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Founder and CEO of O2E Brands, including home-service companies such as 1-800-GOT-JUNK

My father and I couldn’t be less alike. He’s a liver-transplant surgeon; I own a junk-hauling business. He believes in formal education and following the rules; I’m a double-dropout who always chooses the road less-travelled.

In so many ways, we’re polar opposites. It’s even caused rifts (such as the time I told him I was leaving college to become a junk man). But despite our differences, I wouldn’t be where I am today without my father’s words of wisdom. Here’s what he taught me about work, life and dreaming big.

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Work hard for what you want

Growing up as the son of a renowned surgeon, a work ethic was instilled in me from a young age. I saw the success he had from buckling down and staying focused, and it inspired me to do the same.

As a child, I earned my allowance by helping out around the house, and I got a job at a younger age than most of my friends. Even though I ended up taking a (very) different path than he did, my father’s determination and commitment to his work wore off on me. He was my role model and he taught me the value of hard work and self-sufficiency.

Follow your passion

I remember telling my dad that I was dropping out of school like it was yesterday. I only had one year left of my business degree, but my side hustle hauling junk was taking off. I decided to say goodbye to university to pursue my business full-time. After all, university would be there if I decided to go back, but this business opportunity would pass me by if I didn’t seize it.

Cue disappointment Level 100. My highly educated, widely respected surgeon father couldn’t fathom why I would ditch formal education to pick up junk. But what he could understand was my ambition and passion for what I was doing, because that came from him.

His passion is performing surgery and saving lives; mine is developing businesses and helping people take control of their own futures through franchising. While my father definitely didn’t see the opportunity I did at first, he always taught me to trust my gut. He had faith that I knew what was best for me.

Take your work seriously, but not yourself

Believe it or not, my straitlaced father is known for playing heavy metal in the operating room. He’s always cracking jokes and finding little ways to have fun, no matter how serious the situation is. That’s because he takes his work seriously, but not himself.

This philosophy has become a cornerstone of the culture at my company, too. We’re hypercommitted to our work, but we do it with passion, fun and a little touch of the unexpected. We’re a quirky bunch and it shows in our brand’s personality.

My father’s job is a lot more serious than mine, but his ability to balance focus and fun inspires me to this day. It’s like they say: If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. So you might as well have fun while you’re at it.

I’ve never asked my children what they want to be when they grow up. It doesn’t matter to me if they go to university, become race-car drivers or join the circus. If I’ve taught them anything, I hope I’ve passed down everything I learned from my own father: to believe in yourself, listen to your gut and always try to see the sunny side of life.

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