Wishing all dads a happy Father’s Day!


I want to wish all dads a very happy Father’s Day!!!!

My day started with Daniel, Diane, and Suzie singing “Happy Father’s Day” and serving me my favorite disaster sausage omelet from Sarkis Cafe in Evanston (I highly recommend it as long as you take several long jogs the same day 😉).

We then went on a wonderful bike ride through the Northwestern University campus and lakefront. When we returned home, the children asked me what I wanted for lunch, and when I mentioned maybe breakfast had been too big, they suggested we move on to dessert! How did they know my favorite dessert is Baker’s Square French Silk Pie!!!!! (If you eat this pie, be aware you then need to run a half Marathon 😉😉).

When I self-reflect on Father’s Day (and as you know, I suggest that you self-reflect every day 😁), I have a mixture of many feelings….happiness, sadness, and a healthy sense of the importance of trying to keep everything in my life in perspective.

One of the first thoughts I have on this day is of my own Dad, Harry Kraemer, Sr., pictured here with my Mother, Patricia.

Most of the values I try to practice every day I learned from my Dad and Mom. I was born on my Dad’s birthday, the first of five children. Dad worked hard, but always made time for the five of us — playing ball, attending Mass, going to the movies, taking long car rides, and playing Michigan Rummy!

My Dad loved his Dad (my grandpa) very much. Grandpa died when Dad was only 18 years old and had just enlisted in the Navy in WWII. Dad talked so much about Grandpa that I felt like I knew him. The way Dad admired his Dad always made me feel even closer to Dad.

When Julie and I started our family, I wanted to make sure I was as close to my five children as Dad and Mom were to us. I realized that if family is important to you, the key is to focus your time and attention on your family. That is why I suggest to my students not to think about “work/life balance”, but rather, “life balance”…..what really matters in your life? What is your purpose? What are your values?

Back in September 1999, I had a chance to share my own experience striving for “life balance” with Forbes Magazine. Forbes wanted to write a story about how executives dealt with the stress of executive positions and balancing family. The story gave me the opportunity to discuss what is now a critical part of my teaching in values-based leadership. Forbes ended up featuring the story on the front cover with a photo of me with my youngest daughter, Diane. It was the year after I became CEO of Baxter, and Diane was ONE YEAR OLD!!! Now 22 years old, Diane has a copy of the magazine cover up on her bedroom wall; I tease her that she is the youngest person ever to be featured on the cover 😀

Okay, now for a little comedy. Forbes asked if they could take a few photos of the family for the article. Julie only agreed to the photos if they didn’t show the children’s faces and their names were not included. Two things we didn’t expect: One was that our picture would be on the cover of the magazine! Second, when we told the children that their names would not be included, we didn’t realize that right before the photos were taken, Suzie (12 years old at the time) changed into a shirt that had her name emblazoned on the back!!!

When I asked Suzie why she changed shirts, she said “Dad, If I didn’t change shirts, how would my friends know it was me!!” 😉

I hope you have a wonderful Father’s Day with your families!! Never forget how important each and every day is with our children and how quickly they grow up!! Here’s a cute Father’s Day picture and video that my business partner and friend, Khalid Ali, shared with me today of him with his son and daughter; it seems like it was only yesterday that my own children were this young!!! 😁


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