No regrets – what does that legacy look like for you?

It is raining -many of our famers are celebrating

For the rest of us its TV binge  weekend
How magnificent is the series that translates Sally Rooney’s beautiful novel Normal People to our screens
For me it takes me back to my first love and my best love and the perfect example of how love isn’t enough for 21st century women
It’s also a great reminder not to over analyse our life choices – if I had made that mistake I would have missed spending 40 years of my life with a truly magnificent human
Women are extraordinary humans we give, and we give and then we ask ourselves who is giving back

THE BIG QUESTION in COVID 19. How do we make doing the right thing the social norm?

School today is a very different place to my recollection of the 60s and 70s where some-one like me who cant draw or paint could top art because we could learn all the theory off by heart.

Today school is an exciting place where young people are invited to solve tomorrow’s problems today. Schools do this by using the project based learning model and teachers ask their students BIG QUESTIONS


Big Questions are those that inspire students to explore all possibilities – there should be no easy answer!

Currently watching our political leaders make tough decisions to lock us all down because we stuggle as a cohort to do the right thing has me asking the big question

How do we make doing the right thing the social norm?

At Picture You in Agriculture we collect alot of data that helps us inform the way we design and deliver our school programs, helps teachers understand how they can be support their students and inform everyone what young Australians think about, talk about, care about, what they want to learn and how they want to learn and what inspires them to take action..

I dipped into our ten years of data to help me answer the big question I have posed this morning. The question we ask students that gives the widest diversity of answers year in year out is this one

Which of these environmental activities do you already do?

Please click the boxes for the ones you do now either at school or at home.

Big Question School versus Home

There are two answers under the HOME column that are consistently the same year in year out and a big diversity between schools under the SCHOOL column.

As you can see good habits learnt at home and at school are not automatically transferable. Our big question to the students this year will involve several HOW and WHAT questions around this conundrum, asking them about the barriers they face and what they see are the opportunities to make good behavoirs learnt at home and at school the social norm

For adults I imagine the first question might be.  How do we define THE RIGHT THING There is certainly no shortage of diverse opionions in this space

A very good reason indeed I would think we should all be celebrating an education system committed to the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians defined as:

  1. Australian schooling promotes equity and excellence, and
  2. All young Australians become successful learners, confident and creative individuals, and active and informed citizens.

Is agriculture showing farmers enough respect?

If you ask young people in Australia between the ages of 11 and 18 to self rate their eco-literacy you will get results similar to below.  20709_EcoLiteracy_PPT_Slides2

On the other hand, a recent request to farmers from the council of agricultural research and development corporations read like below. It would appear the organisations who do research in agriculture on behalf of farmers are still tip toeing around the term Climate Change when they talk to farmers.

Leadership is Language – Please can we start by normalising the term

Invitation to be involved in an RDC Climate Initiative co-design workshop
I’m writing to seek your assistance to help co-design a significant new initiative from the Rural RDCs.
The 15 RDC’s have committed to take a long-term view to investing in research that will drive transformation of Australia’s primary industries to grow their productivity in the face of an increasingly variable climate.
We believe that Australia’s primary producers can and do lead the world in sustainable, resilient production systems adapted to significant climate variability. We believe the active management of resources through productive agriculture, fisheries and forestry offer the greatest opportunity to have a positive impact on our environment while also supporting prosperous lives and lifestyles for our primary producers and our communities.
The new RDC Climate Initiative will drive growth, build resilience and foster thriving agriculture, fisheries and forestry industries, regardless of pressures from a changing climate. It will support a successful agriculture sector and enable it to surpass NFF’s vision of farmgate output exceeding $100 billion by 2030.
Through the initiative, the RDCs are creating a durable investment platform to address climate research in ways that only become available by working together. The investments and pathways to change need to be designed by and for our primary producers, tailored to match their unique circumstances, challenges and opportunities.
We are driving the development of this initiative hard and moving fast. Our plan is to present an investment blueprint to the Council of Rural RDCs for endorsement when it meets in September.
From next Wednesday we are holding six co-design workshops to focus on critical assumptions and opportunities in the quest to find the best ideas for transformative changes that are the most desirable, the most technically feasible, most economically viable, and the most attractive for investment by the RDCs, governments and the private sector. We would love to have you and or some of your members involved. Feel free to circulate this message or complete this form to register your interest in participating. We’ll follow up with an email in coming days to let you know which workshop you’ve been allocated to.
The two-hour workshops are being held online and represent your opportunity to have input into the design of this exciting program. The number of participants in each workshop will be limited. We apologise for the short notice and in advance in the event we are unable to accommodate you in a workshop.
If you would like more information about the Initiative or the workshops please don’t hesitate to contact ……….
As FutureEye remind us on the website – all leading businesses are expected to have a climate change strategy – yet agriculture is still getting the message from government and our industry bodies we cant even use the term.
Annotation 2020-08-11 005712

Time for leadership language from both government and our industry bodies. Time to turn knowledge into action.

