Don’t tell them why, Show them How

I am fascinated by what makes people tick.

I learnt a long time ago humans are feeling beings who also happen to think. We absorb information differently and we process it differently.

We are now at the point in OZ where the early adopters and some of the late adopters have got their vaccines.

My passion for life long learning saw me sign up for another of Changeologist Les Robinson’s Theory of Behavior Change workshops this week

Les reminded us if we want to drive behavior change its important to tailor the message for each demographic you are trying to reach to THEIR  specific needs, wants and pain points.

Its time to stop telling our later adopters and laggards WHY and show them HOW

Time for less facts – now matter how impressive they as the science tells us they will only create more resistance

Time for more compassion, less judgment

Lets show them HOW

What does HOW look like to you?



How do we make sustainable farming part of our DNA?

Agriculture is this country is starting to feel the societal pressures that food production should harness environmental good outcomes that European farmers have been experiencing for decades.

One would hope Europe’s experience would have given us the opportunity to show foresight and be prepared.

Quite the contrary as Gabrielle Chan shares in this excellent article   

“No Australian political party is doing serious thinking about how to knit together food, farming and environmental policies to continue feeding the population while mitigating climate change and biodiversity loss.”

In 2016 the United Nations announced the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that give every business including agriculture a global blueprint to guide our country’s activities towards a global collaborative achievement of sustainable development. The SDGs provide a ‘common language’ through which our rural industries can communicate domestically and globally, in alignment with world leaders on the SDG index as well as Australia’s major trading partners.

They also provide an extraordinary opportunity to develop a leadership capability framework to support the National Farmers Federation 2030 roadmap.

Leading change for a sustainable economy and planet has a huge focus in Europe yet big business in Australia is much slower to move into this space.

“The systemic pressures the world faces today mean that leadership simply cannot be the preserve of a ‘heroic’ few. Delivering the future we want will require organisations to cultivate leadership at all levels, and to embrace diverse and complementary strengths and approaches. The focus will be on developing collective leadership capacity, with individuals supported and inspired to deliver against their potential, and to contribute effectively within their personal strengths and role.”

Whilst progress on building the knowledge, thinking and practice around the new normal is very slow at government level our teachers are grasping the Sustainability Leadership mantle firmly ensuring our young people are going to be ready for the jobs of the future.

Meet Sana Said from Riverstone High School

By mapping our future leadership needs and deploying our people for  good, we have a significant opportunity to shape the food production agenda and deliver an equitable system for all.

There is also icing on the cake with a number of economic benefits from SDG reporting globally to be realised through enhancements to the natural environment.

  • FOOD WASTE: Potential to lower global costs of food waste for saving AUD $240 to $600B per year (20-30 per cent of food globally is wasted through post-harvest losses that are easy to prevent)
  • FOREST ECOSYSTEM SERVICES: Potential to lower Global costs of deforestation and forest degradation: AUD $200B to $550B per year (Deforestation and forest degradation which currently account for 17 per cent of global emissions
  • RENEWABLE ENERGY: Increase renewables’ share of energy generation worldwide could increase to 45 per cent by 2030 (from 23 per cent in 2014) (IRENA, 2014) Potential to lower global costs of non-renewable energy: AUD $250B to $900B

Thanks to Jo Eady from Rural Scope and Mark Paterson from Currie Communication for inspiration for this post


Women in Agriculture – Its time for the invisible to be truly visible

I am a woman who has come to prominence in a man’s world

In 2012 I won agriculture’s most prestigious accolade the inaugural Bob Hawke Hawke Landcare Award

All the subsequent winners are men

In 2021 the inaugural winner of the 2020 General Jeffery Soil Health Award is a woman 

I am 100% confident that both of us are not a token gestures to gender  diversity, its a 100% acknowledgment that we are where the world sees agriculture as the place we should be heading

I am where I am today because a number of very special men supported my journey

But very few ( almost none ) put their hands up in a public space and say I am on Team Lynne and the work she does on behalf of the greater good is important work we can all champion.

