Entrepreneur, Employer and 24 year-old who happens to be blind

Tanis was born at 24 weeks and weighed 1lb. 9 oz. He remained at Spectrum Hospital for 99 days after birth. His parents, Leslie and David, were told that he would be visually impaired or blind due to premature birth. Tanis had two surgeries for pediatric retinal disease during those many weeks. One was at Spectrum from a leading Pediatric Ophthalmologist and the other at Beaumont in Detroit from a Retinal specialist. Neither surgery was successful, nor the dozen additional eye surgeries since then. As a result, Tanis is legally blind with light perception. But Tanis doesn’t let it interfere with life!

For the past two years, Tanis has been successfully building his own product sales business from the ground-up. Utilizing technology available to anyone (web, text, smart phone), he has grown his client base to over 50 customers. And he’s also cultivated, and now supports four other individuals as Independent Business Owners under his own company umbrella (www.amway.com/tanishooker).

Tanis’s business philosophy is straight-forward and solid.   He “likes to meet a lot of good people”. It’s easy to see why it works when you talk with him. “Unassuming”, “sincere” and “articulate” are the adjectives that demonstrate his positive attributes. But Tanis also enjoys being successful. And ultimately, that’s what sets any successful entrepreneur apart from others.

Tanis has been fortunate to learn from one of Amway’s top distributors. He shares showroom space with Norma Buttrick-Teerman, a very successful business person for over 30 years. Norma has been his mentor, helping Tanis learn about his product lines, customer needs and solutions. She provides coaching to help him acquire professional sales skills. Norma is quick to point-out that Tanis has the “perfect personality for building business”. And she points out that he’s acquired a “deep understanding” of his business goals and customer needs. However, Tanis’s future success sits squarely on his shoulders, and there’s no question that he’s “up” for that task.

If there is one challenge for which he wants to find resolution, it’s better utilization of technology to compensate for his blindness. Tanis would like to use his Apple iPhone, and Siri specifically, to access social media. He understands how vital the digital space is to developing his business relationships and customer communication. And being a persevering individual, Tanis will be creating his company’s LinkedIn and Facebook profiles. He definitely knows where sales are happening today.

Tanis was an ABVI “STEPS” student (Successful Teens Exploring Positive Skills) in high school. Through his interaction and activities with other youth who are blind, and with guidance from ABVI’s professional Vision Rehabilitation, Orientation and Mobility team, Tanis developed strong life-skills—preparing for future employment and independent living. It was that foundation and a very supportive family that allowed Tanis to gain the confidence required to take his business-world journey.

This year ABVI launched a new program for 10-13 year old kids to help them get a jump-start on critical life and social skills not taught in school. This new program is called “Beginning STEPS”. Tanis plans to continue his connection with ABVI as a mentor for these children. He will be sharing his own story of personal growth and confident living with no sight. Tanis wants to help other children with blindness find inspiration for their own life journeys!