When To Wear Jeans

I go to a fair number of conferences where speakers are up on a stage (in front of hundreds or thousands). Over the years, I’ve noticed that the acceptable dress code for speakers has changed. A few decades ago, male speakers always wore a suit and tie. Female speakers wore a dress or pantsuit. Both were formal in their dress. I suppose this was not only to signal that they were “pros,” but also because most of us attending conferences dressed in business attire. Back in the day, that may have included a suit. I’ll never forget when I saw leadership guru Simon Sinek speak at a CEO business conference about 10 years ago. He was one of the first speakers I noticed that dressed more informally. Continue Reading

The Devil is in the Details

Many applications only have a place to check boxes or fill in basic information, like your name, address, previous jobs, etc. You really don’t have the opportunity to be creative when you are applying for a mortgage or a new job; you just fill in the blanks. But last week, I had the opportunity to see some very creative applications, as I was one of several judges for the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards, a business awards competition in Santa Barbara. This is the second year I was asked to review … Continue reading

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 … 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