Some dads are great at tennis. Some dads are great at the piano. My dad, Naveen Jain, is an incredible entrepreneur - to say the least.
I grew up alongside two brothers, and we were all blessed with the opportunity to watch a fourth child grow: my dad's first company, InfoSpace. We watched our dad persevere through the ups and the downs, leading the company to great heights.
Even while leading a company which had upwards of a $30 billion dollar market-cap, he never forgot about his family. He made it a priority to inspire us, teach us, and help us learn the value in entrepreneurship. From a young age, he taught us the importance of failure and how to use it as a stepping stone to success. Though his parents never went to college, he constantly reinforced in us the importance of education. And while he barely had enough money to get by when he was growing up, he taught us the importance of giving back when we were just kids.
My dad helped each of his children find what we are passionate about, and paved a path to success for us lined with morals and integrity.
It started with my older brother, Ankur, who started a company at the age of ten. He took his entrepreneurial spirit with him to Wharton, where he started Kairos, the world's leading society of top student entrepreneurs and change-makers, driven to individual and collective action towards a better future. The organization brings together 500 of the world's top college entrepreneurs and hundreds of already successful mentors in New York City each year to create solutions to the world's largest problems. Over 100 companies have come out of Kairos, including some focused on energy efficient lighting, waterless soap for use in rural areas and bicycles made out of recycled parts. After graduating, Ankur moved to Los Angeles, where he is starting a new company Panjia, which is designed to accelerate the growth of the world's most innovative solutions into new markets. I know Ankur will agree with me when I say that our dad is undoubtedly the most valuable asset in his success.
My younger brother Neil has found his entrepreneurial passion in "making geek chic." As such, he founded the non-profit Innovation Generation to inspire young people to become interested in science and use innovations to solve grand challenges. His goal is to make entrepreneurism a career in which other young people aspire to pursue. He is working to highlight other young entrepreneurs and show that even though sports and celebrities are interesting, changing the world is pretty cool, too. Neil is also an Ashoka Changemaker and spends much of his time with this global online community of individuals helping inspire, mentor and collaborate in an effort to foster the implementation of innovative ideas.
When I found my passion for supporting young women, specifically the education of young women, my dad encouraged me to use my drive to take action. As a 14-year-old girl, I was able to host a fundraiser to build a girls' school in Afghanistan. My dad kept encouraging me to do greater and more impactful things, which led to starting my own non-profit iCAREweCARE, the global network of high school and college students who are taking action to make a difference in the world. I was also selected as a United Nation's Foundation Girl Up advisor, which enables me to help young women in extremely remote locations around the world. With my dad's support and mentorship, I have worked with thousands of students and spoken at numerous events worldwide, including the Global Women's Forum in France, where I was the first youth speaker in the forum's history. Next year, when I leave home and go to Stanford, I know my most valuable tools for success will be the attributes that my dad has instilled in me. I hope I will be able to use those attributes to improve the lives of my peers: adolescent girls all over the world.
On top of helping all of us, my dad has always given back by inspiring others to become great entrepreneurs. It started with his children, and has continued with aspiring entrepreneurs all over the world. He has been an invaluable asset in innumerable peoples' success. In fact, just last year, he was awarded a "Lifetime Achievement Award" from Red Herring for his significant contributions to the technology industry and for fostering global entrepreneurism.
I think it's safe to say that Dorothy Law Nolte's poem "Children Learn What They Live" must be true; my father has definitely created and mentored a family of entrepreneurs.
But more than being an incredible mentor, my dad is simply an inspiration. He is proof that, if you follow your passions, you can accomplish your dreams. His abilities to be unfazed by failure, to persevere no matter the situation, and always put others before himself are unparalleled. He is so much more than just a dad; he is my mentor, my friend, and my inspiration.
So here's to you, dad! Thank you for inspiring me, teaching me, and mentoring me since I was a kid. Thank you for giving me the tools to be a strong woman; a woman who is motivated by helping others, by being a leader, and yes--by being a successful entrepreneur.
Happy Father's Day!
Follow Priyanka Jain on Twitter: www.twitter.com/iCAREweCARE1