Entrepreneurs Share Life Lessons From Their Dads Just In Time For Fathers Day

Entrepreneurs share life lessons they received from their dads in preparation of Fathers Day
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Life lessons can be great no matter where it’s coming from, as it can help us grow and mature and think about things a different way. But advice is only as good as the person who gives it, and, when it’s your dad telling you like it is, it usually resonates and stays with you much longer than if it were from anybody else.

Since Fathers Day is this weekend, we thought it’d be interesting to share some A+ life lessons that entrepreneurs got from their dads throughout their lives. Whether it was something about business, work or life in general, take a look at what some of these successful people had to say — and, while you’ve got your own dad to celebrate this weekend, maybe you can apply these things to your own life.

Steve Jobs shares the life lessons his dad gave him
Screengrab via YouTube

1. Steve Jobs (Co-Founder of Apple): “Paul Jobs (Steve Jobs’ adoptive father) was a salt-of-the-earth guy who was a great mechanic. And he taught his son Steve how to make great things,” Jobs’ biographer, Walter Isaacson, told CBS News. “Once they were building a fence. And he said, ‘You got to make the back of the fence that nobody will see just as good looking as the front of the fence. Even though nobody will see it, you will know, and that will show that you’re dedicated to making something perfect.'”

2. Alexis Ohanian (Founder of Reddit): “My father is a travel agent and he started a travel agency during the first tech boom and really showed me how important it was to be on the right side of this huge shift. I love the internet thought it was kind of fun but it was at the dinner table talking with him that I realized just what a force it was.”

3. Sara Blakely (Founder of Spanx): “He told me ‘failure is not trying.’ Sara says, “It really allowed me to be much freer in trying things and spreading my wings in life.”

4. Russell Simmons (CEO of Rush Communications): Russell’s father said, “Do you. Don’t be a follower. Don’t be a sheep.”

5. Richard Branson (Founder of Virgin): “My dad’s favorite will always stay with me. Three simple words that summed up his outlook on the world, which I believe anyone can learn from: ‘Isn’t life wonderful?’”

6. Bill Gates (Founder of Microsoft): “He encouraged me as a kid to do things that I wasn’t good at. This ended up really exposing me to leadership opportunities.”

7. Danielle Tate (Founder of MissNowMrs.com): “My father is an engineer and had a saying I heard daily as a child. Absorbing and implementing it has had huge ramifications in my life as a successful entrepreneur: The world is full of problem identifiers. Be a problem solver.”

8. John Turner (Founder and CEO of QuietKit): “What I learned from my dad that made me a better entrepreneur was his example of always trying to learn more. It didn’t matter if it was in a formal setting or not, he was always trying to learn more, learn faster, and learn as broadly as possible.”

9. Rahul Alim (Owner of Custom Creatives): “The most important lesson my Dad instilled in me is patience. I’m patient in all my dealings with clients, employees, high stress scenarios, and it has helped me evaluate the situation at hand with less pressure. I’ve earned some grey hair along the way and realize that life and business decisions don’t have to be made in an instant — not every scenario is like Shark Tank.”

10. Florin Bechis (Founder of Rethink Home): “One piece of advice from my grandfather: ‘Your eyes scare you, but your hands give you joy.’”

Stephen Curry shares the life lessons his dad gave him
Screengrab via YouTube

11. Stephen Curry (NBA All-Star and Founder of Slyce): “One thing my pop always told me is you never count another man’s money. It’s what you have got and how you take care of it.”

12. Rachel Charlupski (Founder of The Babysitting Company): “The best lesson that my father taught me is that the relationship with the customer is more important than the money. Meaning sometimes you have to make an investment or sacrifice to make sure that the customer is happy and it will pay off in the long run.”

13. David Mercer (Founder of SME Pals): “My dad gave me an interesting twist on a common piece of advice. Back then the mantra was ‘Work hard and never give up.’ But the message I got was slightly different, and it has helped me time and time again during my career as an entrepreneur (with over 5 business currently in operation).”

14. Jennifer Bright Reich (Co-Founder of The Mommy MD Guides): “What I learned from my dad is to treat everyone, regardless of their ‘station,’ with complete respect and kindness. My dad was every bit as nice to the bus person in a restaurant as he was to the owner. He was as kind to the janitor of Mack Trucks as to the VP. And even today, my dad is every bit as respectful to the aides in his senior home as he is to the partners.”

15. Tory Burch (Founder of Tory Burch): “I have learned just about everything from my dad, about style but more importantly about life. He always told me that you have to be nice to everyone regardless of who they are”

16. Gene Caballero (Co-Founder of GreenPal): “Best lesson I ever learned from my dad was work ethic. Being an successful entrepreneur himself, he taught me that it doesn’t take the smartest individual to make a difference but the one who works the hardest will always come out on top. He used to say, ‘There are three 8-hour work days in one 24 hour day. Pick which two you want to work and you will be successful.’”

