Category: Business

Will Courage Make You a Great Leader?

If you lack courage, does it mean you will never be a great leader? In the US, it appears that common sense says courage is a profound part of being a great leader. As a result, aspiring leaders go about their day to demonstrate their courage to the world. However, when you look at many of the most effective leaders, perhaps it is not courage that informs us of their greatness.

What is Courage? One definition says it is the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc. without fear. Bravery is often synonymous with courage. Another definition says: to have courage of one’s convictions, to act in accordance with one’s beliefs, especially in spite of criticism.

On the surface, this sounds like a complete logical formula for leadership. It is possible for a person to spend their day seeking ways to face difficulty, danger and pain in a way that others believe they are qualified to be the leader. Or they think they have to pontificate their beliefs to convince others they have strong convictions. For example, a vegetarian may believe they have to convince others that being a vegetarian is the best diet. If that vegetarian can convert a portion of the people who will listen, they can be seen as a leader. If they are criticized, that may validate the need to show more conviction in order to prove they are the best candidate for leadership. Yay vegetarians!

For some of you, it may be traditional to leave the room when your vegetarian friend starts to rant about why vegetarianism is the best diet. For others, you politely nod your head as you take a bite out of your perfectly cooked and seasoned filet mignon.

In the workplace, many people consider themselves leaders. Yet, they have the same behavior as the vegetarian. In the worse case, the self-proclaimed leader is the person who believes they have to be the smartest in the room. In that case, they may use intimidation to demonstrate their power and intellectual prowess. And when criticized for not listening to their direct reports, they believe they have to overcome criticism with courage. While I wish this were an exaggeration, it happens too often. Because that person is known for confidence and courage, they are promoted to boss – the faithful leader.

On the other hand, in Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great, he talks about, what he calls, a level five leader. A level five leader is someone who empowers people and develops other leaders. When that leader retires, the company remains on an excellent path to long-term success. In Collins’ book, his research showed that level five leaders built companies that rose from good to great. And the greatness continued after that leader left. The irony is he never classified level five leaders as courageous. They were seen as humble people with great communication skills and great listeners with an open door policy.

Furthermore, Collins’ noted the charismatic leader with great courage often created a culture of “yes-men”. People just followed what the leader said. If the leader was not available, people were uncomfortable making decisions. And when that leader retired, the company underperformed.

With that said, while courage can surely make you look good to the masses, it doesn’t mean you are an effective leader. Perhaps the greatest leaders have been people who had no desire to be the smartest in the room. They had a vision they stood for. That vision became a platform for others to shine. For others to shine, it would be imperative for the leader to give a voice to everyone. That way new ideas are discovered and vetted.

If you observe closer, you may find the best leader to be a person committed to building a legacy that can only happen with the help of others. More importantly, the leader is willing to put their butts on the line and be responsible for everything. While being responsible could appear to be courageous, the most responsible leaders know they have to take care of their people. As long as a leader takes care of the people, the people will take care of the company. Therefore, you may find that the greatest leaders are people who stand for a vision, their people and assume responsibility no matter what happens.

Management by Objectives Increases Effectiveness

What does it mean to be a manager? While the skills to be an effective manager are many and the exact mix of skills necessary will vary from job to job and sector to sector, most writers on business and management agree that successful management involves the planning, organising, leading and controlling of resources, including personnel, to efficiently and effectively achieve organisational aims.

If you do any of these things, then you are a manager, whether or not the word “manager” appears in your official job title. However, many managers, especially ones new in the role, don’t feel well-prepared for the job and consequently, need advice and guidance in how to begin to fulfill their new role in a way that is effective and satisfies the requirements of superiors.

Know that, although there are no absolute measures of managerial effectiveness, nevertheless there is broad agreement that when a manager satisfies the aims and goals of the organisation he or she works for, effectiveness has been achieved. The problem is in defining exactly what these aims and goals are and then laying out a format of standard operating procedures that managers can follow to become more effective in achieving them.

