My grandfather Mario has always led by example. He has always been the kind of man that other men aspire to be, and that women want their sons to grow up to be. He has been such an important thread in our family; giving his son, five grandsons and four great-grandsons an example to grow into. And giving his five daughters, nine granddaughters and four great-granddaughters an example of what we can expect from the men in our lives, and a guide on how to raise our sons.
He is not a man of many words and exemplifies the expression “listen more than you speak.” In my 35 years, I never once heard him raise his voice. But when he spoke, we all listened.
He worked every single day. On Sundays, he would work until about noon, then head to the ice cream store to buy popsicles for all of us grandchildren. He would come back home, where we would all be gathered for lunch. I have so many wonderful memories of these Sunday lunches at their house. The whole family gathered together, 12 of us grandchildren playing. And sometimes, he would go around, slipping allowance money into our hands.
Grandpa Mario is proof that leadership can’t be taught in school. Born the youngest of 12 children, his family didn’t have much means when he was growing up. He never attended fancy schools and doesn’t have the impressive titles. But he was a very successful leader, businessman and family man. Well respected and loved by his family, employees, vendors and everyone he interacted with.
On a recent trip to Brazil to visit grandpa when he was sick, I read Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In where she quotes the following definition of leadership, “Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.”
Grandpa always made others better and his impact will last forever in all those he touched, even in his absence.