the first partakers of all we teach. Our books are the stories of our own lives. We have become the people we are based on the steps we lead in our books. We have done the hard work. And as our books say, “but it’s worth it.” We both come from the unfortunately all too common single-parent broken homes. Yet, we did not allow that to be an excuse. Our past is just that, our past. But our future? We have chosen to make our lives and family what we want. Growing up in two different parts of the country, we grew up believing that we would have bright futures if we did the right things. And we had to join the military and get stationed in Keflavik, Iceland, to find each other.
We have a loving friendship and marriage and great relationships with our sons. Additionally, our sons love respect and like one another. We travel together, we hang out together, we pray together, and now we’re building a legacy together. Our brand produces outcomes that change lives and change families. And, sometimes, we even forget what we’ve been able to accomplish as a unit. We go on living life. However, we’ve had people come up to us at various times and tell us that they’ve watched us and they could see the love in our family. We’ve made our family a priority, which has indeed paid off.
What do you want our readers to know about your brand, offerings, services, etc.?
Who we are and what we do has come from years of working on ourselves and our own family and relational dynamics. We are continually a work in progress, and we’re proud of that. Our understanding that we are ever-evolving keeps us attentive and open to change. The success of what we’ve accomplished over the past thirty (30) years is replicable for anyone willing to do the work. Our services are quality. We offer our books for those who can work on their self-improvement without support or coaching from others. Still, our coaching, training, mediation, and law services are tailored to go deeper and to construct and accomplish each client’s goals thoroughly.
What quality or characteristic do you feel is most important to your success?
In a word, integrity. We are who we say we are and will do what we say we will do. We have a desire to do things right. Look, we’ve been married for over thirty (30) years. So, having an unsolicited opinion of the other is a way of life. We also know when we’re missing the mark because our sons keep us honest. We honor and respect their opinions. They call out our stuff all the time. We’ve always welcomed their views as they were growing. But, as adults, now they can approach us as professional adults while still being respectful. But, as I (Tony) say this, I’m having a flashback of when our oldest son questioned my commitment and fortitude as I picked up some donuts after I’d made a profession of eating clean and being serious about my health. I felt a little disrespect at that moment. (laugh) In those moments, we have a choice to make, ultimately choosing to be integral. Lost trust is hard to reestablish. In the way that we cherish the trust of our children, we love the trust of our clients. Integrity is what allows us to accomplish both.
- Our books can be purchased through our website and Amazon www.empowertoengage.com
- For a FREE consultation for legal matters www.davisfamilylegalgroup.com
- For a FREE consultation for mediation or coaching www.empowertoengage.com
- Website: www.empowertoengage.com
- Instagram: @empowertoengage.com
- Facebook: @empowertoengage.com
- Twitter: @empowertoengage.com
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRDkM1NI_5Us29roDlRuAVQ
- Other: www.davisfamilylegalgroup.com
Images courtesy of J. ALEXworks