My call to action to women everywhere in agriculture be proud of what you are doing

Shout your cause from the rooftops

Its time for the invisible to be truly visible

And its time to tell the men in our lives who think its good enough to pat you on the head and say “Go Girl” is no where near the ground breaking response that is required to drive real change.

What does Gender balance look like you to you??

Is agriculture spending enough time thinking about who our customers are and what they are becoming

Women represent 56% of graduates of agricultural science university courses yet Young Farming Champion,  Australian Young Farmer of the Year and co-owner of Summit Ag Agronomy Emma Ayliffe tells me she can count on one hand the number of female agronomists over 35 working fulltime.

Emma is 30 and it will be interesting for her to reflect back on the agronomy sector in 10-15 years time and see if this is still the case

Research shows that the previous generation of women who decided they had to make a choice between career and children chose children. This generation of women are choosing career.

To learn as much as I can about why current agricultural sector workplaces are not meeting the wants and needs of women over 35 I have been doing a lot of reading and learning a lot.

The research tells me

We need to look at the blueprints of our workplaces, to understand how the policies, processes, structures, employee behaviours, leaders, and culture in our workplaces can value women and their contributions 

My reading has also opened my eyes to the importance of the language we use when promoting the sector to next gen agriculturalists and next gen consumers. Speaking of next gen consumers did you know 80%  of purchases made today are by women. So women are important for both talent management and the business bottom line.

In today’s world we are led to believe men have an unwavering belief in the machine – the ability of technology to solve the world’s problems. Women on the other hand see people as our greatest resource and women around the world are standing up to save the planet.

As our board is all female and the majority of consultants we work with are also female, it’s very important to us that the language we use appeals to all genders

The ultimate challenge of gender bilingualism, both in terms of understanding consumers better and of better talent management, is a skill we can all learn.

During a recent strategic planning meeting our all female board were comfortable with this description of how to promote careers in agriculture as an opportunity to:

  • make a humanitarian/environmental difference locally and globally
  • build capacity to act on issues that are important to regional communities and
  • have a positive impact on the lives of others

On learning about gender bilingualism and reflecting on the previous version below ( written by a male consultant)  I felt this version might have  broader appeal. What do you think?

Promoting agriculture as an exciting industry:  

  • where innovation, disruption and creativity are fostered,
  • where careers with purpose can grow limitlessly and
  • where partnerships across sectors are encouraged and nurtured

Our industry is changing. I often find myself having conversations with people in the livestock sectors who are bewildered that livestock industries are attracting  young women 2:1 where as young men are attracted to cropping industries.

I have always been concerned that the Australian dairy industry has an over reliance on promoting the high level of technology in the industry and a reticence  to talk about its huge environmental gains

There is an exciting opportunity to reframe gender balance as one of the century’s most obvious business opportunities. But first we have to acknowledge, understand and maximize the complementary differences between men and women. The challenge here is not to treat everyone equally and the same, but to treat everyone equally and different, with a deep understanding of what those differences are.

With so many opportunities in our sector its the perfect time to thinking about who our customers are and what they care about.

Books I am reading and referencing

  • Brandsplaining by Jane Cunningham and Philippa Roberts
  • The Fix by Michelle King
  • Seven Steps to Leading a Gender-Balanced Business by Avivah Wittenberg-Cox


A state of chaos is the normal in most years in the dairy industry

In my quest to collect information and data about how we can best support  women in rural and regional Australia through The Wise Women Project, I interviewed Australian Rural Consultant of the Year Dr Neil Moss

Neil was as always very pragmatic, and it was this statement that was a wake-up call for me.

