I learned a lot about work from my dad. From the time I was very young he showed me
that work is important. Dad’s career
took him from business ownership to managing businesses for others and back to
owning a business. During all these years I could tell that some days were
better than others but quitting, giving up, taking a mental health day and even
extended grousing was not an option.
Building a business was rewarding and by pressing on you got results.
When I was in kindergarten my father owned a dry cleaning
business. When we went to visit the
store the employees knew my name and at home we heard updates on the crew. Then and in subsequent years we were never
the bratty bosses or owners kids to be catered to because our father was in
charge. I helped at holiday parties and
was welcomed at company picnics and saw that I was well represented in photos
at work. Dad’s approach demonstrated
that employees work hard when you get to
know them and treat them well.
While these principles were absorbed by my observation
expectations about work for the next generation were made very clear. I think my first paid employment was stuffing
envelopes for a company mailing. My
brothers and I competed to see who would earn the most at a going rate of a
penny a piece.
Stuffing envelopes was not going to earn enough money to
contribute towards college costs. I
moved on to babysitting, camp counselor, shelving library books, waitress and
hostess. My brothers’ group resume
includes snow shoveling, house painting, driving patients, taking tickets at
the movies and lab work among a long and varied list of employment. A job was never too menial or hard. Living in a nice neighborhood or going to a
good college did not make us better than our co-workers.
We enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle including great
vacations, clothes and plenty of extras paid for by our parents. The knowledge that unusual expenses and part
of college costs were our responsibility kept us from feeling entitled. I learned that nothing is handed to you; you
need to earn it.
My father continues to take enormous pride in our
accomplishments. When The HR Answer Book
was first published every time the Amazon ranking inched up I thought my dad had
sent another book to someone. It’s now
safe to report that too many books have been sold in too many countries for him
to be the primary purchaser. The pride
and encouragement my father engendered and the example he set produced the self
reliance and risk taking required for his four children to all pursue self
Father’s Day is a great time to thank dad for more than just
a great barbeque. So thanks to my
father, Phil Maron, for all of the valuable things I’ve learned from you about
work. Thank your own dad in person, on
the phone or add a comment here and send him the link.