The businesses surviving COVID19 are the ones putting people first

The Chances we didtn take

In the last six weeks I have had the opportunity to share the COVID19 journey with people across the globe and it is clear the organisations who are agile enough to go with the flow ( and wow what a rising tide it is) are the organisations who put their people first.


Some of our Young Farming Champions have also found their lives turned upside down and overseas adventures to see how the rest of the world does the food supply chain have abruptly come to an end and they have found themselves back in OZ looking for jobs in organisations who put people first.


My full-time gig currently seems to be Chief Reference Officer and I am finding the gig fascinating. We have some extraordinary talent in the Young Farming Champions team. Young people I can be wax lyrical about confidently without a second thought. It’s become bigger than that for me I find myself asking is this organisation worthy of this talent. Do they put people first?


Great article here from Corporate Rebels. Examples of Organisations who put people first


“Nothing reveals character like a crisis.” We wrote this recently and, as predicted, during the Corona crisis, companies revealed their true colors. Recently, we highlighted the bad. So let’s turn to the good, and highlight organizations that not only talk about putting people first, but also walk their talk. Let’s applaud those that put their money where their mouth is in difficult times.

article photo

Here are three inspiring companies that show you should always put people first– and especially in times of crisis.the heart of the earth

In reality if we cant show compassion what does that say about us as humans

Change – Are you looking forward to taming your elephant problem like me?

Change Old You New You

As I mentioned recently I have joined a Global Leadership course. This is because I decided I needed all the help I could get and I prefer to be coached rather than mentored. I like to be able to work through my challenges with others much smarter than me.

For six years I have also been working with the wonderful Zoe Routh of Inner Compass and today my Aussie cohort is going to be reflecting on CHANGE using Dan and Chip Heath’s book SWITCH as the foundation.

Here is a little taster of the book.

The Five Big Ideas

  1. There are three surprises about change.
  2. Change often fails because our emotional side (The Elephant) and our rational side (The Rider) can’t cooperate long enough for the desired change to occur.
  3. Another reason change often fails is because of our surrounding environment. This is known as the “Path.”
  4. So, to change a behaviour, you need to direct The Rider, motivate The Elephant and shape The Path
  5. Change isn’t easy, but with the right framework, it becomes easier.

Chameleon on branch

My destination postcard gets more beautiful everyday

Chapter 1: Three Surprises About Change

In one study, people with the large buckets ate 53 percent more popcorn than people with the medium size.

There are three surprises about change:

  1. What looks like a people problem is often a situation problem.
  2. What looks like laziness is often exhaustion.
  3. What looks like resistance is often a lack of clarity.

For anything to change, someone has to start acting differently.

To change someone’s behaviour, you’ve got to change that person’s situation.

The brain has two independent systems at work at all times. First, there’s the emotional side. It’s the part of you that is instinctive, that feels pain and pleasure. Second, there’s the rational side, also known as the reflective or conscious system. It’s the part of you that deliberates and analyses and looks into the future.

Jonathan Haidt, the author of The Happiness Hypothesis, says that our emotional side is an Elephant and our rational side is its Rider.

Changes often fail because the Rider simply can’t keep the Elephant on the road long enough to reach the destination.

If you want to change things, you’ve got to appeal to both The Rider and The Elephant. The former provides the planning and direction, and the latter provides the energy.

When Rider and Elephant disagree about which way to move, you’ve got a problem.

This is awesome if you are a visual person

Heads up everyone I have big elephant problem that I am looking forward to taming. Looking forward to the challenge

Is there ever a perfect person?

Dedication to meaningful work is getting me up at 3am in the morning to be part of a global group all working with the fabulous Dave Stachowiak and each other to be the best they can be at what they do in business and life

Some wisdom from today – the importance of defining your life’s purpose

“When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind.” — Seneca

“Having a purpose is the difference between making a living and making a life.” — Tom Thiss

“Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.” — John F. Kennedy


One day Alice came to a fork in the road

And for the day you get that big job offer or win that award and your inner critic is screaming in your ear and asking  “Am I good enough”

You are the right person for the moment



Agriculture a career that should be attracting all the talented people

As mentioned in a previous post I have joined a global leadership academy. As part of my onboarding process I was invited to do a DISC profile.

And wow the four hour debrief process with Doug McCrae  was extraordinary.

I learnt, not surprisingly for all who know me, I am a high D. I also rated very highly on the Intellectual scale. This doesn’t mean I am smart.  It means I have a high thirst for fact-based knowledge.

