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These entrepreneurs' family stories illuminate important parenting tips for success

Paid for by Capital One

The secret of success is no longer much of a secret. Decades of business case studies, entrepreneur profiles and advances in behavioral psychology have revealed a consistent pattern of traits among successful business leaders. That pattern includes a measure of luck and opportunity, certainly, but most of it comes down to personal values and skills. Attributes like resilience, grit, mindfulness, gratitude, patience and hard work all come up again and again during interviews with top performers when asked how they got to where they are.

Payal Kadakia, the founder and executive chairman of ClassPass (above), and Brian Guttman, the founder of Jeremy Argyle (below), discuss how lessons learned from their families have been instrumental to their entrepreneurial success.

While we may know the tools required to succeed, that doesn’t mean they’re easy to come by. When it comes to developing the right mindset for success, families often play a critical role, helping children to refine these skills early on and increase the odds of success later in life.

To better understand how these values and skills are cultivated in successful leaders, we spoke with two founders about their family relationships and how important lessons were passed down from grandparents, parents and loved ones. We’ve distilled those moments and stories into four key ways families can positively influence their children’s chances at success.

Believe in their dreams as much as they do

Payal Kadakia, the founder and executive chairman of ClassPass, had been inspired by the example set by her parents but was hesitant at first to take risks with her career.

Kadakia’s parents came to the U.S. from India, giving up everything in order to create a better life for her and her sister. So when she was faced with the decision of leaving her high-prestige corporate job to start a new company, she felt like she was gambling with her parents’ gift. “It seemed crazy to me, almost disrespectful, to consider quitting my well-regarded job to pursue something so risky,” Kadakia said. “But my mom didn’t see it that way.”

Kadakia with her mother, Geeta, and father, Harshad, the day before the opening of ClassPass' New York City office (2015).

In fact, her mom encouraged her to pursue her dream. “She’d seen the zeal with which I’d pursued my professional and dance careers and believed in my ability to make my startup dream come true.”

The combination of belief and encouragement, especially coming from the people responsible for her opportunities in life, was a powerful motivating force for Kadakia and just the catalyst she needed. And the risk has paid off: Since its start in 2012, ClassPass has grown to employ over 500 people in over 20 countries, and has been named to Forbes Magazine's Next Billion Dollar Startup List.

Share your story

Brian Guttman, the founder of Jeremy Argyle clothing company in New York, was also inspired by his family’s story. In fact, he credits much of his success to a conversation he had with his grandfather when he was in the third grade.

The first thing Guttman’s grandfather told him was that he could control his own destiny. To prove his point, he shared the story of how he left Hungary after World War II when he was 22 years old, with his young wife and almost nothing else. He came to Canada and, through hard work and an inner strength, overcame the challenges of persecution and war and built Paris Star, the second largest clothing company in Canada at the time.

Brochures from Paris Star, the company that Guttman's grandfather, Leslie, built and where his father worked. Paris Star employed over 700 people and was one of the largest knitting and dying factories in Canada. The image on the right shows Leslie Guttman (lower left) with his production team in the early years of the business.

“I understood his struggle and the sacrifices he made, and the specifics of what he had to do to survive,” said Guttman. “I always wanted to emulate him in some way. He inspired me to do more.”

We might not all have stories of this magnitude, but we’ve all overcome obstacles, both internally and externally, and those key moments can serve as powerful lessons for our families.

Guttman's parents George and Ellie (left), with Guttman and his wife and kids, celebrating his mother's birthday in Kennebunkport, Maine, July 4th, 2017.

Mix business and pleasure

We all know the feeling of coming home from a long day at the office and wanting nothing more than to expunge any thought of work from our heads. But were that tendency to become a habit, it would be easy to see how children could come to view business as a chore instead of a meaningful pursuit.

For Guttman, work was as much a part of life at home as sitting down to a meal. His father, who joined his grandfather’s company and eventually took over, never shied away from bringing work home. “I grew up with business being discussed at the dinner table,” Guttman said. “And the breakfast table. And the lunch table. I grew up knowing about my dad’s business, understanding when he had problems, and even problem solving with him.”

Guttman is now carrying that tradition forward with his own kids. “My 7-year-old son is very interested in my business,” said Guttman. “He’s always asking questions, and even pitching his own solutions!”

Four generations: Guttman's parents George and Ellie (left), Guttman with his wife and kids, Guttman's grandmother Terry, widow of Leslie, celebrating Guttman's 38th birthday in December 2017, Bay Harbor, Florida. Growing up, Guttman always celebrated his birthday with his grandparents and the tradition continues today.

Kadakia didn’t separate her business life from the rest of her life, either — she fused them together. Her inspiration for starting a fitness-focused company was the result of a lifetime spent dancing and being active.

Her passions eventually evolved into her business aspirations, and with her mother’s example in mind, she was able to pursue them wholeheartedly. “[My mom’s] dream was to work hard as an immigrant and create an incredible life in the U.S. for her family,” Kadakia said. “My dream has been to take her work ethic and spirit and build an incredible company that helps people develop and maintain healthy lifestyles.”

Model the behavior you want to see

As tempting as it is to lecture, setting an inspiring example goes much further than any spoken lesson. For both Kadakia and Guttman, the values that they are most grateful for came from witnessing their families’ embodiment of those values.

“My mom approaches every challenge as an opportunity for growth, which is exactly the same outlook you need as a startup founder,” said Kadakia. “She also has an incredible work ethic and is unbelievably strong and smart.”

Kadakia with her mother during pre-wedding ceremonies in 2016.

In Guttman’s case, the examples set by his grandfather and father demystified the process and allowed him to visualize his own path. “To be able to see someone do what they did gave me confidence — I knew it could be done, and I had a road map of how it happened,” said Guttman. “Watching them really helped guide me and find my own direction.”


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This article was paid for by Capital One and co-created by RYOT Studio. Yahoo Finance editorial staff did not participate in the creation of this content.