FATHER'S DAY: 8 heartwarming letters from Australian executives to their children

Happy Father’s Day. Photo: Modern Family/ IMDb.

Andre Eikmeier, co-founder and joint CEO of Vinomofo.

Dear Kalen,

I know we’re so very different as people, and thank god for that, ’cause I think you’re a better person that I ever will be, and this world is going to need people like you. We humans need to change, fast, and it’s you and your friends that are going to need to change it, before we self-destruct.

You are interested in the differences in people – their skin colour, their languages, whether they want to marry boys or girls (they’re both gross to you at the moment, but you’ll get over that) – don’t ever lose that.

Some people, as they get older, they listen to other people who tell them those differences are bad, or wrong. They become afraid of things that are different, things that they don’t understand. Don’t ever be afraid of those things. That fear is the reason people fight and kill each other, and it’s not good.

People also get greedy. You know what it’s like. You see something new, and you want it. But that’s another problem with this world – we all want too much. Everything we make comes in some way from the earth, and it goes back in some way to the earth, and we’re taking too much from the earth at the moment, and we’re dumping too much back.

You know about recycling, and not wasting energy – well, you’re going to have to make even bigger changes than I have. You might even have to learn to be happier with less stuff.

But that’s okay, because you know what? It’s not the stuff that makes us happy. Stuff can be fun, but it’s not the same as being happy. The way you are with other people, that’s what can make you happy. Laughing with someone, doing something nice that makes someone smile – that’s happiness. Loving someone like I love Mama, and like she loves me – that will be what makes you most happy, but only if you love yourself and the person you are.

You get to choose that person. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You can decide what’s right, and how you want to live your life, and it doesn’t really matter what you choose to do, as long as you can be proud of who you are, what you do, and your impact on the world.

And don’t forget to have fun. You don’t really ever have to grow up – not completely.

I love you most,
Dada

Nathan Ruff, co-founder of Market Engine.

To my beautiful three boys,

When I was your age I was lucky enough to receive ‘quality’ wisdoms such as “ there are two types of people in life, those who piss in the shower and liars”. As I’ve clearly come from a long line of wise philosophers, I’ve always taken my role of passing on key advice to my children very seriously. However like everything to do with my parenting, I can safely say when put on the spot , I’ve got nothing.

Obviously the general clichés can always apply; be kind, respect everyone, work hard, show manners, travel, don’t assume your parents are going to hand over the car keys every time you ask etc. But I feel even at a young age your foundations are laid and all signs indicate you’ll be beautiful, brilliant, caring, contributing human beings.

However, there are some key things that have assisted me through my work life that I’m happy to pass to you, including Never, never do it for the money, you’ll be miserable, Alcohol does not help you sleep, and Stress is the most counterproductive emotion you can have, nothing good comes of it.

But work is only a small part of life. With the personality traits you will undoubtedly acquire thanks to that fickle, yet ironic mistress DNA, I will now grant you some insights that have assisted me to where I am today, and will maybe give the three of you a slightly more streamlined passage.

    1) It is not important, don’t stress over it. Molecularly things are designed to work themselves out. What you think is critical now, is always lost in tomorrow.
    2) The only things that are important are the ones you love. Money, jobs, mortgages – these are just things that keep us busy.
    3) Understand people – sit in a corner of a busy place and watch them. Better yet, work in hospitality for at least a year, it’s a great way to learn how to read people. When you can figure out what makes people tick, you have the key to every situation.
    4) Give in at times. It’s fun to let life lead and surprise you, don’t always be in control.
    5) Talk to anyone and everyone, anywhere. It’s a great leveller and an opportunity to learn.
    6) Always evolve and challenge yourself, don’t get stagnant,
    7) Take risks, get into trouble , then get creative to solve them.
    8) The journey is what it is all about. Life is meant to be fun, so enjoy it.
    9) Play the percentages, talk to all the pretty girls at the bar, make them all laugh.

Whatever direction and decisions you make and take, I will always be proud you all, and know you’re going to do it better than me. From the day you are born life is about challenges, failures, learning, successes, growing…always remind yourself to embrace it and enjoy it.

If you take one thing from this letter, it is that I love you and I will always be there for you, and …. there are two types of people in life, those who piss in the shower, and liars.

Love Dad.

Photo: Schebesta and his two girls.

Fred Schebesta, co-founder and director of finder.com.au.

Hi Portia and Tsaatchi,

I know you’re a bit too young to read this yet, but I want to — need to — write this special note for you right now. My life is such a blurred rush, and I need to jam on the brakes for long enough to share the most important things I’ve learned with you. This is the core of your Dad; the sum of my experiences, the things I’ve learned, and the wisdom I want to pass on to you.

