Today, on Father’s Day, I just want to share a few lessons I have learned from my dad. You see, the truth is my dad taught me how to be a better salesman, even though he was a welder his whole life and never sold a thing. That’s not the only valuable lesson he taught me. So, here we go, I’ll try to explain.
– Dad taught me a kind of confidence I can only describe as aggressive confidence. Here’s what I mean. If Dad thought someone felt like they were too good to talk to him, you know, like they looked down on him, he would make them look him in the eye and tell him that. I remember more than once him saying, “If he’s gonna ignore me, I’m gonna make him do it to my face.” Then he would walk up to that person, look them in the eye, and speak to them. Guess what happened every single time. They said “Hey Tony”, and usually a conversation started. They knew from that point on that he would not let them slight him. Dad isn’t a big man, but somehow he always made it clear that he wasn’t scared of anyone. When there was occasion for possible conflict, you just understood that all 5’6″ inches of Dad were ready to protect the ones he loved with ferocity. So how do those two characteristics make me a better salesman? In my job, I have to go out and try to find new customers. One of the toughest things in my line of work, the thing that scares many salespeople to death is going and calling on a new prospect. Walking into a restaurant, walking up to a Chef, owner, or manager, introducing yourself, and asking them to talk to you about giving you their business is a scary thing to many. Not to me. I will walk into any account, walk up to anybody, and with confidence introduce myself. Almost every time I do just that, I remember the confidence Dad taught me over and over. I even think some times, “Dad taught me not to be scared of any man.” I know that sounds kind of weird, but I’m telling you it gives me confidence.
– Dad taught me work ethic. He worked for over 40 years at the same place welding water heaters. Not a very fun or exciting job, huh? However, he was absolutely the kind of employee every boss would hope for. He taught me that you don’t miss work just because you are sick. I can’t tell you how many times he was “Sick as a dog” as he would say, but he got up at 4:00 AM and went to work, because he said “I can be sick at home, or I can be sick at work. If I’m sick at work, I can still pay the bills.” That’s just the way he looked at it. There was a toughness to him in that regard that I always really admired. Many times in my life, I have been sick or just not feeling great, and could have missed work, but I thought “Dad taught me better than this”, and I got up and went to work. He also taught me that if a job seemed hard, I could look at it this way. “If other people can do it, I can do it.” Many years ago, as a very young man, I was interviewing for an entry level position at a food distribution company, trying to get a job there in the warehouse so I could work my way into sales. The supervisor told me that I would have to be able to pull 180 cases per hour and keep my mistakes to a minimum. He said it would be very hot and very physically demanding. He asked me “Do you think you can do that?” Without skipping a beat I said “Are there people doing it now?” When he told me there were, I said “Then I can too.” He ended the interview right there and offered me the job because he said “That’s the attitude I’m looking for.” I have to thank Dad for that.
– Dad taught me that you don’t have to be perfect, you just have to keep trying, and if you keep trying you can overcome. See Dad has struggled a couple times in life with alcoholism. He stopped drinking when I was only 5 years old, and didn’t touch it again the whole time I was growing up as far as I know. So, even though he was an alcoholic in recovery, I didn’t see that. I just knew my dad didn’t drink and was dead set against it. I knew he had struggled with it, but I didn’t see it growing up. Then, after a series of what we’ll call life events, Dad started drinking again. By this time, I was married and living in Nashville while he was still in Dickson, so I didn’t see him that often. Because of that, I guess I didn’t realize how bad his drinking was until it all hit rock bottom for him. I thank God that when it did all hit rock bottom, he did what he has always done, he went to work. Went to work getting his life back in order. He started attending AA meetings, quit drinking, and has helped many, many other people overcome addiction. This past year, I went to see him receive his 16 year sobriety coin. I was so proud of him, and once again, he taught me a valuable lesson. You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to keep trying.
Dad isn’t perfect, and I’m glad. If he were, I would not be able to relate. The older I get, the wiser he gets. He’s a funny, goofy nut most of the time. He finally beat me in golf a couple years ago, maybe because he plays 4 or 5 times a week. Hahaha
The truth is I look just like my dad, and the older I get, the more I act just like him, and I’m okay with that. He’s a good guy.
Love You Dad.