Yesterday morning, my dad came over to the house, dressed for brunch date with my mom, and battling a sinus infection. He came by to finish a project he had started in my backyard, a gate post that had rotted over the years, causing the post to come out of the ground. The gate had become dangerous to me and my dogs, since it was very unstable, and would frequently fall down with a strong wind, or if someone or something bumped up against it.
By hand, he tightened giant screws into the post, kneeling on the ground, dirtying his black dress pants. I stood nearby, watching in awe and completely amazed that he was willing to come over on his very own holiday to ensure that the 100 pound gate didn't fall on me, Lucy or Mia.
When I sat down to sign his Father's Day card, I knew that there was absolutely nothing that I could say to let my dad know how much I love him and how thankful I am for all of the really generous, selfless and difficult things he does for me. I was very thankful that he fixed that gate, but I was more thankful for the difference his influence has made in my life.
Many of you have heard about how I decided to quit my job and leap into business on my own terms, but for those of you who don't know, my inspiration has always been my dad. Dad started his first company when he was only 19. I remember talking to him a couple years ago, telling him that I was embarrassed and ashamed that at 28, I was still working for someone else, and had no clear idea of what I should be doing with my life.
I had always known that owning my own business was inevitable, but it seemed like it took a very long time for the inevitable to become reality. Living on my own, unhappy in my job, money was tight - I started feeling a sense of panic - when would I ever figure out what I was supposed to be doing?!
One day, I called him, completely exasperated and crying. I explained why I was so upset, and he started to tell me that that this difficult time would pass. Soon, he said, I would be running my own company, and living the life I was supposed to live. Dad knew that being an entrepreneur was in my DNA, and that the idea of me working for someone else was borderline absurd.
I knew it, too, but I was still afraid to make the transition from employee to CEO, (I still think that title is a little ridiculous - I make granola) and the fear held me back for a long time. Not only was I a little ashamed that I hadn't become an entrepreneur as early as my dad, I was more ashamed to tell him that I was afraid to do it.
I'm 30, and as I've grown up, I've figured out that my dad isn't perfect, but even as an adult, I still don't think my dad is afraid of anything. He's survived a diving accident, a plane crash, professional setbacks, and personal disappointment. In spite of those experiences, he still swims and loves to go deep-sea fishing in the ocean. He broke his back in the plane crash (miraculously, he made a full recovery), but he still loves to fly. Business ventures went south, but he's never afraid to lose an account, so his negotiating skills are top-notch.
Just as dad predicted, one day, I finally quit my job and started my own businesses. I knew I was doing the right thing when I wasn't even remotely afraid of losing my house, going into debt, or failing. I was finally unafraid to take the risk. The only thing that remotely scared me was the idea that I would keep making myself miserable, doing something I didn't believe in anymore. I was more afraid of being unhappy for even just another minute.
There hasn't been a day that has passed that my dad hasn't called to tell me that he loves me, or that he's so proud of me. He fixes things around my house, but mostly, he has always been there to mend my hurt feelings and encourage me to go on, in the absence of fear.
Stacy Sloan; Chef & Founder of Three Little Birds