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Category: Leadership

The best kept secret in the show stock business

We all do it. Every single one of us. We look for a competitive edge, a new tip or trick that will take us to the next level, a top-secret solution to improve our game and give us an edge on show day. People spend a lot of time and effort searching for secrets, thinking if they had an inside track they could level up or even upend the competition. There’s one secret in the show stock business most people aren’t prepared to handle. Are you ready? Here it comes! There are no secrets. There is only knowledge, and the funny thing about knowledge is we all start in the same place. We all start with zero knowledge. It’s true. Even Kirk Stierwalt once knew nothing about cattle. Think about that for a second! Even the path to mastery starts at zero. So what does it take to attain knowledge and what do you do with it after you gain it? Knowledge comes from many sources. I think if you asked any of the Weaver Leather Livestock ProStaff, they would tell you that knowledge mostly comes from experience, repetition and lessons learned the hard way, but it also comes from a willingness to listen to those who already have the knowledge you need. Each of these men would admit they gained knowledge from the folks who came before them. Continuing the tradition of passing knowledge on to others is one of the big reasons they dedicate so much of their…

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Why you must empty the wheelbarrow tonight

We’ve all been there. It’s been a long day. School, then practice, then chores and now it’s late. The sun has gone down and you’ve just finished in the barn for the night. Except there’s still that one lingering task. The wheelbarrow you filled today is still sitting by the door. It needs to be emptied. You know it should be emptied, but you are tired, you tell yourself. Plus there’s homework to be done. It can surely wait until the morning. And it could. It could wait until morning. It could wait until you’ve come to the barn to start the next day’s tasks. Now that you mention it, those record books you’ve been meaning to keep up could wait until next week.The project you’ve committed to helping with for your 4-H club or FFA chapter could wait until next month. There are so many things the you could push back to a later date, and just think of all the time and energy you’d save right now! But can they really wait? Your favorite running back doesn’t stop a few yards short of the goal line. Leaders know the ability to deliver results puts you on the path to success, and delivering results means not leaving work unfinished. So often we let things go that would only take us a few minutes to complete. We justify it to ourselves in the name of saving time or effort in the short run. Without fail, the time you don’t spend…

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Influence: How you can change the world

Maybe you don’t think it’s possible, but whether you realize it or not, we all have an influence on the world. Influence is your ability to affect change in the world around you and the truth is that you affect change whether or not you’re even trying. You are already exerting influence. You do make a difference. What kind of difference do you make? What kind of influence do you have? Is it positive? Or something else? Do you encourage your friends to skip practice or do you encourage them to practice harder? Do you stand idly by while someone gets teased or do you step in and say something?  Do you speak poorly of others when you don’t place very high at the show or do you demonstrate a positive attitude? Even when you’re not directly interacting with someone, you can still influence them. Your behaviors and attitudes are often observed by younger exhibitors, younger players, and younger students. What kind of influence do you have with them? No matter what you do, or don’t do, you are influencing the world around you. What happens to your team when you skip practice? You get out of sync and you hold your hard-working teammates back. However, when you encourage your teammates to practice harder, everyone gets better and the team moves forward in a positive direction. Each scenario plays out the same way. Your actions hold influence. Every choice you make influences the world.  If you could change the world around you,…

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They just don’t get it and that’s O.K.

It’s a beautiful Saturday afternoon. You’re at the county fair, hanging out with your friends on the show box. The sounds of the midway and the smell of deep-fried everything fill the air. There are people everywhere. A stranger walks up and begins to ask you questions about your animal. “What’s his name?” “What does he eat?” “Where do you keep him?” The strangers questions seem endless. “How could anyone go through life and know so little about animals?” You wonder. Now, imagine the moment the stranger leaves. Did you and your friends giggle about how uninformed the stranger was or did they give you props for advocating about agriculture? Youth livestock shows are one to the best ways to spread a positive message about animal agriculture. As a part of the show community, you’re part of the livestock industry family. Even if you don’t live on a farm yourself, you know this family. They’re the ones whose names are on your awards, whose banners are hanging around the show ring and whose businesses sponsored the mulch and the buildings in which you’re showing. They support you, and as a part of the family, you have a job to do. Talk to that stranger and be proud of your project. Answer all of their questions about animals, no matter how long it takes, and always be loving and factual. Take it farther than the county fair. Share your story on social media, tell your friends why raising animals makes a…

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Everyone has a publicist

Last month, I was LIVE on Periscope and Facebook for the first time. I don’t know that the content was all that awesome, but what is awesome is the ability to live broadcast to anyone from anywhere, all with the phone in my pocket. When I was growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, the biggest publicity I got was my name in the local newspaper for a county 4-H judging award, that week’s track meet, or maybe an FFA event. I bet I still have all those old newspaper clippings somewhere, probably in a scrapbook in the closet of my childhood bedroom. (Sorry, Mom! I promise I’ll get that cleared out someday!) When I met someone outside my local community, that first impression in real life really was a FIRST impression – my reputation had not preceded me and there was little chance they knew who I was or anything about me, just as I likely knew very little about them. But today? Well today, everyone has a publicist. Statements are made by your publicist, photos and videos are shared by your publicist and media interactions are arranged by your publicist. Maybe it’s a silly analogy, but your publicist is, obviously, you. In today’s online environment, you can make public statements, share personal photos and videos, and interact with public figures and the media. And maybe the analogy is silly, but I love to use that perspective because it reminds me to consider my personal brand every time I…

