Reflective Entrepreneurs Share How Their Fathers Inspired Them in Business

Rebecca Graham

Last Updated: March 24th, 2021

Dad holding up baby

You don't have to be a perfect dad to make a tremendous impact on your kids' futures. 

You don't have to avoid failure. You don't have to retire early. You don't have to hold a prestigious position. And if your work-life balance feels off, there's a good chance your family is understanding of the pressures you're facing. 

Turns out you just need to do the best you can with what you have. Bonus points if you do it with love. 

We reached out to entrepreneurs of diverse professional backgrounds to see how their fathers have influenced their career decisions and identities. Their responses reveal inspiring stories, cautionary tales, and helpful takeaways for fathers to consider as they seek to teach their children the most crucial values in business and in life. 

Tara Ackaway, founder and CEO of Social Wise Communications

"My father has inspired me in business because of his strength as a leader and incredible determination to succeed. Since I was a little girl, I was always motivated to be just like my dad both in life and business. He is kind, but not weak. He's taught me how to develop and show more empathy in the workplace.

Most importantly, he taught me that I must never get too busy building an empire that I forget to build a life. That sentiment is something I hold close to my heart and will never forget."

Paige Arnoff-Fenn, founder and CEO of Mavens & Moguls 

"Although my dad spent his career in corporate America, much of the advice and lessons he taught me applies to entrepreneurs as well. Here are the most valuable lessons he taught me:

Share success. When good things happen, make sure everyone who contributed is acknowledged and rewarded, not just the people at the top. In order to learn from every experience and not repeat any mistakes, it's important to share the lessons you learn, too. If those around you feel part of the process, they'll work even harder to guarantee a positive outcome.

Give back. Be active in your community. Business leaders must stay connected to the local organizations and should encourage their colleagues to get involved, as well. Local hospitals, schools, and non-profits can all benefit from business leaders' advice and support, so be generous with your time and resources."

Cathy Baillargeon, owner of Virtual Cathy

"After 30 dedicated years, my father retired from the railroad tired and burnt out. What I remember most about him growing up were the long hours he worked, his absence in our family, and how much he hated his job at the very end.

He has inspired me not only to create a business to help support entrepreneurs avoid this feeling of burnout within their own business, but also to build it family-focused and flexible, not only for me but for my employees as well.

His career was a prime example that no money was worth the misery he experienced in his work life."

Maria M. Barlow, founder of The Law Offices of Maria M. Barlow, LLC

“I am a family law attorney. I grew up in a two-parent home where I learned that having an active father is invaluable and both parents are valuable and needed. The benefits I received from having my father inspired me to fight tooth and nail to ensure all fathers have access and parenting time with their kids.

Chelsey Brown, founder of City Chic Decor

“My father was the definition of a helicopter parent when I was growing up. It took 27 years for me to fully appreciate his extra-involvement during my younger years. His push for me to go above and beyond in life is the reason I push myself to exceed my goals every single day. He’s the first person I call when something exciting happens with my business!"

Suzanne Brown, CEO of Oksuzi Strategy

"My father has often said that your word and a handshake are enough. You do whatever you said you would do when you said you would do it. It seems pretty simple, but it's often not how people run their businesses and lives. Nowadays, I do utilize a contract for new projects, but integrity is very much a pillar of my businesses."

Kira Cahill, co-founder of Bold Box

“My father has inspired me in so many ways and encouraged me to pursue a business that set my soul on fire and that I truly believe in. For me, that was a company that had the potential to change lives and benefit the world. Having just started my own eco-friendly company with my co-founder, my father's advice and support have been invaluable. My passion drives me and keeps me going during the difficult times and the great times!”

Annie Calhoun, founder of Annie Beth Fitness, LLC

"As an entrepreneur from a family with a long history of business ownership and entrepreneurship, my father has been extremely influential in my own business endeavors. From being my biggest fan and number one supporter to always encouraging me to follow my dreams, my father has taught me many important lessons.

