A World Less Certain | What I Tell My Daughters

Taking a break from COVID-19 to impart some fatherly advice

I have collected little nuggets of wisdom over the years. A treasure trove of fatherly advice I share with my daughters. Some of their favorites are listed below.

If you want everyone to know your secret, share it with your best friend. Nobody can keep a secret, so don’t tell anyone if you don’t want everyone to know.

Talent and persistence are the keys to unlock your future. (I may have read this one in a fortune cookie)

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When you break through the glass ceiling, make them choke on the shards. Then, politely hand the hammer to the next woman with instructions, something like, “you gotta hit them square on the noggin or between the eyes. Maybe, several times. And when they drop, stand clear, because their bodies pass gas when they hit the floor. The odor attracts flies.”

Leaving your laptop or cellphone on the table when you use the restroom is like leaving a stack of one-hundred-dollar bills behind. When you return and find them missing, you’ll treat yourself to a specialty drink called Latte Supreme Estúpido. (Take a sip and get back to work cuz dad ain’t payin’ for that drink twice)

If you dislike food because of its appearance or snot-like consistency, wait until you are super hungry, then give it a try. You may like it. I discovered my love for oysters that way.

Think of all the people you know. Most of them are mindful, alert, and courteous. Some are easily distracted, self-absorbed, or the “daydreamer” types. A few are A-HOLES and usually drive Beamers. If only 1 out of 100 drivers are daydreamers and a-holes, that’s a whole lot of mindless metal in motion. Be aware, drive defensively, and avoid flipping off motorists in a rage. Your most important job is to survive your father with all your limbs and brain matter intact.

Don’t be afraid to ask dumbbell questions. Ask a lot of them. Being naturally curious fills your life with delicious treats.

Workplace Advice: Most people only do what is expected. A little extra effort will make you stand out. Do more than that and you’ll soon be running the place.

Try not to rationalize or over-analyze. Trust your gut, engage, and learn from life experience.

When you avoid growth opportunities because of fear, your dreams move further away. Grow a thick skin and get back to doing what you love. Then when you sit at a table with white men in every seat, they won’t be able to ignore the female elephant in the room, slapping them with her trunk.

More Workplace Advice:

  • Go to the source of the problem and involve others in the solution
  • Meet deadlines
  • Communicate in person whenever possible
  • Respond quickly, frequently, and sincerely
  • Be sure you have the tools and skills to do the job (if you don’t, acquire them)

Do these things consistently, and you’ll be the last one fired when robots replace your job.

Always tell the truth. Telling lies is exhausting, and it will back you up like eating a grilled sandwich with peanut butter, banana, and bacon. You’ll be so full of poo you’ll drop dead on the porcelain throne as did the King of Rock and Roll. That was so disgusting Elvis fans are still making up stories that “the King” is alive half a century later.

Create the next new thing while you’re young. You can be the mother of it before you even have children and be remembered for it long after they are gone.

Don’t settle. If others accuse you of being selfish, so be it. Misery indeed loves company. While they are stewing in mediocrity, do your dad a favor and refuse their invitation to sit at the losers table. Their conversation is sooo boring.


(read the following aloud with a pirate-y accent)

A toast to my daughters! I wish you a lifetime of curiosity and learning. Persistence sprinkled with failure to help you grow. Loyal friendships. Many loves. One more piece of advice: don’t reveal where the treasure is buried in your parrot’s presence. Arrr.



Rick Thomas
Author Rick Thomas is the former museum curator and vice-chair of education for the South Pasadena Preservation Foundation. He served on the South Pasadena Natural Resources Commission, helping to maintain a strict policy protecting the city’s great old-growth trees. Using touchstone photographs from his own collection—one of the San Gabriel Valley’s largest accumulations of historical images and artifacts—as well as national, state, and local historical archives, Thomas provides a window to his city’s past and an understanding of why its preservation is so important.