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7 ways to build your network in the stock show industry

I showed pigs growing up. When I was in high school and thinking about college and career, I often wished I could start expanding my network. I wanted to meet people who had careers that interested me. (In high school, I wanted to be a farm broadcaster.) I wanted to talk to students a few years older than me who were at a college I wanted to learn more about. (You can major in Agricultural Communication?) Sometimes, I really wanted to talk to a professional whose work I admired. (I listened to the same voices on the radio each day and wanted to know more about their career path.) Since I graduated from high school pre-social media (but post-AOL Instant Messenger for those keeping track), the avenues for networking were limited. But today, there are several options for networking online in addition to the tried-and-true. Here are seven ways to build your professional network in the stock show industry: A good handshake and introduction – I don’t believe any social media platform or technology will ever take the place of a good handshake and introduction. This one is simple. Practice this skill. Then use it to introduce yourself to that speaker who came to your class, the professional who took time to judge the contest you’re participating in, and the junior board member who goes to that college you think is cool. Volunteer at events – Want to get in the same room as the above mentioned individuals? Show up…

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Why your five best friends matter

One weekend in high school, I attended an FFA conference along with a few hundred other participants from around the state. The conference was great, the speakers were inspirational, the sessions were motivating, but what I remember enjoying the most was the people around me. They were so uplifting, so motivated, so forward-thinking. Spending time with people like that was very impactful, because I, too, felt more motivated. Jim Rohn, successful author and speaker, once said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Whether you’re in the high school hallway, on the basketball court or soccer field, in the studio, at your office, or out for the weekend, who you surround yourself with matters. It matters because we are significantly influenced by those around us. If the people around us are goal-driven, we’re more likely to focus on our goals. If our teammates have a positive attitude, we’re more likely to see the glass as half full. If our friends see the bigger picture, we’re more likely to think about solutions from a wider perspective. Of course, it works the other way, too. If the people you surround yourself with are whiny, short-sighted, dramatic, lazy, or uninvolved, you’re more likely to take on some of those characteristics, too. So, of whom are you the average? Who are the people you spend the most time with in your home community, at school, and in your free time? Who are your circle of friends in…

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When you feel like quitting, try this instead

I get it. It’s cold. If you live north of I-70, there’s a good chance there is snow and ice. Everything seems more difficult in the winter, doesn’t it? Cleaning pens suddenly requires specialized gloves that won’t cut off circulation, somehow keep your hands dry, and still won’t let you get frostbite. Hauling feed now requires skill in ice skating. My personal winter pet peeve: getting dressed to go outside takes longer than the quick barn check itself. In harsh conditions, it’s especially easy to feel like quitting. It’s just going to freeze again tomorrow, why bother breaking up that ice? Surely that one last chore can wait until the weekend, or spring for that matter. You said you were going to work with your animal every day, but that was before all this snow. Your friends have really started bugging you about not going out on the weekend with them any more, so it would easier to just blow off the chores you should really do on Saturday night. When you feel like quitting, ask yourself, “What will I feel like if I quit?” That’s right – what will it feel like when you don’t reach your goal because you gave up your commitment? What will it feel like when you let yourself down? What will it feel like when you know you didn’t do everything possible to achieve your goal? You know the answer. So stick with it, go the extra mile, and tough it out. Even when…

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The ONE thing that makes all the difference

  At the beginning of a new year, it seems all we hear about are resolutions – goals for the new year, changes folks swear they are going to make this time around, and, of course, weight-loss missions. That first week of January, your news feed is flooded with declarations of intent. You probably also notice them at the beginning of every sports season, every school year, and every holiday. We all have goals. We all have dreams about what could be. We might even have one (or more) of those resolutions for the new year. The reason we ALL have goals and dreams is because that’s the easy part. How many posts will you see later this month about those goals? What are the chances you’ll read about someone’s progress in March? Who will be excited to tell you about their improvement this summer? The bigger question, how many won’t? One of my favorite quotes is from Henry Ford. “You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do.” Reputation isn’t the driving force here, but it’s a solid reminder that what distinguishes leaders is the ability to execute. Anyone can set goals. Not everyone will be willing to do the hard work to get there. You have some goals for your livestock project in 2016? Then you need to make the choice to do the work. What will the work look like for you? Depending on your goals, it could mean going to the barn before school,…

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Set goals, but learn this secret.

I graduated from a small, rural high school. Among the many perks of a small school is often having the same teacher for multiple courses. I had the privilege of learning from Mr. Leuthold for two years of algebra, one year of geometry, and one year of pre-calculus, and even though the content changed from year to year, his approach to class was the always the same. Each day we would spend a significant amount of time reviewing the homework problems assigned the previous day, going over the steps we used to arrive at an answer. He wasn’t interested in just the answer that was at the end of the problem; he checked to see how we had gotten there. When quizzes and exams were graded, we earned points for the steps we demonstrated solving a problem and for the correct answer. Mr. Leuthold often discussed the importance of paying attention not just to the answer, but to the “getting there”. Whether you’re showing cattle, lambs, goats, or pigs, you start each project with a goal. Maybe it’s a banner. Maybe it’s to make the cut at the majors. Maybe it’s a breed champion. Maybe it’s getting your name called at the circuit’s banquet at the end of the season. Goals are critical, but know this: paying attention to the “getting there” makes all the difference on the way to your goals. Here are a few tips to make the most of the “getting there” in this year’s project: 1.…

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