He taught me to never give up (even during the rough times), to always put the customer first, and to never be afraid of being innovative and creative. My father, Dean Calhoun [featured below], has grown his company into an international success, and it is his hard work that encourages me to continue growing my business into an equivalent success!”

Dean Calhoun, CEO of Affygiility Solutions 

“My father was also a small business owner, and I started working for him at a very early age. To this day, his work ethic inspired me to always show up on time, work hard even when others aren’t watching, and don’t complain about the customers — they are the ones paying the bills.”

Paul Cannon, shareholder at Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. 

"My father was a CPA. He used to tell me how, as a young man working as a bank teller, he would stay late to help the other tellers and the head teller even though my father had already clocked out. When the head teller got a new job, the boss asked him who could take over when he left. Don Cannon can do the job,' he replied. 'He knows everyone’s job.'

I learned from that story that when you treat the people you work with like you are all in the same boat, you will rise in the organization.

I started with Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. in 1994 as a law clerk with 'no opportunity for an associate position.' As a clerk, I helped the over-worked paralegals get their job done. Now, I am a shareholder. Dad knew what he was talking about. Now I try to stop, understand, assist, and encourage our employees in whatever they are doing. I want us all to feel like we are a team, rising together." 

Elisabeth Cardiello, owner of Caffé Unimatic

“From giving me my first business cards when I was six years old to making my title on those cards more senior than his, my dad instilled in me that I was here to create. Over coffee every morning, he'd remind me that 'what the mind can conceive, the mind can achieve,' and we'd talk for hours about human psychology, business ideas, and resilience.

After losing him suddenly when I was 26, I started a coffee company created to preserve his legacy, and that has allowed me to start to build my own through our Brave Conversations Over Coffee initiative. I couldn't be prouder of how he's been an ongoing inspiration to me and my business even after he's not physically with us.”

Carlos Castelán, managing director of The Navio Group

"I owe everything, from my work ethic, my desire for success, and my entrepreneurship skills to my father, a Mexican immigrant, Anselmo Castelán. There would have been no path to starting-up my business without my dad’s inspiration and encouragement.

I saw how our dad worked long and hard to provide a living for our young family. It was ingrained in us from day one that the expectation in our household was to work hard and work smart. If you're doing a job, do it well the first time so you don't need to redo it. He was and is my inspiration."

Larissa Castelluber, owner of Design Moves LLC

"I have had a marketing business since I was 18 and had my office since college. My father kind of tricked me into taking the leap. I've always wanted a space to call my own for business and noticed there was a small space that was affordable. I told my parents about it, just in conversation, and my dad said he would help pay for it. I believed him and signed the lease.

Oddly enough, I ended up paying the rent on my own, but he was the trigger to make me act and take one my first major risks at the time. I probably wouldn't have done it knowingly on my own. Several offices and employees later, I still run the same biz." 

Clint Coons, Esq., founding partner of Anderson Business Advisors 

“Although at the time I could not see the future personal benefit of spending many weekends working for my father on his various real estate holdings, I did learn some important life lessons: Tackle every job as if you are the owner, and opportunity is created through hard work. These life lessons have carried me through my career and serve as a reminder that anything can be accomplished if one is determined.” 

Kevin Crawford, founder of Kevin Crawford Consulting

“My father was an executive with Toyota in the 1950s and 1960s — he was one of the people to bring the car manufacturer into the U.S. market — and he is the biggest inspiration to me in business and in life. He was a man of few words, but he was very character-driven. He didn’t talk much about his high standards, but he lived them every single day through the example he set.

From him, I learned two lessons that have stayed with me all my life: 1) the power of relationships and 2) a lesser skilled, yet committed person of character is far more valuable than the smartest employee. I have had a fulfilling life and career with my father’s guiding example.” 

Man reading to baby

Jason Davis, CEO of Inspire360

"My dad is an entrepreneur, and I've been able to benefit from his advice throughout the years ⁠— especially now that I'm a CEO myself. The main thing he taught me about business is to focus on one thing at a time. He always references the book Essentialism by Greg McKeown.

