Rural life can provide “the harvest of a lifetime”

Did you hear Lainey Wilson’s acceptance speech at the Grammy’s? It really struck me how proud she is of her rural and farming roots. I loved the way she compared farming to making music. Have a listen:

I’ve been a big fan of Wilson’s, both her music and her acting career on Yellowstone. Sometimes we need a reminder of how great it is to grow up in a small community, where everyone knows each other and has similar down-to-earth values.

Here are some of the lessons Lainey says she learned growing up in a small rural community that has led to her success. 

Hard work

She talked about her father in her acceptance speech and what a hard-working person he was. Any farmer will tell you we don’t do it because it’s an easy job. It takes a lot of long hours, dedication and resilience to put in a crop and harvest it every year.  Like Wilson, I have a tremendous amount of respect for my father and how my work ethic was attained through osmosis simply by being around him.  I am pretty lucky that I still get to work beside him every day. 

Whether a crop is wiped out by hail, a drought, or grasshoppers, most farmers will do it again the following year. Why? Because we love what we do and can’t imagine ourselves doing anything else. There are good years and bad years, but there’s always work to be done.


Be proud of where you’re from

Lainey’s got a thick Louisiana accent and when people tease her about it, she doesn’t care. She loves where she’s from, a small northeastern Louisiana town of about 200 people who all feel like family to her. That may sound idealistic, but I think many of us will agree, that small-town life and the connectedness we feel to one another is a pretty remarkable thing. We saw that last year when our community helped us track down thousands of dollars worth of stolen tools. We wouldn’t be who we are today without the influence of our families, friends and communities and we never forget that. I know many people who’ve moved away from the farm to the city, but they always come back and help at harvest time because that’s just what we do. 

Tell it like it is, with grace

Ok, I may need to work on the “grace” part of it…but anyone who knows me will agree that I don’t sugarcoat things and you will always get my honest opinion, like it or not. I think it’s important for people to be honest so they can create authentic relationships. We don’t all have to agree, but we do need to have respect for one another’s opinions and take the time to listen to one another.

People remember the way you made them feel 

Another lesson Lainey talks about is that people will remember forever how you made them feel, so you need to decide, do you want to make people feel great?  I can still specifically remember the day my mentor, Danny Klinefelter, pushed me with risk management questions – he asked about north-south expansion to help with storms, possibly another country, about vertical integration. In the end, he looked at me and said “Kristjan, it’s ok to be crazy, embrace it, be you.”  I will never forget how Danny made me feel, to him dreaming big wasn’t crazy, it was awesome.

My second example would be my Amma (great-grandmother), who sadly is no longer with us. Amma always made me feel like I had a #1 fan. She would send me a note on every article, and every podcast, yet at the same time now and then she would hug me and say, “You make sure you take of yourself too, don’t forget if you are not healthy you can’t make life better for your team, your industry, your country.” 

When you do good, it comes back to you

In this podcast, Lainey talks about how she moved to Nashville in a camper truck with no money and big dreams. 

An acquaintance of her grandfather’s allowed her to park her truck outside his music studio for three years. He allowed her to do this because, years before, her grandfather gave him a couple of hundred dollars so he could move to Nashville to pursue his dreams of being a recording artist. I always say that I enjoy doing favors for people because, sooner or later, that may come back around for me, my kids or future generations. I guess you call it good karma.

When all you hear about in the media is farmer protests, questionable politics and sustainability debates, it was refreshing to hear agriculture talked about in such a positive way at an event like the Grammys. Kudos to Lainey Wilson for sharing her agriculture story with her fans and followers. More of this content, please!