Work Lessons From Dad

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In honor of Father’s Day, we asked people from all walks of life to tell us the #1 lesson Dad taught them about work.

The responses are as varied as they are inspiring and insightful. Give them a read, then share your #1 work lesson from Dad in the comments below. Happy Father’s Day.

What Is the #1 Lesson Dad Taught You About Work?

Work Lessons From Dad

“There is always going to be someone out there who is better looking than you or more intelligent than you. The one thing you have complete control over is how hard you work. Work the hardest.”

– Aida M. Rodriguez, Esquire, The Law Office of Aida M. Rodriguez

“Don’t be a doctor or lawyer. Be an entrepreneur.”

– Neil Thanedar, Founder & CEO of LabDoor

“The #1 lesson my father taught me was the importance of a firm handshake. We practiced for hours until he thought I had it down. He said, as a women, I would always have to prove I was strong and a handshake was the first thing people use to start forming their opinion.”

– Beverly Butler, Vice President Public Relations at Wells Fargo & Company

“My Dad taught me the importance of work ethics by the example he set. My Dad taught me to own my mistakes because you learn from them. My Dad taught me to study hard so I could get into college, something he wasn’t offered as a young man.”

– Maria Snyder, CPA | Social Media Manager at Maria Snyder Consulting

“The #1 thing my father often said was, ‘You owe your family 40 hours a week.’”

– Melissa Kauffold, Owner/Designer at MelJoy Creations

“Follow your passion and make sure you get your fair share. As Dad put it, ‘The horses pulling the wagon ought to be getting their share of the oats.’”

– Mark Grimm, President of Mark Grimm Communications

“My father taught me not to accept the status quo — to question everything. It’s helped me throughout my career and even pushed me to launch Viral Workforce. If you accept the way things are, you’re not motivated to seek change.”

– Keren Douek, Founder of Viral Workforce

“My dad taught me so much by example. He has always been kind to those around him and has employees who have worked with him for 25-30 years. He has always taken time to help those in need and really share all the gifts that he has been given. He used to say, ‘That could have been us. We could have been born over there instead of over here. I have to help.’ But his words as I start each new job are always, ‘Play nice with the other kids.’ I love you, dad!”

– Lisa Niver Rajna, Travel Writer and Co-founder of We Said Go Travel

“The #1 lesson my dad taught me was work ethic. Thanks to him, I’ve found the harder I work, the luckier I get!”

– Dave Hatter, Libertas Technologies, LLC

“Be responsive! Return every call or email by close of business, same day. It’s amazing the opportunities that open up when we simply get back to people in a timely manner.”

– Amy Maurer Creel, Director of Sales and Marketing at Smart Mom, LLC

“[My Dad’s] 3 pieces of advice to his 17 children, 55 grandchildren and 14 great  grandchildren include: 1) There are no shortcuts — make all the stops along the way, 2) The difference between success and failure can be one more call, 3) Don’t dip your pen in the company ink.”

– Frank Tobin Jr. of Frank Tobin PR

“My dad always drilled one thing into me — ‘If you undertake something, do it completely, do it well and do not quit till you bring it to its logical conclusion. And to do it well, do only one thing at a time.’”

– Raj Sheth, CEO & Co-Founder of Recruiterbox

“To be there early, if not first. [I] am usually first or second, and the early birds definitely catch more worms!”

– Scott Bloom, Bloom Real Estate Group

“When you’re working, be 100% focused on work. When you’re with your family, be 100% focused on them.”

– R.J. Weiss, Personal Lines Department Manager at Weiss Insurance Agencies, Inc.

Work Life Balance

“When I first started my career, my dad gave me the best advice anyone has ever given me. He said, ‘Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t overwork yourself or you’ll burn out.’”

– Whitney Diaz, Social Media Strategist & PR Coordinator at Verdin

“On my first day at work (at my first job out of college), my father’s advice was: Remember to greet people each morning with ‘Good morning’ and a smile. What he meant was: It’s always good to start the day on a positive note and to socialize with the people around you. This advice has come a long way, as I have been able to build solid relationships wherever I go.”