Because of him, my business has one big focus that everyone's driving towards. My father and the lessons he shares from Essentialism have helped me keep our team on the same page in terms of where we should put our energy, which has led to huge wins for us." 

Josh Eberly, owner of 717 Home Buyers

"From when I was a very young age, my father taught me the values of reputation and caring deeply for those around you. As a kid, I always wondered why he often volunteered or took jobs for pennies on the dollar. As I matured, I realized it wasn’t because he was bad at business, it was because he saw the bigger picture.  A business should be used for good, whether you are a massive corporation or a one-man show like my dad.  This serves as a guiding principle in all of my business ventures to this day." 

Douglas Esiner, co-founder of The Calida Group

"My father always gave 110 percent at both home and work. As far back as I can remember, he would get to the office by 6 a.m., be home for family dinner at 7 p.m., and then work after dinner until 11 p.m. And with whatever free time he did have, he gave 110 percent to that too.

Whether it was nights out on the town with my mother, sports with his buddies, or digging up adventures with us kids on the weekends, everything was 110 percent.  To this day I still try to give that same level of commitment to everything I do as well. I also love one of his favorite sayings, as it applies to both business and personal situations: 'Never miss an opportunity to do a favor.'"

Niko Finnigan, partner at Delta Wealth Advisors

"My father’s work as an entrepreneur taught me the importance of having a rewarding and flexible career. It also taught me the downsides of how and how often the buck stops with the owner.

Without watching my parents’ work in building their own businesses, I wouldn’t have as much comfort with risk and driving my own success. In that way, it’s one of the greatest gifts they’ve given me."

Paul Flanagan, president of Land Cravings, LLC 

"My father inspired me in my business indirectly by the comments other people made about the way he handled his business. Almost everyone I met said the same thing about my father. They would say, 'Your father has more integrity than anyone I know, and he's a good man.'"

Alexandra Frumberg, founder of ALX Creatives

“When I was a young girl, my father, Charles Frumberg, pushed me to pursue my passions. I remember expressing to him that my passion was photography and that it would be a difficult path to be an artist. But he insisted that I follow my heart, attend the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), and pursue doing what made me happy. He taught me that if I'm fulfilled professionally, the success will follow. Every time I stumble or misstep, he is always there to put me right back on my path.”

Jay Goldberg, creator of Bergino

"When I was a child, my dad would repeatedly tell me, 'It's better to have one meal a day of your own than three meals from someone else.'  It must have inspired me to work for myself because I've been doing so for the past 30 years." 

Elizabeth Grojean, founder of Baloo Living

"I grew up with a dad who was working hard to build his business, so there wasn't much extra. When we kids wanted something, we had to find ways to earn it with lemonade stands, car washes, or garage sales.

Later on, when I needed capital to start my company, I didn't consider asking my family. But my dad offered to loan me just enough to fund our first production order, which made everything possible. Only later did I find out that my grandfather had done the same for him; and it's meant a great deal for my dad to give me that gift. I'm grateful that I needed help because now my dad and I are bonded in a new way, as entrepreneurs.”

DJ Haddad, co-founder of 321 Ignition

"I don’t think my father 'dispensed wisdom' in the traditional sense, but I learned a lot by watching and working with him over the summers. I wasn’t familiar with the term 'entrepreneur' until my late twenties, but I suppose that’s what he was. (Although by this definition every Lebanese-American is probably an entrepreneur; I challenge you to find one of us with just a single job or business.) He taught history for a while, he owned an arcade for a brief stint, and he owned a pawnshop for decades; this is how most people knew Dave.

Working alongside him at the pawnshop was an invaluable experience, even if I didn’t realize it until adulthood. Of all the lessons, I think the biggest was in dealing with people. Pawnshops attract an eclectic group of people on a daily basis; wealthy clientele, poor clientele, people who just made fortunes, people who just lost them, criminals looking to sell items, cops who are looking for those items; it was impossible to guess who would walk in the door the next minute and what their story might be. This environment taught you to think quickly, but it also forced me to learn empathy. 

