Much of who we are and how we learn is determined by our life experiences. Our parents are our teachers and mentors. They show us how to live, how to love, and how to be better people. Parents set the examples for us to follow in everyday life. These life lessons apply to business and can make the difference between success and failure.

Learning By Example

We often learn by and follow the example of others. I realize there were many times when my father was teaching me how to live my life through his business successes and failures. Through his actions, he provided many tips and strategies, and by his example taught me how to interact with business associates, as well as friends and relatives. His advice and encouragement were valuable in shaping me into the person I am today. I often reflect on these lessons when faced with difficult and challenging situations.

Friendship and Trust

My father was my best friend, mentor, role model, and someone I admired and respected. He was the best man at my wedding 25 years ago and taught me the true value of friendship. He was the type of friend anyone would like to have. My father taught me the value of being a good listener and the importance of being available. He always was by my side when I needed to discuss an idea or concept.

In business, listening is an essential skill. Treating your clients and customers as you would treat friends not only improves the relationship, but inspires trust that can often lead to other opportunities.

He taught me that a mistake or failure can be a great learning experience.


My father inspired me to be a good person, work hard, set examples for others to follow, give back to the community, and never give up. I remember a quote from Calvin Coolidge he gave me 31 years ago the day before I started my first job in sales: “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

I think of this quote every day in my personal and professional life, especially after his recent passing. I would never have achieved the level of success in life without his guidance and inspiration.

Hard Work

I learned the value of hard work from my parents at an early age. Growing up in the depression, as many of our parents did, they knew the value of a dollar and the importance of hard work. Unlike my father, I was provided with many choices and options growing up in an upper-middle class family. However, if I wanted to buy something, I had to earn it by working hard and maintaining a high average in school. If I wanted to go horseback riding, I had to feed the horses and clean the stalls. For spending money, I had to cut grass and do various jobs around the house. And it was expected that I have a full-time job during summers.

Learning from Failure

My father always said I could do anything if I put I mind to it. If I failed after trying everything I could think of, then perhaps it was not meant to be. This was a lesson he had learned after losing a City Council election in the 1970s.

He taught me that a mistake or failure can be a great learning experience, and after a loss to always focus on what was gained. He taught me the importance of having a positive attitude in business and in life, and how a positive outlook can help to overcome virtually any obstacle. In turn, I learned to trust my intuition and to believe in myself even if no one else did. This enabled me to strive further and take calculated risks in business.


I learned the value of being humble from my father. He had many accomplishments in his life to be proud of: landing in Normandy on D-Day in World War II, a founding member of the Catholic Church we attended, a successful career as an attorney, and a great husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, uncle, and friend.

My father showed me how to be gracious, patient, a good listener and a mentor to the next generation. He was always humble when he received an award or recognized by his peers. He was never arrogant or overconfident. He was eager to help others and set an example for them to follow. In business, being humble is very important.

In The Spotlight

Planning and Organization

He taught me the value of being organized, keeping my word, the importance of planning, and most importantly, to chart out and follow my dreams. He showed me how to prepare for the unexpected and have a back-up plan. He instilled in me the ability to complete a task or project, how to drive it from an idea through completion, how to assess progress every step of the way, and how to implement changes if necessary. I will cherish the time we spent together, especially my visits with him every Sunday.

Inspiring Others

My father taught me how to inspire others to follow their dreams and go the extra mile, the importance of expressing a “thank you” and being sincere. I remember a quote that he instilled in me: “Nothing worth having in life is easy. If you work hard and stay focused you will accomplish your goals.” I would not have achieved the level of success in my business and personal life if I did not have a great mentor to guide me. He told me on many occasions that the most important sign of a successful father is an even more successful son.

I use the lessons my father taught me every day and realize that it is my duty to instill these beliefs, ideas and values in the next generation in order to inspire them to achieve great things. I often think about the lessons he taught me, and how he molded me into the man I am today. I will always cherish the lessons he taught me that have helped me to be a better person.


Michael DeLaura
About The Author Michael DeLaura
Michael DeLaura is a contributing writer for various publications. With more than 30 years of sales experience, he also is an Exterior Cladding Specialist at Sto Corp., a leading German manufacturer of construction materials with offices in the United States and worldwide.

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