• Jerry Phillips

A Sense Of Community

I grew up on a farm in Kansas. Although I had no desire to farm as a career, it did leave some lasting impressions. When it rained, it meant a day off. To this day, when it rains, I still want to sleep late. But more importantly, I grew up with a set of values that have lasted. There is nobody more entrepreneurial than a farmer. There is no bigger risk taker. Everything they do is dependent on the weather and while there is certainly science to what they produce, there is also an element of chance.

I’ve shared before that my father had health issues at an incredibly young age. He developed a cyst on his brain, and it led to him being physically disabled. But it also led to a different kind of independence for us as a family. The independence came from understanding that we could not only survive, but, with the help of the community, we could thrive.

One of my most cherished memories came from a time when my father was unable to work. He didn’t grow up on a farm but wanted to become a farmer. We lived on a small section of land that allowed us to raise sheep and cattle, and to plant wheat. My dad worked as a foreman at a sheet metal shop during the day and farmed at night. When the cyst filled to a point that he had occasional convulsions, he had to have surgery. That led to him not being able to work at the sheet metal shop, or on the farm. When the wheat was ready to cut, you had to harvest it. It was your source of income. We had no way of cutting it in a timely manner. One day six combines came to our farm and the neighbors and my uncle cut our wheat in hours. It normally would have taken days. The community rallied around us and took care of us.

I was around six years old and to this day, it makes me emotional. We were staring at a crisis that could have truly devastated our family. Yet without a thought of putting their own income at risk, the neighbors left their fields and harvest, to help us. I’m forever grateful and it left a lasting impression of what it means to be generous. Giving without expectation of return.

As I started my career in sales it was natural for me to connect a customer with someone who could help them if I couldn’t. It wasn’t something I thought about. It was just something we did. It helped the customer solve a problem, and it earned me creditability. I wasn’t just there to sell them. I was there to help them solve their problem.

To this day, it remains a tenant of our company. It comes from our sense of community that I learned at six years old. What are you doing today to help in your community? Your company and your customers? Be generous with your knowledge. The return on the investment is not just financial, it’s a life investment.

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