In honor of Father's Day, I'd like to add to the list of business lessons I learned from my mom and share some of the wisdom my dad passed on to me.
Although my dad spent his career in Corporate America, much of the advice and lessons he taught me apply to entrepreneurs as well. Here are the most valuable business lessons he taught me:
Pay Your Dues
My dad worked a lot of late nights, weekends and holidays. He had packages of mail and paperwork delivered to him at the beach, and took conference calls in our hotel room while we swam in the pool. He instilled in me a strong work ethic that has served me well in my career. His father used to have a sign on his desk that read: "The harder I work, the luckier I get!" I guess it's in our DNA.
Do Work You Enjoy
If you love what you do, it doesn't feel like work. When I'd get up and watch him get ready for work, my dad always seemed excited to go to the office. He bounced out of bed in the morning full of ideas and energy. His enthusiasm was contagious. He found a career that was a great fit for his talents and skills and moved quickly through the organization. I think it must have been hard for others in the company who had to drag themselves to their job every day and work along side my father, who was having a ball finding creative solutions to the latest problems they were facing.
Walk and Talk
My dad walked the halls every day and he knew everybody's name, not to mention their kids' and pets' names, birthdays--you name it. His door was open and he always had coffee or tea available so people could stop in with news, good and bad. Being accessible and approachable is important if you want a culture where people can admit they don't have all the answers and need help in a certain area.
Lead by Example
Never ask people to do things you wouldn't do yourself. My dad worked in every department of the company during his career, so he knew why and how each group was important to the overall success of the organization. I think his experience and strong moral compass gave him a lot of credibility throughout the company. His colleagues didn't have to wonder where he stood on issues--he was consistent in doing the right things for the right reasons.
When good things happen, make sure everyone who contributed is acknowledged and rewarded, not just the people at the top. In order to learn from every experience and not repeat any mistakes, it's important to share the lessons you learn, too. If those around you feel part of the process, they'll work even harder to guarantee a positive outcome.
Be active in your community. Business leaders must stay connected to the local organizations and should encourage their colleagues to get involved, as well. Local hospitals, schools and non-profits can all benefit from business leaders' advice and support, so be generous with your time and resources.
My dad is one of the most upbeat and optimistic people I've ever met. He has a great attitude and people love being around him. I think it makes them feel better about themselves. He always has a kind word or encouragement and smiles a lot. There's something very magnetic about people who exude happiness.
For someone who has never started his own company, my dad sure has a lot of great advice for those of us who can't imagine doing anything else. So for all the great men in your life who have had a positive impact in your journey, Happy Father's Day!