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Six business and life lessons my dad left behind

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In March of 2018, after an 18-month battle
with pancreatic cancer, my dad passed away
peacefully in his sleep. I will eternally be
grateful for the impact he’s had on my life,
the legacy he’s left behind with family and
friends, and the extra time we had with him
over the past year and a half.
I’m thankful that I had a chance to tell him
specifically the impact he’s had on my life,
values and career. Over the past week I’ve
written about six of those specific lessons
on LinkedIn. I wrote about six of those
specific lessons on LinkedIn in the days after
his passing. Here are those write-ups with a
few pictures of dad.

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Six business and life lessons my dad left behind

  1. 1. my dad left behind Six Business and Life Lessons By Matt Heinz, founder/president, Heinz Marketing
  2. 2. © Heinz Marketing 2018 Six Business and Life Lessons My Dad Left Behind In March of 2018, after an 18-month battle with pancreatic cancer, my dad passed away peacefully in his sleep. I will eternally be grateful for the impact he’s had on my life, the legacy he’s left behind with family and friends, and the extra time we had with him over the past year and a half. I’m thankful that I had a chance to tell him specifically the impact he’s had on my life, values and career. Over the past week I’ve written about six of those specific lessons on LinkedIn. I wrote about six of those specific lessons on LinkedIn in the days after his passing. Here are those write-ups with a few pictures of dad.
  3. 3. © Heinz Marketing 2018 The importance of integrity Lesson 1 My dad wasn’t the “sit down and let’s talk about life lessons” type, but his actions and impact have had a profound impact on who I am, how I work and what I’m teaching my kids to value, prioritize and embrace in their own lives. For example, dad taught me the importance of integrity. Do what you say you’ll do, tell the truth always, build a reputation as someone others can trust. He talked about integrity but more often simply lived it. And even more important, his friends, colleagues and customers talked about it for him. Words like trust, honesty, respect, prom- ises kept, honor, sincerity – that’s how people describe my dad. Integrity doesn’t mean we’re always right. It doesn’t mean we don’t sometimes change our mind. But it does reflect a depth of values and respect for others. My dad taught me that integrity is a process, a system of values unto itself, a roadmap for making daily as well as long-term decisions and priorities.
  4. 4. © Heinz Marketing 2018 Invest in relationships Lesson 2 Dad taught me early on to invest in relationships. He was the first to demonstrate to me the value of building relationships well before you need them, and even when you really have no idea how you might benefit from them in the future or at all. My dad understood the concept of an internal buying committee well before CEB and The Challenger Customer made that a more understood ‘thing”. With his customers and prospects, he built relationships equally with the owner as well as the receptionist. He got to know who they were, what they cared about, and used those insights to foster and augment not just business opportunities but a greater enjoyment of life on both sides. At church growing up, he would find attendees attending regularly alone and make a new friend. As my dad fought cancer these past several months, some of those who kept in touch with him and visited most often were past customers. The impact of his relationship-building was clearly both broad and deep. My dad’s relationship-building was authentic. He wasn’t just building his “first connections” or Friend Requests or ego. He genuinely cared about people but also realized this effort was key to success in business as well as enjoyment of life.
  5. 5. © Heinz Marketing 2018 Value, pay attention to and prioritize the little things Lesson 3 My dad taught me to value, pay attention to and prioritize the little things. Some people tell us to not sweat the small stuff, and he didn’t really do that either. He cared very much about getting details right but kept the big picture in mind. But he also knew that little things make a big impact, get remembered, and often could brighten someone’s day in a way that lasted a very long time. Twenty-plus years ago when he first met my then-girlfriend, now-wife Beth she mentioned casually that she really liked Sugar Babies candy. For years afterward when he came by the house he’d bring some for her. He’d remember details about his customers and send them news clippings about their favorite sports teams. One of this customer’s receptionists really liked M&M’s, and he would bring her a bag every time he called on that customer. For all I know she had a drawer full of unopened M&M’s (just like my wife had a decade’s supply of Sugar Babies after awhile). Those “little things” get talked about for a very long time. Low cost, residual impact.
  6. 6. © Heinz Marketing 2018 The importance of hard work Lesson 4 Both my father and his father taught me the importance of hard work. To my dad and grandpa, hard work meant putting your hard hat on every day, getting into the weeds whenever necessary and creating value for those around you – your customers, your company, your peers, your family. My dad often was headed to work before I was up in the mornings growing up, but he was always home for dinner. He may have had a stack of paperwork under his arm for later that night, but he prioritized our family. And when he coached my Little League teams all those years, he worked hard at that too - organizing practices, setting up drills, making sure we were ready to play but also have fun. Dad worked hard at his job but also worked hard at life. He enjoyed his work, but put just as much effort into the house, the yard, raising good kids and so on. And when my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer 18 months ago, he worked hard to fight it right up until the end. I’m incredibly proud of the work ethic I’ve gleaned from my dad as well as others in my family (grandpa, grandma and mom too). But the biggest lesson of hard work may be that it can equally be applied to my job as much as my family and non-work life.
  7. 7. © Heinz Marketing 2018 The importance of integrity Lesson 5 My dad taught me to be humble, to not take myself too seriously, to give credit freely to others. I noticed over the years that people who worked for my dad were fiercely loyal. There were many reasons for that, but I think a big part of it was how openly and generously he gave credit for success to those around him. He knew that their success was his success, that his managers were going to give him credit for leading to success regardless, and that passing along credit made everybody happy, motivated and ready to go at it again. Dad was often among the top sales performers at his company but never talked about that. He was quick to change the subject when someone gave him a compliment, mostly because he wanted the attention spotlighted on others. He was serious about hard work, serious about his customers, but his overall approach kept others around him at ease, focused, motivated and successful. Dad taught me how to be successful and humble, focused but free.
  8. 8. © Heinz Marketing 2018 The importance and power of laughter Lesson 6 This is the sixth & final post in a six-part mini-series of business & life lessons from my dad. Dad taught me and everyone around him the importance and power of laughter. By far, the single most common enduring memory people have of my dad is his laugh. I remember when I was a kid, when my dad saw people he knew well for the first time in awhile, he’d hug them and laugh. I asked him why he laughed in that moment. I’ll never forget his answer: “You remember all the good times you’ve had together with them, all the stories and jokes and experiences. That always makes me happy, and makes me laugh.” I miss my dad greatly, and there have been tears over the past week for sure. But just as often, there has been laughter. Telling stories about him, remembering, hearing the stories and jokes and experiences that make others laugh when they think about my dad. That’s what he would have wanted.

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