20 Lessons from my Father, John Varghese

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Twenty years have passed since my Father, John Varghese, left this world on a solemn Good Friday in 2004.

Today, as I reflect on his life and the profound impact he had not just on our family but on countless others, I am reminded of his extraordinary legacy. Born the eldest of ten siblings on a modest farm in Kerala, India, my dad’s journey to becoming a respected civil engineer and a cherished community leader in New York City is a testament to the power of resilience, faith, and foresight.

My Father’s Life – A Blueprint of Selfless Sacrifice and Visionary Leadership

Whether through his tireless efforts to bring family members to America to provide them with better opportunities or his daily acts of kindness that often went unnoticed, my Father taught us that the true measure of a man lies in the love he extends to others. As I navigate my journey as a father and an entrepreneur, I find myself continually drawing on the wisdom he imparted and the values he lived by. Soon after he passed away, I took on his first name, John, as my middle name. I started to see more of his wisdom fill me up as a leader, including my ability to build community with my PeerMomentum ventures and to understand compound growth and generational impact with family and clients at a whole new level.  

20 Timeless Lessons from My Father

My Father, John Varghese, continues to inspire and guide us through these valuable life lessons:

  1. Community Builder: He firmly believed in the strength of community and worked relentlessly to unite our extended family in the U.S., fostering a support network that thrived on mutual respect.
  2. Guided by Faith: His life was an example of faith in action. Whether facing personal challenges or celebrating victories, his spiritual foundation remained unshakeable. Every Sunday we would be encouraged to go to Church. Every evening he would lead by example and pray on his knees.
  3. Financial Wisdom: My Dad was meticulous with finances, teaching us the importance of saving and investing with a long-term view to ensure stability and prosperity.
  4. Entrepreneurial Encouragement: He nurtured an entrepreneurial spirit within our family and provided moral and practical support to those looking to forge their paths in the business world.
  5. Heart of Generosity: Our home was always a haven for the weary and a festive gathering place for friends. His generosity knew no bounds, extending even to strangers in need. I remember an incident where a stranger who missed his flight at the airport found solace at our home.
  6. Value of Education: He revered education and was committed to supporting our academic endeavors, emphasizing its importance as the foundation for a successful life. He was a voracious reader of leadership books and he journaled daily. He always wanted to be better.
  7. Resilience in the Face of Racism: Despite facing racism and cultural challenges, he taught us to meet adversity with dignity and perseverance.
  8. Simplicity and Appreciation: Our yearly family trips to Lancaster, PA, were cherished lessons in appreciating simpler pleasures and the beauty of a quiet, purposeful life.
  9. Fostering Spiritual Bonds: The family prayer group he initiated became a cornerstone of our collective spiritual growth, enriching our family and community life.
  10. Embracing New Opportunities: His bold decision to move from India to Canada and eventually to the U.S. was driven by a vision of a better life for his family, demonstrating incredible courage and adaptability.
  11. Creating Cherished Traditions: He loved creating memorable traditions, especially around holidays, which bonded us and enriched our family culture.
  12. Celebrating Cultural Diversity: Living in the multicultural enclave of Jackson Heights, he embraced and celebrated cultural diversity, enriching our family’s worldview.
  13. The Merits of Patience: He showed us the value of patience and thoughtful spending. He often chose secondhand items that had greater meaning and value.
  14. Role of a Mentor: His guidance to relatives and newcomers in America was invaluable, helping them navigate and succeed in a new cultural landscape.
  15. Dedication to Hard Work: His example of relentless hard work to provide for our family is a guiding light in my career and personal endeavors.
  16. Commitment to Lifelong Learning: Despite language barriers, he was a voracious learner, always seeking to broaden his knowledge and skills. He emphasized the importance of acquiring practical skills like accounting, which are essential for personal and professional success.
  17. Creative Problem Solving: Faced with the challenges of urban life, he displayed remarkable creativity in solving problems and making the most of every situation.
  18. Laughter and play: He loved talking to people and bringing lightness and humor into every conversation. He had a joke or 2 in most every speech he delivered.
  19. Nurturing a Loving Home: Our home was a bastion of love and laughter. It was a place where everyone felt valued and supported.
  20. Cultivating a Lasting Legacy: The JV Family Prayer Group stands as a testament to his commitment to faith and community, continuing his legacy of unity and support.

Rich in Love, Wisdom, and Action

My father, John Varghese, lived a life rich in love, wisdom, and action. As we mark 20 years since his passing, his lessons remain a powerful guide for all who knew him and for future generations. His legacy, woven through the fabric of our lives, continues to inspire and propel us forward.

Ever Upward,

Joseph Varghese

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