Catherine Marriott’s spirit is strong. Her courage extraordinary. We #standwithMaz

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The Marriotts – a family of legends – courage personified 

As Australians across the country rally to #standwithMaz by tuning into ABCLandline today to watch Catherine Marriott on the Pardoo Station segment  I am reflecting on the  positives of Catherine’s bravery in taking a stance against inappropriate behaviour towards women by people in powerful positions.  It has highlighted the courage of women in the agriculture sector and unified the sector with a collaborative call to action from both men and women, organisations, business and the community.

I remain stunned anyone would question the timing of the complaint. As I said in a previous post I have no idea what I would do. In the first instance I would want to be 100% confident of my family support, support of friends and knowing my networks have my back. Catherine Marriott has all of those in spades.

Then I would think about self care. Like many others, I too have been bullied on Twitter. I have seen how tough it can be at a political level. I remember vividly walking into a national meeting in Melbourne of a NSW industry  group I was representing. The first thing that happened was been taken into a corner by one of the other women in the room who said I hope you wore your armour, women on committees in our industry in Victoria are only seen to be here to serve the tea and scones. She was right it was very unpleasant. I didn’t last long.

Quoting National Farmers Federation President Fiona Simson from this article Barnaby Joyce leak shocks rural women amid sexual harassment investigation it should be obvious to everyone why I believe people don’t just automatically walk into police stations

“I think some of it is not understanding what is acceptable and feeling maybe a little bit guilty about calling some of it out. But I also think there is a bit of fear around what the repercussions are going to be.”

“Am I going to be trolled if it’s on social media? Am I going to be outed in the workplace? Am I going to lose my job, am I going to be able to progress on the career path that I’m on?”

Catherine Marriott’s recent media statement reiterates this

“This complaint was made not only to address the incident against me — it was about speaking up against inappropriate behaviour by people in powerful positions,” she said.

“Suggestions to the contrary are hurtful, incorrect and the very reason why I hesitated to come forward at the time of the incident.

“Speculation on this issue by people who are unaware of the facts is impacting my right to a fair and due process. The additional stress of having to go through this publicly and with people’s judgement is the exact reason people don’t come forward.”

Self care has to be the number one priority.  Catherine’s bravery has provided an opportunity for our rural champions to come out in force saying to other courageous women we are here for you, we will support you and we will lobby to ensure that courageous women (and men) get the pastoral care they deserve as well as fair and due process  

Catherine Marriott’s spirit is strong. Her courage extraordinary. We #standwithMaz #solidarity4Catherine #strongertogether #strongwomen




Leadership reflections. Be good to yourself. Life is short. Live it with joy.

International Womens Day (IDW) 2005 was a pivotal point in my life journey. When I got the call to tell me I was the inaugural Kiama IWD Electorate Women of the Year, I was thrilled, I was flabbergasted, and I had a huge dose of imposter syndrome. It was the imposter syndrome that weighed heavily so I set the bar high for myself and was determined to live up to award and so the journey began.

This is a post for everyone out there fighting the good fight, spending a lot of time questioning themselves, feeling a bit (very) jaded, and keen to get their mojo back.

I woke up yesterday morning to see this post from Airlie Trescowthick founder of Farm Table . Airlie  started her post Thank you for inspiring me: 14 rural women I want to celebrate this IWD. with this preface

In celebration of International Women’s Day (8th March 2018), I wanted to take the time out to thank some women who have made an impact on me during my Farm Table journey so far.

 Some know me, some do not, but they have all inspired me and given me the confidence to develop, grow and take risks running my own business.

These women are running businesses and building solutions to issues and challenges we share across rural and agricultural industries. Starting up a business can be lonely and scary, particularly when in a rural area. But, with a network of like-minded and supportive women across the country, you are never truly alone.

Thank you, from me, and from all that you inspire.

Of the 14 people Airlie profiled I only know two personally and I look forward to the day I meet the other twelve. Wow

When I read Airlie’s profile on me – it generated a lot of reflection

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MMMh the ‘ultimate leader’. What is a leader. One thing I know for sure is what Airlie and her support team have created with Farm Table is nothing short of phenomenal and there is no way in the world I could have pulled it off. Super kudos to them

If leadership is creating a movement and being part of that movement. I can wear that hat. My style is not one that everyone is comfortable with and I have spent the last five years questioning it myself.

I’ve been called a leader for taking initiative, getting things done and standing my ground on big issues. My journey has taught me that results are not everything and leadership is not a solo activity.  It’s something that you do with people, not despite people. To be a successful leader we also need to work on how we engage to get those results. One of the things I’ve been working on is developing my style to build stronger relationships because relationships are everything. We always need to be thinking about how we can improve, how can we learn, and to take every leadership opportunity as a personal growth experience as well as a product delivery outcome.

Last year I signed up for several “leadership” courses. I engaged a leadership coach. I identified all the things I wanted to ‘improve’ about myself and poured my heart and soul into it. Let me tell you – you can have too much self-awareness. What my journey to be a  ‘better version of myself’  has reinforced is the importance of deep, genuine friendships, seeking help and surrounding yourself with people who bring joy into your life.

The most insightful advice I can give every-one out there (and we are all leaders) is be kind to yourself. As Steve Jobs so famously said “if you want to be liked, sell ice-cream”. People can pick and choose whether they want to be part of your movement or not.

And the tall poppy syndrome. Don’t beat yourself up. If some-one singles you out for an award or gives you an accolade, wear it with pride. Sure, there will be plenty of people they could have given it too, but they picked you. It’s what you do with the award, it’s how you leverage it on behalf of your cause that counts.