17. Jason Angelini (Founder of American Bench Craft): “‘You can do anything you put your mind to, just take it one step at a time.’ Starting out, we obviously had our long term far reaching goals, but more importantly we set hundreds of small short term goals. Our first goal was simply to make our first sale. We didn’t start out trying to figure out how we would make our first million. Rather we took it one step of the time, and achieved smaller goals that encouraged us to keep working towards our larger goals.”

18.  Julie Busha (CEO of Slawsa): “My father didn’t have any sons, just two girls. So, by the time I came around, he made sure to not raise me like the traditional girl. He always encouraged my interest in math and always instilled the principle, ‘There’s nothing a boy can do that you cannot do just as good, if not better.’”

19. J.S. Fletcher (Author and Co-Founder of YourNovel.com): “My dad worked with his hands and took pleasure in building things that our household budget could not afford. Examples would be preparing the ground and planting a garden each year; framing the forms, mixing and laying concrete for our 40-foot driveway; and installing electrical wiring in his house. Through it all, he always told me to ‘work smarter, not harder.’”

20. Sebastien Dupéré (CEO of Dupray): “The best piece of motivational advice I ever received was from my father. He spoke to me about expectations placed on others. If you don’t have any expectations for others, you can never be disappointed. This might sound grim or sad, but at the core of it is a belief in self-reliance. It taught me the importance on getting the job done without a helping hand. It also taught me to appreciate the people who actually come through for you.”

Martha Stewart shares the life lessons his dad gave her
Screengrab via YouTube

21. Martha Stewart (Founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia): “He told me that with my personal characteristics, I could, if I set my mind to it, do anything I chose,” she wrote in a 2013 post on LinkedIn. “This advice instilled in me a great sense of confidence, and despite the fact that sometimes I was a little nervous, I stepped out and did what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it.”

22. Sam Williamson (Owner of Guardian Removals): “As soon as my friends turned 16, most of them had already started to take driving lessons and were considering buying a car. I’d always dreamt of having the freedom of being able to drive wherever I wanted, but I knew that I’d have to dig deep into my savings to afford the lessons and car. My dad sat me down one evening and gave me a stern talk about how a car wasn’t necessary and I could use that money for something else. Reluctantly, I opted not to buy a car and instead bought a bus pass. I used my savings to start my company instead, which has grown tremendously ever since. Now I don’t just have one car, I’ve got a couple of vans and lorries too!”

23. Mark Ferguson (Creator of Investfourmore.com): “My father always operated with the utmost integrity and never sacrificed his clients needs for a quick buck. While he made less money in the short term on some deals, he made much more in the long run thanks to customer loyalty and referrals. I see this strategy helping my business all the time.”

24. Barbara Corcoran (Founder of The Corcoran Group): “My father taught us great heaping of insubordination and I think that’s why we didn’t want to grow up working for anybody.”

25. Erica Nicole (Founder and CEO of YFS Magazine): “’Always remain encouraged and stay the course.’ It’s a simple yet powerful notion. In life — and business — we encounter many gratifying victories and humbling defeats, but your resolve to stay relentlessly committed to your purpose is ultimately what defines you.”

26. Mike Brown (Founder of ModBargains): “The most important lesson I have learned from my father didn’t come from words he spoke to me, but by his commitment and consistency of being present. From the time I was young learning to play sports all the way until today at the age of 30 building my company, my dad has showed up to everything I have invited him to. He still comes to my men’s league basketball games, in fact. I have learned from him that the action of showing up and being there means the most, and this impacts me in my decisions today and will shape the kind father I will be in the future.”

27. Abel James (Author and Motivational Speaker): “My dad always said, ‘follow your passions, and do what makes you happy.’ There’s no way I’d be a full-time health nut and pro musician without hearing that and taking it to heart.”

28. Kristina Heinze (Co-Founder at ParkerGale Capital): “[My father] taught me that we needed to save, save, save because we are responsible for our own destinies. If we weren’t smart about saving and investing, no matter how successful we became, we could end up with nothing if we spent foolishly on things that weren’t necessary… He wasn’t the type that told us we couldn’t buy nice things once in a while to reward our hard work and achievements, but it is all about moderation and responsibility.”

29. Donald Trump Jr. (EVP of Development and Acquisitions, Trump Hotels.): “My siblings and I learned early on from my father that if you’re not passionate about something, you’re not going to do well. Passion, hard work, and getting our hands dirty is the norm. As a family, we are passionate about real estate and truly love what we do each day.”

30. Jason Parks (Owner of The Media Captain): “My dad taught me never to fear rejection. Growing up, I learned that the worse thing that could happen by asking for something is that someone could say no to you. On the contrary, if you never asked, you could always regret that moment, which is much worse.”

