On Friday March 15th we had the pleasure of listening and interacting with Joel Nelsen in our Ag Leadership class. Joel Nelsen is the Chief Executive Officer of California Citrus Mutual in February 1982, where he then later gained the position of CEO for California Citrus Mutual. Joel’s position requires him to travel to such power houses as Sacramento and Washington D.C. Joel has even traveled to various nations to address the issues and help fix minor and major problems within the Citrus business within California. Mr. Nelsen attended Cal State University, Fullerton, with a B.A. in communications, and his communications skills showed while he was speaking to us.
During our time with Mr. Nelsen he did not make us feel like we were listening to him but that we were engaging with him. He started speaking with us at our table, right off the bat he came across as a very personable individual, he made it easy to stay engaged and stay interested. Though, Mr. Nelsen did speak a lot of California Citrus Mutual he also gave us a lot of great advice, he was the most inspiring and personable speaker we’ve had in my opinion. Mr. Nelsen began speaking to us by telling us that in our field, whatever it may be, we will be told no, and it isn’t the no’s that define you. This was an empowering statement to start off with, we all know that within any business there are hurdles, but Mr. Nelsen made sure that we understood that defeat is just a word, it does not describe you.
While we listened to Mr. Nelsen speak, he gave us an inspiring story of how he turned $1 into $10 million. When he first started all our ears perked up, as business students we thought this was an amazing accomplishment. Mr. Nelsen managed to receive a grant for the Citrus growers of California for $10 million dollars, as he stated, “this was one of my biggest wins,” yet before he was granted this money, he was told no. This was why Mr. Nelsen was such an inspiring speaker, he was shut down in Sacramento for his grant and even though he was told no Mr. Nelsen stared adversity in the face and fought for what he needed. As Mr. Nelsen stated, “hard work is the easy part,” which is a powerful statement, but everyone can work hard, it’s those who can work hard constantly, are the ones that make the difference.
It was a pleasure and an honor to listen and interact with Mr. Nelsen, he was truly an inspiring individual. As I reflected on his speech I feel as if I walked away with more drive and motivation, as if Mr. Nelsen had instilled a new mind set with each of us. It’s important to work hard, but it is the passionate ones who make a difference, Mr. Nelsen made it very clear that he wasn’t in it for the money, but to help the Citrus growers of California. Along with passion Mr. Nelsen stated that you need to know when to ask for help because you can’t do everything alone, which in my opinion is a great motto, such as our Ag Leadership class, we operate in a cohort. Without each other we cannot grow, we cannot prosper, and we can’t know when we need to be corrected, as a cohort we learn from each other and operate more efficiently.
I can truly say that Mr. Nelsen made an impact on our class and has given each member of Ag Leadership a new mindset on life and business. Passion should be the drive, not money, I speak for my class when I say Joel Nelsen is a magnificent individual with valuable insight within the Agricultural field and within life.