Although my earliest career goals included teacher, veterinarian and newspaper reporter (like Lois Lane), looking back on it now, I was surely in training to be a Public Relations professional. Some of that training included learning how to speak like an adult from the time I was very small, introducing people to each other when I thought it would be mutually beneficial, and finding the positive side of almost every situation. With Father’s Day approaching, I have to thank my Dad for teaching me four very important things that have remained essential to my professional life – I hope these nuggets will help you in yours!
2. Write it down! My Dad is one of the greatest unknown writers of all time. No, he hasn’t published the Great American Novel or even the Great American short story, but he has written consistently and well his entire life. Letters to the editor, letters to his children and grandchildren, articles in his community newspaper — all evoking deep emotions, strong opinions or family stories he prefers to write about rather than share out loud. Yes, he’s a quiet person – but you can learn a lot from his writings. So whether it’s a hereditary trait or something learned, writing well has always been a priority in my world. Even though texting and tweeting are part of our everyday lives, remember to keep writing in full sentences as well.
3. Listen! Most of us in the field of public relations love to talk…a lot. There’s always so much going on, so much to share, it’s hard to contain ourselves. My Dad has always been very quiet, but a really good listener – I know that because he can repeat conversations we had 30 years ago. I have learned from him that it’s good to let the other person talk sometimes and to really hear what they are saying. This is especially important with our clients because we must listen intently to grasp the true meaning of their vision – and we have to understand that vision in order to communicate it to others. So this one is really important.
4. Embrace a strong work ethic! In my Dad’s day he came out of the army and worked for the same company for 45 years, retiring with the gold watch and everything that goes with it. I have had three positions over the span of my career and I have read that many people can expect to change jobs an estimated seven times. No matter what your tenure is, I have learned from my Dad to perform beyond expectations, to respect deadlines and to follow up and follow through.
As you reflect on Father’s Day, I hope you have learned as much from your Dad as I have from mine. Please write in and let us know what you’ve learned. Happy Father’s Day!