Kevin O'Leary shares the life lessons his dad gave him
Screengrab via YouTube

31. Kevin O’Leary (Co-Founder of O’Leary Funds and SoftKey): “Diversification is the only free lunch in investing. Always be diversified, own some stocks and bonds and never more than 5% in any one of them.”

32. Carrie Hammer (Founder of Role Models Not Runway Models): “Patience, humility, and respect.”

33. Sinan Kanatsiz (Founder of the Internet Marketing Association and KCOMM): “‘Aim for C’s or better, don’t worry about getting A’s in class.’ By focusing on C’s, I was actually able to pull off many B’s and some A’s. My father’s advice instilled a radical level of motivation in me to constantly deliver above and beyond what I’ve been asked to do. I think much of that is reflective in the milestones our companies have surpassed in the last two decades.”

34. Mark Gainey (Co-Founder and CEO of Strava): “My dad kept it simple [and said] there will always be someone richer and poorer than us. Someone faster and slower. Someone stronger and weaker. The sooner you keep things in perspective, operate with a healthy dose of humility, and appreciate what you have, the greater mountains you can climb.”

35. Richard Hayman (CEO of Hayman Consulting Group): “When I asked him for the ONE thing that made him the success he was, my father said, ‘It’s my ability to anticipate a problem long before it happens and act to avoid it.’ My brother and I embarked on a 10 year plan to position the family business to be sold. Five years later, I started getting audited financial statements, even though my accountant said it was an unnecessary expense. When the time came, the buyers wanted to see 5 years worth of audited statements to value the company. Without them, the valuation would have been less than half. Thanks, Dad.”

36. Harry Bernstein (Founder of The 88 Company): “My father worked two jobs when I was a kid. So it wasn’t what he told me it’s what he showed me… If you want twice what everyone has, you have to do twice as much.”

37. Jeff Haden (Author and Motivational Speaker): “Boring people win. The people who achieve the most do a lot more of the boring stuff. Routine, rigor, attention to detail, churning away day after day… that is the one sure way to succeed.”

38. Josh Ginsberg (CEO of Zignal Labs): “Working on a big project or political campaign can be stressful. The best work products will come when people are having a good time and feel like they are making a meaningful contribution. Setting that culture is key to a successful work environment.”

39. Allison Tray (Co-Founder of Tres Belle Spa): “My father believing in me gave me the courage and confidence to KNOW that our business would be a success. Phrases like ‘I know you can do this’ might seem cliche but they work. Hearing this in my head all these years has kept me moving forward. It’s okay to be scared sometimes but as an entrepreneur, you need to believe in yourself. It’s not a career for the faint of heart.”

40. Sarah Hadgkiss (Owner of Tea With Me and Hello Brows): XXX “I’ve literally ran both of my businesses with the advice from my father close to front of mind every single day and it has really never let me down. The advice was, ‘If it seems too good to be true….it is.’”

Meg Whitman shares the life lessons his dad gave her
Screengrab via YouTube

41. Meg Whitman (Former Hewlett-Packard CEO): “‘Be Nice.’ I’ll never forget my father telling me that,” Whitman recalled in Fortune in 2005. “I had been mean to someone. He said, ‘There is no point in being mean to anyone at any time. You never know who you’re going to meet later in life. And by the way, you don’t change anything by being mean. Usually you don’t get anywhere.'”

42. Josh Milstein (CEO of Mommy Nearest): “When I started a media/technology company for parents as a 24-year-old single guy, my dad–and co-investor in Mommy Nearest–could not have been more supportive, despite the fact that I didn’t have any children of my own. As a multiple-time principal/president and someone who has managed companies with hundreds of employees, he knew that the success of what I was trying to build didn’t squarely hinge on my individual performance and that, without a strong team, scaling the business would have been impossible.”

43. Christopher Gavigan (Co-Founder of The Honest Company): “I’ve never been one to do something halfway…and I owe this, in large part, to my father. The integrity with which he lived his life and approached his work is something that I witnessed from an early age, and that has stayed with me every day since. Not surprisingly, I tend to surround myself with people that possess qualities much the same–the passion to learn, to grow, and to contribute. It never fails.”

44. Jay Stein (CEO of Dream Hotel Group.): “‘The only way to get respect is to give it,’ he would say. This advice has always served me well in my 37 years in the hospitality business, but it was really valuable when I first started out and I was managing employees that were often older than I was.”

45. Bill Fish (Founder of ReputationManagement.com): “My Dad worked a labor job at a milk processing plant for a solid 30 years. I played high school and college sports, and he never missed a single game in high school. I was able to work at the dairy in my summers of college and saw how hard he worked and it motivated me for a couple of reasons. It taught me how important it was to be a part of your child’s life. He may have been in to work at 6 am, but he made every single one of my 4 pm baseball games. As an entrepreneur, I’ve made it a priority to leave the office to see a concert at the elementary school and other important moments in the lives of my children. Even if I have to be back on the computer after they go to bed, my father taught me priorities.”

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