Experience Really Is the Father of Wisdom


Experience Really Is the Father of Wisdom

Giving sound advice and encouragement are a big part of the dad code. For the more talkative fathers and father figures among us, it just comes naturally. Others find it harder to share their experiences, have heart-to-heart conversations, or talk much at all. But whether clearly articulated or merely demonstrated through actions, the lessons we learn from these men can influence everything from our character and career choice to our skill set and sense of humor. In honor of Father’s Day, we asked the Street Level Studio team to share some memorable “dadvice” they got growing up.

Their responses reflect the profound role fathers—whether biological, foster, adoptive, or by choice—play in our lives.

Brian, Digital Creative Director
Right now is the right time to recognize the power of my father’s words, because I realize the wisdom he offered so many years ago is what affords me the opportunity to share it today. If I had not listened, who knows where I might be now. He said, “The world is a big place and not always kind. I have done my best so that you can grow up in a safe and good environment. As you get older, people will say and do things to you that have nothing to do with the person you are. They will say and do things based on the color of your skin. No matter what they say, I need you to know it’s meaningless. It won’t be easy, but you need to walk away and not react. The world is not kind when we stand up for ourselves. I have experienced and seen too much. If there is one thing that I can protect you from, no matter how old you get, this is it.”

Brian hits the green with his dad, Woodrow Fuller. Woodrow’s powerful words, Brian says, have stayed with him for years.

Diane, Content Strategist
The phrase “salt of the earth” could have been coined to describe my dad. A carpenter by trade, he fixed things, financially supported his family, believed in the virtue of hard work, and never said a lot when just a few words would do. He also was one of the most organically creative people I’ve ever known. He could MacGyver a solution to just about any problem and had an uncanny instinct for growing things in his garden—including the most amazing strawberries and sweet corn. Dad’s creative streak was abundantly clear in the clever “hacks” (before that word was a thing) he taught me—everything from an easy-release method for double tying my shoes to a subversive way to do subtraction in my head that was definitely not sanctioned by my grade-school teacher! Mostly, however, he taught me by example the value of living a life of compassion, empathy, and integrity. He summed up his philosophy in a simple phrase that I hear in my head nearly every day: “It never helps to hurt, and it never hurts to help.”

Melissa, Graphic Designer
My dad is a man of few words—specifically when it comes to inspiration and heart-felt philosophical lessons. What he lacks in verbal eloquence, he certainly makes up for with nonsensical sayings. “Pin a nose on your rose” (a swap of “pin a rose on your nose” just meaning, “well aren’t you fancy”) or “Oh, that’s just gigaweeds” (mostly just meaning nonsense but originally referring to an actual ditch full of weeds). With all that said, I would be remiss to skip out on his absolute best piece of advice: “Ice cream just fills in the cracks.” While its origins are literal—when he says it, he means there’s always room for ice cream—I could probably take it a step further and say it’s a great metaphor for life. There is always room for the good stuff. No matter how full of other things your day, week, or year is, make time for the celebrations and sweet memories. That’s far too mushy for him, but the sentiment is absolutely in line with everything my dad has taught me.

Melissa says her dad’s quips come in handy on a daily basis. She can often be heard saying “pin a nose on your rose” around the office.

Jennie, Senior Graphic and Visual Designer
In trying to draw on the special memories I had with my father growing up, I was struck with the many ways he inspired me—to be curious, be fearless, speak the truth, trust in myself, and that there is power in perseverance. I believe his optimism and solution-oriented mindset helped him get through whatever struggles life threw at him. And the hard work and determination he put into everything he did, whether or not it was successful, instilled a “never give up” type of attitude in me.

Chris, Senior Graphic and Visual Designer
When I was younger, I always helped my dad with projects around the house. I helped him build a wooden shed in the yard (which is still in use today), and I also helped him rebuild the basement (hanging drywall, painting, etc.). My dad always welcomed my help, leading to some of my happiest memories as well as great lessons on how to use tools and be handy. Now, as a father with two little kids of my own, I always welcome my kids’ help and never turn them away, because I know these are some of the happiest memories to make for both a parent and a child.