My father was adept at navigating all of these scenarios and the personalities that accompanied them, but more than that he was empathetic and respectful to everyone, regardless of their background or current situation. Watching this in action helped prepare me well for a high-speed agency lifestyle where I am constantly communicating and having to shift gears between designers, developers, project managers, writers, and clients." 

Duane Hardy, president of Forklift Systems 

"My father taught me to work hard during the good times and harder during the bad. Always be prepared financially to withstand the unexpected.  This has been particularly helpful advice during the current economic crisis."

Jeremy Harrison, founder of Hustle Life

"'What does not kill me makes me stronger.' That's what my father used to say. He loved reading, and this phrase by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was his favorite expression. It has helped me a lot in my life, from puberty to college to entrepreneurship. I never give up because I believe each obstacle I overcome makes me even stronger."

Lars Helgeson, CEO of GreenRope 

"My dad was a high school science teacher. He would take me to his science class and let me sit in and listen. I got to be comfortable taking care of all the animals in his lab. Snakes, lizards, rats, birds, and even ant lions were all part of the experience. His students took part in caring and feeding them, and they developed a learning connection stronger than anything a textbook could teach.

It made me see the difference it makes to students when you go the extra mile to give them a rich experience. Whether you're a student or a customer, people notice when you make the effort to make their time and money worth the investment."

Allison Hernandez, co-founder and managing partner at lotus823 

"My father was orphaned at a young age and could not afford to go to college. But he went from a stock boy to president at the largest privately owned jewelry retailer in the United States at that time.

He would often talk about starting his own business, but with a family to support, it was too much of a risk. He stayed with the company for more than 40 years, and I feel he always regretted not taking the steps to go out on his own. Thanks to the valuable lessons I learned from my father, I felt confident in the idea that becoming an entrepreneur was the right path for me." 

Scott Hester, franchise owner with Mr. Transmission

"Shortly after I took over at my own store and was struggling with the responsibilities of ownership, my father, Lowell, told me, 'It’s not the land, it’s the man.'

I had to look in the mirror and see what I needed to do. If the phone isn’t ringing, you need to change what you are doing and figure it out. That was 15 years ago and it has served me well. It has definitely been a long road. I’ve made some mistakes, but I’ve learned from them. I listened to what my dad was doing instead of doing it my way. It has helped me out a lot.”

Shel Horowitz, founder of Going Beyond Sustainability

"My dad has been an entrepreneur his entire working life. He had his own chiropractic office and usually had two or three side businesses: booking singles' weekends in the Catskills, selling encyclopedias, private tutoring, etc.

He's now 89 and makes his living as an investor. He taught me two important lessons: 1) you don't have to be stuck in corporate hell — there are other paths — and 2) you can pursue your deepest interests (in his case, ballroom dancing, tennis, and the stock market)." 

Girl on dad's shoulders

Amira Irfan, Esq., founder of A Self Guru

“When I was growing up, my father got sued as an entrepreneur for $90,000. This is because he failed to enter into a legal contract with a freelancer that he had hired. It turned our lives upside down. Not only did our family go into lots of debt, but we were also constantly stressed for years.

This heartbreaking and expensive lawsuit changed my life. I realized I wanted to become a lawyer and help other entrepreneurs like my father avoid making the same legal mistakes that leave you financially and emotionally broken. I don’t want anyone to have to go through what my family went through, so I not only became a lawyer but I also started my online business where I make sure business owners have all the proper legal documents and contract templates in place to protect their business and sleep peacefully at night.”

Zain Jaffer, founder and CEO of Zain Ventures

"My father fled with nothing but the clothes on his back as a refugee from Tanzania during the brutal dictatorship of Idi Amin. He has endured horrific hardships and didn’t think twice about working two jobs to provide for his family. 

