Thanks Dad

In 2012, I was invited to give a TEDx Talk at Wake Forest University’s Wait Chapel.  With over 1000 people expected for their inaugural TEDxWakeForestU event, the idea of speaking in front of that many people was something I didn’t take lightly.

This talk was a defining moment for my life as a public speaker and for my craft of coaching innovation and design.  With the market research and prep put into the talk, I ended up coining the process “Ideation through Enlightened Empathy” to describe the journey I was taking NC State Biomedical Engineering seniors through.

More importantly, it was recorded, watched, shared, and watched again.  Some of the people that watched it would reach out to me and provide feedback, constructive criticism, counterpoints, just plain criticism, and/or ask for clarification.

I’ve changed so much since this talk, both mentally and physically, that I often wish to have the stage back to do it again.  Bottom line, I learned more from giving this talk than any other … and thirst for that kind of learning.

I’ve always been a free thinking, open minded, criticism seeking person.  But, I didn’t actively enter into a blog or a lecture thinking that those opportunities to share were my biggest ROI for learning.  Thus the “Your Feedback Matters” on the right bar of this blog page.  Today, I take every opportunity to share with others as an opportunity to learn from the resulting discussion.

So, what’s this got to do with Dad?  It’s Father’s Day Morning right now, and I’m thinking about my Dad.  He turned 80 this year and he’s still sharp as a tack, especially when telling “Uncle Noon” jokes.

Well, during this talk, I make a note that my first motorcycle was a 1968 BMW R60/5 and compared that to Steve Jobs’ 1966 R60/2.

“If this is all I have, a motorcycle similar to Steve Jobs, then I’ve done something right. Right?”

What I failed to mention was that my first motorcycle, that I started riding in 1990, was originally bought, brand new, by my dad.  So, really, what I should have said was:

“If this is all I have, a motorcycle similar to Steve Jobs, then my dad did something right.”

Maybe that’s why I end my phrase in 2012 with a, “Right?” – a hint that something was missing.

My Dad was a pioneer in the computer industry.  After graduating with a Mechanical Engineering degree in 1959, we went on to work for the US Government to help develop the computer systems behind our national security system.

As a kid, I remember dad working as a computer center director for City College of New York and bringing home punched cards that I’d fashion into roadways for matchbox cards.

I can also remember with amazing clarity the day Dad brought home the Apple IIe from work, which I subsequently spent endless hours playing on.  I became an original leetspeaker where I gained elite status on the pre-internet bulletin board systems of the 80’s, allowing access to remotely located games and chat rooms. (Remind me sometime to tell you the story about my phone number up on the white board as a college professor.)

By the time I was turning 16, I grew bored with computers and was more interested in getting my hands greasy and working on cars, and  learned how to rebuild engines.

At 18, I asked my dad if I could have his motorcycle.  He said, “No.”  At the time, it hadn’t been ridden in yeas, and was collecting cobwebs in the garage, flat tires, dead battery, and in fairly significant disrepair.

Even though he said no, I bought the shop manual for the motorcycle and proceeded to take over the garage by tearing the bike down and rebuilding it over several months.

The day I started it for him, he handed me the title.

So, Dad.  Thank you for teaching me that rejection does not mean failure, and that hard work comes with rewards.

Happy Father’s Day

Health & Happiness for All
Andrew

2 Replies to “Thanks Dad”

  1. Andrew, I love this tribute to your wonderful father. I miss his “Uncle Noon” jokes (and your mom’s cooking!) Thank you for sharing this post.

    Kudos to you on your accomplishments and best wishes for continued success in your career!

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