As Airlie identified there is no shortage of women in agriculture doing diverse and exciting things. There is no shortage of people in agriculture doing exciting things. There is no shortage of people in all our communities doing exciting things. If you want to start a movement or join a movement, find the one that brings joy into your life.

Thanks Airlie.  I look forward to following your journey.  I havent had the opportunity to work with you but my gut tells me you have an inclusive leadership style I have always aspired too

#IDW2018 #strongwomen #strongertogether

Speaking of Leadership Courses. The one that has left the most indelible impression on me is Leading Transformational Change. Its a live-in course at the Melbourne Business School. The course is transformational but its the people I met at the course who helped me put perspective to my life journey. They helped me celebrate the person I am. The good, the bits others think I should change and the bits I would like to change.  What others think no longer occupies large parts of my head space and the bits I would like to change help me appreciate others with those characteristics and aspire to surround myself with them.

Be good to  yourself. Life is short. Live it with joy

There is no room for ordinary in agriculture anymore.

These days I get asked to speak at many varied events and that pleases me greatly

This month it is the Future World Eco Technology Centre in Wollongong and the topic is ‘Sustainable Urban Food Production”

Once upon a time when I was just starting my crusade ( Farmers Call to Arms) to give the community real farmers they could relate to and most importantly talk to; Rosemary Stanton was the face of sustainable agriculture at every community forum I went to. I was mortified. Expert on human nutrition she may be, commercial farmer she is not and whilst my degree gives me a sound knowledge of human nutrition and I have opinions about it there is no way I would up put myself up as an expert. Rosemary has strong opinions indeed about sustainable agriculture but that’s all they are, armchair expert opinions.

So I asked myself why is Rosemary asked to talk on this topic and not a farmer. After hearing her speak a couple of times and attending a few agriculture conferences the reason was obvious Rosemary Stanton is a damned good highly charismatic presenter

It then became very clear to me agriculture desperately needed farmers who were both experts in their field and charismatic speakers who could relate to urban audiences and urban audiences to them.

This is why I love and fight so hard for the Young Farming Champions program. (See footnote)

In November last year I presented at the Future Focused Ag Oz forum to a group of 20 young rising stars of agriculture. The topic of my presentation was “Wanted extraordinary people for an extraordinary challenge”

I started my presentation with a picture of me and said “My name is Lynne Strong and I am extraordinary”  Slide 1

This was followed by a picture of Michael and Nick with the statement “ I farm with my family and they are extraordinary”  Slide 2

I then put up a slide with a picture of our cows and said “our cows supply 50,000 Australians with milk everyday and they are extraordinary” Then I said “ as you can see there is a pattern forming here extraordinary can be contagious.” Slide 3

With that I asked each person to introduce themselves to the person sitting next to them and then tell them they were extraordinary and of course these exciting young people got into the groove straight away.

Slide 4 went on to say “Feeding, clothing and housing the world now and in the next 50 years is going to require an extraordinary effort. This means we need extraordinary people to take up the challenge.  There is no room for ordinary in agriculture anymore”

Now when I do a new presentation that’s a bit out there I run it by my family. This time I only showed them slides 1, 2 and 3 without telling them who the audience was.  They both looked shocked and said “You are not giving that presentation to dairy farmers are you?”  When I said no its for a group of young farmers with similar mindset to the Young Farming Champions they were quite comfortable with that but assured me I could never give that presentation to a group of dairy farmers.

I recently asked a wise person who works across all industries why dairy farmers are such quiet achievers.? Why has it been inbuilt in dairy farmers to play things down? Why aren’t we encouraged to celebrate?

He said the dairy industry is like the egg industry. They are the two most silo orientated industries in Australia and this mindset is embeded in their culture.

It is clear to me and the exciting young farmers I meet and work with we need a culture of change as being quiet achievers is achieving very little. Agriculture has great stories to tell and farmers should be loud and proud. If agriculture is going to overcome the challenges and grasp the opportunities with both hands it is imperative that we find vehicles for our young farmers to stand up and show Australia (and the world) just how extraordinary our farmers are.

I am currently putting together a number of blog posts for the Art4agriculutureChat site that have been written by some of the inspiring young farmers I have met over the last 12 months.

Last week we featured Melissa Henry and thanks to the twitterverse and Facebook Melissa’s story is now one of the Art4AgricultureChat most popular blog posts. It is clear that the community is interested in stories about young farmers written by young farmers  and we will be sharing them with you as often as we can

Next up is Young Farming Champion, AYOF Roadie and NSW Farmers Young Farmers’ Council Chair Hollie Baillieu followed by Horizon Scholar Rozzie O’Reilly. Two extraordinary young farmers of the future.

You can read Hollies post here Agriculture can take you anywhere you chose

If you know an exciting young farmer and would like to share their story with the world send me an email at


The Young Farming Champions program was inspired by the most impressive initiative I have ever been involved in which is the Climate Champions program.

The Climate Champions program is a cross industry partnership of farmers across Australia which has exposed me to the bright minds from other industries. There is nothing more rewarding for your personal development than surrounding yourself with innovative thinkers you can learn from. The Climate Champions program is managed by the fabulous team from Econnect who not only deliver the workshops they support each of the 34 farmers 365 days 24/7

The Climate Champions program is a collaboration between the Grains Research & Development Corporation, Managing Climate Variability and Meat & Livestock Australia