Lessons From My Father

My father recently spoke to students at his alma mater, McPherson College. After 40 years and several steps up the corporate ladder, my father will retire as plant manager of Johns Manville in McPherson.
My father recently spoke to students at his alma mater, McPherson College. After 40 years and several steps up the corporate ladder, my father will retire as plant manager of Johns Manville in McPherson.

People always comment that I look like my mother. Yes, on first glance we share the same hair and eye color but take a second look and you will notice that I am my father’s daughter. Same smile, long face and same extreme shortage of patience.

I am the first born and inherited many of my father’s personality traits. Some good – the desire to provide for others – and others not great – lack of understanding and patience. My father is in many ways my role model and mentor. We can talk business, politics and about anything else. We may not see eye-to-eye on all things but we are more alike than each cares to admit and for that, I am thankful.

While I have inhabited several offices during my eight years in the “real world” my father has spent his 40-year career with the same company, at the same location. He’s lived the American dream, moving from college to a career, he has climbed the corporate ladder and will finish his time in the workforce this December as plant manager of Johns Manville in McPherson. He’s navigated his 200-some employees through recessions, wars, company acquisitions and technology changes.

He’ll be the first to tell you the route to the top is long and winding with pot holes, abrupt stops and unforeseen dangers. But hard work, perseverance and an ability to adapt to change, will get you far in the workplace. And for him, decades of hard work have paid off. He will retire just after his 62 birthday, trading sport coats for slippers and a laptop for a work bench. My father will tell you his biggest success has been his ability to provide for his family and create a comfortable life for my mother, my sister and I.

Recently my father took time out of his schedule to speak to a class of sophomores at his alma mater, McPherson College. He’s not a fan of public speaking but knows how ruthless the workplace can be and how important a well-rounded education and ability to stand out from the crowd can be. I by no means have taken the same career path as my father but I have picked up several pointers from him along the way and consistently pass along nuggets of advice he gave to me. These are words I live by and use to guide my actions and decision. So you to, I give my favorites:

“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

“You have to be willing to adapt to any situation or change.”

“You are known by the company you keep.”

“Always be on our best behavior, you never know who maybe watching.”

My father will soon retire from his corporate job and leave the corporate world behind. He doesn’t yet know what he’ll do in retirement but I know he will continue to succeed and conquer, that’s the only way he knows how to work. And thankfully, he’s be right down the road to debate the newest political headlines and impart advice whenever I need it.

Love you dad!


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