It was fall of 1991 when I had gone back to work for Paul Blackburn who owned NorthWestern Financial Review. I worked at the magazine earlier, but had left to take jobs at Honeywell and the Minnesota Bankers Association. I always loved the magazine and I made comment to Paul that if he ever wanted to sell the magazine, he should let me know. He said: “You want to buy the magazine? Make me an offer!”
That caught me by surprise. I was 30 years old, had no money, and no credit history. Working with Bob Cronin, my friend who also worked at the magazine at that time, we put together an offer. Blackburn agreed to handle most of the financing, but we still had to come up with a substantial down payment. I went to my Dad. I didn’t know what he would say, but I asked to borrow the money from him. He said yes, surprisingly quickly. I had no track record; he was taking a big chance. I am sure he understood the risk, as he made me sign a one-page document he drafted outlining the repayment terms.
We closed the deal in March of 1992, and within a few years all the loans were paid off. Everything worked out well, and today I have 20 years of experience owning a small business that I love. Dad took a chance on me, and I will be forever grateful.
But Dad did something even more important than lending me money — he gave me my entrepreneurial spirit. After a decade as a school teacher, Dad branched off into self-employment, owning and managing real estate. I watched him through my teen years and beyond as he managed business challenges and took on new opportunities. It is a tremendous education, better than anything I got at school. He taught me about hard work, risk and reward, opportunity and fulfillment, commitment and fair play. I am sure that if it hadn’t been for my Dad, I never would have even thought of asking Mr. Blackburn about buying the magazine.
Dad, who lived a full life, passed away Thursday night. Here is the obituary.
Father’s Day is Sunday, June 17. If your father is still alive, be sure to take a little time that day to acknowledge him.