I was taught by my dad, who was taught by his dad, and likely even his dad, to always give a bakers dozen when you can and when the time calls for it. That's how you'll be remembered in business. People will remember that you gave a little extra, and that little extra is like compound interest over time.
But why does a baker's dozen matter in this world where presence of content is ubiquitous yet we are blind to it? We see so much content it's impossible to see it all. It's the constant question as a freelancer, why do I stand out from the crowd in this entertainment age?
Likely because you care, and as the saying goes, "People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care."
My dad's company did approximately ONE advertisement ever. Yes one single piece of advertising ever in the history of the company, and he has been so wildly successful that he can't keep up. A baker's dozen and good relationships will get you farther than anything. But back to advertisements...
His advertisement was a zebra with colored stripes in the pack of zebra's.
I don't know the results of the campaign, I wasn't as invested in the company back in those days. I do remember this was pre-internet being in your pocket. His company was creating CD and DVD-ROM programs and we were burning Mini-CD's (I burned and packaged THOUSANDS of those things, I'm not even kidding).
But times change, and my dad has always been cutting edge. He didn't live looking to the precipice, he WAS and IS the precipice, even to this day.
What I learned from my dad through 17 years of doing work with him, was that I am capable of anything. It's OK to not think within the box. In fact, it's encouraged to think outside the box. That was always his motto. I didn't understand things back then like I do now.
What my dad gave me was a college education, and I got paid to do to learn, travel and be a part of a growing business. Most people don't get to spend time with their parents as much as I did. Most people see their family at the holiday's maybe. Maybe FaceTime once in a while. Most people could never fathom working for their family -- don't kid yourself, it's tough at times. The hardest job you'll ever have sometimes, also the easiest job too. Despite all my foibles as a human, such as my inability to compute properly, my terrible sense of geometry (hint: never hire me as a wood worker, trust me you'll have enough scrap wood to burn an entire house down), and my inability to see colors properly, he never once told me I couldn't do anything. We spent hours together, and I have a lot of memories of that.
My dad taught me, over and over that people don't care what you know, they will work with you once they know how much you care. Thus he would always give a baker's dozen. He would lose his butt on projects sometimes, and I'd ask him why, he would always just say "because you have to think about the future." And you know what, most times the customer would come back consistently and most times, the next time price would go up, and the relationship would continue to grow. His game plan is long term. He taught me what I would have never learned otherwise. And I will be able to use that, and teach that to anyone who wants to learn it.
When I finally made the decision to leave my dad's job, there was no crying, there was no hard feelings, there was only positive energy. There was a sense that everything was going to work. I watched him get through 9/11, 2008, the pandemic, he was always pointed to his north star. In all the tough times I never once saw him falter, he was somehow able to make everything work, find the next job, find the next whatever, find the connection.
Recently my dad did something massive and major to help further my career as an entrepreneur photographer by pulling some strings. And when he called me I didn't quite know what to say or how to say it. I probably sounded confused, or deadpan, or worse uninterested - after all it was a long day. However the next morning I apologized to my dad for never really thanking him for everything he and my mom have done for me in my life (such as helping pay for a giant hospital bill and allowing me to be on a payment plan through them). I'm by nature not always the most emotionally responsive person in that sense, and I catch myself after the fact. Bad habits die old...but my parents know that. And they know that I will appreciate them without showing it.
All he said in response was "It's our job Chris. We love you and are thrilled with your success. You pay me back by working hard at being a success and when the time is right....pay it forward to someone else in some way."
I am thankful to have parents who care.