Female Leaders On Lessons Learned From Their Fathers
My dad had four girls, and he believed that life was one big adventure. He said you should never miss the important moments, whether it’s an amazing sunset, a total solar eclipse, or a chance to take your family on a vacation. He always said that when he died, if he left us a lot of money then he hadn’t really lived life. That’s why he would take his entire family—22 of us including his grandchildren—on vacations to chase solar eclipses. He took care of everything and told us to just show up. My father didn’t wear a watch, because he believed in living in the moment. His bucket list was a to-be list; he always did what was on the list, and saw all the wonders of the world. One of the most important lessons he taught me was to always believe in myself, because others won’t believe in you if you don’t first believe in yourself. When I started my company, my father and husband wanted to give me the money. I didn’t take their money, because I knew if I did that I wouldn’t take risks. It was my father who always taught me to take risks, which helped me become a successful entrepreneur. Fathers can have a big influence on their daughters, on how they live and how they lead. And being a father can make men better leaders themselves: Nearly 80% of working fathers believe that being a parent makes someone a better leader, according to new research by Berlin Cameron, The Female Quotient and Kantar. We asked female leaders from our community to share what their own dads taught them about leadership and life. Here is what they had to say: Put Family First Maria Menounos, CEO of AfterBuzz TV “My dad is an immigrant from a small village in Greece called Akovos. He is a jack of all trades and held many types of jobs: Custodial services, meat cutter, carpet/tile installation. He taught himself to do it all, and did whatever it took to provide a good life for his family. My dad always said, "Whatever we do, we do as a family." On weekends or during summer vacation, we worked alongside my parents cleaning clubs (we also couldn’t afford babysitters). We volunteered for the Akovos Society that helped raise money for the village we come from in Greece. The biggest lessons I learned from my dad is to be classy, be a good person and to work hard.” Be Self Reliant Jessica Ling, vice president and head of B2B Marketing at Verizon Media “My father immigrated to the US from Hong Kong when he was 16. He was one of 13 siblings. My father was fortunate enough to go to college, supported financially by his siblings. He studied engineering and went on to be an entrepreneur. My father’s career has spanned a number of entrepreneurial ventures, mostly to do with food distribution. I remember sitting with him on delivery trucks when I was 5 or 6, making stops with him to restaurants in Chinatown. I have distinct memories of watching him load huge boxes of meat and vegetables from his truck and feeling really proud. My father is a feminist (even though he probably doesn’t think of himself as one!). As the father of daughters, his biggest focus was raising strong, independent women who could rely on themselves. From an early age, he instilled in us the belief that we could do and be anything we wanted. He prioritized education and professional growth as a path to autonomy. He worked very hard to provide us with every opportunity so that we could make our own choices.” Listen To Discover Big Ideas Stephanie McMahon, chief brand officer at WWE “My father is the chairman and CEO of WWE. He grew up in a trailer park in Havelock, NC; he purchased his father’s business in the early 80s and transformed WWE from a regional wrestling promotion to a global multi-media company currently valued at over $6 billion. The best advice my father gave me was to always listen, since you never know where a good idea is going to come from. He also taught me to live life to the fullest; work, play, love and laugh as hard as you possibly can.” Seek Financial Freedom Shelley Diamond, chief marketing officer at UNICEF USA “My father was the oldest of seven children, helping the family make ends meet during the depression. I now appreciate that his seven-day work week and complete focus on earning a living was impacted by the depression years, the responsibility of a family of seven and being part of a generation of men that simply outsourced child care to their wives. My father put himself through college and expected me to do the same, so I did. Get an education, get a job, work hard, support yourself. He did it and I could too. It’s not what he said; it’s what he did. I was paying my bills, so I could make my own decisions and he trusted I would make the right ones. When I had my first child, my father fully expected me to return to work and for my husband to partner in the childcare. When I had my second child, the expectation that I return was a given. When I had my third child, his cousin, a man of his age, stated that, “Of course your daughter will not return to work after her third child.” Before I could reply, my dad answered, “Why wouldn’t she? She has a big job.” I was both taken aback (my father never bragged about anything and certainly not about his children) and affirmed.” Focus On Finding The Solution Rather Than On The Problem Jennifer Kohl, SVP executive director-integrated media at Young & Rubicam “My father grew up after World War II in Germany, and came to the U.S. in his early 20s. He decided America was the land of opportunity. He learned a skill, photography, in the pre-digital era. He started in the photo lab of Time Inc., which published Life magazine, developing pictures, and rose to be chief of photographic services. As he rose the ranks, my father managed more and more people. He used to say, “I have an open-door policy, but don’t only come to me with problems—show me you have a solution. It doesn’t have to be the right solution, but have some kind of solve.” So I always made it a point in my career to find solutions. I think that’s why I’ve been successful in a lot of ways, because I have always been solution-oriented rather than focusing on the problem.” Always Find Someone to Help Jennifer DaSilva, CEO, Berlin Cameron “My dad was born in Portland, OR and was the third son of four boys. He became a CFO at Pacific Western Bank and then later San Jose National Bank. I worked during the summers at my Dad’s bank as a teller. I remember when I had just started in the bookkeeping department; one of my managers had told me to read my book for a while as they were trying to find me something to do. My dad walked in and saw me reading my book. He told me that night, “Always find something to do or someone to help.” I have carried that with me through my career. I ended those summers with a special line of my own customers at my teller window, and relationships with all his employees.” You Don't Need to Have An Example Tiffany Dufu, founder and CEO of The Cru “My dad was one of 11 kids who grew up in Watts [a neighborhood in Los Angeles], and overcame tough odds. He joined the army, went to college on the GI Bill and got his PhD in theology. When it comes to leadership, he taught me you don’t have to have an example in order to be who you want to be. Even if I don't have access to a role model, I can still get up, do the work, treat people with integrity and create something that no one has ever seen before. You don’t have to have a plan. You may not have enough tools to be able to create a plan. You can accomplish a lot by just knowing what you stand for, and what you believe.” May you always remember the lessons your father taught you, and carry them with you to help fuel your success. This article was originally published on FORBES.