By Kawania H. Wooten CMP
Tomorrow, it will be three months since I lost my father whom we affectionately called, “Fat Daddy.” Fat Daddy was such a sweet and friendly man who was loved by so many people. He was also a skilled mechanic who successfully managed his own small business for 40+ years. When I started my business almost 9 years ago, he became one of my most trusted advisors.
Here’s the thing with Fat Daddy, he wasn’t a teacher through advice — that wasn’t his style — I learned how to be an entrepreneur by watching Fat Daddy in action over the years.
Lately, I have been thinking of those life and business lessons, and I thought I should share a few of them with you. So, here goes —
1. Love What You Do. Fat Daddy taught me the true meaning of my daily mantra, “Love & Soul Always” — Do what you LOVE and you will feed your SOUL. Fat Daddy LOVED cars. He went to car shows. He watched car and truck races in person and on TV. And he talked about cars for hours on end. While I never understood his love for cars, I understood the value of loving your craft.
2. Your Integrity is a Major Part of Your Brand. Fat Daddy was a professional mechanic for 40+ years, and he never had to advertise or find ways to seek out clients for his business. Customers came to him because he was honest, fair and he stood by his work. — Not your typical reputation for a mechanic. He was proud of his brand, so he made sure he maintained that reputation throughout his entire career.
3. Recognize Your Talents and Rock Them. True Story. Fat Daddy got into a drag race with the world renown Nascar driver, Wendell Scott. Wendell Scott not only beat Fat Daddy in this drag race, he beat Fat Daddy in this race while driving backwards. (And yes, Fat Daddy was driving forward) Fat Daddy said this is when he knew his skill was building cars, not driving them. Which is true — he could repair and rebuild a car like none other.
4. Protect Your “Family Time.” Fat Daddy worked incredibly long hours on Monday through Saturday. But, Sunday was his day off — No ifs, ands or butts. Not only did he protect that day off, he made a point of spending his Sundays with his “little people” (also known as his children), and I loved him for that!
5. Not All Money is Good Money. When I was young, I remember seeing Fat Daddy politely turn down a customer who came in for service. When I asked him about it, he explained to me that he took care of this customer in a previous job and the customer was dishonest, abusive and disruptive. He taught me that this person’s money wasn’t worth the abusive experience he would encounter if he took care of his car for a second time.
6. A Little Compassion Goes a Long Way. At Fat Daddy’s funeral, someone shared a story about him getting up at 4am (in the snow) to repair a taxi cab driver’s car. The person sharing the story complained about the taxi driver calling at such a late hour, but Fat Daddy did the work anyhow — He knew the taxi driver needed him. Also, Fat Daddy was known for fixing cars for customers and letting people pay when they could. He used to say they needed their car to go to work — If they couldn’t get to work, they couldn’t pay him. This business philosophy of his used to drive me nuts, but here’s the crazy thing — 99% of the customers returned to pay him when they said they would.
7. Love is Love. Fat Daddy was a man ahead of his time — He taught his children almost 40 years ago that we don’t judge or discriminate against people because of their race, sex, religion or sexual orientation. In fact, I remember a time when someone in Fat Daddy’s garage made a comment about my gay uncle, and Fat Daddy expressed his disappointment in that person’s opinion in the most respectful and professional manner. By loving his brother unconditionally, he taught his children to love others in the same manner.
Thank you for allowing me an opportunity to share a little bit about my dad. I hope you are able to use some of his wisdom in your business life too.
(The photo of Fat Daddy and me, along with the photo of Fat Daddy dancing with my mom at my 1996 Wedding were taken by a family friend)
(Photo Credit: Natarsha Wright Photography)
Kawania Wooten is the principal consultant at Howerton+Wooten Events, LLC. Known to her friends and family as Kay, she uses artistic skills, her keen attention to the smallest details and her strong commitment to customer service as the hallmark of her business. As the founder of the company, Kawania strives for professionalism, creativity and impeccable organization within every function planned by Howerton+Wooten Events.