The ‘Morning Joe’ and ‘Sunday Today’ host has never talked about retirement plans or the NASDAQ with his CBS correspondent father
As part of a series to mark Father’s Day, Moneyish asked some prominent people to share the lessons they learned from their father or father figures about money and leadership. Read more here.
When you’re born the son of a newspaper columnist and a social worker, it’s not so much that the “financial aptitude” gene isn’t passed down, it’s that it never existed in the first place. I can say with relative certainty that in 42 years, my 72-year-old dad Bill Geist and I have never had a financial conversation of any significance.
I grew up in a suburban New Jersey town where a lot of my friends’ parents hopped on the NJ Transit train every morning and went down to Wall Street. My dad wrote for the New York Times, and later became a correspondent for CBS News, so we were the token “artsy” people in the neighborhood. One summer home from college, when it was becoming clear I was interested in the family business of journalism, my dad did sit me down and suggest I at least go talk to those Wall Street dads about what they did for a living in case it struck me as interesting. I did, and I had no idea what they were talking about.
What I will say about my dad and money is that he showed me its value in the way he worked for it. We never talked about 401(k)s or the swings of the tech-heavy NASDAQ over dinner (it would have been a brief conversation anyway), but I learned about money by watching the time and effort my dad put in at work so he could own a house and give his family a life he was proud of.
I also knew as I grew up that money was not going to magically appear in my pocket. I worked a soon as I could, at summer basketball camps, delivering pizzas, and doing landscaping work for three summers. There was nothing better than the feeling of a wad of cash in my dirty, sweaty, beat up hand every Friday afternoon after another week on the mowers. That’s a lesson, even if learned through osmosis, I owe to my dad.
I may have picked up a little more financial wisdom in my adult years than my dad had in his, but I’m no Oracle of the Upper West Side. I will pass on to my kids—a 10 year old daughter and 7 year old son— what my father gave me: An appreciation for money, an understanding that it won’t always just be there for you, and respect for the hard work that puts it in your pocket. And when they ask hard questions, I’ll just tell them to watch CNBC or something.
Willie Geist is host of NBC “Sunday Today” and MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
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