Your journey is yours and yours alone, but I think sharing some of my crucial wins (and failures!) with you can help. That’s what fathers are for, after all.

1. The only person you should listen to is…

Yourself. There is only ever one person in this world that will always look out for you and what you want, and that is yourself. Your Grandma Kerrie taught me this, and it has helped guide me my entire life. I ask others for feedback, but I always make my own final decision. Often that results in some controversy and angst, but in the long run, everyone respects my decision and supports me.

I’ve never told anyone this story, but I want to tell it to you girls. I was a nervous wreck at university, studying probability when I couldn’t even grasp the most basic maths concepts. In a last-ditch effort to succeed, I met with my lecturer, hoping he could help build my confidence.

Slumping on the chair opposite him, I was tongue-tied but finally blurted out my problem: “I… don’t really get it.”

“I know.”

That was all he said. Two words. “I know”. The discussion was over. I had turned to him for help and instead I was even more crushed than before the meeting. I was broken.

It was a horrible moment, but also an important one. On that day I realised I was on the wrong path altogether. I needed to work on something I did “really get”.

I decided to focus on building things on the internet. I skipped exams. I stopped going to uni. I stopped hoping that luck or the “right choice” would come to me if I went through the motions. I embraced something I believed in for myself. I built my first business, and it snowballed over the course of the next seven years. I knew I’d made the right choice for myself.

I’m not suggesting you drop out of university, and if you’re reading this while you’re there, I really hope you don’t have too many 8am lectures (they were the worst!). But make sure you focus on being able to learn from others, but then mix those core insights into your own inherently beautiful minds. Then, just run with what you’ve created until you achieve lift-off.

2. Master one thing first, and then innovate to become truly great and unique.

OK, that sounds like a big ask when you’re young and ambitious. But everything I’ve experienced tells me that seven is the magic number to master most skills.

Now when I say “master”, I mean truly know something top to bottom, and be able to know immediately and instinctively what to do in any situation. Master web developers don’t look up references; they just code from what is already in their head. Master writers simply create stories, and their ideas flow from their mind to the page. I’m working hard to be a great dad to you, and I hope you tell me how I went one day.

You’re both incredibly talented young women, and the small insights you show me every day make me certain that you’ll be astounding others long into the future. I sure as hell won’t know a thing about the ground you’ll be breaking in your own career paths. But the one kernel of knowledge I hope I can pass on is that focus on mastering one initial skill. Do that, then develop the Tsaatchi style and Portia prowess into greatness.

3. Ignore everyone else’s direction in life, choose your own and constantly test it.

Everyone has their own journey. Your core strengths and weaknesses differ from others, so there’s no point in copying their path. You need to choose your own path, one which will highlight your strengths and where your weaknesses are actually helpful in your journey to success.

But when you’ve made a choice, test your choices. Instead of going all the way in, just try something out. If it works, continue. If it doesn’t, regroup. Fearless testing of life will help you figure out quicker where you should go next.

I learned this lesson by almost electrocuting myself. When I was five years old, I had an electric clock radio that spoke the time next to my bed. I was always a tinkerer, pulling things apart and figuring out how they worked. On this occasion, I needed to find a replacement piece of electrical cord before I could put the clock back together.

There was a similar electrical cable attached to another clock. I didn’t know what electricity was, but I was always told not to touch power outlets.

I decided I would test it anyway, so I used a pair of pliers and cut the cable. I got a massive electric shock and went running into your grandparents’ room, crying. But it was a good moment.

The crucial thing was I had the guts to back myself and cut the cable. I took the plunge to figure out how it worked, to innovate and to test how life worked. It was risky, but I learned something.

Most complex ideas are just a bunch of simple elements connected together. Remember, everything you see in this world was made by a human. Someone knows how to put it together. You too can figure that out, and you can also put your life together however you want it to be.

Only your imagination determines the limits of what can become a reality in this universe – and I know your imaginations well enough to realise that your dreams offer endless possibilities. When you realise that and test things, you will find that you actually have everything you need inside you already to be successful. All you need to have is the confidence to try.

I know you girls will exceed any level of success I have ever imagined for you. As a single dad, I’ve worked my absolute hardest to be a good father. Above all, I have tried to ensure you feel loved and cherished, and that you know I focus my every energy on you in the time we have together. I hope you will read these words one day and they will help you. This is the best way I can think to try and achieve that.

I love you so much and hope I can keep being as good a father to you as you have been amazing and unconditional loving daughters to me.

Your Dad,
Fred Schebesta

Photo: James Chin Moody and his two boys.

James Chin Moody, founder and CEO at Sendle.

