Peruvian Onions

Part 2: Clever vs. Wise: A Fresh Produce Microscope on Product and Productivity

In Part 1 of this series, I addressed the inherent value of clever vs. wise when it comes to product. If I may revisit a couple of points, by definition, “Wisdom is the combination of experience, knowledge, and careful judgment.” If you've got it, you're “wise.” Clever, on the other hand, made some sense and was interesting when I looked it up on “Clever may seem like a compliment, but this adjective boasts a rather broad range of meanings—from ‘intelligent’ and ‘imaginative’ to ‘calculating’ or ‘contrived.’” Clever still means “agile” or “adroit,” but it currently refers primarily to mental rather than physical skill—such as a “clever scheme” or a “clever device.”

So, once again, I ask, where does produce fit in to this discussion? I propose that some changes in the produce industry cleverly fit this topic if we think about it. Are the changes we see clever solutions vetted by wise review or just the most expeditious cleverness we can muster without a thought to their consequences? Under the guise of efficiency, expediency, and economy we are often forced to be clever without being able to apply wisdom to the equation. You can take a look at my piece on product here and, for the purposes of Part 2, we jump into the value of clever and wise in productivity.

Transactional relationships have a place, but your customer satisfaction rating is only as good as the matrix applied to your work.

Let’s talk productivity. When we address productivity, how frustrating must it be when you are only recognized as an employed individual or as an individual company under the scrutiny of review? When it comes to your individual expression of how you accomplish your goals, you are being coerced into using homogenous applications of “clever concepts” without the consideration of the wisdom that one size doesn’t fit all. Transactional relationships have a place, but your customer satisfaction rating is only as good as the matrix applied to your work; how much of that cog and wheel is out of your control? While I understand these are broad brush-stroke statements, in today’s world this makes a ton of sense and may be a touch clever!

A hill I will stand on every time deals with the development of the individual, whether it is the employer or the employee. Wisdom tells me that investing in people pays dividends, whether it is in taking the time as a leader to review the past year and identify the pluses and minuses of your helmsmanship or seeing your team as individuals and developing their unique skills that will allow them to be more effective as a team member, ambassador of your brand, and a source of new ideas and concepts.

I always stress, and firmly believe, that showing people you care for them is proactively teaching them to care for you. It is an investment in finite resources. It is long-term planning that doesn’t necessarily show an immediate ROI and requires wisdom and fortitude to see it through to the benefits. Measured over time, it absolutely improves the bottom line for the individual, the company, the industry, and so on. Who is to say we all can’t be the next influencers?

Wisdom tells me that investing in people pays dividends...

Produce and the industry born from its agricultural harnessing have a tremendous burden of responsibility. We must consciously determine whether cleverness or wisdom will rule the day. It should never be acceptable to use being clever in a vacuum and not apply the wisdom necessary to anticipate its effect. Cleverness runs pell mell (either a clever or wise use of words) trying to remain one step ahead of the curve while wisdom knows the destination and ably anticipates the changes in the road. No matter how you slice the produce, wisdom and cleverness share a space in this narrative. The difference is where you plan to make your investment.

Todd Linsky, Founder, TLCTodd Linsky has spent the last thirty years immersing himself in the organic industry at every level. Todd’s experiences range from working as a produce manager for a small nature foods company and working nights on the Los Angeles Produce Market, to time spent in Moss Landing working for the first organic grower/shipper operation, and a rise to a vice presidency at one of the largest organic grower/shipper operations in the country. On his road to success, Todd has grown a sales company from hundreds of acres up to tens of thousands of acres; built over the years with countless handshakes.

In 2015, Todd formed Todd Linsky Consulting, known as TLC ( With the founding of TLC, he then launched Produce Therapy® a dynamic tool that helps companies discover what has a significant impact on their company culture and directs the mood of their business. TLC’s proprietary methods and guidance, challenges the status quo and works to make each day extraordinary.