I am confident this is one of the big reasons I love working with the Young Farming Champions.  I learn so much from young people in other farming industries

The science and technology on Australian farms today is quite extraordinary and quite a bit of that science and technology is driven by farmers and their advisors

I got very excited when I saw this blog post  Its planting season – our Young Farming Champions have got their big toys out to grow the food that feeds us. from the Young Farming Champions today

This video from Onus Agronomy on the biggest air seeder in the world just blew my mind

I remember as a newly married very young pharmacist who suddenly found themself a dairy farmer’s wife driving up the road to Clover Hill. It was soooooo steep they didn’t even have a tractor ( or a horse) and planting seed meant doing it like they do in developing countries dispersing it by hand.

Our family changed a lot of things on Clover Hill. We started that process by teaming up with the best in the business and thanks to dairy pasture guru Dr Neil Moss we became trailblazers in pasture utilisation and getting the best nutrition outcomes for our cows which meant consumers got the most delicious, nutritious milk we could supply.  If you want to read some of our story you can see some of our research trials here .

It is seven years since I was part of the team that made decisions on what to plant in planting season at Clover Hill so I reached out to Dr Neil Moss to see what progressive dairy farmers on the south coast of NSW are planting.

This is what Neil had to say

South Coast Dairy farmers are continuing to lift the bar with their choices for pastures as they move into winter. We are seeing continued uptake of improved ryegrass genetics as farmers work to improve both early season pasture yields and late season pasture quality where required. There has also been increased uptake on some of the older techniques used to increase early season yield including co-planting ryegrasses with one combinations of winter cereals and short term brassicas giving low cost options for shifting the feed curve “to the left” while not compromising spring pasture growth or yields.

The ever-persistent challenge of farming with, rather than against, kikuyu has seen a variety of techniques used to improve early over-sowing outcomes including low dose chemical suppression, use of heavy mulching or pre-cutting of silage and increased use of disc planters. Early results with the good season have been encouraging to date.

Gumboot Test

We are also seeing increased use of forage herbs such as chicory and perennial legumes again to improve the pasture mix while also increasing warm season feed quality. 

We learnt a lot in the early days. We learnt for example the power of language. Things like it was smarter not to call your trials Zero Grass and instead call them Salad Bowl Mix trials.

I am super excited that Neil and our South Coast farmers are setting the standard for high quality pasture for South Coast cows to produce safe, affordable, nutritious milk for Australian families.

Speaking of Neil he was most recently the appointed Scientist responsible for the Dairy industry 2020 Fire Recovery Response in NSW and in this podcast he speaks to Agriminders host Chris Russell about how farmers have been aided by these plans in the immediate aftermath of the devastating 2020 bushfires, as well as the lessons learned  along the way to help improve the government’s response in the future.


How leadership can adapt to the new reality precipitated by COVID-19.

Image source Wall Street Journal 

I love and live by this quote from Charlie Tremendous Jones

“you will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” 

So you can imagine I was very excited to be accepted earlier in the year into a Global Leadership Academy. The application and interview process was before the impact of COVID19 hit hard.

For me on the opposite side of the world to the majority of participants it includes  2X90 minute virtual interactive sessions a month with a cohort of 10 other people from across the world.

AEST for me means keeping dairy farmer hours with my group. I am looking forward to my first session at 3am this morning.
I am enthusiastic and I feel grateful be in virtual relationship with others from across the world, to share virtual space with them, and to have the opportunity to continue to learn from them
I have found with my leadership group in OZ – Amplifiers with Zoë Routh  I am struck by how supportive and generous others are in sharing their amazing ideas

I look forward to sharing my learning ( and doing) journey with you

Survival is the reason it is critically important to put rural, regional, remote Australia in the centre of our thinking and actions

Investing in Young People

Did you know ( I didn’t) if young people in rural, regional and remote (RRR) Australia had the same education opportunities as young people in urban environments we could increase the value of our GDP by a whopping 50 billion dollars 

I am currently working on a large funding application that will allow Picture You in Agriculture to deliver their programs that empower young people to solve tomorrow’s problems today to clusters of schools in rural, regional and remote Australia.

The ability to deliver to clusters of schools is important because

  • It values the time as well as the expertise of our Young Farming Champions who are both role models, mentors and program facilitators for students
  • It values the combined expertise of teachers in RRR.

Our teachers are a highly undervalued cohort. If teachers feel undervalued its because they are. In urban schools large numbers of teachers are being asked to teach a subject they havent been trained to teach. In fact 50% of geography teachers are history trained. In RRR that becomes a nightmare where they are required to teach multiple subjects to multiple year levels. 

I have learnt a great deal putting this application together and I am very grateful to the people and organisations I have listed at the bottom of this post for sharing the research with me 

Below is an extract from Professor John Halsey’s  Independent Review into Rural Regional and Remote Education report.  Its a beautifully written and sobering report and a great call to action. Young people in RRR deserve better. RRR deserves better.


By the year 2050 the world’s population is expected to reach 9.8 billion (United Nations, 2017). For Australia, this means a population of around 35 million and, as we know, there is much debate about how robust this figure is and whether or not a bigger population will turn out to be ‘a good thing or a bad thing or….’ (Parliament of Australia Website, n.d).

