With Father’s Day approaching, things I learned from my dad that apply to my everyday life and running a PR agency have been on my mind lately. I asked the Clairemont team what lessons they had learned from their dads. Now I know one of the reasons our team is so smart — smart dads! We hope you will enjoy the stories below. Oh yeah and Dad, I love you.
I’m a coal miner’s daughter. When I was six, the best part of my day was when my dad would come from working the midnight shift, and it would be time for him to go to bed about the time my day was really getting started. I would follow him upstairs and demand a story. No story for me meant no sleep for my dad. One time my dad told me a story that was absolutely hilarious. Things got easier for him in the weeks that followed because I just wanted to hear that same story again and again. In hindsight, that was probably the only easy thing about his day. I saw my dad work a variety of different shifts over the years, and he always came home tired and dirty. If you’ve ever seen a coal miner’s hands, you know that there’s really no nail brush tough enough. He always had a get it done attitude and took pride in his work. Coal mining is not for wimps. Neither is starting a business. I’ve been called a workaholic. I’m certain that’s not always a compliment, but I associate that word with my dad. So I just smile and say thank you.
“Margot, low man wins.” I have been hearing this from my dad since my days of playing basketball in high school. While this advice directly refers to sports and getting the better, lower position for playing defense and boxing out, it really can be applied to any life situation where a little hustling and a lot of hard work pays off for you. To me, “low man wins” really means being prepared and not afraid to do the extra work to put yourself in a place where you can succeed. You can’t expect to make a great defensive play if you’re not in a great defensive position, knees bent, low to the ground, balancing your weight on your toes. It’s not the most comfortable or easiest position to be in, but it is the position where you will be the most successful. This concept of putting myself in the best position for success, even if it’s hard or uncomfortable, has carried over from sports into my day-to-day life and has helped me pass tests, finish assignments and get jobs. Thank you, Dad, for teaching me your tricks to #winning.
Like most dads, my father taught me many things growing up. House rules included don’t wake up past 10:00 a.m., always finish food before it expires and do not wait until the last minute to do your laundry. Since going to college, I have, unfortunately, abandoned many of these anthems as I am now known to sleep until noon, throw out half full gallons of milk and fail to do laundry for weeks at a time. However, one of my father’s lessons has stuck with me: honor your commitments. If I have promised someone that I will do something, I have always followed up on that promise. When I was younger, that would mean if a fun pool party was scheduled during a softball practice, I would have to skip the party due to my prior commitment to the team. Nowadays, this means if I tell a professor I will help them on a project, meet peers for a group project or pull an extra shift at work, I will be there. This mantra has helped me throughout my education, extracurricular activities, friendships and other crucial aspects of my life. A flaky student, friend and worker is going to reap what they sow; people will not trust that individual to do meaningful tasks or be there for you when you need her. My commitment to my education, internships and friendships has led me to a wonderful network of people who trust my word as I much as I trust theirs. So thank you very much, Dad. Without you, I would not have the wonderful priorities you have instilled in me.
Never complain. Life is going to throw you lemons – a lot of them. And of course it’s up to you what you do with them (i.e. make lemonade, squeeze them, paint them gold, etc.). But no matter what it is that you decide, don’t complain. My dad has had his fair share of trials over the past 20 years, but I cannot tell you one time where I have heard him complain about his situation. I, on the other hand, can sometimes find the silliest things to complain about, and I don’t like it (see, I’m complaining already)! So I’ve made it my goal to think more like Peter, my dad, each and every day. It’s the patient, determined and keep-calm-and-carry-on types like him that make great friends, co-workers and parents. I am so thankful to have his example in my life!
A quote that puts my father’s mouth on repeat is, “If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail.” Growing up with parents who expect 101 percent on everything made me take this quote to heart. Today, many people approach goals, tasks or even their own jobs without correctly planning ahead. In order to advance, an individual should always know the background, present information and future purpose of an assignment. Before I came into my interview with Clairemont Communications, I prepared for a successful interview by researching the company and picturing how my specialities would be a good fit. Knowing the target audience and what they expect can help in situations such as presentations, speeches or even a debate. In PR specifically, it is important to realize how the company wants to be seen in the public’s eye. The work one puts in determines the amount of exposure. However, I’m sure my technological, dorky dad was not thinking about PR when giving this piece of advice. He just meant for me to discover that success goes hand in hand with dedication. So thanks, Dad, for advice that will help me prosper in the outside world that I am now entering and the high school world I am leaving. Have a happy Fathers Day!
(Editorial note: We are certain that Erica means “dorky” in the most loving way possible.)
I can without doubt trace my perfectionism back to my dad. Looking back on my childhood, one of my most vivid memories is my dad helping me with my homework. I can’t say it was always a pleasant experience, but certainly one that taught me the importance of getting things right. One instance in particular I remember was in middle school – I was working on an essay, probably about two or three pages hand written. My dad always read over everything very carefully and after reviewing my essay he found two or three small spelling errors. Lucky for me, this was right around the time erasable pens were introduced, so I quickly erased and corrected the words and handed the essay back to my dad. At first glance, he demanded I rewrite the entire essay. He thought erasing and rewriting the words made it look sloppy and couldn’t believe I was ready to turn in that essay. I stomped back to my room yelling, “It looks fine, why do you care so much!”
Now that I am a parent myself I understand why it was so important to him that I not turn in anything but perfection. He was teaching me that we should never settle for good enough, but that we should always put our best foot forward. He was using the everyday to teach me life lessons. That trait has stuck with me and is so much a part of the person I am today, both in my personal and professional life. Whether I am working on an event for a client, planning a dinner party, taking on a new decorating project or trying a new recipe – I obsess over details and making sure everything is just perfect. I’m sure I’ll pass along what my dad taught me, and being a communications professional, something tells me my son has a lot of rewrites in his future 🙂
The easiest answer is not always the best answer. My dad is a Consumer Reports loyalist and will not buy anything without the magazine’s professional approval. While it’s easier to run out and buy the first new semi-decent electronic device I see, it’s usually not the best value. For life in general, it can be a hard lesson but a little extra effort really pays off in the long run.
Maintain friendships for life. It’s really inspiring that my dad’s best friend to this day, Jeff, is someone he met back in Rocky Mount, NC in elementary school. Jeff is now my godfather, and their friendship has stood the test of time. My dad also has fraternity brothers, professors from Wake Forest and past business partners he still keeps in touch with. By his example, I learned the importance of creating a solid network of people who care about you and vice versa.
Learn from everyone around you. My dad has always had a curious nature that motivates me to experience new things. He recently took a digital media class and even asked me to help him with social media. (I happily obliged!) Everyone has a story and some expertise and I’ve learned from my dad to recognize that in people. Life is about constantly evolving by simply taking the time to listen and learn new things.
My dad died when I was a teenager so he wasn’t around long enough to give business advice. But he did live long enough to teach us the value of family and sticking together – in good times and bad. We had eight kids, each with different ideas and priorities. But NOTHING could come between us. As a result, good times became fantastic memories for us. Bad times were bad but couldn’t destroy us. Business is tough enough out there. Drawing close to each other and sticking together no matter what creates a real culture. A culture for success.
I honor my dad for creating the kind of culture in which I could learn that.