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Sam Simon: What I Learned From My Dad – A Father’s Day Reflection

My dad is my hero. He taught me invaluable lessons about life and business. Lessons I’ve shared over the years with my team and will pass on to my sons. Although he died in 2012, his example and guidance endure.

Family comes first. In 1973, when I was 9-years-old, my parents immigrated to the United States, from Armenia, with my sister, three brothers and me, with less than $200. As trite as it sounds, he wanted to give us a better life. The better life we initially had was living in the basement of a generous family. I recall people from the local church bringing us items to help us get started – a lamp, a mattress, some food. We were grateful because it was a new beginning and we were together.

Take risks and change your situation. My dad was never afraid to take risks. Had he settled for the life we had in Armenia, or been too proud to ask for help, we would not have received the blessings and opportunities of living in this country.

Work hard and don’t give up. My dad worked hard his entire life. While he was grateful for the help our family received when we came to America, he wanted to work and earn his way. By the time he was 50, he owned 30 gas stations in Detroit. His journey from about $200 to English fluency and business ownership happened because he didn’t consider failure an option and he worked toward his goals.

Together we win. As smart as my dad was he knew he could learn from others. He understood that a leader serves. He always asked his employees and customers for input. He tackled issues and opportunities as a team.

Conduct yourself and business relationships with integrity. My dad’s strong faith formed his values and high ethical and moral standards. The number of gas stations he owned grew because Shell Oil recognized his integrity and honesty, and trusted him to represent their brand well.

While there are some exceptionally great business schools and professors, I’m blessed I had the privilege to learn from a selfless, dedicated and loving teacher – Ramzi Simon.


1) With my Dad in 2011

2) Dad’s first Shell gas station, which he bought with his partner Kamel Aziz, in 1973. It was located at 6 Mile Road and Hoover, in Detroit.


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