What’s the best thing you learned from your parents?

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One of my students asked this amazing question, and I loved it so much that I want to share it with the entire IWT community.

She asked my group of top-performing IWT readers — members of Ramit’s Brain Trust — what we’d learned from our parents and what we’re GRATEFUL for. I included my response below.

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I’m curious — what did you learn from your parents that you’re grateful for? How has it changed your life?

Believe it or not, I don’t exist on this earth to reprimand you every day. Sometimes, for moments as momentary as the Big Bang, we can find joy together.

Share your comments below about what you learned from your parents.

P.S. Check the comments later today, when there will be even more feedback from other readers. And if you’re interested in meeting other amazing IWT students (in person, and in our specially curated community of top performers), sign up for the wait list here.

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180 Comments

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  1. Ramit ,

    The best thing I learned from my parents was to be honest no matter how ‘hard’ it may seem at the time. In the long run, the honesty always outweighs any short term benefit. I’ve found this to be true over and over again. Such a simple but true statement – nobody believes it, until they experience it for themselves.

    I’m sure you agree, yeah? :-)

  2. I love this question, Ramit!

    I guess the most important lesson I learned from my parents is to NEVER waste your talents. The “sad” part is I learned this because they kinda did…

    My dad is a natural born sales-man, he loves cars and knows everything about them but never took action on his talent + passion. He worked at the UN for 30+ years and went into early retirement because he couldn’t take another day at this place.

    My mom has amazing creative talents like painting but also gardening and she knows everything about plants and what they can do for you. She works as an assistant and pretty much hates it as well.

    I studied law even though my heart was never in it. I’m a good lawyer, but screw that. I started my own business, I do what I love (from home in my freaking pjs) and I’m making twice as much than I would have made as a lawyer. (Amen to that!)

    I owe this to my parents because watching them showed me that I REALLY don’t want this for myself and my future kids. Their “negative example” gave me the courage to just go for it.

  3. My parents are the most incredibly generous people I’ve ever known – with their money, their time, their compassion. It’s an abundance mentality that they thought me from a very young age and that I hope never to lose.

  4. Never, ever carry credit card debt. I remember finally realizing that you could “charge” things and asking my parents, “What do you mean people spend money that they don’t have?!?!”

    Also: you should ALWAYS have at least six months worth of expenses in a separate savings account.

    Such invaluable lessons.

  5. All throughout school, my parents always encouraged taking education seriously. As a result, I now have a career in programming where you are encouraged to be life-long learner (otherwise you may become irrelevant after some amount of years).

  6. My parents taught me that what I had or didn’t have was a result of work. If I wanted ‘extras,’ I had to work for them. If I didn’t have something, it was because I didn’t work hard enough for it. My family was poor so we all had to pitch, in some way or another. Now I know that if I want something, I need to focus on it and work at it.

  7. That in the end, *stuff* isn’t important. If you’re intimidated by your stuff, or by money, you’re doing it wrong.

    It’s nice to have a nice house and nice things and all… But in the end, you can always get more stuff. Everything else (people, time, how you feel, your health)… *Everything* else is more important.

    I’m trying hard to pass on that same lesson to my daughters.

  8. 1) Nothing I want will come easily but if I want it enough and work hard towards it, it will come and I will value it more than if it was given to begin with.

    2) The most important thing in life is family. Everything else is just “stuff”

  9. Great post. Exactly the shift in thinking I needed today… So, here’s what I’m grateful for.
    1. They taught me great manners. Never underestimate the power of a written thank-you note + a great handshake.
    2. They taught me to never take anything for granted.
    3. They taught me that marriage and life can be messy sometimes, but you deal with it.
    4. They taught me to work for my dreams, not expect them to happen.
    5. They taught me that when you really need them, they’ll be there.
    Thanks, Ramit. Thank you for your authentic voice. It matters.

  10. The one thing I always come back to is what my dad would frequently tell my brother and I growing up about working hard:

    “I never want you to look back and say, ‘the best years of my life were when my parents provided for me.’”

  11. I’ll add to the heap of responses about honesty. My parents instilled such a strong sense of honesty in me, that I grew up preferring to be punished for telling the truth, rather than lie, cheat and steal my way through life.

    Funnily enough, this attitude has had a very odd offshoot that has affected my relationships in a peculiar way. I’m very honest, but if a person “punishes me” for my honesty, then I distance myself from that person and kill off the relationship, whatever its nature. This because I have a deep rooted need to be around honest people, who can also bear being told the truth. I will not accept any other type of person in my life.

  12. Hi Ramit,

    I signed on to talk about how my parents impressed upon me the importance of honesty, and I see Khuram beat me to it! My mom always noted that the truth is going to come out eventually, so let it be from me. Personal integrity and being able to look yourself in the mirror as a person of character is better than any short-term discomfort owning up to the truth is going to bring. This really stuck with me. Plus I’m from Illinois and Abe Lincoln is practically our patron saint….

  13. Matthew McNulty Link to this comment

    My parents instilled a couple of maxims in me that remain in my head to this day:

    “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” This always encouraged me to at least try something, even if I fail.
    “To begin is to be half done.” This maxim was actually framed on the wall in our house. This maxim taught me that half the battle with a project is just getting started.

  14. I learned that being an alcoholic, with all the drama that accompanies it, is going to wreck your life. It helped me to not be a drinker or drama-addict at all.

  15. To stick to a decision once I have made it and to put in any amount of work necessary to accomplish a goal. That mediocre is never good enough and to love everyone.

  16. Mary Shabestari Link to this comment

    What my parents taught me that has stayed with me through life:
    1) Nothing gets handed to you. You must work for what you want
    2)Be resourceful – use tools and resources within your reach, including your brain
    3)Be grateful for what you have and thank the people that do things for you.
    4)Quit your bellyaching – there’s always someone else who has it worse than you.

  17. Hi Ramit,

    I am most thankful to my parents for their continuous examples of giving more than what they had. They paid for private high school (which they could not really afford) for my 2 sisters and I. Now, I get so much pleasure giving my time, money and help to others.

    Along with this, whether they knew it or not they showed me the importance of love and caring for others; whether they were family or complete strangers.

    And last but not least, my parents instilled in me a killer work ethic. An example of their work ethic-they helped build the very house my sisters and I grew up in.

    Wow, after writing this-my suspicions have been confirmed, my parents are amazing!

    Steven

  18. Both of my parents were always open and honest about ALL things. Moreover they have allowed me and my sister follow our own passions and interests freely without any type of control, yet always being supportive and encouraging. My parents would also have full trust in us – they never needed to set any boundaries. I guess even many of my interests – languages, education, philosophy, interest in arts – came from my parents. So in a nutshell I would say: Love – trust – openness & freedom.

  19. What I learned from my parents:

    -In my 23 years of life, I’ve NEVER seen my parents argue. It was completely confusing to me growing up to see a level of “perfection” in a marriage. Later in life, I talked to my dad about it and he said that it was all done behind closed doors. And that arguments don’t mean yelling, they can simple mean disagreeing.

    -My parents told me to work hard even when you want to quit. That’s the point that will pay off later. I spent most of my college days in internships and organizations which kept me busy and out of the bars (for the most part). Now I am seeing all of that hard work and discipline pay off in business and in life.

    -Don’t worry about getting credit.

    -Make an effort to see the good in all people. Sometimes that one is difficult for me.

  20. Wow… this just made me sad. As soon as I though about this I felt my heart hurt and all I can feel about this is pain. At this point in my life there is lotsa’ anger and hurt I feel about my parents and I don’t talk to any of my blood family by choice. Maybe this will change, and this is what is real right now.

    I guess in one way I’m grateful of them being so twisted that I know I will never treat my own children the way they raised me and my sister. They showed me a lot of what is unhealthy and what doesn’t have love and strength leading it.

  21. I learnd that,i ought to show my talent s as Possible as i can!!i should be strong & never give up.never waste me time and fell full of confident about my talent & and ability but dear Ramit i realy want to tell a somthing to every one “never shy or terror from someone”that was all of things that i could tell you!!😏

  22. My parents were and continue to be huge influences on the man I have become today.

    I learned through my mother’s wisdom to always look at things through the other person’s perspective, think about how my actions would affect others. She also instilled in me a great respect for women, and taught me to treat everyone with the respect they deserve as person.

    My father taught me the value of working for everything that I wanted, not to just accept freely gifts that are bestowed, but earn them. Also through watching my father, I learned dedication and perseverance to succeed.

    Both of my parents taught me different values throughout my life, and I can never thank them enough for all the gifts they have given me.

  23. I think that my parents, while being very humble human and free spirits helped me to understand how much we can love and respect people despite their flaws. What I learned from my mother is to always reach out to people, to bring a smile on their face if I can when times gets rough (she is the one of the funniest person I know).
    But she also taught me honesty as a core value, to keep my feet on a strong spiritual ground, and make every opportunity to travel and build real friendships happen. And so much more that I am grateful for… Working hard to get what you hope for, repeat and be grateful are one of the other things my parents told me…

  24. Ramit, every single thing you learned from your parents I learned too. Must be an Indian immigrant thing.
    I learned to focus on service first and foremost. I also learned to take responsibility for how my life looks. Also the power of prayer.

  25. My Mom taught me to “put a smile on your face.” People don’t want to hear about your troubles (which often aren’t that great, anyway). The person you’re facing may have much worse problems than you would complain about. People are attracted to positive people. The self-fulfilling prophecy . . . smile and pretty soon you may surprise yourself that you’re in a good mood and your troubles now seem minor. Actively address your problems, don’t take it out on those around you.

    So true. It’s stood me in good stead.

  26. I learned a lot of invaluable lessons from my grandpa, who was also my personal softball coach. Two of them were, “Keep your eye on the ball” – to hit your goals, stay focused. And the other one was, consistently throw strikes first, then add more speed to your pitches. This can apply to life in a lot of different ways, but specifically for my business, I’m focused on delivering results to my clients, creating systems, and only then scaling up.

  27. My Dad taught me that life was very short, and precious, and you need to focus on what really matters each day, because days come and they go, but you don’t get them back. Every day wasted is a day that’s gone out of your life.

  28. The best thing I learned from my parents (especially my mother) was that education and knowledge are the only gifts you can give someone that cannot be taken away from them. Some of my fondest memories of my dad are the times I was able to learn by watching him fix a lawn mower or repair a violin (my dad had a side business of repairing violins in exchange for my violin lessons when I thought breaking my violin would end my violin playing career. Boy was I wrong. The perfect lesson in making lemonade out of lemons). My memories of my mom are centered around the support she gave me to learn as much as possible even when it was difficult. One example was our weekly phone calls while I was away at college. Without her support I may not have graduated on time or even have CPA after my name. I also remember her excitement to teach elementary school children religion at our church. My parents by their example showed how precious the gifts of education and knowledge are to all people. My hope is that through ZTL I can continue their legacy of giving these gifts to others.

  29. Both of my parents taught us from an early age..there are truly no class differences.
    They treated people in authority with respect, the same as they treated other farmers, factory workers, blue collar or white collar workers, they all were a part of the human race.
    The senators were no better nor deserved no more respect than the blue collar working person.

    As an adult I treated my supervisors with courtesy and respect and received the same in return.
    No one made me nervous to speak with as I always knew we are the same in the larger picture…Human.

  30. There are so many things my parents taught me, but, one that comes to mind is something my dad shared with me right before I got married:

    True love is a choice, not an emotion. If you choose to love, even when the feelings aren’t there, you will make it.

    My wife and I have been through hard times, but choosing to love, instead of making decisions based on our feelings, has kept us together and kept our relationship strong.

  31. From my father: “Sometimes there are bad things that can be very good, and sometimes there are good things that can be very, very, very bad.”

    From my mother: Just to be your quirky self. She had a crazy young-adult life (ignorance is bliss, to me. I don’t wanna hear about it!), but her outlook is so positive and her personality is so fun. She makes friends everywhere, and she has no apologies for how quirky/weird she can be.

