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What Family-owned Businesspeople Learned from Dad and Mom

After I posed a question on The Family Owned Business Network, a LinkedIn discussion group, I found the responses both heartwarming and enlightening.

I started by recounting advice from my own parents:
My dad always said, “In college, learn how to DO something.” As an International Harvester farm implement dealer, he was frustrated by college grads with a degree in anthropology or world history who applied for a job. “But what can you DO?” my dad would ask them. I followed his advice and got a journalism degree. I still use what I learned every day.

My mom’s advice was, “Don’t leave things to the last minute.” She said that if she didn’t have her Christmas shopping done by October 1, it made her nervous! So from her I learned to organize and meet deadlines. I went through four colleges in 3 years, and graduated early. I’m so glad I did because if I’d graduated when I was supposed to, my dad wouldn’t have lived to see it…

Here are excepts of what the responders have said:
Sherman Titens – Do what you will be happy doing, and
try to make a difference.
Teresa Mason – Have fun doing what you do, always conduct yourself with integrity, nurture and respect those who work for you.
Tom Deans, Ph.D. – My father taught me to never confuse my love of “business” with my love of “his business.” Not gifting his business to me paradoxically proved to be his greatest gift.
Paul Andrews – Have a passion and belief in what you do, do it to the best of your ability, and be honest with yourself so you can make the best decision for the business.
Danette Kohrs – Gain the strength to never quit. Learn skills in flexibility and problem solving.
Raj Bhattarai – Be in business not for myself, but for others. Always think of others’ problems and prosperity.
Rick Thomas – Work hard, be honest and always keep your word.The only way to get ahead in the world is to earn what you get.
Gary Brown – Duty, honor, country, family and only in God do you trust.
Bob Bennett – Subscribe to Benjamin Franklin’s adage “early to bed and early to rise.” Also, “the words never spoken are never eaten.”
Nancy McAuley – Work hard and give to help others. Live by the golden rule.
Lori J. Baker – All my parents’ hard work and long hours paid off, and were a good lesson for the kids – my two sisters and I are all business owners too!
Stephen Ford – Running a business takes commitment. Business problems aren’t family problems – keep them separate.
Theresa A. Henderson – Write down that idea. Listen, because others ideas can be better than yours. Being honest will carry you a long ways. Do good deeds, go that little extra mile, and when asked how it can be repaid, tell them to pass it on.
Martin Stepek – Letting good people learn from their mistakes usually gets you loyalty and quality in return, two attributes most family businesses feel strongly about.
Norman Craig – If you give your best effort in everything you do, you will be rewarded in life. Treat people with dignity, integrity, trust and respect.
Jeff Noble – The harder you work, the luckier you will be. Luck is really when preparation meets opportunity.
Bruce Clinton – Personal goals are real and should be recognized as so. Don’t burn bridges because of pride.

The advice may vary, but what everyone agrees on is that we’re glad we learned valuable lessons from our parents. Collectively, we say: “Thanks, Dad!” “Thanks, Mom!”

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