So why is it so critically important to put RRR (rural, regional, remote) in the centre of our thinking and actions at all levels of government, in the private sector, and in the social and cultural life of our country?

In a word, survival!

Consider just four facts.

  1. The majority of the food consumed daily in the world, and particularly in the developed world, is produced in RRR areas. Accessing food is already a major problem for nearly a billion people in developing countries. It is also a problem for many in developed countries. The food security of Australia, and the world more widely, is a critical issue and one that we cannot take for granted. Producing food, even if in many instances it has ‘gone the way of high tech’, requires enormous numbers of highly skilled and semi-skilled workers. As Pretty (2002) argues:

Without food, we are clearly nothing. It is not a lifestyle or add-on fashion statement. The choices we make about food affect both us, intrinsically, and nature, extrinsically. In effect, we eat the view and consume the landscape. Nature is amended and reshaped through our connections—both for good and bad (p.11).

2. Secondly, much of the world’s energy is sourced from rural and remote regions and many of the world’s fresh water supplies have their headwaters in rural locations and traverse substantial rural landscapes. In Western countries, between two and five thousand litres of water are used to produce the daily food for a single person (Arthus-Bertrand, 2009, p.134).

3. Thirdly, there is the profoundly important matter of arresting the decline of the natural environment, which includes the effects of climate change, and developing new paradigms for valuing it so that it, in turn, can do what it has always done—sustain life in all its complexity and diversity. To quote Pretty (2002) again:

…an intimate connection to nature is both a basic right and a basic necessity…we have shaped nature, and it has shaped us, and we are an emergent property of this relationship. We cannot simply act as if we are separate. If we do so, we simply recreate the wasteland inside of ourselves (pp.10-11).

4. Fourthly, there is the issue of maintaining territorial security. It is worth reflecting upon how the land mass of a nation will remain secured, as we move into a future with rising pressure on space for human habitation and all the requirements for progressing and sustaining it. Maintaining a purposeful presence in our RRR spaces and places is a ‘soft’ but significant contribution towards national security.

While these facts reflect traditional roles and origins of RRR communities, they are also relevant to employment, innovation and the future–and all are underpinned by education and training.

The national results profile of non-urban students clearly shows there is a significant gap to be made up.

The cost of inaction

Major differences in achievements and successful post school pathways between urban and rural, regional and remote children and young people, have persisted for decades (Review Discussion Paper, 2017, pp 15-18).

Given how much debate continues to swirl around funding for education, it is instructive to consider some outcomes relating to the cost of inaction, of not working to bridge the divide between rural, regional and remote educational opportunities and achievements and those in urban centres.

  • Firstly, research shows that people not in full-time work or study by age 24 and who continue in this way over a 40-year period, produce a cost impact on society of around $412,000 per person. The total fiscal and social cost of a lifetime of disengagement is $69.3 billion, using 2014 figures of 45,700 people (Lamb and Huo, 2017). This amount represents about 15% of all of the Australian Government budgeted expenditure for 2016‑17 (
  • In a similar vein, it is well documented that one consequence of young people becoming disengaged from education before they complete their schooling is a greater propensity for them to drift into crime and then becoming involved in the juvenile justice system. The financial costs associated with this far exceed those of providing a ‘top quality’ education and there are major social implications and costs as well (Halsey & Deegan, 2015).

If for no other reason, education which fully engages young people and nurtures and builds their capacities throughout their formative years is a very sound investment; one which is repaid many times over during a lifetime.


Thank you to 

Dr Cameron Archer for directing me the Halsey Report

Kris Beasley Principal Centre of Agricultural Excellence

Lorraine Chaffer – NSW/ACT Geography Teachers Association

Gonski Education Centre at UNSW who read my mind brilliantly

Kira Jean Clark Regional Skills Investment Strategy Project Coordinator at Cassowary Coast Regional Council

Queensland Government who has done some fabulous work on government’s role in preparing us for the Future of Work

Young Farming Champion and agribuiness lawyer Meg Rice and journalist Mandy McKeesick synthesizers of research extraordinaire

Rural women supporting each other to be part of the solution and the lessons they learn and share

two women rear view

Clover Hill Dairies Diary has had multiple metamorphoses since I began sharing my opinions and vision for a bright future for both the dairy industry and agriculture in 2010.  I realised I could write a book about all the things agriculture doesnt do well but that would mean I would be adding to the problem instead of being part of the solution.

The mission became to do my best to share the positive stories. I found that hell has no fury like glass half empty thinking trolls and learnt lots of lessons from that experience. One lesson I learnt was the value of your tribe and when the trolls come out to play my tribe ensures I can be resilient and perservere. I now have an extraordinary tribe of people who share with me stories about people in agriculture doing extraordinary things

A great example is Mandy McKeesick . Mandy is a features writer for Outback Magazine. Mandy also supports Picture You in Agriculture to share the great stories of young people in agriculture working with young people in schools through our cornerstone programs the  Young Farming Champions and The Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas. 

