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Talent Management Blog
August 15
Living out your brand -- defining yourself and sticking to it


What is my brand? What does personal brand even mean? How do I come up with this stuff? These may be some recurring questions flooding your brain while you're on the quest to define your professional career.


How do I want to be seen by others?


Ding, ding, ding! That's the big question to consider before you begin identifying your personal brand. Answering this question may seem daunting, right? Well, here are some suggestions to help you begin defining your personal brand:


  • Define yourself


Start with identifying what it is you want people to think about when they see your name. Think about the people you admire. What common characteristics do they have? What makes them unique? Why do you continue to read their content, interact with the social channels, listen to their podcasts?


Make a list of qualities you want linked to your brand. Come up with a strategy around how you can add value to those around you.


  • Build your platform


Now that you have defined yourself and a strategy is in place, it's time to build your platform.


Some options to think about:  LinkedIn Twitter Instagram blogs and other websites to showcase content built by you.


The most important consideration is choosing a platform that will assist in engaging the audience that aligns with your brand.


  • Grow your network


You know your brand and how to showcase it, now let's grow your network.


Be purposeful in the information you share to attract the appropriate audience. Build relationships with thought leaders, industry professionals, and others within your niche. There is power in being visible!


You have your personal brand… what's next? Here are some suggestions to help you stick to it:


  • Social media management is key


Engage with your followers, don't leave people hanging out there if they are commenting or interacting with you – 'like' their posts, comment when you have insights!


  • Be Consistent


There is power in consistency! Be timely in your posts and replies. People may come to expect a weekly blog post from you – don't let them down!


Remember, it's an ongoing process. Your personal brand is something you must cultivate over time. Brand management is vital!


By: Kayla Portwood


July 30
Win the Morning = Win the Day

​​If I said you could make tomorrow the best day ever by implementing a few simple habits, would I have your attention? Most of us would say yes, but the reality is most of us wouldn't make the necessary ​changes. The way we start the day impacts how we finish the day. So, to make the day great we must win the mornings! 

Those who live great lives experience the power of the morning by creating strong habits and routines that set them up for an unbreakable day. The goal is to develop a routine that works for you.  Here are some suggestions to help you win the morning so you can win the day:

  • Wake up early: Set your alarm for half an hour to an hour earlier than you normally would and get up when it goes off. If this means putting your alarm in a separate room, then do it. Rise before the chaos of the day can start. Most of our days feel rushed because we start them that way.
  • Be grateful: Successful people have a heart of gratitude. Be grateful for the opportunity to take a breath because someone didn't have that same opportunity today. Be grateful for the chance to make today great. Say thank you.
  • Insert positive thoughts: Stay off social media first thing in the morning. There will be time to check what your friends are eating later. Tell yourself that today will be the day where you crush your goals and then prepare yourself for great things to happen. The power of positive thinking will change the course of your day. Remember to smile and see if you can make someone else smile today.
  • Exercise: Strong body, strong mind; get yourself up and moving. Investing in your body leads to a mind that is strong and able to handle obstacles that may come its way. Start small and find the exercise routine that works for you. (Exercise disclaimer: always consult a physician before engaging in any exercise program.)
  • Read: Fill your mind with information that will allow you to be great. Don't have time? Listen to an audio book or a podcast while exercising or on a commute. Take time to invest in your brain – we only get one.
  • Write: Put your goals, dreams, fears, challenges down on paper. Writing gets things out of your brain, so you can focus on today; it is a way to clear the clutter that consumes our minds so we can focus on what is most important.
  • Go: The toughest part of making changes is actually doing it. Tell yourself I'm going to invest in myself to make my life great. The biggest lie we tell ourselves is that we are too busy or it is selfish to take time for ourselves. Taking time in the morning for yourself will allow you to invest in others, which can have a positive impact on their lives.

Life is a journey and we want to enjoy it.  Find the routine that works for you, so you can conquer the morning and the day!

By: Brandon Umphrey

July 15
How Important is Networking?

​We've all heard it before: it's not what you know, it's who you know. How true do you think this statement is? I never thought much of this phrase until I started working in recruiting. I am here to tell you this statement is important and could not be more accurate. It is amazing to me how networking creates connections that can impact your professional life in such big ways. Every time you turn down a chance to network with someone new at work, in the industry, or in general, you are turning down a future opportunity to grow as a leader or professional.