Dear Son,

I am so excited for you. Your have such an adventure ahead.

You will probably live to be 150. You will have 20 careers. Even before you graduate you will see more change than I can possibly imagine, from driverless cars to household robots, mind reading to delivery drones.

So what advice can I offer you for this changing world? Just this: Focus on what’s in your kit bag, not your career.

What does this mean? It means that you need to focus on those things that you carry with you through your life. When I grew up the advice was different – it was ‘be an engineer’ or ‘become a lawyer’. But I have already had many careers, from satellites to parcel logistics, and have worked out that it is the stuff that you bring with you from role to role that really matters.

So when you start to fill your “kit bag” with goodies, what should they be? Well here are a few:

  • Learn how to learn. Listen, adapt, execute – there is nothing else more important.
  • Stay curious and move fast. It used to be that the big eat the small – now the fast eat the slow.
  • Live by your word. Do what you said you would do. You are a brand of one – don’t trash it.
  • Keep fit and healthy. Your body and mind are your greatest assets – protect them.
  • Play nice. Everything you ever want to achieve will be with others – learn how to get along.
  • Choose your friends wisely. You become the people you hang out with.
  • Love the journey. Because there is no destination – that’s just a myth.

Have fun, keep safe, love wildly, wear sunscreen and don’t forget to call your parents.

Adrian Geering, chair of The Executive Connection and founder of Geering Solutions.

Dear Son

It’s father’s day and I wanted to write to you as one father to another, remembering that I didn’t have a father growing up. What have I learned that I can pass on to you so that you can be a better person and a better father.

The most important thing is to live your life on purpose – discover and pursue your life purpose. So many people live and work in jobs where there is no alignment with their purpose. How sad!

Then, next write out the most important goals you want to achieve through your life, leadership and business. You will then hit your purpose target. Remember, if you don’t have your own goals, you may end up doing someone else’s goals. What a loss!

The most important two things on which to focus on are love and gratitude. Sister Theresa was once asked: How can we create world peace? She said : ” Go home and love your family” . Remember, children spell love as a four letter word – T- I- M-E. Ensure that you avoid the time trap and give time to your family.

When you choose your career, aim to do what you love. However, remember you also have to relate to and work with other people. Make a study of this.

Above all, remember the family values which you have been taught and be a teacher to your children – integrity, respect, excellence, and freedom. If you are free, and if people trust ,respect and value your work then what better way than this to be successful.

Care for your body by giving time to health and fitness activities so you can live a balanced life. Lastly, remember you are a spiritual being and to be whole you need to seek your Creator.

In closing, have fun, relax, create, travel, celebrate and enjoy your life as I have.

You are a special, amazing person! I’m so proud of you and I love you.

Much love,
Dad

Photo: Jeremy crooks, his wife and two girls/ Facebook.

Jeremy Crooks, managing director Australia and New Zealand at Criteo.

Dear daughter,

I’m writing this letter as sometimes it’s easier to write stuff down than say it face to face.

I’ve been on this earth longer than you, so, although that doesn’t make me an expert on life, it means that I’ve made way more mistakes than you have, and because of that, I wanted to share some of the experiences and lessons I’ve learnt along the way.

Firstly, life isn’t fair, there will be lots of things that happen to you that aren’t fair, don’t whinge and don’t worry, most of the time, these things don’t really matter, make a big deal about things you really care about, be very clear what they are. Here’s a few things that do really matter that you need to make sure you do:-

  • Be kind to yourself and other people.
  • Love don’t hate, it’s not a nice feeling.
  • Try to be positive in everything you do, even if you think something is not possible, try and don’t give in, unless you’re trying to wrestle a great white shark, then don’t bother starting, it won’t end well for you!
  • Don’t be a bitch! You’ll learn what I mean.
  • Find friends who treat you with respect, and treat them with respect – don’t be friends with mean people, they won’t change.
  • If you think something is too good to be true, it usually is.
  • Dream big and don’t stop dreaming – you can be anything you want to be.
  • Treasure your family, they will always be there for you no matter what you do or say, they love you, they will protect you, home will always be the safest place.
  • Only complain about things that can be fixed.
  • Don’t drink cheap wine.
  • Learn to cook with love.
  • Be independent, don’t rely on people to do stuff for you.
  • Be understanding of other people who are not as understanding as you are.
  • When you find love, hang on to it, if it leaves let it go, if it comes back get married, if it doesn’t, move on…
  • Happiness is the ultimate goal, do things that make you happy, cut out the things that don’t.

Life is a long journey of many destinations, meet people, see the world, be humble, not everything turns out the way you thought it might, but, it’s all down to what you decide to put in it! Oh, and once last piece of advice – never be afraid to cry.

