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There was once a struggling blacksmith named John.  John was young, broke, and in desperate need to provide for his young family in Vermont. In 1836, John made a tough decision to leave this family, with all of $73.00 in his pocket, to make his way west in the hope of finding his fortune… or at least a job.

After two weeks of travel, John decided to set up camp in Grand Detour Illinois. It was there he put out his blacksmith shingle.

Day after day, John would hear the tales of farmers from the Northeast struggling to push their plows through the sticky Illinois soil. Where their iron plows used to easily slide through the New England sediment, the Midwest sod seemed quite the challenge. The farmers became frustrated, having to clean the mud off the iron plows every few yards.

28386438_mJohn believed that if he could mold the outside of the plow in steel, the mud and dirt would not stick. So in 1837 John built the first polished plow using a broken saw blade.

During the days and months that passed, John would work with the farmers and listen to their problems; he would continue to refine the plow for many years. John would go on to become one of the greatest inventors and businessmen of his time.

That man was John Deere.

Even though John Deere passed away in 1886, his values of listening and teaching live on through the company he built. Deere and Company is arguably the most famous agricultural company in the world. The company was based on Deere’s values of Integrity, Quality, Commitment and Innovation. These values formed Deere’s legacy and the company success for over a century.

Leadership Lessons Learned from John Deere

  • A leader needs to be courageous
  • A leader needs to follow his convictions
  • Struggle leads to progress
  • Persistence and determination will rule the day
  • A “can do” attitude is vital to success
  • There is no easy path to success
  • Collaboration is the key to progress and innovation
  • Listening to the needs of others creates understanding

In conclusion

From John Deere’s story what insights can you add to the list above? What was your learning from his life? I would welcome your comments in the “Reply” box below.

Committed to your success,


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Inscape Consulting Group
Greg Nichvalodoff, BSc. BM (Honors), MBA, PCC, CMC
Office: 604.943.0800
Mobile: 604.831.4734