In part one, we discussed gender differences in approaching risk management and I offered suggestions to empower my fellow farmhers. I’ve lived 51 years and feel like I’ve learned 51 lessons. Many of them through tough life experiences and exceptional educational opportunities, yet many of them also from my parents, Dean and Jeanette. My father’s sense of humor sustains him these days and I’d like to pass along three of his witticisms from my youth that still stick with me today.
1. “I didn’t ask you to repeat what I thought, I asked you to tell me what YOU think.”
While some parents enjoyed having a “mini-me,” mine did not. We often watched news shows or educational television and my father would ask for my opinion. I was never allowed to parrot his opinion and if I did, I was told to think about it thoroughly and form my own opinion. In risk management, you can apply this when sitting down with a lender or insurance agent and asking your own well-researched questions. Always think independently, even if you have a partner, and never feel pressure to go along with the crowd.
2. “No one takes care of you but you.”
This is reality. As much as our parents, family, or a partner nurtures us, in the end it is up to us to take care of ourselves. And often, farm and ranch women spend considerable time nurturing others while not paying attention to themselves. But you can’t take care of someone else until you take care of yourself. In risk management, if you feel you aren’t informed, don’t assume someone else is doing this for you. Operate your business knowing what’s going on and leave no question unasked. Take of yourself first, then others.
3. “Janet’s hiring.”
As a teenager, I watched classmates who had cool clothes and their first car purchased for them by their parents. Yet when I carefully vetted my parents to gauge the opportunities for these “subsidies,” I was told the women (Janet) who operated the restaurant down the street was hiring. I had every vital need provided for – roof over my head, food on the table, new school clothes in the fall – and if I wanted more, I had to work hard for it. I applied for and got the job. In risk management, don’t assume the market or production will always be enough, or that something or someone will bail you out. Talk with your insurance agent about tools such as crop insurance. Be thrifty with your funds to sustain you in the lean years. And hard work is the first step in success. In both the short- and long-run, the notion that “Janet’s hiring” and you have to provide for yourself will serve you well.
Maria is the founder and president of Miller Insurance Agency, Inc. and is writing our monthly InsureHer column. For two decades, she raised corn, soybeans and wheat on her family farm. Today this FarmHer raises chickens, rabbits and vegetables in her backyard. Learn more at www.facebook.com/millerinsurancecolorado. This article is for information purposes only. Consult with your insurance agent to be sure you are properly protected.