  32. Very interesting question and it took me some minutes to come up with the most valuable thing

    My Dad learned me that I can do almost everything if I really decide to do it. He always believes in my capabilities which helped me to come up with the effort to do big and overhelming projects. So in short, if you are willing to put up the effort you can do it!

    From my Mom I got that relationships are the most important thing, if its with family or friends. Which means as well supporting your loved ones in whatever situation they are.

  33. What an amazing question indeed! The most important thing I learned from my parents, like Ramit, is also the value of hard work. They taught me that nothing worth having ever comes easy but I’ve seen the reward they’ve received by being persistent through the hard times. As a working single mother of three with an extremely demanding job, my mother has always been an inspiration to me. Although she is far from perfect, I watched her sacrifice incredibly to give myself and my siblings the best opportunities she could. She’s also taught me to give first as I’ve seen her give over and over to people over the years whether they appreciated it or not.

  34. My Dad died when he was 55 (seven years younger than I am now). I learned not to be like him, so I don’t smoke, I watch what I eat, and I get regular exercise. He would beat me as well, and from that I learned never to hit my son. My Dad should have known better; he had a Ph.D. in sociology. On the positive side, he did teach me to read the newspaper every day, and I still do.

  35. I think about this question a lot actually.
    My mother died suddenly when I was very young and though it has always been something sad in my life because of that loss of security and love, I am grateful.
    She has taught me that life can end today, so pursue what makes your light the brightest because you can be gone at any moment.
    She also has taught me that the people that pass are still connected to you. They check in on you and communicate with you and in some instances protect you.
    Another thing she has taught me that I am grateful for is that what you do in every moment is your legacy. My entire life has been laced with stories of my Mom. People remember the things that made them laugh or changed their life and these acts are small! She reminds me that one lit candle lights 1,000 and sometimes just making people laugh or giving a good piece of advice is all the light people need.

    Good question, Ramit:)

  36. My father who is no more on this mother earth has taught me many lessons in my life that would always be my directing principle.
    I am 20 and have many responsibilities but his words gives me the strength when it comes.
    Just a day before his accident his words to me were ” Treat your duties as your god”.
    My mother always been the generous one tells me never to cheat,lie or steal.
    My father and mother made me what I am today.

  37. Both of my parents are immigrants. Despite the difficulties and hardships, my parents provided for my siblings and I everything I needed; food, water, shelter. I never went to bed hungry. While I didn’t appreciate it as much then as I do now, my parents never really instilled materialistic values. Whatever we couldn’t afford, we just simply did not buy and that was that. And stealing was nothing honorable. I was to be content and grateful with what I had.

    When I was younger, I may have wanted a nice car, or nicer clothes, but now I see what my parents drove at. I don’t have the need for anything out of my price range, nor do I really spend much time wanting things. I know that probably doesn’t sound like much, but this mentality eliminates so much consumption in all aspects of my life.

  38. Hey Ramit!

    Over the years, I’ve actually thought a lot about this.

    Both my parents are hard workers. In the past I might have said this wasn’t all good, because they didn’t work “smart.” Now, I have no judgement of them and think they are awesome. They taught me to not believe I am owed anything. Throughout my time as an adult, I’ve noticed so many entitled people. It got me thinking why am I NOT entitled? aaahhh….bc of my hardworking parents. Thanks mom and dad!

    Both my parents are very loyal and look out for their families. Modern society might say this is “codependent and bad,” but…what about noticing how lovely it is? They both take care of their parents and I really respect them for that. Family is very important to me.

    Both my parents laugh at themselves and the ones they love. When I was younger it would make me mad because I would take things far too personally. Now I see that life can get so messy that if you can’t laugh at yourself and just joke with each other…you’re doomed to live a very serious existence. I mess up ALL THE TIME. I don’t let it bother me anymore.

    Which brings me to a basketball lesson from my father. Back in high school, when I was a freshman…I got on the varsity basketball team…just barely. I mostly played JV, but I would go in at the end of most games. My dad always told me that if I didn’t think I was going to score that I should foul someone. Sounds crazy, I know…but it got me into the paper in the stats. Nothing flagrant, just get in there and do something. This lesson taught me that in order to really be in the game, not only are going to make mistakes, you should welcome them. It’s not worth it to play the game if you just stand there and do nothing. Even if you played an elegant game…who wants that!? NO ONE. Again, life is messy. So why not just go ahead and mess up. At least you, and the rest of the world will know you were alive.

    good stuff, parents.

  39. I’ve learned that being “forced” into doing things as a child…3rd grade – Japanese dancing; 4th grade – girls basketball; 5th grade – piano lessons; 9th grade – marching band…isn’t as bad as it seems at the time. I screamed and cried but in the end I ended up liking and/or loving all the things I was “encouraged” to do and stayed with them for years. The experiences and memories I have are priceless but even more so, it gave me the opportunity to become a well-rounded and open-minded individual…one that I continue to this day as I always want to try and learn new things.

  40. What I learned from my parents:

    - Always try to do what is right. Work hard and be ethical in whatever you do. You may not make great money (my father worked for the Union Pacific railroad all his life and my mom worked for a company for nearly 30 years as a CSR), but you will feel fulfilled knowing you are working hard and doing the right thing.
    - Look to help and give, not just get. My dad is the one guy in the neighborhood who would give you the shirt off his back. He tills gardens of the neighbors, plows the streets and driveways in the winter storms when the city plows haven’t come by yet, will cook you some greasy yet delicious eggs, and has helped so many cars out of ditches on their street that I lost count long ago. My mom would spend hours cooking and baking if someone was sick, or just if she thought it would make their day better. The more you give to others, the better you can help yourself.
    - Family is the most important thing in your life. We were not well off growing up, but we fished, hunted, and camped together. We never had a fancy vacation, except that one time we road tripped to Disneyland, but the time we spent together was worth everything. All the money in the world isn’t worth jack if you’re not spending time with your family.
    - Do what you love. My parents encouraged me to grow my talents, while maintaining realistic expectations and telling me it would take work to make it work for me.
    - Don’t get into debt. From a young age I had a savings account that I would put some of my earnings into throughout elementary school, middle school, high school, and college. I lost sight of that for a while, but never got into too much debt.

  41. Yelena Aganesova Link to this comment

    The best thing my mom ever told me (which has been passed onto her from my grandma): “For an individual to be completely happy he/she needs at least one true friend in his/her life, a loving family, and a job, where you go to work with a smile and leave it with a smile too. If at least one thing is missing the person is not happy”. This proves to be exact right on over and over again. Wish you all to have that!

  42. I learned a ton from my parents, here’s what comes to mind right now.

    1. You are not the only person that matters, you are part of a community and your actions affect others (simple example – wipe the snow off your car, not just so you can see, but so others won’t get hit with your snow!).

    2. Work hard for what you want. If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish whatever you want.

    3. Be a conscientious worker. Your work is your “signature” to the world. If you do a crappy job at something, you’re saying to the world, “I’m crappy.”

    4. Care. About people, the environment, the situation you’re in, your job, your neighbors…

    5. Do the right thing; help people. Sometimes you have to go out on a limb for others, it’s worth it.

    6. Laugh. A lot.

    7. To be intellectually curious. My parents read CONSTANTLY. They also always talked about serious matters with us (politics, history, values, doing the right thing, geography, feminism, science), even at a young age.

    8. Money isn’t everything. Taking a driving vacation out west to visit relatives is better than Disney any day. Disney will always be there, family won’t.

  43. What I learned from my mother is what not to do. I can’t blame her totally because she is mentally ill, but I have learned alot from those horrible situations she got herself into. As far as my father, I did not meet him until I was older. I learned that if I had children that as long as the father was a good person that my child would always have access to him/her. Luckily I picked a guy who is a great dad.

  44. When I was a young kid, I saved up $250 through doing work around the house, selling lemonade, etc. The one thing I wanted most was to buy a Sega Genesis and play Sonic the Hedgehog. I had all the cash I needed to buy it, but when I told my parents I wanted them to drive me to the store, they told me no. I was frustrated. It was my money and I wanted to spend it right then.

    Instead, they made me wait a week and if I still wanted the Sega, then they would take me to the store and let me buy it. After a week, I still ended up buying the Sega Genesis, but I have used this test for a lot of bigger purchases in my life.

    I find myself not wanting things as much as I originally thought after a week and often don’t end up buying them. This has saved me from many impulse purchases.

  45. What a great question, Ramit!

    These are some things I learned from my parents:

    1. The incredible work ethic of my mom, who was widowed when I was only 2. She went to work as a school secretary when it was still rather unusual for women to be working outside the home (late 60s). Also, she loved and took immense pride in her work and she worked until the day she died.

    2. Both my mom and my dad, when he was alive, revered education, and my mom as well as my extended family were always telling me and my cousins to learn everything we could, whether it was formal or informal, wherever we could. They were huge readers and regular trips to the library were common during my childhood and my mom never hesitated to buy me a book if I asked.

    3. Cooking, from my favorite aunt, whom my mom and I lived with after my dad died. Everything I know about cooking I learned from her. She always experimented and was very adventurous with her recipes and that influenced me to be the adventurous cook and diner that I am.

    4. The value of money and budgeting. My parents and extended family weren’t rich, but they knew how to save and to find the best bargains on everything.

    5. My mom’s (and extended family’s) unswerving encouragement with me in any interest I wanted to pursue. When I was interested in art, I got plenty of art supplies and books and was encouraged to draw for school projects and contests. When I expressed a liking for music, I got piano lessons and a piano that came from a neighbor at very little cost. My mom enjoyed writing, and I absorbed that interest as well. Those three things form the basis of my life now as a graphic designer, writer and amateur musician.

    6. The importance of family, not only in the sense that they would be there for me always, but a deep and fascinating sense of history for my (and their) ancestors, the kinds of people they were, the countries they came from and the experiences they had.

    7. A profound spirituality. My parents and extended family were not only very devout, but they tried as best they could to live their faith daily.

  46. Hi Ramit, loved this post!

    I’ve learned a couple of things from my parents, but among the most important (although cliche) are:

    From my dad:
    (1) Practice makes perfect
    (2) If you fail to plan, you plan to fail
    (3) Persevere and you’ll eventually reach your goal

    From my mum:
    (1) Prayer solves everything
    (2) Actions matter so much more than words

  47. The best thing my parents taught me was regarding money.
    -Money is just that; it in of itself is not evil. But money will buy you things and experiences that you can enjoy or make like easier for you.
    -Retirement seems so far away when you’re twenty–but that’s the time to start setting aside money for it so that you can take advantage of compounding.

  48. My childhood was full of chaos and abuse. I didn’t know my mom, so I don’t have an example to share. We lived in upstate NY and on Sundays my dad used to love to take long drives in rural places – over hills and through forests. My brother, sister and I would pile into the car with him whenever he announced a drive; we loved it! He would find the most beautiful space, park the car, get out and proclaim “This is God’s country; this is Mother Nature at her finest.” The reverence in his voice was often as beautiful as the landscape. We would stop at a farm stand to get snacks “eating from the land”.

    To this day, I love Farmer’s Market “days” (which here in SO CA is daily!) and I love road trips through beautiful places “off the beaten path”. For five years, my two children and I lived on a boat – with the luxury and joy of sleeping under moon and stars and waking with sun–many of those days I would think “yes, this is God’s country, Mother Nature at her finest” with a smile in my heart. Now that we are back on land, we take almost daily, evening walks at oceans edge at sunset, and I feel the same.

