Father Knows Better

Words of wisdom-not from industry leaders, but the men who helped them become leaders.
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Even hard-edged C.E.O.'s, genius admen, and prolific producers had to learn how to ride a bike. And the person who helped him or her get back on when balance proved tricky was probably none other than Dad. Portfolio.com pays tribute to Father's Day by asking industry leaders about the best advice they ever received from their dads-especially when it comes to business. The answers show what helped set these sons and daughters on the road to the top.

Bill Bradley
Basketball Hall of Famer, Olympic gold medalist, former New Jersey senator

Warren William Bradley made it through the Great Depression as a banker without foreclosing on a single home. "He was my No. 1 example in life," says Bill Bradley, who at 6-foot-5 towered over his father. "He was always thinking of other people, what he could do to make their lives better.

"The best advice my father has given me is to put your money in the bank because it works for you while you sleep," Bradley says. "That's why they call me Dollar Bill."

Frank Bisignano
Chief administrative officer, J.P. Morgan Chase

"Advice from my father: Children are God's gift to the world. And the harder you work the luckier you get."

Galt Niederhoffer
Partner, Plum Pictures

When your dad is a highly influential investment banker (Victor Niederhoffer founded what is now Niederhoffer Henkel), you better be smart with your money. "Best advice my dad ever gave me is that, in a successful negotiation, all parties leave happy," says Galt Niederhoffer, whose independent film company, currently developing The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt starring Leonard DiCaprio and The Bell Jar with Julia Stiles, promises investors a 30 percent return.


Andrew Hauptman
Chairman and C.E.O. of Andell Holdings, producer of upcoming film State of Play

"As a pediatrician, my dad spent every day of his career working extremely hard to help children," Hauptman says. "I am in awe that his career was so clearly a gift, not only to the children he cared for but also to him-as his work greatly enriched his life. He taught me that it takes a lot of effort and hard work to succeed at anything, and he led by example, teaching us the merits of hard work whatever the endeavor."

George Lois
Former ad executive and art director for Esquire

Harry Lois, a Greek immigrant, worked from 4 in the morning to 10 at night in his Bronx flower shop. "My father taught me to work hard," says his son, who created a decade of covers for Esquire in the 1960s, iconic campaigns such as "I Want My MTV," and a music video for Bob Dylan. "To this day I don't know how to sit down for an hour without working."

Kevin Fennessey
C.E.O. of Absolut

"As a Depression survivor and a P.O.W. during World War II, my father learned how to treasure every day," Fennessey says. "He gave me this advice-pay attention to the details, but enjoy each day. I appreciate that fully and take that to heart every morning."

Mike Volpi
C.E.O. of Joost

Volpi's father was fond of sayings. "One of my favorites is a Chinese saying that goes, 'In pure water, no fish,'" Volpi recalls. "In life, you have to be prepared to take a little risk, go where things aren't so clean and clear-there you will find opportunity." How's he taking that advice? "Well, I work at Joost."

David Adler
C.E.O. of Bizbash

Adler's father, Warren, has penned more than 28 novels and short-story collections, including The War of the Roses. Now 81, he's coming out with two more books this year. "My dad has the energy of a 23-year-old," Adler says. "He's out every night. New York is his permanent summer camp." Which makes the younger Adler look forward to his own later years. "Age is just a state of mind," he says. "My father taught me to be in charge of your own destiny."

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