6 Lessons I Learned From My Father

Robert Linkner was one strange dude.  He forged his own path as he journeyed from hippie to psychologist to retailer to financial planner.  He had a hilarious, dark sense of humor, was an incredible chef and had a series of oddball hobbies.  He took pride that his tastes in music, travel, food, and life were always a bit different that the average Joe. His life ended far too early when we lost him to cancer in 2007.

It’s natural to miss your dad on Father’s Day, but this year I began to reflect on the lessons he taught me.  Sometimes mysterious in his ways, I now realize he was quite deliberate as he instilled his philosophies in my sister, brother, and me.

His wisdom has shaped who I am today, and there’s much to learn from his irreverent, non-traditional approach.  Here are six life lessons from my eccentric and non-conformist father:

1. Why not you?  In any situation in life, he taught me, someone has to be the best.  In the classroom, on the sport field, in the boardroom.  He professed that results are not set by fate, but rather by choice.  He made sure I knew that choice was mine.  “It might as well be you”, he insisted.

2. Traditions exist to be broken.  He proudly served strange Mexican dishes on Thanksgiving, and was famous for doing the opposite of what was expected at every opportunity he had.  While it got him in trouble at times, it paved the way for me to live comfortably outside my comfort zone.

3. Explore the oddities.  He could name every mushroom in the woods, was an expert sailor, and enjoyed watching the bizarre sport of Flugtag.  His quirky habits set the stage for seeing the world from uncommon vantage points.

4. Always feed your mind.  An avid reader, he pushed hard on the value of constant learning and growth.  To out-think, you must out-know.

5. Meet your commitments.  He was a no-excuse guy, and taught me that delivering on commitments – big and small – was non-negotiable.  Think how different the world would be if everyone embraced this approach.

6. Independence is paramount.  He wasn’t the most nurturing guy, but I now see that fostering independence was his highest value.  He taught me self-reliance, grit, and persistence at an early age.  I learned that if I wanted something, I had to work to make it happen.

I share these ideals, both as a tribute to my dad but also as gift from him to you.  Embracing these philosophies can serve as an accelerant in the pursuit of your own goals and dreams.

So here’s to my father, Robert Linkner. I hope his powerful lessons will move you in the same way they shaped me.  Timeliness wisdom from a peculiar, but caring man.

Read More

New Thinking for the New Era of Business

Albert Einstein famously noted, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking that we used when we created them.” In our post-COVID world of ...

When an Astronaut Needs a Pen

Ever get stuck on a problem, only to realize you're solving for the wrong thing? That's exactly what happened when the rocket scientists at NASA ...

How Shake Shack Drives Innovation

Do you prefer the crispy mozzarella, tempura watercress, and black garlic mayonnaise cheeseburger or the pumpkin mustard, bacon, cranberries, and sage hot dog? For something ...

Lady Gaga’s Secret to Creativity

Just before she won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, I watched Lady Gaga dazzle the live audience with a pitch perfect performance of ...

Creativity: Does Size Matter?

For some reason, we’ve been taught that for creativity and innovation to count they need to have a magnitude the size of the 1989 San ...

The Lexicon of Creativity

There’s more confusion around the meaning of the word innovation than the chaos at the airline ticket counter after a cancelled flight. Is there a difference between ...

The Brain Science of Becoming More Creative

When we hear stories about iconic leaders like Salesforce.com’s founder Marc Benioff, or widely celebrated virtuosos like Lin-Manuel Miranda for that matter, we immediately think ...

Correct the Overcorrect

When the misguided leaders at Enron, Tyco and Worldcom committed fraud and marred their shareholders with huge losses, the Securities and Exchange Commission rightfully swooped ...

Learning to Color

Fact: Creativity has become the most needed skill in business. It’s gone from a nice-to-have to becoming mission-critical. Fact: Creativity is a learnable skill. All humans have ...