On reflecting on the 20 plus years Neil has been consulting to dairy farmers he said

“A state of chaos is the normal in most years in the dairy industry”

Chaos and disruption is normal. Our reflections on the past and what we consider “normal” are often blinded by our experiences of our early and formative years in agriculture. Those that became agricultural aware in the 50’s or 70’s reflect on the wetter times being the normal. I became “agriculturally aware” on the Monaro in the early 80s when my parents moved to Dalgety and bought the general store- my perception of normal is some degree of drought interspersed with occasional but appreciated wet times. The world was different – we were protected by more favourable terms of trade, lower land values and in some industries quota and floor prices. Many farmers continued to innovate and move forward during and since those times but some have stood still.

No business is immune from change and this is not unique to agriculture. Costs have risen, terms of trade have declined, land values have escalated dramatically and our need to be more efficient, that is, to get more from less, has only become more acute. Stocking rates have had to rise to keep pace, expectations of higher productivity continue and as a result, whether or not you accept the science of climate change, all farms are more exposed to drought and climate risk than they ever have been before.  These are the messages that we need to get out. Farmers need to be adopting technology, innovation, improvements in management, improvements in efficiency, improvements in resource use efficiency.

These conversations can be coupled with conversations about sustainability, the reality of carbon cycling in agriculture, emissions intensity, sustainable intensification and animal wellbeing. These factors should not be viewed as being mutually exclusive with productivity, profitability and resilience- the opposite is the true reality.

On the question of genuine financial literacy and valuing everyone in the business 

Returns in agriculture need to be carefully considered. While income is important, asset growth and wealth creation need to be factored, as well as the people who are contributing both paid and in-kind labour as well as founding capital. Unfortunately, in many cases no individual is getting income paid directly – It’s just declared as co-drawings. This can make things like tracking or contributing superannuation or other entitlements, generally taken for granted outside of agriculture, very problematic.

Ideally, all businesses should factor in labour costs and pay staff whether they be family or not

It is a critical conversation to have when you’re looking at whether a business is viable in the first place. If your business doesn’t provide for labour costs, then there is risk that what  you may be doing is effectively  indulging a hobby farming career.

When we look at this there are two things to consider

  1. Diligence when people are establishing and reviewing the business objectively to also apply a proper wage structures, to all people that are contributing. Otherwise, you are not acknowledging opportunity lost costs of all those involved.
  2. And secondarily, when we are talking about technology and innovation:
    • Identify how the technology can help and also what are its costs and requirements such as training and integration into the whole farm system that need to be considered
    • Identify who are the drivers of the adoption and uptake of technology on farms?

On the question of the adoption of technology

Frequently, it’s the women that are more engaged in exploring and bringing new technology to the farm and suggesting where it fits in. Women often have a capacity to sit back, look and say, “Well, why are you doing it that way? Maybe there is a better way and I’m going to go out and find it.”

Whereas quite often, and certainly not always, (there are great examples of technology being adopted by all genders), males can get locked into a “that’s how we do it, that’s how dad did it, that’s how we’re going to keep doing it” mindset.

It is important to not just talk about technology, it’s important we talk about adoption of change in management practices as well as technology, that reflects new knowledge in how things can be done. Quite often we do not need a new gadget or machine, just a review of how things are done and processes in light of the ever evolving on and off farm innovation that is occurring across the world- we are so much better connected these days to world-wide innovation, and it is often women that drive and thrive with this connectivity and approach to critical thinking.

It is important to conduct studies rather than rely on the anecdotal information because the people who are already having these conversations are often working with the progressive or aspirational farmers who are already on the innovation wave or are looking to get on board and wanting to do better.

We need to better understand why some farmers embrace and move forward with technology and innovation and some chose not to.

Questions we should be asking

  • Who is adopting the technology,
  • Are they using it to its best advantage?
  • What are they doing with the data that they’re collecting?
  • Where do you get your information on technology?
  • How is that information communicated to you?
  • Who in the farm team is responsible for bringing it to the table?
  • What processes of review do you have before adopting a technology?
  • What are the real barriers to technology and change being taken up- is it capital, culture, consensus, access, training or poor explanation of potential benefits and across business synergies?