His positive, hard-working, never-complain-about-anything attitude instilled in me the right work ethic that nurtured the massive entrepreneurial energy needed to get my company started

As my tech company, Vungle, became successful, I was able to give back to both my parents in a way that allowed them to retire and travel. Now, if my dad fixes a car, it’s because it’s fun to do so and because that’s what he wants to do. While selling my company was certainly life-changing for me as an entrepreneur, it’s been fun to be able to have it be life-changing for my parents as well."

Lisa Kahn, founder of Lisa Kahn Designs

"My dad encouraged and helped me start my interior design business in 2000. He loaned me the money, made me a document binder, and wrote a quote to me in the front that reads: 'Integrity is what you do when no one is looking.' I have opened that binder, read it, and thought about that quote a million times.

I often pause to consider how he would handle a difficult situation. When he passed several years ago, I was lost without his ongoing support and counsel, but it’s interesting how other angels come into our lives and fill roles of coach, mentor, and advisor just when we need them most. Thank you, Dad for starting me on the right path."

Daniel Koffler, founder and president of New Frontiers 

"My father, who I have worked with for many years, has always expressed — verbally and non-verbally —some version of the concept that 'the early bird gets the worm.' In terms of time utilization, he demonstrated it with his own schedule and habits, which I translated into an understanding that if you wake up a little bit earlier, or stay a little longer, that extra time can literally add up to years of productivity (professional or personal)! 

It set the tone for how I attempt to manage the competing personal, family and professional interests that make up my life. I’m able to work efficiently, spend time with my family, and do things for myself, such as travel, read, exercise, and relax.  

While it’s not easy to fit it all in every day, waking up a bit earlier and being prepared to work non-traditional hours help me make sure I don’t let opportunities slip. And now that I’m a father myself, I have a much deeper appreciation for exactly what goes into making this all look so doable." 

George Kuhn, president of Drive Research

"My entire family worked in the auto business, including my father, who began his career as a mechanic at age 18. I am the only member of my family to step outside of the auto business with a career in market research. My business name and its logo is modeled after my father's two classic Oldsmobile cars. The 'drive' part of our name pays homage to my family roots and recognizes the incredible work ethic he passed down to me." 

Umberto Luchini, founder and proprietor of Wolf Spirit Distillery of Blood x Sweat x Tears Vodka 

“I was born in Milan, schooled in the United Kingdom, and started my career in France; all of that privilege was, of course, made possible through the hard work and example of my parents. In my thirties, the multi-national I worked for offered me a transfer to the United States. I jumped at the chance, moved to San Francisco, and became a United States citizen in 2007.

By 2017, I had been working for that same company for 17 years, which was not at all strange to me as my father had been loyal to his company for his entire career. Also following in my father’s footsteps, I always banked a full 50 percent of my salary. Yes, it meant living in small apartments and limiting spending, but it was always what he had done, so I did it, too. That is what allowed me, in 2018, to make the leap of a lifetime to start my own company." 

Simone Marsiglia, founder and owner of Gas Stations Services Corp. 

"There is no substitute for hard work. This is something I have truly embodied in everything that I do, from being a business owner to being a husband and father. Coming from Italy and relocating my family and business to South Florida, hard work has been integral to really drive my business forward. This is something that even at a young age I try to instill in my daughter.

I was lucky to have a father that loved what he did and as I became a business owner, I realized it’s also important to love what you do. The last thing my father instilled in me is to always make time for family. No matter what, he was never too busy to busy to play a game of fútbol. No matter how busy I am, this has always stuck with me. My wife and daughter are my priority, and I’ve been lucky and dedicated to being able to find a proper work-life balance no matter how crazy it gets at times."

Joe Mazur, founder of Amaze Properties LLC 

"My father, Paul, is the hardest worker I know, in all aspects of his life. He worked from the ground up at a company when he was 20 years old, all the way to CFO by age 50, putting in at least 60 hours every single week.

