5 Things I Learned from My Dad about Business and Work

15 years ago today, my dad died. He smoked for years and barely made it to 60 before lung cancer took his life.

We miss him terribly. He was one of those people who leave a huge hole when they go. On the day of his funeral, they needed a spillover room in the chapel to fit everyone in. Strangers came up to me, with tears in their eyes, to tell me how much my dad meant to them. And you know the interesting thing? Most of them were his customers. My dad was a salesman and his customers came to his funeral. I thought that was amazing.

Today I’ve been thinking about the things he taught me that I still carry with me every day.

1. Help People Out

My dad would help anyone. He was handy with tools and could fix anything. And if a friend or neighbor needed a hand, my dad would be there in a flash, even if it wasn’t convenient for him.

I can’t use tools and I can’t even fix a leaking tap, but because of my dad, I try to offer a helping hand in the ways I know how, giving away my resume writing secrets in free courses and articles, or offering job search advice on other websites. Had he not been my dad, maybe I would have kept all that knowledge to myself.

2. Do it Right

My dad always said ‘if something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.’ He built the most amazing things and his attention to detail was phenomenal. When I was a kid, he made me a doll’s house that was a replica of our real house and every detail was perfect. I loved that house!

Now I agonize over every word in a resume and rewrite every article several times and I don’t even think consciously of him when I do it. His words are just ingrained into who I am.

3. Make it Fun

When I think of my dad, I think of laughter. He made everything fun. I remember going to see the movie ‘What About Bob’ with him. He laughed so hard that he got the entire cinema laughing. Now, I think that film is one of the funniest ever made, but it probably isn’t. It needed my dad to make it fun.

4. Be Brave

My dad was enormously brave at the end. He must have been terrified, but he didn’t complain or make a fuss. And he accepted his diagnosis with typical humor. Back then, mad cow disease was a concern in England and no one was eating beef. On the way back from the hospital after learning he had only a short time to live, he and mum stopped for lunch. Dad glanced at the menu and said quietly ‘well, I guess I can risk the beef sandwich.’

He was always brave like that – always willing to try new things. He started his own business in middle-age and would have done well had not a long miner’s strike wiped out the local economy. My dad threw himself into things and then figured it out as he went along.

5. Don’t Let the Rain Stop You Wearing Your Shorts

My dad didn’t let things get in the way. Whenever we’d go on holiday, he’d change straight into his shorts even when it was cold or pouring with rain. He was on holiday and he was going to wear his shorts, dammit!

Dad used to say there’s no problem that doesn’t have a solution if you just think hard enough.’ When building furniture or fixing things around the house, or getting an old car working, he’d always find an answer.

Of course, there was one problem that didn’t have a solution, no matter how hard we wished otherwise. And that was the hardest lesson I ever learned from my dad.

I love you dad. And I miss you.

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