University of La Verne

Do College Students Need More Life Skills?

It all started on the golf course. Early last year, I attended the Northern Trust Open at the Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles. As I was wandering around the clubhouse, I ran into Mark Brian Smith, the filmmaker who produced and directed “Fear No Fruit,” the documentary about my mom and our family business. He had with him a longtime personal friend Simon, a banker. As per usual, we shook hands and exchanged business cards. So I guess I was a little surprised when six months later I received an email from Simon, who had changed banks, inviting me to be the keynote speaker at a CEO summit. As it turns out, his new bank, Union Bank, is a sponsor of the CEO Summit at the Continue Reading

What’s Trending in Coastal NC

I attended a produce conference last weekend in Orlando (I know, I lead such an exciting life). Sixteen hundred of my closest produce friends and I hung out at the Disney Dolphin Resort for three days of meetings, workshops, a trade show, plus an evening gala. When I say “my closest produce friends,” I really mean that. The unique aspect of the produce industry is that because we spend so much time together at various shows and events each year, many of us actually do become close friends. As my … Continue reading

How Important Is Company Culture?

For the last 11 years, I have attended the biannual University of California, Davis, Agribusiness Seminar. The three-day gathering includes 90 agribusiness executives from across the ag supply chain: egg farmers to cattle ranchers, grape growers to bagged salad producers, investment bankers to consultants and people in the food business. Ninety percent of the attendees are from California and some repeat attendees have gotten to know each other pretty well over the years. This year we read, studied, and discussed seven case studies about other companies that were willing to … Continue reading

Are You Onboard with ‘Onboarding’?

A few months ago, I joined the board of Second Harvest Food Bank, the largest food bank in Orange County and a member of the Feeding America national network. Our company donates edible produce to the food bank each week. CEO Nicole Suydam and I have gotten to know each other over the past few years, and she slowly recruited me to join the board, made up of about 20 community leaders, entrepreneurs, and corporate executives. After I had joined the board, Nicole let me know that I was expected … Continue reading