April 2017
Co-op Matters

Leading Through Change

Keynote address at AFC’s 80th annual meeting encouraged members, leaders to deal effectively with the inevitable.


Nate Booth delivered the keynote address to members at AFC’s annual meeting.

The ability to prepare for, respond to and capitalize on change is vital to the success of any organization or individual, said author and speaker Nate Booth, who opened AFC’s membership meeting with a keynote address about how to effectively handle change.

Booth himself is no stranger to change. A former dentist, he made a major career modification when he chose to go back to school for a master’s degree in counseling after years of medical practice. Since then, he has spoken to hundreds of organizations and hundreds of thousands of individuals on strategies for dealing with – and benefitting from – change.

Following on the heels of a year filled with changes for AFC – from Bonnie Plants’ partnership with ScottsMiracle-Gro to the construction and expansion of facilities to the loss of long-time leaders and friends – Booth’s address was timely and encouraging for AFC members and leaders alike.

"Farmers had a very challenging year in 2016," said Chairman of AFC’s Board Mike Tate. "One thing we can learn from it is that we need to not only anticipate change but also appreciate it."


Approaching Change

"I got my master’s degree in counseling because I wanted to know how to help individuals who are doing well to do even better," Booth explained at the outset of his address.

In the years since, he determined to learn how these individuals dealt with the inevitable ups and downs of life and career. Through decades of work with countless individuals and organizations, Booth noticed six approaches to change – three negative and three positive. He urged listeners to develop the skills necessary to approach change positively, by reacting to, anticipating or creating it.

In reacting to change, Booth explained, one can be quick or slow. Regardless, chances are good that this approach will result in the individual – or organization – suffering a fall, but that’s better than avoiding, passively observing or fighting change.

Better still, individuals can learn to anticipate change, affording themselves the luxury of choosing to alter their course even before it is necessary to do so.

"Pay attention to the news items that are not on the front page," he urged. "These are the trends that will soon make waves."

These are ones that AFC leaders must help identify from a distance, just as a surfer begins paddling long before a big wave arrives.

According to Booth, the best way to approach change is to create it, forcing others to respond. Sharing the example of Apple, the world’s top tech company, he encouraged AFC members and leaders to imagine ways they can drive industry changes instead of being driven by them.


Finding Opportunity in Change

Regardless of the timing or nature of any change, Booth reminded meeting attendees that all changes have one silver lining in common: opportunity.

"Changes happen on purpose to teach us lessons," he explained. "It is up to us to figure those lessons out."

He encouraged AFC members and leaders to use every change to some advantage and to enjoy the journey through a constantly changing world.

"The last step in all change is a beginning," Booth asserted. "Celebrate your wins, big or small. Inevitably, change will come again, and you must be ready to approach it with strategy and passion."


Nate Booth holds both a doctor of dental surgery and a master’s degree in counseling from the University of Nebraska. He spent a decade working closely with well-known businessman, speaker and success coach Tony Robbins before following in Robbins’ footsteps to become an author and speaker himself. Booth has presented more than 1,600 workshops and training programs around the world and is author of nine books.


Mary Catherine Gaston is a freelance writer from Auburn.