Have fun!!

I love you forever,

Dad xxx.

Jack Graham, The Executive Connection chair and former managing director of WR Carpenter.

Dear Son,

You know that I am not big on giving advice to others but I thought a few words may be of help to you at this time. I think it is important for you to think about a) what you want to do in life with regard to a career, b) who you want to be as a person and c) what you want to have. These three things are interwoven and it is important that with each it is what you want, not what anyone else wants or what you think they want. Your life is yours – no one else’s. You will spend a large proportion of your life at work so it is important that you select a career category that has real meaning to you and one in which you are proud to participate. You therefore need an idea of who you want to be as a person and what you want to have – to thine own self be true.

But a word of caution – the future is always uncertain so you have to be prepared for some variation, in your decisions as life goes on. However this uncertainty is not a reason for not planning based on what your present values are and what you feel now. You will find that you will not change overmuch as the years progress. I am much the same person as I was 40 years ago – a bit wiser I hope; but my core values have not changed. What was important to me then, still is.

So son, I guess in summary – know yourself. We are all different, having different abilities, aspirations and needs. I have always been proud of you son and I know you will mature into a wonderful man. I hope this letter will be helpful on your journey through life and you know I will always be there for you.

Love,
Dad.

Stuart Taylor, founder of The Resilience Institute Australia.

My dear children,

Your mother and I have the pleasure of a beautiful family with the four of you. In writing this letter, I feel it more relevant to address it to each one of you, rather than just my son(s), as I wish that you ALL have the greatest opportunities to be who you wish to be and contribute to others around you.

Also, only last night I heard from you, my dear daughter, sharing on the monologue you had written to deliver at school. The topic was not quite the everyday topic for year 10. “Rape Culture born out of Gender Stereotyping”. Big topic originating from the mind of a 15 year old concerned about a world of gender bias and power being clearly out of place in our supposedly sophisticated society. So, in hearing your very strong views (over a very long time) about equal rights, homogenous parenting and respect for all, I address this letter to you all — my clan of four.

What a joy it has been to see each of you grow from complete dependence, to pseudo-freedom and soon total independence.

The life journey for you three eldest in part was punctuated by my terminal brain cancer diagnosis when you were very young. I know this impacted you each in different ways and perhaps still to this day. For me it represented the start of a new exploration and experimentation with how to live a “good life” or a “better life”. Looking at each of you I see you have adopted aspects of this journey and observed and adopted behaviour that you like and discarded that which you didn’t.

For my youngest son, a very different and difficult start to life by accident of birth being born into an unstable environment. How wonderful to have you join our family and have many amazing life models around you (including your “new” elder siblings). I love you as I do all my children.

In this letter I would like to share with each of you some of my reflections on succeeding in life AND being happy (most gleaned from my post-cancer journey).

Thought #1. “Why”. Discover your “why”. You need to find your own definition of success. I know at times in my parenting I try to define this for you. That’s not fair!!
Thought #2. Life is not fair. I don’t really need to put this in a letter to you as you hear it from me most days. I am convinced there would be less anger in the world if we can make peace with this idea.
Thought #3. You can’t be serious! It won’t surprise you that humour is on my list. I know I break this rule too often both being too serious (read anger) and poor humour (read Dad jokes) but I am certain one must find a humorous view for most things that happen in life.
Thought #4. Take risks. Believe me, life is short! The comfort zone is called that for a reason. Don’t spend too much time here or life will pass you by.
Thought #5. It’s not all about you. Narcissism is slowly but surely destroying humanity and our planet. Try to live with compassion and altruism.
Thought #6. Find and give love. Don’t be a hermit. Life is more special when it is shared.
Thought #7. Stress is an illusion. When you feel distress about a situation, recognise your mind is playing tricks by fabricating an illusion about a possible disaster in the future. Spend time in the now, rather than the future.
Thought #8. Seek equanimity. Look it up!!
Thought #9. Exercise daily.
Thought #10. Meditate daily.

That’s probably enough thoughts. What am I really saying in all of this? Explore this thing called life with deep caring for others without over-caring or under-caring.

From my observation, each one of you is both unique, fallible, vulnerable and wonderful. So another way to go of course is to ignore all of the earlier advice and simply trust the values you have inadvertently bedded down over your lives thus far. When you live by your values you can’t go too far off kilter.

Regardless of your choices, your life’s ups and down, your successes and setbacks, you can rely on Mum and I to be there, without judgement to help celebrate and support where we can and where you want.

Love,
Dad.

Still haven’t bought dad a gift? Get some inspiration here: 10 last-minute Father’s Day gifts to surprise dad with this weekend.

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