Abraham Barrera via Unsplash

Investing in the Important Infrastructure of Life

I don’t recall giving much thought to infrastructure when I was growing up in Pittsburgh, even if the city was the home base for the nation’s steel production. But it became a pretty important concept while spending much of my professional career in industrial real estate that was tightly connected to the supply chain.

When your company (Prologis) owns and manages warehouses all over the world, infrastructure matters!

It’s a great word, infrastructure, and I’ve come to realize it doesn’t just apply to buildings, roads, and power supplies. In fact, it’s hard to think of anything that matters that doesn’t require a sound infrastructure.

The supply chain? We’ve seen the unfortunate fallout recently from breakdowns in the physical infrastructure of bridges, whether it was caused by a lack of due diligence during inspections (Memphis) or an out-of-control cargo ship (Baltimore). Roads, waterways, power source, and phone service are just a few other significant pieces of the infrastructure that keep the economy moving.

Families? Healthy family infrastructure is critical to healthy communities, and dysfunctional families create tremendous barriers to success for the next generation.

Organizations? A cultural infrastructure holds companies, governments, and nonprofits together and connects work with workers. When it weakens or cracks, the organization suffers just as much or more than when it has breakdowns in physical infrastructure.

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Neighborhoods? The cities and communities where we live need solid physical infrastructure, of course, but it takes more than roads without potholes to make a hometown great.

Garry Gilliam, Jr., a former NFL football player (and soon-to-be guest with me on Off the Rak on May 23) understands this better than most. The Bridge, which he founded in his hometown of Harrisburg, Penn., creates a web of solutions using eco-villages that address everything from food security to affordable housing to education.

“This is the way we should be building infrastructure for our cities,” Garry said, “not just in Harrisburg or Pennsylvania… but the world.”

Leadership? Infrastructure doesn’t just apply to the systems around us, but also to the systems within us. Without a sound personal infrastructure of values and discipline, our leadership will crack under pressure. These areas (and many others) are interrelated because that’s typically how infrastructure works. That’s why Gilliam’s holistic approach is so valuable, and that’s why we, as leaders, need to invest in every aspect of infrastructure in our lives. If we get that right, we have the foundations for a positive influence on the world around us

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