In many ways, growing up on my family’s farm laid the foundation for my ambitions as a broadband solutions provider today. There are many advantages to living in the countryside away from the hustle and bustle of non-stop city life; but the downsides have become clearer with the advent of the Internet. Once broadband reached the cities, people realized how much rural areas could be cut off from modern conveniences. However, they also saw how broadband can make everyday life easier.
I think the lessons I learned from my rural education can also be applied to other business leaders.
“BETTER CLOSED” TECHNOLOGY
Farmers are always looking to do their jobs better, more efficiently and with higher product yields, and they look to the latest technology for solutions. For my dad, having the right tractor for the right job was a huge accomplishment, and I grew up watching him constantly ride those tractors, swapping one every two years to stay up to date with the best models. He always sought to cultivate better.
The lesson here for business leaders is that you can’t necessarily need new technology, but if it’s faster and more powerful, you can find new applications to help you work better and more efficiently.
TECHNOLOGY CAN CONNECT PEOPLE
My family’s farm was 10 miles from school, four miles from church, and two and a half miles from my dearest friend. Think about this isolation before the internet. Seeing my friends on Sunday mornings at church – school friends who weren’t farmers like me – was the only time I actually saw them for most of the summer. Today, thanks to the ability of broadband to connect people, such a description seems so bizarre.
Due to the challenges I faced growing up without technology, I now find myself as a leader more open to all of what it offers, from being close to employees to providing better service. customer. Broadband would have made relationships much easier back then, and as more businesses turn to remote or hybrid models, I see the need for it ever growing. Access to technology can really change lives, especially at a time when so many people are working alone from home. Leaders need to take advantage of the benefits that technology like broadband can offer their business, such as better connectivity and therefore more opportunities for collaboration, empathy and productivity. These benefits not only support your organization, but also the people who make it up.
NOTHING SHOULD BE CONSIDERED
Living the farm life without broadband before coming to a city with abundant connectivity taught me to never take anything for granted. I think I see a bigger picture when it comes to overcoming worst case scenarios because I’ve been through both extremes. When the pandemic hit, for example, my business was poised to pull itself together through pre-existing remote connectivity mechanisms – considerations I included in my business due to my empathy for a team’s isolation.
All the things we normally take for granted become a much bigger deal in times of crisis, so business leaders need to be prepared for the unexpected. Nothing is guaranteed and some events are simply beyond our control. For example, if my business were to meet our goal of universal, fiber-powered broadband, as a leader, I would always have to predict what would happen if we lost it in the event of a tragedy.
After nearly two years of COVID-19, we all have a better understanding of what it’s like to see something we take for granted suddenly taken away from us. The flourishing energy of the cities had just disappeared. A Vikings game with 67,000 fans in the middle of downtown Minneapolis was no longer something we could experience. Now we can all see a bigger picture, so use this and everything you learned during the pandemic to stay better prepared. If you have a plan to develop and improve what matters in your business rather than taking it for granted and just leaving it as it is, the chances of losing it altogether will be much slimmer, even when uncontrollable circumstances present themselves to you. .
HARD WORK IS HARD WORK, NO MATTER WHERE YOU ARE
Rural life is a combination of scenic times in nature and hard work, and it teaches you to take the good with the bad. A 200 acre farm with cows, pigs, ducks, geese, and chickens may not seem like the foundation for a successful business career, but I’ve learned that hard work is hard work no matter what. where you apply it. And this is my last lesson to share. With remote working creating more opportunities for more people without them having to live in cities, I think that’s something every business leader should keep in mind.
Cheri Beranek is President and CEO of Free field, providing fiber optic connectivity and management solutions across North America.