October influencer: Geoff Baker, McFarland Truck Lines
McFarland Truck Lines is a regional truckload carrier operating throughout the Upper Midwest. McFarland specializes in delivering refrigerated and time-sensitive food products.
What makes a good business leader?
The leaders who I admire seem to be able to do a couple of things well. The first thing is the ability to identify the vital few things the business needs to focus on, and then keeping everyone focused on those vital few issues. The second thing that great business leaders do is they make decisions based on data over opinion, advice or gut feel.
What’s your favorite recent movie and/or what book are you reading right now?
I loved Quentin Tarintino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” Right now I am reading “Accidental Presidents: Eight Men Who Changed America” by Jared Cohen.
Who inspires you the most? Why?
I am lucky in that I have worked with and for a lot of great, inspiring people in my career. Right now, the person who is probably the most inspiring is my wife. I know that sounds corny. She restarted her professional life after our boys were out of elementary school, and she has professionally reinvented herself three or four times in the last 10 years. She has succeeded every time. The inspiring lesson is that in a world of rapid and profound change, you must be willing to adapt to new realities.
You are the new chair of the Minnesota Chamber’s Transportation Policy Committee. What prompted you to step into this role?
The short answer is that Doug Loon called and got me at a weak moment and I said “yes.” The more mature answer is that as a trucker, I have a real vested interest in the quality of Minnesota’s transportation infrastructure. I truly believe that our entire transportation system must be world-class so our state’s economy can thrive.
Grassroots is an important part of advancing the Minnesota Chamber’s priorities at the Capitol. Do you have any advice, tips for business leaders on how they can connect with their legislators and other policymakers?
The most important thing to understand is that both federal and state legislators really want to hear from employers that they represent. A quick phone call from a constituent can have a real impact on an elected official.
What’s your favorite pastime/hobby?
My wife would tell you that my favorite pastime is drinking beer and talking smart. I would modify that to say it is drinking beer, cooking, and talking smart all at the same time.