Monday, November 15, 2010

An 'Aggie' Experience at an Innovation Summit

This past Friday night and Saturday morning I was fortunate to be invited to attend & speak at the 2010 Innovation Summit, presented by Partners for Growth and Innovation. Thank you very much to Marla Schulman and Tanya Noel for allowing me to take part in this enjoyable experience.

Friday evening, in a small group setting, we engaged in a very informative discussion, led by Nilofer Merchant (, on applying strategic thinking and innovation. An insightful presentation and discussion. I then thoroughly enjoyed meeting and talking social media strategy, blogging and marketing with Christian Gammill (, and Liz Strauss (

Saturday morning, Naeem Zafar (Professor, Hass Business School, U.C. Berkeley, ) , delivered a keynote on Creating an Ecosystem of Innovation: Lessons from Silicon Valley. It was an enjoyable discussion with question and answer that followed.

I then participated as a panelist discussing Strategic Innovative Problem Definition – from where we are to where we have to be, with Sussan Thomas (President, Trainer Communications), Mark Kithcart, (Marketing Director, Democrasoft), Karolina Caran, (Motivational Researcher and Author), Omar Ahmad, (Co-Founder & CEO, SynCHEnergy Corporation) and Rooley Eliezerov, (Co-founder & President, Gigya), as the moderator.

It was interesting to see the correlations that agriculture shares with corporate America, yet still maintains its unique ability to stay grounded in family and inter-personal relationships with our customers.

A common theme among the panelists was the idea of “failing forward fast” and how society has come to view “failure” positively, since we have the ability to learn from our mistakes. Omar helped me to realize again how thankful I am that we have corporations in agriculture that are able to engage in this philosophy in order for family farmers and ranchers to take advantage and incorporate the resulting innovations.

Following the panel, a great presentation was delivered by Jeremiah Owyang, a partner at Altimeter Group( , on how corporations connect with their customer using web technologies. It was interesting to recognize that AgChat Foundation and efforts within agriculture are ahead of the curve in this arena by utilizing a combination of the ‘Dandelion’ and ‘Holistic’ strategy model.

Sadly, I had to head home early. The cattle and horses were eagerly awaiting their feed and my neighbors were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.

I look forward to continuing discussions with those that I met at the summit. It was a tremendous learning experience and I eagerly await the next.


  1. Sounds like a terrific and informative conference! Thanks for all you do with helping to build the social media ag community, Jeff. ~nancy

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed being on the panel with you Jeff. You brought a different but parallel viewpoint and definitely kept the panel "Real".

    Hope to participate with you again in the future.

    Mark Kithcart


About Me

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Jeff Fowle is a fourth generation family farmer and rancher from Etna, California. He and his wife Erin and son Kyle raise registered Angus cattle, Percheron draft horses, warmbloods, alfalfa and alfalfa-grass hay. They also start and train horses for riding, jumping, and driving. Their family run ranch has incorporated many environmentally beneficial and water efficient technologies and management strategies. Jeff attended college at Colorado State University for two years and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for four and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science. Following college, he worked in Washington State for a year as a herdsman for BB Cattle Company and then returned to Etna, California in 1995 to own and operate KK Bar Ranch and Siskiyou Percherons. The latter was started by his grandfather, Clarence Dudley, who devoted much of his time to the Percheron Horse Association of America, specifically to developing their youth education program.