My father Rick Isaacson is one of the greatest influences—if not the greatest influence—in my life. Even though we do not see eye-to-eye on everything—from details of our political platforms to social media usage, I believe he is the best male figure my life could possibly have been blessed with. I will never be able to express enough thanks and gratitude to him, but I’ll start with this: Thanks, dad.
Due to how my dad lives his life and therefore the example he has set for me, many people might consider my standards for the men I allow into my life unrealistic. Thanks to my dad’s conscious choice to be the man he is, I know my standards are not realistic but they’re attainable, as he is a living, breathing human with freewill—just like the rest of us.
I wish every child could be blessed with the role model that is my father. He is admirably principled. I’m going to elaborate on how some of my dad’s traits and characteristics have impacted my outlook on life, with the hope that more men will choose to live a life and fulfill fatherhood with as much intentionality as he has.
My dad is a family man.
In my formative years, my dad thankfully made it a point to be present in our family, despite spending much of his time developing a solid, industry-leading company. When my mom would work weekends in the ER, my dad would take us kids camping. I sure do miss it sometimes. He would also take the family Jet Skiing, which, still to this day, is one of my favorite activities. And not only did he ensure we went to Church every week and oftentimes Sunday school, but he would also read stories from The Bible to us. And regardless of his demanding travel schedule for work, he made time to disconnect from the office and treat us to memorable family vacations. He intentionally strived to be a father and a husband—a true family man. He demonstrated that you make time for the people you love, despite the importance of your professional responsibilities. He’s done so for good reason: Family is the most important support structure in the world.
My dad is an athlete.
My dad’s “family man” tendencies spilled over into my extracurricular activities as a child, largely due to the fact that he was an athlete himself. He was a great baseball player. Additionally, his high school basketball team was the first one in the biggest, most competitive division of California to go undefeated and win the state championships. They achieved this two years in a row. My father’s firsthand experience with the benefits of athletics—teamwork, individual work ethic, dedication, camaraderie, and positive attitude among many others—led him to encourage his children to find and hone their own strengths—athletic or not. These values have been engrained in me. Not only did he coach countless baseball teams for my brothers, but he also coached my childhood soccer and basketball teams. When I abandoned other sports for swimming despite his belief in my basketball abilities, he supported my desires and me, and he made it to my championship swim meets to cheer me on alongside my mom.
My dad is an accomplished businessman.
Along with my aunt and uncle, my father took the reigns of our family’s franchise system and created an incredible operating system, support structure, and brand. In his 30 years in the business, he has increased SERVPRO’s footprint by 1,000 Franchises—without sacrificing franchise metrics or service to customers. Due to his incredible foresight and strategic eye, he’s earned the reputation as the visionary of our company. Since I was a little girl, I’ve been enamored by his business savvy. Before I even understood that the company is a family owned corporation, I decided I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps by working to further the success of SERVPRO. After graduating early from Vanderbilt University with a major in economics, a major in communication studies, and a minor in corporate strategy, I began doing exactly that; I stepped into the family business after spending a couple summers during my college career there. I could have simply finished out the typical four years of undergraduate studies as is usually done, but I’ve been influenced by my father’s stewardship and work ethic.
My dad is a steward.
Why should I have stayed in school to complete a couple more classes to add a financial economics minor to my résumé, when the university is so expensive? My father never once nudged or encouraged me to graduate early, but his own financial frugality and stewardship of his assets indirectly influenced me to do so. I cannot count the number of “toys” my father has passed on, despite his ability to comfortably purchase them. He has financial restraint; he is fiscally responsible. “I’ll consider buying xyz if I sell abc.” He has always encouraged my brothers and me to live within our means and to save up substantial “emergency funds.” He has reiterated that, yes, God has materially blessed us but he could just as easily take it all away tomorrow. He has encouraged my brothers and me to tithe and invest ever since we were adolescents. This is a priceless perspective as I wade through a society seemingly addicted to credit cards, debt, and immediate gratification.
My dad is hardworking.
