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When you imagine the CEO of a company, you can see her wearing ironed suits and hear her waxed shoes click on hard marble floors. You might not imagine overalls smelling of hay or fresh milk splashing around her ankles as she drags buckets through a barn. Yet growing up in a farm played a major role in helping me become the business leader that I am today. Not to say that milking the cows is the only way to get there, but working with my dad on the farm every night developed a work ethic in me that paved the way for success.
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Here are the three main lessons I learned.
1. Being a leader takes sacrifice
When I came home from school, the cows always had to come first. It was work before playing, before even sitting down to dinner. When I became CEO, this lesson taught me to make sure the work that needed to be done was done before I started planning what I could do on Friday night. Hard work requires a certain level of sacrifice, and I learned that through my obligations on the farm.
As a leader, this sacrifice becomes more pronounced. My father rarely played. I remember the times my mom would take me to town for my band’s concerts, but my dad would stay because he still had work to do on the farm. I used to think he didn’t want to come, but I realized as I got older that he really couldn’t. My father taught me that you don’t always do what you want when you have to do what is necessary to lead.
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2. Make a commitment and stick to it
The cows came first and they needed care every day no matter what, so I learned the meaning of commitment by helping my dad on the farm. Even though I was tired or hungry, I still had to muster the energy to carry buckets of milk through the barn for my dad. He was there everyday, doing it for us, so I was going to be there for him. It was a question of tenacity.
Engaging your best efforts through thick and thin is something you can be proud of, and as a result, only the good memories tend to stick. There is nothing more scenic than watching a young calf graze in the pasture, but not all cows are fun and fun. There are tough days and disgusting jobs. The horrible smells and heavy loads took a lot longer for me, but getting over them makes the romantic memories of watching calves graze all the more golden brown.
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3. Hard work is hard work
Whether you’re building a multi-million dollar business or milking cows, hard work is always tough. My experience working with my father taught me leadership and management skills, but also the difficult task of physical labor. The biggest lesson I learned from having access to both is how much they depend on each other for success.
My experience on the farm has given me a more complete picture of what hard work entails, and I know better than ever how to put labor on the shelf. One of my business goals is to provide the management and connectivity products that will enable this country to have ubiquitous, fiber-powered, universal broadband with symmetrical upstream and downstream speeds. Building this infrastructure will be very workforce-centric, take a lot of hard work and involve overcoming many obstacles, but it will pay off in the end if we train, educate and provide opportunities to keep that workforce. labor force busy.
I may fondly remember my experiences on the farm, but it was really a lot of hard work. Just like running a business, you do your best even on days when nothing goes as planned. All is not glory, but all can be a rewarding experience if you take the lessons that your hard work invariably brings.