Sunday, March 20, 2011

Eisenhower Fellowship: Day 174

It has been 174 days since I learned on September 28th, 2011 (Rhonda's Birthday) that I was an Eisenhower Fellow. Now that my schedule has calmed down a little I need to give an update on the latest happenings regarding my Eisenhower Fellowship. It is still amazing the opportunity I have and the people I have been dealing with or will meet.

I have been working on finding agriculture contacts in Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay for precision ag, remote sensing, and UAVs. The later has proved to be the hardest to find. When you are on the “bleeding edge” of something there are not many of you to converse with. However, there are other things to learn, see, and do.

In April I will be traveling to Philadelphia, PA for the Opening Seminar for the 2011 Eisenhower Fellows. There will be 20 international Fellows and 10 from the United States.  The list of International Fellows and the USA Fellows can be found by clicking the names. In order to understand what I am doing please click the above links and go through each person's bio. What an opportunity to listen and learn from these people from all over the globe. I can’t wait for the conversations to begin.

The session opens on April 6th with EF President John Wolf (Click for Bio). Mr. Wolf served with the Department of State. The following session is “To get to know one another, identify key topics/issues/challenges of fellowship” facilitated by Bob Halperin, 2002 USA Fellow and Executive Director at the MIT Center for Collaborative Intelligence. After that we have dinner at the home of Tom Ferguson, Director of Development at EF.

On April 7th I will learn the results of two different leadership assessment tests that I took a few days ago. The main session for this day (9-3:30) is titled “Conceptualizing and Leading Change and related leadership issues,” facilitated by Dr. Cheng Zhu (Go to Pg 15 of the .pdf) from the Center for Creative Leadership. Each person’s leadership style will be talked about and analyzed.

USA Fellows will have lunch at the EF House and receive orientation. Group photos will be taken at the Rittenhouse Hotel. From 5:15-6:15 we have a seminar with Ambassador John Negroponte, Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and to Iraq. A reception for Fellows, trustees, sponsors, and EF staff and then dinner caps off the day.

After looking at the agenda for the umpteenth time, I am both excited and nervous. I am definitely getting out of my comfort zone and heading into a larger world of top corporate executives and international business leaders. I visualize myself as a farmer who manages his wife and kids, which is completely different than having a corner office and hundreds of employees. My power lunch consists of a hamburger and fries at the local greasy spoon.

With that said this is why applied. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and learn more. I pull my pants up one leg at a time just like everyone else. After reading the bios of the USA Fellows, there is common ground. They volunteer just like I do, and sports is a common theme. The beauty of this gathering will be the different perspectives each individual brings to each session. I can’t say “what an opportunity” too much.

I have had two different experiences similar to this. The first was going through Monsanto’s Wheat Industry Leaders of Tomorrow (WILOT) program. There were 11 in that class from different parts of the U.S. with each bringing a different perspective. We stay in touch and see each other once a year. The other was the Leadership Idaho Agriculture (LIA) program. There were 31 people in that class from all over Idaho from farmers to ag related companies to government. The common theme is you arrive as strangers and leave as friends.

I will be mingling with a Member of Parliament in Sri Lanka, the Head of Technological Research and Development Branch of the Israel Defense Forces, Chief Political Writer for ABC Television Australia, and Additional Principal Staff Officer to the Prime Minister of the Federal Government of Pakistan. There will also be one more farmer there with me from Massachusetts.

It is about personal growth as a leader and networking. I use my network to find out about different subjects from different parts of Idaho or the U.S. Now the world will open up. And I have had the opportunity to get a glimpse of that world view.

2006 Fellow, Bill Warren, lives two hours away from me. He recently hosted a Nuffield Scholar from Australia. In trying to find contacts to Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay Bill put me in touch with the visiting Scholar Helen. To sum up the conversation, agriculture in Australia has the same pressures put on it as we do in the U.S.

I am excited as all get out for this opportunity to listen and to learn from the perspectives of people, not media. Without the EF organization, I could not afford to partake in an adventure like this and to grow as a person and hopefully as an effective leader.

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