Photo of author Robert Scanlan


Quick Facts

Robert Scanlan was born in Chicago and completed his MBA at USC in Los Angeles, where he remained for forty-seven years until recently moving to Phoenix.

Bob’s business career has spanned a variety of entrepreneurial and financial ventures. He has personally funded over two hundred small businesses, and has consulted with hundreds more. His most recent business activity prior to transplant was investment management for wealthy individuals.

He is the recipient of three organ transplants; a liver sixteen years ago, and another liver plus a kidney six years ago, all at UCLA. Never ill before his transplants, Robert has now spent nearly a year of his life in hospitals, including months in the ICU.

Following his transplants, Bob returned to school to become a life coach. He volunteered more than a thousand hours at UCLA Clinical Social Services Dept. as facilitator and coach for the liver transplant patients and their families in crisis. He successfully introduced telephone support groups for liver patients and caregivers unable to attend live sessions.

Bob moved to Arizona on 2012 following the passing of Marie, his beloved wife and friend of forty years.

He has shared his story with thousands of listeners as an inspiration to others and to create awareness of the need for registration for organ donation. Bob is a volunteer ambassador for Donate Life both in California and in Arizona. He also conducts a professional speaking and coaching practice for groups and individuals.

Detailed Background

I was born and raised in a working-class, Irish-Catholic family and neighborhood on Chicago’s North Side.

My business life began with a brief sales “career” at age seven, when I earned not only commissions on the raffle tickets sold to benefit the Sisters of Mercy, but I also won a shiny silver dollar as the top sales person in the school. Mom was very proud, but turned aghast to learn my success came by selling the tickets inside the many blue-collar taverns nearby. What’s a boy to do when he has already visited every home in the neighborhood? An early lesson to grow, change, adapt!

My first steady job, five days a week with set hours, started at age nine. Ever since, I have managed to stay busy— usually productively. After education at Loyola Academy, University of Illinois (Chicago), and DePaul University, I married and moved to California. I earned an MBA from the University of Southern California, and remained in Los Angeles.

At this same time, I found myself divorced with sole custody of my two year-old son. Bob, Jr. and I were bachelors together for five years until my second wife Marie blessed our lives for the next forty years.

At age twenty-eight, while still “batching it” with my young son, I founded with Nobel Prize winner Dr. Milton Friedman and former Lehman Brothers executive Troy Allen the first non-bank dedicated to funding SBA loans. The company became the nation’s largest (at that time) SBA lender, and introduced the concept of selling government guaranteed commercial loans, an activity which has become a billion dollar industry. As an entrepreneur, working with vast numbers of other entrepreneurs, I learned the creative potential of the human spirit in each of us.

I later spent a decade successfully founding, growing and managing a commercial loan company. My experience included financing hundreds of small businesses, and consulting with many hundreds more. Studying successful entrepreneurs revealed that they had different skills, but common patterns in their attitude and approach. A successful method always included goal setting, planning, resource gathering, effective activities, self-monitoring, attitude, focus, and flexibility.

I was invited to the role of CEO at the west coast’s largest manufacturer of hotel furnishings. Under my stewardship, a thirty year old company, with 100 employees and on the verge of bankruptcy, was turned around to profitability and cash flow in less than six months. (I still cannot tell oak from ash.)

My experience, achievements, and methods have evolved within a varied and highly results-oriented environment. Success with a furniture manufacturer—an industry where I had no prior familiarity— confirmed my belief that one can cope with a wide spectrum of businesses and most of life’s issues through application of repeatable lessons.  I also recognized that a key skill to business success has been evaluating, hiring, firing and counseling employees and businessmen to achieve their best—surround yourself with the best people and help them to be their best.

Much of my non-professional satisfaction during this period came from coaching boys’ baseball, and ultimately watching my son play nine seasons in the major leagues. Together, father and son learned that commitment, attitude and focus can take an unpretentious boy to fulfillment of a seemingly impossible dream… another lesson in personal power methodically applied to attain a vision.

At age fifty-five, again enjoying the blossoming of a new business (investment management), I was suddenly stricken with liver failure.

A liver transplant was performed, and after nearly six months hospitalization and two years rehabilitation, I had lost both my ability to work and all my possessions. This was a time of deep introspection, of evaluation of life’s purpose and personal values. Each day took the nature of a precious gift to be used wisely.

After two years of failed attempts to re-enter the workforce at even menial jobs, I became a salesman with performance results in the top 1% for the company. The process of re-building my middle-aged life was a great lesson in the value of attracting the best people and environment into one’s life.

Life was good again, until 10 years later the new liver failed. I was gifted another chance at life with a second liver transplant plus a kidney. Shortly afterward, I determined that the life-lessons learned through my experiences, changes and adaptations should be shared for the benefit of others.

I returned to school to become a life coach. I volunteered more than a thousand hours at UCLA Clinical Social Services Dept. as facilitator and coach for the liver transplant patients and their families in crisis.

On my own, I successfully introduced telephone support groups for liver patients and caregivers unable to attend live sessions at UCLA due to stress, logistics, or cost. This innovative approach to meet payirnt need for information and support proved a great success.

I have spoken to thousands of the general public through civic groups, churches, and private corporations. I have addressed the medical community through physicians’ groups, hospital management meetings, and nursing staffs and colleges. I volunteer as an ambassador for Donate Life both in California and now in Arizona, while also conducting a professional speaking and coaching practice for groups and individuals.

I moved to Phoenix in 2012 following my wife’s lost battle with cancer. The past two years were dedicated to the completion of my book “Tigers Under My Bed: Life Lessons Tamed During Three Organ Transplants.”

My memoir is intended to be educational and inspirational not only to transplant patients and their families, but to all those undergoing life changing trauma.

Favorite past-times include writing, movies, dancing, hiking, yoga, baseball, photography, and keeping up with the latest ventures of my grandchildren.