Lessons from my Dad…
I often find myself thinking about my dad. He passed away a few years ago and although he’s not here, I still find myself uncovering and appreciating the many lessons he taught me.
And a lot of those lessons have been particularly important to me since I started my own business (now over 13 years ago). To that end, and since it’s Father’s Day weekend, I thought I might share a few that stand out:
My dad never met a stranger…
This is a lesson that I didn’t really appreciate until I had started my own business and was suddenly responsible for sales (and everything else).
My dad would literally go out of his way, where ever he happened to be, and start up a conversation with who ever he ran into. It could be the waitress at the diner, someone standing near by… pretty much anyone (and sometimes everyone) would get not only a friendly greeting from Dad, but also usually get drawn into a conversation.
Of course as a kid, that kind of thing was embarrassing (as my own kids will tell you). But looking back, I can definitely see the genius in it. Dad wasn’t looking to sell anyone… and he wasn’t manipulating anyone, he genuinely wanted to get to know people – and because of that, they appreciated having him around. I’m sure it was a huge help in his career – although I’m not convinced that he was doing it on purpose, I think that’s just who he was.
I’m nowhere near as good at it as he was, but I’m certainly aware of it and over time I’ve become much more comfortable with the idea. It’s really helped me with my networking and prospecting. When I meet people, I genuinely enjoy learning about them and I go into those discussions with a mindset of ‘How can I help?’. And that makes all the difference.
Reading will transform you…
Anyone who knew my dad very well, knew that he always had a book with him (or more likely a stack of them). When I was still in grade school, I was exposed to books like The Lord of the Rings or The Foundation or Dune series of science fiction books… not your typical light kid reading. 😉
Once I was out on my own, any kind of family visit would include a full fledged book swap – usually science fiction or fantasy novels, but often thrillers (Tom Clancy was a favorite of his) or even mysteries. Maybe I would have developed my reading habit without his example – but probably not and it’s something that’s absolutely elevated my life.
At any given time, I’m reading a book for fun, listening to another one (for when I work out, or drive) and reading at least one business / self-help book. They keep me curious, they help me realize how much I don’t know and they give me lots of perspectives and ideas that I would never come up with on my own.
That kind of reading isn’t for everyone, but it’s definitely a key part of who I am (and will be).
Don’t be afraid to jump into new things…
Beyond his desire to learn new things with all of the reading, my dad was also an adventurer when it came to his career. Ultimately my dad was a consummate salesman, but that doesn’t really cover the bulk of his career. This is a guy who moved a young family to the middle of nowhere (Forsyth, Missouri if you want to look it up) and decided to buy and run a small town restaurant.
I work with all kinds of businesses and I would be hard pressed to think of a more difficult challenge than buying a restaurant – especially when you don’t have a lot of experience in the industry. But he and Mom made it work and he wisely was able to sell it a few years later and get out cleanly (and even made a bit of money). From there he went into Real Estate and had a good run, but his real career success came when he landed the right regional sales position – eventually landing the largest account in the country for his company.
The lesson for me (that I only realized much later in life) is that it’s okay… and sometimes even necessary, to try a few different things along the way. Life isn’t easy, but as long as you’re learning and as long as you are willing to try new things, you’ll keep leveling up (Dad also enjoyed games…).
Dad and I didn’t always see eye to eye on everything, but as it turns out, we agreed on the most important things. He had a lot to teach me – and it’s solely my fault that it took me such a long term to learn many of those lessons (although I think that’s kind of how it works with dads and their kids…).
Anyway – I just want to say ‘Thank You’ (again) to my dad. You taught me a lot of useful things, but more importantly you taught me how to be a good person -and that’s made all the difference.
Thank You Dad.
Shawn Kinkade Kansas City Business Coach