Kelsey, Copywriter and Proofreader
I know my dad has given me tons of sage advice, but much of it I cannot remember for the life of me! However, there are some things that stand out. Based on both his insights and how he lives his life, I’ve learned how to conduct myself with dignity and integrity and how to be honest with tact. (Whether or not I follow that advice is something entirely different!) When I was choosing a college, my dad told me to consider more than academics, reputation, or social life (though these were important). He stressed choosing a school where you can get the most experience and the best opportunities to give back—with your money, your time, or both—to an institution that gives something to you. Finally, some basketball court advice: “Always, always follow your shot!” His meaning was clear. Be confident, but prepared. You’ll score more points if you’re ready for the rebound!

Kelsey’s dad, Charlie Ingram, has advice (and a story) for every occasion. His impeccable public speaking and writing skills have helped her many times—including her job at SLS!

Christine, Account Manager
Growing up, my father really set a great example for me and my brother. As an engineer and marketing professional, he traveled quite a bit for work. But when he was at home, he was always working on projects around the house and crossing things off that steady to-do list. Over the years, he taught me so many important lessons. One in particular has proven to be particularly useful—adaptability. Change is a constant in business and in life. Learning how to keep focused-forward and navigate change in the workplace has helped me lead others to adapt, when necessary. It also has helped me to better overcome personal challenges that have come my way, to improvise, and keep moving forward with a positive attitude.

Christine and her dad, John Hahn. She says his tips about adaptability have helped in both her personal and professional life.

Grogg, Creative Director
When I was in high school and not really knowing what I wanted to do with my life, I thought I would be a geologist. However, I was the kid who sat in the back of the class doodling in my notebooks and drawing cartoons. My dad sat me down for a talk and said, “Have you looked at your math and science grades? You’d be better off to do something in the arts.” I was shocked. My dad, a WWII veteran, went to Purdue University to study aeronautical engineering, was a math whiz, and ended up having a career as a mechanical engineer. Here he was—a man with no interest in the arts except for classical music—telling me to go into the arts! He understood making a living is better when you do something you love. “Do what you love to do. You’re going to be doing it a long time.” That’s a quote from my dad I will always remember and will pass on to my son. I’ve been in advertising for more than 30 years. Dad was right.

Tanya, President and Owner
One of the things my dad instilled in me was a great sense of direction. When we traveled together as a family, I remember watching him reviewing maps for the next day’s travel long after my sister and I were supposed to be sleeping. The next day I would rarely see him consulting the map again as he’d already committed it to memory. Later he would teach me to read maps, figure out the miles between locations, and determine alternate routes as back up. Somehow that translated into always having an acute awareness of where I am and the path to take where I’m going next—which by the way, isn’t always the shortest distance between two points. It frequently includes the scenic route and the road less traveled. To quote Robert Frost, “And that has made all the difference.”

Tanya, her sister, and her dad “back in the day” confidently navigating the road less traveled.

Amy, Reporting Analyst
Now happily retired, my dad had a long and productive career as a financial advisor (aka “stockbroker” in the ’80s!). He was and is very passionate about financial conservativism, saving, and making smart financial choices. From a young age, whether making money doing household chores or babysitting, he required us to deposit at least half of whatever we made into a savings account. To encourage us to go above and beyond that, he would match dollar for dollar whatever we put in above 50 percent. By the time I left for college, I was amazed and grateful for all that I had saved and the interest I had earned. Though usually a man of few words, I do recall some memorable quotes from growing up, all with this similar theme. “Do you girls see a money tree growing in the backyard?” Or “always, always, every month, pay off a credit card in full!” Or “never spend more than you have in your pocket.” Definitely words from which I’ve literally profited.

As a tribute this Father’s Day, we hope you’ll share the life lessons and words of wisdom that helped shape you into the person you are today. Thanks, Dads!

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