  49. The most valuable skill I learned from my mom , was the value of creating and maintaining a network, (though she never called it that, they were just her friends). In the course of her life, she cultivated a wide circle of friends all over the world that she could visit, get advice from, and just generally have as a resource. She kept it up by never forgetting a birthday (particularly of their kids), a thank you note, or an opportunity for a thoughtful gesture.. My upbringing was pretty humble, but my access was huge thanks to mom. My tenacity toward this pales in comparison to hers, but I definitely make an effort to keep up my positive relationships and contacts

  50. What a great question, and one I have pondered many times over the last years, especially since becoming a mother myself.
    From both my parents I inherited a deep love for learning pretty much everything and anything, and a fascination for travelling and foreign cultures.
    From my mother I learnt to love unconditionally, to nurture and support those that I love. She taught me by example to be generous, honest and kind with everyone, to love foreign languages, to cook, to style. She taught me resilience and that it’s never too late to start over.
    From my father I learnt to work hard and not whine, to strive for excellence in everything I do (Whenever I would come from school with a grade 9, he would ask “why not 10?” and whenever I would bring a 10, he would ask “did the teacher congratulate you?”). He taught me to question everything, to read with a critical eye, to detect patterns (especially historical patterns in world history, and how to foresee what was to come based on what had already happened), the true meaning of solidarity and to fight against injustice. From him I also learnt how NOT to manage money lol.
    I am who I am because of them.

    • My parents mismanaged money and basically left me to raise my brother and sister while they managed their businesses in another town an hour away at night, when I was 12. They didn’t care if I went to school or what my interests were as long as I was nice to their customers(not “customers”)when they did decide to bring me with them. I started working for them at 14 and didn’t get paid except for lunch. They treated all of us terribly and were alcoholics and physically & verbally abusive. I learned so much from them and the lessons I learned were priceless. I learned to save money and not to s, not to be jealous of others or envious of others hard work and accomplishments. Friends are important, life is precious, love is action and shouldn’t be based on how you feel. I’m a SAHM now and love my kids. We have dinner every night together, they are involved in sports, we go to church, and are involved in the community. I try and teach them resilience and persistence in whatever they want to do. I want them to enjoy life and the freedom of living and loving their family and friends. So I basically try and better myself and make things positive for those around me and try and be encouraging. My parents taught me that by being the exact opposite of it. Thanks Ramit for all you do. Your parents raised you well.

  51. I have a difficult relationship with both of my parents. Through observing my Mum’s actions, I am learning perseverance, to always consider the consequences of my actions and how they effect others. After the divorce she stopped treating us as children, despite our young age, so I was much more prepared for uni than most of my peers!

    I’ve learnt to be patient with my Dad. It turns out he can’t communicate about his feelings that well, and I was wrong during all those years when I thought he didn’t love me. Now I am trying to make it up to him.

    Bit less inspirational than you’d like but at least I’m being positive about it all!

  52. I learned to always question things. For me this meant learning not to take no for an answer and that the rules didn’t always have to apply to everyone. That is you were smart enough, you could make your own rules. They taught me to investigate things further, rather than blindly believing. They taught me to seek out information when I was interested and that there was always a way to learn how to do anything that I wanted to. This built a curiosity and boldness (along with the natural entrepreneurial spirit that comes with being Persian) that has led me to achieve very good things in life and helped me to become and interesting and, more importantly, interested adult.

  53. My mom went back to school twice in her 40s in an attempt to find what truly lit her fire and is now so happy with her career as a massage therapist. She taught me that it is never too late to reinvent your life, even if it means scrapping 80% of it. When I decided to pursue acupuncture during my last year of studying Econ at Rutgers, she was my inspiration to go for it and never look back.

    My father and I have had a strained relationship for the majority of my life, but he taught me very important lessons when I was young through his own actions. In the early 90s, he helped over 20 friends get out of Romania back when it was still a communist country. They stayed with us, he taught them computer programming, and then hooked them up with jobs at AT&T. Although he’s become a lot more conservative and risk averse in his old age, he showed me what a transformative effect you can have on the lives of others if you are willing to go out on a limb to help.

  54. I learned from my parents to always do the right thing, even if no one is looking. I remember when we were kids that we found a $100 bill at a busy campground. My parents made sure that we turned it in and the person who lost it was very grateful since that was his grocery money.

  55. My parents divorced and separated by the time I was one years old. They biggest thing they taught me was by example: You can choose to be a victim of your circumstances (my father), or choose to be a survivor and not let that hold you back (my mother).

    As a result, my mother was able to teach me much more. The thing most resonating with this community is to always ask, “How can we do it?” Instead of saying we can’t, she always encouraged us to ask how we could.

    Oh, and she also taught me how to whip up an Apple Pie when unexpected company arrives:)

  56. I am grateful to have an open minded mother that allowed me to pursue whatever dreams that I wanted for myself without a no response. Dreams are really important in my family and my mother in particular is always there to say anything is possible so long as you have worked for it. I don’t know where I would be without her. Money is something that was almost always scarce in the household and because of that I have decided to make a conscious decision of not consuming and overindulging myself with material possessions, goods and services that are not necessarily essential to have.

  57. I learned from my father that your word counts more than anything, and you have to honor commitments no matter what.
    I also learned from my mother to always do my best, not “try hard”, not “put the time”, but honestly and authentically doing my best.

    It felt tough as a kid, since she would not be happy with less than A+, but she did do all the best so I could get those A+´s, and I ALWAYS did. I thought I was smart or lucky for a while, but it was much later that I realized the story behind the scenes of my grades.

  58. My single-mom opened her finances to me early in life. This allowed me to realize how much life cost and helped me, from a young age, look at opportunity cost (without knowing the term).

    We were also communal in our finances – I provided my newspaper delivery money and other monies from businesses I ran from a young age. I could pull and spend as I wished and it wasn’t done to make ends meat… This sense of community has lasted.

    I have a very high-level view of community and family finances that stretches beyond my direct family unit and to ally friends and extended family.

    It has really up my compassion.

  59. The one bit of advice my father gave me that really shaped who I am today was delivered in two separate forms:
    1. Always punch above your weight.
    2. If you’re not the worst musician in the band, go find a better band.

    In other words, put yourself into situations where you need to get better than you are if you want to survive. You keep doing that, and you’ll build awesome adaptability and learning skills.

    I don’t always succeed in this, but the rewards are worth the occasional “learning experience.”

  60. My parents immigrated to the US from the Philippines; they gave up everything they knew to make a better life for me and my sisters. They’re humble, intelligent and kind people. I’m fortunate.

    My dad doesn’t say much — and when he does it moves foundations. So I take care to listen when he does speak. I almost missed the defining lesson during one of our talks. What I “heard” during our talk drives me day in, day out: He said, I’m paraphrasing,

    ‘I can’t give you a lot of material things. What I can give you is our family name. It’s strong. It’s respected. It has a good history.”

    I do my best to uphold that name and to make sure it’s only though of with the best of memories. I cannot tarnish it.

  61. I’m in the middle of the Zero to Launch program, and I was in a state of stress and worrying about my ‘new business idea’. My Mother (who once worked as a hairdresser until her 22nd, then married my father and never worked again) saw me stressing and looking at other websites, heard me talking fast and stressy, and she said: “You are worrying because you are thinking to much about the ‘how’ you will make money. Instead, think of how you can be of service to someone and how you can make your clients happy.” WOW :-D that really touched my soul and she was so right!

  62. I learned from my mom that being honest is more important than being right, and that when something isn’t working you either change your tactics or you let it go and move on to something else.
    Righteous advice that has ALWAYS put me ahead of the pack!

  63. The things that my parents taught me for which I am most grateful is integrity and honesty.

    Like every kid on the planet when I wanted something that was a little under the tableish and not entirely honest I’d use the phrase “but no-one will know”. To which my dad would ALWAYS reply “you’ll know!” I hated it at the time but it taught me the value of self monitoring my own honesty. I use that phrase myself when kids I teach try the same plea to me. I also ask them, when they want to get away with something, “if you’re only honest when people are looking or you might get caught, are you really honest?”

    He also followed his own standards. He didn’t want me to swear so he, a career navy enlisted man, never swore in my hearing. He didn’t want me hitching rides so, once I was born, he never hitched a ride (something he’d done routinely before) and he didn’t give rides to anyone, not even sailors (something else he’d done routinely before).

    So, integrity to the values you hold and want your children to follow was something my dad taught me. I am grateful that he did.

  64. The most important thing I learned from my parents was the skill of problem-solving. My dad was a mechanic at a chalk mine and my mom was a seamstress in a shirt factory/Tupperware saleslady/Avon rep/florist/cake decorator/postal clerk (in the evolution of her career). They both excelled at taking a problem, breaking it down, attacking it and solving it. They were also amazing when it came to trying anything once – they had no fear. I didn’t realize that not everyone had this “I can do this” attitude when it came to tackling problems until I met my husband. He is not built like this at all and we struggle whenever he has to tackle something new. I have the same positive attitude towards change and problem solving as my parents and it’s really served me well. I hope to pass this attitude on to my child who is 4 years old and loves to help me in building projects.

  65. One of my father’s favorite sayings was “always be able to carry your own luggage.” Technically, it was specific to travel because he’d say that to me in airports (he certainly wasn’t going to carry my stuff for me) but the concept resonated with me. He was teaching me to be independent and to count on myself. He also exercised with us. He didn’t have sons so he took his daughters out running and had us do push-ups and took us rock climbing. My dad did a fantastic job of teaching his daughters that they needed to be physically healthy and not dependent on others to make their own way. I don’t know if he meant to do this but he did a fantastic job of this.

  66. My mom’s number one motto was “you do good things, good things happen to you..you do bad things, bad things happen to you”. This may not be true 100% of the time, but it is true a lot of the time. It definitely kept me on the straight and narrow.

  67. my father taught me 1) to come only to him if i needed money or things – this was a tremendous help because the day after we buried him i realized he wasn’t around anymore and the rest was up to me. got up the next morning, went out and got a job; 2) to diversify my income stream, because although he was highly educated, he always had 4-6 different enterprises going at once. 3)to work hard and long; 4) to be kind and cheerful towards others; 5) to get the best education possible; and unfortunately 6)nothing about managing money

  68. I am lucky to have great parents from whom I have learned a lot of valuable lessons from watching there examples, honesty, giving, patience, to name a few, but the one I want to share is what my mom used to say to me when I was a kid on summer break. I would say “Mom! I’m board!” Which would illicit one of two responses. “Well, there are plenty of things you can do. You could mow the lawn, wash the dishes, scrub the toilet, ….” which sent me scrambling for my Legos or ” Only boring people get bored.” Either way it forced me to think and be creative with what I had. I can’t remember the last time I was bored. Partly because I’m an adult with so many responsibilities, but her forcing me to make myself an interesting person has bled into almost every aspect of my life. For example, if I find myself losing interest in a meeting, I look around to see if I’m the only one. If so, I begin to analyze why. What are the others getting from this that I should be. If everyone is falling asleep I begin to analyze the message, the delivery, the setting, etc. If I’m doing a task at work that is “boring”, I find ways to automate, delegate, or optimize the task so I can spend more time doing the interesting things.

  69. One more that I forgot to add to my earlier list:

    8. The value of caring for one’s health. My aunt the excellent cook was also chronically ill most of her adult life and was in and out of hospitals frequently. When she was well enough to function with daily tasks, she would tell me periodically, but with much seriousness, “Always take care of your health.” I absorbed that lesson by being active in sports when I was in school, and later, making exercise and a good diet a part of my daily routine, getting regular checkups, etc.

  70. Laugh 5 times a day. Be nice to everyone, you never know when you’ll need help. Spend less than you make. Make sure they know you were here.

  71. I was blessed with wonderful parents the lessons they taught me are too many to list, here are a few: *My mom and dad dearly loved each other. Their love for each other taught me to love and respect my spouse and for 37 years I have done my best.
    *Love is both spoken and shown: My mom had the gift of “talking”. Her wise words taught us to use words carefully and choose wisely what you say. My father was the quieter one and he used more actions that words to express his love. He always hugged us, patted us on the back, gave us a wink, held our hand, or would bring me a small surprise home, etc.
    *You Can Overcome Difficulties: They taught me that this world isn’t easy and not always fair. That our lives are usually determined by how we react and respond during time of adversity and bad times are going to happen. The greatest test is to overcome trials and tribulation and search to learn from those adverse experiences and grow.
    *Family Value: Our family was filled with great family values of love, care, joy, respect, and forgiving. We worked to develop our family and individual lives with enhancing each of these traits toward those within our family and each and every other person in the world.
    *Always Volunteer! Give of yourself and time freely to your community and our world. Our gifts are needed and it will help to make this world a better place for all. “God gave everyone a talent/gift, what you do with that talent/gift is your gift to God and the world.”
    *Always A Parent: Once you become a mother or daddy you have that job for life. When your children become adults they may not understand that you are still in you “parent mode” and think only of what’s best for them. You can’t always solve your children’s problems, but you can always show them that you love and care for them and are there if they want your help or advice. And you will always and forever pray for your children’s wellbeing, no matter what their age.

