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Don’t Be a Dinosaur

One of the recurring themes at this week’s Food Marketing Institute Future Connect leadership development conference is the concept that leaders have to be open-minded in many ways, from embracing diversity to changing job roles to accepting new technologies.

Malcolm Calhoun, director of marketing for Calhoun Food Markets, a small family-owned chain in Alabama, told a story about how he was once asked by his father – who is his boss – to go run a warehouse for the company, even though it was not something he was trained to do or had any experience at.

“I welcomed the opportunity,” he said. “I suggest everyone be willing to accept unpredictable challenges,” and deviate from the career path that they might think they are on.

Getting a broad range of experience is also helpful in moving up the company ladder, other panelists agreed.

Staying on top of the emerging trends among both consumers and workers is also important, panelists said, especially when it comes to technology-driven media like portable devices, Facebook and Twitter.

As Don McGeorge, the soon-to-be retired president of Kroger Co., Cincinnati, put it, “Us dinosaurs have to be willing to learn. I don’t tweet, but I am going to learn.”