Outside of his job, when there is work that needs to be done, he does it, always without objection, and very often with a smile on his face. But he is also careful and thorough, trying to understand the entire problem before he makes any decisions. These traits, which together I call calculated drive, has no doubt rubbed off on me and inspired me in how I run my business."

Terry McDougall, founder of Terry B. McDougall Coaching 

"My dad is a working-class guy who can do anything from car repair to electrical work to carpentry to welding: you name it. I have been tremendously inspired by his 'can-do' attitude, self-confidence, and work ethic, and the countless times that he achieved amazing things by applying himself. Because of his example, I've always believed that if I can imagine it, I can figure it out and make it happen. That's given me the courage to face challenges as a business owner."

Michael Miedler, CEO of Century 21 Real Estate 

“I worked for my dad’s roofing business every summer and after school to make money. He was my first boss, and to be honest, we had a real love-hate relationship. Basically, he worked my tail off and pushed my limits to test my physical and mental toughness.

Most importantly, I learned how to care for the customer. Never once did he have to market or advertise. All his customers came from referrals or word of mouth. Thankfully, I learned from him at a very early age the importance of hard work, connecting with people, and caring about the customer above all else.”

Michael Misetic, CEO and founder of Oxi Fresh Carpet Cleaning

“I grew up without my father in my life, but I was fortunate enough to have two men who really inspired me. The first was my grandpa, an entrepreneur and inventor. He had so much energy and so many unique ideas — he really thought outside the box and that’s driven me to do the same. It’s funny, as a kid I wanted to be like him so much that, during one of my first haircuts, I asked the barber to give me my grandpa’s haircut — including the bald spot!

Ron Brewer was also a big inspiration. He was a former NBA player and my basketball coach as a kid. Since my dad wasn’t in my life, he really took me under his wing. He picked me up from school, dropped me off at home, and gave me workout routines. He really taught me the value of discipline, hard work, and teamwork — all of which have been key to my company’s success.”

John Norce, president of Medicare Portal 

"Looking back on my childhood, I can see how much my father impacted my passion for business and entrepreneurship. I do not think my dad scripted my work experience, but, looking back, I can see that each opportunity he provided allowed me to grow and learn. My second job at age 11 was as a paperboy, because he said it would teach me about business and responsibility. After that, I got a job at 13, despite 14 being the legal work age, as a cabana boy because he wanted me to work for tips and learn what earning a paycheck was about.

Finally, I had the opportunity to work with him at our family business and had the privilege of observing him as he sold, handled customer service, developed relationships, managed employees, and grew the business. Until his passing a few years ago, my father was my go-to, no-cost business consultant, de-facto chairman of the board, sales trainer, and operations manager."

Wendy O'Donovan Phillips, CEO of Big Buzz 

"When I was growing up, my dad was the publisher of several newspapers along the East Coast. He showed me that when you are good to your people, they do great work and everyone thrives. I built my marketing communications firm on that principle, and we have grown to join the 1 percent of women-owned small businesses to exceed $1 million in revenues. Dad was right!" 

Thanasi Panagiotakopoulos, founder and principal of LifeManaged 

"My father immigrated to the United States when he was 18, in 1977, and he didn't speak English. He managed to learn our language, go to university, start and sell a restaurant business, and retire before 55 years old.

He is the definition of the American Dream, pursuing a better life and opportunity in our great country and proving that anyone can create something. He has always told me that I am the master of my own destiny and that will always stick. This continues to drive me so that I can create the same experiences for my kids that he did for me." 

Chris Panteli, founder of LifeUpswing

"My father inspired me by example. I took over the family business of a 'fish and chip' shop which he started. His drive and determination to start it inspired me to continue it. I now run a successful business, a new blog, while continuing to search for new opportunities. Witnessing my father's achievements empowered me to accomplish my own."

Dad with kids on laptop

Christine Perkett, CEO of Mindfull Marketing + PR

"My father was an entrepreneur himself, having left a large architectural firm in Chicago to start his own firm, which he still runs today in his seventies. I learned a lot from watching him navigate the challenges and opportunities of life as an entrepreneur. 