Mandy writes the Lessons Learnt series for PYiA blog .   Mandy gets very excited when her two favourite roles cross paths and she recently rang me about a story she had written about Bald Blair Angus in the latest Outback Magazine  (featuring proprietors Sam and Kirsty White) Mandy was very impressed with how Bald Blair Angus had leveraged the story in Outback and how it would make a great Lessons Learnt story for everyone in agriculture. In fact for everyone in business and how right she was

Bald Blair in Outback Magazine

The story in Outback gives quite a bit of Sam’s backstory and his diverse career journey to bring multiple skills back to the farm. I was keen to learn more about Kirsty and asked Mandy to connect us.

Kirsty’s story is equally fascinating and I can see why they make a great business team. Kirsty’s background is in politics with a highlight being working for former deputy PM John Anderson (interesting story here on John Andersons lastest venture. Apparently he is still ludicrously handsome !!!!!!!! unusual comment from a male journalist – I imagine there was lots of good humoured comments around the Anderson family table about that one)

I was particulary interested in the way Kirsty taps into her tribe to stay resilient and invigorated through the plethora of exciting initiaitves created by rural women for rural women in the New England region

Check out

Initiative Contact 
The Seed Scheme Kim Deans
Ladies in Livestock Georgie Oakes
The Grower  Al Mabin
The Rural Woman  Rebel Black

And what did Mandy think our Young Farming Champions ( and the world) could learn from Sam and Kristy

LESSONS LEARNT 13 –  HOW TO LEVERAGE MEDIA OPPORTUNITIES  (even when the last thing you want to do is to talk to the media)

Imagine – it’s the middle of a screaming drought and you’re in crisis management mode. Every stressful day is a constant of feeding animals and trying to survive. Then you get a call from a journalist wanting to do a story. Do you run for the hills or do you buckle up, set your boundaries and turn this opportunity into a positive experience?

This was the case for Sam and Kirsty White of Bald Blair Angus in the New England area of NSW when they were approached by Mandy McKeesick to profile their stud for RM Williams Outback magazine; and in this edition of our Lessons Learnt series we take a look at how they handled the situation.

Sam and Kirsty are big believers in collaboration and networking. For the past four years Kirsty has been a member of THE Rural Woman, an online business community for rural women run by Rebel Black. In 2019 the Whites engaged Rebel as a mentor for twelve months. It was through this association they were introduced to Mandy.

“It was good timing to engage Rebel as it was a bastard of a year, the worst drought ever in this region,” Kirsty says, “but not such a good time to host a journalist. We were close to pulling out of the story because it all seemed too hard; the land looked terrible, there were bushfires and dust storms, we were flat out feeding and were very much in survival mode. But in the end we decided to take a leap of faith and trust that Mandy would do the right thing.”

And so the story went ahead, with Sam and Kirsty gaining respect and admiration for allowing themselves to be vulnerable and open in such a challenging time.

“We’ve had lovely feedback,” Kirsty says, “with people offering feed, emails from other angus studs and general support, and we’ve come to realise how far and wide Outback reaches.”

But it is what Sam and Kirsty have done since the story was published that shows the power of collaboration and leverage. Firstly they thanked their clients for their continued support, sending a copy of the magazine to those who had bought cows and heifers during the drought. They then sent the story to journalists they have worked with in the past and to podcasters and industry event organisers they hope to work with in the future. With each copy of the magazine they included brochures of businesses they work with, such as Optiweigh who provide cattle scales for their paddocks.

They took to social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, YouTube – promoting the story and again thanking everyone involved. They shared with local businesses such as Armidale Tourism who in turn used the story for their own social media content. They connected with the RM Williams social media team to also thank them for their sharing their story, and are looking to leverage further with advertising.

“We love what we do here at Bald Blair Angus – raising cattle and sheep on a family farm – and we love to tell our story and build relationships,” Kirsty says.

So rather than have their story published in a national magazine and then think no more of it, Sam and Kirsty are using every opportunity to leverage the publicity.

And what advice do they have for YFCs looking at doing a story of their own in similar circumstances?

Kirsty’s advice

  • Set your boundaries first.
  • Get your message clear and talk about what a journalist can and can’t take photos of.
  • Have a media sheet ready with all the facts and figures written down.
  • It is also important to have good photography and video.

“Mandy was here during a drought but we had photos on hand by Al Mabin showing the property in a good season; hone your own photography skills. Most importantly build relationships and believe in collaboration – we are all in this together.”

Mega thanks to all the wonderful women in agriculture opening doors and connecting each other.