Michael Hoffort

FCC Edge
Podcast Highlights
  • Surround yourself with people who inspire greatness
  • Fail faster to achieve success sooner
  • Leadership lessons from a 100-year-old failed expedition
  • FCC CEO Michael Hoffort on how Canadians can feed the world

Audio transcript

Are you the average of the five people you spend most of your time with? Today on FCC Edge we’ll discuss how to surround yourself with lifters not leaners.

Also, if failure is a given on the road to success, then it only makes sense to find ways to fail as quickly as possible.

And what we can learn from a 100-year-old failed expedition that stands as a classic story of leadership.

Our guest on the Edge is:
(English) FCC CEO Michael Hoffort. He explains why Canada can lead the way in feeding the world

(French) FCC Chief Operating Officer Sophie Perreault. She explains why she’s so motivated by Canadian agriculture.

FCC Edge / Capsule starts now

Transition
FCC is again presenting inspiring, informative speakers, hands-on workshops and engaging seminars across the country. For anyone with an interest in Canadian agriculture – for free. Find the events that benefit your operation, and register today at fcc.ca/Events.

Segment#1
My Five

I enjoy reading about leadership. I typically look for authors who demonstrate different opinions about how we generate success and find fulfillment. Every so often however there is a success habit that nearly every author promotes. When many great thinkers agree on something, and you’ve seen its affect after applying it to your own life, you know you’ve discovered a cornerstone concept.

This one has many names:

  • Birds of a feather flock together 
  • You’re known by the company you keep
  • Show me where you fish and I’ll show you what you catch
  • The Law of Association

For the purpose of this discussion let’s call it, ‘My Five.’

Jim Rohn describes the idea this way, ‘You are the average of the five people you spend most of your time with.’ It’s worth asking yourself this question: Are my attitudes, work habits, outlook on life, income, books I read, TV programs I watch and my health the average of the people closest to me?

It’s common to be concerned about the friends our kids choose. The reason is obvious. If you’re a parent you’ve seen the effect your child’s friends have on her speech, the clothes she wears, her attitude and how she responds to you. The further into the teen years your child gets typically the greater the influence those friends have. At what age are we no longer affected by those closest to us? The truth is, we are forever influenced by those with whom we associate. I think it’s common to underestimate the importance of the company we keep as adults.

Author John Maxwell calls this idea the Law of the Inner Circle. This law states that our potential is determined by those closest to us. The odds are the handful of people closest to you are those you like or feel comfortable with. But if it’s true you are the average of the five people closest to you…that your probability of success is largely connected to this small but influential group… then it’s worth revisiting who you spend time with and how you select these influences.
In a perfect world who would you like to have in your inner circle? Who would you like to have influencing you? Think big! You might say, ‘I’m not well connected. I don’t really know many successful people and living on a farm I don’t really get a chance to get out and meet many great thinkers.’ It’s important to understand something, you can have just about anyone you want in your inner circle. Let me to tell you about some of ‘my five.’

Two of the people in my inner circle are Winston Churchill and Anne Frank. Every time I read an inspirational biography I learn in a few hours a lesson what often took the author a lifetime to secure. When you allow yourself to be influenced by historical greats, it’s like having new circle of friends. You start to see the world differently and adopt new standards. I consider Winston Churchill and Anne Frank as part of my peer group!

Twitter is another way of enhancing your inner circle. Twitter is a media of influence. You can choose to follow, and be influenced by, just about anyone in the world. If you already use Twitter, have a look at who you’re following now. Are they celebrities that you see on magazine covers at the check-out counter or are they people who challenge and encourage you?

When I select people to be part of my inner circle, I try to not simply select those I like or agree with. Confirmation bias is a trap all of us can fall into. This is a bad habit of listening only to people with whom we agree. I try to allow people into my five that possess strengths in areas where I am weak.

Finally, if you’re struggling to decide what kinds of people you want in your circle of influence, I find it helpful to understand this simple rule…there are really only two types of people in the world, those that add and multiply or those that subtract and divide. People either build you up in some way or they drain you.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox puts it this way in her poem Two Kinds of People:
“The two kinds of people on earth I mean, are the people who lift and the people who lean. Wherever you go you'll find the world's masses are ever divided into these two classes. And, strangely enough, you will find, too, I mean, there is only one lifter to twenty who lean.”

Are the five people closest to you lifters, people who lift you up and raise the bar or are they leaners… people who lower your standards, knock down ideas or drain your creativity?

There’s a pretty good chance, the more you think about it, you are the average of people closest to you. This is not an excuse to assign blame…to conclude that the reason I’m not successful is I’m surrounded by unmotivated people. The key is we have the freedom to choose who gets into our inner circle. This may sound judgmental but you don’t necessarily have to discard friends or business associates that tend to drag you down, just find ways to reduce their influence on you. Spend less time with these people and more time with lifters.

