“Hey, Dad, can I have an allowance?” pleaded 8-year-old Brian Haney as he tugged on his father’s shirt. Haney thought it was a completely reasonable request. His father felt differently, though, but believed it was an opportunity to convey some wisdom to his young son.
“To this day, I don’t remember exactly how he told me no, but I do remember not hearing those coveted words, ‘Sure! Now that you’re old enough, that seems fair,’” Haney recalled. “As my father tells it today, his reasoning was it didn’t make sense to start paying a kid money simply because he had aged.” Haney’s father was the son of two Great Depression-era Indiana farmers and had always worked for any money he had received, so his son’s request seemed like a good opportunity to teach a lesson.
The advice that advisors said was the most valuable they received often went back to something they were told early in their lives or careers — usually from a parent or one of their first bosses. In Haney’s case, a typical question that any kid would ask triggered a lifelong lesson.
A few weeks later, Haney’s father presented him with that opportunity. He showed Haney an advertisement seeking newspaper delivery workers.
“He framed it as a great way to make more money than I would likely have made from an allowance [which was zero],” Haney said. “So I said what any naïve 8-year old would say, ‘Sure, I guess so.’”