For almost forty years, at 4:44 a.m., an alarm clock would go off in the bedroom of my parents’ home. And after getting himself ready, my Dad would leave from a working class neighborhood in Port Chester, Massapequa Park, or Monroe, depending on the decade, and make the same pilgrimage many commuters do today to New York City.
Instead of punching in at a successful, family-owned business in New Jersey that had made the family wealthy many times over, or clocking in at a skyscraper in Midtown where the well-connected gave each other, and their children, countless opportunities to fail upwards, Dad came to work at a small public school over on 1111 Pugsley Avenue in the Bronx. A place he had known from when he began teaching there at nineteen years of age. Having graduated high school early, Dad was on the path to becoming a brilliant chemist until the government had other plans. Drafted 1A, the only thing that separated my father from a sweltering jungle of misery in Vietnam was his job as a teacher at Henry Hudson. And so from nineteen years of age, and for nearly forty years after that, Dad went to work at the school on Pugsley Avenue. He was always the first to arrive, the last to leave, and rarely did he ever take a day off.
When I hear this nonsense blurted out by social media experts where they say, “What’s the ROI of your mother?” to justify the garbage they’re trying to sell by not answering a legitimate question with a legitimate answer, I cringe. Because they’re saying this ridiculous thing, which they think has no answer and is supposed to sound deep and meaningful, in order to escape answering a question they actually have no answer for.
But when you get past the BS of these hucksters, you know that there is an answer. And in the case of my Dad, the return on investment, or if we can just call it what it is, the influence he’s had on my life, can be measured. As it turns out, you can measure the ROI of your mother and father.
How do I measure that? Book sales. I sold 7,000 copies of a book, Social Media Is BS, that didn’t stand a chance of getting talked about because of its title and content, and I did that despite numerous production problems from my publisher, and having virtually no money of my own to assist in its sales in any way. But I took the lessons I learned from my father and I showed up every single day, just like him. I didn’t take a sick day, and I made sure that I punched out way later than any of my contemporaries did. I did this knowing, like my Dad did after he was passed over time after time for the principalship, that this book would not be the big success I thought it would be. But I showed up anyway because that was my responsibility.
That’s how my Dad influenced me, by teaching me that even if you know you’re fighting a losing battle, or even if you’re not doing what you thought you’d be doing in your life, you show up anyway and you fight. You show up and you do the best you can with what you have, and you don’t stop for any reason. I have 7,000 books sold because of that attitude and work ethic alone. The ROI of my Dad’s influence in my life IS measurable.
I resent people who have things handed to them. I resent people who were already wealthy who try to make it sound like they’re just like us. I don’t know what their lives are like, and I don’t care to know. But what I do know is that you can measure the influence of your father, and your mother, and you can see how that influence has shaped you and made you better at what you do.
In your case, it might not be book sales that you can measure their influence by. It could be measured in the number of other products that you sell, in the connections that you make, and the lives that you touch. Their influence on you brought you the things that you have today, and by acknowledging that, measuring the ROI of their role in your life is easy. There are ways to measure, and there are ways to know your parents made a difference in your life, the way that my father did in mine.
Image by Dubova.