November 21, 2014

By: Bobby Casey, Managing Director GWP

tribute to dadThis week, I said good-bye to a man I’ve known for 40 years. He was a good man with a great heart. A well-respected businessman, father, and community leader. This man was always willing to listen to your problems, fears, and successes as well as lend his own viewpoint when asked – and sometimes even when not asked….

Personally, he was a great example and a lifelong mentor. This man battled cancer off and on for a few years and finally the demon got the best of him. Even on his final day I asked him, “How’s it going today?” His reply, “Oh….pretty good”.

RIP Dad. Your legacy will not be forgotten.

I have been back and forth in my head as to whether or not I should write this tribute to my dad and send to our readers. But as another one of my mentors once told me, “you need to connect personally with your readers and the best way to do that is to share pieces of your life with them”.

So bear with me. This has absolutely nothing to do with offshore business, investments, 2nd passports, or internationalizing your life. This is purely about relationships and life. If that doesn’t appeal to you, now is the time to delete and move on.

I won’t go into depth about my upbringing and life experiences, but as a child, my dad was the kind of father that instead of punishing out of anger when we did wrong – he would sit us down on the couch and have a talk about right and wrong before deciding on punishment. That lesson has stuck with me today as a father of three.

He was a leader. He led by example as a hardworking man who was always good for his word, even if it meant it wasn’t good for him personally. My dad would never ask anyone to do something he wouldn’t do himself. He was not the kind of guy who would do hard manual labor, but he never shied away from grabbing the hammer or shovel if the work needed to get done. He had integrity, something missing in many, many people.

My father was always an entrepreneur: a businessman. Since the day I was born, he was involved in the construction and real estate business. I was never raised to grow up, get a good education, get a good job and retire after 40 years with a gold watch. As early as I can remember, we discussed business. We discussed the importance of creating value. And how being an entrepreneur is hard, but rewarding.

I was familiar with spreadsheets and basic accounting in my teens. I had my own stock trading account when I was 14 and was taught how to analyze financial statements. Money management was a constant topic of discussion. My father raised me to be an independent man. Never relying on anyone for my livelihood. It stuck.

Of course, it was not all roses with dad either. We had some major differences as well. The older I got, the more those differences appeared.

My dad was very religious. You could say he was a “fire & brimstone” Southern Baptist type. He took the bible quite literally and expected his children to do so as well. More so, he expected us to raise our own children in the church.

Much to his chagrin, I became what I like to call an optimistic atheist. Essentially I don’t believe in a master creator. I don’t believe we need an imaginary invisible being in the sky to dictate morality. Morality comes from within and can be simplified into the biblical golden rule, “do unto others what you would have them do unto you” (yes I realize this came from the bible, but it is also found in virtually every other religious and philosophical text ever written). And since no one has legitimately returned from the dead to tell us about the other side, I don’t bother myself too much with the concept of an afterlife.

In business, my dad was staunchly conservative. He went to work at 7:30am every Monday – Friday morning. The exceptions were visits to job-sites (he was in construction) or conferences. Like clockwork, you could expect my dad to have breakfast around 6:30am, dress up in a suit and tie, and head out to the office – because you are not at work unless you are in a suit and at the office.

I on the other hand have wholeheartedly embraced the virtual office lifestyle. My office consists of a laptop, cell phone, notepad and a variety of cloud software tools. My office could be my home in Latvia, a villa in the countryside of Italy, a resort in St. Martin, or my buddy’s living room in Washington, DC. Of course in my father’s working career, this type of work arrangement was not very feasible, but it didn’t stop him from constantly asking me about “going to the office”.

Politically – you could say dad was a far right-wing neocon republican. I am pretty sure there is a Reagan shrine somewhere in his house. He believed in fighting wars overseas to ensure peace back home, limited government spending (except of course for the previously mentioned military), abortion is murder, and that gays shouldn’t be able to marry. Pretty much right down the party lines.

Conversely, I am staunchly anti-political. I would consider myself to be an anarcho-capitalist, or most closely resembling a libertarian. My views are that people should be able to rule themselves and make decisions that best suit their own lives. I don’t believe in voting for a master – whether democrat or republican – as I choose to not be a slave.

Even despite our different viewpoints, we could still sit down and have a good conversation “on the tree stump” – as dad liked to say – talking about life, family, business, politics and even weather (religion eventually became a taboo topic with us since we could not reconcile viewpoints).

His mentorship has taught me several things in life despite our differences.

  • In business, just like in life – only quitters fail
  • If you believe in something, stick to it and fight for it
  • Always be your own man
  • Always be a man of your word
  • Stubbornness can be a virtue, not just a vice

My dad was a good man who always made his decisions based on what he thought was best. His intent was always positive and he was a good father and a good leader. On Tuesday November 17th, around 10pm eastern standard time, my dad closed his eyes for the last time. He will be missed, but his legacy will live on.