S11:E1 Kicking off Centered On You
In the first episode of the 11th Field Points series, host Morgan Seger introduces the "Centered on You" video series, a project that celebrates communities through stories of perseverance, passion, and love of the land. The video series features customers throughout the trade territory and aims to share the story of agriculture. Seger's co-host, Aaron Sherman, the Art and Video Director at the Plaid Agency, shares behind-the-scenes insights into the video production process. The first video features Jeff Troike, CEO of Ceres Solutions, and the second video features the Davies family, an eighth-generation family farm. Watch the videos at centeredonyou.coop and listen to the full podcast episode here.
Morgan Seger (00:03):
Every day we rely on food, fuel, and fiber, but how much do you know about these industries we depend on? In this podcast, we dive deep into the production and processes of these everyday essentials. This is field points and original podcast production from Ceres Solutions. You're listening to the Field Points podcast. I'm your host, Morgan Seger. This is the first episode of our 11th series on the Field Points podcast, and in this series we will be sharing details about our centered on You video series. That Ceres Solutions started about a year and a half ago. This video series was designed to celebrate our communities through stories of perseverance, passion, and love of the land. It features several customers throughout the trade territory and really was designed to help share the story of agriculture. The team at Ceres Solutions partnered up with the plaid agency out of Indianapolis to bring these customer stories to life. Throughout this series, I'll be joined by my co-host Aaron Sherman. Aaron is the art and video Director at the Plaid Agency. What Aaron does throughout this podcast is kind of pull back the curtain and share all that happens behind the scenes to make these videos come to life. In each episode, I will play the audio from the video so you can listen along, but I also encourage you to go to centered u dot co-op to watch these videos. Now let's meet my co-host, Aaron.
Aaron Sherman (01:26):
My name is Aaron Sherman. I'm the art and video director at the Plaid Agency. Where're a marketing company up in Carmel, Indiana. I started working at Plaid about four years ago as a designer. Didn't really do a ton of video stuff at the time, but did a little bit of video editing. I had some previous experience with video at a different job, but hired 'em for more of a design role As I kept working there, essentially just got more and more video projects and just had a conversation with myself and our leadership team. I'm like, Hey, I really enjoy this stuff. Storytelling's always been a special place in my heart, which I originally wanted to be a Pixar animator when I was going to college, so I love stories, I love movies, video games that have long narratives to 'em. That's always been the stuff that I enjoy the most. So ended up leaning into that more and more and eventually transitioned over to this art and video director role. We met Ceres I think almost a couple years ago now, right? We had a little meeting in our boardroom and you guys came super prepared. By the way, I feel like this, it was uncommon you guys came with all these great ideas about here are going to be all the pillars that we want to cover and kind of the narratives we're going to be driving at, and so it could kind of all spawned from there,
Morgan Seger (02:38):
But I think even at that time we had no idea how you would be able to just take those stories that we know are happening and really bring them to life. Some of them were emotionally charged and you just did a great job really helping us share those stories in a really concise manner. So thank you so much for all that you have done to help bring this entire initiative to life.
Aaron Sherman (03:01):
Yeah, absolutely. I appreciate that. I think it's interesting too because we come in with narratives that we want to kind of go towards, but at the end of the day, these people are going to tell us their story in relation to that narrative, and so it might end up being a little different and that's totally fine. I think we've all, it's been great. The partnership that we've had together with, everyone's been super open to that and it's not been like, Hey, we got to really hammer down on this if it's been a slight kind of slightly off the beaten path, so to speak. So I think it's all in all centered on you extended on the customers, and it's felt like that even behind the scenes, which I think is really
Morgan Seger (03:38):
Great. Now we're going to dive in to the centered on You video Ceres, and Aaron is going to kick us off by talking about our initial video that featured Jeff Troike. He starts by describing what the day was like when he pulled up to a Ceres Solutions location for the first time. We
Aaron Sherman (03:53):
Got up there pretty early in the morning, wanted to get the sunrise. We probably got there too early, I'm being honest, but you got to get those sunrise shots and I think, I forget how the weather was like that day, but it was a really hazy morning, so the sun didn't pop as much as we wanted to, but that's video production. You just never know what the day is going to be like. You're walking into unfamiliar situations with the best laid plans. Sometimes it can change, so that's the other thing with video production, it's like especially when you're outside with all these farming shoots. Yeah, well, we got a couple dates lined up and then everything looks good and a week later there's a storm rolling in and it's raining, and we were up at the Lafayette branch and Jeff was obviously the focus of the video.
