Certain events have been occurring with my immediate family and loved ones that have helped remind me about what’s truly important in life. We all love our careers and our family, and we all struggle to keep our priorities right through it all. God, family and career are easy to say, but difficult to live.
The industry has similar struggles with priorities. Sure, consumer confidence and maintaining and building beef demand should always be paramount, but they’re rarely our primary focus. How about profitability? Profitability has many drivers – a fair and level playing field, new technology, sound management, good marketing, competitiveness, etc., but when we talk about profitability, we tend to focus on areas we can’t affect. Even worse, we often seek to create scapegoats that divert us from the real issues.
I’ll never forget the conversation I had with a producer who got caught up in the rhetoric that it was the marketplace that was the problem. He was smart and, after lots of study, figured out the problem was beef demand and his own marketing. He thus began to focus on the things he could affect, and that would have real impact. Ironically, he’s now more active than ever, but he’s focusing on those things that will make a real difference.
Finally, the focus should be on maintaining the lifestyle that makes this business unique/special, and on passing on a healthier industry for the next generation. Sadly, we often get our priorities reversed and, in so doing, pay the price in all areas. Without demand and consumer confidence, there can be no profitability; without profitability, there is no lifestyle.
The tough thing about getting one’s priorities right is that it always requires sacrifice and the answers usually aren’t easy. Unfortunately, we live in a time where there are plenty of politicians and demagogues around who try to sell the easy solutions. Of course, that is why we continue to see the deficit grow and the industry shrink.