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Leadership and the Political Process

Posted on May 20, 2015 at 10:07 AM by Iowa Corn

Good things come in threes. Maybe it’s just a trite saying, but maybe there’s something to it. I-LEAD Class 7 gathered for our third session in late March and here are three key takeaways:

1) We connected with other young professionals and senior executives at the annual Young Professional in Ag (YPiA) Executive Breakfast, with a keynote address from National Corn Growers Association CEO, Chris Novak. 

Key takeaway: Life is too short to wake up every day and do something you don’t love. 
2) We teamed up with Iowa Farm Bureau’s Ag Leader participants to meet with Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds at the state Capitol, completed an educational exercise illustrating the decisions folks in Congress have to make, and listened to a water quality and nutrient management update. 

Key takeaway: The issues elected officials have on their plates are typically complicated and interrelated with other matters – it may not be as straight-forward as it appears from my point of view. 
3) After individually reading the book "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team" by Patrick Lencioni prior to our session, we discussed the lessons and application to our work and personal lives. 

Key takeaway: High performing teams start with a foundation of trust. A team can’t develop further unless there is trust among the team. 

Mission to New Orleans
As the weather warms to summer, I-LEAD Class 7 is preparing for our domestic mission to New Orleans in late June. As I think about New Orleans and the significance of its ports to the ag industry, I’m reminded of a speaker I recently listened to at the National Agri-Marketing Association’s annual conference in Kansas City. 
The speaker’s name was Peter Zeihan, a geopolitical strategist, which means he uses geography to understand societies, political environments, economies, etc. One of the ideas Peter talked about was that the United States has more navigable miles of river than the rest of the world combined, and those rivers conveniently overlay some of the most productive soil in the world – the Midwest. He explains that this is one of the factors that help make the U.S. a world superpower.  We are able to efficiently move commodities and goods down the Mississippi to New Orleans (and other ports) and export them around the world. To further clarify why this is an economic advantage, Brazil’s transportation costs are 100 times the U.S. Our transportation cost advantage isn’t entirely due to the Mississippi, but it certainly has played a key role throughout history and remains relevant today. 
While in New Orleans, one of the things we’ll be learning about is the port infrastructure. After listening to Peter speak and downloading the audio version of his book, The Accidental Superpower, I now have an even greater appreciation for the influence partner industries, like transportation, have on agriculture and am excited to learn more. 

My name is Laura Holoubek, current member of I-Lead Class 7 and author of this post. I work in marketing and communications for agribusiness clients at a West Des Moines, IA advertising agency called Meyocks. Originally from a diversified farm in Nebraska, I graduated from the University of Nebraska with an Ag Communications degree. I'm involved in the National Agri-Marketing Association, Young Professionals in Agriculture and helped start a young adults group at my local church. Sometimes I claim to be an 81-year-old woman in a young person’s body as my primary hobbies include quilting, baking and gardening. 


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