Our past and present daily routines are so self-evident to us that we tend to ignore them and think it’s everyone’s routine, and hence everyone’s history as well.
We, therefore, categorize it as “not so interesting, helpful, or interesting for others,” and hence we talk little about it.
Not talking about our “routine life-history” is a shame, and a mistake, a big mistake, for our roots and historical routine are unique to us and ultimately create a particular person, which we call – ME.
I am now in Senegal, Africa, where I head the Green Valley team, on its way to change the mango industry forever in this country and others as well.
The core team consists of six members with very different backgrounds. A shortlist of the differences within our team would consist of; three religions, three countries of origin, five universities, five languages (three different mother tongues), two skin colors, and both genders (unfortunately, only one woman).
Too often, we perceive diversity as a source of trouble, not to mention hate and racism.
I see diversification of people working together in a team as a source of blessing, an opportunity to better, and a chance for creating something fresh, new, novel, unique, unusual, with a good potential for rapid economic growth.
It is terrific when you have diverse team members coming from different backgrounds and different ideas. By effectively managing and integrating those differences, you can expect to see improved and faster results; the differences nurture each other.
Nowadays, in industries where competition is fierce and rapid innovation is required for survival, the management demands diversifying the work-teams. For example, Intel, a high-tech company, hires teachers and people who study philosophy.
The differences between us are the result of our different personal backgrounds and histories.
I was reminded of this when I was trying to figure out what allowed and what still allows me to embark on an ambitious venture such as Green Valley, which some choose to view as pretentious and impossible.
Then I remembered the things I had done in the past, from childhood till the present days, the things that made me who I am today.
Not very surprising, at the time of happening, each of those things seemed to be ordinary, tiny, simple, insignificant, unspecial, and probably unnecessary, and unimportant per se.
But now, looking back, I realize their importance and influence in enabling me to perform the tasks I am facing today. In that perspective, I am not the special one or unique, for each of us has a “unique personal history.”
Once you have the data, the equation is simple; the best return on investment (ROI) today is given not for goods or services but is coming from innovation. Diversity of ideas, people, and teams increase the chance for a meaningful, significant-high value-added innovation improvement.
From January 2021 until now (April 2021), nine innovative Israeli companies made IPO (exits) in a cumulative value of over $ 32 billion!
Experience and hard evidence demonstrate that if we want to change, we need innovation. By increasing diversification, we support innovation creation.
By better knowing each other, we make sure that we construct a work team “loaded” with plenty of diversification and well equipped for the creation of the required innovation!
To enjoy the bounty of diversification, we need to learn and know as much as we can about each other. Hence, we can take advantage of the uniqueness that each team member brings and see that we “complete” each other, maybe with some “overlapping” but without “more of the same or of similar.”
A SHORT CURRICULUM VITAE (CV)
How much should we know of each other? As much as we feel comfortable sharing about ourselves. As an example, I will share the complete and uncensored outline of my resume from birth to now.
We should not be ashamed of our background; on the contrary, when we share, we increase our value and our partners’ value while increasing the chances of building the right team to achieve the success we want.
You will not find something that I did, and no one else did or could do before me. Sometimes, I do things differently, which results in changes and different outcomes.
This is possible thanks to my personal history, background, which includes the things I learned from others. After all, I am just a farmer and the son of a farmer.
Nevertheless, our personal history is unique because of the combination of individual character, the way, and order of doing things, the intensity, the passion, the persistence, the vision we have and share, etc., which we pour into our life activity.
Following is the outline of my life history –
August 1965: Like millions of babies, I was born as a Jew in Israel, and like thousands of others, it happened in a Kibbutz (Tzuva).
⇒ 1965-1966: From birth, until I was able to walk, I was busy being a baby.
⇒ 1966-1970: From the time I was able to walk until elementary school, I would join my father on the tractor when he went to the orchards in the evening to stop the irrigation (no computers at the time).
⇒ 1970-1978: From elementary school to high school, I worked twice a week in the afternoon in the orchards (as well as occasionally in other “branches,” i.e., other business centers, in the Kibbutz).
⇒ 1979-1982: In high school, I would work one day a week and half of every holiday in the orchards (the second half of long holidays, I would spend working with my uncle, a bee-keeper). Activities included pruning, irrigation, mowing, weed control, planting, grafting, picking, logistics in picking (tractor driving), packing house activities, etc.
⇒ 1983: After high school, I volunteered (like many others) for one year to help a new young Kibbutz (Kadarim) with its agro-industry (mainly citrus, avocado, litchi, mango, and open field crops).
⇒ 1984-1988: Served my army duty (compulsory in Israel) plus volunteered for one more year.
⇒1989: Working in the Kibbutz’s orchards and kindergarten. Key activities during this period:
* First farm in Israel to fully transfer from Prophylactic crop protection to IPM (Integrated Pest Management).
* Full transition from traditional “cover sprays” at 1000-2000 litter per hectare to low volume sprays; 50-150 litter per hectare and reduced active ingredients (AI) by 60%. I became an expert in the field of pesticide sprays.
* Understanding the overall strategic risk and damage that fruit flies pose to fresh agro-produce marketing, farmers’ income, workers’ and consumers’ health, and the environment.