On the question of the importance of a commitment to lifelong learning 

We all know many very successful people who do not have a tertiary education- a university degree or similar is not a pre-requisite for success!  However, many of the most successful farmers I am lucky enough to work with adopt a lifelong approach to ongoing continuing education, and learning, albeit less structured. These farmers understand the drivers of their business, they appreciate the critical importance of timing and decisiveness, they understand and manage their key risks and they continue to update skills and knowledge. A profitable and resilient industry needs farming management teams that consider all of this.

In the wake of some of the recent natural disasters I have been doing some recovery work with farms that have been less exposed to both broader industry extension efforts and use of consultants. Irrespective of the real devastation that they had experienced, the failure of either delivery or uptake of messaging and practices that many farmers and advisers consider as basics and fundamentals was deeply concerning. We need to find better ways to connect innovation and technology right across the broad spectrum of aspiration and ambition

On the question of how do we inspire change 

To inspire change the industry has used role models and it has had various programs. The issue I see is the industry continues to preach to the converted. You have the same 30% of farms that attend 90% of the structured education extension offerings.

There is a large component of industry that will never embrace or adopt change, time  or the next natural disaster or industry price shock will unfortunately catch up with many of these business.

Concerning as it is we may need to accept that it doesn’t matter how hard or what we try and do, there’s going to be many farms that are never going to or want to progress-and that is ok and that is absolutely their choice.

There just must be an acceptance of that.

While the Australian public is in general deeply supportive of agriculture and farmers, the tolerance towards repeated bail outs and support packages may be wearing thin. There is a need to be honest and transparent with the farming sector that next time there is a drought or a price shock, if they haven’t gone out and upskilled, and improved, and taken the opportunities that are there to make their business more resilient, then the public’s tolerance and acceptance of taxpayer funded bail-outs being delivered are being continually eroded

Very few farming businesses are optimized and there is existing and evolving technologies and management changes  that can continue to improve efficiency and resilience. People must look on their side of the farm gate first, assess and challenge the operations and structures in their business and see what they can adopt and how they can improve management and adopt technology, and just not blame the milk price next time something goes wrong. This is not to say that issues around inappropriate milk pricing structures should remain uncontested when they do occur as has recently been the case.

This wise woman is very grateful to have this very wise man in her life – thank you Neil

If we want gender balance its time to reframe the debate

“Ask a roomful of men what the most significant event of the twentieth century was, and you’ll hear about man’s magnificent first steps on the moon.

Ask a roomful of women, and you’ll hear it’s the invention of the pill.

History is inevitably shaped by the language and lens through which it’s seen. – SO IS YOUR FUTURE ” Avivah  Wittenberg-Cox

My journey over the last 20 years has been interesting and a great reminder of how we are all shaped by the environment we find ourselves in

Almost 20 years ago I saw a burning need to find innovative ways to inspire pride in Australian farmers and ensure all the people that help feed and clothe us felt valued

That journey seemed to resonate with young people. Having in a past life seen young people I work with lives torn apart by a series of violent armed holdups I thought deeply about how we could build resilience in our young people

This led to the Young Farming Champions program. As it so happened it was mainly young women who saw value in a commitment to lifelong learning, the importance of being critical and creative thinkers, confident communicators and collaborators.

This has seen me reach the third stage in my 20 year journey where I have been identified as a champion of  the advancement of women and girls. I personally believe they are championing themselves. I see my role as the connector providing a space where we can all come together to dream big, reframe the debate, experiment, collect data and signpost ways women and girls can realise their full potential and achieve their aspirations. And ultimately a gender balanced world where everyone has the opportunity to  thrive

Shoutout to Avivah Wittenberg-Cox for reframing the debate away from the “Them and Us” to “Shared Responsibility” and inspiring our graphics

Watch this space to learn more about

and a bit of light hearted relief from the National Museum


How much strength does it take to be a disruptor

Sometimes you just have to step up and say it like it is

Tonight I will watch the young people I work with step up organically and  deliver one of the highlights of my career realisation aspirations

In 2012 I won the inaugural Bob Hawke Landcare Award

I remember the event

I remember the morning after

The first call was from the CEO of a dairy co-operative who told me they were going to sue me for information I had provided to Senate Estimates on Milk Price

The second call was from me to Australia’s second largest agricultural research and development cooperation who had decided the organisation who was building their cohort of  confident communicators and trusted voices was at the bottom of the list of organisation they paid and it was perfectly acceptable that my family business would carry their debt.

