Leaving a legacy … just by doing your job

Kelly, Henry, Papa copy

From left, Kelly Porter, Henry Porter, Joe Diorio

By Joe Diorio

FATHER’S DAY 2020 – I’m Kelly’s dad and Henry’s grandfather (or “Papa,” a nickname that I am delighted to learn he prefers).

I suppose the biggest lesson I have learned is that our kids, and perhaps even our grandchildren, learn a lot more from us than we can possibly realize. Setting standards and being a good role model is something we must never lose sight of.

When I was five years old my father had a ticket to go see the 1961 World Series. Dad had never been to a World Series game, and he was really looking forward to it. That is, until he learned I needed an emergency appointment with our family doctor. He gave up his ticket in a heartbeat to be with me.

I was fine, and many years later told Dad he could have gone to the game. He just shook his head no. “Family first,” was all he would say.

Fast forward 36 years from that 1961 World Series and you find me working as a freelance writer, and the father of Kelly, who at that point was also five years old. A new and possibly lucrative client asked – demanded, actually – to meet for a late-night strategy session … beginning at 4:30 p.m. on October 31.

I turned him down. “That’s Halloween,” I said. “I’m taking my daughter trick-or-treating.”

I never heard form that client again. No loss, as far as I’m concerned. Family first.

A few months ago, I was talking to Kelly, who is now a business owner herself. Kelly referenced a conversation she just had with a mutual colleague of ours. The colleague told Kelly she stresses out every time she is about to send me an email. “Your Dad is a  stickler for grammar, I use Grammarly to double-check myself every time!” the colleague told Kelly.

“Dad, I never worry about that. I mean, I pay attention to grammar, but I don’t stress out.”

“You don’t make mistakes, either,” I told her. Kelly smiled and thanked me for setting a good example.

Set standards and live by those standards. Your work/life balance needs to be “life/work” balance. And remember that our kids hear and learn more from us than we can possibly realize.


Joe Diorio is the owner of Words by Joe Diorio, LLC and the author of A Few Words About Words, a free monthly newsletter about good writing.




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