– Vienne Cheung, Founder of VienneMilano

“There were SO MANY great things that my Dad taught me that have applied to my career, but the one that has seemed to always make a huge difference is about ENTHUSIASM. He used to preach, ‘Act enthusiastic and you’ll BE enthusiastic!’ Even if you’re having a bad day, putting a healthy dose of enthusiasm into whatever you’re doing can really turn it around.”

– Jhan Robert Dolphin, FORGE AHEAD USA

“If you don’t go out there and get it yourself then you’ll never have anything.”

– Henry Baker, Jr., Vice President of Pur-Vent, LLC

“He used to say, ‘Most people will walk along the same path and do good things and that is okay if you want to stay on the same path as them. But, if you want to do truly great things, you need to step off that path, and be willing to go it alone if need be, in order to find your passion and create something out of the ordinary.’”

– Jennifer Kelman, Jennifer Kelman Coaching, LLC

“1) Love going to work and love going home.
2) You can make every mistake there is to make, but only once.
3) Cry inside for your patients. Never lose your compassion. Never get used to losing someone.”

– Joseph Shrand, Medical Director of CASTLE High Point Treatment Center

“My dad had a great work ethic and passed that on to his children. He told me when I left college I would have to start at the bottom and work my way up…because the only job where you start at the top is digging a hole.”

– Jeanette Simpson, Interior Designer at KidSpace Interiors

“My Dad taught me to be honest, respectful and work hard, to help others and you’ll always get help in return. Blend into any environment, and feel at home anywhere in the world. He also said that a smile will take me a long way — how very true.”

– Katya Barry, Global Attitude Architect & International Success Coach

“When I first started my journey as an entrepreneur my dad told me, ‘Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. The more mistakes you make, the more you will learn.’ It helped me to move away from fear-driven actions and beliefs about being an entrepreneur and encouraged me to try new things and be open to anything.”

– Allison Tibbs, CEO & Small Business Marketing Coach, Marquise LLC

“Do the job right the first time, so you don’t have to do it over. I hear him saying those words in everything I do.”

– Nick Barron, Blogger

“Give an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. If you can’t speak positively of an employer, you should find another. No one owes you a job.”

– Ilene Davis

“The answer is always ‘no’ until you ask. This applies to asking for a raise or title promotion, or anything else you want that you’re not sure your manager will agree to (bigger office, or change in location, extra vacation days, etc). If you have been doing a good job for them they will probably want to keep their good employee and do anything reasonable for you.”

– Mike Scanlin, CEO of Born To Sell

“My father continually told me two words do not exist, and he never allowed me to use them. Those words are Cannot and Impossible. That taught me to always (a) figure out ways to achieve my goals, and (b) persist until I do.”

– Michael Mercer, Ph.D., Author of Job Hunting Made Easy

“Give your employer more than they expect. If you’re looking for a job, tell everyone you meet. You never know where the next opportunity may come from.”

– FK

“No one has a good enough memory to lie. Always be honest with your customers and yourself.”

– Susan Phillips Bari, The Mark Landrey Group, Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate

“My Dad always taught me to do the best job I can for myself no matter who I was working for. It is your accomplishments you did for yourself and others that will be judged in your next position. If you do a great job for yourself, then your employer will win, the company’s customers will win, and more importantly, you will win.”

– Bob Maples, Maples Communications, Inc.

“My father worked 2 jobs for 20 yrs. I learned from his life experience that you choose the life you want to live. Your output = your input.”

– April Chantel Hollar, Principal at April Chantel Wedding & Event Company

“’Life isn’t fair.’ Which means don’t whine or cry when things aren’t fair at work; instead, work your fanny off to get what you want. And I did and it worked!”

– Aimee Elizabeth, Author of Poverty Sucks! How to Become a Self-Made Millionaire

“The foundation of [my] books is based on this advice from my dad, a veteran, a farmer and a business owner with an eighth grade education: If you do nothing else in life, learn how to work. If you work, you will eat, you will learn, and you will succeed.”

– Jeanne Miller Rodriguez, Author & Consultant

(Related: How Has Mom Influenced & Inspired Your Career?)

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