There's an English proverb that
goes: "One father is worth more than a hundred schoolmasters."
Fathers can teach their children many important lessons. Father's Day is Sunday, June 15, and it brings to mind
some of the valuable lessons I learned from my father, Jack Mackay. I've shared
many of them with you in my books and columns, but here they are, in one nice
package, for the 64.3 million fathers out there.
My dad headed the Associated Press in St. Paul, Minn., for many years. He lived by deadlines. When he told
his 10-year-old fishing partner, "Be at the dock at 7:30 a.m." and I arrived at
7:35, I would be holding my fishing pole in one hand and waving bon voyage with
the other. Time management 101.
When I began my career selling envelopes, I asked my father how I could make twice as much money as my fellow
He asked me how many sales calls my peers made every day. I told him that everyone made about five calls a day,
and I could match them call for call.
"No good," he said. "Do what they do and you'll make what they make. Figure out how you can get to 10 calls a
day and your income will double."
We worked out a game plan, which became a life plan. I learned when the buyers were in the office and worked
according to their schedules, which sometimes meant anytime from 6 a.m.-8 p.m.
and Saturday mornings. I quit making cold calls, was among the first to get a
cell phone and learned many other time management tips from my
TRUST is the most important five-letter word in business and in life. When I was only eight years old, he
said: "Son, would you like to learn a lesson that might save your life some day?"
"Sure I would, Dad," I answered.
"Just slide down the banister and I'll catch you," he urged.
I slid ... and landed on the carpet. As I dusted myself off, he announced, "Never trust anyone completely.
Keep your eyes open and your wits about you."
Similarly, my father encouraged me at a young age to keep track of all the people I met on Rolodex cards, now on
my computer. He was a master networker. He knew where to get stories, much like
I learned where to get sales.
Maybe the most important lesson my father taught me was that your best network will develop from what you do
best. In my case that was golf. When I joined the sales game after college,
where I had been a varsity golfer at the University of Minnesota, my father
suggested I join Oak Ridge Country Club, which I couldn't afford. Because Oak
Ridge was historically at the bottom of the city golf league, I offered to play
for them and try to win them a championship. Six months and numerous meetings
later, I was admitted to the club where I gained access to many of the major
companies around town.
My father also taught me that the big name on the door doesn't mean diddly. You have to know who the decision makers are.
In addition, he warned me
against telling anyone how I vote. That's why it's a secret ballet. The Democrats think I'm a Republican, and the Republicans believe I'm a Democrat.
My father's greatest
professional attribute was his nose for a good story and his indefatigable zeal
in getting it. He taught me the same desire, determination and persistence for
After a skiing accident that
landed me in the hospital for 35 days in neck traction, he told me, "You can take any amount of pain as long as you know it's going to end."
My father taught me many more life lessons, among them:
- They don't pay off on effort . . . they pay off on results.
- No one ever choked to death swallowing his
- He who burns his bridges better be a damn good
- Education is like exercise. As soon as you quit
you begin to lose the benefits.
- It's hard to soar like an eagle when you're
dressed like a turkey.
- If you win say little. If you lose say
- We are judged by what we finish, not by what we