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Pains, Gains, and Impact: A Recap of the 2017 United Fresh Washington Conference from a First-Timer
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Pains, Gains, and Impact: A Recap of the 2017 United Fresh Washington Conference from a First-Timer

September 28, 2017

Although I’ve been immersed in the agriculture industry most of my life, the produce industry is a new area for me—and so are the people in this world. I grew up in rural Minnesota near where my families homesteaded from Sweden and Norway. I can talk corn and soybeans all day, but the logistics behind providing the world fresh fruits and vegetables is relatively new to me. One thing I have picked up after a year of working in this world is that United Fresh is known for two big things: connecting industry leaders and helping to effect change for the produce industry. At their Washington Conference, I had the privilege to learn more about both sides of this influential organization by taking part in the conference’s Rising Leaders Program and attending the rest of the educational conference.

Attending the Rising Leaders Program provided a chance to be more vulnerable than the knowledgeable, professional persona I hope I present during my day-to-day. I was able to learn among others relatively new to the industry. Most who attended this portion of the conference felt a certain level of energy shared among the group with an earnest feeling of wanting to learn and do more.

With this yearning to always grow, the Rising Leaders’ keynote speaker, Steve McClatchy, reminded us that there is a way to do more while capitalizing on the electrifying energy we all felt in the room. He spoke about the concepts of pains (the “have to” tasks that can lead to feelings of burnout or fear, which gives us energy in the form of adrenaline) and gains (the “want to” tasks that give us energy in the form of endorphins)—and the opportunities that exist when we move toward gains and prevent pains.

As an industry, agriculture is our livelihood; it’s where we focus the majority of our waking hours. To work smarter, together, and keep moving forward as an industry, we need to emphasize and improve the gains. Think about it this way: Gains can help fill you with a sense of balance and job satisfaction, which motivates your will to keep pushing for greatness, whereas pains can detract from that forward momentum.

So how do you begin to focus on gains?

3 steps to improve gains in your daily work

  1. Sprinkle and schedule gains throughout the day—and stick to them. Even seemingly small gains can give you the energy boosts needed to push through the tasks that help you prevent pain.
  2. Defend the time you scheduled for your gains. Fight for it! After all, when you’re motivated, you’re productive.
  3. Play catch-up when you have to, and ask for help when it’s needed. It will help you feel more balanced, which circles back to fueling your drive to perform at peak level.

United Fresh Washington Conference and priority issues

Once I was energized and excited to learn how I could help the industry and myself grow, I attended a number of panels and learning sessions from both policymakers and produce industry leaders. I also met with several representatives and leaders from Minnesota and throughout the country who are involved in the produce industry. I have a passion for impacting policy on a personal level, and it’s critical for me as a communications professional to understand United Fresh’s stance on priority issues, such as:

  • Making sure there is a strong workforce to keep farms operating now and for future generations
  • Continuing to sell produce at national and global levels
  • Operating as independent businesses as cost-effective as possible
  • Making sure everyone has access to fresh fruits and vegetables

Final thoughts

I plan on taking what I learned from the Washington Conference—including using what I learned from the sessions I attended, the networking I enjoyed, and the issues I examined (and playing catch-up when I returned back to my desk!)—to formulate gain-oriented tasks that support my contributions to my career and the industry.

I plan on taking what I learned from the Washington Conference—including using what I learned from the sessions I attended, the networking I enjoyed, and the issues I examined (and playing catch-up when I returned back to my desk!)—to formulate gain-oriented tasks that support my contributions to my career and the industry.

As a part of the produce industry—in whatever capacity you serve it—there’s a common thread that connects us: We’re all striving for a better tomorrow together. Fresh fruits and vegetables nourish communities around the world, and agriculture has wide-reaching impact on local, regional, and global economies.

I hope you think of the possibilities when you begin to frame-up your day as tasks that are dynamic, meaningful actions versus duties that merely need to be completed. When we all make—and take—time to improve our gains, our colleagues, companies, and industry win.

Liz Erickson

Liz Erickson - Senior Communications Specialist

With expertise in communications and agriculture, Liz is new to the Robinson Fresh team. As senior communications specialist, she is focused on media relations, social media, and communications, and she is an editor for Freshspective. When Liz is not at work, she’s spending time outside with her husband and dog. 

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