The Law of the Inner Circle states your potential is determined by those closest to you. So make an effort to surround yourself with people who lift you up, who see possibilities. In short spend less time with people who subtract and divide, and more time with those who add and multiply.

Transition
In major league baseball an average player has about a .250 batting average. A player that hits .300 is considered a star. The difference between these is only one additional hit every twenty times at bat. That’s a five percent difference.
Numerous studies reveal that sustained success occurs when we do several things five percent better rather than doing one thing 100% better. This is known as the five percent rule. The top 25% of the most profitable businesses tend to be only about five percent better than the average because they do several things, such as costs, production and marketing, five percent better. You’re listening to FCC Edge (Capsule FAC). You can subscribe to the Edge podcast, rate it and leave your feedback on iTunes.

Transition
In major league baseball an average player has about a .250 batting average. A player that hits .300 is considered a star. The difference between these is only one additional hit every twenty times at bat. That’s a five percent difference.

Numerous studies reveal that sustained success occurs when we do several things five percent better rather than doing one thing 100% better. This is known as the five percent rule. The top 25% of the most profitable businesses tend to be only about five percent better than the average because they do several things, such as costs, production and marketing, five percent better. You’re listening to FCC Edge (Capsule FAC). You can subscribe to the Edge podcast, rate it and leave your feedback on iTunes.

Segment#2
Fail Faster

My father was likely the first farmer in his county to go university. The depression had just ended and dad headed off to complete two degrees; one in Business and one in Animal Science. It was unheard of in those days for a farmer to spend that much time and money on education. Money was still tight at the end of the depression. My grandfather was not convinced education was even necessary for a farmer.

Dad was a maverick. He did things differently and he thought differently than other producers of his generation. He believed that education combined with constant experimentation would accelerate failure and unlock success in agriculture. Failure was a constant companion for him and yet he ultimately succeeded because he failed fast! He believed if you were inefficient it was because you failed too slowly. In the end his efforts were recognized by the local Hall of Fame association for his achievements. He became the first producer in Canada for example, to successfully store high moisture corn.

The path to discovery involves trying new ways, products, materials and new thinking. It’s typically a process fraught with failure. So if failure is a given on the road to success then it only makes sense to find ways to fail as quickly as possible.

In 1959 British industrialist Henry Kremer (cray-mer) offered a 50,000 pound reward to anyone who could invent the first human-powered aircraft. Over the course of many years, dozens of inventers tried and failed. After a couple of decades past, a man by the name of Paul MacCready (mc-raidy), announced that the reason everyone had failed in this quest is because they didn’t understand the problem.

MacCready felt the issue of human powered flight was a distraction. To construct a prototype plane, test it, crash it, and rebuild it again was a process that typically took a year. He decided the real problem was how to rebuild the test plane faster. This focus resulted in the idea of using aluminum tubing, wire and mylar. Using these materials, he could rebuild a crashed prototype in hours instead of months. While his competitors completed one test flight a year he was soon making three to four test flights a day. He was failing hundreds of times faster than everyone else. By 1979 MacCready succeeded. He had created the Gossamer Albatross, the first human powered plane. The craft didn’t just fly a few feet but flew thirty-five kilometers across the English Channel!

Danny Klinefelter at Texas A &M says, “The only truly sustainable competitive advantage is the ability to learn and adapt faster than your competition.” That’s what MacCready did. He succeeded because he failed faster than anyone else. It sounds strange to say but finding efficiency is about failing efficiently. The smartest people I know fail fast.

Seeking peer advice, further education, networking inside and outside of your industry, and finding online blogs discussing innovation, are other ways to share information to accelerate failure. Failure is a given on the road to success so it only makes sense to find ways to fail as quickly as possible.

Transition 
Most of us are familiar with the Pareto Principle, commonly referred to as the 80:20 rule. We’re likely not so familiar with how far reaching this idea is. 80% of what we accomplish is produced by 20% of what we do. Successful people are the ones who have figured out which customers, processes and products represent their 20% and then put most of their time and resources into these areas. The other 80 percent get turned over to someone else. The 80:20 rule is about doing first things first. Many people never reach their goals because they spend too much time doing second things first such as tasks they know how to do, like to do, are easiest or are urgent.

(English) Coming up next…FCC CEO Michael Hoffort explains why Canada can lead the way in feeding the world and later…a 100-year-old disaster stands as a classic story of leadership.

(French) Coming up next…FCC Chief Operating Officer Sophie Perreault talks about why she’s motivated by agriculture and later…a 100-year-old disaster stands as a classic story of leadership.

Segment#3
Feature Interviews:

English: Mike Hoffort
French: Sophie Perreault

Transition
Ready to buy farm equipment? You are when you’re pre-approved with FCC Financing. Get pre-approved today. Call 1-800-510-6669

Segment #4
Leadership Lessons from a Failed Mission.