One experience that comes to my mind is a networking exercise I took part in at Agriculture Future of America (AFA) Leaders Conference years ago. Over 70 agriculture students from around the country were sitting in a hotel meeting room in Kansas City. The speaker threw a large ball of string at our group. We were confused. He had us go around the room and state our overall career goals and one fun experience on our bucket list. As we did this, others from the group would raise their hands to signal that they had a connection within their network that could help the person holding the ball of string complete their career goal or cross the identified item off their bucket list. The person holding the ball of string would throw the ball to one of the individuals with their hand raised. It was amazing. We heard so many different conversations starting. "I want to raise alpacas once I retire." "I want to work in Ag Law." "I want to hike the Appalachian Trail." "I want to work for Kraft-Heinz as a food scientist." As these statements were said, hands shot up in the air, and people identified their go-to people in the room and had the chance to network with them after the exercise concluded. By the time we were done, the room looked like a giant spider web. There wasn't a single statement mentioned in that room that someone didn't make a connection through.

This exercise opened my eyes to how important it is to take the time to get to know the people around you as they can help you reach your dreams. I would argue that networking is not only important, but more so your best linking to success.


By: Tori Streitmatter

June 30
“Begin with the End in Mind” is Not Just a Cliché—Really!

​Stephen Covey's book "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" is so rich in content that I find myself still using and learning from it 11 years after my initial read.  I cannot count the number of times I have referenced "begin with the end in mind" when coaching Subject Matter Experts (SME's) to develop training, advising colleagues on how to create powerful presentations or creating training myself.  It's not just a cliché.  It can be a powerful tool in the presenting and training worlds.

As an instructional designer for over 10 years, each time I sit down to create a training, I "begin with the end in mind".  What do the learners need to know, do, and apply when they walk out of training?  What is the end experience you are striving to create for them?  There is so much information on every topic imaginable, it is often difficult to sift through it all to decide what is important. 

Whether you are creating a training, a presentation or simply an agenda for a meeting, there are some helpful questions to ask yourself that will allow you focus on the end goal—thereby saving you time, while producing an impactful facilitation.

Step 1: Analyze

Who is my audience? What are the audience's characteristics that affect the content and how it is delivered? What is my topic?  What is the amount of time allotted for the facilitation? What is the goal of the facilitation?  Why would the participants want to attend the facilitation?

Step 2: Create/Develop

What are the objectives that will fulfill the goal of the facilitation?  What do participants need to know/be able to do when they leave? How do you plan to accomplish the objective(s)? 

Step 3: Execution/Delivery

Is PowerPoint visually helpful for this facilitation?  Is this meeting necessary or will an email accomplish the goal(s)? Would an activity help the participants better understand the content?  Does this facilitation need to be face-to-face, or can it be online or a webinar?  How can I deliver the content without being a boring lecturer?

Asking yourself these questions before you even begin to sift through the plethora of information will help you focus and create a better product.

After all these years, I still get lost sometimes in the sea of information.  I get caught up in reading, learning, the "ooh shiny" moments, and the "that's not what I'm looking for" frustration.  What do I do?  Take a deep breath.  Regain focus.  And remind myself to "begin with the end in mind". 


By: Michele Hillary 

June 15
Changing Direction Leads to Discovering a Passion

​Careers take twists and turns making your professional experience a path unique to you based on your aspirations and experiences.

While in college I was told, "Your degree will help you get placed in your first job – after that it will be based on your experiences." At first, I was unsure how this was possible due to my degree being the career path I was wanting to take. I knew the skillset it equipped me with prepared me to take on a communication based career. However, as my career path began to evolve the above statement has never been more true. GROWMARK has a variety of positions available across multiple facets of business. No matter the position you are in, you are developing valuable transferrable skills to prepare you to take on your next career move. Transferrable skills can be applied whether you are in accounting, energy, agronomy, etc. If you find an area interesting, talk with the team currently in place and learn more about it. Determine the skillset you need to develop that could be applied to a similar position.

Recently I took a different position in the company and many people saw the switch as an extreme change. Yes, it is very different from my former position. However, I was able to apply skills gained from one role and build new skills in my current role. All of which are preparing me for my future career goals. Again, the path is unique to you and no two people may have the same path.

A path is there for guidance not set in concrete. It is meant to be flexible and allow for the individual to make his or her decisions based on interests and new discoveries along the way. It is not meant to be straight and narrow but allow for curves along the way. If you have an interest don't be afraid to pursue it because you could end up finding a position that fulfills a passion you may not even realize you had!


