16 June, 2019

Happy Father's Day

All people are unique in their own way, but I've always had special admiration for my father.

My father: Fernando Herboso.
Like many latino migrants of his generation, he had machismo issues when I was young. He showed his love through providing a strong financial base, rather than by speaking directly from his heart. But what I find most impressive is that, over time, he changed. How he treats Natalia and Alejandro, my two teen/preteen siblings, is proof of this. My father learns to become a better person over time, and I honestly think that's his best quality.

So many people languish in a groundhog day style rut, never really becoming different from who they are at heart. But my father focused strongly on entrepreneurship early on, creating several businesses, learning from each, and these lessons somehow permeated into the other aspects of his life, resulting in a father who, from my perspective, has genuinely improved in nearly every way over the many years that I've known him.

Showing off his impressive muscles.
Though constant improvement is what I think is his best quality, there are still several others that I find immensely impressive, mostly because I find myself completely unable to match him at those qualities. First and foremost, of course, is his dedication to hard work. His ability to find a good business idea, identify what needs to happen in order for him to be successful at it, and then (this is key) actually following through on doing the necessary work, is, without a doubt, flabbergasting to me. How many people do you actually know who go above and beyond in this kind of work context? Sure, you'll occasionally find a workaholic who spends a lot of time on work, but this is almost always in the context of working for someone else. My father has a knack for identifying the maximal combination of neglected yet effective work that will accomplish the most for a business, and then actually does the required work, regardless of what it is.

Much of this comes from his voracious reading, nearly all of which is business-related. I am in awe of how many books I've seen him consume from the self-help section of the bookstore. His focus on self-improvement is beyond impressive. At every holiday family gathering, it has become a tradition for him to give a 15–30 minute seminar on how to become a better person. He uses youtube videos, includes props, invites audience participation, and regularly quizzes everyone at the end, complete with prizes for whoever performs the best. He not only focuses on success for himself, but for all those close to him in life, especially his children. He genuinely wants all in his life to become the best at whatever they do — sometimes, I think, to their detriment.

Coloring in a restaurant with his kids.
My father's philosophy of success is an interesting one. On the one hand, he defines true success as having a happy, well taken care of family. But he also relates success to becoming the top tier in whatever field you participate in. Second place is but a reminder that one can be even better. But it's not important to forge first in a field; it's acceptable to find other winners and copy their proven strategies. For a long time, I felt confused by his statements on his philosophy of success. I never really spoke with him directly about it, but just learned by hearing his point of view on various things. But I think I have a handle on it now: for him, success lies not in being the very best, but in being the local best. Success is about joining the group at the top, where defining the boundaries of that group is hazy at best. If you're going to play soccer, then work until you are the best on your team. At this point, the goalposts of success change, and now you must focus on winning tournaments. Once accomplished, it's time to join a professional team. Then to work hard enough to be a starting player on the team. And so on. At no point does he seem to ask too much, but there is always more to go. I find his position fascinating.

Fernando with his daughters.
I said earlier that my father believes true success is having a happy, well taken care of family, and I mean it. To my father, this is the ultimate goodness in life. While tribal, this is a goal to which I feel an intense attraction. He believes strongly in family, and he shows it in all the things that he does. I appreciate him very much for this aspect of his personality, and I kinda wish that I could be more like him in this respect. He not only shows love and pride for his family, but also mudita. I am constantly impressed and somewhat jealous of how he feels in this area. He really and truly is an amazing father, even if only for this one single aspect of his being.

iPad painting by my father.
Yet this is not all that my father is. He is an artist, and a tiger-lover, and a musician who adores playing guitar and singing karaoke during family celebrations. Most recently, he is a futurist, listening widely to the idea of Peter Diamandis, a co-founder of Singularity University. He is a lover of well-cooked meat, for which he constantly watches youtube videos on even better ways to grill. He is messy at heart (just see his closet!) yet organized in business, because he needs to be. He does what needs to be done, and he sacrifices much to ensure that his family thrives.

For these and all the other things I've failed to mention in this blog post, I'd like to wish my father, Fernando Herboso, a genuinely happy Father's Day. I love you.