Tuesday 25 October 2016

Value your education: basically it's an investment in yourself

Do what makes your heart sing… and avoid energy vampires, advises Dr Pearse Lyons, founder and president of global animal health company, Alltech

Published 09/08/2015 | 02:30

Dr Pearse Lyons has turned straw into gold more than once, and plans to keep on doing so
Dr Pearse Lyons has turned straw into gold more than once, and plans to keep on doing so

The definition of profit for me is a return on risk. Producing innovative solutions form the foundation to the success we have gained with Alltech, a company I formed with just $10,000 in my pocket.

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When I announced to my mum I was going out on my own in my early 30s, with a young family of two children, her comment was not "be careful", not "are you sure" - but simply "what took you so long?"

When I make new contacts in business, I always advise them to surround themselves with people who are positive and who celebrate success. In fact, I have a term for negative people - energy vampires!

And the basic message is to avoid the energy vampires in life - don't listen to "no it cannot be done". Instead, surround yourself with passionate "can-do" people.

Find a purpose, something you are passionate about, and do what makes your heart sing.

When you have a "why", you will find a "how" with energy and passion to succeed in your endeavour.

In business, it is important to have frustration in your blood. Get out of your comfort zone and don't be afraid to make mistakes. I have made a few mistakes in my life - but often they are due to the fact that I listened to those "energy vampires", as I call them.

The tragedy in life is having a goal you can achieve. Goals need to be tough!

At Alltech, we have a goal to feed the world. For me, farmers are the single most important group of entrepreneurs - think about it - they produce the food on our tables.

My job, Alltech's job, is to support them. Our mission is to improve the health and performance of people, animals and plants through natural nutrition and scientific innovation. We do this by adding nutritional value naturally through our innovative use of yeast fermentation, enzyme technology, algae and nutrigenomics.

By the year 2100, our planet will be home to 11 billion people, which is approximately four billion extra mouths to feed three times a day, every day. Is this a crisis? I believe it's an opportunity!

I consider myself a rebel in the business world. I've always liked to take a different path. On that theme, recently Alltech hosted the REBELation international conference in Kentucky and attracted more than 3,000 attendees from 68 countries around the world. The premise of REBELation was to explore innovation, inspiration and world-changing ideas.

We challenged the audience to "never say never" and look beyond the obvious.

As an entrepreneur, I always look to the future. Forward thinking is essential in business and at Alltech one of the key targets we have for growth is to reach $10bn in sales. We are already pushing toward $2bn with our recent acquisition in North America, welcoming Ridley Inc to the Alltech family.

Acquisitions are strategic and deliberate for us, the result of months, even years, of due diligence, and we believe each one is integral to furthering our mission of cultivating efficiency, profitability and sustainability in the global food chain.

The future also is about harnessing the collective power of the younger generation and we do this by ensuring education is at the heart of what we do. My daughter, Dr Aoife Lyons, has created the Alltech Career Development Programme. The aim of this programme is to inspire and foster international graduates from a diverse range of cultural and academic backgrounds.

Young people are a reflection of the talent and potential that Ireland has to offer. Value your education; remember you are investing in yourself!

My challenge to you is to see the world as it is. Are you impacting the world or is the world impacting you?

It is all about risk, action and reward. At the same time, you've got to love the journey. To quote the late Senator Edward Kennedy: "The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die."

That's what this is about. What's your dream? Where are you going?

Dr Pearse Lyons is founder and president of Kentucky-based Alltech, a global animal health and nutrition company that is centred on innovation, research and development

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