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From Rural Farming to Executive Arming

Farming to Arming

It may be in Heather Ball’s case that she has succeeded in executive coaching because of her agrarian background rather than in spite of it.  Heather grew up in rural Arkansas near her grandparent’s small farmland.

As the first member of her family to complete a higher education degree, Heather felt a certain honor and responsibility to those watching her path and choices.  During the senior year of her Bachelor of Business degree, Heather held three different jobs.  Two of which were, the Speaker of the Legislative Body of Student Government at the university, and another one cleaning the bathrooms of a local department store after closing time.   Her work ethic, determination, and humility provided great opportunities to learn about overcoming adversity, meeting challenges with grace, and in general maintaining exceptional skills at simplifying complicated situations.

What is truly most important?  One of the critical aspects of any leadership position is being able to make decisions with imperfect and incomplete information.  In the small town farming lifestyle, things are simple; NOT EASY, but simple.  As a former executive of an Austin startup and a graduate of McCombs Executive MBA program, Heather acknowledges that circumstances can be difficult, even daunting; but in all of them simplifying and prioritizing according to one’s values eliminates much of the stress of overcoming.

In her coaching practice, Heather espouses the importance of people over money, power, or growth.  By simplifying each opportunity and problem through the lens of prioritizing people, Heather encourages executives to arm themselves with skills that will ultimately generate tremendous loyalty, enthusiasm, and support for organizational goals.  Perhaps it’s the beautiful juxtaposition of agriculture and the tech industry that inspires Heather to focus her experience and energy on increasing the Emotional Intelligence (EQ – emotional quotient) of the technology leaders of today.   Modern technologies may be new and complicated, but human emotion and trading goods and services have existed for millennia.  Now may be the perfect time to simplify.  

Heather describes her work as that of a business blacksmith.  Her objective is to continually sharpen and be sharpened by those in her circles of influence.  Challenge yourself today to sharpen the tools of your trade by humbly accepting insight from those with a different perspective or vantage point.  You may even find yourself armed with new skills.  We will all progress exponentially faster together than if we face our difficulties alone.

By Heather Ball