Fathers Grow Better with Time

Fathers Grow Better with Time…

Dad became my mentor, the best a son could have. But I had paid a price.

Today’s story is from Diane Prince Johnston.

In 1974, I had just graduated from law school. I was determined to take on the world and forge my own way.

By that time, Chubby, my dad had decades of business experience. He had built successful real estate, lending and land development firms. Dad became my mentor, the best a son could have. But I had paid a price. When I was young, Dad left home early and worked late. I sometimes went days without seeing him.

Diane and her dad

Diane Prince Johnson and her dad Alan Prince

Our Savvy Dad guest today is Diane Prince Johnston. I identify with her story of Alan Prince, her remarkable dad. Like me, Diane paid a similar price early in life.

Diane’s father worked long hours when she was young. Business was very different than today. There were no computers, smart phones or remote desktops in those days. Successful dads usually had to be physically “at work” from early to late.

Games, recitals and play times were often things these fathers missed. It was hard on the kids. It was hard on the dads. Diane told us, “He traveled all the time. We missed him a lot.”

Diane’s experience later in life was also similar to mine. Her dad mentored her each step of the way.

When Diane was ready to start her own business, Alan Prince was her inspiration and driving force. He worked with her daily, shared what he had learned over the years, and made a watershed difference in his daughter’s life.

Alan taught Diane business savvy, and the “rules of the road” that helped her build a successful direct sales clothing business called Winnie & Kat. (The firm is named in memory of Winnie, Diane’s mom, and her cousin Cathy, “Kat,” who like Diane’s mom, died of cancer).

In Diane’s words,

“By the time I was a young adult ready to start a business, my father offered to dive in and help.

At 55 years old, he had worked his way up the corporate ladder of Chicago Title Insurance Company. When asked to consider becoming CEO, my dad declined. He decided to devote his time to me; and to my mother who had just been diagnosed with a rare blood cancer.

While I was growing up, my father was busy traveling for work. But now, when he was so smart, and I was smart enough to heed his advice, however, Dad was right there. I wonder if he knows just how much his words have impacted my success.

Some of my go-to words of wisdom from Dad:

    • When you have a list of calls and emails to return, handle the most important ones first. Be able to determine the difference between urgent and important. Prioritize your time and be able to say “no” to the little things, even if you are pulled that way. In other words, put first things first.
    • 80% of the problems are caused by 20% of the people. No matter which unique skills an individual might have or how important you might think that he/she is, if he/she is taking up too much time and negatively affecting the organization, you need to let that person go.
    • In business, make the best decisions you can at the time. Keep what works. Change what doesn’t.

After my mom passed, my relationship with my father became even closer. Now, at seventy-three years old, he is a newlywed and a world traveler. With over 100 guests at his wedding last fall, my dad said,

‘My friends and I attend funerals every month. I wanted to give us something to celebrate.’

In business and in life, my father’s choices serve as examples of living a happy life, with integrity and success.”

Be there for your kids.

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