State of the Soil, not so final reflections.
I am proud and honored of every person who watched our State of the Soil Summit January 23-27. To have so many people validate a dream was encouraging. The attendance was more than I could have hoped for, so it is a great indicator we have truly found a need to continue to find answers for our industry.
I want to go over the post-summit thoughts, reflections, and correspondence. I like to go over challenges in life as soon as possible, so here is the white elephant in the room.
I failed to properly prepare a tech sheet with suggested internet speeds, and as we are all aware, the video files were too large. I am thankful that with my support team all videos were reduced and reloaded just three days after the conclusion for everyone to view. Since the final day several new marketing sessions have been recorded and loaded into the all access pass portal with more in edit.
Were there parts that could have been better? Yes. Did we have some audio issues? Absolutely. Did I pull every opportunity to deliver the best interviews? Of course not. This summit was the first run into a new venture. I had to start somewhere. I challenge all of us to try something new and achieve perfection the first round. Thankfully we now have a starting point of improvement, and that is what excited me the most. The opportunity to put out something new and needed through to completion was something a lot of people would have walked away from as there were moments of uncertainty. I felt like there were too many people to let down if this project were not completed. I had speakers, companies, and farmers I made promises to and although it wasn’t perfect, I am proud of the overall outcome.
Long term, I hoped I would be able to help other farms. There are so many resources out there, but everyone learns in different ways. My goal was to provide additional perspective and connections through collaborative efforts and inspirational people.
In the days following the summit the emails, and opportunities showed we did something right.
Whey you receive emails, not one or two, but many stating you helped change a business for the better the level of responsibility rises. This work is affecting family farms. I know that continuing on this journey the stakes of small Ag sustainability (in a business sense) are very high.
When you start getting calls from people you respect asking to work with us and offer speaking engagements, it is validation that all of us have a story to share.
I truthfully did hope this would lead to the opportunity to continue this vision. The inspiration from the State of the Soil community has been both reassuring and scary. When you want something for somebody, the responsibility to deliver outstanding material is multiplied many times over. When you look at a list of names and think of the farms, families, employees, and clients those names represent, you damn well better be the best you can be.
Uncharacteristically, I had to spend much longer than normal digesting the weight of this responsibility and embrace the chance to make a difference. I am used to making fast decisions with my other businesses, but the words I use now and the messages that are brought to people that trust me now affect many more people. I have to make sure I am true to myself, to you, and bring the very best I can. Thankfully we have developed meaningful relations with some of the most influential and giving people in our industry who are willing to support you (and help me stay on track).
A note on perfection. Addressing critical issues.
The ability to recognize your strengths and weaknesses will carry you a long way. When I asked for critical critiques in the surveys, I truly wanted honest answers. And boy was I not disappointed. Overall respondents understood the enormity of the project and forgave where we fell short. All advice was not only looked at but agreed upon.
The largest issue was, of course, the file sizes, which have been addressed.
Audio. As filming progressed on location, please understand these in most cases were one shot opportunities in sometimes un-ideal locations. Location was overall one of the biggest challenges outside of scheduling very busy people. Sometimes exhaust fans and pumps interfered with audio quality. I do specifically want to address the fact we did use external lav mics, but in the set up I missed calibrating the channels properly.
I dropped the ball not offering more “tours” of our locations. That will be addressed as we move forward.
I was raked over the coals on my accidental use of a rogue apostrophe. And the statement was valid. I’m great with sales and ideas, but as a professional hoodlum in high school, I may have missed an English class or two. Ok semester, don’t judge. But I think I turned out alright despite these challenges. What I will not do is let the areas I fall short keep me from pressing forward. I am still waiting for that ex-English teacher to call me back so I can offer her a proofreader position.
I spent a lot of time going over the apostrophe debacle. I was obsessed with the conversation for a couple of days. I called several people to talk through this one paragraph.
I came to several conclusions:
- I was grateful someone took the time out to tell me what I asked for.
- Details matter and I need assistance.
- This person did not receive some information they were looking for because of a barrier they could not overcome.
- The question then became, “Are we placing barriers up for our clients that prevent them from buying our farm’s goods?”
- Are some people such perfectionists that an errant mispunctuation prevents them from getting real value beyond the mistake?
- Are imperfect farm stands, farmers market booths, and signs so uninviting that you are losing sales?
- What is the Risk vs. Reward? If you are always perfect, will you be able to accomplish what you need to in this industry with all of the hats you have to wear? Are there times you simply have to do the best you can to take care of that 20% clientele that is your true fans? No matter how good you become, understand a small percentage of people will never be supporters. Know that is their issue, not yours. Do the very best you can and aim to improve just 1% a day. Know that nobody is perfect, but we all should be mindful of the opportunity to learn as well as let go of our barriers.
- Lastly, I am still looking for a proofreader.
The thing that mentally set me back the most was something I actively tried to avoid but apparently crept in. I was told that I built myself up too much during some of the interviews. I promise that was not my intent, but looking back I can see how that was an issue. My goal was to make the interviews about the speaker and trying to address your needs. I obviously missed that target for a few people and I apologize.
For those who were let down, it was a hard blow. And I hope to improve with your help, and I sincerely appreciate all of you who had the courage to correct me. I am also not going to hide my faults from you or anyone else. By acknowledging the places to improve I hope to inspire others to critically look in the mirror and make that daily 1% improvement. Shortcomings are nothing to be ashamed of. Some people live their entire life complacent to mediocracy. We are encouraging a community of truth, development, and growth.
So, what’s next?
The last few paragraphs dealt with exactly 11 respondents who were not pleased. If I dedicated that much bandwidth to people who were not happy, imagine what I will do for the early adopters who allowed me to grow with them. Now we will look at the over 200 people who communicated how happy they were and where my focus will shift.
- Emails. We will have short weekly emails that announce live webinars, blog articles (if you want to go deep you can read blog posts) and upcoming news and events. Emails will be short with links to more information that you can choose to go deep or not at all.
- Ongoing training. Some will be live, some I will pre-record. All will be continuously loaded into the all-access portal to view at your convenience.
- Live Speaking Engagements. I have scheduled nine events in the last two weeks all over the country for 2017. We are also working on bringing some Dallas events to fruition. I hope to meet as many of you as I can.
- The closed Facebook group: State of the Soil is where you can get the fastest answers and resources to your needs. There are some of the finest people I have ever met.
- Together we will press on to make this a resource of inspirational and knowledgeable people who share a passion for sharing with their fellow farmers.
Plant Seeds Daily
We are starting with some basic principals, but will quickly be ramping up to higher learning opportunities. Continue to start and push through the learning curves. Email me when you need to, I will be here for you.