A Family of Entrepreneurs

Award-winning business speaker Francis Kong shares how entrepreneurship and technology connect his family

Ideas are the currencies for the future. A thought, a word, a story or an idea can spark the creative mind that provides the inspiration that leads to business growth and beyond. Welcome to Business Matters with Francis Kong, a series of stories, discussions, and musings from one of the most respected business speakers in the Philippines.  

My kids always surprise me with gifts on Father’s Day, and this is why Father’s Day has always been both a joy and a worry as my kids were growing up. I was always afraid they would give me a present that I couldn’t afford. Today, my kids are all grown up and the gift they have given me is that they are all entrepreneurs. This is what they have seen in me, what they have learned from me, and now they are applying and experiencing the challenges and joys of doing business.

I used to consider Father’s Day as another one of those commercial ideas retail stores and restaurants concocted to increase business. But now that I am a lot older and more experienced, the day means a lot to me. It was on Father’s Day many years ago when I came across an article on the web that put a smile on my face. It is entitled: “BECAUSE I’M A DAD… “

I must hold the television remote control while I watch TV. If the thing has been misplaced, I’ll miss a whole show looking for it, though I was able to survive by holding a calculator one time. 

When I lock my keys in the car, I will fiddle with a wire clothes hanger and ignore any suggestions that we call road service until long after standing in the rain and pneumonia has set in.

And when the car isn’t running very well, I will pop the hood and stare at the engine as if I know what I’m looking at. If another guy shows up, one of us will say to the other, “I used to be able to fix these things, but now with all these computers and everything, I wouldn’t know where to start.” 

When I catch a cold, I need someone to bring me soup and care for me while I lie in bed and moan. You never get as sick as I do, so this isn’t an issue for you. 

I can be relied upon to purchase basic groceries at the store, like milk or bread. I cannot be expected to find exotic items like “Cumin” or “Tofu.” For all I know, these are the same thing. And never, under any circumstances, expect me to pick up a copy of “Vogue” or “Better Homes & Gardens.” 

When one of our appliances stops working, I will insist on taking it apart, despite evidence that this will cost me twice as much once the repair person gets here and has to put it back together. 

I don’t think we’re all that lost, and no, I don’t think we should stop and ask someone. Why would you listen to a stranger–how could HE know where we’re going? 

You don’t have to ask me if I liked the movie. If you’re crying at the end of it, I didn’t.

And here is another material I am sure you will enjoy. It is called: “THE FATHERHOOD CYCLE.”

4 years: “My Daddy can do anything.”

7 years: “My Dad knows a lot, a whole lot.”

12 years: “Oh, well – naturally – Father doesn’t know that either.”

14 years: “Father? Hopelessly old-fashioned.”

21 years: “Oh, that man is so out-of-date. What did you expect?”

25 years: “He knows a little bit about it – but not much.”

30 years: “Maybe we ought to find out what Dad thinks.”

35 years: “Let’s ask Dad what he would do before we decide.”

40 years: “I wonder what Dad would have thought about that? He was pretty wise.”

50 years: “My Dad knew absolutely everything.”

60 years: “I’d give anything if Dad were here so I could talk this over with him. I really miss that man.”

Today all the kids are doing well with their businesses. Once in a while, they would ask me for some advice, and I would gladly provide it. I have thought of charging them the regular consultation fees I charge my clients, but these are my kids, so I guess I will do it pro-bono. But something different is happening these days. I have to ask them for advice regarding technology, social media, digital marketing, and technological developments. It’s a good thing they do not charge me consultancy fees. 

We are not in the same line of business. My son, Bryan, is in the restaurant and ice cream business. My eldest daughter, Hannah, is in the fashion design business, while I am my younger daughter’s business as she handles my engagements and activities. The fields are so diverse but what connects all of us is technology. Some companies overlap as they go into joint ventures, but the entrepreneurial spirit of each kid, though diverse, is evident. 

My heart is warmed when I see this happening as a father. An important lesson I have taught them as they were growing up is that family always comes first before the business when it comes to the family business. Behind the success of every small business, there is a family.

And now that Father’s Day is approaching again, I wonder what other advice we’ll give and receive as we celebrate as a family. I wonder what gifts they will give me this year. 

And I hope you get to celebrate in your own ways, too. Thank you for your contribution and service to all the fathers out there, and a Happy Father’s Day!

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