One such way is the KPI, or Key Performance Indicator, a well-known approach where the job requirements of a management role are specified in a list of qualities, skills and outcomes written down on paper, with important ones subdivided into smaller subgoals with a numerical target attached, such as number of units sold, percentage increase achieved or number of times completed in order for the manager’s performance to be deemed satisfactory.

In particular, one of the most famous versions of the KPI solution is the “Management by Objectives” approach of Peter Drucker, the renowned writer on management issues. This is where the aims and goals of the organisation are arranged and presented as “Objectives” that must be fulfilled and then managers are evaluated on how well they contributed to the achievement of those objectives.

The downside to this approach is that it is often very difficult to apply in the real-life workplace. Typically, many problems arise and a whole range of issues complicate the achievement of these objectives, which can sometimes suggest that the idea itself is not all that great. However, the general consensus in business is that it is felt to be a practical construct and a useful description of “how things ought to be done”, even if things do not actually always end up being done exactly as the model describes. So, despite its difficulty in application, Drucker’s Management by Objectives remains an excellent way to envisage the goals of an organisation and create a template of performance for managers to strive for, while also acting as a map that guides the organisation in the achievement of its aims and the development of its future business trajectory.

In addition, Drucker also delineates eight practices that all effective managers follow –

1/ They ask “what needs to be done”

2/ They ask “what is right for the enterprise”

3/ They develop action plans

4/ They take responsibility for decisions

5/ They take responsibility for communicating

6/ They focus on opportunities

7/ They run productive meetings

8/ They think and say “we” rather than “I”

These eight practices of effective managers can be grouped into 3 areas – the first two practices give them the knowledge they need to do their job; the next four allow them to change this knowledge into action; the last two make sure that the whole team or organisation is responsible and accountable (not just the individual manager).

So a commitment by organisations to implement, at least as a broad framework, Drucker’s Management by Objectives and a commitment by managers to perform the eight practices described above will lead to greater movement towards organisational goals and a marked increase in managerial effectiveness.

Incorporating Emotional Intelligence Into Leadership

Emotional intelligence or EI is the capacity to understand and control your own emotions, and those of the people you interact with every day. People with a high degree of this aspect of their makeup understand their feelings, what their emotions represent, and how those emotions can influence other people. EI is critical to all leaders to help ensure success. Leaders who are able to control their emotions are more likely to be great leaders. This aspect of leadership includes five key elements: Self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills. Leaders who are able to control each aspect of their emotions have a higher level of emotional intelligence.

Being self-aware indicates that you know how you feel and how your emotions and actions affect others. This also means you have an awareness of your strengths and weaknesses and you behave with humility.

Leaders who control themselves effectively seldom verbally attack others, make hurried or emotional decisions, typecast people, or compromise their morals. As a leader you should have a clear idea of where you will not compromise under any circumstance. You also know what values are most important to you. You reexamine your code of ethics to ensure they are unchanged. Knowing what is most important to you helps you realize that you won’t have to think twice when you face a moral or ethical decision.

If you have a tendency to blame others when something goes wrong then you are not accountable. You should admit your mistakes and to face the outcome, whatever they are.

Practice being calm – The next time you’re in a difficult situation, be aware of how you act. Do you have outbursts of anger? You have to learn to calm yourself.

Energetic leaders work consistently toward their purpose, and they have exceptionally high standards for the quality of their work. Your personal motivation can be improved by following these simple guidelines.

Re-examine the things you really love about your career. If you’re unhappy in your role and you’re struggling to remember why you wanted it, then you should spend some time to find the root of the problem. Starting at the source often helps you look at your situation in a new way.
Make sure that your goal statements are creative and energizing.

Know where you stand. Determine how motivated you are to lead. Completing a leadership motivation assessment can help you see plainly how motivated you are in your leadership role. Motivated leaders are usually positive, regardless of the problems they face. Implementing this approach might take practice, but it will pay-off in the long run. Mind Tools has a good assessment tool that anyone can use.

Every time you face a challenge, or even a letdown, determine at least one good thing about the situation.

