5 Lessons I Learned From My Dad

5 Lessons I Learned From My Dad

This is part one of what I would consider an essential two-part podcast that has an exercise that I want you to do, especially if you have a family-owned business and are considering working with me at some point.

This will be a task I give you when working with me. It is simple, powerful, and incredibly frustrating for some people. Listen to the end of this podcast, where I will give you part one of the exercise.

This exercise is about really looking at your mentor or your parents, if this is a family-owned business, or even if you were raised by a small business owner, and now you own a different small business, which is about 48.1%. 48.1% of entrepreneurs said they grew up in a family business.

Now, that is a statistic from 2009, and I searched and searched and searched to see if I could find a regular, I mean, a more updated statistic. Unfortunately, I couldn’t, so we’re going to roll with that 48% of small business owners were raised by small business owners. That is me raising my hand.

So whether you are currently still working with family, whether you have bought or inherited a business from your family, or whether you’re in that 48% like me, you have picked up plenty of beliefs, mindsets, perspectives, whatever you want to call them, from family that you bring into your business every single day. Some of them serve us. Others, not so much. Sometimes they can even be downright toxic.

What Mentorship Looks Like with My Dad

Today, we are going to discuss the lessons that I learned from my dad, the positive ones, the ones I want to thank him for. I remember being on a podcast and somebody asking me a question about, or saying, reflecting to me that they assumed that I knew how to run a business because I was raised by a business owner.

But that’s not really the whole picture. It’s not like my dad ever sat me down and was like, “Okay, kiddo, take out your notebook. Here’s step one, here’s step two, here’s step three, here’s step four,” not like that at all.

I mean, we have a surprisingly awkward relationship even today to this point talking about some of those bigger, more scary topics like money. I really have to sometimes pump myself up before I ask my dad a question about those things. So it’s not like there was some prescriptive game plan or a textbook that he gave me.

However, there are definitely things that I have observed from him that I have learned from him—I worked for him for five years—that I do consider lessons learned, and I do consider valuable and worthy of sharing these lessons today.

As a matter of fact, when my dad retired, I did not take over the business. That was not in our plan. I hadn’t worked there in a really long time when he decided to retire. His plan was always, I believe, to liquidate the business. He had owned the real estate that the business was in, so it wasn’t that he needed so much from selling the business, so he liquidated the business.

I remember it was around the same time that I started The Bold Leadership Revolution. I remember having conversations with him as he was wrapping up things, liquidating, and selling off equipment, and there being a part of him that sounded to me like was maybe regretful that he wasn’t selling it or that he wasn’t carrying on, that he had built this thing for decades and decades, and he was just selling it bit by bit, which I understand that’s his life work, and I think that he was questioning maybe his legacy.

I remember saying to him, and I really believe this and I believe this even more maybe now than I did when I said it to him. There are people who really respect my father, regardless of what my relationship with him has been over the years with our ups and downs. He is somebody who has garnered a tremendous amount of respect.

The Legacy of Integrity 

He has been a person of integrity in his industry. I think people think really highly of him. So I said to him, “You know, Dad, your leadership is your legacy. How you’ve led, how you’ve led yourself, your family, your people, that’s your legacy. The lessons that you have instilled upon me, my sister, other family members, and my children, that is your legacy.”

When I share these things that I’ve learned from my dad that I’m grateful for, I really see this as a part of his legacy. What I realize about reflecting on these, I’m going to give you five things, when I reflected on these five things that it was less about teaching sometimes, it was less that he sat down and said, “Do A, do B, do C,” and it was more about observing his behavior. The behavior that he modeled to me in the context of small business.

Maybe you’ll see what I mean when I share these items that I’ve learned from him and that I’m grateful for and that I’m deeply grateful to be able to share with you today on this platform and that you are here tuning in, and you will be a part of my father’s legacy as I have been.

The first thing that I want to say thank you to my dad for is showing me how to learn. Now, my dad did not go to college. He barely made it out of high school. I know I have ADHD, my son has ADHD. My dad probably 100% has ADHD. School was most likely as hard for him as it was for me, and he didn’t have anybody really pushing him to continue on and to go to college, nor do I think he would have done it. 

He doesn’t have a formal education, but he’s really knowledgeable. He is a learner. I feel like he really taught me that there is a difference between education and learning. He has always had, and still does to this day at 75, mentors.

