On leadership and my dad

This Father’s Day, I want to acknowledge and appreciate my dad, David E. Raley, Colonel, USAF (Ret.). I have learned so many leadership lessons from him. Learned in ways that are often not clear in the moment.. Yet are clearly understood much later…


Be a hard worker. My dad is a hard worker, he doesn’t shy away from whatever task needs doing. He just pitches in to start. He tried to teach us this quality early on. I remember as early as elementary school, the many hours he role modeled hard work — helping around the house pulling weeds and taking care of the yard. Imagine us kids’ enthusiasm, Not! And bringing work home and spreading it out across the coffee table, explaining bits and pieces of his work to us at the same time which was often interesting. And he always awakes at the crack of dawn– Rise and Shine!

Be a can-do fixer. I am quite certain that my dad can fix anything. He fixes things around the house. He fixes cars. He fixes laptops, networks, police computers. Whenever I am faced with something that is broken, I only need to think of dad for creative ways forward. What would dad do? As Bob the Builder says: “Can we fix it? Yes we can!”

Be a learner. My dad is always learning. From stacks of books around the house. To audio books. And formal coursework. My dad is always learning. And he encouraged me to be a learner too. When I announced my intention to earn a degree in Computer Engineering at the age of 15, he quickly ordered a Heath Kit so that I could learn how to solder and build electronics and see what I was getting into! He also earned his MBA back in the 70’s when I imagine that an MBA was still a relatively new concept. Which in turn inspired me to earn an MBA. And he became a professor for adjunct university courses. And a mentor to others. Later a campaign manager. And an elected official for local government. Today, he continues to be a learner, always picking up something new.

Be an innovator. We were one of the first families ever to own the original Radio Shack TRS-80. In fact, we soon had more than one. We also had one of the early portable calculators, and a “luggable” Compaq computer. Did I mention that he is resourceful? Surrounded by technology, resourcefulness, and constant encouragement to innovate, both of my brothers went on to become Principal Software Developers. All three of us kids have patents (in software technology) to our credit as well. Invention is part of our DNA!

Be a friend. My dad continues to be a friend to others in the community. When we visited at Thanksgiving, I went with him to visit an old Air Force friend, who lives nearby and is only semi-mobile. We brought over plates of Thanksgiving feasts to share. It was inspiring to see their friendship up close!

Be a great husband. My dad and mom are great together. They role-model for us what is looks like to commit to a partner for life. Through thick and thin. To value family.To make time for one another. To be respectful and considerate. To make space for one another. My dad and mom together are a package, completing and helping one another!

Our parents inspire and influence well beyond those early years when we live at home.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!



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