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Saturday, June 20, 2020

What I Learned from my Dad

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What I Learned from my Dad

I am not sure if there is a stereotypical Dad in real life, but if so, my father is certainly not it. I mean, he loves a good (or bad) fart joke as much as anyone… and he would frequently interrupt our weekend morning cartoons with a random drive-by mooning, but really, who doesn’t?

My dad immigrated to the US from Japan right out of high school because he wanted to become a rock star. So, like any aspiring rock star he hopped on a jet and landed in… you guessed it - Great Falls Montana! I have never gotten the story on what must have been an incredible foreign marketing campaign by the college there.  After 1 year there he and my mother moved to Boston so he could attend Berkley College of Music – an environment a bit better suited to his goals. I eventually came along and made things more complicated for my then unmarried inter-racial parents.  None of this is typical for your average Japanese man.  Despite strong cultural expectations and incentives my dad is and always has been a rebel.  

While he has made great use of his education and passion, he sadly never attained rock star-dom. He did attain father-dom and I have learned a great deal from him and his example.

  1. Fearless Determination


I didn’t realize it growing up, but the things my father did – like leaving the country of his birth (especially without knowing the language); moving a young family across the continent from Boston to Hawaii with no jobs or solid plans lined up; making the leap to entrepreneurship – being betrayed by a partner and then making the leap again – takes a tremendous amount of courage, determination and self-belief (and maybe a little bit of crazy) that is actually very rare. And while the title says “fearless” I know that is a misnomer because he did them with incredible amounts of fear and stress… but he did them! It was only as I became an adult and ventured out on my own in the world did I realize how few people take the leap to pursue ideas, dreams and possibilities the way my father does. Seeing him take the jumps, keep working and find a way to figure it out one way or another has given me a deep reservoir of confidence to do the same in my own life and it has served me well so far.


  1. You are what you think – You have the ability to shape your reality


He told me once while I was exasperated with him in my early teens that I should not expect him to be an adult, because he had only immigrated to the US 17 years ago: which meant he was a teen in US years. While I couldn’t always rely on my dad to be the adult in the room, that eye-rolling moment for a 13-year-old was a lighthearted example of many that my father presented of shaping your own reality. When I was growing up we were mostly broke, I can remember that it was a big deal for my parents to save $50 or $100 to throw us a birthday party. We had to “float” checks to pay for groceries frequently enough that I as a child was aware of this. Even though I was aware of our financial struggles for the majority of my childhood– and it shaped our landscape – my parents never let it shape our potential. The mindset was never “no we can’t” it was “ we will make it” “ we will figure out a way” and… we always did, sometimes by the skin of our teeth, and luck could have taken us in a different direction – but none-the-less the constant looking for opportunities to succeed meant he often found them or created them.



  1. Always be Learning and evolving


Throughout my childhood my Dad was always evolving, he is never stagnant. He started out wanting to be a rock star, and he got a degree in Audio Engineering with a minor in Jazz… but my Dad is a constant self-learner. If he encounters something that interests him or that he needs to know for a project he will immerse himself in learning it, and not just learning it, but applying it. He learns to DO. He’s taught himself video and photo editing, CGI, programming and markup languages, and endless iterations of audio and video editing on a myriad of platforms. He isn’t afraid to pull the car, or electronics apart with little to no training and figure out how to put it back together again. He has built computers and server systems, websites, sound studios, stages, lighting riggs, and furniture. The lists are endless. He is fascinated by how things work and how to make them work better. The result is that he is always engaged and growing. This is a value that has shown me rewards in spades throughout my life so far, and if he is any indication it will continue to do so.


None of these things are things I think my Dad set out to teach me, I never got any lectures or deep conversations about these values. He taught me these things by living who he is… And that is probably the most important lesson he has given me – the permission by his example to just live who you are unapologetically. Thanks Dad <3


To all the Dads out there, know that you are imparting the most cherished lessons your kids will grow from just by being you!! Thank You!!

Happy Father’s Day!

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