When he retired, he started another business, and he had built up his retirement accounts and he had a little bit of play money and he wanted to start playing around with day trading and trading options and he found himself a mentor. He still consults with this mentor today as he’s continuing on to have this hobby of, I’m not sure if I would really call it day trading, but more short-term trading that he’s been doing and he’s been really successful at it.

That’s something that he’s taught me. He’s really taught me to ask for support, ask for advice, seek out people who know, and be a lifelong learner. It doesn’t have to be in the context of education, certification, or anything like that.

The Impact of Resilience

The second thing that he has taught me has been, I’d say resilience. He’s an incredibly tenacious man. He makes things happen. People will say, that my father can move mountains. What I mean by that is he pursues all avenues, until either one opens to lead him to the thing that he wants, or he is absolutely 100% certain there is no way of getting there.

I’ve witnessed him, and I think this has had the biggest impact on my business, is witnessing him with his back up against the wall, I mean, like being a pretty young kid, and probably in my early teens, especially my late teens, watching him with his back up against the wall with very high stakes, maybe remortgaging the house, taking out some loans, or something, with incredibly high stakes, maintain the resiliency to keep moving forward one step at a time, just putting one step in front of the other.

By no means would I ever say my father was woo-woo or anything like that, but I think that he is a man who has faith that things will work out in his favor. So that tenacity, that makes it happen, that resiliency to keep putting one foot in front of the other and have the faith to know, trust, believe, hope, or whatever it is, that those steps lead to something better, no matter how dire a situation looks is probably the most impactful thing that he has had, the most impactful lesson that I’ve taken away from him.

Now, I remember when I started this business and I started making money. When you start something from zero, and you figure out how to make money, there is magic about that to take and make something from nothing. It is magic.

I remember being so intoxicated by this magic, just the world was my oyster, anything was possible. I really started to believe in myself and my dad always wants to make sure that I’m confident, but not that confident.

He wants me to be confident, but he doesn’t want me to be too far over my skis. So I remember showing up, I’m standing in his foyer, his entryway, I think I’m about to leave his house. Right before I give him a kiss goodbye, I say to him, “I’m going to build a million-dollar business,” which seemed just like so big and huge to me.

“I’m going to build a million-dollar business.” He says to me, “You know what kid?” He calls me kid, “You know what kid? Build a business around your lifestyle.” I was so mad. I felt like all the air was just let out of my sails when he said that to me. This was probably like eight years ago, but reflecting back on that, it was the wisest, those were the wisest words.

You know what? It’s not easy to do. It’s not necessarily easy because you need to have impeccable money-management and cash-management skills. You have to have impeccable reverse engineering. That is the whole point of my Revenue Goal Calculator is to help you build a business around your lifestyle.

It takes strategy, and it’s a bit of a challenge. I honestly think it might have been easier to build a million dollars in revenue business because I probably wouldn’t have as much profit as I do today. I most likely wouldn’t be as wise about my money as I am today.

I likely wouldn’t have the impeccable cash-management skills and know exactly how to use every dollar and give every dollar a job today if I didn’t give at least some attention to this advice, even though I initially blew it off, dismissed it, and was really pissed off that he said it to me because it just took all the wind out of my sails.

Building His Alter Ego

The fourth thing that I learned from my father from observing him and from some things he shared is this concept of the alter ego. I know that Todd Herman has written a book about the alter ego. I have not read it, but it is this concept where you create a persona that allows you to show up more confidently when maybe you don’t have that confidence within yourself.

My dad, I don’t know what it is about him, he’s quite the character, sometimes you’re not sure like, is he being real or are we in some kind of show? Is he putting on a show? Is he entertaining us right now with his persona and his personality?

He also likes to dress, I mean, he’s a child of the 70s, he was coming of age in the 70s and we have all these pictures of him back then in these extravagant, almost flamboyant outfits with these boots, leather jackets, fedoras, and hats.

My mom would say, “Oh, your father, he’s always costumed himself.” Then remember Miami Vice, when Miami Vice was big, my dad went down this whole dressing like Don Johnson from Miami Vice path.

As a matter of fact, he showed me a picture the other day. He’s like, “Do you remember when this was taken?” I said, “No, but that was in your Miami Vice, Don Johnson phase. I can tell by the outfit.” He was always into dressing really well.

