Category: black bamboo

A Story of Black Bamboo by Jim Cecil

Let me share a story that taught me worlds about nurturing relationships. I'll explain.

For most of the last 22 years I have had the privilege of traveling the world studying, speaking and consulting on the concept and methodologies involved with authentic Nurture Marketing. Nurture Marketing is about caring, in your “heart of hearts” about your clients, employees and prospects and about communicating well the services and products you provide for them.

Let's say you are the perfect fit for what your clients need and you know it, your challenge is that everybody is saying pretty much the same thing. Nurture at the technical side is about the process of automating your communications to stay in touch with precisely the right people, with exactly the right message and always at just the right time and done so, all the time.

Many years ago I had the opportunity to speak at a marketing conference in JiuZhaiGuo located in the newly emerging western Chinese Province of Chengdu. One beautiful afternoon a couple of us were offered a personal tour of a living black bamboo farm that transformed my belief in the connection of nurturing with the spirituality of nature.

Bamboo is a pivotal commodity in the Chinese economy used almost exclusively to provide scaffolding for high-rise building construction. Our 75 year old guide, Ping-Sun (Peter) Liu informed us that our rickshaw tour would include fields illustrating the various stages in the 5-year growth cycle of black bamboo.

This special species of bamboo is and has been vital in the economic development and construction of this rapidly expanding giant country. China is a vast country, with a huge, rapidly expanding, population but you would not know it from the first fields we visited. Extending as far as the eye could see was an empty field of rich, black, tilled earth. Not a single bamboo plant was in sight, not even a tree. Peter explained to us that the field had been sown a few weeks prior. Each of over a thousand farmers carried a heavy satchel of seeds, water and fertilizer on their backs. He explained the great care need necessary at this step in the process.

Bamboo seeds need to be carefully identified and culled, planting only those seeds that appear to have the best chance for sprouting, each perfectly positioned by hand in the ground, not too deeply and never too shallow to prevent attack from the competitive birds and scavenging rodents.

Also of importance are the placement of each seed a precise distance from one another; if placed too closely the plants will compete with each other for food and water and not grow to their full potential.  Too far apart and you will have an inefficient root-system and ultimately a poor harvest.

Once placed in the ground, each seed is individually fertilized with a deep drink of water and a handful of fertilizer from the farmer's heavy satchel. The process of watering and fertilizing is ritually carried out weekly on a seed by seed basis for nearly five years. No heavy machines, no modern irrigation equipment just individual farmers carefully tending the individual needs of each seedling in the field. About a mile down the dusty road was a field that Peter told us had been sown two years prior. When we reached our destination we were surprised to see what looked to us like thousands of farmers working in an empty field.

Our big surprise was when Peter told us that every week, up until the 11 month of the 5th year the bamboo fields appeared visually barren. In the 12th month of the 5th year the black bamboo would suddenly sprout and very rapidly grow up to 60 feet in just under 30 days. By now we were tired of the hard seats of the wagon seat and I was anxious to see a fully developed bamboo field ready for harvest. On the way to the final stop, we passed a field covered by heaps of broken bamboo that looked as if a tornado had laid waste to a fully mature black bamboo crop. When we questioned Peter on what we were convinced was a bamboo plague or at the very least a natural disaster. With a disgusted scowl, he spat loudly and answered simply, “stupid farmer”.

He explained that the farmer working this particular field had not nurtured his crop weekly but every other week and had used the wrong fertilizer resulting in a black bamboo crop with root systems so weak that the entire field was blown down in a wind storm so it could not be sold and needed to be destroyed. He repeated, “five whole years wasted! Stupid farmer”!

When we reached the last huge expanse of green on the trip we were greeted with a massive field full of strong and very tall black bamboo and left me with the feeling that our guide Peter taught us some very valuable lessons about Nurture Marketing.

  • Having a long-term plan is essential to reaching your goals in both endeavors.
  • You must choose your seeds very carefully with a clear understanding of a your desired harvest outcome.
  • You must understand what each and every one of your seeds need to grow and thrive.
  • Each seed needs its own species-specific formula of water, fertilizer and caring to be successful.
  • Each plant in your garden has its own unique life cycle and trying to rush a crop to harvest will result in disaster.
  • Trying to shortcut the laws of the harvest will also result in disaster.

The harmony of nature can be applied to business and that true nurturers are all ‘Farmers at Heart.’

Good Nurturing!

~ Jim