Father’s Day gives us all a yearly anniversary, a time when we can reflect on the influence our dads have had on our lives. It’s a day when we can formally appreciate and celebrate the roles our fathers have played in guiding us into the adult world.
I owe a lot to my dad. I wouldn’t have achieved the success I’ve enjoyed in life if it hadn’t been for him.
First of all, of course, I wouldn’t even be in America. It was my dad who made the epic decision to move his family halfway across the world from an impoverished rural part of India to the United States, and, in particular, to the golden state of California.
Coming to America to make a fresh start in the country where dreams can come true was a massive undertaking. It wasn’t just my dad and my mom. He brought his mom and four kids with them. That took far-sighted vision. It took guts and determination. It was an inspired move. I hope I got some of that from him.
Later, when the stock market crashed in October 1997 and we faced the prospect of being wiped out he showed me how to fight adversity. It looked like our dream of escaping from a small cramped place in the projects to a beautiful new home had been shattered. But after an initial and unusual emotional breakdown he quickly recovered and rallied the whole family into action. We made sacrifices and took on extra work to make the extra money we needed. And we moved into that wonderful new home, after all.
That experience taught me to never give up and that no matter how great a setback you encounter it is within the remarkable human spirit to overcome it and prevail. You have to believe in the inner you; that there’s a cosmic force that will put things right. My dad showed me that no matter how great the hardship you face, no matter how unfair it might seem, you can move beyond it. You can move forward with your head held high and still accomplish your goals.
But perhaps the biggest influence of my dad was when I was just 16 years old. I had launched my first performance-based internet advertising business from the bedroom I shared with my brother. I wanted to quit school to seize this opportunity and run with it full-time.
That flew in the face of everything my father believed in. He was a firm believer in getting a great education. It’s something he’d drummed into my siblings and I. He wanted me to become a doctor; I wanted to become an internet entrepreneur. But he recognized my passion and determination and could see that I was already making it a success. So he backed me—with one important caveat. If I didn’t make it within a year I would have to return to school.
Of course, I had a deep conviction that I was going to build a hugely successful business and that nothing was going to hold me back. But, with the benefit of years of hindsight, I have to say that his openmindedness and support was quite amazing. My desire to leave school conflicted with his own upbringing and beliefs and it was impressive that he could give me the chance to follow my ambition and pursue my dream, just as he had in immigrating to America in the first place. When he supported me and allowed me to leave school it was a monumental turning point in my journey.
Perhaps not even consciously my dad taught me to have big dreams because having small dreams aren’t worth the chase; just by his example of seeking a new life in the new world. He showed me how to be resilient and never give up, even in one’s darkest moments.
On this Father’s Day I encourage you to consider where you would be in this world without the influence of your father and I hope you have had the benefit of a positive paternal upbringing.
I’m proud of my dad and the example he set and as I grow and mature in this life I hope to make him as proud of me as I am of him.
On Father’s Day and every day—thank you dad from the bottom of my heart.
And Happy Father’s Day to all the great Fathers out there!
P.S. The picture above is of him and I at the White House. One of his dreams was to visit the White House and meet the President. I was glad I was able to make that dream come true.
And, can only hope I can make all of his dreams come true.
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