⇒ 1990: Backpacking around the world. I observed, listened, learned, and “recharged” myself for the years to come.
⇒ 1991-1999: Agriculture studies at the Hebrew University (specializing in entomology), proceeding the work in the Kibbutz orchards; managing crop protection, harvesting, and quality control of 1000 tons high-value produce. Key activities during this period:
* Improving the management, logistics, and QA of the harvest. This was reflected in:
(a) decreasing the number of workers in the harvest team from 30 to as few as 4-6 (in my childhood, the harvest team constituted up to 100 people).
(b) Increased marketable produce.
(c) Increased income per hectare.
(d) Increased traders’ satisfaction.
(e) Higher-income for the harvest team.
* Locating the comprehensive cause of continuous yield reduction in my apple orchards and other apple orchards throughout Israel, and as a result, initiating a NATIONAL project to deal with the problem (nematode monitoring and control in all nurseries).
* Graduation of the University with a B.Sc. in agriculture (entomology), concluded my M.Sc. in fruit fly population ecology and started my Ph.D. at the Hebrew University (one of the top 100 Universities in the world).
* “Co-founding” a family.
⇒ 2000-2004: Completed the Ph.D. studies (fruit flies meta-population ecology) and continuing personal entrepreneurial activity.
The above made me more ready to decide to found my own business, which I’m still running.
⇒ 2004- Present: Agro-business and entrepreneurial activities’ expansion by founding and establishing;
* Biofeed – dedicated to develop, produce, and marketing a breaking through technology for free of sprays crop protection.
* The Fruit Fly Research Institute – dedicated to studying and developing specific practical solutions for the global problem of fruit flies.
* PriFree – Local Israeli eco-friendly fresh fruits brand (2012-2014).
* The Fruit Fly Certified Trade Zone 365 (FFCTZ 365) – a protocol to enable the export of fresh fruits from regions where fruit flies are a cause of concern for the plant protection authorities and exporters/importers.
* Green Valley National Export Project (Green Valley) – A full package value enhancement initiative to the mango industry in the emerging economies, e.g., Africa. The Package contains; experts’ field support, protocols, financing, technologies, branding, marketing (field to shelf), etc., [a selection of relevant columns >>1<<, >>2<<, >>3<<, >>4<<, >>5<<].
* Working with farmers in three continents, growing over 30 different crop types, hundreds of varieties, and enabling them to reach export quality fresh produce.
None of the above activities was unique; not being born Jewish in Israel, having a father who is a farmer, going to the army, university, founding a company, respecting the environment, thinking of farmers’ livelihood, and considering health issues.
In a previous column [>><<], I described the reasons that made me go to university, become a fruit fly ecologist, and later found Biofeed and Green Valley.
THE COMMON DENOMINATOR
I was 29 years old, a decade before establishing Biofeed, when I still had a vague idea of what I want to do with my life. Yet, a vision began to emerge in my mind.
This Vision was based on my many years of deep acquaintance with the lives of fruit growers, a toolbox that I already mastered. But to complete my Vision, I had to build, learn, and master an additional toolbox, to become a fruit fly expert and developing a novel effective fruit fly control technology, which will redundant the need for sprays.
Do you think it was easy or fast to develop the “new” toolbox for the fruit fly control?
Do you think it took a year or two? No, it took me almost 30 years in total to succeed and achieve, in practice, my goal.
The “new” toolbox is complete, more than I ever dreamed about and now contains proprietary technologies, unique methods, breaking through protocols, novel business models, special branding, different social responsibility approach, unique processes, and many more things in line with my vision.
I have been swamped for many years by building and improving the “new” toolbox, which is why so many people recognize and know me mainly as “the fruit fly expert.”
While the above is true, all those years, my passion, vision, and interest remained the same, as presented in the following Vision and Mission:
“To improve farmers’ livelihood by increasing quality production, free of bio and chemical hazards, grown in a safe, eco-friendly environment, to enable the consumers to enjoy better and healthier food and life.”
|Finally, I can reconnect to my early and old love of working with farmers, harvesting and marketing the best possible produce to people who care about high-quality produce, health, environment, and social responsibility.Looking back, if I had not cared about the issues listed in the statement above, I wouldn’t study what I chose; I wouldn’t found Biofeed nor the Green Valley, and most importantly, I wouldn’t be able to help others.This week, as I stride in the vast mango orchards of Senegal, I realized that it wouldn’t be possible if I wouldn’t be born in Israel, in a Kibbutz.Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be possible for me to be born in a Kibbutz if the Nazis were not killing my mother’s family, and had my mother not managed to escape from her village in Hungary and complete her challenging journey to Israel.I wouldn’t be able to achieve all that if not for my unique personal history and background.I wouldn’t perform all those tasks if not for the many good people I have met along the way and here, each different and unique in his own way with his extraordinary personal history.Our different roots can make us fight or work together to achieve the impossible. The option is in our hands and for us to choose from.|
|TAKEAWAYS» Diversification is a crucial element for innovation and sustainable business success.» Diversify your team and the circle of people with whom you consult.» If everybody thinks like you, you have a problem.» Celebrate disagreements within your team and partners.» Share your background and personal story with your team and partners.|
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