If I Ran the Circus…

What a tumultuous year! The last twelve months in the dairy industry looked like a cross between two of Dr. Seuss’ children’s books. On the one hand, it parallels If I Ran the Circus with its irrational supply and demand, particularly on commodities that are plentiful in comparison with their current usage, yet remain overpriced. On the other hand, our industry scenario seems to be replicating Stop That Ball with an economy that appears relatively lifeless, yet in other ways seems completely out of control when we look at the painful process of loan approvals and the dramatic changes in real estate. Hopefully, things will be appearing more normal again soon!

However, just in case they are not, it may be a great time to re-examine your game plan and determine what your mode of action will be. Whenever I get into a situation like our current one, I like to check out what several of my favorite business authors have to say:

  1. Seth Godin in his book entitled, The Big Moo, advises us to “Stop Being Ordinary.” He suggests:
    1. “Embrace the Power of Storytelling to bring it all Together” – Be like Medtronic, a blue chip medical technology company, who, when their team needs some motivation, they bring in patients and ask them to talk about how a Medtronic product has changed or saved their life.
  2. Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York City, shared the following suggestions in a presentation that I recently attended:
    1. Have conviction and strong beliefs. Stand by what you know is right.
    2. Be an optimist. He shared the story of the legendary Coach Vince Lombardi, who, after his team was defeated, was asked by a younger coach how it felt to lose. Lombardi replied, “Son, I didn’t lose that game. I only ran out of time!”
    3. Be positive and always visualize a “hit.”
    4. After reviewing what you know and anticipate, take action, and he added, courage does not equal the absence of fear. It is acting in spite of it.
    5. Practice and rehearse. Have a plan in place to cover most things and even some of those you don’t normally think of.
    6. Remember, teamwork is key! Ask yourself, what are my weaknesses? Where do I need help?
    7. You have to communicate. Let people know what you are thinking. This holds for employees and your banker. They both need to know!

In summary, this is a time to build success:

  1. Keep things in perspective. Is the economy tough? Yes, however, interest rates are quite low for now.
  2. As former Microsoft President Rick Belluzo stated, “Enjoy the opportunity to reinvent yourself. When I was displaced, I knew that it wouldn’t be the only hardship I’d face in my career. Rather that dread the future, I became eagerly excited. I looked forward to facing additional experiences that would require me to ‘reinvent’ myself.” This represents good advice for all of us.