LLL recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Windy Lafond, CEO and Founder of Genie Notary Inc. During the pre-podcast prep conversation, Jim and Windy were delighted to discover they have a ton in common. We were eager to hear Windy’s incredible story and pick her brain about all things notarization.
Windy’s company, Genie Notary, Inc., is named after her mother. Born in Haiti, Windy came to US at a young age with mom and sisters. She didn’t have a steady male figure in her life, as her father passed when she was very young. Her mom’s second husband was abusive and abandoned the family when Windy’s sisters were still very young. She grew up admiring her mom, who was raising kids all on her own.
When Windy’s mother was diagnosed with lung cancer, it was a shock. She remembers thinking, “That can happen to this woman?!” The American saying, “hard work pays off,” didn’t seem to apply to Windy’s mom.
When her mother passed, Windy needed to do something to keep her mom’s name alive.
During the pandemic, Windy saw a need: people didn’t want to leave their homes, but closings still needed to happen. People needed notaries. She decided to make the Amazon or UberEats of notarization.
In the future, everything will be remote, after all.
Looking back from where she is now—having accomplished her dream and started Genie Notary—it’s amazing how far she’s come. When she was a kid, right after her dad left, Windy’s mom and sisters were stuck. They couldn’t visit family or leave the country while they were waiting for the courts to hear their case, or else they wouldn’t have been allowed to get back.
Now, she’s a business owner honoring her mom’s legacy, free to travel (pandemic allowing), and free to make her own future. It’s humbling.
Windy compares chasing dreams and working hard to swimming out from to shore to an island. Midway through the swim, you look back and think, “This is hard. Why did I do this? I should go back.” But when you turn around, you see that to go back would be jut as hard—you’ve come too far. You have to go forward. Sometimes, that’s the only reason you keep pushing—because you have to.
This “can’t stop now” attitude applies to owning a company. Even in America, where people often can look back and find multiple generations of business-owners and entrepreneurs in their own family, it’s hard to find advice and know what to do. You have to ask as many questions as you can and then do what you think is best. But when you grow up in rural Haiti—where poverty is so extreme that it made even homelessness in America seem like wealth to Windy—there is literally no one in your family who has ever owned a business or struck out on their own. It’s daunting and challenging.
People think you’re crazy. But after a while, people suddenly start to view you as successful and sometimes even ask you for advice for their own business ventures. And the only thing that’s changed is that you’re still there at the end of the year.
Windy has no other social media than LinkedIn and is very private. But Windy also wants people to know her and know her story. If people know you, they’ll think of you when they need something and do business with you. They’ll care about you. So, Windy made the decision to be vulnerable on LinkedIn. Telling her story has helped Genie Notary grow.
Windy anticipates growth and client acquisition. The market is up and down, and those refis have all dwindled and been replaced by seller’s closings. Windy sees Genie doing more and more Remote Online Notarization closings. It’s about meeting a need—there’s no reason to say no to clients when you can use tech to meet their needs.