Inspiration always has a source. For these entrepreneurs, the No. 1 source is their father-the guy who taught them the basics of business. For each one, think about how your own father provided similar guidance.

1. "One of the many valuable lessons I learned from my father was the simple, yet powerful message to 'never ever give up.' After my mother passed away, my father, who was a practicing lawyer in India, moved my family to Canada. They didn't accept his credentials, so he worked as a law clerk for 20 years to support our family. Once we were grown, he went back to law school and became a practicing lawyer at the age of 60. His tenacity to stick with it when the going gets tough and to always go after your dreams guides me in both personal and professional ways, and I attribute a large part of Actiance's success to that principle." -Kailash Ambwani, CEO of Actiance

2. "My Dad had a condo that he wanted to sell in the early 90s, and he brought me along to help pitch it. I was in 7th grade, but I ended up doing most of the talking and helped to sell it at a very good price. My Dad taught me how to read people and find middle ground with people when selling. I still use those lessons today. He always said when selling that 'no' just means 'no not right now'. You have to figure out how to read people to get to yes right now." -Mona Bijoor, founder and CEO of JOOR

3. "Every night when I sat down to dinner, my dad asked the same question: 'What did you achieve today?' It's a simple question that I always answered and never thought much about. But looking back, it was that question that most shaped the professional I am today. The question made me paranoid, but in a good way. I never settled for a good try, or my best shot, or anyone else's for that matter. As a result, I have and will always continue to focus on the achievement of a specific goal, rather than the journey of how I got there." -Nick Hedges, CEO of Velocify

4. "My father inspired me by taking a page out of Vince Lombardi's playbook and always provided me with the advice: 'Plan your work and work your plan.' The key to achieving success is to organize, focus and execute the plan and I still lean on this advice on a daily basis to this day." -Joan Day, President of Promedica

5. "My father was a forest officer during my childhood in India. A key life-lesson I learned from him is to always persist even in the face of tough odds-never give up. This has inspired me to set ambitious goals and not back down from setbacks in business, but could also pertain to one's personal life." -Mohit Aron, CEO and Founder at Cohesity

6. "Early in my father's career, he was the Food Service Director at the University of Pittsburgh. When I was growing up, he told me the story of how one day the President of the University office called for a sandwich, and was told, 'No, we only serve trays of sandwiches not individual sandwiches.' My father later received an agitated phone call from the President, during which the President explained, 'I didn't ask what it cost, I told your guys what I want. You are in the service business, find a way to do it, tell me what it cost, and let me make the decision.' The lesson my father learned and passed on to me that I use to this day is - always start with yes and then discuss what it will take to make happen." -Mike Maciag, COO at Altiscale

7. "As a little girl, my father insisted that only the ignorant swore, because it was for a lack of a more comprehensive vocabulary that they resorted to a simple, four letter option. I grew up and became a communications professional and realized my dad was wrong- sometimes there was no better word. I launched Girls Who Swear to give people some options when it comes to expressing yourself in a note. It's just cards now, but I am excited to build the brand and develop more products that allow people to say just what they are thinking." -Andi Curry, founder of Girls Who Swear

8. "One of the most valuable lessons my father taught me was that if you really want something and are prepared to work for it, nine times out of ten you'll reach your goal. That message never really resonated with me as a child, but as an adult I understand exactly what he meant. As the CEO of a high-growth technology company, I need both vision for my business and the relentless desire to pursue it as vigorously as I can. I attribute a large part of NewVoiceMedia's success to the 'never give up' principle I learned from my father." -Jonathan Gale, CEO at NewVoiceMedia

9. "My father dedicated his career as a surgeon to helping the poor in rural and under-served areas in India. One of the greatest lessons he imparted to me was the value of leading a mission-driven life. Our mission at Glint is to help organizations thrive by enabling their people to be happier and more effective at work. Keeping this top of mind brings a certain immediate clarity to decisions, both tactical and strategic, that cuts through uncertainty and reframes the world in terms of opportunities to do good." -Goutham Kurra, Co-founder and VP of Product at Glint

10. "My dad always said that a long journey always starts with the first step. Don't get intimidated by the length of the journey. Just get started and keep moving. That has led me to adopt a crawl, walk, run strategy in how I attack problems." -Charlie Good, CTO and co-founder of Wowza Media Systems

11. "Seeing my father deliver his sermon every Sunday with compassion and understanding for people in their time of need instilled a fearless presentation style in my own work. My father was also an avid marathon runner and he passed along a competitive edge that gave me the balance to be the family man and leader I am today." -Jason Rose, SVP of Marketing, DataSift

12. "When I was leaving for college, I asked my father for a new bike. He said that he would either buy me a new bike or instead, buy me my first computer. He noted that the bike, would be great for transportation as well as to save time on my commute to classes and to meet up with friends. But with a computer, I might learn skills that could lead me to new interests and perhaps new opportunities. I took my father's advice, and got the computer. He was right, computers and programming quickly became my passion and sent me down a new path. Today I continue to push myself, and now my daughter, to try new things. I am still an avid cyclist, but as I reflect on my life today, the success I've had in the computer industry, the courage to leave a comfortable role to found a start-up in networking, can all be traced to that moment when my dad gave me a choice that was much bigger than a bike or a computer." -Kumar Ramachandran, CEO and Founder at CloudGenix

Published on: Jun 17, 2015
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