ANLA; Mgmt Clinic, A Stick in my Side

Whispering Crane Institute chopThere he was, sitting dead center-left side of the aisle in the very front row. The absolute maximum exposure spot to get the Presenter’s attention . . . the perfect spot.

Green Waste

The talk was on turning Green Waste into a positive, the speaker was from a German company GaLaBau Energy(BIOFerm), and sponsored by the ELCA(European Landscape Contractors Assoc.).

GaLaBau; as it became very clear to me, has gotten it together and come up with a terrific way to process all this waste material and turn it into usable fuel or electric energy . . . real cutting edge business.

Anyway, all of us go to thes conferences to learn, adapt, become smarter(I hope), be the guy back home who’s on the cutting edge . . . so we attend lectures, take notes, and ask questions.

Ask Questions

Look, I do some speaking and I think it’s great when attendee’s ask questions, search for more info, challenge some information considered more philosophical or opinion based than factual based.

When the audience member starts to inject their agenda, their philosophy, their local problems . . . that audience member crosses over a line. It becomes about them and not the presenter.

We do not spend over $1,000 dollars and 3-4 days of our time to hear about zoning regulations and “why this won’t work in my town in Illinois, blah, blah, blah . . .”  We do come to hear about cutting edge knowledge, ideas and possibilities.

Shooting ’em down

So what happened? Around the 4th time or so when the audience heard something to the effect that this plant wouldn’t fly in “Somewhere, Illinois” because . . . bah, blah, blah.

I said loud enough from him to hear

Dude! we do not ‘care/need’ to know how you do it in Illinois. We ‘re here to hear the talk.

Or something very, very close to that.

Reaction time

So a few in the crowd chuckled, or smiled back at me, or just lowered the head momentarily. and Mr. Huber rolled on completely non-pulsed by the comment. The fellow from Illinois remained quiet for the rest of the talk.

Upon completion of the talk some in the crowd who knew me came over.

Rick you really shut that guy down.


Wow, you were pretty hard on that guy . . .


I expected nothing less, did he say anything to you?


Well you must not like anyone from Illinois.

The guy who was making all the remarks did not look my way, nor did he say anything. Nothing else was said by anyone else, case closed.

Well, maybe not

Later I am walking through somewhere down a hall and someone who wasn’t even there walks up and says.

Hey, I heard you were pretty hard on some guy in the Green Waste talk, people are saying you really shut him down.

Yesterday morning, the last day of the conference, someone who I have known a long time, says to me.

Now Rick as your friend I just want to tell you to watch out because it’s getting around about how hard you were on a guy yesterday, and it’s not in a good way.

I just thought I’d let you know some folks are not happy and talking pretty negative about the way you were.

So there you have it. I spent 4 days of my time, over a $1,000.00 bucks to attend the Clinic and instead of listening to a guy bemoan, belly-ache, and whine about his zoning problems by telling him to can it . . . I am now the bad guy

. . . I need to be quiet(those of you that personally know me, know this is a impossibility).

My reaction,

Well guess what? I am not sorry, I would do it again. There’s a line and he went over it.

I cannot help if his feelings are hurt . . . maybe if we went back to winners and losers, keeping score, giving trophies only to winners and passing/failing people. The stick in my side could have taken it like a man, and there wouldn’t be such shock by my remark.

Will this hurt me down the road: as far as being hired to speak, at the Clinic in the future? I don’t know, heck this post may become part of the equation. But I do not regret what I said.

I do not take it back, nor do I wish I had just thought it rather than say it. Mr. Huber was delivering some great information, his company has great ideas, great goals . . . lofty ambitions to taking care of a very big problem . . . give me that any day over a lamenter in the crowd.

I love the ANLA Mgmt Clinic, it’s the best Conference in the industry and I will continue to attend, though I may be done as a speaker-I don’t know.

More about the clinic and some great info on sustainability, rain-water gardens, invasive vs non-native, and some final thoughts all yet to come.

All very postive events/talks/ideas.

