Guy’s news: Don’t want to be like Donald

Happy new year; I hope you return to your kitchen well fed, rested and ready to embrace the challenges of the year ahead. For us, 2018 will mark 31 years of growing organic veg, 25 years of delivering them in veg boxes and, in May, the year Riverford becomes employee owned. As the clock ticks down to the big day, the challenge is not so much the legalities, the money or the governance but developing the culture, communication and maturity needed to transition from maverick-led to getting the best out of everyone.

I have met a lot of fellow founders and entrepreneurs. Like me they are typically impetuous, restless misfits who charge through life leaving havoc behind, driven on by a powerful mixture of arrogance and an insatiable need to prove themselves. Donald Trump’s election is a mark of the esteem reserved for entrepreneurs; they can achieve the extraordinary, but often at high cost to
themselves and those around them. The benefits they bring can outweigh the costs in a young, rapidly evolving organisation, but as the need for systems and consistency grows, such leaders can do more harm than good and it’s time for a more consultative approach. If I needed any added motivation to change how Riverford is led, watching the world’s most famous entrepreneur-turned-president floundering around like an overgrown baby, making his own rules while insulting or sacking anyone who challenges him, has provided it.

Maintaining Riverford’s inherent dynamism and youthful excitement while developing the skills to agree and share values and behaviours, and then work collectively towards achieving them, is not easy. Nurturing people and culture in this way makes growing organic vegetables seem easy, as at least you can be fairly sure they will be where you left them; a working culture can shift and slip
through your hands just as you are getting the measure of it. It is a journey which will last as long as Riverford does, but after taking the first tentative steps, all doubt is gone. Trump may dream of wealth and the power to crush anyone in the way; I dream of giving hope that there is another way, where we welcome diversity and help each other to be the best possible version of ourselves.

Guy Singh-Watson

29 responses to “Guy’s news: Don’t want to be like Donald

  1. Christopher Elletson

    Hashtag: Sad

  2. The very best of luck with this next step on the Riverford road.

  3. Guy, you are all doing a grand job! We bough some French beans from M&S , for Xmas dinner. Big mistake! They were wet when unwrapped, and lasted til a day later. Then we binned half of them. Sorry rant over. Riverford has almost never let me down! We are looking forward to the next riverford delivery. Thankyou Riverford .

  4. Had a great Riverford christmas…everything delicious -Thank you!
    Keep on keeping on Guy and co

  5. Think a big difference between you and Donald is mindfulness, or the lack of it in his case. Discovering Riverford has been instrumental in changing the way I live and I can’t thank you enough. Wishing you and the Riverford staff all the best for the future.

  6. Bravo and a a very happy and healthy 2018 to you and yours and all the
    Workers everywhere.

    All the best, Hilary

  7. Well done to Guy and all on the road so far travelled. The shift from charismatic leadership to other forms to help organisations evolve is always a tricky one. With mutual respect and positivism I know you will make the necessary changes to plan for the future.

    Happy New Year to all at Riverford, all the farms, all the lovely smiling delivery staff and everyone else involved!

  8. I just hope it doesn’t change what I’m able to buy and the quality of it. Sorry if it sounds negative but invariably I find that change isnt good.

  9. Keep it up Guy, we love Riverford veg!

  10. namaste Guy!

  11. Yes, everyone at Riverford deserves thanks for our excellent Christmas boxes, and I would like to say that my Riverford Christmas pudding was simply brilliant. And the developments in 2018 so nicely described in this newsletter sound very positive. Keep going Guy, you are appreciated!

  12. Thankyou Guy and the whole Riverford team for one amazing service.
    We have been customers since 2003 and are gobsmacked by the many innovations in that time. Wishing you all the best in the next part of your journey.

  13. I wish you all the best for your venture. Being directly involved in how the company is run will take some getting used to, but ultimately mean more work satisfaction.
    Many thanks for the free popping corn by the way! It’s a great hit, and I will buy it, if you offer it for sale.

  14. Thank you, Guy for your very thoughtful and eloquently written newsletter. My sentiments exactly! May I wish you and all the Riverford staff a Happy New Year and say thank you for all the hard work that results in the delicious box of fruit and vegetables that I look forward to receiving each week.

  15. Not sure why your views about Donald Trump are relevant to the Riverford customers.

  16. Vivienne Cruickshank

    I also can’t see why Trump is in the headline or indeed diversity.