  72. My mom taught me that hard work is more valuable than sheer intellect.

    I always excelled at school when, especially when I was younger. I always came home and immediately finished all of my homework before doing anything else. It wasn’t until high school that it even occurred to me that you could do anything fun before you finished homework–it seemed physically (or maybe just psychologically) impossible. I’m not sure how my mother instilled this habit, but I’ll be sure to ask her about it when I have kids (it may have something to do with my mother being asian…).

    Throughout my childhood (I can’t remember starting at what age), my dad (my parents, by the way, are divorced) wanted me to take an IQ test. He had taken one and is a “certified genius” or whatever, and he was pretty keen to see that his smarts had transferred to his only offspring. My mom flat out refused. Not because she didn’t think I was smart or that she didn’t see the value in it. She’s a very smart woman–the first in her family line and the only one of her siblings to go to (and pay for) college. (In fact, after an undergraduate degree in Philosophy, she was accepted full-ride to grad school, but she realized that Philosophy was not practical, so on a whim without any preparation, she took the LSAT, passed, and went to Law School.) No, the reason she explained to me that she didn’t want me to take an IQ test was that she had seen what it had done to my dad. He was told at an early age that he was smart, so he stopped trying, believing that because he was smart, he “deserved” certain things from life. She didn’t want me to be like that. She wanted me to remain humble and hardworking for as long as possible…. this was a lesson I had to relearn as I got older and the “class system” of AP and honors classes inflated my ego. :)

    ———————————————————–

    My dad taught me about people, passion, and breaking rules.

    My dad is basically the opposite person from my mother (not surprising that they got divorced when I was really young.) I would guess that he knows 50% of the adult population of the city where I grew up. My dad remembers everyone he’s ever met, what they do, and how he can help them. He connects people and offers to help everyone. I don’t know how he has time, seriously.

    My dad also follows his passions (sometimes, blindly). He’s started several business throughout his lifetime, and always has his hands full with many different projects. When I was young, I loved to draw. My dad saw that talent in me and always encouraged me to pursue art. My mom put me in dance and performing arts (she was on drill team in high school), and I got really into that. I loved dance and was so involved that I didn’t pursue art. As fate would have it, though, I ended up going into Design (I’m sure my dad felt a little “I told you so” victory).

    I have a really vivid memory of being pulled out of school early in the morning when I was in 1st grade. My dad had decided we were going to Sacramento to go to the zoo. I had a visceral reaction to this (you might call it an anxiety attack.) We couldn’t go to the zoo! This was a school day! That’s not allowed!! He calmed me down and I think we called my mom just to make sure it was okay. I’m only now imagining what my dad must have been thinking about what a freak of a child he had and was I even his? What a weirdo. I’m positive I didn’t miss anything that important and it was a good lesson (again, one that I only realized much later) that most of the rules are made up and sometimes it’s okay to break them.

    I’m sure there are many more. These are the ones that came to mind.

  73. Hi,

    Best thing I learned from my Mom was :

    1) Never blindly trust somebody : research and state by yourself. People ain’t no experts at nothing, they were just entitled to be so. That’s a great difference. So would you trust Experts? Or would you taste, compare & feel by yourself?

    2) Education is the key : in my family nobody know how to read or right; they’ve never been to school for some reasons (we were poor…) She FORCED me to undertake free courses to obtain my Master degree and I’ll always thank her.

    3) Life is a fight : you can’t just finish school and lay down like “ok I’m done!”, you should kick your ass everyday to make things you don’t like in order to achieve things you love.

    4) It’s all in your head, not in your age: my mom undertook to achieve her education dream at age 43!! She went from housekeeper to nurse not without struggle. Then 4 years later she had a baby at age 47!! It’s all in your head : feel young, still young. Eat that motherf***ing life she says!!

    Freely served to you.

  74. From my mom I learned not to take things personally, and to let other people think they’re right when an argument isn’t worth having. From my dad I learned to love expressively and explosively, and that learning is a life-long pursuit that is at the core of a happy existence.

  75. Perfect timing on this question.

    This past weekend was my grandfather’s birthday. Since we’re a large and very weird family many of my aunts, uncles and cousins shared something that we have learned from him. So, I’ll shared what I said about what I learned from him.

    In one word: Community.

    In many words: My grandfather has in his time developed 2 very powerful and effective communities. First, my family. 7 children and 15 grandchildren who are extremely close, loving and caring individuals. For every major holiday and other times through out the year we all gather and actualyl enjoy each other’s company. I don’t know many families that really enjoy spending as much time with each other as I do mine. I have my grandfather to thank for that.

    The second community that my grandfather has had a hand in building is the town he lives in. Many towns and cities define themselves by something unique within them. Major companies, factory, main street, churches, school, libraries etc. For the town of Warwick, my grandfather has given not only money but years of his life towards developing each one of those things. His name is on a few buildings next to or even above the people that have donated money towards them.

    So to tell you what I learned from him is simply this: develop a community that can sustain itself and you can be proud of.

  76. The best thing I ever learned came from my Aunt Bon, who acted as a second mother. She approached life with a delightful blend of eastern and western philosophies. I can still hear her voice telling me to be true to myself, with personal integrity, and that there is a flip side to everything. Wisely, she would look at me and ask that I think through every decision because of the consequences of that very action. Then with a slight smile add that only in Vegas does one get a double headed coin.

  77. My parents encouraged me to try anything I wanted to. The said “I could do anything I set my mind to.” I became an engineer when less than 1% of engineers were women. They supported that choice.

  78. Yes, great question.

    1. Anything you do, do it properly. We’d have to make over the bed, or re-wash dishes, if it wasn’t done properly. Now, I try and not give people sub-standard work.

    2. Maintain friendships. The majority of my friends I met at 11 years old and the others I met in my first job.

    3. Travel often! They never let the opportunity to take a road trip pass, or to take a trip overseas. One of my family’s best memories are a Caribbean vacation we took to Bequia, St Vincent and Grenada.

    4. Support your family and friends. If someone is in need, help them.

    All important lessons which have taken me very far in life.

  79. Ramit,

    What i have learned from my parents is to never stop believeing in your dreams, never stop giving up on them because the journey was cloudy and fill with disbeliefs. To always remain true to yourself.

    We can and always be able to acheive anything we set our minds to.

    If thats not some good virture, then i dont know what is.

    BG

  80. My parents shared their love of music, art, and culture with me. Throughout my life I have been a regular and enthusiastic attendee and participant in all sorts of cultural activities. It would have been hard to gain this appreciation on my own without them pointing me on this path.

  81. First do no harm. My mom wasn’t a doctor, but she was deep into Vedanta. My goal is to integrate the principle of Ahimsa into values based business practices.

  82. Out of all of the lessons they taught me growing up, either through repetition or insight, one stood out above all of the others: The value of delayed gratification. There is not a single are of my life that has not benefited from keeping this principle in mind (Education, Business, Relationships, Investing).

  83. My mom never went to school. My dad only went uptill 4th grade. He could just read & write our language. In our family we did not have any extra activities besides just going to school& doing chores at home As young girl I always had regrets that I could never had swimming lessons ,dance classes etc but as I grew older I have realized what my parents gave is far more important than any activity. I learned all basic survival skills of life from my mom. Nowadays youngsters are not interested in cooking, nutrition. My dad taught us discipline,important of hard work,exercise,helping others when u can& lots more. I am so grateful & proud to be their daughter.

  84. Jonathan Vaudreuil Link to this comment

    Taking a minute to think about this, I’m realizing how many things I’ve learned from them. It’s way more than I realized.

    1) Families eat dinner together. I never realized how important it was for the whole family to have this daily ritual until I got married. It’s like a scheduled (essential) reconnect with your family that brings everyone closer and allows you to see what’s going on in everyone’s life.

    2) There’s a fine line between frugal and foolish. Figure out when you’re cutting costs to the point where you’ll end up spending far more than if you spent the money to do it correctly the first time.

    3) It’s OK to have commitments after work – as long as you have most nights and weekends clear for family and friends. Both my parents took night classes while I was growing up, and my mother worked some nights. I don’t remember feeling any ill will towards them as a child and those night classes paid off for both of them. Heck, I think I take it harder when I don’t come home than my daughter does!

    I think those are hitting the hardest right now – I can easily think of more. Such a great idea!

  85. Cecilia Lehmann Link to this comment

    1. There is always enough room and food for everybody (and he who speaks loudest, will be heard);
    2. LAUGH – If you can have a good laugh at yourself, you can get through anything;
    3. Get outdoors and breathe some fresh air – it clears your mind and makes you happy. Do this with the ones you love;
    4. Family is everything (Apply this to your community);
    5. Give wholeheartedly;
    6. Never lend money if you can’t live without it.

  86. The German genes run strong in my family. That means being punctual, efficient, and scheduling/planning the crap out of everything. As a teenager and young adult, this was highly irritating for me and felt really overbearing. But I now appreciate the original education I received in making goals, making a detailed plan, putting time on the calendar to get it done, and always showing up to get the work done. Mom and Dad’s own Power of Habit has served me very well over the years.

    • Ramit, thank you for sharing and posing this question! It reminds me of a previous post you made about your mom telling you that you were going to pay for a trip for her and your absolutely “awesome son” response. You sliced down to the most important core of relationships – love and caring. Not the kooky, family crazy stuff that we can all joke or complain about, but the things that bind us together.
      So on that note, my mom is a mixture of traditional and nontraditional. My husband calls her a throwback, but I am not so sure about that. She was raised by a nontraditional Basque father and red-headed mother. Granddad could run heavy equipment, work mining operations, garden and he taught my grandmother how to cook (she was lady!). He was hurt several times, but always found ways to contribute (which meant teaching himself how to cook) and braid rugs to keep from getting bored. He passed his respect of women on to my mom and uncles (one uncle runs a construction business and his best backhoe operators are his granddaughters).
      Grandma drove taxi at night to support them when he was seriously hurt. She didn’t drink but hauled drunks around a mid-sized city. She loved to sell things. She sold Tupperware and won two trips to Orlando, then she sold Ford cars (the only woman in the dealership) and was a salesperson at Sears.
      My mom can operate heavy equipment (she ran a cat barefoot because she hates shoes), is a professional level seamstress (made both mine and my sister’s wedding dresses), can stretch a dollar like no one else I know, can operate motorcycles, bake bread and awesome desserts, ran a cedar mill (many men tried to con her on the price of wood but learned quickly not to mess with her), became a city clerk when the woods business took a dive and now spends retirement enjoying my dad.

      And my dad, well at 80, he is still going strong. He’s a strong man, physically and emotionally. He has to be to live with a strong woman. He taught us how to work hard, be kind, look closely at nature, appreciate the outdoors, not put up with people’s crap, understand how a car engine works, respect ourselves as women (I have two sisters) and laugh a lot. My sister and I aren’t nearly as conservative as our parents and yet we attribute that to them!

      My parents and grandparents taught us to make our own decisions, to love work and that family matters above all else. If someone needs help, my parents are the first ones to step in!

  87. Don’t be afraid. My parents (like many of yours I’m sure) worked extremely hard to give me and my siblings the things they couldn’t have growing up, and not necessarily material things, but opportunities.

    This has been invaluable to me along with their mantra of never being afraid to try, and to ask. I’m naturally a timid person, so this was always difficult for me until I finally opened up and realized the value in these words.

    Like Ramit always stresses, what’s the worst anyone can say to you but “no”? Then you shake it off, learn from it and move on and up. Thanks Mom and Dad.

