Growing up we didn’t have much but my parents were the type of people that would sacrifice getting themselves something nice to ensure their kids were always well feed and well dressed. We never ate out much in order to save money but when we did it was glorious. We had a traditional annual visit to Swiss Chalet and a couple sprinkles of McDonald’s and Pizza Pizza every now and then. McDonald’s was always my favourite. Between that and Yorkdale Mall, these two places were like the closest thing to a Disney Land in my childhood.
When I was 6 years old my Father one day showed up out of the blue while my brother and I were on lunch at school. It was odd to see him because he should have been at work but we were thrilled. He asked us if we wanted to go to McDonald’s for lunch and we screamed ‘YES’ in excitement. As we entered the restaurant my Father said the most glorious thing you can say to a 6 year old while in McDonald’s, “You can get anything you want son.” I’ve always remembered that lunch because it was so unexpected and because of what that lunch meant to my Dad. You see, what he didn’t tell us that day was that he was laid off in the morning. It must have been pretty scary to lose your job as an immigrant, trying to learn English and being the main bread winner. I can’t imagine how that must have felt but to relieve his depression, he decided to treat his kids to the Golden Arches because making us happy made him happy.
28 years later I now work at McDonald’s as a Digital Marketing lead. It’s surreal working for the brand that was your Disney land growing up. I invited my Dad to eat lunch with me for the first time in the corporate restaurant last week since joining the company a little over a year ago. I don’t know what took me so long to do this but I thought this was the right time as my Father approaches his 60th birthday on November 26th. I am who I am because of him and my success in life and in business has been because of the lessons he has taught me. There are 3 that has always stuck with me:
- Be a sponge – learn and keep learning. Learn from others and always ask questions.
- Find a way – this one has been tough for me but with my Dad, there is always a solution to a problem. He always has told me ‘find a way’. This attitude has served me well in business but when times are tough and I feel like giving up, I always hear him in my head, ‘Find a way.’
- Hard work pays off – my Father has always instilled a strong work ethic in all his children and it has served us well. He’s always told us to not pay attention to the politics, roll-up our sleeves and work hard because it will lead to good things.
My Father didn’t grow up with a mother or a father, yet he made something of himself, made a family and raised 3 kids. He’s not perfect and has never claimed to be but he’s been dedicated and committed to his kids and now as he approaches 60 we honour him and what he has done by taking the lessons he has taught us and applying it in our lives.
As my Father entered the McDonald’s Canada corporate office last week, I was excited to greet him. Before he ordered his food, I thought it was only right to turn to him and tell him, “Hey Dad, you can get anything you want.” It’s funny how life comes full circle and I can see the pride in his eyes to see how far his little boy has come. All I can feel is pure gratitude to this man who believed in me and there is nothing I could ever do to repay him for his sacrifice but just say ‘I love you’.