By: Leslie G. Sarasin, President and CEO, Food Marketing Institute

You may not know who Tay Hohoff is, but I think we all need someone like her in our lives. Tay Hohoff was the book editor who upon receiving the draft of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman, told the young author to scrap that work, but who also recognized that the rough novice work contained a few seeds that could be carefully nurtured into the classic, To Kill a Mockingbird. Hohoff helped the young Lee sort through the flotsam and jetsam of ideas floating in the Watchman manuscript to find her more powerful message and then she gently guided the author on a three year overhaul that resulted in arguably one of the most influential novels of all time.

We all need Tay Hohoffs in our lives, those trusted souls who help us sort through the unnecessary and distracting in our lives and feed us what we need to know when we most need to know it. We need knowledgeable travelling companions to share the journey with us, shaping it into a more meaningful pilgrimage.

In an age of feeling as if we are constantly aboard a jet airliner—because even when we’re sitting still, we’re still travelling 500 miles an hour – we need those folks who can effectively and efficiently edit. The growing complexities of concerns that confront us, the tidal wave of information we have to swim through and the constant surround sound of sirens screaming for our attention all contribute to the demand for those who help us declutter, crystalize our vision and find our true voice.

As I anticipate 2016 and all it will hold for the food retail industry, I offer FMI to be your Tay Hohoff. We at FMI want to serve as a trusted source of information helping you wade through all the noise to find those few game-changing kernels to which you should pay attention. We want to be your primary advocate, providing you with the resources, guidance, cover and encouragement that helps you find your most authentic and successful voice. We want to be the one—when you toss your manuscript out in the snow as Harper Lee did – who tells you to retrieve it, dry it off and reread it to focus on the possibilities and not to be blinded by the challenges.  We want to be the editor you can trust to always have your best interests at heart even when we’re slogging together through some tough terrain.

To do that effectively, we must remain in contact with each other. We must stay connected and ensure the lines of communication remain clear. That is why, as we report in our end of year recap, Aisle by Aisle Reflections on 2015, FMI has been enhancing all the ways we reach out to you. Through webinars, an improved websitenewsletters, our new Voice of Food Retail blog and the FMI News App with its new push notification feature, we seek to help you separate the wheat from the chaff and find the information you need to have when you need to have it. Through committee calls and emailed updates, the FMI staff seeks to help your team take advantage of the opportunities that will present themselves, prepare for the bumps ahead, stay focused on what matters most and work more effectively to achieve your companies’ goals.

Effective editors understand that their names do not appear on the book spine and that their importance lies in doing their best work in the background to help cast the author in the best light. That is the role I hope FMI can play for you in 2016, to help you shine your brightest.

I look forward to seeing you soon at the Midwinter Executive Conference, January 23 – 26, at the Fountainebleau Miami Beach.

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