Up, up, and away!
I can’t believe it: my last President’s message. What a year! It went so fast, I can’t believe it’s actually almost over. It seems like just yesterday that Dr John Waddell was twisting my arm in a bar in St Paul to run for the office of vice president. Well, John, thanks for applying that extra bit of pressure, because I have truly benefited from this experience in so many ways that I never expected. I feel that I have grown as a person, developed a broader vision, and learned so much from so many. Here are just a few examples.
I have come to understand the necessity of transparency
When I was elected vice president, I received a lesson from Dr Steve Henry on the importance of transparency and the need to disclose potential conflicts of interest. Steve taught me that as an elected official, when I spoke to the membership, I needed to state my sources of research funds, consulting arrangements, etc, to build the highest level of trust possible. He explained that when people have the facts, they can develop opinions that are based on information, not misinformation. While it felt a little awkward at first (it’s kind of like dropping your pants in public, if you catch my drift), I have come to enjoy acknowledging my sources of support, and the feedback from members and sponsors has been very positive. I am also pleased to see others adopting this practice.
I have come to understand the value of taking the high road
One of the best things about being an AASV officer is the opportunity (and privilege) to work closely with Dr Tom Burkgren, our executive director. I have learned a great deal from watching, listening to, and conversing with Tom over the years. I have always respected Tom for his ability to “take the high road” at all times. In other words, to maintain a positive attitude, avoid “verbal bashing,” and seek to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. I readily admit that this was not one of my strengths when I took office, and I still can do better. However, as your president, I realized I needed to represent our organization in a professional manner, and this way of thinking adds a little luster to my verbal and written statements. Thanks, Tom, for leading by example.
I have come to understand the importance of patience
This was a tough one. If you know much about me, you realize that I always want things done yesterday! While this can be useful for rapid advancement in one’s career, it’s a double-edged sword when it comes to working with people. I quickly found out that if I was going to be an effective leader and team builder, I would have to come to the realization that I am not busier than any one else, and not everyone can afford to drop their current obligations to meet my demands. I realized I needed to understand people’s characteristics and traits, how they thought and prioritized. To assist me with this change of paradigm, I reviewed the lessons learned from the Myers-Briggs® training program that my wise old partner, Dr Rod Johnson, had us participate in back in Morris, Minnesota. Rod, I know I have said it before, but thanks for all the wisdom! As you can see, it made an impact.
I have come to understand the meaning of “from good to great”
Since I am writing this in January, I haven’t had the pleasure of listening to Dr Burkgren’s Howard Dunne lecture, nor have I read the book “Good to Great.1” However, ever since Dr Daryl Olsen proposed this theme for the 2007 annual meeting, I can see how it applies to our organization. We truly have grown and expanded our vision over the last few years, particularly our vision of how an organization adapts itself to new and difficult problems, such as PRRS and PCVAD. Besides dealing with the on-farm challenges, we have written a PRRS eradication position statement and a PCVAD case definition. We are building PRRS and PCVAD working groups within our membership and across the industry to manage these problems in new ways. We are being requested by scientific organizations such as PRRS Coordinated Agricultural Project (PRRS CAP) to provide input regarding how research funds will be allocated. We are partnering with industry to assist in the development and management of tools to better understand and manage the risk of PRRS at the regional level. We were even asked by National Pork Board to develop disease nomenclature (PCVAD instead of PMWS) to improve the public’s perception of pork. While we still have a lot to do, we are truly moving from good to great.
As you can see, I have truly benefited from the experience of being AASV president in ways I never dreamed possible. I would encourage all of you to consider running for AASV office. I am truly looking forward to my year as past president and beyond. I want to continue to be a part of the new initiatives that have come forward during the last few years, for there are truly exciting times ahead. To me, our road map to success has been plotted and the future is bright. Thanks to each and every one of you for taking the time to work with me, to educate me, and for allowing me to be your president. It’s an honor I will cherish for life.
1. Collins J. Good to Great. New York, New York: Harper Business; 2001.
-- Scott Dee