I think he really used that, and I’m making some assumptions here, but I think he really used that to create a persona that gave him confidence because my dad is actually a pretty petite guy. He’s like maybe 5f 4.5 on a good day, but I swear, he walks into the room and he’s just the biggest person in the room. He’s the tallest person in the room.

I think he does that so much by his charisma, but also building up this persona that allows him to stand so confidently in a room of people who are towering over him and really command their presence and their attention.

Learning the Power of Relationship 

I think that probably has to do a little bit with my last and final thing that I want to thank him for that I learned from him is his favorite book was How to Win Friends & Influence People.

The funny thing is I’ve never actually read this book. It was written by Dale Carnegie. It’s a classic. I don’t know why I’ve never read it. I just never picked it up and read it. It’s even on my to-read list on my Libby account that if I ever have a spare moment, I should pick it up because of how this was such an important book in his life.

But just knowing that that book was important and just seeing it on his bookshelf, I had some takeaways. I understood that people and relationships were important. He was excellent at networking. Again, I think it was a combination of reading this book and that ability to create this alter ego that gave him the confidence to get into these rooms.

He was really goal-oriented about it. I remember him telling me as a kid because he was always out at these networking events in Manhattan and things like that for his industry, he would set goals like, “I’m going to meet five people tonight. I will get five phone numbers. I will meet this type of person. I will meet that type of person.”

Just hearing him talk about that, I just had this understanding, this takeaway that people, relationships are so important. As I’m actually sitting here sharing this with you, I’m looking back at what I have shared.

This even comes through in the fact that he’s always had mentors, relationships, people. He’s had advisors in his life that he’s had until they had passed on that were with him for decades, that he stopped engaging with them and being advised by them when they had literally passed away. He has so valued that input from others and from people and what he’s learned from them. I would say even just looking at these things, that is a big takeaway from this.

Your Action for Today

Listeners, dear listeners, in my best Lady Whistledown voice from Bridgerton, I’m going to turn this over to you because here is what I want you to do. I want you to think about the parent that maybe you are in business with, that you bought the business from, or that raised you and was a small business owner, or maybe it’s not a parent, maybe it’s a mentor, and I want you to write a list of things that you are going to say thank you to them for.

You don’t have to actually say thank you to them. You don’t ever have to give this to them. It’s actually really nice if you do and I try and make a point to do this once a year to somebody in my life who has had a mentorship-level impact on me, but you absolutely don’t have to do that. You don’t ever have tell me, you can burn the piece of paper afterwards if this feels really raw and vulnerable to you.

But I want you to write a list of things, three things minimum, of what you thank them for. Even if you don’t like or respect them right now. Maybe they’re not even in your life anymore. Maybe your relationship with them was so toxic, harmful to you, or whatever, that you’ve had to cut them out of your lives. I certainly understand that. That happens.

But we can’t completely bifurcate the fact, we can’t completely separate ourselves from the relationship that we had with this person, especially if it’s a family member. I find that ways to lessen the presence of this person in your mind, in your behavior, in your thoughts because we really don’t want them there even if we love them, we don’t want their input, we want to be able to think clearly on our own, and know that we are coming from our place of our true self, authenticity, and all those things, we need to be able to heal and have closure, and this is a great way to do that.

I want you to say thank you to them, even if you don’t like or respect them, even if you think they added no value to your life, even if you’re simply thankful to them for showing you what not to do.

I find that this exercise allows us to release this person, to release the hold this person has on us, to release the fact that they’re sitting on the itty-bitty shitty committee in your mind, maybe even daily, that this is truly closure.

In the episode in part two, I’m going to share with you the second step of this exercise. I also want to say this exercise is not mine. This brilliance is not mine. I read this in a book that was written by an author named Ash Amara, I believe was her name. I read this book years ago, and it was really impactful, the book, to find this exercise and I do it over and over and over again.

Like I said, this is a task that I absolutely give my clients when working with me because I really feel like it helps clear the way for us to start afresh and to really grow a business that, like my dad says, is built around the lifestyle that we want.

If you take me up on this, and you want to pop me an email and send me the list of things that you’re thanking your parent for or your mentor for, I would love to read them.