Empathy is vital to managing a successful team or organization. Leaders with empathy have the talent to put themselves in someone else’s situation. They help mature the people on their team, challenge others who are treating others unfairly, give practical feedback. These leaders will listen to those who need it. In order to earn the respect and loyalty of your team you must learn to be empathetic. Becoming empathetic is not easy but with perseverance you can learn. These exercises will help.

Put yourself in someone else’s position. It’s easy to sustain your own point of view. However, to be a good leader you should take the time to look at situations from other people’s outlook.

Pay attention to body language. Body language tells others how you really feel about a situation, and the message you’re giving. Body language can be a real benefit in a leadership role, because you will be able to ascertain how someone really feels. This gives you the opportunity to respond appropriately. However, you should keep in mind that body language is not the most important aspect of determining someone’s feelings. For instance, when someone crosses their arms, it usually means that they’re not open for arguments. By crossing the arms, an obstacle is put in front of the body, as some sort of protection. There are many people who simply like to cross their arms for reasons other than shutting people out. So be careful how you read body language.

If you have a team member that is often asked to work late and begrudgingly accepts, then you should try to determine what the problem is. Do they have previous plans that have to be changed to accommodate your request? Perhaps the solution would be as simple as allowing the employee to come to work later in exchange for working late.

Social Skills
Leaders who do well in the social skills segment of emotional intelligence are great at imparting ideas to others. These leaders are also good at managing change and settling conflicts discreetly.
Leaders must know how to settle conflicts between their team members, customers, or vendors. Learning conflict resolution skills is vital if you want to succeed. Develop your communication skills. Proper communication is critical to good leadership. You should learn how to improve these skills. As a leader, you can improve the loyalty of your team easily by giving praise when it’s earned.

David G Komatz is a seasoned pro with over 46 years of accounting experience. Within those years he has gained 35 years experience in leadership, 15 years in HR management and 10+ years in fraud prevention and deterrence. He has a MBA in Forensic Accounting, MS in Organizational Leadership, two graduate certificates in criminal justice and HR management and is currently a student in a Doctor of Business Administration in Global Business and Leadership.

Build Your Career With Faith

“Career,” the big word that all of us are afraid of.

In reality, what really frightens us is the fear of working on ourselves. We come up with the random excuses to explain the situation, that we believe is stopping us from having a successful career. But somehow forget that all those barriers are only stopping us because we limit our own selves. Just because we fail to believe in our own self and not recall that we can do anything we wish to only if we are ready to put in efforts; only if we are determined enough to.

Barriers built by the social, peer or even the parental pressure can only restrict our working till we let them. The day we make up our minds and stand up for ourselves nothing will ever stop us or come in our way to a successful and prosperous future.

If you believe in what you do or want to do, pick up your spirits and start working on it. The more you work the more you will feel like achieving your goal. Ups and downs are all a part of life and are what makes us stronger. Never lose the hope or your will to look for something better than the present condition you are in.

If ever you feel disheartened, no need to panic or stress out or motivate yourself right at that moment. It happens with everyone and is allowed as well considering that you are a human. But do not let those negative thoughts affect you. Get a day off do whatever you want to, or simply waste a day as you like it. Although make sure that as soon as the day passes you are back on track and ready to work even with more energy and positive vibes.

It is really never too late for you to start working on yourself or as we say it your career. Figure out something that you want to try it out and just start doing it. No matter how small it is, all that is required is for you to believe in yourself as well as the cause that you are working on. Take your time to learn new things nevertheless be upbeat about accomplishing it with perfection.

Remember that all you need to do is fight your own fears, find your “thing” and start working for building your career and establishing a better future for yourself.

Vacations Are Good For Business

Summer has arrived and with it, our most popular vacation season. Nevertheless, a surprisingly large number of American workers, whether full-time employees who receive benefits, business owners, or other self-employed professionals, will not take time off to relax and get away this year, in summer or any other season.

