Lessons Learned From Dad

VIP² Operations Director Tanner Hubbard on his dad, Tiffinbusiness owner with 20+ years of experience in commercial glazing

Some of the most important lessons I learned from my dad were from watching him work, not remembering what he said. I’m sure he told me all kinds of good things that I didn’t listen to or just didn’t retain as I got older, but I never forgot those things that I picked up while observing him in our home, at work, etc. One of the character qualities I saw in my dad from a young age was integrity. There was one time in particular, I couldn’t have been more than 6 or 7 years old, and he was working multiple jobs to provide for our large family. One of those jobs in the summer was mowing other people’s yards in the evening after his day job. This specific afternoon (probably because mom needed to get me out of the house after a stressful day), I was working with dad and picked up all the sticks and pieces of trash that had blown into the yard before he mowed the lawn.

Tanner’s dad, Tiffin (left) and Tanner (right)

That day, after I was finished with my duties, I was wandering around the yard keeping myself entertained while dad was finishing up edging the driveway with a weed eater. I heard the equipment stop suddenly, and then he said “oh no!”  I ran around the corner of the house to see what the problem was and observed the tempered glass in our customer’s car was shattered into all the little safety pieces (but still in the window frame of the car). He said he didn’t know if he had caused it or not, but as he was working alongside the vehicle, he looked up and saw the damages. He was pretty torn up about it, not only because he might have broken the window, but because I’m sure he knew it would cost him everything he made on that yard, plus several others, to pay for a replacement.

But, he went and told the client anyway. I remember him knocking on the door of the sweet old lady’s house and showing her the car window and telling her that it might have been his fault.

I don’t remember how that issue got resolved, whether he had to pay for the window or not, but I remember he was honest about it. My dad was just trying to make ends meet that day. He wasn’t trying to teach me a lesson, but I learned one: Never compromise integrity. I have an 8-month old son now and here in a few years I could be mowing yards or doing some other odd jobs, and I sure hope he will see that same kind of honesty and humility in me.

VIP² Creative Director Breanna Wells on her dad, Boyd – retired Chief of Police

“Eyes are always on you.”  That’s the lesson from my dad that has stuck with me over the years. As a leader in any capacity (at work, at home or in the community), your people are always watching, and it’s what they see you do/not do that sticks with them. 

I remember as a young girl, my dad worked as a patrolman during the night shift and also worked several part-time jobs so that he could provide for his family and enable my mom to stay at home with my sister and me. I know he had to be exhausted after working three jobs in a row, but I remember him coming home with a smile on his face and greeting us with a “Come here, my girls! I missed you so much.” He still had his uniform on as he plopped down on the floor to play and give us a ride on his back (this was our favorite as a little kid). I think he knew that even though he was exhausted (mentally and physically), that our memories of him would be based on what we saw as he walked through that door. He made a conscious effort to show us with a smile that he loved us and we were the most important part of his life.

Baby Breanna (left) and Breanna’s mom and dad (right)

I also recall several times over his 36-year law enforcement career (from which he served in positions from patrolman to chief of police) that he had to do some hard things and had to make very tough calls. Whether it was delivering the news that a mother’s child had died or being involved in a late-night altercation with an armed robbery suspect, he strived to lead in a way knowing that all eyes were on him. His officers were watching how he delivered that news or made that tough call, and they were learning from him. His body language. His tone of voice. The words he used. The actions he took. All of these factors were observed and documented.

Today, I consider my most important leadership role to be “Director of Operations at the Wells house”…aka mom to my children and wife to my husband. I know my kids are watching my behaviors and noting how I react to everyday situations. I often ask myself if I am outwardly showing my people what I want them to see?  

  • Are my behaviors/actions in line with my values/the values of the company?
  • Am I showing and telling people that I care?
  • Am I leading by example?
  • How do I react when I am busy/stressed/under pressure?
  • When I make a mistake, do I take ownership and humbly show others how to learn from that error?

These are just a few questions that I ask myself as I think about people’s eyes being on me at work and at home.

As a leader, what message are you sending to your people? The behaviors and actions that are intended, but not actually shown can never be memorable or impactful. It’s what others see with their own eyes and experience firsthand that will stick with them over time. If your demeanor is negative and your actions are not admirable, you’ll drain others and lose trust and respect as their leader.  If you make a conscious effort to lead “knowing that eyes are on you at all times,” you’ll inspire, engage, create passion and leave an important legacy that will carry on long after you are gone. 

VIP² Development Strategist Alex Diaz on his dad, German

My dad taught me to be the best employee wherever you are, with the attitude of an owner and a positive work ethic, regardless of how high or low you are in the org chart. He went from being a businessman in South America to a bus boy at a Jason’s Deli in Florida in his 60’s. Yet, he was so good he got “employee of the month” several times. To this day, though he doesn’t work there anymore, he still stops by to visit what he calls “his restaurant!”

Alex’s dad, German

VIP² Founder Jon Harrison on his dad

My dad taught me the following:

  • Leaders are to serve the people they lead, not the other way around
  • Don’t ask your people to do anything that you wouldn’t do
  • Have fun while you work
  • Don’t define yourself by your “job” or title
  • Whatever you’re doing…do it to the best of your ability
Jon’s dad (left) and Jon (right)