We often follow in our parents’ footsteps, and I suppose I’m no exception. I still remember the day my father came home from work, told my mother he had quit his job, and launched his business: a commercial insurance company. A week later, my mother had an announcement of her own: she was pregnant with my little sister, who ended up taking over my father’s home office, where the painted walls were soon covered with floral wallpaper.

A seven-year-old at the time, I didn’t think much of this jump, or the rocky months and years that followed. My memories of his experience as an entrepreneur are deeply rooted somewhere inside, though, because I reference them regularly as I build my own business.

Know your numbers. My dad reviewed his financial statements weekly, without fail. As the company grew, he delegated most of the check writing and bill payments, but I will never forget how he would sit at his desk, put on his reading glasses, and review those printouts line by line, circling areas of discrepancy. He knew the financial state of his company better than anyone who worked for him, and he ensured that every penny was properly accounted for. He caught errors in payments that the bookkeepers overlooked, and he immediately knew when duplicate payments had been submitted, so those checks never accidentally made their way into his bank account. Nothing slipped by him, and he constantly reminded me that numbers and data were the first sign that things were moving in the right, or wrong, direction.

Read, voraciously. It was rare to see my dad over the weekend or at night without a book in his hands. They typically had nothing to do with business, but he connected dots in interesting ways, weaving their stories into conversations that touched our everyday lives. Even when money was tight, a stop at the bookstore was a weekly occurrence for us, and as soon as we finished one book we were invited to choose another. While I browse Medium regularly, and am a sucker for the rabbit holes offered by Google Alerts, most of my greatest “Aha!” moments continue to come from long-form, printed books.

Have the hard conversations, face-to-face. I am naturally one of the most non-confrontational people on the planet, but my dad taught me that the toughest conversations are best had in person. He was known to fly across the country to talk out a disagreement, or set boundaries with a difficult client. He gave feedback directly, and I remember the pressure he would feel each time he had to terminate an employee. “This is the one part of my job that never gets easier with experience,” he would say, “but when you deliver news people don’t want to hear, always give them the respect of looking them in the eyes.” He reminded me that as hard as those conversations were on his side, they were often harder and more uncomfortable for the person sitting across the table.

Don’t be afraid to fight back. My dad’s company was sued once, and I don’t know a single detail as to why. What I do know is that there was no man more honest and straightforward than my father – to a fault, sometimes. He never embellished, exaggerated, or adjusted the facts. He was a man of logic, and said the key to building a successful business was creating an alignment of value in the most efficient way possible.

His response to the lawsuit was an immediate countersuit, which he won. He invested a lot in that lawsuit – time pouring over every detail to build out his case, money spent on a lawyer to represent his company, and energy resulting from the inevitable anxiety that it must have caused. He never once doubted that he would win, and while he certainly cursed the legal system a time or two, he wasn’t afraid to give some pushback when he was in the right.

Sometimes, it’s okay to keep your door closed. I worked in my dad’s office one summer in high school, and remember commenting to him that his office door was often shut, while those around him chatted in the kitchen or shared jokes in the common areas throughout the day. Today, I realize that he was simply blocking out the constant distraction that exists while building a business – from customers, employees, partners, and others. It is up to us, as leaders, to create the environment that allows us to do our best work. Whether a closed door, work-from-home day, or a block on the calendar to work on a specific project, we must build the environment in which we can thrive as leaders. My dad found small talk to be an incredible distraction, and instead reserved his office engagements for few, but substantive, conversations.

Offer access. My dad had no patience for entitlement and ignorance, and as a teenage girl with absolutely no interest in the insurance business, I’m pretty sure I introduced both to his office during that summer. Nevertheless, he gave me a ton of responsibility, spent time teaching me how to read financial statements, and explained lengthy contracts to me. I was one of the few high school kids who knew what workers’ comp was, or the margins of car dealerships’ after-market products, and I was bored out of my mind. I had no appreciation at the time for the exposure he offered, and the time he took out of his own busy schedule, but today, particularly as a woman, I am so grateful for his belief that I was capable of building a career of my own, just like he did. I may not have chosen to follow in his exact path, but that access, and exposure, clearly influenced me I becoming an entrepreneur myself. Our internship program at Alice is just one example of how we pay our access forward.

Enjoy the journey. My dad never got to experience retirement, as cancer got the best of him. Regardless, he experienced a full life, benefiting from the flexibility and independence that running his own company offered. He worked tirelessly, and was a bundle of stress for a good portion of his career, but he weaved in experiences like racing cars, golf tournaments, and sailing in the Cayman Islands as part of his entrepreneurial journey. He brought together work and life in the ways he knew how, and he always reminded us that he loved his job because of the life it offered. Every time we’d go on vacation, he would sit on the balcony of our hotel (he hated the sun – ironic, considering that melanoma was his diagnosis) and express gratitude for the life he lived, which was entirely possible as the result of the path he chose. As Alice grows, and the chaos of life increases, I often think about him sitting on those balconies, and remind myself to take time to enjoy the journey, because our time here is fleeting.