Its tough out there.

My tips when you eventually find the people who genuinely want the best outcomes for the greater good.

Embrace them.

Work with them

Do something amazing together

I am finally in that space and I am sooooo grateful





Life begins at 65 – help me show it can

If you have been following my socials you might have noticed I seem to be having a minor meltdown over turning 65.

I could say its a gender thing

Women of my generation understand, without having to be told, the pitfalls and perils of owning your gender, of sharing the universality of experience that comes with being a woman trying to rise in male-dominated fields

But I don’t think it is

I am part of the missing link – the untapped potential ( men and women everywhere 65 and over.)

The path to a more equitable society must be paved by the business community.  The missing link is the pathway to do this in a way that makes business sense

I am currently working with a cohort of extraordinary women who are equally dedicated to tapping into untapped potential – men and women everywhere no matter what their age, demographic, region and industry.

What Will It Take to Lead in the Decade Ahead?

The successful CEO of the future will be the one who can effectively manage through the coming talent shortage. That leader will understand the nature of this challenge, develop strategies to attract, develop, and retain a workforce, and inspire every level of company management to follow.  Source 

If this is something you feel strongly about I am just an email away

Magnificent read from Avivah Wittenberg-Cox

The fabulous news is whilst ageism is alive and well and many women of this age will complain of their ‘invisibility.’ Remember it was JK Rowling that turned the invisibility cloak into a super-power. Look around the world. See at what age significant numbers of women emerge onto a larger stage (see table).

Some Global Female Leaders, by Age

They are only the tip of the first massive wave of educated women moving through life. They are the role models of our collective, more gender-balanced futures. There are more on the way, each wave more educated, more powerful and more connected.

This phase isn’t limited to the 50s. With longevity, it stretches ever longer. The women in visible leadership roles around the world are more often over 60 than under it.

  • Barbara Beck, a role model, worked full time running The Economist magazine’s Special Reports section into her late 70s.
  • Scilla Elworthy, at 76, continues a half-century’s work in conflict resolution and peace-making. 
  • Germaine Warkentin, Emeritus Professor at the University of Toronto, after contributing or co-authoring 17 books, is writing her first solo book, at 86, on the history of the book as an information medium.

Who knew? And that’s one of the challenges. We mostly aren’t aware of the shape of women’s careers. And because their shape is unrecognised and unacknowledged, we’re too often found wanting and under-performing in our first halves – even by ourselves. But pre-50 may just be the warm-up act to our new, 100-year lives.


The message for women in these decades? Relax, pace yourself, prepare strategically for the peak. Let time be your friend, rather than your foe. You’ll want a backpack full of strong relationships, happy couples and families, deep knowledge, wide ranging experience and networks. Enjoy building, adjusting and fine-tuning them. They are worth every bedtime story, every couples’ therapy session, every negotiation with resistant employers. Your time is coming, just not when you think.


You can have it all. Just not all at once. It might just be later than you were planning. Luckily, you’re likely to live a lot longer than you thought. So wherever you are in these four phases, pace yourself for a marathon.

The world needs you.



How do we help everyone to soar like an eagle

We have all heard a eulogy that includes “He/She didn’t suffer fools gladly”

When I hear it I cringe – I know some-one will say that in my eulogy and I face palm ( after washing my hands for 20 seconds)

How do you change years and years of habits that include eye rolling, heavy breathing and saying what you think before you think about what you said.

