A Father’s Lesson Through Silence

The greatest lesson my father taught me without words

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With my father — Hong Kong Disneyland 2013

I’m writing this on the eve of Father’s day at midnight 2:00AM — awaiting for my father to be home. This is a normal day for him. In fact, for the past 20+ years. Waking up as early as 5am and coming home as late as 2am from work. He had returned home late after everyone else had gone to bed, from a day at work (in his bakery) and getting a few hours of sleep. That same moment for years, capture my father — his passions, his values, and what he stood for in life.

Yet, none of this was taught verbally neither to me nor my siblings. He showed it through his work ethic and his love for the people around him. His support for the people around him was never measured or quantified. You see, we don’t come from a ‘well-to-do’ family but in my father’s eyes, there was never a day where he wasn’t optimistic about the future.

In 2016, my brother and I wanted to start our own business but we were just two teenagers with crazy dreams and empty pockets. We were seeking to raise funds from investors and even at one point, our school. None trusted what we were building.

What happened next — changed our lives. My father took out $5000 to help us to start our very first startup. You’d never have heard of the startup but it taught me priceless lessons.

In 2018, our startup, Packdat, saw great traction and was eventually acquired. On the day of the press conference, my father sponsored pastries from his bakery — despite what we had achieved, all he wanted to do was give. His $5000 investment lasted us 3 years and we had not raised any external funding since then. The greatest return? Our growth.

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On the day of Packdat’s acquisition — Family photo

We are not what we have but what we give.

Perhaps the greatest lesson my father taught me is the value of hard work, gratitude and giving. The way he inspired us with his work ethic and his attitude to give the people around him all he had — this remains instrumental in shaping the view I have for the world and in life.

When I started my journey as a startup founder and designer, it wasn’t a smooth sailing ride and I didn’t have much to start with but I count my blessings and made sure that I worked for it.

Today, as I navigate this world together with remarkable individuals, I remain grateful for the lessons my dad had shown me through his own actions. This is one man’s life profoundly changing another in silence.

I still count the day my dad supported us with his $5000 as one of the happiest moments in my life. We don’t make a life by what we earn. We make a life by what we give.

Happy Father’s Day to my dearest Papa. #gratitude

Design Lead, Gotrade (YC S19) & Co-Founder, ADPList.org | I write about design in tech, curious topics and my occasional day dreams.

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