  88. I am a son of single mother with four brothers. My mother made sure I acted according to proper manners and etiquette. I’m feel it is the greatest gift my mother gave me. So many people are ignorant to the fact of their own ignorance. It affects people in a profoundly negative manner, that only society suffers.

    Thanks mom for teaching me

  89. From my dad who is a amazing negotiator and self made success in real estate:
    1. There is ALWAYS another deal. Do not be afraid to walk away, even multiple times. More often than not they will follow you and offer you a better deal.
    2. Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing at all, i.e. don’t react, be cool. This applies to the market & to people in general.
    3. Lowball. Most people don’t – you will be surprised what people say yes to.
    4. The best deals are most often found on things “not for sale”, i.e., never be afraid to make an offer even if there isn’t a for sale sign. He made a lot of money going through the tax rolls looking for out of town owners and then sending a offer even though it “wasn’t for sale.”
    5. Be nice to the front desk at hotels. If they like you they are more likely to give you a free upgrade if they have it.

    From my mom who has always been the “amazing support”
    1. You can LEARN if you want to and when you need to. When they started their business she didn’t know a thing about accounting or computers and ended up managing over 300 customer accounts on a custom Fox Pro accounting program. Ask for help and keep LEARNING.
    2. Make it work with what you have. Don’t let lack of something be an excuse for “going for it.”They didn’t have a typewriter when they started their business (it was the late 70′s) so she wrote their first business proposal for a bank loan by hand in calligraphy. They got the loan.
    3. WRITE it down and DRAW it out. This is a little harder to explain, but what ever idea I ever had she would always encourage me to put it on paper – make a list, draw a picture, and then make it real.

  90. My father is an entrepreneuer/ real estate developer and my mother is a classically trained oil painter. The combination is amazing. From my father, we were taught to always strive for the next “big thing” — whatever that may be (personal, professional, ect.). He also taught each of us to have really big expectations for our lives; we grew up with an understanding that we really could change the world if we worked hard. This also had the simultaneous effect of allowing all three kids to believe that their ideas were valuable and worth pursuing.

    On the other hang, my mother taught us to think outside the box. Even for small projects we were encouraged to think about them creatively — she challenged us (and showed us!) how to take our original idea and make it even better. Artists have an amazing way of looking at the world and interpreting it for the better, and I think that has translated into how us kids look at our business endeavors. Artists also have a keen knack for being able to anticipate how other people will perceive and event or an experience, and they work to create stories/environments/pieces to draw out certain emotions or cause others to contemplate issues of the day. Lastly, as a natural hostess and philanthropist, she also taught us the value of putting others first, and the importance of giving back to the world in ways that are lasting.

    In the end, the effect was amazing on all three kids. We are constantly curious about the world, and we all believe that we have tools to conquer big challenges – to be disruptive towards change. We investigate how others are looking at the same issue and then spend sometime thinking about how we can take it to the next level — make it better, make it bolder, make it more efficient or exciting. We are all willing to work hard to make change, and importantly, not only are we not afraid to tackle complicated issues — we seek them out and strive to be creative on how to fix them. We all believe that being a successful entrepreneur and making the world a better place are not mutually exclusive endeavors, but rather that a truly great entrepreneur will create products and services that benefit both the world and investors’ bottom line. Importantly, this also translated into a strong sense of self-worth, which I believe is instrumental to any person who wants to be successful in the marketplace.

  91. My parents taught me to FINISH things that were important to me and push hard for what I wanted. PATIENCE and FOLLOW UP- waiting and seeing how things turn out and not abandoning something I want (like a job) because it takes a while to materialize. Also, to ASK for what I need. To this day, I get more training at work than others because I will make a case for myself and they don’t. But most importantly – SAVE money where it didn’t matter and SPLURGE on what we love…

  92. The importance of independence. My parents divorced when I was 13. Watching my mom pull her life back together and find a career was life changing for me. It didn’t stop me from getting married but I will never be dependent on my husband. It has been good for me as an individual and healthy for our marriage.

  93. Both of my parents are givers by nature, and they are both very hardworking people with a lot of self discipline. They are good, trusting in almost a naive way, but then ı think the way they are also made me believe in a world of good. It’s almost like you are protected from negativity by the purity in your thinking. It’s not like ı don’t face trouble, I do.. Somehow , my ultimate belief of the safe world I got from them seems to save me- eventually!
    God bless them.

  94. Act, don’t react. When making a decision, clear out all emotions. Never seek vengeance–it will return karmically to hurt you or the ones you love. When making a decision, be strenuously objective. Do your research–lots of it. Ask around, don’t be too proud to. Invest in professional advice.

  95. Answering a question like this makes me very homesick, also very nostalgic so here we go.

    I’m so very grateful for growing up as my dad’s sidekick, I learnt a lot about how to talk to people, to be patient with others, and how important great relationships are (my dad was the local police officer growing up).

    From my darling mum, I have learnt that you can achieve anything if you set your mind to it, after having 4 kids, she went back to school to become a teacher, then she took an interior design course and designed our house. She’s always moving and getting things done, both my parents are like that – strong work ethic, setting out plans and following through.

  96. I love my mother dearly, although arguments are more frequent than might be considered ideal. From her I have learned things which will stay with me forever:

    - (the most important of her teachings, in my opinion) Be cordial to ABSOLUTELY EVERYBODY: No matter how much I became vexed by somebody, my mother told me never to lose my cool and always retain my politeness. He/she who gets angry or speaks rudely is the first to lose the respect of his/her peers and superiors. The person that you want to punch squarely in the nose for their constant harassment might provide you with incredible opportunities a few years down the line.

    - You don’t have to have what you want immediately: I remember wanting to purchase a mid-range, average-quality piece of recording equipment. I showed my mum the description of it, and she asked “Is this the best one available?” My response was “I’m a kid! How am I meant to afford the best one available?” She explained that if I saved my money and bought a model that was more expensive but better quality, I would only have to buy it once. Buy for long-term use, not short-term satisfaction.

    - Be organised: Whenever I came home from school, my mother ALWAYS asked me if I had been set any homework – regardless of when it was due in. If the tasks set are small, she told me to sit my butt down and do them immediately before I could go and watch Cartoon Network on the TV or whatever screen my pre-teen self was usually glued to. Even if they were long assignments that could be worked on over the month, Mum advised me to start straight away, so that I could progress consistently. Applying this tactic to everything I do has enabled me to totally avoid stress of any kind.

    - Be honest: The truth always surfaces, so you might as well get your confessions over with. It feels better than the weight of guilt.

    I have a great relationship with my father, too, but my mother was the one who instilled these invaluable traits in me.

  97. From my Mum I learned that to achieve most things in life, you have to be determined and work hard. She brought-up my sister and I on her own, for 10 years. During this time she had 7 part-time jobs at 1 point, and she worked so hard that she managed to buy a detached house in a nice neighbourhood. She always welcomed our friends home and would cook for us all even with many people sleeping on all the available floor space. She worked so hard to let me have the education that she didn’t have and also experience different countries and cultures than the one I grew up in. She is certainly a generous soul. A real carer for people. From my Step-Father, always be honest and truthful. Be there for your family.

  98. I’ve learned a lot from my parents, but the thing that stands out is a little secret my Dad told me that helped me quit smoking. He said “There’s no such thing as just one.”

    I had struggled for years and tried the patch, nicotine gum, etc. I would make it a few days and give in. My Dad had quit years before (when my 5 year old sister climbed in his lap and asked him why he did it). He knew all about that craving – the “if I have JUST ONE I’ll make it through” craving. It’s a trick your brain plays on you. If you have just one, you’ve started back to zero. You’re a smoker again and you have to go through all the withdrawals a second time.

    Once I realized that “just one” was a dirty lie, I was better equipped when that excuse popped up in my brain. I pushed through and now I’ve been 8 years cold turkey. Hope this might help if any of your readers are struggling with an addiction.

  99. My parents were both shy, sensitive introverts. They made huge contributions in the fields of science engineering and academia. I learned from them that the loudest person is not always the one most worthy of my attention.

  100. Hard work matters more than talent and intelligence. Value the people who at least try to improve, even if they hit their peak at average.

    Cut back mercilessly on things you can’t afford and that aren’t important to save as much as you can. When you can, spend extravagantly on the things you love, like travel or your home.

    Education was always the highest priority. I’d like to take that a step further to hold that learning continues to be a top priority beyond/after schooling.

    You really don’t need to go out all the time. Sometimes the greatest joys are found in doing things on your own at home.

  101. I knew when I was in the 3rd grade that I was going to college and the importance of education. It was drilled into my brother, sister and I. They were fun and loved to party from time to time (so I ended up at a party school while graduating first in my class in my major) But they taught us the importance of consistent hard work and we saw this of parents daily. My dad never got sick and missed only one day of work that I can remember. He swore by his daily vitamin C tablet. We all work very hard because of this example.

    I saw my mom go back to school at the age of 35 to become an educator. She loved her new job, though she enjoyed her job as an RN as well, and knew she was making a difference in the lives of children who needed her. I learned the importance of serving those less fortunate and being passionate about the work you do. A couple things I learned from them. Thanks for this great thread, Ramit.

  102. My dad gave me some wise career advice: “Don’t do what you love. Whatever you love now, you’ll hate in 5 years when it becomes a chore rather than a passion. So just do something that makes a lot of money.”

    I should have listened to him.

  103. That being yourself is much more rewarding than trying to be perfect.

  104. If you need to criticize someone or are mad at someone for something, make sure they understand that you are criticizing them or are mad at them for a specific reason. Then, even though they were bad at this next step, I learned that if the issue is addressed, you let it go and it does not need to be addressed again.

  105. I learned from my father to always be inquisitive and curious about the things around me. He studied biochemistry in university and as we would take the dogs out for walks as a kid, he’d explain to me how this plant or that plant grows and why it does these things. It really gave me an appreciate later on for the importance of understanding things and using intellect.

    I learned from my mother the importance of a spiritual outlook in life.

  106. Keyboard_Navigator Link to this comment

    What I love about my mama is that she never sugar coated anything and still doesn’t. No, she isn’t a cynical bitch who thinks the world is some cold, rotten place, but she isn’t some naively optimistic, blinded by the light lady either.

    She taught me compassion, respect, and helping your fellow man, but she also taught me how everybody is not your friend, people will take advantage of your kindness, and you have to look out for yourself as well.

    In other words, she is a street smart sweetheart and I love it. :)

  107. My parents taught me the smartest thing I could ever learn:

    ”Smart people can act stupid, other way it’s damn hard”.

  108. Hi Ramit,

    The best thing I learned from my mom was to be kind and to pay attention to animals and nature-they both deserve our respect and we should be good stewards of them. From my dad, the love of words and to choose them thoughtfully.

  109. My father taught me three important lessons:

    1. To always treasure resourcefulness – in myself and in others. Celebrate going the extra mile. (He was a national track star – in Trinidad & Tobago – who turned down a scholarship to Michigan state, to marry his pregnant, high school girlfriend: My mom)
    2. To care for animals/pets As taking care of creatures who can’t take care of themselves is an indicator of how you’ll treat fellow human beings.
    3. To always give yourself time to succeed by starting early, and finishing strong.

    My mother taught me empathy – to be aware (not wary) of their motivations. There is value in putting yourself in others “shoes”. She also taught me to be mindful of how you treat others, by freely giving without expecting return. People will reciprocate when they can, and when you least expect it.

    They’re an amazing pair of simple people.

    Cheers.

  110. From my mom I learned to be friendly and talk with people where ever you meet them – the grocery store, the doctor’s office, the car wash, etc. She had a great talent for getting people to open up and she made many, many strangers happy by smiling and asking them how they were, or about something they were doing or buying or wearing. I’m not sure she knew how many times she made someone’s day just through simple and brief conversations.

  111. I always thought my mom’s advice on dating was criminally stupid- until I followed it, and she was absolutely right. My parents (who are full of good advice on every other topic) met while hitchhiking, and got married three months later. My mom would always insist that getting married quickly was the only way to find a good partner. According to her, if you aren’t sure about marrying the person two months in, it’s a bad match.

