My father passed away in 2002. While he taught me many lessons about life and love that profoundly impacted my life, it was his lessons in business and entrepreneurship that I find myself increasingly drawn to these days. After twenty-five years on the corporate side of the financial services industry, I am now a full-time entrepreneur, experiencing the passion, freedom, and grind of this existence.
My father engaged in many business endeavors in his life span. In fact, there are five distinct business streams that I remember in my lifetime from consulting, heading a government initiative, being a restauranteur, flipping homes to financial advising. Some ventures were successful, some heartbreaking, but all lessons in perseverance, drive, and resilience. What I did not realize is that, even as a child, I was developing the business acumen that I have today, just by watching him.
I grew up an only child and was always a daddy’s girl. However, when my mother passed away in my early adulthood, it was then that my relationship with my father changed from purely parent-child to mentor-mentee, colleague and best friend. In fact, at the time of my mother’s passing, I was working with him in his office where he was a financial advisor.
After three years, my father was the one who encouraged me to step out on faith and move from our home in Michigan to the east coast, where the headquarters of his company was located. I was to begin my corporate career on a marketing and sales desk, supporting financial advisors, such as my father, in the United States and abroad.
So, we packed up my little red Saturn sports coupe I received as a college graduation gift and headed east to my future. After an overnight nine-hour drive, settling into my new apartment, and visiting my new corporate office, it was a tearful goodbye as I dropped daddy off at the airport for him to fly home, and for me to start my new life.
From that day that on, my father and I spoke every single day up until the day of his passing. We talked about everything under the sun with such comfort and ease that our conversations became one of the best parts of my day, whether we spoke for two minutes or two hours. Some of our greatest and most in-depth discussions were business focused as I navigated through corporate life.
As my father offered strategies and advice on how to flourish in a large organization, he also prepared me for entrepreneurship that was to come many years later. In reflection, here are three valuable business lessons my father imparted to me through word and action.
1. Use Your Natural Gifts and Abilities to Succeed
No one is born with any particular skill set. Skills are learned as we experience new things, so stretch past what you know for the opportunity to grow. You have abilities unique to you that will facilitate your success in whatever field you choose.
2. Do Not Be Afraid to Fail
Failure is heartbreaking and uncomfortable. But, it is an inevitable part of life and success. If you experience failure, keep going and focus on your next move. There may be people with an I-told-you-so-attitude. But, many times, they are sideline critics, who are afraid to do something they have never done before, and will remain in the same spot their entire lives. Keep going anyway.
3. Be Passionate and Playful
Entrepreneurship and business, as a whole, have a perception of being serious endeavors with thirty-hour days. Yes, passion and drive are essential ingredients to success, but always remember to take time to be playful and light. No matter what was happening with my father’s businesses, he always made time to show my mother and me that we were his whole world. His corny jokes, laughter, and frisbee-throwing games are what I miss the most.
It has been almost seventeen years since my father was laid to rest, but the invaluable lessons he has taught me, remain with me forever.
© 2019 Kelli Wingo All rights reserved.
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