Today is my dad‘s 70th birthday. Without him, I wouldn’t be around. That’s an unexpectedly deep thought that just sent me down a weird mortality rat hole.
Except for a brief period of time during 7th grade, my dad has always been one of my best friends. I have
hundreds thousands of memories pre-college of things we did together that shaped my future. We’ve had plenty of arguments, but they were usually healthy, constructive ones which taught me how to think critically and helped me understand that it was ok to have a different point of view.
I have a key memory during my freshman year at MIT that sticks in my mind. My parents came to visit me during the MIT equivalent of parents weekend (maybe it’s actually called parents weekend – I can’t remember.) I was depressed and homesick – all of my high school friends were at UT Austin and having a blast and I was at MIT getting brutalized. During a walk in Concord on a crisp fall day, my dad turned to me and said "look – just give it a year. If you don’t want to stay, call it after a year. But at least give it a year so you have enough time to really figure it out." I stuck it out for a year, discovered I loved the place in some sick, twisted way, and never looked back.
My dad was a partner in my first business with me and Dave Jilk – who also happens to have a birthday today. Dad was the adult supervision / business mentor and Feld Technologies wouldn’t have been as successful as it was without his help. He helped me early in getting grounded in "doing the right thing all the time – even if it is hard" in a business context.
I finally had my childhood rebellion in my mid-20′s after I got divorced, dropped out the MIT Ph.D. program I was in, and sold Feld Technologies. He appropriately realized what was going on, so he backed off for a few years and when I got through my stuff our relationship was stronger than ever.
The last 10 years together have been awesome. I’ve continued to learn an amazing amount of stuff from him and his experiences, and he regularly tells me how much he learns from me. Our time together is precious – especially our annual weekends and the Feld Men’s trip where chocolate ice cream is consumed in huge quantities.
Happy birthday dad. You are dad #1.