  17. Good luck Guy and team for 2018, and thank you for the beautiful vegetables. I have been growing organic vegetables for about 47 years, when going organic was considered very cranky and strange, I even had to drive miles in those days to find free range eggs for my children. We lived in London then, but I feel exonerated these days. I still grow lots of veg, but am not always successful so that’s where Riverford comes in. How I love your muddy parsnips! I top up at the Farm Shop with fruits etc. it’s good to know that everything is organic. Our Christmas meats were delicious too. Long may you reign!

  18. Why Trump? As a Riverford customer I would say that it is hard not to notice Trump’s unhelpful leadership. I would rather not think about him but day after day he does something upsetting that makes me despair. As a nature lover e.g. the fact that he does not accept climate change is worrying. Yes, a different kind of leadership for Riverford is good.
    In a more positive note: the Christmas veggies etc were great! Many thanks!

  19. Employee ownership sounds the right thing to do, however, in your modesty, don’t underestimate the power of the part you play and make sure you keep sprinkling on the fairy dust where it makes a difference 🙂

  20. I would suggest that Trump has been used as an excellent example of poor leadership, unlike that which has been shown consistently over many years by Guy Watson. Riverford cannot stand still and Guy won’t be around for ever – Employee ownership may be the best way of avoiding the soul selling that took place at both Abel & Cole and Green & Blacks.
    Christmas from Riverford didn’t disappoint – an absolutely superb turkey, great veg (as always), lovely cheeses & wines. Here’s to 2018 and another successful year for Riverford!

  21. Adrienne Pentland

    Best Christmas dinner ever, thank you so much for all the hard work and thought that goes into our Riverford food. Our small dinner box took all the strain out of stocking up. Everything there we could want, and of course it was all delicious.
    A Happy and Prosperous 2018 to all at Riverford

  22. Bravo Riverford!! Please keep up the good work AND THE BLOG!!!

  23. Very many thanks to all the team. Wishing you continuing success and team building in the future. A VERY HAPPY AND HEALTHY NEW YEAR. Margaret

  24. Guy
    Your news never fails to move me.
    Please keep up the good work and all the best for the New Year

  25. Authentic is a much over-used term, but it really does apply to you Guy, and to the Riverford team. I am sure the change you are making will be challenging, but I have confidence that you will all make it a success. I love being a Riverford customer – your blogs make me feel part of Riverford, not just someone who buys things and pays money. Please keep on with the blog, and keep us all involved.
    Best wishes to you all.

  26. Hi Guy, it sounds like a great step you’re about to take. Let me know if I can help in any way. I am both a Riverford customer and an executive coach who works with leaders to help them be more successful.

  27. I’m surprised more people haven’t commented who disagree with this. Guy isn’t a politician, nor does he seem to have a grasp on what the majority in Britain think or believe.

    He’s decided to unleash what is NOT an expertise into politics when he should stick to what his expertise is in… growing organic vegetables.

    His comments about President Trump show he only listens to the main stream media talking points and not anything even remotely realistic. 

    The Brexit vote here in the UK had the LARGEST voter turnout in United Kingdom history. The MAJORITY voted for Brexit. Those voters share the same values that those patriots in the US hold and President Trump shares.

    In the future, I would hope that Guy would learn that people are not looking for his opinions on politics and his would best be kept to himself.

    We don’t even care if Guy has a differing opinion to us, it is when he decided to make public statements that disparage and denigrate those of us who support Brexit and President Donald J. Trump that it became a personal insult to his customers.

    • Hello, as a fellow Riverford purchaser and Brexit supporter I support your view in that people often speak on feeds and newspapers etc as if everyone really voted to Remain (or at least the intelligent ones!) when in fact the majority who bothered to vote chose to Leave. I’m sure there are many people who support local growers and want good quality veg who also voted Leave. I’d hate to think that choosing such food made me part of some quasi political ‘club’. I support the American people in choosing whoever they think is best to lead their country at this time. Guy, like everyone, is entitled to their opinion, and maybe Mr Trump isn’t every entrepreneur’s model, so I accepted Guy’s comments on that level.

      • I have learnt two things from these latest replies to Guy’s Blog:

        1) There are people in the UK who support President Trump and
        2) Voting Brexit seems to go hand-in-hand with supporting Trump.

        Well, I didn’t know that.

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