    I thought my parents had just taken a stupid risk and got lucky that it worked out. For a decade I was in and out of long-term relationships with men that were great, but I could never quite make the commitment. At 31, I got set up on a blind date, and within several weeks, we were ready to move in together and plan our wedding. We are still that sickening couple that exudes happiness. Because my husband studied psychology, his far more cogent analysis of my mom’s advice is that we have a high level of compatibility, and that was evident from our first meeting.

    Also my parents taught me to never order drinks or desert at a restaurant, and that appetizers are only acceptable if it is your entire meal.

  112. From my mom
    a) never follow a cookbook recipe blindly – ask yourself does this recipe makesense- if it does not then read a few more and put things together.
    my mom is an amazing cook and when I was learning to cook she told me this. Now when I think of this advice I use it in many other areas of my life-it helps me problem solve.

    b) just because you messed up at something the first time you won’t mess it up again when cooking. Everyone makes mistakes and then next time you will know better.

    c) when you are seeking perfection ask yourself am I perfect? While we seek perfection in others we need to ask ourselves what are we doing to better ourselves.

    From my dad
    a) When you have a fear just remember that my parents came to this country with 8 dollars in their wallet. We are better off today than we were back then- with this knowledge we can always go forward.

    b) My dad always encouraged me to read about politics and know what was going on in the world around me, I am very grateful for this gift.

  113. Through working with foster kids who had been abused and/or neglected and aboriginal kids from remote communities who were culturally different and disadvantaged my mother exposed me to several important lessons.
    1. Under a different set of circumstances I would have grown up to be a different person and by extension if I expose myself to new circumstances and behaviors I will morph into a different ‘person.’
    2. Every action and thought is logical within the framework that gave rise to it. Never stop your understanding of a person at “he’s an idiot,” or, “she’s a bitch,”because such labels are just laziness from people too self-centered to piece together why a person acts differently to themselves.
    3. Western norms are not the perfect standard to measure things by.
    4. Safety in all societies is illusory so make the most of the good times and know that when things go wrong it’s often not your fault. (This one has a dark side of letting myself off the hook too early but is still more than worth knowing.)
    How has this changed my life? Politically correct multi-culturalism is my default mode of being. I can see the good and bad in many different lifestyles and most people, but I rarely make value judgements on those differences. I like that almost everybody is likeable to me and that every person and lifestyle has something beautiful in them/it.

  114. I’ve learned many valuable things from my parents, but a few that really stand out are:
    - Be a cheerful giver. Whether it’s volunteering or helping someone out, do it because you truly want to. Whenever someone had was sick, had a surgery, or a death in their family, my mother would make tons of food and take it to their place… It feels good to give.
    -Honesty. They taught us from a young age to always be honest and tell the truth.
    - Hard Work. This included everything from doing dishes, dusting, vacuuming, and other household chores to music and school work. Extra tough on the school work. Always expecting tons of studying and excellent grades.

  115. My dad taught me how to always be there for friends and family – and how to build things. My mom helped me to be stylish. And my grandmother taught me to garden, sew and make pie crust … they are all gone now, but I carry them with me …

  116. To save money regularly. My parents would give me a regular amount of money every week, and I would have to manually record it down, and keep track of how much I had saved over time. When a special occasion came, I was allowed to use the money I had saved to purchase something I wanted, and I would also have to do the manual recording and accounting of what I would spend. When I read about automating savings in Ramit’s book, it was basically the same idea.

    They also taught me to be nice to everyone, take care of others, and be giving. It didn’t matter who anyone was. They treated everyone the same.

  117. From my dad, I learned the confidence to try things that I didn’t know how to do. Because of him, I’ve had the courage to do my own taxes, tackle some pretty bit home improvements, and move to an entirely new city. From my mom I got the deep-seated assurance that I was loved and that the universe was a good and kind place.

  118. Looking back, the best thing I learned from my parents was about hard work. My Dad always had at least 2 jobs and a side business the entire time I grew up. It was just normal to work 6-7 days a week in my house. I never realized that this wasn’t how everybody lived until I got older. My in-laws still don’t understand why I have two jobs and want to start an online or other side business.

    • @ dave: I feel you with the two jobs and starting a side business. No one in my cohort understands why I do it or how, even…lol! Looks like we’ll both be laughing our way to the bank when it’s all said and done!

  119. That a woman should be independent – my parents did not have shared finances and my mom managed her business by herself – and that the only limits to your potential are the ones you put on yourself.

  120. I learned the priceless lesson of working for anything I wanted. I really wanted a car when I turned 16 so my dad said to get a job. The highest paying job was detassling corn…in the corn fields… In the hot summer Iowa sun. As a pale short girl, I had to wear a huge hat with long sleeves, not fun. It was the hardest job I’ve ever had but I will always remember what it felt like to buy my first car. To set a goal and actually achieve it is something I will always be grateful for.

  121. Hello Ramit. The one thing I learned from my parent, my father, was the value of hard work. My father worked three jobs, with little sleep, I might add, to put both my brother and I through private school and college. I always admired my dad for the things he did to keep my brother and I clothed, fed and educated. The amazing thing was, he still always found time to spend with my brother and I whether it was helping us with schoolwork or taking trips to spend quality time with us. I have never forgotten the values he instilled in me and the work ethic he provided me with to strive for success. Thanks for sharing this, Ramit, great post topic.

  122. ramit, this was an interesting question to consider bc i’ve been working through a lot of my own childhood/parental issues the last few months and i didn’t know how to answer this question.

    my parents are good, ordinary humans who did the best they could with what they had. my mom sent me to class after class after class outside of federally mandated class and made me focus on academics just like a true asian parent does. she did many things for me that i really appreciate. but my parents both had a hard time handling their own emotions and addressing their needs which created a pretty shaky environment to grow up in.

    but what i learned from watching them and, over time, better understanding them was to live life as hard as you can. to embrace every thing, every one and every experience that makes you feel to your core. to strive to understand what is in your core and what drives you. to be authentic and honest in the person you are, most importantly, with the people you care about and, if you’re up for it, with the universe at large. to take the truest path even if it’s the hardest thing you can do. to believe in good even when good isn’t giving you reason to believe. and to love experiences, people and life madly and deeply.

    i’m grateful to take this approach to life and i’m grateful my parents led me to it.

    thanks for making me consider that question.

  123. The best thing I learned from my parents is how to achieve your goals within given resources through proper planing and saving and hard work

  124. I learned from my parents:
    The value of perseverance to create something from zero.
    The value and the power of working together, and be real partners to build a goal.
    To be authentically me and don´t let anyone or anything define me in limiting ways.
    The power of sharing, be givers and be generous
    From my mother I specially learned through her example the gift of being woman and the magic of being tender, generous and nurture others in many ways with kindness
    From my father that Actions speak louder than words
    It has changed me to let me flow, be grateful, want more, not be attached to anything or anyone, and trust in the process of life

  125. My mom showed us over and over again that, when faced with a crisis, HANDLE YOUR BUSINESS. Do whatever it takes to resolve the situation, and THEN fall apart if you need to. If either one of us kids messed up, she would circle the wagons, and get the situation handled. If she felt like we needed to be lectured or punished, she would do that AFTER the thing was resolved.

    I was shocked when I became an adult and found that some people fall apart in the face of a crisis, instead of afterwards. Scary. Mom did good. :-)

  126. My dad taught me that if you see something that needs to be done, do it. Don’t wait.

  127. I always say that my mother gave us roots and my father gave us wings. While one worked tirelessly to instil values of hardwork, the other taught us the ingenuity needed to overcome roadblocks that would most definitely overwhelm us. Here are some of my best learnings from my parents.

    1. Leave no stone unturned.

    Research everything, practice 100’s of times & sometimes be prepared to meander, to go in the opposite direction to find your way forward. I cannot express how crucial this has been in my life. People talk of passion and belief – but they don’t acknowledge the precision, practice and persistence it takes to make it a reality. Looking back, the reason I signed up for Ramit’s newsletter even when I didn’t want to buy, was because I heard him say somewhere “No one can out-hardwork me” or something like that. That was my conversion moment because it echoed a core belief.

    2. Success = Knowledge + Experience.

    I come from a family of academics so being enamored by new fascinating subjects is second nature. But the perpetual student syndrome, while a thoroughly enjoyable journey, won’t take me closer to being successful. Researching, practicing, ideating are all great – but at some point I have to be willing to bet on my ideas and take the plunge. Incidentally, despite being an Indian from an academic family – we were never subject to the pressure of A+ grades. While, my brother was straight A’s guy, I wasn’t. I was somewhere among the top few – never a straight acer – always an oddball. But that didn’t make a difference. What mattered was what were we doing with what we learnt – not how great grades we made while learning it.

    3. Being an oddball is an advantage… If you allow it to be.

    Like a lot people, I’ve known bitter rejection & ridicule, just for being me. Isolated for being brown in Europe, bullied for being a European-born in India. Ridiculed for having an accent, an opinion & the courage to voice it, choosing an MBA (manipulative and dumb) over a masters in US (purposeful & superior), being a woman in a male-dominated industry, and for daring to be at or above par… Those are just the happy examples where people weren’t vilifying me or making an example of me.

    You can tell I often stay in the presidential suite in Victim-ville. But my visits there have shortened and my victory near complete – thanks to another of my parents gems – “You are here to create & live your grand vision – not to be the next Einstein”.

    Being an oddball helped me cultivate ingenuity, open unknown paths, create eclectic bonds – all of which have been far more fulfilling than living a formula. Besides, after being rejected so much – it stops making a difference. Im able to share even more selflessly, I don’t shrink with self-doubt as often, and I actively create situations that make me feel good – in short, I’ve become kinder, smarter & more powerful – for owning up to it being the odd one.

    4. No job is small. And a small job doesn’t mean the person doing it is small.

    Networking gurus talk about connecting with people who are more powerful than you. After all, if you aim for the stars, you’ll at least reach the sky right? But there are two other valuable insights that also need attention. First, while giving is the currency of networking, to give constantly without respectful feedback is a recipe for being a doormat & never being seen as a worthy equal. Second, much before we stand on the shoulder of giants – we stand on the shoulders of those who hold “less-significant” jobs or roles than we do. Without mastering the small jobs & creating positive feedback loops with the people doing them – we cannot hope to achieve the success we want.

    Over the years I watched my parents being very respectful, appreciative, kind towards all the people who made their lives easier. And I applied that to my own career. I took the time to know the “little guys”, to understand the challenges of their jobs & how they do what they do to make me look good. Sure, some people took advantage of the compassion. But I was also able to deliver projects with ridiculously difficult timelines. Like going from idea to artwork to printing 150,000 brochures and getting them delivered to the other end of the world in 60 hours flat, or getting a national daily to push its printing deadline by 3 hours to accommodate my brand campaign, or getting a mega website up in 7 days flat – things like those happened because I was taught the importance of learning the small jobs, and networking with the people behind those jobs – not just the big names.

    - There are so many more – I could write a whole book :-)

  128. One of the most powerful lessons my parents taught me at a young age was the concept of compound interest. Not only was it a lesson in financial awareness it was also a lesson in understanding the power of NOW. They taught me to take advantage of my youth and that one day my future self would be thankful.

    Perfect example: my parents convinced me to sell my goldmine of beanie babies when I was 8 years old. They didn’t force me, but appealed to me as an 8 year old and urged me to imagine 8 years into the future as a 16 year old. Would I rather have ‘worthless’ beanie babies or a car when I was 16!? (It was like $8,000 in beanie babies and they did indeed fund my first car….talk about striking when the iron was hot).

    I think the reason their lesson was most effective is because they treated me like a future-adult instead of a clueless child. They empowered me to think about my actions, and to see my youth as an advantage rather than a disadvantage.

  129. Most important of all to treasure loved ones, honour parents even after their death and always remember that as their child , you carry their legacy and make them always proud of you through your words, action and deeds. Be humble always.

