Question: Are there 1 or 2 lessons you’ve learned in business that you’d want your son or daughter to know should they follow in your footsteps?

by Jeff Hilimire on June 12, 2012

Good advice is hard to come by

Below is a question I was asked by someone that I have the opportunity to mentor from time to time. He had some great questions the last time we met and I asked him to send them to me so I could think more about them and blog my answers.

“Are there 1 or 2 lessons you’ve learned in business that you’d want your son or daughter to know should they follow in your footsteps?”

The most important thing I’ll tell my children as they start to choose a career is to do what you love. Coincidentally, should I still remember this manifesto, it would be the perfect thing for them to embrace. Life isn’t about how much money you can make or how high you can climb within an organization. Those things aren’t important in the grand scheme. Or what other people expect you to do. When you’re 85 and you’re looking back on your life, you’ll never say, “I really wish I had worked one more weekend so I could have gotten that promotion when I was 36.” Instead you’ll say, “I wish I had enjoyed my life more. Appreciated every day. Contributed to the world in some way. Spent more time with my family.”

Besides, if success in business is your ultimate goal – it shouldn’t be, but even if it is – you’re going to be much more successful if you’re doing what you love.

The second thing I’d say is – Be genuine. Treat people right. Be respectful. It’s really a life lesson but in business people so often forget this. Don’t gossip. Don’t make someone look bad to make yourself look good. Give people the benefit of the doubt. These are things that will earn you respect and people will want to work with and for you. And that’s a hard thing to come by.

Lastly I’d say – Strive for a healthy life-work balance. See what I did there? I switched it up from work-life, because the important word there is “life”. I have the benefit of working with an incredible young person at Engauge that shines in everything she does. Everyone wants her on their accounts. Every client loves her. But her best quality is that she very strongly believes in the importance of a balanced personal and business life. Usually it takes people a good decade to try to strive for this and by then, its too late. From day one you should make this a priority. Kick butt while you’re at work, but kick butt at your life, too.

  • Sherry Heyl

    I think the next generation is getting many of the messages of “do what you love” and they have more ability to do so than ever before in history. But I see many who are missing the point of the need to balance what you love and what you need to do to make a living. Take care of your finances is the message I would like to get across. 

  • Jeff Hilimire

    SH, that’s a great point. It’s possible “my generation” – so…old… – is now getting inspired by “do what you love” and the younger generation has been hearing that for a while and needs to make sure they are also focused on financial responsibility. Curious if any of the younger crowd out there feels this way as well?

  • Kaitlyn Dennihy

    Great thoughts and very interesting. As one of the “younger” generation, my glasses are a slightly rose colored, but I don’t think the idea to do what you love is anything specific to a generation – it’s specific to the way younger people have always lived their lives. People haven taken risks at a young age across every moment of history. 

    The difference today is that it’s now easier than ever to broadcast those risks, failures, feelings and to get started with all of the resources around us. As a younger person, absolutely finance is always a priority. However when it comes to taking risks and following dreams, when you have little to lose, it’s much easier to believe in the reality of those passions coming true and to act on them. 

    The real gift is to be able to find a way to work hard enough to keep those passions alive as the stakes are raised.

  • Lindsay Reene

    My dad has been incredibly supportive of me in my business career, and one thing he’s taught me is that genuine relationships come first. This relates very much to your first point. The recommendation he’s repeated to me ad nauseum is to be sure “interface with carbon formats.” WHAT?! What he means by that is even though this social world, in which we digitally share our lives, is an excellent way for connecting with others, it cannot *replace* face-to-face, non-digital interactions. 

    I am grateful for his advice as I’ve seen how easy it is to send a Facebook message or a text instead of calling or to chat with my friends in the office instead of walking over to their desk to talk. It is easy for our generation to replace that authenticity with second-rate communication, and if we do so, we’ll suffer for it. It’s excellent to be able to network digitally via Twitter, but once I connect with someone a few times, he’d encourage me to meet with them to grab coffee and start forming a true relationship. 

    This has also been an instrumental lesson I’ve applied when facing conflict. It is a rare occurrence, but when a tough conversation has to be had and if the situation allows, a face-to-face conversation builds trust and understanding, whereas sending a message/email can be incredibly detrimental. 

    (Thanks for posting, Jeff. Speaks to the prioritization of the important things by taking the time to blog – sometimes considered a “supplemental” task to the everyday.) :)

  • Katie Melick

    Thanks Jeff! I am constantly thinking, talking and reading about individuals’ passions, careers and life-work balance. I love that you put life-work balance instead of work-life by the way ;)
    My friends and family are always commenting on how much I love my job; however, I know my job will never fully satisfy me. We were created to work, but life is so much more than our 9 to 5 jobs. I thank God for providing me with a job that aligns with many of my passions. I desire for everyone to find jobs that they love. With that being said… Sherry does have a point and there are misconceptions that are created by believing everyone must love their jobs. Most of the young men and women in my generation grew up with everyone getting a trophy. Many of us expect a lot out of every situation. In contrast, many of our grandparents grew up during the Depression. They expected little from life, so when they got little they weren’t surprised. When they got a lot, they were very thankful. My generation is a bit different, which is not completely horrible. It is different. College students are graduating simply expecting to be giving their dream jobs. We are incredibly focused on making sure that we LOVE our jobs, which causes us to either delay big decisions or see tough patches as reasons to make big changes. I’ve seen so many of my friends jump from job to job, career to career within just a few years of graduating from college. It will be interesting to see the long-term effects of our generations career changes. I have been thinking about long-term versus short-term a lot recently. I am going to take more time to pull my thoughts together and try to write them down soon. Below are a few quotes from a book I read years ago. It impacted perspective.- Discomfort and trials tend to teach us more than comfort and ease. – Wisdom is harder to find than information. We have more information than ever before, and yet our wisdom has not kept pace with our knowledge.- Be teachable. In any event, get good advice & be willing to listen.- Active in the present, grateful for the past, and hopeful for the future.I cannot wait to chat more about it.

  • Katie Melick

    YES! Face-to-face :)

  • Matt L

    A good plan, violently executed today is better than a perfect plan executed next week. Patton = a slappier version of Ries.

    If your spidey sense is tingling, say something. It usually works out for spidey and no one wants to go to Abeline anyway. You will also sleep better.

  • Pingback: Question: With so many ideas and exciting pursuits, how do you go about choosing the good ones and following through with ideas as opposed to just talking about them?()

Previous post:

Next post: