The Kid with a Mission

The path one’s life takes from child to adult can be smooth, rough, direct or rambling but as interesting as it might be, most people’s lives don’t read like a Hollywood script.  However, meet Annette LaBarca, owner of Sisco Business Services, a tax and financial consulting firm in Long Beach, CA. – her life is a movie waiting to happen.

Annette was born in Brooklyn and raised in Covina, California by a mother who was an accountant. By the time she was 6 years, as she described it, Mom was using her as child labor to sort company checks and do other menial tasks at the kitchen table. When Annette reached adolescence, she thought she was going to work with mom to learn the ropes – until she asked for a raise and mom said no. So little Annette complained to mom’s boss and got a salary increase. Mom is now unhappy and the truant officer is after Annette for never going to school. It’s clearly time to leave town.

At the age of 15, Annette went back to New York by herself, lied about her age, and got a job as a bookkeeper in the garment district making $110 a week. She never had to go to school. A few years later Annette met an exciting older woman who was an executive for Mattel Toys, and at the age of 19 she moved to Toronto to be with this woman.

She had no papers or a work permit to be in Canada, but that didn’t stop our girl – she convinced a neighbor to let her assume her identity. So Annette LaBarca became Shirley Conrad, a Canadian citizen. As Shirley Conrad, Annette decided to get serious about the business of finance and make it her life’s profession.

“Shirley Conrad” returned to Southern California five years later, went back to being Annette and spent the next 18 years working as a financial consultant. In 1996, she decided it was time to get the credentials that matched her skills, and obtained a high school diploma, went to college and opened her own office.

Today Annette has a full staff and 350 clients. She sees new clients by referral only. She made a lot of money in real estate and is spending more time doing charitable work. She is the volunteer Chief Financial Officer for the L-Fund – a non-profit corporation serving lesbians in crisis situations.

Annette’s journey wasn’t all smooth sailing and there was some personal tragedy along the way, but her life is a hell of a success story.