By: Amie Hasselbring


May 31
Increase Your Credibility to ERASE all Doubt

​Every day we engage others in conversation, presentations and meetings. You engage in communication where you need to make key points about your perspective, thought or idea.  Your intent is to have credibility and impact with the direction or outcome of the interaction.  You need to ERASE all doubt in communicating your key points that will increase your influence and outcomes. Below are five different forms of evidence to support your key ideas. The acronym ERASE will help you remember them.

  1. Experiences – Real life situations, your own or third parties are recognized as a powerful form of evidence. Experiences can be delivered with conviction and credibility because they are real. Include enough background information to make them come alive to you listener. They should be current and brief. Make sure the audience can relate and the outcome is successful. Be careful not to overuse.
  2. Reasons – Reasons answers the "why" questions your audience may have. You can use outlined facts, thoughts or ideas which will explain or answer the "why" questions that come from your ideas.
  3. Authority – This is usually a well-regarded authority or an informed source that can be a documented quote, finding, conclusion or rationale that are almost never doubted.  The authority must be regarded as credible by the audience.
  4. Statistics and Facts – These are the most commonly used sources for proof. Although statistics show factual information, they can be difficult for an audience to remember or understand. Help your audience visualize what you are saying by adding a more personalized example of what the statistic means to the listener.
  5. Examples – Examples are similar to experience except that you are explaining an event that did not occur, but is still relevant to your point. Your audience will make inferences to other moments in their lives that will lend more credibility to the point you are making. Analogies are often used as examples.

Before your next conversation, presentation or meeting; take a few minutes to identify your key points you want to make, then select one of the five ways you can ERASE all doubt to increase your impact and credibility.


By: David Hansen

May 15
Connecting with your Company

"I don't know why you are so excited to graduate. You're going to be working for the next 50 years of your life" – stated my senior year college professor. I am now several years out of college and still refer to this as one of the best statements I had ever heard. Like a smack in the face, this rather blunt statement put my future career into perspective and prompted me to think of what I do and the company I work for with a different approach.

I believe it is not only important for every person to find passion in what they do, but also important to find a connection to the purpose of the company... What makes you complete your best work? What keeps you walking in that door every day? What makes you stay the extra hour – or four to accomplish the task?  The big reason that rises to the top for me is my connection to the big picture – what is the company's impact on the world? I may not have grown up on a farm, but I find the agricultural industry a place where I can see a real impact on the world. I connect to the work I do because I work for a company that is making a difference in the world by providing. The ways we impact the world range from supplying propane to heat the house on a cold winter day, feeding and fueling the world by providing the best products and services to farmers and growers, and by being the best we can be for our customers daily.

I'm proud of the company I work for and the industry which it does business. I find passion in what I do daily because I know the difference the GROWMARK System is making on the world. Although 50 years is literally a lifetime, the days go fast when you work for a company whose business you are truly connected to on a deeper level!


By: Marissa Williams

April 30
Celebrate Good Times… Come On!!

On any day of the year, you can guarantee there is something being celebrated or remembered on a national or global level.  The month of May is no exception and presents quite the variety of interesting and unusual things to remember or celebrate.  Cinco de Mayo, Mother's Day, graduations, and Memorial Day are a few well-known ones.  But did you know that May also includes Star Wars Day, World Red Cross Day, National Eat What You Want Day (celebrated all year long in my case), and World Turtle Day?!

We can argue that some of these days are more important that others, but regardless, it seems on any given day there is something to celebrate.  In the workplace, it doesn't have to be any different.  Celebrating and recognizing the good work, efforts and progress of team members creates a positive work environment, increases team morale and creates a more engaged workforce.  Whether you are the leader of a team or an employee, we can all do our part to build each other up and take time to celebrate successes. 

