It's a sunny spring day in April just a week after my dad had open heart surgery to repair his mitral valve. I'm at home with him for his recovery and I've dedicated this post to him and all that he has taught me. There’s so much life and business, but this post focuses exclusively on business lessons. Some were taught directly and some indirectly, by watching how he operates daily.
He graduated from college with a Bachelor’s in Business, has managed a big grocery store in Des Moines, he was involved in sales and accounting for a car dealership, and has done B2B sales for Frito-Lay for over 20 years.
1. Customers are always right
He always told me it was much easier to give customers what they want instead of listening to them complain and potentially not coming back to the store. Treat your customers right and keep them coming back. It’s easier to do that than find new ones all the time. An angry customer looks bad in your store and can’t help you after they leave either.
2. Get up early and get your work done
He wakes up before dawn around 5:00 AM, sometimes earlier, to head into work. He does this so he can be done with everything by mid-afternoon. He takes care of the biggest orders first thing in the morning and works through the hardest things first. His day gets easier and easier as it goes on. When he gets home he still has hours before dinner to accomplish whatever else he wants.
3. Don’t just work to work – work hard at whatever it is you’re doing
He gets upset at coworkers that don’t work hard. Really he gets upset hearing about any workers ever being lazy, or lackadaisical. You’re there for a reason. If that reason is you just want money to do something else then work harder, get it done and spend more of your time doing what you want instead of moping around your job.
He definitely likes what he’s doing, but it is not his ultimate love. He loves to fish among other things, so he works hard and gives himself more time outside of work to do that and other things he loves to do.
4. Sometimes you have to do stuff you don’t want to do – get it done
At home and at work there are certainly plenty of things he doesn't want to do. He has led by example and gets things done. He steps up and gets it out of the way. Just like lesson 2 he tackles the difficult things and gets them out of the way. He knows they have to be done and doesn't sugar coat it or put it off.
Another principle this has taught me is that to get what you really want you have to do something you don’t want to do. He’s done a lot more than I can imagine doing, but that is his character and its paid off getting him and his family to this point.
5. Draw lines between your business and personal life
I’ve already started following him on this one. Sometimes regardless of what you’re doing you need to take a break. A real break and get away from it all. The last 13 years we’ve taken a yearly international trip. We disconnect from the world so to speak.
Sometimes I find myself talking about my business on these trips, but it’s because I love what I do so much and I love helping people. I’ve found new clients on these trips the last couple years. I still refuse to look at my phone, or check my email. If there’s a problem I have a system in place to fix it. I don’t want to hear about any problems when I’m on vacation.
He’s always done his best to leave his work at work. Wake up early tackle it all and stay until it’s done. When it’s done it’s done.
In today’s world, especially in a tech field, almost every field now has some level of tech involved, we find ourselves more connected than ever. It is harder to step away when everyone has a phone in their hand or pocket. This is where a full-time assistant would be nice...
6. The more things that can go – the more that WILL go wrong
The more people you have working under you, the more moving parts you have, the more suppliers you work with the more that can go wrong. When you have that many things that can go wrong – something will go wrong.
It’s taught me to have systems and processes in place. People fail, systems don’t. Be better organized and on top of things. If you do need many people to rely on make sure you have excellent communication with them.
7. Work hard, play hard
Get up, get your work done, go play. As mentioned above he likes what he does, but it’s not his ultimate passion. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t enjoy what he’s doing. Whatever it may be at the time. He’s taught me to find a way to enjoy whatever it is you’re doing. Even if its something you absolutely dislike.
That doesn’t mean get stuck doing things you don’t like. It means when you do things you don’t want to do in order to get what you want enjoy it along the way. Life, work, and business are all a journey. Its really not about the destination. Even the destination is all about how you perceive and experience it.
Through our travels he’s taught me that lesson as well. Some people in our same situation have a rotten time, but we always enjoy ourselves when we vacation.
He left me with this unattributed quote, “Don’t ever become over impressed with your own un-importance”. He’s taught me to have confidence and conviction, but don’t ever get complacent or treat people poorly. Everyone, including you and me is replaceable to some degree.
I’m interested in you and what your parents, grandparents, or relatives have taught you. Message me your thoughts, or catch me on social media!