There are many of us who apparently feel that stepping away from work responsibilities now and again signals a lack of discipline or commitment to our jobs. Many of us brag about the number of hours we work each day and more is always better. Could it be the legacy of the Puritan work ethic?

Furthermore, U.S. companies on the whole are stingy about granting paid time off, as compared to their counterparts in Australia, New Zealand, Europe and Latin America. Even in Great Britain, birthplace of the hard-working, pleasure-avoiding Puritans, employers large and small traditionally grant to their full-time employees three paid holidays at Christmas, while U.S. companies typically grant only one paid holiday.

Easter is the most important holiday on the Christian calendar, but in predominantly Christian America, there is no paid holiday for Easter. In contrast, paid holidays for Good Friday and Easter Monday are standard in Latin America, New Zealand, Australia and European Union member countries.

The Center For Economic and Policy Research reports that 25% of U.S. workers receive no paid time off of any kind—sick time, holiday, or vacation time. An increasing number of companies that employ primarily low-wage workers restrict the number of hours that their employees receive, to keep benefits out of reach for as many as possible.

U.S. workers are ourselves complicit in the anti-vacation time practice. According to the jobs and recruiting site Glassdoor, 75% of employees who are eligible to receive paid vacation time do not use all of their benefit days in a given year. Sadly, there may be a method to the madness.

The global forecasting organization Oxford Economics (part of Oxford University) found that 13% of managers are less likely to promote staff who use all of their vacation days and that employees who take fewer vacation days on average earn nearly 3% more pay than employees who use all vacation time granted.

Yet Reed Hastings, co-founder and CEO of Netflix, is considered the thought leader of a trend that advocates for offering unlimited vacation time to employees. He believes that leaders should trust their employees to make wise decisions about when and how much vacation time to take, and balance the companys’ needs and their personal needs.

Full Contact, a Denver, CO software company, now offers a $7500 bonus to employees if they actually leave town when on vacation. Conditions apply. Those employees must refrain from using tech gadgets such as mobile phones or computers and refrain also from sending emails and texts. Employees cannot work while on vacation.

Finally, Jim Moffatt, CEO of mega consulting firm Deloitte, extols the benefits of vacations, stating “By taking a break from day-to-day operations, not only was I spending more much-needed time with my family, but also I was able to focus on the bigger picture of where we (Deloitte) were and where our business was going.”

Are you convinced yet? It’s not easy for independent business owners and Solopreneurs to take time off, but make it a point to get out of town for a weekend trip or two this summer, if possible. Your clients will be better served when you are rested and ready to deliver the solutions that they need.

Work Commitment

Commitment is advanced and a multi-faceted construct, and might take totally different forms. Work commitment has been outlined because of the relative importance between work and one’s self. People will feel committed to a company, prime management, supervisors, or a specific work group.

Work commitment affects all organizations at some level and permits corporations to judge problems like turnover throughout times of varied economic stability. All of those attitudes act to form the abstract framework of every individual’s work commitment. the subsequent data analyzes these attitudes likewise as alternative structure ideas, research, and globe applications.

The success or failure of a corporation is closely associated with the hassle and motivation of its staff. The motivation of staff is commonly the merchandise of their commitment towards their job or career. Work commitment is an especially vital topic for organizations to know. the amount to that associate worker engages in his or her work (job involvement), commits to and believes within the organization’s goals and purpose (organizational commitment), needs to figure (work ethic), and commits to a selected career or profession will all have a sway on a corporation.

In today’s economy, wherever organizations are expected to try and do additional with less resources (i.e., individuals and money), it’s very vital for organizations to retain their extremely productive staff. Employees are engaged in their work and committed to their organizations provide corporations crucial competitive blessings – together with higher productivity and lower worker turnover.

Communication is one amongst the most effective ways that to stay staff engaged. it’s vital that staff are listened to, valued, and inspired to supply feedback. Successively employers should respect employee’s opinions and follow-up on commitments and responsibilities they need secure staff. By keeping channels of communication open, employers and staff will take pleasure in mutual trust and respect. additionally it’s imperative that communication be across all levels of the organization, from prime management down likewise as internally and outwardly.

