From the Chairwoman of the Board

Heather Lilienthal, 2021 Chairwoman of the Board

I’ve worked for Iowa farmers for more than 20 years in my professional life and, overwhelmingly, they are the most influential leaders with whom I’ve worked. But they aren’t influential because of the number of acres or livestock they raise or the size of their combines. The most influential farmers I’ve met are the most humble humans who seek and share knowledge and have the deepest streaks of optimism.

They simply lead by example. These men and women work hard on their farms, carefully caring for their soil and animals, knowing every decision they make and action they take not only influences this year’s crop…they know it will impact the futures of their farms.

I always loved how they introduce themselves: “I’m just a farmer.” They aren’t adding that “just” to be edgy, they simply don’t get caught up in titles. I’ve learned so much about leadership from these examples.
It makes me think of this quote from Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert: “You don’t have to be a “person of influence” to be influential. In fact, the most influential people in my life are probably not even aware of the things they’ve taught me.”

This month, the chamber recognized some incredibly influential people with a number of awards. Be sure to visit our Facebook page to learn more about these winners. These are the people who’d introduce themselves as community champions and chamber volunteers, when they are, indeed, making amazing things happen through their businesses, their actions and their steadfast dedication to making Ankeny a great place to live, work, and play. They are those positive influences your mom told you to hang around with!

They are just like “my” farmers. Businessmen and women who work hard and give back because they want to help others experience success. Their influence isn’t something they tout. These awards let them know they are on the right track. I feel that all of our chamber members can share and find such influence by being involved.

This type of ROI…return on influence…is special. It’s not a “look at me” type of return. The return is actually realized from what is given: value, knowledge, support, and trust. Like farmers, they know how to use their expertise to help a colleague plant a seed and grow a dream or a business. It’s a careful balance of skill and optimism to assess opportunity and risk in order to reach those goals.

A group like the chamber can speak with a unified voice to influence change in Ankeny…to champion our small businesses, to continue to attract world-class organizations, to create connections that lead to change and success.

YOU are influential. And your return on influence is something you can receive by giving it away. Give it a try and look to the chamber to help you.