Tag Archives: Ken Singh

Save some for me!

Hafer_Kevin (2)By Kevin Hafer
Henkel Consumer Goods, Inc.

Class 30 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s Core Program. The views expressed here represent those of class members and not those of Scottsdale Leadership.

What do you think of when you hear the word “sustainability”?  Do you think of melting ice caps, super storms, or other effects of climate change?  How about political fights on Capitol Hill about pipelines, drilling, and carbon taxes?  Or maybe you think of hippies drinking vegan smoothies in a straw bale house with a composting toilet?  The truth is all of these are just tiny parts of the overall conversation on the broader topic of sustainability.

IMG_7587While there are countless definitions of the meaning of sustainability, the most widely accepted one is from the Brundtland Commission, which defined it as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”  For our sustainability day, Day Chairs Thomas Williams, Jeffery Maas, and Charlie Popeck were able to develop a highly informative and engaging program that demonstrated exceptional real-life examples of organizations and businesses in Scottsdale that are thriving by embracing sustainability as a core value.

Throughout the day, we heard from representatives of international architectural firms, transportation companies, Scottsdale’s water and waste departments, sustainability consultants, SRP, CAP and solar distributors.  Each presenter had excellent examples of how their businesses and the community are seeing tangible economic, social, and environmental impacts by focusing on sustainability.

One statistic on the benefits of sustainability really brought it home for me:  Every year, the state of Georgia estimates that it spends $100 million to dispose of $300 million worth of recyclable materials.  That means if they could get their residents to participate in recycling their waste, there would be a net windfall of $200 million to the state!  This is an excellent example of what is possible by embracing sustainability – there is not only the potential for a huge economic impact, but also an environmental one.

Sustainability is not only focused on conservation of resources and environmental impacts, but it is equally focused on economic and social impacts as well.  This is called the Triple-Bottom Line, and for the companies and communities that have been most successful at developing sustainability initiatives, all three of these areas have to be addressed.

IMG_7632While the entire day was captivating, the highlight was the tour to Singh Farms.  It was a real treat to be able to walk through the gardens and to talk with Ken Singh for a couple of hours.  I was blown away to find out that when he started the farm in 2003, there wasn’t a single tree and the entire plot was caliche.  With the help of his sons and his skills at nurturing the land, he was able to turn that desolate plot into some of the most verdant gardens in the valley.  Today, his farm serves as a shining example of sustainability in action – by embracing natural processes and avoiding chemical fertilizers and pesticides, he is able to produce extremely high quality, nutritious food without degrading the land.

While the title of this class was sustainability, in truth, everything we’ve experienced so far in our short time in Scottsdale Leadership has been about sustainability.  The theme of each class has been about sustaining Scottsdale as an excellent community and place to live.  As we continue on this journey in Scottsdale Leadership, we are all searching for ways to become better leaders in life and in the community, with the ultimate goal of making a difference and leaving as much as possible for the next generation, which is truly sustainability in action.

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Scottsdale Treasures and Leadership Stories

Prince_Madison CropBy Madison Prince
SRP

Class 29 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s Core Program. The views expressed here represent those of class members and not those of Scottsdale Leadership.

Initially I thought, history + bus tour = BORING. Little did I realize I would be anything but bored! Part of our journey in this program is to understand and develop our leadership style and this day really helped me identify the qualities I value in a leader. First and foremost it is PASSION! At each stop we heard stories of passion, vision and failure? YES failure (and lessons learned) is a big part of leadership and ultimately success!

The first inspiring leader of the day was Fred Unger. In his introduction, he said ” I like simple but simple doesn’t like me!” He told us how his vision for an urban downtown Scottsdale grew from his passion for making Old Town a great destination for everyone to work, live and visit. Though he encountered failure along the way, he has never given up. His vision is thriving today and can be seen by walking along the remarkable downtown waterfront and South Bridge, filled with residents, retail and restaurants. He sees some challenges ahead: how to keep the city vibrant, to keep media (like ESPN) coming back and to attract more businesses when every inch of buildable space is taken. Great leaders are problem solvers and he shared his future visions (and solutions) that gives Old Town residents like me goose bumps about what is to come!

talienin2The next stop was Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s living museum and a Scottsdale treasure I had never visited. He is from Wisconsin, the same as me, so I can appreciate the lure of a sunny Arizona oasis every winter! His passion was nature and this is reflected in his architecture. Taliesin means “shining brow” and describes his philosophy of building into nature. Best quote from the tour (said to his apprentices): Bring nature into your design; it will never let you down. He not only taught it, he lived it! The houses were constructed from rocks on the land, they used water from a natural spring and didn’t use electricity for many years. Apprentices attending the School of Architecture still live out in the desert in small shelters they design.

Los CedrosThe next stop was Los Cedros. This Scottsdale treasure is owned and developed by Miguel Sfeir as a result of his passion for citadel architecture and Arabian horses! Beauty can be seen from any vantage here: the outside views are spectacular, the intricate details of the design inside are remarkable and the horses are majestic. It’s a fun place to escape the city, while still being in the city.

SinghMy personal highlight of the day was Singh Farms and listening to Ken Singh’s story of passion. A commercial farmer for many years, he was most passionate about making money. It was later in life when he realized the importance of taking care of the earth, and this is his passion today. He said to us: In 50 years, the top soil will be eroded, making growing food difficult and if we don’t have food to eat, it doesn’t matter how much money you have! His organic farm is a model of responsible farming, and allows him to educate people about sustainability. It’s an important situation we (and future generations) will be facing and an issue I’m very passionate about!

The theme of the day was history but we also learned some interesting things about leadership. To be a great leader you must have passion but ACTION is what turns passion into reality. Taking action is not without sacrifice or failure and those who leave the biggest impact are seemingly not afraid of either. My biggest take away about leadership is that fear can be a limitation or a motivation, depending on how strong your passion is. Good things to think about!

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