This Sunday is Father’s Day. Each year I think about what my father taught me long ago.

It was Saturday, December 20, 1980. Nancy, Jill and I were getting ready to visit my family for Christmas. We got a call that day. My dad had died of a heart attack. I still miss him.

I thought of my dad when I did a program for associates based on my book Prepare to Win.


During the program, I asked for the characteristics of effective goals.  One associate said: “They need to be realistic.” I didn’t say it at the time, but the lawyers I know who set realistic goals do so because they are easy to achieve. Super stars set goals that challenge them, stretch them and inspire them. My dad taught me to set those kind of goals.

My father was a creative artist and used his talent in the sign business. When I was five years old he left one of the largest sign businesses in Chicago and started his own business with a young partner named Bob Clauss. The Parvin-Clauss Sign Company is still in business today.

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How can what I learned from my dad help you become extraordinary? My dad was an entrepreneur and a risk taker. He started the Parvin-Clauss Sign Company without any assurance of the volume of business he and his partner would generate, but with the confidence he could do it.

When he retired from the business, he decided to create wood carvings and make jewelry. Once again he had no assurance anyone would buy what he was making.

I believe more people fail who are content and unwilling to take risks than those who dream big dreams. It must have taken courage to start a business with a family. It takes courage to be responsible for your own success, the well being of your family and to dare to try something others may think is unrealistic.

I have been an entrepreneur and risk taker during my career. I have been in small law firms, started a law firm, became a partner in a large firm and left that firm when I was at the top of my game to help other lawyers enjoy the fun and success I have experienced.

Do you have confidence in your ability to generate clients and business? Are you willing to take risks to try to be extraordinary, or will you settle for just doing good work for someone else’s clients? Even in a large firm, you can become a “go to lawyer” if you dream big dreams and work every day to achieve them.

I leave you with this quote from Dr. Robert Schuller:

What would you attempt to do if you knew you would not fail?