Its a given

” In the course of your life you will be continually encountering fools. There are simply too many to avoid. We can classify people as fools by the following rubric: when it comes to practical life, what should matter is getting long-term results, and getting the work done in as efficient and creative a manner as possible.”

Fools carry with them a different scale of values:

  • They place more importance on short-term matters-grabbing immediate money, getting attention from the public or media, and looking good.
  • They are ruled by their ego and insecurities.
  • They tend to enjoy drama and political intrigue for their own sake.
  • When they criticize, they always emphasize matters that are irrelevant to the overall picture or argument.
  • They are more interested in their career and position than in the truth.
  • You can distinguish them by how little they get done, or by how hard they make it for others to get results.
  • They lack a certain common sense, getting worked up about things that are not really important while ignoring problems that will spell doom in the long-term. Source 

The natural tendency with fools is to lower yourself to their level. They annoy you, get under your skin, and draw you into a battle. In the process, you feel petty and confused. You lose a sense of what is really important. You can’t win an argument or get them to see your side or change their behavior, because rationality and results don’t matter to them. You simply waste valuable time and emotional energy.

So how do you learn to be strategic? I am learning to be more strategic in the language I use by surrounding myself with people who think and talk strategically and when I meet them I introduce them to the young people I work with.

Meet Charlie Arnot who conducted a two hour workshop for the young people I work with yesterday. Charlie is the ultimate strategic thinker. In this short extract from the workshop he discusses traditional issues management in agriculture  and how we can move from being the “Party of No” to the “Party of Solutions”

Charlie finished his workshop by giving the young people I work with an Optimising Sustainability Framework model to help them work with people in agriculture to create an culture of accepting change and being willing to listen to, and hear the message.

In dealing with fools you must adopt the following philosophy: they are simply a part of life, like rocks or furniture.

All of us have foolish sides, moments in which we lose our heads and think more of our ego or short-term goals. It is human nature. Seeing this foolishness within you, you can then accept it in others. This will allow you to smile at their antics, to tolerate their presence as you would a silly child, and to avoid the madness of trying to change them. It is all part of the human comedy.

On a mission to support young people to have an abundance mindset

Its that time of year when we begin the onboarding process for our Cultivate Growing Young Leaders program and our school programs Kreative Koalas and The Archibull Prize

When our school programs in 2020 were officially identified as “Student Leadership” programs helping build natural disaster resilience I realised we had come full circle and there will be significant cross over in the introduction to all our programs of “Who We are and What we Do”

What do we do?

Picture You in Agriculture supports young people in the agriculture sector and young people in primary and secondary schools to solve tomorrow’s problems, today.

We offer a leadership growth journey in the agriculture sector for young people that is quite unique.

Agriculture has a wealth of excellent leadership programs that teach people how to be the best version of themselves and succeed in their careers.

We are giving it a red hot shot to teach young people to lead others and multiply their impact.

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In schools we support teachers to show young people what they teach is real and show students how they can apply what they learn in the real world.

Quoting our leadership development stream coach Josh Farr

“In the modern world, in 1990, in 2000, in 2010, in 2021 its really difficult to know if the technical skills we are being taught are going to be relevant. We don’t know if we are going to need to know how to code or to analyse data. We do not know what the robots are going to be able to do. This is why in the workplace there is a move back to the fundamental human skills. “

The top 3 skills 21st century employers want are

  • Communication
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Teamwork

How you communicate, empathise, the way you make people feel is fundamental.

There are so many ways of getting your ideas out to the world.

  • Verbally
  • Written
  • Artistically

The key is to find the medium that suits you and you enjoy producing and creating. Watch Josh talk about this here 

We provide opportunities for young people to find the medium that suits them, find their tribe and take action.

In essence we are agriculture’s equivalent of Oaktree and UNYouth

In life, our mindset determines which road we travel on. It gives me great joy to be part of a tribe supporting young people to have an abundance mindset.

#youthinag #optimism #resilience