My father taught me the importance of making my bed every morning. When I was six years old, he showed me how to complete the task Marine Corps–style and would inspect my work on a daily basis. Today my bed is one of the only things in my life that is consistently neat and orderly. (Sigh.)
Buffalo, New York
How important it is to have fun. My dad was never boring: He often stood on his head to impress his three kids. And he made even mundane errands exciting. For example, he once coaxed us to imagine a trip to the fishmonger’s (with its live octopus on display) as a Jules Verne adventure. My dad taught me that life is better when you have a good time—and bring others along for the ride.
Monique Citron Stampleman
Larchmont, New York
Many mornings when my dad dropped me off at school, he would repeat the adage “Don’t take any wooden nickels.” He meant it to mean: Don’t settle for less than you’re worth. I’ve relied on this advice countless times over the years. It has motivated me to end harmful relationships and has kept me from underestimating my abilities at work. Thanks to my father, I don’t let self-doubt keep me from achieving my goals.
While I was growing up in the late 1950s and early 60s, my dad made sure I knew that I could do anything a man could do. He showed me how to use power tools, climb on the roof to install a radio antenna, and lift a trailer onto a hitch. He also loved to see me dressed up for dances and even bought me my first lipstick. He wanted me to recognize that I could be feminine and self-sufficient.
When I first entered the working world, my dad told me that it’s as important to remember the assistant’s name as the boss’s. It’s good manners, but it’s also smart business: After all, if you ever need something, you won’t get to the boss unless you’re on good terms with the person who handles her schedule. Having worked as an assistant myself, I know firsthand that he was right. I would make a point to go out of my way to help people who treated me kindly.
Astoria, New York