10 Best Things My Parents Taught Me (advice from readers)

It’s no secret that my parents had a HUGE impact on the person I am today. In fact, I’d say they were the biggest reason I’m so passionate about personal finance and development. Here’s how you can actually learn from your parents.

These are my actual parents, not a stock photo!

I remember walking around department stores with my mom when I was a kid and watching her negotiate for EVERYTHING. It didn’t matter if it was a new shirt for me or laundry detergent at the grocery store. She was always ready to throw down the gauntlet and haggle for a lower price.

My dad’s incredibly financially savvy as well — almost to a fault. He once dragged me along with him as he spent an entire week negotiating with a salesman for a lower price on a car. Here’s the kicker: As he was literally about to sign the papers for the car, he stopped, asked the salesman to throw in free floor mats, and walked away when they refused.

That’s an entire week’s worth of bargaining them down to an incredibly fair price, only to walk away when they didn’t throw in some floor mats he could have bought for less than 50 bucks at Walmart. I was wide-eyed and shell-shocked like I just went through three tours of duty in ‘Nam as we walked away from the dealership.

What’s my point? Two things:

  1. My mom and dad are incredibly Indian.
  2. Parents impact your life in more profound ways than you can ever imagine.

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

A while back, one of my students asked this amazing question — and I loved it so much that I wanted to throw it out to the entire IWT community.

She asked members of one of the IWT Facebook Groups what we’d learned from our parents and what we’re grateful for. My response is below.


The question got me thinking: What are some things my readers learned from their parents? So I asked you … and I got a TON of answers back.

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I’d like to share 10 of the best ones I found with you today.

Parent lesson #1: Find a better band

Your father’s a wise man, Scott. He also echoed a few mantras that another wise man likes to harp on (i.e. me). Punching above your weight class is something I always talk about when it comes to negotiations — namely, the door-in-face technique when it comes to getting a better salary.

My favorite of his two pieces of advice, though, has to be “go find a better band.” We should always be surrounding ourselves with people with whom we can learn and grow. That’s why it’s so important to both work on your social skills and be willing to find someone who’ll mentor you.

Parent lesson #2: Sometimes the bad things can be good

After more than a decade of running IWT — which includes producing dozens of courses, hundreds of articles, and an email list of thousands — I’ve made my fair share of mistakes …

… okay, I’ve made a crap ton of mistakes (and still do too). One thing I can say about those mistakes though is that I’ve probably learned more about how to build a business from screwing up than I ever did from any book or article.

The best part is, those lessons stuck with me even more because of how bad some of the mistakes were.

It doesn’t matter if you’re getting out of debt, starting your own business, or saving money for something. You’ve got to learn to embrace your “fails” as hidden wins if you ever want to find success in life. After all, that’s when you’ll learn the most.

Parent lesson #3: Punctuality, courtesy of a German father

Sounds like your parents’ German side has served you well, Rebecca! Not many people can say their families gave them the ability to set concrete goals and put time on the calendar to get things done. Building solid habits like those are absolutely essential if you want to find success in life and your career.

I remember I used to be just AWFUL about finding time to just focus on developing myself and my company. That’s when I decided to actually schedule time in my calendar to just focus on strategy and research. That meant:

  • No meetings
  • No calls
  • No emails

And it worked wonders. Some of IWT’s best courses came from one of those “no” times, and is still one of my best habits.

Parent lesson #4: Stuff isn’t important

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If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, there’s something that you’ve heard me mention before: Anyone can be rich.

That being said, being rich ISN’T all about money. It’s about what being rich means to YOU.

For me, being rich isn’t about the stuff you own or even the money you have. I’ve always believed in getting really good at something, then passing it on to others. That’s my version of being rich — and since so many of you are reading this, I’m an incredibly wealthy man.

A Rich Life is more than money. It starts by managing your own, and continues by helping OTHERS get rich.

Parent lesson #5: Learn from where we came up short

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I love this idea of a “negative example” and it goes to showcase the important idea that you should always feel confident in striking out and finding a job you love — whether it’s in your dream job or by starting your very own business.

But I totally understand why that’s an incredibly scary thought. Being willing to dig your heels into the ground and say that you want to actively pursue something you’re passionate about goes against everything that society has taught us.

We’re supposed to get the degree, work the 9-to-5, and retire in our sixties to a condo in Florida. These are the invisible scripts we’ve had all of our lives. The trick is to recognize them for what they are though: absolute bullshit.

Parent lesson #6: Never underestimate the power of a thank you note

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One hard truth to swallow is the fact that there are no hard and set rules for SO many things in life. For example: Building your own business. You can follow all the how-to guides out there, buy all the courses, read all the books, and you still might end up watching your hard work crash and burn.

BUT if you’re willing to go the extra mile and do the work that 99.999999% of people aren’t willing to do, you’re going to receive disproportionate rewards for it.

That’s why I love that you were taught never to “underestimate the power of a thank-you note.” It’s one of those small touches that can absolutely make or break situations like a job interview follow-up.

Parent lesson #7: Find value in delayed gratification

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Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the same goes for your Rich Life. That’s why it’s so frustrating whenever I get an email from someone who says something to the effect of, “I started your course on freelancing a week ago and still haven’t gotten a single client! What gives?”

The value you get out of something is directly correlated with the amount of time it takes to get it. The bigger the win, the longer it’ll take. But if you’re willing to stick with it and take the time to really make sure you accomplish your goals correctly, I promise you you’ll see results.

Parent lesson #8: Imagine if you were smart …

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I love Angela’s dad’s way of approaching situations. It’s exactly what I suggest to people if they want to get past the crippling barriers stopping them from accomplishing their goals.

After all, confidence comes from being successful at micro-steps. Let’s say you want to become more confident about public speaking. That comes with its own set of barriers:

  • What if I use the wrong word?
  • What if everyone laughs at me — or worse — doesn’t laugh at my jokes?
  • What if they all get bored?

Many times, that’s enough to screw up. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

However, if you ask yourself, “What if I were the absolute master of this domain? What would I do?”

You certainly wouldn’t get overwhelmed by practicing your speech in front of family and friends. And you wouldn’t mind workshopping it with some people whose opinions you trust until you get all of the words right. You would just do what was necessary to become a better public speaker. It’s a fantastic technique to become more confident over time.

Parent lesson #9: Be honest no matter how brutal it might be

Yes, Khuram, I agree completely.

I actually believe there’s a great power in brutal honesty — especially when it’s directed towards yourself. After all, how many of us have things our friends AREN’T telling us?

Maybe you’re socially awkward? Maybe you’re not as good of a cook as your girlfriend is letting on? Are you always late and come up with a million excuses as to why?

What happens when nobody calls us out on these things is that we start to accept our position in life. We think, “This is who I am and nothing will change that.” This condition is called “learned helplessness” and is the root cause of mental barriers preventing many people from succeeding.

When we start being honest with ourselves, though, we can not only start focusing on what matters most but we can start saying no to the things that simply aren’t important to us.

Parent lesson #10: “Take advantage of all the education”

Key Takeaway

If there’s one thing that I hope my readers have gained from my blog, it’s that you should always be in a state of curiosity. Be inquisitive. Ask questions when you don’t understand something and don’t be afraid to seek out more information through books, courses, or schooling.

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