By Rick Anderson

The Whispering Crane Institute was originally formed to act as the umbrella organization for the Philosophy of Design Symposium, and other seminars and workshops given by Rick Anderson and Richard L. Dube’. In the year 2000 WCI became a sole proprietorship owned by Rick Anderson. Today the WCI provides design and consultation services for Landscape Contractors, acts as a Green Industry think tank, and provides training for others in the form of workshops, seminars, and individual consulting. The WCI also provides written material, opinions, case-studies and how-to articles for industry trade magazines.


  1. Rick: I give a lot of talks. Every now and then, there is one person in the audience who tries to dominate. Mostly, like you, I love the give and take. Seems like this case was not that collaborative.

    I look forward to reading more about what you did learn.

    At a conference on connecting sustainability to spirituality, sponsored by an order of nuns here in Mankato last fall, a fellow was presenting with me. He covered remodeling issues. I was focusing on how to save energy and build sustainable landscapes that also support us spiritually. This other fellow had just invested in technology similar to what your presenter was describing. Instead of taking his wood waste to the land fill, he invested in equipment that pelletilizes it for wood stoves that have an automatic auger feeder.

    Thanks Doug, always look forward to hearing from you, I will have more especially on “rain gardens”

  2. Rick,
    I am that guy. I was actually invited by BioFerm, because of my Q and A with Karl Hubert, to open up a forum in Illinois to develop the concepts with them. So what you mistake for me interjecting comments and questions about Illinois, the engineer from the firm took as an interest in his company and wants to take it a step further. Be careful about who you try to shout down (which many people saw you do in not only this session but also in the swap shop and a couple of other sessions) you might be squashing a great idea that someone else has an interest in. I am trying to develop a business in this field directly related to this concept. My questions may have been direct, but for me they were things that I have had many questions for more than 6 mos about and BioFerm has decided to work with me on them. The only stupid question is the one not asked and the only dumb thing that happened in all of these sessions was you not allowing different folks to ask their questions which goes against the mantra of the ANLA management clinic: EDUCATION. Had I not asked my questions and interacted with Karl, I would have never had the opportunity to meet with their COO at my office in Illinois on Thursday. Don’t ever tell someone that they can’t ask questions, it stunts growth of that individual and company. Good Luck with your company.

    1. I find it rather interesting that you take yourself out of the realm of an anonymous person ans bring yourself to the forefront of the discussion.

      Just as you did in Louisville.

      While I am sure many folks are happy with your further discussions with BioFerm and looking at great opportunity . . . a 1 hour lecture is not the time or place to interview a company, it’s engineer, or lament your zoning issues.

      As you say

      Had I not asked my questions and interacted with Karl, I would have never had the opportunity to meet with their COO at my office in Illinois on Thursday.

      Which you did, the time and place for interaction is is time spent with the lecturer at the end of his allotted time . . . to lecture. A question or so, no problem . . . but interaction-your word. Again we don’t need/care/want to hear about your zoning issues.

      One other thing which I noticed you (emphasized) for emphasis. I hope this was to make you feel better in some way or deflect the real issue, or to add some ammo to your version of events, that you so needed to bring yourself out of anonymity into the public light.

      (which many people saw you do in not only this session but also in the swap shop and a couple of other sessions)

      I can only chuckle at this attempt.

      if your point in posting a reply on my blog was to embarrass me somehow you are mistaken, nor am I of mind to change my opinion on what happened during the BioFerm lecture.

      I could delete this but . . on the whole it seems like so much fun I am leaving your reply.

      While I still do not understand your need to make this a public issue for you, and feel the need to defend yourself on here, I hope you felt better typing all that out.

      If you have anything further to discuss please feel free to e-mail me or heck, call me . . . I am not hard to find.

      In closing upon reading your reply again to make sure I understand correctly you’re interested in business in this field, working with this company, save the interview and fact-finding for private time.
      We hope your company finds a solution to your green waste and makes Illinois a safer place to live.

      1. Sounds like Illinois decided the lecture was a private lesson. It was inappropriate and the speaker should’ve suggested that he (Illinois) hold his specific questions until after the lecture. The speaker should’ve taken control so that you (Rick) didn’t have to. Ciao

        1. The lecturer taking control would have happened in most cases with a; “I’ll be glad to take up all your specifics after the lecture”. I think there might have been a slight language barrier there. I also heard the next day that he had not been feeling well.

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