  130. Jessica Rudder Link to this comment

    My parents taught me that there is always time, money, space, etc to help someone else.

    Not in the generic ‘toss-a-dollar-into-a-bucket’ sense.

    In the ‘down-and-dirty-in-the-trenches’ sense.

    By the time I graduated high school they had provided a temporary home for my cousin (and later my cousin her two kids and her boyfriend), my aunt and uncle and their two kids, a couple of foster children, two neighborhood boys (one of which eventually became my big brother), another cousin, a different uncle and a family of 7 from our old neighborhood.

    Those are just the people that lived with them. There were countless other people that were helped in other ways. Not to mention numerous stray cats, dogs and turtles that found homes with them (as well as a number of injured birds that were nursed back to health and released into the wild).

    For most of my life, I mainly looked up to my mom for this. She was the one that had the passion for helping. She was the one that always led the charge. It seemed like my dad mainly just ‘went along with it’.

    Now that I’m older, I realize that Dad was the one bank rolling every single one of those efforts. He got up every day (and still does), heads into work and gets the job done.

    On the surface, it might seem a bit silly to be mentioning this on blog about ‘being rich’, but their version of a ‘rich life’ was helping people. They set a good example of saving on the things that weren’t important to them (e.g. drove old cars, didn’t buy designer clothes) and splurging on the things that were (e.g. being able to help out people in need).

    —-

    On a side note, my dad also taught me that text books are for pleasure reading. That man is directly responsible for my A’s in Calculus and Organic Chemistry.

  131. Im very grateful for my parents, i learnt alot from my mom in particular, she is great woman, All i know today was induced to me by her, she thought me everything i need in life, kindness, smart, keeping evirons and myself clean, how to address public and important personels, ETC, if i begin to mention all, this page will full and it still remaining, i living happilly today because of mom, since my tender age im living positivelly without fears. She is a great woman

  132. My granma who was my major parental figure when growing up taught me two things which probably shaped me more than anything. 1. Always be a gentlemen, class is about delicacy in action not money, power or authority. 2. Don’t suffer fools, if you suffer fools no one will be able to tell you apart.

  133. She taught me to love and respect truth. THE truth. She was so specific about that. My dad taught me that you’re known largely by your friends and that some of the best ones might not be the most popular. Stick by them and it’ll work out for you in the long run. I miss them both so much now. They never really got to see me as a grown up. Thanks for this question.

  134. Many things, but I will cover just a few important ones as they relate to me recently:

    - Not everything that glitters is gold. People can preset themselves as being one way and act/perform completely different. So be skeptical, but learn to listen.

    - live within your means; be satisfied with what you have. This does not mean that you cannot increase your means; but you don’t always have to follow fashion (which is another lesson) and have something because the other person has it. Make sure it makes sense to you first.

  135. My father was a frugal type, but when it comes to the foods we are very abundant! He told us that we should be humble always, even if how far we have reached. Family is the first thing first before anyone else.

  136. Hey Ramit and Everyone,

    well, one thing that my mom relentlessly says to me is that “Adam, you should take a rest, and go out and enjoy being with others, go playing bowling or do something entertaining every so often because you seem to be too immersed, too busy with your work. ”

    My answer always has been that “Mom, I enjoy working, Im having fun, cause I do what I love to do, I do not need rest”

    Truth be told, of course every once in a blue moon it is nice to socalize a little.

    Cheers

  137. Travel as much as you can. A world of education is waiting beyond your immediate community. It will change who you are in incredible ways.

  138. Mariana Umarusman Link to this comment

    I love this question. Some of the greatest lessons I learned from my parents have to do with relationships. My parents have been married 34 years and been together 38 years, but they were always very honest with me and my sister about the nature of marriage and relationships. They taught us that relationships are not like they are portrayed in movies, that require commitment and work but that makes it even more worth it. Also, they taught us as women to not look as ourselves as a princess and expect to be taken care of by our partners. But to be an active participant in our relationships. My parents are still in love with each other because they are honest with themselves and accept each other as they are with their own quirks and faults. Being able to differentiate between fantasy (what movies portray about love) and reality prepares us to better deal with the challenges of maintaining a healthy relationship. This lesson extends to other parts of my life too, like my career. Being honest with myself about the meaning of a dream job, and that any job in life won’t be perfect makes it easier to look for great. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of great. It all comes down to being brutally honest with one self and working with the tools that life gives you to make the best of it.

  139. If you don’t know how to do something, take a book or a video out of the library (or 10) and figure it out.

    I have a memory of my mom watching a VHS on being an effective manager while working out on her Jazzercise step in our living room. She had been having some challenges with her team at work, so instead of complaining, she looked to how she could improve. When she started assistant coaching my soccer team when I was in middle school, she took out books on coaching soccer from the library. When my brother joined the wrestling team, she took out five books on wrestling.

    I learned you don’t have to know everything to try something new, you just have to be willing to do the research and figure it out. And that you should always strive to be better.

  140. The summer before I entered high school, my parents divorced and many of my childhood memories were “tainted” for lack of a better word. However, I learned something from my grandfather (mom’s dad), that has continued to stick with me in every project, effort, etc. I decide to pursue. He taught me to always leave things better than how you found them. When I get engaged on a special project at work, I won’t just lead the project to completion per its stated requirements, I leave the team and project in a better state than how it was given to me. When I take over a new team, I build rapport and relationships with each member of the team so that each person, the team and the technology I manage is better than how I found it/them. Great lesson!

  141. My dad’s a big proponent for using common sense. One of his dad-isms was to look at whatever project he was about to start, take a step back, scratch his chin, and say, “Now, if I was smart….” and work out the best way to tackle it before jumping in. He taught me how to approach things methodically, and think things through before starting a project.

  142. That is a great question. The most important thing that they taught me was to spend time with my children. No matter how long and hard their days were, both parents always did things with us to show that they cared. We never had a lot of possessions, but my brother and I knew that we were loved. I try really hard to do the same thing with my children, it isn’t always easy, but it is definitely worth it.

  143. Such a great question. Helps refreshing all memories of parents back in the past. Things I learnt from:

    Being social ~~~ My dad is a great social person (even though sometimes I thought it’s annoying), but whenever there’s a time we need to reach out, he knows exactly where and how to start – what other options do you have if plan A or B doesn’t work – how to keep someone in the loop (that’s his best thing – he is such a Facebook expert to make friends around, including my friend, ends up he know them more than me~).

    Being systematic ~~~ It’s so interesting to see my mom’s daily life doesn’t change much since I was born. Woke up early morning, start working for whole day and having an enjoyable evening by just watching her TV show. It might be boring for some people, but I see this as a value where my mom can turn all this into a habit, a system that even though there are so much overloads work to do, but she can always finish them in time.

  144. This is gonna sound snarky, but it’s not — exactly: Some people weren’t meant to be parents. My folks were both pretty cold people with a lot of insecurities. I was a weird kid and frustratingly for all of us, they tried to mold me into a vision of normalcy from their own childhoods which completely ignored the changes that had transpired since through a steady diet of ‘thou shalt nots’, while refusing to allow me to explore any pursuit that appealed to me. They told me I could do anything I wanted in my life with my intelligence, but discouraged my forays into music or art. I think they wanted me to grow up to write the Great American Novel and actively discouraged anything they saw as distracting me from that, but would never say so. They seemed anxious, depressed, irritable and miserable; I determined early on that I’d rather die than work all my life just to perpetuate suffering. They didn’t understand me, or provide me with much practical information about winning in the world or coping strategies, I wasn’t any good at being a kid, I’m still maladjusted and glad I never had progeny of my own. I determined early on that I didn’t have the tools to be a good father and I’ve only ever suffered a momentary twinge of regret.

    This will also sound odd, but one of the best things I learned was something my father got from studying under Reinhold Niebuhr: that institutions (governments, companies, churches) are incapable of acting as moral agents in the way that individuals can, because while people can individually decide to sacrifice themselves (or act against their own self-interest) altruistically or to benefit others, institutions are all programmed primarily to perpetuate themselves. So for instance, when the Catholic Church was shown to have protected priests who were raping children, this was shocking, but not surprising: the Church was primarily invested in perpetuating itself, rather than in its ostensible purpose, to save souls, or even protecting its most innocent parishioners. This helps me to see power dynamics in terms of what groups do, rather than judging mainly by the stories they tell about themselves. From the same source, he also taught me that everything contains something of its opposite and the seeds of its own destruction, kind of the yin-yang principle.

    The notion that leaving the planet a better place than I found it is imperative is also one of my most important lessons from my parents, even though I’ve failed miserably at that. My father also survived being shot down by the Nazis and death-marched across Germany for nine months until getting liberated by the Allied forces at the end of hostilities in the European Theater: I wouldn’t be here were it not for several instances of happenstance, my dad’s perseverance and his ability to bond with a buddy to help each other out during their ordeal. So luck, determination and cooperation – as well as a strong faith – can make the difference between survival and succumbing.

  145. I appreciate having had the opportunity to live with both my mother and grandmother separately. My mom taught me the value of having fun and keeping a childlike spirit, and to be an unconventional woman in terms of building things with your hands, and being strong (as she is an athlete).

    My grandmother taught me the power of putting your mind to tasks and accomplishing them. Though this is still training I am undergoing, my grandmother is 76, president of her garden club, member of the art council, and several different committees and she is always creating things that influence many. Be it dances, shows, home tours, flower arrangements, or regularly updating her house into a magical, comfortable place out of a magazine, I appreciate her ability to transfer ideas of the mind into reality.

  146. Heather Jackson Link to this comment

    My parents always told me when I go into a store, don’t buy something just to buy something, just so I don’t have to walk out empty-handed. They don’t necessarily always practice what they preach, which is maybe why this lesson stuck with me.

    As a result, I’m forced to stop and consider whether I really need the item and need it now, or whether I’m just using it as retail therapy. This attitude helped me prioritize when I was a broke student (and when I returned to being a broke student after having an income for a few years).

  147. What I learned from my Mom is to always stand up for yourself because if you don’t, no one will. I’ve witnessed a few times where my Mom was racially discriminated against and instead of keeping her head down and walking away, she let the other person have it. At first I was embarrassed, but I’ve realized that it takes a lot of courage to speak up for what’s right.

  148. I enjoyed reading some of the existing responses. Thank you to everyone who has shared.

    My parents were incredible supporters of what I wanted to do from the very start. Regardless of our circumstances, they made my dreams come true, even when things weren’t right financially. Now, I worked to raise money when it wasn’t there, but I know that there were some ancillary costs that I never accounted for that were taken care of.

    From my father, the power of saying “You’re welcome” instead of “no problem” has stood out for me. When you’re meeting with someone important or vital to a project, using the textbook manners is crucial (and sadly sets people apart nowadays).

    From my mother, to never get too far from what makes you happy. Living life isn’t about the biggest or best of anything, but it is what those items may allow you to do. If you don’t need them to do the things that make you happy, then don’t get them. I think that is where Ramit’s philosophies resonate with me: guilt-free spending enables you to do what you want to do. It doesn’t mean you have to have a lot, but rather, you focus on trying to acquire what helps you do what you want to do.

    I’m a believer in happiness and my parents, for the vast majority of my life, have always made me happier than anything else. Thank you!

    RG

  149. Ruth (Dar) Bass Link to this comment

    Ramit,

    The best thing I learned from my parents was how they valued education. My dad always
    encouraged us to go for as much education as we could. “Take advantage of all the education
    you can get” he always said.

  150. Generosity to everyone, family, friends, clients the skinny cats in the street…
    Honesty, no matter how brutal it may be.
    Hard work.
    Never to sit on public toilets…

  151. To be an self-reliant adult. When I was having trouble dealing with my messy roommates, my parents told me I could move back in with them on one condition- that I paid them rent. Since it was the same amount and I didn’t have to clean up after them, I was glad to. A year later I left, to get my own apartment with no roommates. I know many kids who got free room and board with their parents after college and they aren’t as successful as I am today.

