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What Computer Business Owners Can Learn from Stonyfield Farm

What Computer Business Owners Can Learn from Stonyfield FarmIf you own a computer business, what’s the first thing that you think of when you hear the company name Stonyfield Farm? You think of yogurt, right? If you answered yes, you’d be absolutely correct. Stonyfield Farm is pretty much synonymous with organic, healthy, environmentally-responsible yogurt-making.

So what in the world does this have to do with owning a computer business? Three words: Meg Cadoux Hirshberg. Who’s that, you ask? Hirshberg’s husband, Gary Hirshberg, founded Stonyfield Farm in 1983. If you read Inc. magazine, each month you can tune into Hirshberg’s “Balancing Acts” column and hear some truly fascinating, inspiring stories and words of advice. Hirshberg writes primarily about the trials and tribulations of owning a family business, as well as balancing marriage and entrepreneurial challenges, side-by-side with raising a family literally a stone’s throw away from the business.

At this point, you’re probably expecting to hear that there’s an air-tight connection between Stonyfield Farm, Meg Cadoux Hirshberg, and the IT world. While it’s possible there is, we’re not aware of one.

However, there is something especially remarkable that Hirshberg wrote about in her December 2011 column, “The Small Joys of Family Business” that every computer business owner needs to hear.

In the article, sub-headed “Entrepreneurship, for all its challenges, can bestow on families unexpected benefits beyond the obvious financial ones,” Hirshberg recounts inspiring tales of tremendously-valuable life experiences that she and her family have had as a result of Stonyfield Farm. The general theme is that she and her kids have witnessed or participated in life-changing events that they never in a million years would’ve experienced had Hirshberg and her husband chosen traditional 9-to-5 careers.

What Kinds of Experiences?

For example, Hirshberg’s sister-in-law, Nancy, a long-time Stonyfield employee and a die-hard Grateful Dead fan, went to check her voicemail one morning and discovered a message from Bob Weir, Grateful Dead guitarist, looking for her brother Gary, the company CEO.

Insert your own personal favorite rock star or sports legend into this story, and you’ll understand why this special voicemail message was saved for literally years.

Hirshberg also recounts how her family held an event for Barack Obama at their home and how numerous presidential candidates have toured the Stonyfield yogurt-making plant.

More Examples of "Magic Moments"

Then Hirshberg goes on to introduce 10 other entrepreneurs who’ve had life-changing, ultra-cool experiences that they’ve only had because of their family businesses:

  • A family visit to uber-mogul Richard Brandon’s private Necker Island retreat in the British Virgin Islands

  • A backstage tour of Saturday Night Live, including schmoozing with comedian Andy Samberg at 2 a.m.

  • A professional photo shoot of you, your family, and your townhouse featured in a national magazine

  • An appearance on The Martha Stewart Show—twice

So the basic message is, no matter how frustrating your computer business may be at times, whether it’s because of a server failure that wakes you up for emergency service at 4 a.m. on your birthday, or a client’s bad check that causes all of your employees’ paychecks to bounce one week, or a delayed distributor shipment that sabotages a high profile, high-stakes project, there are many non-financial, largely-intangible benefits that you just can’t put a price on.

What have been your “magic moments” in the history of your computer business? And what are the life-changing experiences that you’ve had, and you’ve shared with your family, that were only possible because you own your own computer business? Please share your magic moments in the comments area below.

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Creative Commons Image Source: flickr Mark Warner

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