The statistics pertaining to what kind of upbringing is most likely to result in the creation of a successful entrepreneur have a wide dispersion, are completely contradictory, and totally inconclusive. That's even before you consider the fact that the vast majority of the collected data deals almost exclusively with White males and a smattering of male immigrants, typically Asian or Indian. Needless to say, this accumulated data doesn't have a whole lot to say about today's multicultural and multigender entrepreneurial world. And don't even get me started on the famous nature versus nurture debate.

Predictive factoids, formulations, and fantasies were and continue to be prevalent across media and literature. There are conclusions about birth order, divorced parents, single parent (always a mother), unemployed or fired parents, rich or poor -- and none of them have ever made a material or meaningful contribution to the world's understanding. Frankly, it's unlikely that these conclusions will improve in the future, but the search for certainty continues.

None of this matters: Whatever family situation gets you started on the startup journey is only a small part of the path to ultimate success. Passion, preparation, perseverance, and perspiration -- basic hard work -- play just as big a part in anyone getting to the goal line as family lineage.

At the same time, in my own hundreds of conversations over the past 50 years with successful entrepreneurs, I have found a single correlative consideration to be present in an astounding number of cases. Starting from amazingly young ages and spanning decades of interactions and life changes, how you feel about your father and the changes over time in your relationship with him have a dramatic and lifelong impact on you as an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs are always builders, and even they don't always realize that what they're forever trying to build is a bridge back to their fathers. This is also why so many of them confuse and can't effectively separate their work from their self-worth.

Let me state my own caveat at the start -- my comments, conversations and conclusions have to do exclusively with my own interactions, discussions, and observations of the male entrepreneurs I've dealt with over the decades. So, my perspective and impressions are limited in that regard even though it's obvious that successful female entrepreneurs may share many of the same feelings and experiences. Experience and anecdotal information is certainly not evidence. But, make no mistake, these feelings are at the very heart of the drive, desire, and success of millions of individuals building businesses throughout the world.

In a few words, the American poet Robert Frost probably expressed it best: "You don't have to deserve your mother's love. You have to deserve your father's." Most entrepreneurs I know spend a lifetime trying to earn that love and respect. It's never an easy task, but it's an inevitable and unavoidable one. And it starts early on -- sometimes couched in ironic references, but almost always pretty close to the surface and easily combined with a touch of anger and a big chip on the shoulder. Armed with a grin and hiding behind painful humor.

One CEO said his father stole most of his childhood. Another joked that one day his father took him aside and left him there. Fatherless children -- whether through disappearance, death, or divorce -- feel abandoned, cheated, and forever angry deep down inside.  As Sam Fender sings in "Seventeen Going Under": "That's the thing with anger, it begs to stick around. So it can fleece you of your beauty."

I believe that, if you haven't had a good father or lost one abruptly, you have to create your own. Many entrepreneurs feel that their businesses are surrogate families and literal extensions of their own lives, which they can better craft and control than their own upbringings. They think they can make things right this time around. Everything becomes far more personal and emotional -- commitments and loyalty, among other things, are regularly tested -- because the business's success is so psychologically important to the entrepreneur's mental health as well as to his or her financial well-being.

This is also the reason that so many fathers (much to their late-in-life dismay) get so wrapped up in making a living that they lose sight of the need to make a life for themselves and their families as well. If they're not careful, the cycle repeats itself and, as Harry Chapin sang long ago in "Cat's in the Cradle": "And as I hung up the phone, it occurred to me. He'd grown up just like me. My boy was just like me." Sam Fender calls it "a mirrored picture of my old man."

Writers and especially academics spend a great deal of time stressing the importance of finding mentors at critical junctures throughout your career without really appreciating that the path, the boundaries, the tenor, and the final destination for so many entrepreneurs are set and defined early on by our parents, and especially our fathers.

Our mothers may be our first coaches, but our fathers are our earliest and most essential mentors. The most pivotal person in a young man's life isn't a lecturer or teacher, it's someone who offers and demonstrates that they care unreservedly about that kid as an individual and have his back. The best fathers try to set the goals, dreams, and aspirations not only for themselves, but for their sons and daughters as well, but they do it from an emotional rather than a purely rational perspective. Young people need models, not critics.

Our mothers seek to protect us from the world while our fathers too often threaten us with its woes and worries. They think of this as preparation and protection for the often brutal and bitter road ahead, but it's a delicate and complex task and one that's easy to overdue. Fathers often use too much force.

Done well, the manifest grit, guidance, and encouragement create an unquenchable fire. Children with strong fathers learn to trust early, to believe that their needs will be met, that their fears will be addressed, and that they are wanted and loved. Overdone or done too pedantically and aggressively, and the process can create a destructive and debilitating albatross. Absent entirely, it's likely to lead to an even worse result.

The most important lesson for entrepreneurs as they mature and start families -- whether their childhood was a supportive bed of roses or a thorny and painful garden of grief -- is that you have two critical jobs to do at the same time. You have to build a business and, if you have them, raise strong, secure and resilient kids if you ever want to call yourself a true success. But, unlike startups, which provide regular opportunities for course corrections, new starts, and even do-overs, you get only one chance and one lifetime to make the best life for your family while you're trying to make a living as well.

What we know for sure is this: Your family is a much more important extension of yourself than any work you will ever do. Don't sell them short.