Most of you that have followed me for awhile know that my dad started teaching me about numbers and money very early. It was truly a blessing because I’ve always been good with both of those, and it’s no doubt the reason why I was so successful in my accounting career.
Today, as Father’s Day approaches, I’d like to talk about some of the other important things my dad taught me that served me well in business and life. I learned about business from him more by watching him than be being specifically taught. He modeled some very effective life skills.
Here he is, A.C. Royden “Stoney” Stone. This is him about the time my parents met – the late 1940’s after WW2. Dad was riding the rodeo circuit and dealing poker to make a living. His parents ran a Cafe in Buffalo, Wyoming and he was striking out on his own.
Once my parents got married he sold insurance for awhile, but that didn’t pan out. Shortly after I was born he worked for Irving P. Krick in eastern Washington state selling farmers on cloud seeding, which meant my daddy made it rain!
I was also impressed with his next job – what little kid in the ’50’s wouldn’t have been impressed with a dad that managed a Pepsi Cola plant? The next adventure brought him to Hollywood to be the producer for “Beany and Cecil” the cartoon show by my uncle, Bob Clampett—a family business venture, for sure. He probably worked the longest for Storer Broadcasting, managing Cable TV Systems throughout California, and later producing several TV shows for them including “The Littlest Hobo” starring London, a very well trained German Shepard. Later he did more Cable TV work in Texas, and ended his career managing motels. All that for a guy from a small town in Wyoming, who only had a high school education.
Living with him through most of that I learned some really important things:
- Breast your cards. It’s an old poker thing. Don’t let others see your hand until you are ready. Dad kept his cards close to his chest while being open and friendly. The deeper places were not easily reached. The inner circle is small and select. Lots of folks knew and enjoyed him, and at the same time, the deeper spots were available only to a few.
- Act like you know what you are doing. This one serves me very well. I try all sorts of things I don’t really have a clue about, but people don’t need to know that. I’m bright enough to catch on and catch up. Part of this one is also something about confidence. While “acting like you know” you have to really “act like you know”. You have to be assured. Not snotty, not superior, just assured—and willing to try.
- Try new things. I give things a try, and if they don’t work, I try something else. But I know by looking at others how rare that ability is. Many people are scared to death to move across town, let alone across the country.
- Integrity is crucial. He showed me how to honor and uphold mine. If people ask me what I think, I’ll tell them. If I give my word I keep it, or I re-negotiate if circumstances change. I’m loyal. Come to think of it, I not only “breast my cards”—I keep everyone else’s secret too!
There are many other things I learned from my dad. He’s very much a part of me, from how much I look like him, to how his quirky sayings keep coming out of my mouth, to the way I operate in the world.
Although he is in my heart everyday, I wanted to share some of him in honor of Father’s Day. As you can no doubt tell, I miss him!
Shell Tain, The Untangler