Growing up, I was pretty stubborn.
It might have had something to do with being the oldest, or with having a protective dad who sometimes set rules that the younger me found completely unreasonable.
I was so hardheaded that I remember debating more of his wisdom than I actually listened to.
But as an adult, I’ve come to appreciate many of his lessons.
In honour of Father’s Day, here are 5 lessons that resonate with me to this day:
1. Avoid consumer debt as much as possible
My dad instilled in us early on the idea that you should always live within your means.
Today, I use my credit card sparingly, and I'll never purchase something when I don't have the money to pay it off right then and there, unless it's truly a necessity.
I've also never bought anything on an instalment plan -- Dad taught me that many of them are designed in a way that makes it easy to fall behind and not meet your payment obligations.
2. You can never invest too much in education
While my dad discourages racking up debt through unnecessary purchases, as an entrepreneur he understands that there are certain times when debt is necessary.
Examples include mortgages, business debts, and education. While we were growing up, he never hesitated to spend money not only on our schooling, but also on language lessons, books, computer programs, tutors, or anything that promoted learning.
I was fortunate to grow up in New Zealand, a country where the cost of education is relatively low compared to the United States. My undergraduate fees, for example, only amounted to about $4,300 per year.
Sometimes, the cost of higher education in the US makes me think twice about how much I'm willing to shell out for learning purposes. But the mindset that education is a continual journey has stayed with me, and I am always looking for opportunities to improve my knowledge and gain additional skills.
3. Hard work trumps talent and intelligence every time
My dad was not a great student in high school. He routinely got into trouble, and his teachers told him that he was stupid.
When he couldn't get into a good college in Indonesia, his father shipped him off to the US. He loved telling my brother and me the story of how he successfully begged the dean of a community college, in broken English, to let him in.
He says that before he went to college, he didn't understand the concept of hard work. So to catch up with his peers, he put his head down, studied, and didn't watch TV or socialise until he worked up a GPA high enough to transfer to Boston University.
After graduating from college, he moved back to Indonesia and worked in banking for several years. Since then, he's built several businesses in Indonesia and New Zealand, mainly in commercial property development.
He always told me not to be intimidated by people with titles or talent, and never to discount the possibility of achieving something big.
4. Make exercise and health a priority
My dad never learned the importance of exercise and healthy eating while he was growing up. He adopted a rather unhealthy lifestyle in college, and now he's paying the price by not being able to eat some of the things he used to devour on a daily basis.
As a result, I've tried as much as possible to make health a priority -- cooking healthy meals at home, only eating out occasionally, and making exercise a non-negotiable habit.
Like any normal person, there are times when I fall off the wagon. But Dad's words remind me to get back on!
5. Read, read, read
My dad is a voracious reader. He bought a Kindle for every single member of our family so we could all have access to each other's collections.
Whenever my dad read a book or article that resonated with him, he sent the link to the whole family, then eagerly waited until someone had read enough to have a discussion. He continues to do to this today, despite the fact that I live about 8,800 miles away!
Because of his love of reading, he considers magazine and newspaper subscriptions money well spent. As a journalist, I can't stress enough how valuable this advice and mindset has been.
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