  152. My parents taught me to be a person of my word. They were never wishy washy with an answer. Also, We never heard or saw my parents argue. That in turn taught me I needed to learn the art of disagreeing. I’m still working on this.

  153. What a cool question! My parents have taught me so much. 5 lessons that I have learned from my parents really come to mind in no particular order:

    1. ) Perseverance- Never give up during times of trial. It is important to keep your head held high and figure out what you need to accomplish to continue forward. Through out my life, I have had a lot of Up’s and Down’s and each time I have utilized this trait to get out of a rut or bounce back.

    2. ) Kindness- Always treat others with kindness in all walks of life. Everyone deserves to be respected and with respect comes treating him/her with kindness. My parents are two of the kindest people I know and I am not just saying this because they raised me. They lovingly adopted me internationally, handpicking me to join their family.

    3.) Value family- This ties into the last lesson. Family is special and should be treasured. Not all families are the same but they will be yours for life. Make time for your family; support, love, and keep your family close to your heart. As I have developed adult relationships with each of my parents, I realize they will not live forever and cherish our time together.

    4.) Speak clearly- My parents always drilled into me … “Open your mouth, Andrea.” In this day and age, it can be very difficult to understand people. Early on, I was taught to articulate my words. This has helped me in both my professional and personal life.

    5) Be yourself- I have been supported in my education, various sports, hobbies, and friendships. With anything I have chosen to partake in, my parents have let me choose. Because of this, I feel like I am who I want to be– truthfully, a genuine person. Their encouragement to live my own life and create my own journey is refreshing.

  154. This post really hit home, as my father died suddenly on April 9th. I’ll focus on lessons I learned from him. Reading it brought up a lot of memories and tears. Great ones.

    My dad was incredibly active in the community, if volunteering was paid work, my dad would have been a billionnaire. Taking action in any way you can to make a difference is a powerful lesson he taught me, no action is too small. He initiated many projects, founded groups and businesses, even brought a new sport to the seniors’ university right before he died. Actually, he played pickle ball the evening before he died. A life of service is what he led.

    My father also taught me and my sisters to be women of our words. When I say something, I mean it, then I do what I said. This is part of living a rich and fulfilling life. People’s reaction are sometimes funny when I offer to do something: “that’s too much, you don’t have to”. My reply is always: “I only offer (assistance/support…) when it is my pleasure to do so (or meaningful for me)”. Upon hearing those words, people usually smile and their shoulders relax. It makes the whole experience – happy or sad – a lot more enjoyable or peaceful.

    One lesson that was brought to life as people came to the funeral home to pay their respect was how my dad let his actions speak for himself… And his actions often preceded him everywhere. He was a man of few words, often, instead of saying he’d do X or Z, he’d go out and simply do it. Without saying a word. Then it was done. He rarely sought credit for it, he’d let people discover on their own that Y was done. This is something I’ve always done on a low level, never really knowing where that came from. Letting my actions speak for me and reveal who and how I am as a human being is a way of being I intend on embracing even more as a way to honour my dad.

    I could write a “My dad’s lessons about life” book, but I’ll keep it at that.

  155. From my mother I learned the value of becoming the best at what you do.
    She is the best in her field in Madeira and that gives her a lot of freedom.

    From my father I learned the value of hard work and persistence. He never gives up until he gets it done.

    I’m glad they’re still around. There’s so much more that they taught me and that I know they still will.

  156. Mom: Putting money aside for savings – she drilled this into us as kids.

    Dad: He taught me to appreciate the small things in life: he would LITERALLY stop to smell the flowers! He was so calm and he taught me to take breaks and be good to myself when stress hits. He’d force me to go outside and chill out when I was visibly stressed about something – this trick always works.

    • The greatest thing my mom taught me or gave me was self-sufficiency. I am sure out of pure exhaustion of being a single mom and working long hours she have us more than the usual chores around the house. In 5th grade she wrote out the steps to doing laundry. How to separate it, how to wash and how to dry. She took us over to the laundry in our rental building and walked us through it. She said I learn to do it right because she would never do it for us again ( we earned the tough love on this one). I learned and did it. I learned to cook and to sew and anything else I wanted to learn so I could do it myself. In college I remember going to the laundromat and having friends ask me how to do it because they had never done their laundry or anything else. I couldn’t believe that these 18 yr olds were so lost. That translated into so many areas and I am so grateful that she took the time to show me. I have built a great business and have always been able to move forward because I am not afraid to ask how to do something, learn how to do it and then decide if I was truly the best one for the job or not. So invaluable.

  157. My mother was highly critical of others and exclusive in the extreme. Of course, opposites seem to attract! My dad was inclusive, welcoming, and inviting. They divorced when I was quite young and went on to marry people more like themselves. From my mother’s side I learned a lot about judgement and critical thinking. From my father’s I learned acceptance and the importance of relationship.

    Yes my dad’s side was more easy going; however, I would not know how to push myself to achieve or expect more without my mother’s teachings. Both qualities are important. Life works better when both sides are in balance.

  158. What I learned from my mother:

    1. Networking is powerful
    2. Even if you dont have confidence, fake it any way
    3. Be generous to those deserving of such generosity
    4. Education is important
    5. if you say you are going to do something, then do it.
    6. Nobody cares about your dreams but you…so get it done already.
    7. Looks are important, so always look your best, and use it to get things accomplished.

    What I learned from my father:

    1. Hard work is one ingredient to recognition
    2. Dont be risky without a plan
    3. Intelligence can only take you so far without guts
    4. Start saving for retirement now…no I mean it…now. No seriously, do it today.
    5. Always have a plan B and C and D. Work hard so you never have to use them.
    6. The squeakiest wheel gets the oil
    7. Be patient [I still suck at this]

  159. The best thing I’ve learned from my parents:
    -Money is never the top priority: My pa may not be the most financially successful sibling in his family, but he’s the most highly respected one because of his kind and fair treatment of employees, and all that he would for was to ensure me and my siblings had a good education and future.
    -Kindness pays off: Again based on my pa from the first point, but my ma uses this wherever she goes, from getting discounts to having friends and relatives helping us out whenever we’re in need.
    -Family is important: This applies more to our entire clan really- no matter all the drama and faults someone’s done to someone else, we all look out for one another, and it’s how all of us have collectively gone through a lot of ordeals.

  160. Great question Ramit. Thanks for the offer to share.

    The thing I learned from my mom was to be kind to everyone you meet. You don’t know their personal situations or reasons for their behavior. So be kind and everyone will benefit.

    From my father I learned integrity in work and to treat others fairly.

    I don’t always live these characteristics of my parents but they gave me great examples to follow.

  161. My father, while he was still alive, at different points of my life used to ask me if I was happy, and if I was satisfied. (Not advice per say.)

    Those used to be the most honest questions I ever received because they touched upon the crux of everything: how fleeting the life is, how little time we have here (even if we live to be a 100), and how the focus of actions we take, and things we do (on a large and small scale) should be to make the time here good for ourselves.

  162. WHEN I CAME TO READ THIS I BELEIVED I HADNT LEARN ANYTHING FROM MY PARENTS, BUT ONCE I GOT TO THINK ABOUT IT I LEARNED
    -LIVE THE LIFE YOU WANT WITH HARD WORK AND DEDICATION
    -EVERYDAY IS A DAY TO LEARN SOMETHING NEW FOR PERSONAL GROWTH
    -NOTHING IN LIFE IS GIVEN BUT EARNED
    -TRUST TO A CERTAIN EXTENT BECAUSE WE ALL HAVE SOME SECRETS THAT SHOULDNT BE KNOWN

  163. 10 things I learned from my parents:

    1. Have the courage to be true to yourself

    2. There are always two sets of rules. Or, “rules are for other people”

    3. Do what you said you’d do, be there when you said you’d be there

    4. You don’t have to believe in God; I’ll just wait for you to get there yourself

    5. Do the things that call to you, just make sure you’re not running away

    6. Ask yourself the tough questions and do the same for those you love

    7. When others disappoint you look for ways to feel compassion

    8. Food is love and everyone can taste the difference

    9. You attract what you have to learn about

    10. Whatever you’re doing, do it well or not at all

  164. Thanks Ramit for this question! In all that frustrating dwelling about what my parents did wrong, what they taught me gets easily lost.
    My mum taught me to enjoy music, good books and holidays, no matter how bad sometimes everyday life can be. My grandma taught me to cook out of almost anything, and my grandpa to pay attention :)

  165. The most important things my outstanding parents taught me:
    1. Family comes FIRST
    2. Work hard to build a great life but NEVER EVER leave behind the ones who REALLY love you
    3. No matter what happens, get you sh* together, get up and move on
    4. Put your heart in your dreams, roll up your sleeves and pursue them
    5. REMEMBER THAT YOUR PARENTS ARE THE ONLY PEOPLE WHO ALWAYS ALWAYS PUT YOUR HAPPINESS BEFORE THEIR OWN!
    6. NEVER EVER DOUBT YOUR PARENTS’ LOVE FOR YOU!

  166. Probably the most important thing my parents taught me was that traveling is the best teacher. Visiting other countries has opened me to countless business opportunities, connections and new ways of thinking. Those in turn have contributed to making my life far better than anything else.

  167. My mom was used to say: “The only things I regret in life are those things that I didn’t do”.
    Thanks Ramit for bringing up this question.

    -Robert

  168. I would have to say that the most important lesson my father lived by and taught me was to always “Do to Others what you want done to you at any given moment” so if I expected to be treated a certain way I would treat others in that way. That also meant consequences too, not just the rewards. So I wouldn’t be shocked to receive consequences for my actions and I wouldn’t be shocked to receive the rewards. I received what I deserved in every situation with out hesitation. The second lesson was to always “think ahead before you speak or do something, because you may not like what you reap.” but I’m truly grateful for my father being ahead of his time and not being stuck in teaching all of his daughters these “gender roles” and “gender expectations.” since he came from the eastern/central part of the world where things are very different for women then they are in Canada. I’m so grateful that he didn’t want his daughters to be in a situation where they thought they had to always rely on a man be it fixing things, earning money, being validated by them ect. He taught me that I could always go get it for myself and that I was a princess and no one could have me that didn’t value me as such because they were not worthy. He also taught me that a woman needs to be herself but she also needs to be loving and nurturing to herself and those around her and never feel inferior or superior to any man, woman, child or animal, that we are all a part of the big picture in the mural. He taught me so many things and I’m very grateful for all of them.

  169. One thing that I am grateful for my parents is that they thought me never to give up even when all the doors seem to close to your face. That is why, I always keep searching to find another solution to a problem. In most cases I am rewarded handsomely for my persistence. We hear to many “no”s in our lives that after a while it doesn’t really mean no. It may mean tens of things including; what you are asking is perfectly alright request but the person in charge isn’t willing to help you.

  170. Critical thinking skills, although I did not know it at the time. My folks were cautious about being taken for fools and always seemed to me to quickly understand when they were not getting the full story. Years later in business and econ classes I learned concepts like “bait and switch”, but the healthy skepticism passed on to me by my parents had already taught me to look out for things like that.

  171. […] zu diesem Beitrag hat mich Ramit Sethi, eigentlich Finanzguru, der in diesem Beitrag fragte, was das Beste sei, was wir von unseren Eltern gelernt […]

  172. The best thing I learned from my parents, is how to effectively advocate for myself, and how to speak clearly. I learned to not be shy about asking questions and using resources, and how to be extremely polite while still being assertive and communicating what it is that I want. I learned how subtle differences in attitude and execution could mean the difference between someone saying no, and saying yes. Do I need someone’s help, or would I be most thankful for it? Do I want something, or do I have the right to it?

  173. My parents taught me:
    1. That complaining is a waste of time and energy. Taking action is better. No one is going to fix it for you, so get off your butt and just do it. Take personal responsibility for your life.
    2. Gratitude is an essential life skill. Practice it every day.
    3. Always act with integrity. Without integrity you are less than your potential self.

    But most importantly they taught me, by their early deaths, that you’d better be enjoying your life in some measurable manner on a daily basis. You never know when you’ll be shown the exit door.

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