The Secret of Networking From a Chicken Farmer

Tagline: Get off the farm

James did not enjoy working among the chickens on his family’s Pennsylvania farm, but he had promised to stay until he was 21. Chickens simply weren’t the company he longed for; he was lonely. He knew that he loved being around people and so after fulfilling his promise, he set out with his wife, Miriam, and, together, they paid less than $2,000 for a fledgling potato chip company.

Having a product to sell, no matter how difficult, was a boon to his spirits. By day they made chips and by night James went door-to-door and sold them.

It would take decades of work, but the husband/wife duo bloomed into Herr Foods, which boasted annual sales over $100 Million and over 1,000 employees.

James, though he grew up lonely on a farm, was a truly gifted salesman. He would attribute his success to his genuine love of being around people. His motto was reflected in all his actions:

“Always try to be a blessing to other people.”

And that was his singular goal all along. The money allowed him to be around more people he liked. He would learn the names of every person in the food processing plant. Secretly he gave philanthropically to his church and other charities. His reason for secrecy reflected his value of always being a blessing to other people, not for his sake but for its own sake.

On his 65th wedding anniversary, at the age of 87, he died in his wife’s arms. James Herr had been motivated by a single value, which got him off his parents’ farm and out among people, where he belonged.

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