Who remembers the Mastercard credit card “Priceless” marketing campaign “there are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s MasterCard”? The commercial identified various items or experiences that the credit card could purchase but ultimately, the card brought you something you could not buy…that once in a life-time moment, that rare connection, the ideal (tears in your eyes) conversation. I was shocked to see that the campaign started in 1997!
The campaign was all about the “Human Connection”. That connection is something that we humans intrinsically crave…through family, spouse, friends and even strangers.
The Human Connection may not have been the expectation for the original creation of Cook County Farm Bureau 100 years ago, however, it has been a part of the reason that the Cook County Farm Bureau has been successful for 100 years. And it will be a main reason that Cook County Farm Bureau is successful for the next 100 years.
In the early 1900s, farming was an isolated, sometimes solitary (even lonely) occupation. Family and church were the primary connections a farmer and farm families had to experience that Human Connection. The Cook County Farm Bureau helped expand that connection by providing new opportunities…
- For farmers to work and bond together for a common cause.
- For farmers to socialize with others with similar interests and problems.
- For farmers to connect with others beyond their limited circle.
- For farmers gain leadership, educational and life experience skills.
- For farmers to improve their own lifestyles and business operations.
Friendships were built, relationships were nurtured, worlds were expanded. Members broke bread together, commiserated together, laughed together, cried together, grew together. The Human Connection became a driving force for member participation, involvement, leadership, action, life. This is not changed today nor will it tomorrow.
When I was hired as manager (last century!), it quickly became obvious to me that that group of Board of Directors was very tightly knit. They loved to eat together, traveled together and laughed together beyond the usual meetings and activities found at a county farm bureau. Through Cook County Farm Bureau, this group of farmers had gained great human connections that made for a strong county farm bureau and lasted through decades.
I was recently taught an important lesson about the Human Connection. In recent years, I took time to sit down and talk to a volunteer. I wanted to be welcoming, although, at times, I was feeling the stress of being “too busy”. The more I took time to chat with this volunteer, the more interested I became in the give-and-take of our perspectives on a variety of topics: kids, world events, theories of volunteer management, growing plants, books, fishing, exercise, and many others. My expectation was not friendship. However, a friendship slowly blossomed.
This friend recently dropped by my office and surprised me with a gift…an antique bamboo fly rod that had been owned by his grandfather. My first thought was that this was a priceless gift (those of you who know my love of fly fishing understand). The gesture touched me deeply and I couldn’t help wondering
“What did I do to deserve such a priceless gift?” As I have reflected upon it further, I realize it is the friendship with this individual that is priceless.
At its root, Human Connection is making time and placing value on other people rather than focusing on distractions. How many Human Connections have I missed out on through the years because I’m “too busy”?
Cook County Farm Bureau is celebrating its 100-year anniversary in 2020. I encourage those of you that have been involved in the organization to think about how many Human Connections have resulted from the creation of this organization throughout this history.
The Cook County Farm Bureau Human Connection…Priceless!