I thought I would write an article to honor a man who taught me most about what life is and will bring, but he also taught me the principles of business. I have written about some of my mentors in the past and how they influenced my life but this is different, the guy I'm about to talk about is my dad. It's funny as I wrote the last sentence and I typed the word "dad" an overwhelming feeling of comfort and pride ran through my soul topped off with a smile.
Some readers have been asking why I have not updated my blog over the summer. Some thought that I put the pen down and went sailing around the world, but that's far from true. My dad was diagnosed with congestive heart failure in mid July, the doctors gave my mom, my sister and I the painful news that he will not be around much longer. That was tough to hear. It's been a struggle to focus enough let alone sit down and write about the one thing I love most- Toronto real estate and the business it is.
My dad is an Italian who immigrated to Canada in 1958 and became a proud Canadian in the late 60's. He married mom Nina and had my sister in 1966, like most immigrants who came to this country during or following the Second World War he didn't have much, but he had the one thing that cannot be taught- the will to survive and strive to be better.
He proudly became an entrepreneur in the early 80's when he started his quest in being a restaurateur. He realized his dream and reached his first major goal, unfortunately he became ill at a young age. The heart attack he suffered did not stop him from achieving his other goals, becoming a real estate investor. Owning your own home is one thing but to own multiple properties is what my dad always strived for, and own he does, not only here in Canada but also in the United States. His greatest success from his own admission is that he and my mom created a family environment for my sister and I, they both gave us love and nurtured us when needed, they dug deep and found a way to make it better for Vera and myself.
I started working for my dad at a very young age, it first started as a hobby and something to do during the summer break, only the more time I spent at the restaurant the more I liked it. I had my own pizza station at 12 years old and I was to-short-to shovel pizzas in the oven, so my dad stacked milk grates on top of one another so I could use them as a step ladder to reach the higher oven. I was loving every moment because I knew my parents relied on me, and that was cool! For the first time in my life I felt like I was contributing in a positive way back to my family. I was beginning to learn and understand business and what it meant- hard work, long hours and how the customer is always right....even when they are not.
When I turned 20 years old I opened my first restaurant and went on to open a second store a little while later, my mom was against it as she wanted me to experience something different, she never wanted the same lifestyle of sacrifice that she and my dad endured for years-and-years. My dad on the other hand said "Vincenzo if this is what you want, then go do it" it was his way of saying don't let your dreams pass you by.
I remember this one time when I was in a dispute with my landlord and it wasn't pretty. The morning we were to meet my dad stopped me before I left and he said to me" stay calm and be diplomatic regardless of how angry you are, shake his hand and wish him a good morning" it was that very moment that I truly understood that you can't take things personally when your in business, it's just business. Another valued lesson that my dad passed on to me that I will never forget. Those lessons were so valuable as I would always revert back to them later on in life.
As a young boy my dad would do his best to pick me up from school so that I wouldn't have to walk home or take the bus, some of my greatest lessons were when I sat in the car with just my dad. He would talk to me about politics and the importance of understanding what each political party stood for. He would explain why capitalism could be good. He would also teach me that socialistic ideas were needed for the greater whole of the country. He stood right in the middle and always reminded me that being Canadian was a blessing, having the right to choose is the greatest thing since sliced bread.
When I decided to pursue a real estate career he taught me that it's a business and not a career. If I wanted to be successful I had to build better customer service techniques and I had to learn the commercial aspect of the industry, it was important to him that I could over see his investments and manage it the right way. My dad was my first and only client in my first year of business as a Realtor; it was a long year but a fruitful one to say the least. I learned how to play the game from one of the best when it came time to negotiate commercial leases, he knew how to keep me calm during a negotiation and taught me to be patient and never let the lines of communication die when putting a deal together with the other side. He taught me that pride doesn't pay the bills and that someone could call you any name in the book as long as you achieve what you want in the end. My dad always saw a different prospective that I never seen until I became a Realtor and began working as his representative.
As a teenager I guess it was safe to say that I was arrogant and stubborn, I believed that I knew how life worked and that nobody could get in my way. My father was there for me in those trying times as well, he reminded me that if I came home with a black eye that he would blacken the other one! Even today, I still remember how shocked and how scared I was when he said that to me. His lesson was simple- if you’re going to make bad choices than you must be prepared to live with the consequences, make your bed wisely. It was that lesson that turned me around and I began to focus on my school work and I actually graduated with honors. The fear of disappointing myself had become more apparent and I wouldn't have it. I made sure to never come home with a black eye.
As I entered into adulthood I began to drift away from my father as I could not relate to his message, it's something that I will always regret. I wanted so bad to leave his shadow and gain the respect from my peers on my own merits but my dad never left me, he always stood by me and spoke of how proud he was.
I look back on my life as I was one of the lucky ones to have both my parents guide me through the good the bad and the ugly. Every child deserves to have both, some are not so fortunate, I’m not ashamed to admit that I was the type of kid who required the lessons of both parents. I believe that if my dad was taken away from me at earlier stage in life that I wouldn't be the person I am today.
With that I would like to thank both my mom and dad for all your sacrifice and also say that I am very proud to be your son.
Today is March 11, 2013 and I haven't been able to update this post till now, I didn't know what I wanted to say.
My Dad passed away at 7:15 a.m on Thanksgiving morning, his heart stopped working.
I'm sorry Dad for all I have done, for not being able to save you. I should have been better and spent more time with you when I had the oppurtunity.
I want you to know that your heart continues to beat within me, Mom and Vera.