There's a great quote that I keep written on a sticky note near my desk; it reads, "Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out." To me, that applies to the qualities found in strong leaders and in good ranchers, as well. This was the theme of the workshop I conducted yesterday morning at the 2011 National Junior Limousin Show and Congress  this week in Amarillo, TX. The beef industry presentation focused on taking the leadership skills the junior members learn from showing cattle and applying them to new situations to serve as ambassadors of the beef cattle business.
 Throughout the workshop, we developed elevator speeches, discussed what makes a good letter to the editor and shared ideas about how these young people can become more actively involved and informed on the issues we face in the business. One piece of advice I offered the juniors about getting active and sharing the beef story on a daily basis is understanding what we stand for in the beef business.
 As ranchers, we have a strong set of core values that drives us in our daily work. For my family and others like mine, that means doing what’s right when nobody is watching, working long and hard hours, having our priorities of faith, family and farming in order, putting the needs of the animals over the needs of our own, and leaving the land better than we found it. It’s this foundation that can help us develop our messages as we launch conversations with the media and our consumer.
At the end of the day, we have the same concerns as our consumers. We are worried about the ethical, environmental and nutritional aspects of beef production, and so are they. So, how do we make those connections? The answer is by sharing our personal stories and values with our consumers and the media. With less than 2% of us involved in production agriculture in the U.S. today, we have a huge responsibility to introduce ourselves to the remaining 98% who may have never stepped foot on a farm or met a rancher before.
Today, step out of your comfort zone and make it your goal to share your story. It doesn’t have to be a big effort; simply introducing yourself as a cattle rancher to a stranger will suffice. If we are to be successful in combating regulatory initiatives, correcting media misconceptions and sharing true facts and stories with our consumers, then it must be the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out. Are you up to the challenge? Do you know what you stand for in animal agriculture? Are you ready and willing to be a leader and share that message with others?