Farmer or Hunter? Environmental Influences.

It has often been said that business relationships ought to be nurtured based on a “farming” approach instead of a “hunting” approach. I was wondering how much our environment influences our decisions in that regard? Would an environment that actively encourages agriculture tend to generate more of a “farming” mindset? What if the environment is “unfriendly” to agriculture? Would it then tend to generate a “hunter” mindset? Perhaps business people who grew up in countries with environments and climates that are “unfriendly” to agriculture have more of a “hunter” mentality when it comes to building business relationships. What do you think?

CamelWhen we were in Mongolia, we noticed that, although the environment is not friendly to farming in that the growing season is usually too short for most crops, different people, usually foreigners like Americans and Koreans, came up with clever ways to get around this. Many Koreans actually invested in greenhouses where vegetables were grown. An American family we know used to grow pumpkins INSIDE their house, then transplant them outside when it grew warmer. Others tried to grow crops that had short seed-to-harvest periods. However, by and large, most Mongolians did not bother. Even those with livestock usually did not bother to take care of their sheep, goats or cattle. If a cow died, they had beef. If the cow survived, they had milk. Simple measures like harvesting the really lush grass in late summer for hay throughout the long, cold winter months were not taken. Many Mongolians remain poor, the short tourist season not really being able to attract the foreign cash inflow they need.

Arava desertIn the Arava desert, which gets only 30mm of rainfall a year, farming communities produce 60% of Israel’s fresh vegetable exports, 10% of cut flower exports, and there are 18 ornamental fish farms in the Arava desert. Is it the environment?

I wonder how much of a “farming” mindset we have in Singapore versus a “hunting” mindset where business relationships, and all business dealings eventually, if you care to extrapolate, will either thrive or shrivel in ruinous total war. Our famous orchid exports have actually halved over the last ten years, and generally Singaporeans have no mindset for farming. Does that tell us something? My conclusion is that having either a “farming” or a “hunting” mindset has little to do with the environment, unless you happen to be an Inuit who is really acquainted with this mythical figure called Santa Claus.

So, what’s YOUR mindset? And if you’re one of those who have a “farming” mindset, lives on 10,000 acres of land and has a managed forest where you hunt deer on the odd occasion, give me a buzz, I’d like to get to know you a little better!

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