Kownledge into action

and to assure the world the forward thinking farmers embraced the term early here is a great story on an innovative farmer and Goterra founder Olympia Yarger who says “Climate change technology will boost the economy post-COVID-19, and startups can deliver it” 


It starts with you. Does the culture in your organisation empower, enhance, enable and engage?

It Starts with you Graphic

I fell into leadership as no-one else was putting their hand up at the time

I was not comfortable because whilst I know everyone admires my courage and the fact that I get stuff done my style does not suit everyone.

I wasn’t crazy about it myself.

So I went on a journey to improve my leadership style

I am the first to admit its progress not perfection

What my journey has taught me is CULTURE in organisations is the must have foundation.

Because I identified some of the best leadership coaches in the business to go on my learning journey with, I have become very good at identifying good leadership in others and organisations that get stuff done because they get the culture right first

I got to experience what that looks like at the highest level in the last month.

Best practice following a meeting is to send a follow up document that outlines from your perspective what all parties agreed to do. Then all parties go on that journey (with any tweaks that you missed). BTW You know you are working with the best when the other party sends the follow up email before you do.

Three weeks ago, I was in a meeting where both parties had the opportunity to get more great stuff done by working with others they had not yet been introduced to.

I had connections for the organisation I was talking to and some-one from the organisation I was talking to had previously worked for a legend whose organisation would be the perfect partner for the schools our organisation works with

And meeting this legend would be for me be like meeting Barack Obama or Bill Gates

The introductions were made and then I saw why this legend and the organisation she founded has achieved so much

It was extraordinary. I sent an email to the legend outlining what our organisation does and highlighted potential synergies from my perspective.

She then did this thing I have never seen in action before.

She connected me with her Executive Assistant, all the key program managers, told me who would be allocated to blind cc and who was accountable for what in one paragraph.

Meetings followed and magic is happening !!!!!!!!!

How does your CEO deal with their Inbox?

How many people and organisations do you talk to who spend more time telling you how busy they than they do getting stuff done.?

'do something today that your future self will thank you for' hand lettering quote on dark background
‘do something today that your future self will thank you for’ hand lettering quote on dark background

Kownledge into action


Which industries are focusing on building leaders in these complex and challenging times

As per my blog post yesterday I have spent the last ten years looking at the leadership culture in agriculture and personally trying new ways of doing things.

The best overview with case studies of how we can all develop businesses that have the capacity to thrive in these complex and challenging times has been done by Corporate Rebels.

It outlines the eight trends identified by Corporate Rebels  (Click the links for Case studies)

From To
1. Profit Purpose & values
2. Hierarchical pyramid Network of teams
3. Directive leadership Supportive leadership
4. Plan & predict Experiment & adapt
5. Rules & control Freedom & trust
6. Centralized authority Distributed decision making
7. Secrecy Radical transparency
8. Job descriptions Talents & mastery

As mentioned yesterday we are currently trialling these leadership trends with the Youth Voices Leadership team at Picture You in Agriculture.  Super kudos to this gusty group of young women.

In this post I share with you my learning journey and where you can do a deep dive into the eight trends in Australia

The concept was first outlined to me at the week-long Melbourne Business School course Leading Transformational Change  with Matt Williams and Jayne Jennings.

Transactional vs Transformational Leadership
Transactional vs Transformational Leadership

The leadership guru Matt and Jayne defer to is Dr Maja Stanojevic- Andre who Zoe Routh interviews here . I am mega grateful for the wisdom Maja shares with me when I find myself between a rock and a hard place.

Zoe Routh provides one on one and group coaching supporting leaders to follow the eight trends to successful businesses in 21st century and having taken that journey I highly recommend it.

At a very high level ( I am not there yet) Christine McDougall is doing some interesting stuff. People in agriculture who have done a deep dive into Christine’s philosophies include  Rebel Black and Peter and Nikki Thompson ( Hear Sarah Nolet interview Peter here )

My journey to learn more has seen me join Dave Stachowiak’s Coaching for Leaders Academy 

The Coaching for Leaders Academy brings people from across the world together.  I asked Dave for a sector/industry breakup which he kindly shared with me

Of the 85 current participants 25% are from the technology sector, followed by the healthcare sector ( good to see) and I am the only person EVER from the agriculture sector.

I am a huge fan of Dave’s work and following the academy I am going to take the course that got Dave to where he is today and also do a deep dive with Maja

Watch this space – I am loving it

Diagram of Transformational Leadership
Diagram of Transformational Leadership

What does success look like in my lifetime – an agricultural community that can advocate for itself


Here Dave interviewed by Dione Howard here in our Leadership is Language series


What does the leadership “culture” look like in agriculture in the 21st century

Long term readers of my blog will know I find what I see as a culture of negativity in agriculture very frustrating and counterproductive to the industry moving forward.