Here are some simple ways to celebrate those successes:​

  1. In team meetings have each person share something they want to celebrate or recognize.  This could be something they personally accomplished or something they want to recognize others for.
  2. After completing a big project, take time to celebrate by going out for lunch, hosting a potluck, going bowling or plan an activity that allows you to pause and appreciate your success before moving onto the next project.
  3. Create a "kudos" board where team members can write a note to recognize their peers on a job well done.  Individuals can hang up positive feedback they received from customers or others that relates to their work.
  4. Create a traveling plaque or trophy that gets passed from employee to employee based on being "caught" doing something impressive.
  5. On regular basis, determine one positive behavior that you want to recognize.  You don't have to be a supervisor to do this. Maybe today you recognize excellent customer service skills and tomorrow you show appreciation for a timely response to a customer.  Vary the behavior and vary the way you recognize it.
These are just a few ways to weave celebration and recognition into the fabric of your team's culture.  Have fun and get creative! I don't think there is a team out there that wouldn't love some pizza on National Pizza Party Day (May 18) or donuts on National Donut Day (June 1)! ​

By: Carrie Kuhns
April 15
How Important is Company Culture?

It is one thing to enjoy the work you do, but another thing to enjoy the environment you work in. My inspiration for this blog came from a somewhat recent situation with a friend. It was similar to this:

Person A: "I love my current employer, but I found a career elsewhere that pays more and I really want to take a chance on this opportunity. I could use a pay increase."

Person B: "Oh really? What have you heard about their company culture? Are you sure you want to leave everything about this company for a little more pay? You do realize companies like this are hard to come by…"

Person A: "The company didn't score very high on their review when I looked them up on Glassdoor, but I'm sure it's fine. Again, I really need this pay increase."

Person B: "Well, I hope you're making the right decision. I'm not sure I would give up the amazing culture at your current employer simply for a little more pay. I guarantee if you're patient and work hard, good things will happen for you at your current workplace!"


Person A: "I have really tried to be positive about all of this and not complain, but the culture at my new job is unbearable. This may sound terrible, but I wish I had never left my former position. I think I am going to try to leave here soon. I'm sick of being treated like another number here."

Is leaving a highly respected company for a little more pay a smart decision? Not in my book. You don't realize how impactful company culture is. At GROWMARK, our culture is one of a kind. I have been spoiled with compassionate teammates, a plethora of ways to directly engage with our CEO, and many opportunities to get involved with employee programs that host annual walking challenges, recycling programs, food drives, and numerous employee recognition events. (Honestly, this list could go on and on.) I think everyone would agree that it feels good to work for an employer that truly cares about me and my well-being. There is something special about working for a place that puts forth effort to make their employees feel appreciated.  I've learned you can't put a price tag on that! The next time you are forced to make a new career decision based on career advancement, pay increase, or length of commute, be sure to stay mindful of just how important company culture can be.


By: Tori Streitmatter


March 30
Professional Certifications: Three Points To Consider

Adult Learning Practitioners are often asked if pursuing professional certifications are worth it? The answer is not so simple. Some professionals will tell you YES! absolutely certifications are worth it and can lead to advancement. Others will say NO! certifications are a waste of time, money and mean very little. As a steadfast advocate for lifelong learning, my recommendation is to pursue opportunities that best align and support your interests and growth - whether you experience a certification program, job rotation, mentoring relationship, reading professional journals/blogs, or take a risk and change professions all together – continue to grow.

If you do find yourself reflecting on the possibility of pursuing a professional certification program, here are three key points to consider:

  1. Investment of time and energy. Certifications programs can take as little as three days of accelerated training all the way to three (plus) years of in-depth training and significant amounts of studying. Choosing the right program for you will depend on the amount of personal time you have to invest, support from your company, and how deep you wish to take your learning/growth. Upon successful completion of the program, many certifications require continuing education units/credit hours to maintain use of the professional certification. Ensure you're aware of all follow up activities for continued use of certification.
  2. Investment of money. Certifications can be costly. Discuss with your Employer if they provide monetary support for job-specific certifications. If not, before you select the program that best meets your learning aspirations consider the costs. Is pre-work and post-work involved at an additional cost? If meetings occur virtually do you have the software technology to support virtual discussions/meetings? Is the certification on-line or Instructor Led? Is there substantial travel involved? Understanding all costs associated will help you determine if the investment is in your best interest. 
  3. Do your research. Many certification programs have slick marketing materials, are heavy with sales-pitches, and unfortunately low in tangible learning objectives. If a program appears to be of interest to you, ask for personal testimonies – contact a few previous participants and discuss their experiences. Also, research more than one certification program. There is a lot of diverse programs and choosing the one best for you may take time.

Remember when selecting the most suitable certification program for you, it's not about the piece of paper you received. It's about the experience of the process and the integration of new skills and knowledge. No matter your choice, continue to remain a curious learner.

By: Stacey Curry

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