He always told me, 'It’s all about your network.' He didn’t necessarily say anything that made me think of becoming an entrepreneur, but this piece of advice was huge in helping me to do so. I moved to Boston after college with $200 in my pocket and I knew one person. I built my business and my network through hard work, determination, and respectful outreach." 

Nin Pfister, co-founder of MAG PR

"My father, Marty Barnes, is the oldest of five children, born and raised in a blue-collar suburban town near Boston, Massachusettes. My grandfather, the initial patriarch of our family who passed away years ago, was a decorated veteran of the United States Marine Corps — a wonderful, multi-faceted man with an infectious smile and a gift for leading by example with his unmatched work ethic.

As far back as I can remember, my dad has carried on that legacy that I so admire, going above and beyond to achieve his dream of building an award-winning steel construction business over the last two decades, working endless hours for many years while parenting three children of his own. Meanwhile, my dad has been present for every memorable moment of my life, burning the candle on both ends to ensure he never misses a beat with our family. He inspired me to take the leap of faith into entrepreneurship four years ago — to harness my talents, embrace my passion, and believe that it is possible to do it all — as a dedicated wife, mother, and business owner." 

Jessica Rhoades, owner of Create IT Web Designs

"My father worked very hard for many years in IT. He was always up early and out the door by 6 a.m. He worked hard, had great integrity, and enjoyed the work that he did. After my father passed, I received letters from his old co-workers, who I had never met, telling stories and all had the theme of integrity and hard work. I kept all those letters and to this day in my own business I make sure at the forefront of my core values are integrity, honesty, and hard work." 

Stephanie Riel, owner of RielDeal Marketing 

"Without a doubt, my late father has been the main source of inspiration for my journey into entrepreneurship. My father lived the American Dream. He immigrated to the United States in the early 1950s as a young boy from Germany and worked hard to build a life and a successful real estate career in the United States.

Witnessing his work ethic, drive, and passion for making his own path throughout my adolescence was an influential force to my work ethic and passion for business. His is a legacy I strive to continue to build for myself, even after his death."

Holly Rollins, president of 10x digital

“My father was a ‘farmpreneur’ and worked only for himself since he was a young man. He had a very autonomous spirit and was gifted with the ability to ‘commune’ with animals that naturally gravitated and ‘listened’ to him. While I wasn’t blessed with that agricultural gene, I did learn to be self-sufficient and lean in the entrepreneurial direction.

I knew — from my Dad’s mentoring — that working for yourself isn’t easy. However, I’ve inherited his passion to be self-governing. I take pride in managing a business and environment where I can mold more of my destiny, create jobs and opportunities for others, and have a major role in achieving successes for my clients." 

Jessica Rosen, co-founder of Raw Generation

“I am in a unique position where I am a business owner alongside my father. We started our company together back in 2012 and I have since been constantly inspired by my dad’s ability to always set the bar higher, time after time. He is always forward-looking and pushes our company to innovate faster, adapt, and grow.”

Seth Rouch, owner of Seth Buys Houses

“My father passed away from cancer at age 63 in 2013. He was always an inspiration to me in creating who I am, but as for how he influenced my business, he will unfortunately never get to see.

My father and mother, both checkers and stockers at Safeway making minimum wage, realized that it wasn't going to be a sustainable income as they now had three kids, a mortgage, student loans, car payments, and basic living expenses. So my father went back to school at age 40 to become a pharmacist. He drove three hours, one way for an entire year to make this happen while allowing us to stay near friends and family.

His determination still inspires me as I've grown and am now 36. I desire to provide as well as he did for my wife and children as well as provide something to people that will help their lives.”

Natacha Seroussi, co-creator of LaFlore 

"My father is not just an inspiration to me: he's the reason for what I do. As a little girl, I had the very special opportunity to watch him build a successful accessories brand from the ground up, witnessing the hard work and dedication that it took, but also the passion within him that his efforts fulfilled.

