Note From Aaron: For several years after the passing of my Dad, I would write letters to him – on and off of this blog – as a way to remember. While I am unsure of whether or not I’ll ever ‘see’ my Dad again, due to a shift in my religious beliefs over time, there is still a part of me that feels the urge to write him/about him.
IN MY FATHER’S CHAIR
As I’ve grown older, I have developed a reputation for being a product guru; knowing the best of what to buy, try, and clean with. Some have dubbed me ‘The King of Amazon’ while others claim I have an online shopping addiction. Both are correct. Living in Dallas, a city where people will lease a six-figure car while living in a studio apartment, I suppose it would be easy to confuse the motivation(s) for my tenacity for quality products. This is a lesson I learned from my Dad, as he was a miniature expert on a wide variety of products, vehicles, places, and software.
From Craftsman tools to air compressors, my Dad was able to easily explain the why behind a product; why somebody would need it, how it would be useful, and why it was well worth the expense to purchase said product. Time, quality, and purpose were important items to my Dad. Innovation, too.
As children, we sat around the table and learned the word “Brainstorm” through real-life application…
Excitement was in the air as the Plaat family gathered around to discuss development of a new and improved water gun to replace the flimsy Larami™ Super Soakers popular with the rest of kids. Sitting around the kitchen table, Dad filled up the chalkboard with all of the important things we wanted in a water cannon; power, accuracy, distance, water capacity, etc. He also listed the pros/cons of each of these. Increased water capacity meant a heavier load to carry. A backpack would be necessary. Greater power required stronger materials to withstand the water pressure. Metal components – circle back to the con of added weight.
How would we separate ourselves in the marketplace, he asked. Slugs. The water cannon must be capable of shooting thick bursts of water that would resemble flying slugs of water. Brilliant.
Marketing. Product design. Prototyping. Manufacturing. Cost. Target market. To think most 10-year-olds were just watching TV…we were building an empire.
That was a long time ago.
I was probably the only 10-year-old who knew what the word “piezoelectric” meant, too.
I look in my kitchen and see the old green chalkboard has been replaced in my apartment with a modern glass whiteboard…also full of ideas and plans to conquer the world. I see my Dad everywhere in my life – in the way I think and the things I’ve purchased over the years.
“If you buy a chair that increases your productivity by even 5%, it was worth the investment…” Dad said, referencing the famed Aeron Chair. The ultimate office chair, designed to improve posture, employee productivity, comfort, and your spinal curve. For years, I’ve pondered purchasing an Aeron chair but have had a hard time dropping the $500 minimum price you’d need in order to purchase one. Today, that day changed, as I purchased my first Aeron chair.
While I bought the wrong size chair (I did get a steal after all…) that will need to be replaced in the next 30 days, there is something about finally sitting in this chair that makes me think of my Dad and the important lessons he (and my Mom!) taught me over the years.
Leaving us at the age of 51 after a very rough battle with cancer, Dad didn’t have a lot to leave his kids. As I’ve grown older and the years have passed between those kitchen brainstorm sessions, as well as the screaming matches we had during my teen years, I’ve come to have a much deeper appreciation for the love, thought, and lessons both of my parents passed down to their children.
You can leave behind no greater gift than the legacy of children who make the world a better place than when they first entered the world. I truly believe that. I look forward to the days where I, too, can sit down and introduce my children to their kitchen table MBA program and watch as they take their thoughts, ideas, and dreams to a place of reality and realization.
In Loving Memory of Willem Lucas Plaat.
Featured Image From CGArchitect