In short, the importance of work commitment relies upon the organization itself. If the organization needs to become competitive and grow, as within the example on top of, it’ll place a good deal of importance on the amount to that staff are engaged in their jobs and the way committed the staff are to the organization.

On the other hand, if the organization is content with high turnover, low-producing staff, and high absence, they ought to not be troubled with work commitment. However, the leaders of that organization should understand that, at some purpose in its structure, the organization can doubtless ought to contend with a corporation that will place importance on work commitment, that may find yourself being prejudicial to the continued existence of the organization.

Work commitment is seen as a person’s adherence to work ethic, commitment to a career/profession, job involvement, and organizational commitment.

Top Reasons to Work in the Hospitality Industry

The hospitality industry covers a very diverse range of jobs with a common theme of helping and looking after people. It involves catering to people, looking after and providing their various wants and needs. Generally, people in this industry are hired for their personal ability to get on with others their cheerful disposition and their individual skills such as a chef, housekeeper, kitchen assistant, waiting staff or such.

Many people in the hospitality industry are extroverted, vibrant, lively and fun people. If you enjoy the idea of a nine to five office job and the same routine the same group of people day in and out day after day, then probably the hospitality industry is not for you.

No matter which level or area you start at in the hospitality industry there is always room for personal improvement and career advancement, this industry opens the doors to endless possibilities and options for many people.

The huge diversity of jobs in the hospitality industry includes restaurant and kitchen work, hosting tours and reception work, economics, sales and marketing, management maintenance and engineering fields. Many of these areas overlap and people find they gravitate naturally to the areas that suit them the most. Some top achievers in the hospitality industry such as managers and heads of departments started their career in the kitchen or the concierge area of hotels and through hard work, ambition opportunity and self-improvement very quickly advanced into the top tier areas.

This wide range of different fields and opportunities is open to all people regardless of their socioeconomic background, who decide to choose the hospitality industry as their career option. Hospitality work is often fun, very dynamic and changeable, it includes the opportunity to change your location and position or advance yourself in other establishments either in your area, different centers or even countries. Hospitality is definitely an energetic vibrant industry so implement a trendy and functional uniform. For the hospitality industry, this means considerations like pockets on aprons for pads and pens, easy tie straps for comfort. A well-designed hospitality uniform is now really an important element of brand building for almost any venue.

A career in Hospitality can literally open the door to the world for you while you gather experience and qualifications which are usually considered universal, allowing you to see the world as a waiter, cook or housekeeper, especially when working within one of the international hotel chains who are renowned for looking after and rewarding their loyal workers.

After all is said and done customer satisfaction means a return customer and that is the backbone of hospitality. Many hospitality workers find that the salaries they receive are reasonable and the tips can be considerable.

So if you are looking for a rewarding career both in the areas of job satisfaction and financial remuneration then the hospitality industry has a lot to offer for many people. Whether a first-time school leaver or seasoned worker, there are rewarding opportunities available in hospitality in virtually every location around the world as everyone needs to eat and sleep. The hospitality industry has proven over the years to be very resilient even in times of economic difficulties as seen in the last decade or so where many industries were hit hard, hospitality has maintained and even prospered.

The Reason You Can’t Find Employment – Could You Be Too Smart for a Job?

If you’ve applied to a job in the past few years, you may have noticed the requirements have become – let’s say – a little stricter. Along with the educational requirements, years of experience, solid work history and background check – many places are requiring an assessment test. You’ve seen them, the ones that seemingly asks the same question 50 different ways.

They make it convenient as most are taken online. I’ve taken my fair share of these tests and answered honestly. I didn’t realize what was being assessed until a potential employer told informed me, of how it worked.

Just a little background, I applied to this job as an IT recruiter. I met all the listed requirements, education, work history – background etc. I went online and took the assessment test as required. The test was about 80 questions – and like I said it seemed like it was asking me the same questions repeatedly.