I find the leadership models very paternalistic with research and development corporations taking a well-meaning top down approach which often results in farmers feeling like they are being treated like children in the Victorian ages. We know best, do as you are told and be seen and not heard 

With project-based learning being the norm in schools today this culture in agriculture is very old school.


To me this paternalistic leadership culture has resulted in farmers feeling disenfranchised and powerless and doing a lot of praying that some-one else will fix our problems for us. Nicely summed up in this cartoon

I have spent the last ten years looking at the culture and personally trying new ways of doing things.

For example what if we went from the paternalistic leadership model and followed the eight trends identified by Corporate Rebels  (Click the links for Case studies)

From To
1. Profit Purpose & values
2. Hierarchical pyramid Network of teams
3. Directive leadership Supportive leadership
4. Plan & predict Experiment & adapt
5. Rules & control Freedom & trust
6. Centralized authority Distributed decision making
7. Secrecy Radical transparency
8. Job descriptions Talents & mastery

We are currently trialling these leadership trends with the Youth Voices Leadership team at Picture You in Agriculture  Super kudos to this gusty group of young women.



Peer Mentoring – what do I bring to the table?

Peer Assisted Teaching and Learning

As mentioned in previous posts  I am currently part of a Global Leaders program and I am also very grateful to have a circle of people in Australia who mentor and coach me.

Whenever I have been in Leadership programs the part I struggle with the most is the Peer to Peer mentoring. ( (See footnote) What do I offer my peer?

Whilst I personally avoid one on one peer mentoring situations I love listening to other people do it and just live for the wisdom of the crowd moments.

How do you find Peer to Peer Mentoring opportunitues?


Here is a suggested agenda for Peer Mentoring

Where are you in the world?
What’s a thumbnail sketch of your role/organization?
What’s one superpower you have?
I enjoy teaching other people how to…
Other people say I’m good at…
One thing I want to gain more perspective on right now is…
You say: A recent example of a situation where more
perspective may help.
Your partner says: Here’s an experience I can share…
Swap roles

Are egos and personalities getting in the way of profitable and resilient farms in Australia?

_2017 Landcare Conference Lynne Strong 16_9 _Page_11

If you want to bring joy to some-one you sit with them on the front verandah at my house

Ten years have gone by since I had a phone call from the office of the federal Minister for Agriculture asking if the Minister could come to our farm and meet with me and would I organise for him to have a breakfast meeting with a group of dairy farmers from the region

The questions that the minister asked me as we sat on my front verandah that stayed front of mind are:

How do we create an effective model for agriculture’s research and development corporations.

How do we get the people running them to have collaborative, cooperative mindsets?

How do we get them focused on the big picture.?

How do we get them to focus on connecting farmers with consumers and their role in helping farmers get safe affordable, nutritious food to Australians and families around the world?

These are questions I haven’t stopped thinking about and its clear all the ministers who followed him haven’t stopped thinking about them either as their first gig seems to be the never ending review of the RDC model

I have watched the RDC model with great interest in the past ten years looking for change. I have seen glimmers of hope that quickly fade. I so want the model to work

When I see press releases like this, I wonder if its all about egos. I have seen this press release twice. Each time it quotes a different head of an RDC

You can’t help but wonder why the opinions of the two most important voices in the food and fibre supply chain werent sourced for the press release. How much more effective would the story be if we heard from a farmer about how their farming business was focused on meeting or exceeding consumer expectations.

I don’t think its about egos.  I think it’s the outdated RDC paternalistic model aka top down approach the RDCs favour.

If I am close to the mark what are the opportunities and barriers for farmers and consumers to be active and involved voices together in how our food is produced and distributed to everyone who needs it?

Kudos to Corteva – for asking those questions.

This is a survey that gave me hope

#zerohunger #zerowaste #StrongerTogether


Blame and Shame time – climate literacy void in the offices of the policy makers

Young people rank their literacy on Climate Change very highly yet

Australia’s global ranking on progress towards meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals continues to be dragged down due to a lack of meaningful policies on climate change. Source

Climate Literacy

While Australia scored highly on indicators relating to poverty, health and well-being, education, clean water and sanitation, and economic performance – explaining its overall ranking of 37 – that ranking was dragged down by poor scores in environmental indicators.

Australia scored poorly on development issues relating to pollution, particularly those related to the use of cleaner forms of energy.

Major deficiencies were identified for indicators relating to ‘responsible consumption and production’ as well as climate action and the emissions intensity of its electricity system.

What do you think? Time for our politicians to go back to school and work on their eco-literacy

Stuff it – I am NOT curling up in bed with chocolate

I must admit I was having a pretty frustrating week. So what do you when you decide its all too frustrating and you want to throw your hands up in the air and say stuff it I am just going to curl up in bed and eat chocolate

What I do is I send messages to all the people in my circle who get stuff done and who I  know will brighten my day in someway.

Thank you Kris and Roger and WSU for reminding me why its all worthwile and an ht to Nicole and the YVLT . 

WSU Agri Industry

though the chocolate is very tempting and isnt it great to know there is an Archie for every occasion