The idea for him being in the video was essentially to kind of kick off the centered on You campaign because he is such an important member of the community that is a really recognizable face. He's always out seeing these customers and member owners and other employees at the company that it would just be a really great idea to lead from the top down and put him out front with this message of the centered on You campaign, and I think that actually ended up working really well where a lot of people really excited about and being in the video and kind of kicking that off. We kind of wrangled in a few other people while we were there to fill in some space and shake some hands and walk around together. So that was really fun and everyone was super nice and accommodating, so I really appreciated that
Morgan Seger (05:23):
When you watch this video, the interactions feel very authentic and genuine. However, we know that these people have cameras pointed at them, so I asked Aaron how they were able to capture what we would expect to see in every day, but on film,
Aaron Sherman (05:39):
Oh, there's absolutely coaching going on, especially with, as I would call it a town hall shot where it's maybe multiple people kind of stacked together and you're kind of panning behind someone's shoulders and then maybe Jeff is the focus kind of in the middle background. They're like, well, what do we talk about? And then you're like, you can literally talk about whatever you want. It's B roll, whatever you guys want to do. I've heard saying the words watermelon, it looks like kind of a lot of different words and so you'll sometimes tell people who run out of stuff to say, you'll just say, you can literally say watermelon over and over again and just nod and smile. That works really great. Another bit of coaching advice I usually like to give too is just because some people feel really uncomfortable on camera and I'm sitting here too, I'm usually behind the camera, so if I was on camera I'd probably feel the same too, but nodding and smiling and kind of open body postures work really well where if someone's super nervous on camera, they tend to kind of close in and put their arms by their side or hands on their pockets and just kind of solely straight face look at people, but smiling and gestures, there's lots of coaching.
Morgan Seger (06:47):
Next, Aaron shares what he found most interesting and surprising about the day he spent recording our first video for the Centered On You Campaign.
Aaron Sherman (06:56):
It was really surprising to me how long he's worked in agriculture and just kind of sharing a little bit about his journey to where he was currently, he's just a very passionate person and just very genuine person and I'm not saying that that was surprising that he was very genuine, but I really love meeting people and I'm a very big people person and so getting to hear a little bit about his journey to where he is now and still seeing how connected he is where he's like the c e o of a large organization, but he's not this disconnected person where he's just kind of like, alright, let's film this and get it over with. He was like, do you guys have everything you need and very helpful for us throughout the day, and so that was just really nice.
Morgan Seger (07:38):
Now we're going to play for you the message from Jeff that kicked off the centered on You video series.
Video with Jeff Troike (07:48):
In the last few years, I've been reminded of the many blessings I've had of working in agriculture close to 40 years ago. I got the unlikely chance as a young man to become a manager of a small co-op branch. My location served the needs of dozens of farmers in that area, which I learned a lot from. Instead of being a farmer, I would work beside farmers every day supporting their success would be my career. The farmers and customers of serious solutions have navigated these decades and continue to navigate. Like Hebrews, I've seen it and I've witnessed it. You raise a crop, you raise a family, build a business, you protect the land, air, and water, and you produce the food, fuel and fiber that not only feeds us but feeds the, and you pass out a legacy and values that richly bless that little farm boy or farm girl who's coming up to after you, they're watching you and they're learning from you. The story of local agriculture is quite a story. We hope you'll take a moment to fall along to see what we've been blessed to see by working beside you in the cab, on your tailgate at your kitchen table or in the shop. On behalf of everyone who works beside you at Sir, we celebrate the stories of our communities and our customers and we thank you for the opportunity to be part of your operations and to be part of agriculture.
Morgan Seger (09:18):
I encourage you to go to centered on U dot co-op to watch the entire video featuring Jeff Troche. Now Aaron and I are going to shift gears and talk about the first customer video that he recorded featuring the Davies family.
Aaron Sherman (09:32):
This is our first big one, I'm not going to lie. It was a little nerve wracking just coming into a family farm with all these people and you kind of don't want to be in the way of things, but it's still like we got to get the shots that we got to get. So it's just kind of always like a tiptoe dance. These farmers are busy people, so you got to kind of respect their time, but still like, Hey, we got to get these shots for this narrative. But the first day I think had, I think it was about five interviews total, so it was a lot of talking, but it was really great to kind of hear everybody's story and just talk to everybody. I mean, I think it's an eighth generational family farm, which is absolutely insane. A lot of really, really great conversations that day and we ended up actually having to cut that into two days because the conversations we went a little over, but it's like when you're interviewing these people, you don't want to cut 'em off or you want to get all the juices out, so then later in the editing room you can kind of chop it down and create whatever narrative you
Morgan Seger (10:32):
Want. One of our goals for this series was to produce short, easy to digest videos that help tell the story, but with all of that content, Aaron is then left with the hard job of determining what to keep and what gets cut.
Aaron Sherman (10:45):
So a lot of the stuff that we wanted to keep and just the direction of the video, it was all about that family connection. That connection with Ceres Via Scott, their connection was just really important to them. The relationships, that was a theme that just kept coming out of the interview questions as well. And so when you're in the editing room, you have all this information about everybody's backgrounds and so when you're listening it's like, okay, what can we do to drive back to this narrative of this connection with the family and then with their history on the farm. Then also their connection with Ceres and each other and how relationships are important with that. And so really you just kind of keep coming back to that central narrative and anything else that doesn't kind of lead to that informationally or emotionally, you start to kind of push to the side and you have eight versions of that edit that you guys will never see, but I see because I'm trying to piece it together.
