NPPC President addresses the 2017 Pork Forum Joy Philippi

Leaders out for ‘We,’ not ‘Me’

The pork tribe has an entirely different vibe.

Agriculture organizations serve an important role in advocating, supporting and protecting farmers’ bottom line. Each organization has its own dynamics that either accelerates the organization forward or frankly, restricts growth. Too often, an association’s growth is like a bad roller coaster ride, flying off the track as good leaders complete a term, while an advancing organization is always adjusting for sustainable growth.

Yet, the success of the association truly lies in the people. An apparent fact that both humble pork leaders of the National Pork Producers Council and the National Pork Board cherished and highlighted during the 2017 Pork Industry Forum in Atlanta, Ga., last week.

As NPPC President John Weber firmly states in his presidential address “For me, it is always about the quality of the people.” And National Pork Board president Jan Archer echoes that message as she talks about the power of “We” in her presidential speech to members. Archer passionately says “No one does it better because WE CARE!”

From the very first event I attended as a media person, I have noticed a difference in attitude among the entire pork community. The pork tribe has an entirely different vibe. As pork leaders and the invaluable members sat in front of me at the Pork Industry Forum last week, it hit me. The pork community is just unique.

However, it was not until I sat in the center of pork producers waiting to load an airplane returning home from Forum did the words “the quality of people” and “leave their hats at the door” sink in. Two powerful statements uttered throughout the entire event that perfectly describes the vibe of the pork tribe from the generations of pig farmers to the association staff.

In this world, we all wear many different hats – farmer, parent, spouse, entrepreneur, business professional, volunteer, community leader, coach and many other roles. Walking in the door at a meeting the pork producers represent the diversity of the swine business, each contributing in his or her own way in producing safe, delicious pork. Still, as a association's business is being conducted, the personal hats are removed and left at the door.

On a personal level, my life’s journey from producer to media has always centered around agriculture. I have volunteered many hours, providing leadership in various agriculture associations. It can be a rewarding and frustrating experience. In a past life of association management and as a volunteer, I have understood the real value of leaders who serve others first. Giving their all for the good of the industry is an attribute you hope to find in each member despite their leadership title.

In today’s world, it is often hard to find a few good people who can set their personal agenda aside and work for the common interest. Many grassroots organizations are filled with members and frankly leaders ready to advance their personal agenda without stopping to think how it affects the entire industry.

So, when you find a legacy of leaders that demonstrates selfless leading time after time in one organization, you take notice, and if I were a pig farmer, I would proudly join. As I am blessed in telling the stories of America’s pig farmers, I have discovered a solid pattern among NPPC and Pork Board leaders who set aside their personal opinion, listen first, empower others to voice ideas and work toward consensus.

Remember, the next time you volunteer or lend your leadership follow the example of inspiring leaders like Archer and Weber by serving others first. It is never about you; it is always about “We.”

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