I decided to republish this post from a couple years age when our younger son Elliot got married.
While today is Father’s Day, not “Parent’s Day,” I still seems to fit the scene.
Here goes …
Let’s start with the marriage of Marv and Ruth Hoffman. The photo above shows my parents on their wedding day flanked by their moms.
Their story is a common one for their generation — their parents arriving as immigrants from Europe via Hungary, Russia and Holland. I bring this up because the work ethic associated with immigrants was definitely imparted to my parents, who in turn made sure I connected the dots between hard work and good things happening. They also got across the point that if you loved what you were doing, the work didn’t seem nearly as onerous.
I absolutely hated yardwork growing up. Mowing lawns. Pulling weeds. Trimming hedges. Raking leaves. Laboring in the field wasn’t for me. But I did enjoy having a few dollars in my pocket. With little in the way of marketable skills, at the age of 10 I embarked on a yardwork business that did OK with a specific target demographic — neighbors who knew my parents. The power of relationships.
It’s weird how some lessons we take away from our parents surface years later. My father started a jewelry store when I was in grade school. He worked around the clock, but the business ultimately went under. Sure, hard work plays a role in any venture, but as I came to later realize, it doesn’t guarantee success. You need a host of other variables to come your way, not the least being luck. On the other hand, my dad loves the jewelry business, and at the age of 85 (or is it 86?) still works a couple days a week at the Cashbox in Tucson.
More than work ethic, there’s one overarching theme that serves as an umbrella for everything else. My parents helped me gain confidence and a belief that absolutely anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Try things. If they don’t work out, no big deal. Is there any trait more valuable in business than self-esteem? Maybe Python programming, though one could make an argument that self-esteem led the developers to coding.
For the longest time, I thought I was going to be the first 5-foot-4 guard who couldn’t jump play in the NBA. Delusions don’t cause you to skid off the track as long as you eventually recognize the delusion and have a Plan B. Given that my Plan B was working on cruise ships, sometimes a Plan C is in order.
A few more lessons from the parents —
- Treat people as you would like to be treated: My parents were ahead of the curve when it came to flat hierarchy. I remember coming home from school and seeing my mom on her hands and knees scrubbing the floor while the maid was finishing off lunch at the dining room table.
- Don’t overplay your hand: I must have been around 8 years old when the family was getting ready for our monthly Sunday dinner at Johnny’s (similar to Bob’s Big Boy without the “big boy”). I was being my usual smart-ass self — quick aside, Google [esoteric smart ass]; what can I say? — when my mom uttered the infamous parental line, “Young man, if you say one more word, you’ll be staying home.” At this point I’m thinking, right, you’re going to have an 8-year-old stay at home when a serial killer could be lurking in the neighborhood. Based on what I thought was a sound calculation, I did say one more word and ended up watching my parents, two sisters and brother drive away without me. I also learned the value of scenario-planning from this episode.
- Fun is a worthwhile endeavor: I grew up in a house of laughter and smiles (and periodic yelling as befits a Jewish mother). Ruth and Marv both have a sense of humor. I would say this even if they didn’t laugh at my quips. Even when the family was going through tough times, they found a way to insert fun into the equation. With that said, I do not have fond memories of eating fried cottage cheese sandwiches for dinner.
As for our son’s wedding, the big event took place at Camino Brewing Company where Elliot was a brewmaster. Elliot invented a juniper saison (farmhouse ale) in our backyard, right, the backyard where I never mow the lawn, rake the leaves, etc.
Elliot and his wife Britney have since moved to Detroit where they plan to microbrewery called Sidepull. They both believe anything is possible.