But yeah, the five interview piece is definitely more challenging because some of them we've later on we're just maybe one person or two people, and so you want to make sure everybody gets screen time but fits in narratively in a cohesive and logical order that leads to something. And so that was definitely a challenge, but I learned a lot from that process and it was good. So I think going into this shoot, it's a centered on you campaign and I think even aside from that, just making the stories about the people and less about the company felt just way more appropriate where I feel like if we were just pushing Ceres really, really hard, it would feel kind of forced and it would feel like we're talking about these customers, these member owners. And so it was really interesting where they kind of unprompted wanted to talk about their relationship with Scott because they felt so passionate about the connection they had with him and it was kind of felt both ways. They just felt the partnership and he's a member of their community and he's always there to help and it's like they're giving me all this and I'm not having to really pull out of them as much other than maybe a few questions. So I thought that was really interesting.
Morgan Seger (13:05):
Next, Aaron shares some of his most memorable moments from the Davies video shoot.
Aaron Sherman (13:10):
It was really cool to be able to interview William Davies before he passed. We were able to get some interview time with him and he shared some of his background and experience, so that was just really great and really rewarding and I think this is kind of a really cool thing for the family to have him in the video. So that was just a nice memory. Family is super important to me too, so it just felt good to have everybody there and then when they had all the kids later there in the day, the kids were just running around, so that was just lots of fun to hang out with them and everyone was super nice and welcoming. The other memorable thing I think was it was the last day Zane was showing me all the family photos that they had and oh my gosh, this guy has baskets and baskets of photos and we probably looked and took pictures and recorded video of these photos for an hour or more and he had all these stories and it's like, oh my gosh, you could make a documentary about this family that's like an hour long and probably still be entertained.
So I just thought that was really interesting, it being the first big one, big pillar. It was nice to kind of get it all wrapped and kind of go through all the steps of the process and feel like, okay, now we can look at this as a process and see what worked really well. Where did we want to improve this for the next videos? And so it was a nice feeling to get everything wrapped up because like I was saying earlier, whenever you're going to these video shoots, whether it's for Ceres or whomever else, you're walking into unfamiliar situations and you have a really tight schedule and a tight plan, but those best laid plans change all the time, and so it was refreshing to kind of get it all wrapped up.
Morgan Seger (14:59):
Now I'm going to play for you the first customer video that we recorded for the centered on You video series featuring the Davies family.
Video with Davies Family (15:13):
I was born about a mile from here in 1933. My dad, he was a twin. All he ever done was farm him really that's all really know because back in them days you didn't get very far from home.
Video with Davies Family (15:40):
The farm is foundational in what we do, but the fruit that it produces is family and community. My name's Zane Davies. I have three children named Jacob, Justin and Shelby. My family homesteaded a mile from here. That was in the early 1820s. A typical day these days is a lot different than it was a few years ago. The boys have taken over most of the day-to-day things and the planning, so it's evolved quite a bit,
Video with Davies Family (16:19):
But the history that we have here on the farm, family values are obviously extremely important and honestly, it was probably the reason that I'm here. Most people don't get the opportunity to come work hand in hand with your dad or your mom, and it's an experience that I'm really grateful that I get to have on the farm. We generally make big decisions collectively. Dad, Justin and myself, we've made some tough decisions in the past.
Video with Davies Family (16:49):
I learned that with risk comes reward. That's how farming is. And if you're not willing to take risks, then you're probably not going to be a farmer very long.
Video with Davies Family (16:59):
There's a wrench thrown in every year. There is no such thing as a perfect growing season. We've had situations where you have a crop stand failure. It's an emotional time when you're looking at a year's worth of revenue that's struggling, and so it's valuable to have a partner that's willing to give you another perspective.
Video with Davies Family (17:19):
In my world's relationship runs everything. My grandfather worked with co-op and now I love it that my boys are working with Scott White and Joe Neely and they just adore him and they trust him.
Video with Davies Family (17:36):
The legacy I would like to pass down to my children are a lot of values, responsibility, find enjoying in what they do just to have the opportunity to do what they want out here on the farm. You learn to become self-sufficient
Speaker 7 (17:49):
Video with Davies Family (17:50):
If I am even a quarter of the parent to my children that my parents have been to me, I will consider that a success. I would love to pass on the confidence that my parents have instilled in me that sense of self-worth. It would mean everything.
Video with Davies Family (18:05):
The legacy that I want to pass down to my kids is when you take care of the relationship of the family and the relationship of the community and it outlives you.
Morgan Seger (18:33):
I had like to take a moment to say thank you for tuning in to this episode of Field Points. If you have not already seen the centered on you videos, please go to centered on you dot co-op to watch Jeff and the Davies video and check out the other videos while you're there. In addition to the videos we're discussing on this podcast centered on U dot co-op share stories of many other customers and I encourage you to check them out. The show notes for this episode will be available at Ceres dot co-op. That's C-e-r-e-s.coop. If you enjoyed this deeper dive, be sure to subscribe and leave us a review. Your review and feedback will help other listeners like you find our podcast and we are so thankful for that.