The SCN Encourager – Friday, March 15, 2013

Sent in code. Message received. Got it!

After describing 10 presentation “thinkpoints” in the Encourager for the last couple of days, I was wondering how to conclude my commentary about Greg Herbruck’s recent egg industry talk to my Rotary Club.

But last night I received this email from Ron Koehler, the Assistant Superintendent for Organizational and Community Initiatives for the Kent Intermediate School District (Kent County, Grand Rapids) and former MSPRA and NSPRA president.

Ron’s email read:

“Thanks for the series on the Herbruck presentation.  That must have been one heck of a presentation, because I’ve heard about it from several people.  Never thought I’d be eager to know eggsactly what an eggtrepreneur yolked about at a Rotary Club meeting and wishing he’d do it eggain here. You started it.”

Ron wrote this in school communicator’s code – and I heard his message loud and clear. He’s politely signaling to me that all 14 readers of the Encourager are starting to “crack” and that I’d better put this series to bed, pronto!

Will do, chief! I’ll bow to your wisdom and experience.

So … as Greg Herbruck finished his presentation about today’s egg-processing operations he said a couple of things that I’d like to pass on to you. (in pronto fashion per Ron)

First, before Greg began his “Q & A” in the final minutes of our meeting, he passed out a short evaluation form by saying, “Thanks for being a great audience – and I’d like to request your help in making my presentation to the next organization even better. You’ve got a perspective I need to hear and I’d like to keep improving upon the message I feel so strongly about.”

The evaluation form really wasn’t anything you haven’t seen before, but I thought his timing was interesting. His “ask” of us (to complete the form) was not something he just tossed out there as we were putting on our coats and heading out the door. It wasn’t a hasty after-thought. Greg wanted feedback, so he intentionally help up on his Q & A for 30 seconds or so until he got us rolling along on our evaluations. This little trick worked well.

Our group then posed a number of questions for Greg, and he had good answers, but this one was the most memorable because of its tie-in (at certain times) to what we do in our schools, too.

Greg was asked what it’s like to negotiate a multi-million, multi-year deal with the bigwigs and MBA types from McDonald’s. (Remembering that Greg’s family egg-processing farm and their farm “partners” supply EVERY egg to EVERY McDonald’s restaurant east of the Mississippi…)

He said, “Negotiating with McDonald’s – and every one of our big customer’s is intense – and you really have to stay alert. But you’d be surprised. I honestly do not know about how negotiations occur where you work, but for us, everyone comes to the negotiations table with a high commitment to everyone’s mutual success. We want financially strong and profitable customers who can grow and are able to pay us on schedule . . . and McDonald’s wants financially strong and profitable suppliers who can grow and deliver high quality products on schedule.”

He continued, “We both enter negotiations wanting pretty much the same thing for the future, and we accept that there are obstacles we both have to address for us to be successful. We learn about McDonald’s future challenges. And they learn about our future challenges. And then we try to structure a deal that helps us succeed in meeting these challenges. It’s that simple. Our relationship really wouldn’t work otherwise. No side wins if the other side loses. Naturally, you’ve got to make sure the financial details are right, but we’re not adversaries at any time in the process. We negotiate as partners in each other’s success.”

An interesting answer, don’t you think?

And sorry, Ron, if this Encourager was still too long for you. I could have shortened it by 90-112 words, I know, but this would’ve required deleting your title. I could never do this to another school communicator!

Tom Page, SCN
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