If someone were to ask me what experience has shaped my life and personality the most, I would say without hesitation growing up on Quin Oaks farm in Richmond, Virginia. The name Quin Oaks came from the five oak trees that lined the driveway up to our farmhouse where I lived with my parents, older sister and older brother. A couple of the most important things I learned growing up on the farm were the value of hard work and humility. It was a simple life, and often challenging, but it taught me about appreciating what you have and taking pride in your work. There were also endless opportunities to go on adventures and have fun.
Our farm had 5,000 chickens. I loved collecting the eggs with my older brother and sister, and we sold them from the front porch of the house. My mom also made deliveries. Raising chickens taught me about nature, responsibility and compassion. We also had a greenhouse where we grew geraniums, petunias, marigolds, coleus and tomato plants. In addition, my parents planted and harvested wheat, barley and soybeans as part of the family business. We learned to plow deep and straight and not cut corners.
Another one of the important things I learned about was money – how to earn it and how to save it. Growing up on a farm was my first introduction to being an entrepreneur. I found out how income minus expenses equals profits. We would take our earnings to the bank and deposit them in a savings account. It made me understand the importance of taking very good care of the money I had worked hard to get.
Today, I credit all of these experiences that I learned about responsibility at a young age, developing a strong work ethic and the value of a dollar as the bedrock of the success I have experienced in my personal and professional life.