Each morning, my father works on personal development—whether he reads a couple chapters or composes Christian devotionals. Then he heads into the office to help lead the 500 corporate teammates who are charged with helping entrepreneurs succeed through equipping the 1,700 franchises we work for. This is all in addition to leading other companies. He somehow manages to exercise regularly, play Scrabble with my mom, and work on his golf game with family, friends, or clients. I don’t know how he does it all, but he does it with grace and passion. To some people, doing all of this would be like “juggling elephants,” but my dad is a master of time power. He has balance and he works effectively in all areas of his life—and somehow squeezes in “downtime.” His work ethic has definitely influenced me positively. I have a full time job; I’m an active member on boards of directors of non-profit organizations; I write about causes or topics I believe in; I exercise; and I also have a social life. Who knows if I would be nearly as active without my dad’s role modeling? I doubt it.
My dad is a man of God.
As aforementioned, my dad built the foundation for a Christian household and family. We all know going to Church doesn’t “make” someone a Christian, but he strives to do so on a regular basis in order to respect The Lord—and he also encourages his children to do the same without “forcing it down our throats.” He made it a point to instill the Word of God in us when we lived under the same roof, and as we’re growing into adults he has found another way to influence us religiously and spiritually. My father has composed more than 700 Christian devotionals. One or two of them hit my email inbox every single day. He adds anyone and everyone to the list of recipients who wants to be exposed to his interpretation of the Word of God. He is a model Christian. As a result, I’m pre-disposed to embrace people who have spirits like his and to also try to reach the ears and hearts of non-believers. I am open to and I love everyone, largely thanks to my dad’s Christian values related to “loving thy neighbor” and “loving the sinner but hating the sin.” In a world that seems to be increasingly demonizing traditional Christianity, I hope to be a force for good among the fray. Thanks for the inspiration, dad.
My dad is down-to-earth.
Despite taking his role on this earth seriously, my dad doesn’t take himself too seriously. He doesn’t act like he’s perfect or “above” anybody. I mean, WWJD? My dad has a contagious personality and regularly jokes around with people; maybe it’s the salesman in him, but it all comes from an honest place. He does not put on a façade based on his surroundings; he’s a down-to-earth dude. He has encouraged me to be grounded, just like my incredible mama. I consciously strive to destroy the labels people would like to place on me by simply being myself, by being human. And at the end of the day, I make it a point not to dwell on the opinions of others because they are out of my control—their opinions are their own. My dad has shared less-than-flattering stories from his younger years with my siblings and me, which have served as examples and lessons. As a result, I do not hide who I am, nor do I attempt to hide my indiscretions. Instead, I choose to accept myself for all I am and for every step I have taken. I choose to use my own life lessons as examples for others. Maybe I can help people avoid missteps I’ve made or help them to love themselves despite of moments of embarrassment, weakness, or regret.
My dad is my rock.
I know some decisions I’ve made and missteps I’ve taken do not make him the proudest. At the same time, I do not think my dad could love me more than he does. In my teenage years, I saw tears in my “invincible” father’s eyes when I revealed some pains of mine to him. Yes, he has given me more than a couple good lectures in my life and in my youth he gave me more than a couple spankings with his belt, but he is a thoughtful, compassionate, and loving man. Following recent moments of my personal weakness, when he could have lambasted me, he chose to hug me. Though he could choose to shame my less-than-great decisions, he chooses to remind me that we all face challenges in life in order to come out stronger and wiser in the end.
I’m beyond thankful for my dad. I’m unbelievably grateful for his lack of “helicopter parenting.” This has taught me to take control of my own life and to take responsibility for my actions and words. He has taught me to be the leader of my life and to act with intention. My character is better for it.
I wish every child’s life could be blessed with such an inspirational figure. I undoubtedly know I’m a better person due to my dad’s influence on my life than I could’ve ever been without it.
Every day should be Father’s Day in my world, because my dad deserves all of the expressions of appreciation and love in the world.
Dad, thank you for your love and for your example. Oh, and one more thing: I love you more than you know, pops. Happy Father’s Day.