This past father's day, I had time to reflect on what important lessons my father has instilled on me. Even at age 76, my dad continues to teach me and I am blessed that he remains a friend, advisor and mentor to me. I sent him this letter and he said it was the best father's day gift he has ever received - and probably will ever receive. Sometimes parents need to be thanked and we, children, can forget that.
I want to share the most important lessons that I have learned from my father:
- Beekeeping. When I was 6 years old, my Dad took a bee keeping class at our local Connecticut nature center. Since then, he has had beehives in his back yard. I picked up this hobby and it has created some of the best opportunities for me. Thank you Dad for being such a huge outdoorsman, nature lover and adventurist. I have inherited all of this from you.
- Writing. My Dad has kept a journal capturing all his professional and personal stories for over 30 years. When I was growing up, he would red line my school essays and even thank you notes - ensuring my grammar; spelling and word choices were at their best. "Eliminate adverbs," he would say, "They make your writing wordy." And as he always taught me, "proof read by reading everything aloud."
- Be punctual (or early). To this day, I cannot be late without having anxiety. To him, arriving on time was "15 minutes early" because it shows respect to whomever you are meeting. Lateness signifies arrogance because it shows your time is more valuable than someone else's. I know I have passed this on to my son, Rush, because he wants to arrive five minutes early to everything!
- A curiosity & love for people. My father loves people. He loves all people. His favorite conversations are with New York City taxi drivers because he believes they are tapped into the heart and pulse of America. He loves speaking to shop keepers and restaurant owners because they see and experience so much. I think this is why I always loved marketing - it is understanding people's emotions, wants and needs.
- Charity & Service. My Dad dedicates many hours towards charitable efforts. He is very passionate about The Natural History Museum in New York City. He loves artists and theater and helps raise money for public, non-for profit theaters. He strongly believes in public service and encouraged me to join the US Peace Corps. He believes in service towards our country.
- Tradition. My dad loves collecting books, gardening, fishing, sailing, birding, baseball, singing, theater, writing and of course, bee-keeping. While at times, he loves to do activities independently; he loves when his family joins him. Growing up, I went on an annual fishing trip with him. Every summer, we would go clamming and crabbing along the Massachusetts's coast. Every late July my family would come together to harvest honey. My Dad has many wonderful interests, and he creates traditions with each.
- Don't cut corners in life. My Dad has lived with such integrity - with honestly, humanity and hard work. He has never tried to cut corners.
- Family Comes First. No matter what is happening in his day, my father will be there. If any friend or family calls him, he calls immediately back. If anyone has a problem, he figures out a solution. He always has your back. When I was 19 years old and had a job as a travel writer in South Dakota, he drove with me from New York and dropped me off in Helena, SD (a 2 day trip). With all his five children and eleven grandkids, he is there - always.
- Always Show up. This has been a great business lesson for me. So often, we want to communicate by email or do not want to make the effort to meet face to face. Everyone has busy schedules but at the end of the day, showing effort goes a long way. He always says, "Half of life is just showing up." He means, when you can, be physically present. Show up to happy and sad situations. Don't make excuses for not being there.
- Preserve Your Reputation. When I was 14 years old, my father took me to lunch. He said that my reputation was the most important thing to protect. If your behavior can't be broadcasted, then it probably isn't the right behavior. I think at the time he was talking about sexuality without outright saying it, but this has been a life long lesson for me. And how one behaves during times of adversity is part of this life long lesson.