2015 was the 100-year anniversary of the sinking of a very famous ship, Endurance. British explorer Ernest Shackleton wanted to be the first to cross the entire Antarctic continent on foot. The mission captured the imagination of a nation in need of distraction as Britain was on the verge of the World War I. Various accounts show over 5,000 people applied for the 28 crew positions required to sail to the South Pole. The expedition would soon become a classic story of survival and leadership. This is noteworthy since the mission was a complete failure.

Shackleton never reached Antarctica. As he approached the south polar region the Endurance became trapped in the pack ice and was eventually crushed by it. Shackleton and his crew could do nothing but float on the ice for two years! In the end the crew cobbled together pieces of two life boats and set sail for an Island called South Georgia. They traveled 800 miles in open, raging seas facing 80-foot waves in a rowboat!

While the mission was a complete failure, this has become a classic example of what it means to be a leader. Here are a few lessons we can learn from Ernest Shackleton.

  1. In the midst of almost two years of constant adversity, he kept his crew focused. Specifically he kept his men focused on a daily routine and the future. Floating on the ice with no ship, the crew could have broken apart, just as the ship did, under the pressure of their situation. But the crew kept their wits in large part because Shackleton kept his. Shackleton’s calm personality set the right tone. He confidently set out daily routines, taking scientific measurements, using the sun to track their location, hunting seal to keep up food and cooking oil stores.Shackleton also kept his men’s focus on the future. Their ship the Endurance was gone. Failure and discouragement were so constant that he had to frequently reinvent the team’s goals and vision. He had begun the voyage with a mission of exploration, but it quickly became a mission of survival. Shackleton devised a detailed new plan of rescue and told his team he would lead it. With minimal equipment and supplies the men knew the plan was a long shot but they followed his calm demeanor. The crew bought into the vision and worked to adapt and improvise with each set back.

  2. Shackleton refused to worry about the numerous things he no longer controlled but instead kept the crew focused on those things they could control. They had no influence over the weather. The ship was gone, so no point fretting about that. He couldn’t control what direction the ice pack drifted or how the ice pack was constantly breaking up. After the Endurance sank they were left with only two small lifeboats, some tents and a few supplies. Shackleton could control his attitude and actions, the routine of the crew and the few assets left from the ship. He focused on these.

  3. He demonstrated servant leadership. Some of his crew described Shackleton’s concern for his men as an ‘obsession.’ One crew member said, “It was Shackleton’s rule that any deprivation should be felt by himself before anybody else.” He gave his only pair of gloves to another crewmember that needed them. Shackleton ended up with frostbite on his hands but never complained.
 
Incredibly after this hair raising odyssey was over, and he delivered all of his men home safely, Shackleton did not declare the mission a failure. He wrote these words to his wife that demonstrated the care he had for his men. “I have done it. Not a life lost.”
Even though 100 years have now passed since the Endurance was crushed by the Antarctic ice, Shackleton’s leadership lessons are still relevant today.
  • In the midst of difficulty keep you team focused on routine and the future 
  • Don’t waste time worrying about what you can’t control
  • Exercise servant leadership
Three leadership lessons that made the Shackleton Expedition the stuff of legend.
 

Closing:
We’re glad you could spend a few moments with us challenging our mental limits and assumptions. Just before we go, remember FCC offers numerous free learning events … Webinars, workshops, software training, Outlook events and the FCC Forums. You’ll find all the information online at FCC.ca/events.

Related

Share your story: Lessons learned from a Hutterite
00:03:39

Share your story: Lessons learned from a Hutterite

Share your story: Lessons learned from a Hutterite

Share your story: Lessons learned from a Hutterite
00:03:39

Mary Ann Kirkby wrote “I am Hutterite” to speak up for her culture. In this video, she explains how to “set the record straight” and remove misperceptions.

Rewarding yourself helps maintain morale

Rewarding yourself helps maintain morale

Rewarding yourself helps maintain morale

Rewarding yourself helps maintain morale

Farmers ensure crops and animals get what they need to stay healthy and productive. But, they’re not as good at rewarding themselves for a job well done.

Becoming an agent of change - Part 2
00:16:13

Becoming an agent of change - Part 2

Becoming an agent of change - Part 2

Becoming an agent of change - Part 2
00:16:13

In Part 2 of this 2 part episode, FCC Edge continues to look at the habits of people of action and how you can use these ideas to become your own agent of change.

Becoming an agent of change - Part 1
00:20:42

Becoming an agent of change - Part 1

Becoming an agent of change - Part 1

Becoming an agent of change - Part 1
00:20:42

In Part 1 of this 2 part episode, FCC Edge looks at the one thing separating successful people from the rest of us – action. Learn how to get moving towards your own success.

Add a Comment
Add a Comment Close
characters remaining
There are no comments.