My Father’s Business: What I Learned But Wasn’t Taught


In all serious textbooks you will find that “pedagogy” means child learning and “andragogy” means adult learning. You will also find that, in general terms, experts believe that children learn best by “counting” and adults learn by “doing”.

Maybe, maybe not: but I know I learned a lot of business just by watching my father in his business. And having his Sandra Bullock Net Worth around me until I got married and left home at the age of 26.

Here are the main things I learned.


Are you familiar with the book “Positioning, the battle for the mind” by Al Ries and Jack Trout? It was first published in 1981. I think it’s one of the best marketing books ever written. It is still in print.

My father practiced “positioning” for his entire business life. Its target market was the small “pallet shops” and the “milk bars”. They catered especially for children with small amounts of many to spend. Officially, it was known as a “wholesale confectionery distributor”. But the only products he sold were what he called “infant lines.” Lollies and sweets made especially for children.

If you are old enough, remember to have entered a store of this type with a quarter or a penny or a penny or its equivalent. You will also remember the open boxes of candies or “sweets”, for example, a penny or a penny each or three or five a penny or a penny. I would choose from a large number of open boxes and try to get the most value for their sixpence or five or ten cents. The shopkeeper would take his selection from the boxes and place them in a small bag. You would take the bag and you would pay.

Today you buy such candies in pre-packed supermarkets in bags of ten or twenty candies.

Dad specialized completely in the sale of “infant lines” to small stores. The stores used to be family businesses. I did not sell chocolates or chocolates. He concentrated on selling “infant lines” to specialized stores frequented by children.

This is how I learned the importance of a clear commercial approach, a limited and well-defined target market and a very specific product. He never mentioned me or my brothers or sister. But we knew it. Al and Jack simply confirmed, decades later, what Dad had practiced.

Purpose of business

I decided to start my own business in 1978. I discussed my plans with my accountant. His was a very successful business that he had built for a decade. He had started with only a handful of clients. He himself was quite rich.

“What are you doing for, Leon?” I ask. “To make money, of course,” I replied. “Do not be silly,” he replied. “Anyone can make money, what would you like to be able to do in 10-15 years that you can not do now?” I thought for a moment: “I would like to know a lot about Australian food and wine,” I replied. “It’s okay,” he said. “Do it for that, you see, you must have a purpose to be in a business independent of the business itself.”

I can not pretend to be an authority on Australian food and wine. But in recent decades, I have eaten some wonderful meals and have tasted some exceptional wines.

My father understood this idea well. He directed his business to be able to pay us two weeks of beach holidays every Christmas and a week every Easter. My mother also liked musical theater. Dad made sure to see all the great musicals when they were produced in Melbourne.

He worked to make sure that his business earned enough money to provide vacations and visits to the theater for the family. This also meant that my sister and I had swimming lessons from a young age. And I saw a theater production of “Annie Get Your Gun” by Irving Berlin when I was only 9 years old. This kind of thing pleased my father a lot.

Creating Desire

Almost every time Dad stopped his truck of sweets and candy out of a store, it attracted an audience of children. Many knew who he was and what he sold. They swirled around the open back door of the van, anxious to see what looked like shelves full of gold boxes.

Dad never told the children to leave. He realized that they were the final consumers of his “children’s lines”. He would say: “Look, but do not touch” or “Leave some space for me”. But he never gave a lolly for free. If he had, he would have been competing with the merchants, his direct customers.

The children in the back of the truck were mostly children. Dad called everyone “Jack.” “Stay away from the door, Jack,” he said or “You can buy them right now at the Jack store.”

He was surprised one day when a child opened his eyes wide and said: “How did you know that my name was Jack?”

Published by shainajohn

I Am Shaina. Fashion Designer. Blogger. Youtube Expert. Website Builder. Search Engine Optimizer. I Love Food and love Travelling. I am a diligent self-starter, continuous learner, avid networker, always seeking opportunities for growth and development and I relish a challenge. One thing I firmly believe in is that in the midst of all our accomplishments, we should always find ways to give back to the society/community.

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