Success Habits + Business Lessons I Learned from My Dad (Entrepreneur + Pharmacy Owner)

Success Habits + Business Lessons I Learned from My Dad (Entrepreneur + Pharmacy Owner)

For those of you who know me, you know how complex the relationship with my dad had been throughout the years. I grew up working in my dad’s independent pharmacy in Long Island up until the day I got kicked out of my house. It was right before graduation and my dad did NOT wanting me pursuing a residency. In fact, my whole family was against it, which is why when I GOT the residency, I wound up living out of my grey Mazda 3, fired from my job, and abandoned by my family.

Yes, we’ve since healed that relationship (everyone always asks about that part.) 😉

A little background…I come from a family of pharmacists. My sister, Lisa is a pharmacist. My Aunt Holly and Uncle Jimmy are pharmacists. My dad was a pharmacy owner. You get the picture. I grew up in a pharmacy – sweeping floors, fixing and stocking shelves, being a cashier, an intern, and ultimately a pharmacist.

I’ve always studied successful people. I look at what they do, how they think, what risks they take, and what their daily habits are.

My father has been both the source of tremendous pain, but also someone who I deeply admire and have gleaned so much from.

So as my husband and I continue on the path to trying to have a child, I found myself thinking of all of the generational things I’ve learned from my dad (and that he learned from his father.)

Today I wanted to share what I learned from my dad who was a successful independent pharmacy owner for 32 years. I want to highlight what a brilliant man he was and is…especially as a business man.My intention is that you adapt what works and leave the rest. 😉

Here are Joe Tarantola’s success habits/principles –

#1. Read, challenge your mind, and be a life long learner.

My dad is always reading. He reads mainly history books and it’s a guarantee that he’s read most of them on the shelf at Barnes and Noble. He scours the newspaper on a daily basis and does the Word Jumble.

Joe Tarantola is almost 70 years old but never stops learning! A while back, he enrolled in community college to learn Spanish. He knows the basics of sign language, German, Italian, Chinese, and lots of other random words in various languages. I believe I got my love of words from him because he always analyzes and breaks down the meaning of words. Ex: My last name Fontana means fountain in Latin. He KNOWS that stuff – and always taught me little things like that.

He keeps his brain sharp and is always learning and growing…mainly from YouTube videos now!

#2. When you meet someone, give them a firm handshake, and make eye contact.

This was drilled into my head from a very early age. You always make eye contact with someone, smile, and give them a firm handshake. It’s a sign of respect. Remember their name, too. This is a Dale Carnegie principle – the most wonderful sound in the world is someone hearing their own name.

#3. You have to spend money to make money.

This one was passed on from my grandfather, who owned a food truck route. It’s been a solid guiding principle in my business ever since I started 10 years ago.

Investing in yourself pays off in the long-run because either way, you learn. You gain knowledge, you learn from those who have been there before and achieved results, and you refine your processes. I believe that the more rare your gifts are, the more experience you have, the more you can give back through your business.

#4. The three most important things to remember in business – location, location, location!

My dad’s pharmacy sat in a shopping center in King Park, Long Island. It was sandwiched between a grocery store and a diner. It was the perfect location for people in the community to run errands, get a bite to eat, and go pick up their prescription from the pharmacy.

Of course, now we don’t always have physical locations, but proximity and visibility online is everything. I think of ways to tweak my ‘store’ – my website, branding/design, newsletter, product suite, platforms I use, social media, etc.

#5. Take calculated risks and go for it. There’s only opportunity.

My dad took so many risks in his late 20’s and early 30’s. He owned a bar, a sneaker store, another pharmacy, and properties. Eventually he realized that the one pharmacy and the properties were what he was good at managing and stuck with that.

Some of those businesses ‘failed’, but he took risks and refined what he was good at – running a profitable pharmacy and renting out properties. He always says, “you can’t make more land, real estate will always be in demand.” Buying property is also an appreciating asset.

If you ‘fail’, you learn and you won’t make the mistake again. There is really only opportunity and gain to be learned when you take calculated risks.

#6. Give back.

My dad never spoke this, but I saw his generosity through his actions first-hand. At Christmas, he would donate money to the local church. He was extremely generous with his pharmacy staff – constantly buying them lunch, having summer and Christmas parties for them, and much more. He was tough and expected a lot, but he greatly rewarded everyone for their hard work.

I believe my giving nature comes from both him and my mother and I am grateful that I had positive role models like them to carry on my legacy in my business and in my future family.

There are many more lessons, I’m sure. This man molded me into who I am today and I carry these lessons with me into my business. Just like my father said with his dad (my grandpa) and subsequently told me, “I took what worked from what my dad taught me, and left the rest.” 

I hope to pass these lessons onto my child for the next generation.

Let me know what your favorite piece of business advice was or if you have your own in the comments!



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