FATHER KNOWS BEST
FATHER KNOWS BEST
Summer is here and with it comes one of the best bbq days of the year, Father’s Day. It usually causes me to reflect on my relationship with my dad, all of our fond memories and the immeasurable things he has taught me. He trained me how to bat left handed (you’re closer to first base, most pitchers are right handed, and you have a better view of the field allowing you to hit one through the hole), encouraged me to take Latin instead of Spanish (most words are derived from Latin and you must understand sentence structure because word order doesn’t matter), and introduced me to my all-time favorite book (Lost Horizon by James Hilton, which is best remembered as the origin of Shangri-La). But aside from all this, he gave me the best business education I could ever receive.
When I was only 12 and my sister was 7, my father took a bold move and started his own company. Along with a partner, they each invested $500 and with no college education between them and no formal business training, built one of the most successful companies in their industry. In fact, his company was featured on the “Inc. 500” multiple times throughout his tenure (he has since retired), which is the small business version of the “Fortune 500”. Growing up, I would listen to my father tell my mom about his business dealings while we had dinner and I took it all in. I fondly refer to this as my “dinner table degree in business”. Though later I would go on to receive a Bachelor of Business Administration degree, the knowledge I gained from my father on business surpasses anything I ever learned in the classroom. And I realized it is too good to keep to myself.
1. Authority comes from below, not from above: It’s often an assumption that when you are made the boss, you’re in charge. While you may have power, that’s quite another thing from having authority. See, the person who gave you the title doesn’t have the ability to make the people below you actually follow you. Getting promoted is not like getting knighted. Only when the people you oversee respect you and understand your vision, will they actually take your direction. Otherwise, they’ll find ways to go around you, or even above you, and do what they like instead. And forget trying to “rule with fear”. Eventually, everyone will leave you and you will have no one to oversee anyway.
2. Through chaos comes opportunity: I’ve had it happen countless times in my career and have seen it happen to countless others in theirs. Things seem to be going along swimmingly when suddenly the bottom drops out and everything seems up for grabs. Most people panic. I learned not to. Instead, I embrace the chaos. My father taught me that during times of peace, you’ll simply keep moving up the ladder slow and steady. It’s during times of chaos when you get the breaks that lead to quantum leaps. Never fear the mess, it’s where the best opportunities live.
3. You can’t accept responsibility for something you have no authority to control: The next time you are considering delegating, think if you want that person to have responsibility for the outcome of the assignment. If you do, then give that person the authority they need to make decisions. If you don’t, then you’ll be responsible even if they make a mistake. Ultimately, you can’t control the outcome of something if it isn’t up to you to make the calls. And if you’re the one taking the delegation, ask for the responsibility. Believe me, you want it, or you could wind up getting blamed for something you had no control over to begin with.
4. Don’t fear uncomfortable silences: So often in business, and in life, you’ll find yourself talking with someone and suddenly…there’s blank space in the conversation. People rush to fill the void with chatter because the silence makes them uncomfortable. It’s usually during this time that you either say the wrong thing, something you regret or volunteer too much information. My father taught me to be ok with the silence. Usually what seems like forever is only a few seconds and the conversation will either naturally progress or you’ll determine it’s time to wrap it up. No need to force it.
5. Experience is more valuable than money: When I got out of college with my management and marketing degree and began looking for my first job, I wound up with two offers. One was in marketing for an insurance group and the other was a management office receptionist in a commercial property. The marketing position paid much more and seemed like the obvious choice. But my father caused me to pause. He asked me look at my future in both roles instead of making a decision based on what seemed better today. I saw what could be possible for me as a property manager and so I took the lower paying job. I knew that if I worked hard and gained the experience I needed to move up, the money would eventually come. After just three years in the industry, I found myself managing my own building and was making far more than I would have had I gone the other route. This decision also proved to shape my entire future and I would not be here writing this blog today if it hadn’t been for this advice.
So thank you, Dad, you’re the best. Happy Father’s Day!