Image of snowy mountains with a quote overlaying captioned "10 Life Lessons from My Dad, My Business Partner.

It’s likely you’ve heard the quote by Lao Tzu, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” many times. However, despite its overuse, there is truth behind the words and they ring even truer for me this Father’s Day as I look back to the lessons I’ve learned from my dad.

Growing up I always said I would never go work for my father. I was young and opinionated. I wanted my own lane and I was intent on discovering it. After various attempts to find a career path on my own – from the legal world to investment banking to the running of a brewery – I was fortunate to have my dad offer me a sales position at his company. This job was the first step to our journey together in the business world.

Now almost two decades later, my father’s business advice and encouragement was in full force as he recently guided me thru buying out my equity sponsor of six years. I was scared, excited, overwhelmed, and anxious at the premise of taking a shot at a management buyout, but with his guidance, I went for it and, in March, became a woman owned business.

If success is measured in the positive impact one makes on other lives, then my father is one of the most successful people I know. He has built businesses, sold the same business twice, created hundreds of jobs, and sits on numerous boards. In addition to growing companies, he has planted the seeds to grow bountiful harvests through a family garden, which he created in honor of his grandchildren – all of whom regularly care for the crops. The harvests are then donated to a local food bank, because my dad believes that everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy healthy foods. And there’s no shortage of love in his life, he and my mother just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

In honor of the impact my father has had on my life and so many others, I wanted to share ten of the best life lessons that I’ve learned from him. The power of his true character is embodied in each lesson.

  1. Always be the first person to say “Hello.”
  2. It’s not supposed to be easy or everyone would be doing it.
  3. You do not need to be the smartest person in the room – you need to be the one people enjoy talking to the most.
  4. You can’t change someone’s character. They either have it or they don’t. It’s not your job to help them find it. Your job is to help them develop themselves as leaders.
  5. If you aren’t stubbing your toe occasionally, you’re standing still too often. Get moving!
  6. It’s your responsibility to get to know your team, not the other way around.
  7. If you aren’t a little stressed about work, then you aren’t telling the truth.
  8. Own every mistake you make. They are badges of honor.
  9. If you are worried about finances, sell another contract! Sales solve everything.
  10. If you don’t believe in yourself, why should anyone else?

While I’m thrilled to once again call my dad my business partner, I’m beyond proud to call him my dad. Our relationship has grown stronger and richer with each step in this journey of life, and he continues to inspire me every day. Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

Kristen Bunnell

Innovative CEO, Expert Business Manager, Entrepreneur