Off Topic: Lessons From My Dad

My dad, Noah Temkin, passed away this past Friday after a drawn-out battle with Alzheimer’s. Rather than dwell on my sadness (which he would absolutely hate), I decided to list some of the many lessons that I have learned from his life:

  • Always help others. My dad was active in many activities, from the University of Rhode Island to his high school reunion class, to the Jewish Community Center, to the Bridge Club Of RI, to the Paraplegic Association Of RI… and the list goes on. He became a leader in almost every group he joined because of his unflappable desire to help others.
  • Make sure to laugh. My dad loved to joke and have fun; he was playful. Even when he was teaching me a lesson, it was often accented with some humor. Many times he’d tell me that I did something wrong by saying “why is it that there are more horses asses than there are horses.”
  • Keep the odds in your favor. My dad was an incredible card player; Bridge, Poker, Gin Rummy… whatever. He actually supported our family playing poker poker when I was born. He taught me to get out of losing hands and keep the bluffing to a minimum — so that it remains a credible option. His approach was simple: lose small, but win big.
  • Live life to the fullest. My dad loved life. His enthusiasm was infectious and he alway found a way to have good time. He refused to let even Alzheimer’s keep him down.
  • Stay true to who you are. My dad was always the same guy. It didn’t matter who he was dealing with, you knew what you were getting. Even up until the very end, my dad was joking around and demonstrating his deep caring for his family and friends.

If you’re interested, here’s the eulogy that I delivered at his funeral.

Dad, rest in peace.

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I'm an experience (XM) management catalyst; helping organizations improve results by engaging the hearts and minds of their employees, customers, and partners. I enjoy researching and speaking about leading-edge XM topics. I lead the Qualtrics XM Institute, which is the world's best job. We're igniting a global community of XM Professionals who are inspired and empowered to radically improve the human experience. To achieve this goal, my team focuses on thought leadership, training, and community building. My work is driven by a set of fundamental beliefs: 1) Everything starts and ends with human beings, so you need to understand how people think, feel, and behave; 2) XM is a discipline that needs to be woven throughout an organization's entire operating fabric; and 3) Building the XM discipline requires a combination of culture, competency, and technology.

17 thoughts on “Off Topic: Lessons From My Dad”

  1. Bruce, thank you for sharing some of the many things that made your father a special person to you and a person who added to the lives of those around him. Please accept my sincere condolences.

  2. Bruce, you really touched me with this post and these lessons, while I tried to image how much of a wonderful and smart person was your father.
    Please accept my sincere condolences.

    יהי זכרו ברוך


  3. Thank you for sharing the very personal but widely applicable lessons you learned from your dad. Thinking of you and your family as you remember him through the lessons he taught.

  4. Bruce, I enjoy reading your posts and send my condolences to your family. Your dad clearly had a great sense of humor and the ability to make others feel valued and passed those along to you, and that is a life well lived.

  5. I am sorry for your loss. It’s hard to lose family. You’re very fortunate to have had such a man and a role model for a father, and to have retained the memories and the lessons he taught event through his battle with Alzheimer’s. He would be very, very proud of you, I’m sure. I think all too ofter along the way as we become parents and adults ourselves we lose track of the necessity to continue living life to the fullest and continue reaching. Thank you for this touching recollection, and may you go forward with his memories to continue to light your path.

  6. Thanks for sharing your heartfelt message. Losing a parent is a chapter in our lives we are never ready to close and is life-altering.

    Alzheimer’s is a horrible disease. No wonder it’s noted as the 48-Hour Day by the Alzheimer’s Association. It stopped my independent Mother in her tracks, too. It sounds like your Dad stayed alive as long as he lived….and there is a difference.

    You are being lifted up in spirit and prayer!


    Rita Suiter

  7. Having just lost my father on Oct 15th, I want to tell you that I am so sorry for your loss. My father had cancer and no matter how grateful we are that someone we love is no longer in misery, the selfish part of us misses them desperately. You did the same thing that I did – remembering the good times. Sometimes, however, the grief is overwhelming for me, so I cry and then I wipe my tears and move on. I guess that is how we get over traumatic events in our lives. I know that other people’s words don’t bring a lot of comfort, but I just wanted to express my sadness for your unhappiness and I will pray for your peace.

  8. I’m sorry for your loss Bruce. And thank you for sharing the strength of character your Dad possessed. Give yourself time to grieve. Speaking from experience of my parents’ passing within 17 days of each other – it will take time. All the best to you and your family.

  9. Thank you for all of your wonderfully nice comments. Writing about my dad has helped me deal with his loss. He was a great guy/dad, but we are comforted by knowing that he has found peace.

  10. Bruce, please accept my condolences to you and to your family for the loss of your father. Thank you for sharing these wonderful life lessons that your father instilled in you. Clearly, his legacy is woven throughout your family’s lives and those of so many others.

  11. I’m sorry to hear about the passing of your dad. Thoughts and prayers to your family. Just remember his legacy lives on. It doesn’t mean that even though he’s no longer around physically, his spirit is still around you…

  12. Bruce-

    It was great to see you and your family at a gathering that would have made your dad proud. So many friends from so many moments of ohis life there to pay respect and celebrate his life through you. He was a friend and cousin I always had a good time catching up with…for many years midstream it was to plan our annual family seders….and memorable they were..from the time he and I were among the young ones through the days that you and Susan and all were running around our T shaped table….Havesome pictures to share with you some day..including one from a family picnicto celebrate Aunt Lizzie and Uncle Harry’s 25th anniversary when I was three and he was six….You and your family gave him much “nachos” and he certainly would have enjoyed your beautiful eulogy and the whole service.
    And wonderful to have your mother (my former classmate) extend herself as she did…that says a lot!
    Best to all!
    Cousin Joan Slafsky

  13. Bruce, I ‘m sorry to read about the loss of your father and your eulogy was very touching and easy to see there was a lot of love in it. Take care and peace to yo and your family

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