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Top business leaders share advice from their dads

Peter Walsh and his daughter Molly, 3, walk

Peter Walsh and his daughter Molly, 3, walk along the river walk at the Bayard Cutting Arboretum in Great River on Father's Day. (June 17, 2007) Photo Credit: Newsday / Ana P. Gutierrez

Happy Father's Day to all the Long Island dads and grandfathers! While you're spending quality time with all the dads, it's also a time to reflect on the role and impact he's had in your life.

According to LinkedIn Influencers, some of the top leaders in business often reference their fathers as role models. Here, influential, notable people such as Martha Stewart and Deepak Chopra share advice and guidance given to them by their fathers that led to their success.

Martha Stewart: "The best advice I’ve ever received was from my father when I was 12 years old and willing to listen. He told me that with my personal characteristics, I could, if I set my mind to it, do anything I choose. This advice instilled in me a great sense of confidence, and though sometimes I was a little nervous, I stepped out and did what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it."

Deepak Chopra: "My father was the archetypal healer and warrior. His name was Krishna and, like the divine Krishna, he embodied the knowledge and perseverance that guides us on the battlefield of life."

Sallie Krawcheck, 85 Broads: "I was in fifth grade and had just gotten my first pair of glasses; they were Coke-bottle thick and tinted yellow (hey, it was the ‘70s). I had fought getting them, moving to the first row in class to better see the blackboard and making my sister take the eye exam before me, so I could try to memorize the letters. I remember my father asking me why I was upset. After I told him that I wanted to be pretty, I remember his response even better: “Sallie, you are pretty. And look at Gloria Steinem. She wears glasses, she’s a knockout and she’s changing the world.”
Here’s what I took away:
* My father gave me his approval, in a way I could understand.
* He thought a woman could make a difference. (Worth noting, in the ‘70s, in South Carolina.)
* This woman who was changing the world, and shaking things up, had his approval. In doing this, he pointed me toward a role model."

Jim Clifton, CEO of Gallup: "Dad figured out that my extreme weaknesses in classroom learning would never really develop, and that I would not follow in his footsteps as an educator. But he recognized that my strengths might allow me to succeed in sales, so he pointed me in that direction. As Dad said, if you want to soar limitlessly, you can’t do so by fixing your weaknesses, but rather by using your God-given strengths. Best advice I ever received."

Mohamed El-Arian, PIMCO: "As a 13-year old living in France, I asked my dad why he was paying for four -- yes, four -- daily newspapers. It seemed to me that they mostly covered the same news. Wasn’t this a big waste of money? No, he responded quickly. The four newspapers covered almost the entire political spectrum. As such, they conveyed to us much more than what had happened, why it occurred and when. In combination, they also delivered different ways to think about the same issues. My father’s simple advice -- the 'how' can be as important as the 'what' 'when' and 'why' -- was reinforced over the years."

Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn: "As a child, I can't recall a day that went by without my dad telling me I could do anything I set my mind to. He said it so often, I stopped hearing it. Along with lines like "eat your vegetables," I just assumed it was one of those bromides that parents repeated endlessly to their kids. It wasn't until decades later that I fully appreciated the importance of those words and the impact they had on me."

Steve Faktor, CEO. Idea Faktory: "I don’t remember exactly when my dad told me to 'measure twice and cut once,' but it must have been right before I nearly sawed my fingers off doing one of our many tenement improvement projects. On the surface, 'measure twice, cut once' served me well. My career kept advancing as I balanced my father's discipline with wilder, creative tendencies. One day, I woke up to an uncomfortable truth. I had become my father. That wouldn't be a bad thing if I were at all like him, but I’m not. The bold, fearless innovator was still afraid."

Brad Smith, CEO. Intuit: "The best advice I ever received was from my dad. Unfortunately I didn’t always follow it, but when I did, his wisdom changed the course of my life for the better. I am living proof of Mark Twain’s famous quote: 'When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.' I was finishing college and facing a 'make-or-break' decision. I was agonizing between two job offers I had received, and was fearful that I would make the wrong choice, propelling me down a doomed career path forever more. My dad sat me down to give me a few pointers about choosing the best course. In a classic father’s approach, he kept it simple, backed up by years of personal experience. He advised me that choosing the right job was not a sudden lightning bolt of realization, nor was it for most of us something we knew we wanted to do since we were kids (oh, how I envied those kids). Rather, it was a process of trial and error -- a voyage of discovery."

Jennifer Dulski, president & COO: "I’ll never forget my dad’s '3 Rules of Business,' which have guided my work over the years at Yahoo!, at my own startup, at Google and now at Rule 1: More is better than less. Rule 2: Sooner is better than later. And, of course, rule 3: Don’t work with jerks."

Chris Seper, CEO of MedCity Media: "For no other reason than that he wanted to, my father would regularly write up the results of my 11-year-old youth soccer matches and submit them to our hometown newspaper. But one day my team got trounced 15-0. I begged him to cover up the story. It would be embarrassing, I told him. He smiled gently. 'Son, you have to take the good with the bad.' Then he went back to his typewriter."


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