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Do what I say, not what I do 

When my sister and I were little, maybe eight and ten years old, we were sitting in the kid's service in Temple. That day, the Rabbi's sermon was about where kids could find God.

The rabbi explained that some people find God in the temple, while others find God in nature. He said there are times when you can find God in a sunset or a baby's laugh and times when you can see God in the Bible's words.

Then he explained that sometimes, when you're about to do something wrong, God is the little voice telling you to do the right thing.

My sister leaned over and nudged me. Then she whispered, “That voice in my head is God? I always thought that was Daddy.”

Do what I say not what I do.

was the CEO of the () and my client for almost 25 years. Over breakfast one morning, he told me about his daughter's job at Bank Atlantic's headquarters in Fort Lauderdale.

She told him that the office building's air conditioner had broken that morning, and the temperature in the office building had shot up to almost 100 degrees. Her supervisor told everyone they could go home when the heat became unbearable.

Bill asked his daughter what she did.

“I packed my bag, grabbed my things, and walked towards the elevator. I was all set to leave when this question popped into my head, ‘What would daddy do?'

I quickly turned around and went back to my desk.”

Do what I say not what I do.

When my daughter Aliana was finishing her last year at college, her senior project critique was scheduled on a day I was in town between speaking gigs in Boston and Albany.

I asked Ali if I could watch the . When she said yes, I checked with her professor to ensure it was also okay with him.

I wanted to see the results of Ali's hard work in her last college project. I was excited to see Ali make the presentation because I had done many similar critiques in design . And I was eager to see the similarities and differences and relive some of my university experiences.

Ali's presentation – and the work she presented – was exceptional. Yes, I'm proud and biased regarding my only daughter. But I've also reviewed enough student portfolios in my day to know the difference between good, bad, and, OMG superb!!

Ali's presentation was one of the best I'd ever seen.

When the critique was over and I complimented Ali on her work, I had some questions.

“Where did you learn to design like that? Where did you learn such delicacy with typography? How did you learn to put all this together so beautifully?”

Ali rolled her eyes so hard she should have keeled over. “Dad…” she said slowly with an exagerated world-weariness, “…have you ever done a school science project… with you?”

It's the greatest compliment I've ever received.

Do what I say not what I do. 

What do all three of these stories have in common? Each is about the influence that fathers have had on their children. But of course, the stories could have easily been about mothers, grandparents, friends, teachers, mentors, bosses, or anyone else who has significantly impacted your thinking and your life.

Poet Walt Whitman wrote, “There was a child went forth every day. And the first object he look'd upon, that object he became. And that object became part of him for the day or a certain part of the day. Or for many years or stretching cycles of years.”

“Do what I say not what I do” is not a good strategy for children, employees, voters, customers, clients, or anyone you're trying to influence. As wrote: “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.”

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