|My father and me at|
Berthoud Pass, Colo. in 2003
Customer Service is #1
For approximately 40 years, my father was a taxi driver in Denver, Colo. He was actually an entrepreneur as he owned his own cab and worked as an independent driver for Yellow Cab. This experience taught me two lessons. First, there are no sick days when you work for yourself. Whether it was the flu or a sore back, my father worked seven days a week and often 12-14 hours each day. There is flexibility in being your own boss, but you are not always afforded some of the benefits a salaried worker may enjoy. Recognizing the risks my father experienced as an independent driver helped me prepare for those risks I would later encounter as an entrepreneur.
My father strongly felt he was the best cab driver in the world. He took great pride that he provided outstanding customer service. And he had a gift of making each customer riding in the back seat of his cab feel like he entered the profession to provide them with a safe and enjoyable experience. Using an example of dining at a restaurant where the food may not be the most delicious, but the staff are overly friendly and attentive, my father often said, "Customer service is #1 and quality of product is #2."
Admittedly, my father was not the best at managing his personal finances. And perhaps it was this imperfection that led him to believe "it's not how much money you make, it's how well you manage it." Whether or not someone was blessed with a high income, my father valued the ability to manage personal finances wisely through savings ("put away $5 dollars a day"), investing and smart purchasing (do you need it or do you want it?).
You cannot change the past
While he spoke little about it, my father had a difficult childhood. He also made several decisions throughout his life (often as a result from an addiction to gambling) that occasionally led to negative consequences. And as time passed, he would dwell in the regret of those decisions. That regret, unfortunately, often prevented him from enjoying the present or having optimism for the future. I learned that while mistakes will be made (knowingly or unknowingly), we should learn from those experiences with the aim of gaining knowledge of becoming a better person. As my late uncle (my father's identical twin brother) often said, "Yesterday is gone."
Openness to others
My father had a gift of not judging others, which I wished more people possessed. Working as a cab driver afforded my father the opportunity to meet people from all over the world. Whether they were of a different race, came from a different culture or held different religious beliefs (my father was proud to be Jewish), he embraced meeting people from all races, cultures, and religions. As my mom recently said about my dad: "He was a friend to all."
What business or personal lessons have you learned from your parent(s)?
Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of Solutions for a Sustainable World.