“Father’s Day” will soon be upon us, and the day is a reminder that we should pay heed to those who have lived before us, are older and wiser, and may have some helpful life tips. CNY Conversations interviewed a few people about what advice their fathers gave them throughout their lives, and here’s what many of them had to say.
“Give it your best.”
“Give it your best. That’s one of the things that my father always said: If you’re going to take something on, give it your very best; don’t settle for mediocrity,” according to Catherine Underhill’s father, Robert Mooney.
Eric Hinman’s father, Charles, gave him business advice. “He would rotate employees to learn every aspect of the business, so it would ready them for advancement. He always aligned his employees’ goals and missions with the company’s goals and missions. Never was he thinking about his own self-interest. He was always thinking about the company’s self-interest and the employees’ best interests…That’s a trait that good leaders have. They’re able to get people to see the larger mission and make them feel like they’re valuable in building the organization, that they have a purpose.”
“I learned the bond of a family, a family filled with love.”
When Wiley Cerilli’s dad, Joe, told him he was going to die from lung cancer, Wiley was only 16 and took it pretty hard. But Joe had some good advice. “He told me that at some point I would have to decide whether those things would define my path. He said you have to decide whether to be negative, whether to let negative things prevail, whether to look at them as failures you can’t overcome. Or, you decide to look at them and say: Those are opportunities.”
“Going through the process of losing my dad,” he added, “And losing our money, and having the electricity turned off, and helping to take care of my family, you can look at that and say: What a terrible situation. And yes, it’s not the ideal situation. But throughout that, I learned the bond of a family, a family filled with love, and what that means.”
Carlos Suarez of his namesake father, said, “My dad always told me: Keep your mind open for other possibilities. It’s really easy to get into one thing and then have tunnel vision. This is coming from a truck driver. He’s gotta stay in one lane all day.”
“You cannot lead without character.”
Roger Burdick said his businessman father, Glenn, had exceptional tolerance, and he never yelled at anyone or spoke negatively to them in front of other people.
“He would always say: ‘People aren’t born in groups. We don’t manage in groups. We manage individually. We speak to people individually about the things we need to see change or be different.’ You live with a man who lives like that and you learn that’s the way you should be. You cannot lead without character,” he said.
The importance of living one’s faith
David Freund, a chief leadership officer at MACNY, learned from his father that success is not determined by money. “My advice to anybody: Find something you love. It can be tough from day to day, but it’s not as much like work. Value people. Focus on making every day better for somebody…You go to a checkout line. Smile to the person there. You might be the only person who smiled at that person today. It didn’t cost you anything. And you feel good after you did it.”
“I learned these kinds of things from my dad,” he continued. “He lived his faith – his faith in God and his faith in people. I had the privilege of working for him when he was the plant manager at RPM Industries. I observed how he did things. He asked questions. If anybody had a problem, he was there.”
This example taught Freund how to be a real leader. “I saw leadership is not about commanding…If you boil down leadership, leadership is nothing more than influence. It’s not title. It’s not position. It’s influence.”
He concluded, “Ask yourself: How do I gain the best influence in people’s lives? First, you have to connect with them. They have to know who you are and you have to get inside their life and not expect them to come into yours…Those were all things that I was seeing my father model.”