The Best Business Lessons I Learned From My Self-Starter Dad👨👧
My dad and I have completely different careers: He works in finance and business, while I’m a journalist to the core. (In Schitt’s Creek terms, he’s the Johnny Rose to my David.) But, ever since I was little, my dad has taught me so much about how to be a great collaborator — something that has undoubtedly seeped into my own career. So, in honor of Father’s Day, I’m sharing the best lessons I’ve learned from my self-starter dad.
That said, I understand Father’s Day can be an especially difficult time for many people. For those who struggle with this holiday: I see you. I’m sending you love, support, and a big virtual hug.
Conduct Business With A Conscious
Repeat after me: Your reputation matters. When you are juggling too many projects or are so laser-focused on the end goal, it can be all too tempting to cut corners. As a self-starter, it could be easy to repurpose an old project or swindle your clients. (I mean, you’re the boss. Who else would even know?) But, my dad has always taught me the importance of doing a job well and right. There’s a certain ethical standard my dad holds himself and all his contributions to that not only makes me proud to be his daughter, but has also motivated me throughout my career.
Sure, nothing ever goes according to plan. Mistakes happen! Life happens, which can sometimes throw a wrench in meeting deadlines and getting things done. But, it’s important to go into each partnership and collaboration with honesty and good intentions. Instead of focusing on the praise or juicy paycheck you’ll receive at the end, pay attention to your clients. If there’s ever a mix-up or mistake, be honest and let them know.
Because, if something doesn’t go according to plan, your client will know that your heart (and hustle) is in the right place.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret: The work-life balance is an urban myth. (I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all teetered a bit too far in one direction or another.) But, just because the work-life balance is the career-equivalent to Mission: Impossible doesn’t mean you can’t bring joy and fun into your life.
My dad’s colleagues and clients regard him as a respectable, professional businessman, which he totally is. But, to me? He’s my dad. He’s the funny guy who loves to hang by the pool, watch reruns of The Andy Griffith Show, and, of course, bust out a dad joke or two. He cares deeply about his work, but always makes room for fun.
As self-starters, we take our careers very seriously — and rightfully so. When your business is so personal, it has to be a top priority. But, that doesn’t mean you have to take yourself too seriously. When you’re off the clock, enjoy life!
One of my favorite things about my dad’s hustle is that he works with a range of different clients. Sometimes, he’s working with natural resources and startups. And, other days? He’s thinking about investing in a barbecue joint.
When you are your own boss, you get to call the shots on how you spend your days. So, why not let your curiosity guide the way? As a journalist, interior design, shopping, and general lifestyle are my go-to beats. But, ever since launching Office Hours, I’ve been curious about career content. I’ll never ditch my lifestyle clients, but I’ve consciously pitched more career-focused stories to some publications. And, if my curiosity ever leads me in a different direction, I can always shift gears.
Do What You Love
When I first entered college, I thought I was going to get my degree in public relations. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but with so many people telling me that “journalism is dying,” I thought public relations was the sensible decision. However, after a semester of school, I realized public relations really wasn’t for me — and that I wanted to spend my time writing. So, I asked my dad if he’d be upset if I switched majors. His response? “Nah, Kel. Do whatever makes you happy! I support you!” I changed my major to magazine journalism and never looked back.
While both of my parents have always encouraged my sister and me to follow our passions, this call made it crystal-clear: Life’s too short to not do what you love. I recognize I am incredibly fortunate to make a living doing what I love, and I realize that can often be easier said than done. But, whether it’s a side hustle, hobby, or full-time job, I implore you to fill your days with what makes you happy. You deserve it!
Hustler of the Week: Jose Martinez
What inspired you to become your own boss?
My father owned his own business when I was a kid, but it eventually closed. So, I wanted to build my own business and [make] sure it succeeded.
What is your favorite part about being your own boss? Least favorite?
[My] favorite part has to be the interaction with other business owners and helping them. Least favorite? Taxes. Ha!
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since becoming your own boss?
Always answer the phone. Never leave people hanging.
(Psst…like what you see? You can subscribe to “Office Hours with Kelsey Mulvey” here.)