Friday, June 14, 2013

lessons from my father

Lessons From My Father

Phil Rosebrook Sr has been an entrepreneur for his entire life.  He grew up in Wisconsin and taught school for several years after college.  While teaching he also ran several businesses in the swimming pool industry in Chicago.  As the businesses became more successful they required more time.  He realized that these businesses had great potential and were more rewarding than the teaching position so he quit teaching and dedicated his time to running the businesses.  After several years he had achieved great success.  In 1970 he had two young children and one on the way.  He was working early morning until late at night.  A life altering decision was at hand.  He could either upgrade the family lifestyle or uproot the entire family and move to Oregon.  His wife grew up in a small town East of Eugene where they had built a summer home on a pristine river.  Phil liked who he was better when living in Oregon and also realized that the success path in Chicago came with a lot of stress and pressure that would eventually affect his health.  Phil decided to become a person worth being rather than getting things worth having.  He sold his businesses and moved the entire family to a small town in Oregon consisting of two churches, a gas station and a general store.  During his semi-retired years he drove a backhoe, built a ranch out of a forest, sold real estate, consulted several small businesses in Oregon and in the Midwest and most importantly was a father and raised a family. 

In 1988 I was starting college and my brother was in attending a college in Southern Oregon.  My father did not contribute to our education fund but taught us how to work and save and also gave us a job.  He was looking for a place where the family could work together and that is how we entered the restoration field over 25 years ago.  During that time I believe that I was not given special privilege but was given opportunity where I had to prove my worth.  I was also given responsibility.  Working closely with my father over this time has been a gift both personally and professionally.  I have learned that family businesses can be difficult but when you separate the business and personal aspects it can be a wonderful experience.  Below are the top lessons that I have learned from my father, mentor, partner and friend. 

The first and perhaps most important lesson that I have learned is that God has a place in your business.  Often people try to compartmentalize their lives.  In many ways this is not possible, especially in a small business.  The lessons from church and the bible have great relevance in your workplace.  Religion is a resource for good decisions in good times and bad.  A quote from Mother Theresa used to hang on my father's office wall, "The Lord has not called me to be successful, he has called me to be faithful."   The interesting thing is that if you have a non-financial definition of success, you will see that these items are deeply related.  If you are religious then work is a great place to live you faith.  Living your faith does not mean preaching; rather it requires that you live an example of your beliefs.  Gandhi once said, "I am my message."  This is very true in your life as a leader in your business. 

Next I learned that if you do what you love then you are not working.  I am not sure if my father loved all of his time as a restoration operator.  I do believe that he is now doing what he loves and his decade in restoration was conditioning for his current role in helping restorers become successful.  He currently is in a position where he does not need to work.  He continues to work because he loves being creative, helping people and being able to serve God through the work that he does.

Surround yourself with good people and give them the opportunity to be successful.  There are too many people that are concerned about who receives credit or about the process that is involved in achieving results.  A good leader finds the best people and then puts them in a position to be successful.  When success is achieved then that person deserves the credit.  Humility allows you to take a back seat to others.  It also requires that you allow others to be credited with their success.  When you work with good people, give them opportunity and reward them for success you will achieve synergy that will take you far. 

As the leader of your organization it is your job to uncover and champion good ideas.  I recall my father hearing Steve Toburen speak in the early 1990's.  He understood that creating a culture of legendary service could become a competitive advantage.  His job was not to implement the program rather it was to maintain a focus on this program, champion the efforts and drive the vision.  We were able to transform our company through this program.  It would not have gotten off the ground without the inspiration and reinforcement from the top.  One great lesson in this point is that he was not in charge of implementation just in identifying the opportunity and keeping others focused on developing and implementing the program.

My father is the quintessential networker.  His networking is not about what he can gain from a relationship but rather how the other person can benefit from the relationship.  The first step in this process is to learn about the other person.  My father is then scanning his memory to find out what this person needs and who can meet these needs.  This falls in line with Zig Ziglar's statement that you can get anything you want if you only help enough others get what they want.  The key to strong networking is to be altruistic in your pursuits.  If your goal is to help others then you will indeed be rewarded in more ways than one. 

Perhaps I could fill a book with the lessons that I have learned from my father.  I am the businessperson, father, husband and consultant that am today because of the influence of my father and equally due to my mother's contribution.  This does not mean that they taught me everything, only that they taught me how to think and analyze situations and opportunities.  I am grateful for their contribution to my development into the person that I am today.  I am also grateful to have been able to spend most of my professional life working with my family.

Happy Father's Day to my father and to all of the father's that are reading this message.  Thank you and God Bless.

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