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The 3 Words That Taught My Son And I To Be Better Communicators

The following was syndicated from Quora for The Fatherly Forum, a community of parents and influencers with insights about work, family, and life. If you’d like to join the Forum, drop us a line at

What are the most important lessons you’ve learned from founding a company that you’re teaching your kids?

I repeat “Focus-Listen-Respect” to our 6-year-old son almost every day. He has gotten so used to this trilogy that these days, we simply raise 3 fingers to silently communicate how he could do better in a certain situation. And now, it’s such an important part of my vocabulary that I constantly invoke it at work when I talk to myself. So in some sense, learnings have flown in the opposite direction — from parenting to business-building. The need to focus on, listen to, and respect our employees, customers, and partners — in that order — then becomes the true north.

RELATED: How To Use Baby Sign Language To Communicate With Your Infant

As we grow to become a larger company, complexity creeps in, and we tend to start managing a portfolio — of employees, customers, and partners. Each individual becomes a statistic. Growing companies have a propensity to (a) stop focusing on individuals, and instead focus on averages, (b) stop listening to individuals, and (c) start to value Wall Street over Main Street, not realizing that Main Street delight will automatically take care of Wall Street.

In the same vein, lessons on patience have flown from parenting to company-building. The more patient I am as a father, the more patient I tend to become at work, chaos notwithstanding.

There is one thing, though, which I am teaching our son, based on my lessons at work. I am a Simon Sinek zealot. Much to my wife’s chagrin, I am teaching him that he’s “born free,” and that he should question things (“Start with Why”). Also, some early concepts of serotonin, and how Vitamin D, drinking milk, and happiness are all intertwined! And some tidbits on EDSO, even though he’s too young to remember such profound names!

Dheeraj Pandey is the Founder, CEO and Chairman of Nutanix. Read more from Quora below: