ONE – A Conference Like No Other

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to join the EMF Nutrition team to attend their parent company Alltech‘s annual IDEAS conference, ONE. Here on the ranch, we frequently work with EMF Nutrition for our mineral and supplement needs. They are one of many suppliers we lean on to not only keep our cattle healthy, but also lend us their expertise. When I mentioned to our sales rep, Blake Burletoff, how excellent Alltech’s annual conference looked on twitter (last year it was called Rebelation), he jumped on the chance to show me around Lexington, Kentucky and what Alltech and EMF Nutrition are all about.

Going into the trip, I really didn’t know what this annual conference was all about. It seems to have a new name every year – one that goes along with that year’s theme. My expectations were to hear a handful of great speakers, get a whole lot of sales pitches, and see some cool country. I soon learned that there was so much more to it than that.

Another awesome side note of this trip was that I was able to experience it with my Cattlemen’s Young Leaders Mentee, Angela Kumlin (read more about her here.) As part of our planning sessions for the program, Angela had asked me what one conference I would recommend she attend, and I suggested this ONE. Trouper that she is, she did not let the fact that she was 7 months pregnant hold her back from joining me!!

So how exactly was this conference different?

 

First of all, from the very first opening moment, I was blown away. This was not a conference. It was an EVENT. Who opens an agricultural conference with a Broadway act? Alltech does!

 

Then there was the networking. There were attendees from all over the world. I don’t mean like Canada and Mexico, I mean EVERYWHERE! I had a long chat about horses with a man from Brazil with a barrel racing daughter. Turns out he was the largest land owner in the country. I chatted about Canada’s beef system of grazing yearlings with a couple of guys from France. I had a quick catch up with Carrie Mess (Dairy Carrie), who I have met at previous agvocate events. There were super interesting people everywhere you looked, and every one of them wanted to chat.

 

Through it all, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. I waited for the sales pitches to start, for the product pushes to shove. Unbelievably, they never came. Now don’t get me wrong, Alltech’s logo was EVERYWHERE. I mean, so burnt into my brain, I still see their orange A logo when I close my eyes. There was a lot of talk about Alltech’s overall direction, and their vision as a company, but zero product push. It was refreshing to allow myself to be inspired by the speakers, without a twist to make the talk fit a specific product.

Beyond their brand recognition, every day of the conference I was left with the impression that the singular goal of the week was to broaden our minds. While I understood  the marketing and sales push deep behind it, the overall message was very inspiring.

“One choice, one idea, one chance, can change your life. It’s choice, not chance, one choice to take that corridor. Help me and help each other to open those doors. If you share your ideas with others, they will conspire to make your dreams come to fruition. Turn on your light. Let’s do it together, but most of all let’s do it, and let’s do it NOW.

– Dr Pearse Lyons (Alltech’s Founder)

I will write more about the amazing speakers I was fortunate enough to listen to there, but to name a few: Alan Mulally (President of Ford), Captain James Lovell (NASA Astronaut, Captain of famous Apollo 13 flight), John Calipari (Head Coach of University of Kentucky Men’s Basketball Team) and Steve Wozniak (C0-Founder of Apple).

Jealous yet? You should be! Add in an afternoon at a Steeplechase horse race, touring the Kentucky countryside, and tastings at Alltech’s brewery and distillery, and you get one heck of a great week. Beyond the occasional negative comment on “chemical heavy agriculture” or “antibiotic over-use”, where I had to work really hard to bite my tongue and choose to see the bigger picture (because they was a pretty great bigger picture to see), the week was miles beyond my expectations. I highly recommend you add it to your “some day” list.

Whether you are a farmer (of any kind), work in agriculture, or blog – there is something for you here. Alltech puts together a tour group every year of Canadians who want to join in the fun. And let me tell you, fun will be had!!

 

 

 

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