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The most important business advice my dad ever gave me

February 3, 2014
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dad The most important business advice my dad ever gave me

The best fatherly advice ever

Above are several photos of my father and I over the years – in the horrible blue dress, I’m a teenage bridesmaid at his brother’s wedding, in the amazing champagne dress, he is walking me down the aisle on the best day of my life, and as a blonde, he was there when I converted to Catholicism about the same time he did. My brother and I were raised by a single father for much of our lives, so he and I are very close, and I used to get in fights at school over whose dad was smarter (I obviously won).

bar The most important business advice my dad ever gave me
I idolized my father as a child, because he was on of those smartassy, cynical people that taught me to think critically. One of my favorite inappropriate sayings of his that I never understood as a five year old was, “do you know where you can find sympathy? In the dictionary between ‘shit’ and ‘syphilis,'” and he most certainly meant it. Even when you had a boo boo.



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But this tough love wasn’t the best advice my dad ever gave me (although it ranks pretty high up there), no, it was more simple.

“Go look it up.”

That’s it. That’s the best business advice and even life advice that my father ever gave to me.

“Daddy,” I would ask at age four, “what does ‘cajoled’ mean?”

“Go look it up.”

“But I can’t read…”

“Go look it up.”

I would ask as a teen, “Dad, what does it mean when someone’s rights have been abrogated?”

“Go look it up.”

Before Google, I would ask, “Dad, how do I get to South Lamar? How do I add this oil to my car?”

“Go look it up.”

If I didn’t understand my homework, I would ask, “Dad, how do I solve for x?”

“Go look it up.”

How this skyrocketed my education and career

I was reading at a third grade level at age five and my poetry (which was terrible, of course) was published by age six. I studied my ass off in school and got into an amazing college, and I eventually became the writer I had always wanted to be. I still have a torn up dictionary that I was given at age five – you know the old one… the hard-bound red Merriam-Webster, and it has notes, highlights, and many, many words circled in pencil.

In the photos above, Dad and I are arm-in-arm, but he was not one to prop me up along the way, but for my own good. In our house, there were no shortcuts. No one was a helicopter parent. There was no reliance on anyone but myself. There was to be no laziness. There was no homework done for me. Most importantly, there was never an answer given, even when I was stuck.

So when you’re having a tough time with a client, go look it up. When you can’t figure out what tax software to use, go look it up. Need to improve your networking skills? Go look it up. When you have a fleeing thought about something you’re curious about, never remain curious. Go look it up.

Just go look it up.

AGBeat Chief Operating Officer: Lani, named 100 Most Influential, as well as 12 Most Influential Women in Blogging, Bashh Founder, Out and about in Austin A Lister, is a business and tech writer and startup consultant hailing from the great state of Texas in the city of Austin. As a digital native, Lani is immersed not only in advanced technologies and new media, but is also a stats nerd often buried in piles of reports. Lani is a proven leader, thoughtful speaker, and vested partner at AGBeat.


  • http://freetraffictip.com Tinu

    I’m thinking if you got published at 6, your poetry was not terrible, LOL. But that’s life-changing advice. It’s a short way of saying “you’re self-sufficient and I believe in your ability to find the answer without bothering me” LOL. Shows a great deal of trust and confidence in you and your talents. I can see why that would be your favorite.

    My equivalent from my father, to boil it down to a sentence would be “the only boss that will ever love you is you.” Which was technically wrong since my first job was for my Dad at 11. :)

  • http://CashFlowMercenaryAcademy.com Dennis Fassett

    Yep – my mom used to tell us the same thing! We of course contented it with our kids.

    The other thing they told us – second place is just the first loser.

  • http://realsummerlin.com/ chrisshouse

    Your father sounds amazing! That is good advice and I really wished I would have done that with my son but I one of those I will help people…but he turned out OK and he uses mostly tough love on my granddaughter and at 11 she is pretty strong and very smart…I have to tell him tonight about sympathy. LOL…I am glad you shared this story!