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  • Writer's pictureChuck Cusumano

Lessons in Blueberries

By Chuck Cusumano and Jillian Broaddus

The passing of Memorial Day means a few things in our neck of the woods in Georgia... For one, it's the unofficial start of summer. (Okay, maybe that's true everywhere, but we definitely FEEL it.) For another, kids are off from school, which means it's time for vacations, lighter traffic, and plenty of pool days. And, finally, it's blueberry season!

In our season of harvesting, we learned a few lessons whose effects go far beyond the garden. Here they are:

  1. Pick early to beat the birds – It is important to get an early start in almost all things. Sometimes, just getting there before everyone else is all that it takes to be successful in life!

  2. The harvest comes in waves - If you are patient, there will be plenty of berries all season long – if picked correctly. Pick the most ripe and mature ones, leaving the almost-ripe ones for later. The plant will then use its resources to ripen a few more. Similarly, sometimes we get greedy and take too much from our employees and customers.

  3. The best blueberries will fall off the bush – When the berry is ready, it will almost fall off in your hand. Just as in life, sometimes we rush the process when developing relationships, leaders, or growing our business. You will know when the time is right if you learn to know what to look for.

  4. Take a few steps back and relook at the bush – You will see where you missed or over-picked the bush because it is relative to the rest of the blueberries. This is the same when recruiting talent, negotiating a contract, evaluating compensation, or pushing your organization to change or move forward!

  5. It is a 100% guarantee that looking at the bush from different angles always reveals more – There are more mature blueberries that could not be seen until we viewed the bush from a different angle. The leaves, branches, and other developing blueberries will block your view of the more ripe and mature berries. Taking a short break from what you are doing can allow you to see the whole picture. Wait an hour or two before you hit send on that tersely worded email or take a few deep breaths before responding in a conversation that has become highly emotional. Sometimes, looking at your idea or business from an opposing viewpoint will reveal the solution.

  6. Different bushes (varieties in this case) look and taste different from each other – But if we do not pay attention, we will get the bushes confused and think that the berries are all the same! Different varieties of blueberries are ready at different color stages and sizes. At first they may look alike, but make no mistake – they are all not the same. Some are ready when they are small and more purple-looking, while others grow right through that stage and will not be ready until they are larger and deep blue. It is important to not judge the book by the cover. It is so easy to become conditioned that if it looks like something and acts like something, then it must be something! Sometimes, we must take risks; when we only have a limited amount of time to verify our assumptions, look for tell-tale signs that what you are dealing with is really what you are dealing with!

  7. If we care for the blueberry bush, the blueberry bush will take great care of us – We are reaping the harvest from the bush. But if we have been sowing, then it is natural to have a plentiful harvest. It is the same with a business, a friendship, a customer, or an employee. There are really just two ways to get value from all of these things: First, we can take value from them and, over time, the thing will be valueless, or we can invest in these things and, over time, the abundance will produce excess value that we can have and is sustainable! Your friends, customers, employees, and your business all know if you are extracting or investing in the relationship!

  8. We should always leave some ripe blueberries for the birds because there will always be enough for both of us if we work together – The birds and other animals help to spread the seeds so more blueberry bushes grow in other places. This allows for better pollination, diversity, and abundance. If we take too much and do not allow investment in the future, then we end the possibility of more of what we need and want. How many times have we seen this happen when we have asked too much, too often from our best people? Took too much profit from the marketplace? Negotiated so hard that we created a win/lose for the other party? Ran our machines so hard without maintaining them that they broke down? Set some aside for the future and the future will always look bright!

  9. Enjoy the blueberry season and take great care to make the most of it, for we know it is just a season and that it is not designed to last all year long! Many times we try to stretch out something that was never designed to last that long. We are humans and too much of a good thing is usually not a good thing. We get bored. The product gets stale. We turn something that had scarcity into a commodity and wonder why we don’t need or like it anymore. Blueberries were designed for summer – not all year long! Look at what we did to the banana! Well, that is another story for another blog on another day!

If you want to grow blueberries in your backyard or you just need a little guidance on how to grow and harvest better customers, relationships, leaders, or a business, give us a shout at We promise you will have a green thumb in no time!



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