As a writer, sometimes I just write to put my feelings into words, this one of those times.
I try to inspire people with my writing. I enjoy writing about my personal experiences and failures so that others can learn from them. Receiving inspiration from others is what helps keep me going as an entrepreneur & writer. One person I can always count on for inspiration is my father Sal.
Recent events have made me realized that I honestly haven't been appreciative enough for everything he's done for me. Honestly I probably haven't been the best son I could be but I want to change that.
When we we’re children, our parents are usually are number one heroes. Sometimes growing up fogs up our perception of who heroes really are. We idolize people that we want to be like and take the mountains our parents moved to make us happy for granted.
I was my mother’s and father’s first born. I am the oldest of three children. As a child, we grew up on not the best side of town. My father wasn’t formally college educated but he was then and still is the smartest man I know.
My father taught himself how to work on computers when I was a young child. I remember watching him constantly read War and Peace length Microsoft Certification Textbooks for hours on end. I didn’t understand and appreciate why he spent 8 hour stretches in his room reading those books all night after work but I definitely do appreciate why he did it now. He was able to change his career as well where we lived.
My dad distilled the entrepreneurial spirit I have today by the time I was in elementary school. He used to always tell me I can do whatever he want. It seemed a little silly back then but he used to have my stand in front of the mirror and tell myself I can accomplish anything I put my mind too or something along those lines.
Because of this, by the time I was 12 I made up my mind I wanted to become a millionaire. He did such a good job at this I began believing it. Actually, I never stopped believing it. However I now know it’s not about the money but more importantly what value I create for others through my entrepreneurial endeavors.
When I became a teenager I started feeling this strange guilt and entitlement for having a father who loved me and did everything for me. My father lost his father at a very young age, well before he became a teenager. My dad had to learn how to be a man on his own, he became a very damn good one at that. It was this in combination with knowing quite a few people that grew up without dad that made me feel some sort of guilt for having a father.
Being young, immature and having had a chip on my shoulder, I resented the fact that having a loving dad made my life easier than anybody else's. Truth be told, it did make my life much easier. I wouldn’t have had the opportunities I had without my dad.
Even though my father didn't go to a university, he’d always stress to me the importance of going to college. As a teenager I always thought college was a pipe dream. I didn’t know anybody personally who graduated from college. I eventually became the first in my family to graduate college, my younger brother Justin followed suit and my baby brother Vincent is up next.
I remember in high-school my dad would pressure me to choose engineering as my major for college. However I found math and science extremely boring and to be completely honest, I was going through a phase where I didn’t want to end up like my father. I think most teenagers experience this in some sort of shape or manner. I didn’t want to grow up to be a “nerd”.
When I attended the junior college COS, I choose business as my major as a way to rebel against my dad and his nerdy ways. To me business was the opposite of engineering. It’s funny things eventually became full circle and I am now a tech startup CEO and my dad is the biggest fan of the technologies we build at Benchmark Intelligence.
Eventually graduating from COS and attending Fresno State changed my life. It was the first time I was around a large group of like minded people my age chasing their dreams.
I choose entrepreneurship as my business concentration while at Fresno State. This was largely influenced by my dad. By this time he knew I’d be be a pretty bad engineer and he was very passionate about entrepreneurship himself. My dad who is employed at the moment, was entrepreneur back then in his own right. He ran a small IT consulting company and dabbled into real estate.
By my senior year, when I started my first company Soshowise, my dad was a principal in the company. He was my biggest supporter back then and about 5 years and 4 ventures later, he’s still my biggest supporter.
This past year has been the best year of my life and my dad has been there for my biggest moments. In May my dad flew to Boulder, CO, pretended to be an accredited investor and snuck into my Boomtown Demo Day presentation. Less than 5 months later he flew to Cincinnati to see my Brandery Demo Day Presentation. Luckily that time he didn’t have to sneak in. My dad flew across the country to watch me talk for 5 minutes twice. Those were the two best days of my life and I’m forever thankful he was present.
When it comes to business, my dad is one my best sounding boards. Benchmark went through some hard times this summer and I was faced with an equally difficult decision, my dad had my back the whole time. He may not always have the relevant experience to help me but he understands how I think and feel better than anybody else.
My dad is always checking in on how business is going and keeping me accountable. He doesn’t sugar coat things and pushes me to be a better entrepreneur. Funny thing is he ask for updates on our metrics more than our advisers or investors do. He’s the hardest critic I know but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
For me the idea of fathership is a scary proposition. Being 26 years old, it’s completely reasonable that I will become a father in the next 5 years. I think about this from time to time. I’d like to believe I’d be a great father but I have doubts like anybody else. However I know I will probably do fine because I have the best teacher ever. My dad is the best dad anyone can ask for and the reason I am the man I am today.
I am by no means an amazing person. I am a normal person who came from humble beginnings who’s on the path to do amazing things. This was a path my father put me on and every lesson and value he’s taught has pushed me further along this path.
If I end up growing up to be half the man my father is, I’d be more than happy. My father is and always will be my hero.
I love you dad.