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A Few Things I've Learned

This week, I received an email that asked the question, "Have you learned anything, yet?" The great answer of "everything I needed to know I learned in kindergarten" has been taken, but the question made me step back and think. The following are a few things I've learned:

  • Avoid the purveyors of doom. They're wrong 99.9% of the time; even when they're right, they're wrong about why they were right. There's a stark difference between those who look at obstacles with a realistic approach and those who almost root for failure.
  • Those governed by a scarcity perspective of the world are incapable of greatness. Interact and align yourself with people who believe in enlarging the pie, not trying to expand their share by cutting someone else's slice down.
  • More than anything else, the willingness to embrace and adapt to change is what separates winners from losers.
  • Be selective when evaluating business opportunities. Anyone proposing a business model essentially unchanged from others, with the exception that they're going to do it right and will capture revenues others aren't, is naïve or unethical. The people who have survived in ag are pretty good at what they do, and the competition is fierce. Business models that are bold, innovative and involve some risk are the ones that have a chance.
  • Be willing to laugh. Start with a smile.
  • God, family, career. We all say it; we all want to live it. The rewards are almost impossible to quantify, but it's one of the most difficult things in the world to pull off.
  • Today is all we have. We learn from the past, but we live in the present. Today is what ultimately shapes our past and future.
  • We're lucky to be born American, at this time, and to have this occupation; 99% of the world is envious, and they have a right to be.
  • We're in the beef business. Occasionally you'll hear someone say they raise grass, or that they're in the cattle business, implying their focus isn't the ultimate consumer; or they view their operation in the context of closed system. This is a false construct doomed to fail.
  • We all tend to take ourselves too seriously, everything seems so important, and what we think is important/serious rarely is. It doesn't mean we don't live life with passion, but today's crisis is usually nothing but a memory tomorrow.
  • Those who say they don't want a wife, dog or horse, never had a good one. In each case, nothing is better than a good one, nothing more indifferent than an average one, and nothing more miserable than a bad one.
  • Thank God for John Wayne, at least for what he symbolized with the American cowboy. The cowboy ethos inspires all of us to be better people, and it's largely responsible for us prevailing against our financially and numerically superior opponents.
  • Industry involvement is critical. Our industry organizations saved us when BSE hit, and they're fighting every day on so many fronts. Yet, we tend to forget how important they are.
  • A position based on emotion and not fact is one that can't be changed. And anyone who opposes it, will be classified as the enemy. It leads to dogmatic, almost faith-based positions.
  • Competition is brutal; it's also the pressure that can create diamonds. It doesn't work to spend your time trying to eliminate competition. Spend your time trying to compete more effectively.
  • Genetics are like schoolteachers. They almost always deliver more value than what they cost.
-- Troy Marshall