Naughty and Nice

What criteria does Santa use to determine who’s naughty and who’s nice? There aren’t many people who are completely naughty and even the nicest people slip up now and then. It all seems pretty subjective to me. I’ve got a few ideas for Mr. Claus, a long-time ProfitTips reader, that would make these decisions easier, increase his confidence that he’d made the right call and alleviate the stress for everyone concerned. It would also be useful if one of the kids on his naughty list took legal action.

I reviewed articles in Harvard Business Review, Forbes and Fast Company on resistance to change. The articles laid out the 12 reasons, the 10 factors and the 5 keys to resistance. The more I read, the more convinced I am that they have it ALL wrong! 

Earlier this month a lot of ranchers in TX, OK and KS experienced a nightmare. Driven by winds of 50 mph and more, they lost grass, infrastructure and livestock to intense, fast-moving wild fires. I’ve heard from several Ranching For Profit Alumni whose entire ranches burned. They spent the day after these devastating fires evaluating losses, euthanizing suffering animals, and taking steps to ensure that the animals that survived were taken care of. I’m not aware of any alumni who lost their home or who were injured. It’s hard to call that “luck,” but what else can you call it when others lost their homes and even their lives?

Last month I met with a young Ranching For Profit alumnus who had accomplished some big things in a short time. He was leasing several ranches and running hundreds of cattle and, if I remember right, about a thousand sheep. “I don’t want to get stuck in a rut,” he explained, and said he’d take on anything that could make a profit.

Several weeks ago I included a WOTB quiz in a ProfitTips column in which readers could score the extent to which they work ON their businesses. The column was picked up by some other publications and wound up generating conversations on several other popular blogs. Most of the people making comments said that they had pretty low scores. One person who said they scored a 10 out of 100, justified it by saying that, like with all courses, “…take what fits and leave the rest.” I wonder which thing on the WOTB test he felt he could leave…setting goals? Economic and financial analysis and planning? Succession planning? Drought planning? The marketing plan?

There are a lot of ranchers that don’t believe that ranching can be profitable. I can’t count the number of ranchers who’ve told me that Ranching For Profit is an oxymoron. They have come to accept that not paying themselves a decent wage and relying on off-farm income are just part of the reality of modern ranching. I understand why people with this mind-set resist change. If ranching can’t be profitable, why bother trying? Somehow ranching for less loss doesn’t sound very inspiring.

Santa isn’t the only one that gets letters. Here’s one I received recently:
Dear Dave,
Thank you for your letter last year. (Click here to see Dave’s 2014 letter.) While I thought several of your ideas would really help our operation, my husband, Nicolas, dismissed them, saying that they may work other places, but they won’t work here. While we do live in a very extreme environment, the real problem is Nick’s resistance to change. He is a jolly workaholic.

One of the questions I often get at workshops is, “How many of the people who go to the Ranching For Profit School are actually doing it?” It’s a reasonable question, but it depends on what it is.

I asked a group of our clients what difference it would make to their operation and their life if they had an extra hour a day of productive time. Most folks said they’d get more done, or they’d get the same amount done but feel less stress doing it. Then I reframed the question, “Instead of an hour a day, what if you had 65 four-hour blocks of time?”

An email I received explained,

I have set up my ranch with money from other businesses. I watched one too many John Wayne movies, admittedly – but I am also a business man. We are not adding any value to our hay by putting it through a cow. Pasture rents are $1.10 per pair per day. At current cattle prices I’m having trouble answering the question “Why do I own a cow?” especially when I consider the opportunity cost of 500+ cows!

My response: