Playing to Win

Recently, I was listening to an old tape of mine that included an interview with former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz. In that interview, he was asked how he motivated his players to win so often. His reply was, “I don’t ask the players if they want to win. I ask them if they can live with losing, because if they can, that’s exactly what they’ll get because it’s so much easier to have.”   I thought to myself, “Wow! Isn’t that exactly what we are facing in the dairy industry almost every year?” In recent discussions with other industry colleagues, one of them commented that it used to seem like one out of every three years was a real financial challenge for dairy producers. However, in the other two of the three years, a producer could regain his financial position. We then recalled the impact of low milk prices in 2006, 2009 and 2015-16, along with high feed prices in 2008 and 2011-2015.   What Coach Holtz was saying is that we need to focus on winning. Considering the current and future trends in the U.S. dairy industry, including banks being tighter than ever, it is clearly time to sharpen our focus.   How does this impact you as a producer? Unless you are in the process of “playing your last game,” you will definitely want to plan on sharpening your tools. Consider visiting my website at to review the tools available there to help you develop a bigger future.   As I’ve written previously, start to observe the trends. Are you using them to your advantage or do you find yourself fighting them? Do you have a solid strategic plan in place and are you using CPA prepared Financial Statements to regularly measure the impact of your labor efficiency, your changes in herd size, and your other cost cutting measures? Do you have a marketing plan in place for most of your milk? When milk prices are higher, as they are trending today, we should attempt to reduce our debt levels, because, as I explained above, we never know when the next downturn might be coming. Are you currently starting to do so? Will you be prepared when the next downturn arrives? Develop a plan today that allows you to get beyond just producing milk and allows you to work smarter, not just harder.   If I can help you as you think about developing a brighter future, please let me know by e-mailing me at Most importantly, please set aside some time to consider our industry trends. What’s next? It’s your move.  

“We have forty million reasons for failure, but not a single excuse.”

   Rudyard Kipling