From an early age, he instilled in me a great love of fine craftsmanship and design that has stayed with me and helped me to find my own path in life. While our paths have been similar, he's always encouraged me to follow my modern values and aesthetics to make something unique that I'm lucky to share with him as co-creators of our LaFlore bag."

Jacques Spitzer, CEO and founder of Raindrop 

"My father was a real estate agent my entire life and I got to see him go through the highs and lows of the markets. He always said, 'Positive activity breeds activity,' and it is incredibly helpful to remember that most of your efforts in business won’t see immediate or instant results, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t going to build into something significant!"

Stephanie Stuckey, CEO of Stuckey’s Corporation 

"I'm the third-generation Stuckey to run our family's roadside chain founded by my grandfather in 1937 and then run by my father before me. So I've had two generations of father figures to inspire my business philosophy. My grandfather had a quote he kept framed on his desk: 'Every traveler is a friend.'

It was aimed at road travelers, our customer base, but I apply to everyone we deal with in our company — customer, vendors, employees, truckers, advertisers, etc.  We're all travelers through life. Leading my company with a culture of friendship towards all is how my grandfather inspired me." 

Denise Supplee, co-founder of SparkRental 

"I was blessed to have my father as a mentor and teacher throughout my life. He was a never-give-up entrepreneur that had successes and failures. Because of him, I too had the bite of the entrepreneur bug.

I have had many businesses. Some were successes and some not so much. One of the biggest lessons my dad taught me was about the failures. He said, 'Never look at a failure as the end. Rather look at it as a teacher.' He would joke that failures and the financial loss of them were merely nothing more than college tuition."

Talbot Sutter, broker and president of Sutter & Nugent Real Estate

"My father inspired me to pursue a career in real estate because he showed me that with hard work and dedication you can have limitless earning power and be your own boss. I also remember him coaching me through my first cold call at 18 years old and emphasizing the importance of being confident and delivering a clear and precise message to potential clients — advice I still share with my agents today."

Romy Taormina, CEO and founder of Psi Health Solutions, Inc.

“My father has inspired me by modeling compassion, hard-work, and integrity. These are daily values that I incorporate into my personal and professional life that have served me well in my long-standing relationships with family, friends, and colleagues. They are values that I hope my own children will carry with them throughout their lives. When we operate from a place of goodness, everyone wins.”

Landon Taylor, CEO of Best Company

"My pops, Steve Taylor, was the epitome of grit. I watched him turn his trade of construction worker as a young father of five into a general contractor who owned his own business as my siblings and I got older and eventually left the house.

He woke up early, put in the work, and always got the job done well. Throughout my journey as an entrepreneur, I've leaned on that example many times. I'm so grateful for my father's example."

Melissa Terzis, broker and realtor at DC Real Estate Mama

"My dad worked in various New York City law firms before opening his own practice where he truly thrived in our Connecticut town. He's been full of great advice over the years at times when I needed it most.

When I was considering going back to school for a master's degree he said, 'This is the best idea I've heard from you in a while — no one can ever take an education away from you.' And when I was working for a land developer who was doing some unethical things, my father said, 'Don't ever let anyone ruin your name and reputation — it's all you have.'"

R.J. Weiss, founder of The Ways to Wealth

"I worked with my father for ten years. I was next in line to take over a fourth-generation family insurance business. However, he knew my heart wasn't in it. 

The best thing my dad ever said to me was, 'Never do something because it makes me happy, do what makes you happy.' It was this advice that gave me the courage and inspiration to leave the family business and start my own — a decision that has worked out very well for both of us."

Ryan Witt, Director of Operations at Healthy Life Recovery

"My father taught me the importance of human relationships in business. His saying was, 'You’re born alone and you die alone. Meet as many people as you can along the way.' Friendships and partnerships were everything to him, and he made sure to underscore to me the benefits of a strong and active business network.

Today, I am constantly working to develop genuine connections with others. Not only does it help your personal growth, but as your business and network expand, you're able to elevate the people around you as well."

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