“Are you related to Lyle Benson?”
“What’s it like to work with your dad?”
I can't tell you how many times I've been asked these two questions. It seems like everywhere I go someone knows my dad. And as soon as they find out I work with him they want to know what it's like. Some people are jealous and wish they could work with their kids or parents. Others can't imagine spending all day every day with them.
I consider myself extremely lucky. I get to work with and learn from a man who knows and understands me and who continues to inspire me on a daily basis. I've been working for my dad for five years now and I thought Father's Day would be a perfect time to look back and reflect on five of the things I've learned in these five years:
Pick a good teacher. The man who taught me how to throw a baseball now teaches me how to tackle complicated estate planning strategies. The man who coached more soccer teams than I can remember now coaches me on how to best communicate with clients. I’ve been learning from him my entire life and he knows better than anyone how to teach me.
Seek outside opinions with differing views. Being such a small firm we could easily fall victim to "group think". I've learned from my dad how important it is to have a group of individuals from different backgrounds with different views who you can turn to on a regular basis with any issues you face.
Challenge yourself. I'm lucky. I didn't have to go out on my own and start my own firm. My dad did that. With three young kids at home! He worked crazy hours and took a huge risk. That doesn't mean I can sit back and become complacent. I try to challenge myself and get outside my comfort zone on a regular basis.
Change is hard. My dad has done an incredible job building a great company over the last 20 years. We have processes in place that allow us to always serve our clients' best interests. However, technological advances are constantly improving the way we can help our clients. We work hard to stay on top of this but it can be very challenging to change the way things have always been done, especially when the old way seemed to be working just fine.
Don't take work home with you. My dad and I rarely talk business when we get together outside the office. He loves his work and works harder than anyone I know, but he still always makes time for his family. Whether it was our big annual family vacations or my baseball and soccer games, he was always there. That hasn't changed and I try to emulate him as best I can with my own family.
So why am I writing this article? No not to try to suck up on Father's Day. I know I still owe the old man a gift! (but maybe this counts as a card?) Many of you either work in a family business or have always wondered what it would be like to work with your dad, mom or child. I just wanted to share a little taste of my experience.
Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there, especially mine.