Everyone in my family has blessed me with bits of wisdom to carry throughout my life. I haven’t always agreed with my dad, but I realize that without him, I would be an incredibly different person (and probably a much less productive one). As I think about the way our relationship has developed over time, I recall the many lessons he’s taught me, the best of which are below:

If you’re going to work long hours, come early instead of staying late. When you stay late, people assume it’s because you work slowly. Coming early makes you seem proactive, even if you’re working the same amount of hours either way.

Mediocrity is not an option. This was actually a line from my high school’s pledge, but my dad was the first person to teach me. I made my first C in kindergarten and never made one ever again, motivated initially out of fear for his reaction but later out of pride for my own work.

Presentation is everything. Whether it’s a dish of food or your own appearance, it should look good.

Those who indulge, bulge. It took me a while to realize that my dad didn’t invent this phrase, but he’d repeat it often. Enjoy your food, but also be mindful of it.

Time is the most important resource. Don’t waste your youth, and make it work for YOU. If time is on your side, take advantage of it: start investing, set up an IRA, plan your future, etc.

Read. Don’t make the same mistakes that others did. There is so much wisdom in books.

Take a break. My dad has told me this every time he’s seen me study: your mind is like a rubber band, and if you stretch it too far too quickly, it’ll snap. Work consistently and effectively, and know when to rest.

Thanks, Pappy.