My Dad was amazing. Anyone that knew him instantly lights up when they talk about him to this day. They remember his jokes and witty puns, they remember his incredible good nature and his willingness to help anyone and everyone, and they all miss him. Perhaps not as much as me, but still- it touches my heart to see how many people he reached around the world. My Dad died at 54 from a stroke and it was devastating. But, the one comfort I can take is that in those 54 years, he LIVED. And he lived big, and taught all of us how to do the same. He took chances, he traveled everywhere, he was successful, he always ate dessert, he always gave everything his best shot, and he gave me everything I ever could have needed to survive and thrive. He never went to college, but he was the most naturally intelligent person I’ve ever met. He’s really where I got all of my entrepreneurial spirit and when I look back, I realize that truly, all I ever needed to know about getting things going for myself, I learned from him. So, I share with you the Bill Ribeiro basics…which have now become my simple, straightforward truths.
1. ALWAYS RETURN PHONE CALLS
Huge. And now this includes texts, FB messages, emails and any form of communication. It’s just common courtesy, and more than that, respect that I think we’re losing more and more of these days in the business world. I used to see him sitting in his office downstairs until late at night, on the phone because he was that kind of person that picked it up and spoke to people which is definitely part of the reason he was so successful. We all know how frustrating it is when we “just can’t reach someone” in business. When we need an answer, when we want someone’s views on something, when we want to put a matter to rest, when we want to make a sale. Having to chase something time and time again leads to aggravation, so be there and do the right thing. Be the person that takes a few seconds (because really, in many cases that is genuinely ALL it takes) to respond, to acknowledge you’ve received something that needs an answer, and if it’s a NO, just say it so the person on the other end isn’t left hanging or wondering. Be the person that gets back to everyone, preferably in a timely fashion. Even if it’s a no, the person on the other end will appreciate it more than you know.
2. NEVER PUT ANYTHING IN WRITING YOU’LL REGRET LATER
Ah, this one stung even though I can sit here and laugh hysterically just thinking about it! I remember a very ridiculous letter I wrote back in high school to my then-boyfriend where I poured my heart out and somehow left it in the kitchen. I remember him knocking on my bedroom door, opening it, tossing the notebook on my dresser with a funny smile, not lingering any more than he had to as to save me the complete mortification (that came anyway) and he simply said, “Gabs, never, ever put anything in writing that you’ll regret later or that you don’t want anyone to see, because it could really bite you in the ass. Remember that.” And he walked away. So true. Sometimes we get angry in business. We get frustrated. We get flat out pissed. Nowadays, I like to think I’ve really evolved from that and truly, everything that I write and I say, I honestly mean and I don’t care if it’s seen or heard because if its from my heart, I stand by it. But, if it’s something highly sensitive, pick up the phone or arrange a meeting and just SAY it live. Talk it out. Resolve it directly if you can, and take a deep breath before responding to anything in writing that puts you off kilter. It can make a huge difference in the long run.
3. GO BIG OR GO HOME (BUT HAVE A SAFETY NET)
One of the things I loved most about my Dad was that everything in his life, and consequently our lives growing up, was BIG. BIG home, BIG fun, BIG car, BIG gadgets, BIG money, BIG jokes, BIG experiences, BIG vacations and absolutely nothing was impossible. He thought big, he dreamed big and he made shit happen simply because he believed it was possible and truly I had a blessed childhood. We had more than we ever wanted or needed….until it all fell apart. See, the bigger things got, the bigger he risked , the bigger he spent, until one day his business went under. Then, it became the bigger the hole he dug into to try to sort things, the bigger the hours and time and stress poured into trying to save something that couldn’t be saved, the bigger the effort he put into trying to cover it up from all of us so that we wouldn’t be disturbed until it couldn’t be hidden any longer. I will never forget the day that he took me to the diner for lunch and had to tell me to my face that we were likely going to lose our house. At age 14, this was like a knife in the heart and a feeling of sadness, embarrassment and helplessness like I had never felt before, and honestly haven’t quite felt since. He never had a safety net, he operated as if nothing would ever change. Fortunately we didn’t lose our house, and my clever Dad figured out another way to fix things and persevered until he launched something else he loved not long after. But, for a while, things were horribly tough and I will NEVER let that happen to me. So, NEVER let it happen to you- take big risks but make sure that at the end of the day, if it should all fall apart, you have a Plan B, or C, or even D. Doesn’t ever hurt to be prepared.
4. THERE IS NO FREE LUNCH
Wow, how my brother and I used to make so much fun of him when he said this with a serious face. We died laughing when he used to lecture us with this theme. Maybe we never got it, or maybe it just sounded funny at the time but now I get it. Nothing truly comes for free, everything has a price to pay whether it’s material, emotional, or physical. So, be aware and check everything out. Read every contract 10 times backwards and forwards. Do your due diligence. Dig, check things out even if an opportunity seems like it can’t possibly ever go wrong. And check your gut as well. You’ll be happy you did.
5. DREAM. DREAM. DREAM.
When you go out on your own, challenges arise but the feeling of amazement, accomplishment, and pure happiness always far outweigh them if you are doing something you truly love and pouring everything you have into it. Dream big, find a way and don’t let anything stop you. He never did, if he wanted something, he went for it until he found a way to get it (hmm, don’t know where the hell I got that from). And I say the same to you. Nothing, absolutely nothing is impossible and there’s always a way. When you’re out on your own, you have that special freedom to pursue it so never for one second forget how lucky you truly are to be able to be on that pathway. Use it to the fullest.