My father is an amazing man. I don’t think I know a better man than him. At one point he was a single father raising three rambunctious, mischievous boys with little help. He showed us everything about life. How to tie our shoes, dribble a basketball, deal with women; our father was the definition of a DAD.
My father has shown me so much in life. He wasn’t a “businessman” in the traditional sense, but he taught me how difficult it is to be a businessman and CEO. You see, my father has been a pastor for over 30 years. While the position doesn’t seem like it has mucho do with business, observing him taught me everything about how to conduct myself as a businessman. So, I want to share 6 things about business I learned from my father.
1. You never have enough time unless you make more.
We all live with the same 24 hours in a day but some of us just find ways to maximize that 24 hours better than others. My father was one of those people. There were days that he would leave the house by 6 a.m. and not return home until 10 p.m. His day was jam-packed from beginning to end dealing with church member’s problems as well as “keeping the church’s lights on”, in addition to whatever craziness we were engaged in at home. We drove my step-mom crazy many days (I don’t know how she’s sane to this day). It appeared my dad never had time for anything.
Although he was often short on time because of some meeting or some emergency, my father rarely missed our events. He was always at my basketball games, even finding time to coach me and my brothers for a few years. Looking back, it is hard to fathom how he was able to make all the events that he did given his schedule.
He later told me that the secret to doing it all is selective prioritization. He would think about how being in another meeting would affect us later in life; regularly shifting his schedule to make time for us. This showed me you make time for what is important. There is always a trade off. You have to make the difficult decisions of how and where to spend your time, often making sacrifices to get create the life you want. For my dad, being a great father was the primary focus, so he made time to be that.
What are you making time for? Remember, what you make time for is a reflection of what’s important to you in life and business.
2. Finish what you start!
As a child my father never let us quit. He wasn’t the type to push us into every activity or sport, but if joined or started something, you had to finish.
My dad has been on a 30+ year educational journey. Seeing him take classes while working 60 or more hours every week was inspirational before I ever knew what inspiration was. Taking care of a family derailed his education several times, but he finished. In 2014, at 50+ my father earned his Masters Degree. Having received my bachelor’s a few years earlier and not wanting to continue school, this event put a little gas back in my tank.
His perseverance has served me well in business. After graduating it was hard for me to break into marketing, but remembering the perseverance of my father encouraged me to not give up and keep knocking until a door opened. Follow through and finishing is important no matter how long it takes.
3. Surround yourself with complimentary people not complimenting people.
Everyone has their flaws. Some people just choose to surround themselves with people who will be complimentary to their flaws rather than complementing of their flaws.
My father always told us, no one ever grows from being told YES all the time. If you’re a businessperson or owner and you haven’t heard “NO” in a while you may need to switch your circle of advisors. If they don’t ever say no, they probably have no ideas of their own; get rid of them. If they can’t say no then they probably are scared of you or they have no backbone; get rid of them. You can’t have people not thinking for themselves, or afraid to. Yes men usually lead you to failure.
4. Never let anyone steal your purpose.
My dad originally went to school to be a dentist, but along the way he was called in another direction. Instead of giving in to the urge to do what he wanted and make a lot of money doing it, my dad chose to accept a role with a much deeper purpose.
Imagine being a counselor, teacher, financial advisor, life coach, psychologist, and CEO while making a retail managers salary. Add to that people being ungrateful for what you do. Could you handle it? Neither could I. But my father showed me your purpose doesn’t come with a price tag. When you’re operating in a purpose, nothing and no one can deter you from that.
Many people will try to tell you your idea or business isn’t going to work. Or you don’t have the experience or resources to pull that off. When you are doing something you feel is your purpose, none of that matters. Take Blake Mycoskie for example. When he started Tom’s Shoes people told him you can’t make money giving away half your inventory, Tom’s still gives a pair of shoes to a needy child for every pair purchased. Believe in your purpose more than what people think of your business.
5. “Everyone is born an original, but most will die a copy.”
When I heard these words I thought they were the most profound words ever! Okay, so maybe I’m a little biased because they came from my father, but the words are very poignant. Think about it, when you are born there is no one else like you, save for twins, triplets, etc. Even then, each individual in a multiple baby set is unique. Over time we begin to adjust and conform to become like others for various reasons. But there are always those few that truly stand out.
“Be yourself, everyone else is taken.” – Oscar Wilde
The same is true in business. Most businesses start out unique, or at least having some unique differentiating factor. This is especially true in start up industries. As more competition floods the market businesses tend to conform to what others are doing successfully in an attempt to replicate the success. This leads to the company losing it’s identity and unique brand recognition. Once this happens, hopefully the company will have the proverbial “light bulb” rebranding/ retooling moment, like Lego did when it went away from the gimmicks and fads and returned back to its unique core product. The alternative is to continue to try to keep up with what others are doing and losing your brand identity all together like Kmart in the late 90’s early 2000’s.
Your business must have, and maintain a unique selling proposition, to use a business school term. If not, what do you have to offer?
6. Fulfillment doesn’t require money.
This is possibly the biggest lesson I’ve learned from my father. As a preacher for over 30 years, he has been able to positively impact the lives of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people. If that doesn’t bring fulfillment I don’t know what does. The average spiritual leader isn’t flying around in the newest jet. Their income rarely reflects the work they do. So in order to find true fulfillment, a spiritual leader cannot be in it for the money.
Similarly, an entrepreneur/ businessperson can find fulfillment in other things than money. In fact, the top money earners in the world have discovered that fulfillment doesn’t come from money. This is why people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have devoted the latter part of their lives to varying causes that they are passionate about.
The majority of businesses are created to make money, not fulfillment. But fulfillment is just as important as money, if not more. This is why you always hear people harp on work-life balance, although I believe it should be a work-life-purpose balance. A man that dies wealthy yet unfulfilled has failed at life.
My father is a very wise man. You know a man is wise when the way they live their life and the things they teach you are applicable across any area of life. With that I hope you can see the wisdom of my father as well. I love you pop, Happy Father’s Day!