This is now coming on a fortnight ago and I must apologize for my tardy blogging. We were hosted in the beautiful building of the Institute of company directors in Westminster. This grand old building is quite a masterpiece but it would be overshadowed later in the day by other buildings but more importantly by the speakers.
The theme for the day was leadership, a topic that leaves me vexed. The reason being that I feel neither a need to be led nor desire for others necessarily to follow me. In fact I find it a little odd and more than bordering arrogant for me to suggest that people would wish to follow me. Rather I hope I can put forward well tested arguments to challenge people, as to wether or not they agree with me should be fully tested from their perspective and not blindly followed. In light of this there are definitely charismatic people who do draw a crowd and can influence the mood. If I can learn to do this effectively to help tell a more positive and hopefully enlightening version of agricultures story then I’ll view it as a positive.
Foods Position in the Economy
The kick off for the day was from a very well respected professor on, foods position in the economy and he gave some wonderfully sobering though enlightening points on food. The key themes that resonated were;
Food items tend to have lower profitability, the key to real success is if you can make your product addictive.
Longevity and success in the market place can be linked to brands that customers value
What’s good for citizens and the environment should be good for business
Develop intellectual property in products that can be leveraged in the market place.
At the end I was left asking the question why as a generalization do farmers have a high level of apathy towards their customers? I strongly suspect in an Australian context it is largely to do with our history of statutory marketing authorities which have taken the responsibility and initiative out of the hands of farmers to engage with their customers.
The following presentation was delivered by a former scholar who has a reasonable influence within the EU. His introduction stated that he left on his Nuffield a farmer and returned a politician. The take homes were simple yet many we are not being effective at in agricultural advocacy;
The capacity to foster change is greatest immediately following the point where a mandate is received, it weakens with time.
Agriculture needs to develop an offensive position in the debate. This will help to frame the discussion.
Stress fosters innovation, keep yourself under some level of stress.
Politicians are more grateful to those identify and frame the problem and bring a solution all in one meeting.
A truly Great Man
The presentation prior to lunch could and probably will be the most memorable and highest impact speech I ever hear. I will not attempt to relate the most moving parts I could not do them justice. I will say that this man is one of the bravest individuals I have ever had the pleasure of meeting he had the room shell shocked and many people including yours truly in tears. May the days and years ahead for this man be easier than those he has recently walked.
He did a wonderful job of framing what Nuffield means and could do it with many years experience that will help myself and the group of scholars understand more clearly and quickly what we have got ourselves into.
Privilege; not in a pompous way but that we are a fortunate few who have been given such a wonderful opportunity that we will never get again.
Family; I/we have just gained a wonderfully diverse new family from all around the world and they are all welcome to visit and call anytime.
Mindset; a constant questioning and testing of what we and our industries are doing given the environments we’re facing and whether adjustments need to be made.
At the end of this, things had been put into a very clear perspective. He described it quite eloquently that “what matters is how much love you foster”. That may sound a little corny but take love in the context of the friendship and passion that you foster. If I can cultivate many more genuine friendships to go with the the great friends I have and help foster in these people a passion for what they do I will count myself a very fortunate individual.
After all this and the feeling of melancholy that I descended into in the first instance and joy that quickly followed in realizing that despite my many wasted opportunities I was better equipped to deal with the opportunities that will present themselves in the future. The final question I had after all this and the impact it had had was why are we so afraid of honesty when it is so profound.
Presentation and throwing off the shackles.
Our final speaker was 2 standard deviations away from accepting people for what they are. He was a professional in unlocking peoples potential. By which I mean he would tell people very succinctly what it was about themselves in appearance and personalty that was holding them back. The biggest individual things I learnt was to pitch yourself appropriately to the audience be they a board room or school children and listen to the criticisms of those who know you best. They know what is holding you back and they are only trying to help unshackle you from your dead weight.
One of the speakers I can’t remember now just who put people into three categories
80% are sheep
10% are pessimists
10% are optimists
Which category do you fit in? I hope I’m an optimist but I’ll wait to hear what my nearest and dearest say to assess if I need to work on changing categories.
In the afternoon we were given a tour of the houses of parliament at Westminster. It is impressive what you can build with the wealth of plundered colonies over several hundred years. I recommend anyone given the opportunity to take a tour through these beautiful structures, they are very impressive and the depth of history is amazing.
Sadly this was the only photo I could take in Westminster photos weren’t allowed