A few days later a received a call from the company and we scheduled an interview. It was a small firm, and the guy who called was the owner. I went in for the interview. The interview went well, he told me his story about being in the corporate world, and how he hated it. So, he decided to start his own small business.

There were five other people who were working in the office as we spoke. None of the five seemed to pay attention to what we were saying, they were all diligently working at their small desks. I chatted with the owner for a while (trying to build rapport) based on our conversations, we were a lot alike in our approaches and thought processes – which is why I believed he revealed to me the truth.

I was asked to take another online test, after our brief conversation. This test was an “intelligence test” (at least that’s what he said). The test took about 30 minutes to complete. This test was basically like the online test that I had taken prior to the interview. When I finished, the owner received the results immediately.

It took him a few minutes to process the results (that’s my assumption) I watched as the other five employees typed on their computers and answered incoming calls. Finally, after about seven or eight minutes, we sat down again.

The owner had a stack of papers that he dropped down on the table in front of us.

The top paper had my name on it. He told me, flat-out in a moment of candor, “based on the results of your assessments, you’re too smart for this job.”

I didn’t know what that meant. He went on to explain, the assessments are designed to weed people out. He said companies are looking for a specific type of person. Someone who “isn’t too dumb, but also, someone who isn’t too smart”.

He said people who are “too dumb”, struggle with the basic concepts of the job. They make more mistakes, and in the long run won’t make a good employee. The people who are “too smart”, learn the job relatively quickly, get bored – and move on to a more challenging job. In the long run, they don’t make good employees.

I was told, the best employees, are the ones that aren’t “too dumb, but aren’t too smart” – and most importantly will happily stay in that place for years. The often asked question, “where do you see yourself in five years” is asked to weed out the overly ambitious.

This was news to me, and I thank the small business owner who told me this, I wouldn’t have known this without his candor. After all he told me, he still offered me the job – but I didn’t take it. He was looking for a long-term employee – and the truth was, that wasn’t going to be me.

He gave me the computerized results with my name on it. He said he doesn’t normally do that – but for whatever reason – he gave it to me. Over time, I read the nearly 40 pages of information formulated from my assessments. It had notations on where and how I most likely would fit in, positive attributes, negative attributes, etc. Things that you wouldn’t expect an assessment test to know. I must admit – most of it was right on the money.

There were two warnings that the computerized assessment gave about me to any potential employer. It said, beware of the employee in an office setting, I could get other people to think like I do, and the other; I wouldn’t be ideal for a sales job – the reasoning – I would be prone to tell potential customers too much of the truth.

Important Plastics Used in 3D Printing

In the last few years, we have witnessed the magical world of 3D printed clothing. From high-fashion to high-technology, the 3D printed clothing is amazing to marvel at. More than the marvellous design possibilities available under 3D printing, the engineering used behind printing fabric like materials is simply astonishing.

Most of the 3D printed clothes look interesting but many of them are less comfortable and much less wearable. However, this does not mean that all 3D printed apparel products are non-wearable. The 3D printed textiles made from FDM (Fused Deposition Modelling) 3D printers can be worn. Some pretty good 3D printed neckties are already available in the market.

The basic thing that makes 3D printing so amazing is the material used to create designs. Although now we have metal, ceramic, sugar or styrofoam to virtually create anything in 3D printing, it all started with the ‘plastic’, which is still the prime raw material in 3D printing. So, here we describe the main plastic used in 3D printing in the textile industry:

PLA (Polylactic Acid): This is a bio-plastic that is dominating the world of 3D printing. PLA is made from a renewable organic resource such as cornstarch or sugarcane. In the textile industry, the PLA-based filaments show great adhesion to PLA fabrics. As it can be reinforced with all types of materials, it is used in the manufacturing of smart fabrics that helps in enhancing the functionality of the textile products.

This is a tough resilient material with a matte and opaque quality. There are no toxic vapours or odours when heated. This bio-plastic is great for 3D printing because it is environment-friendly, available in a variety of colours and can be used as a resin or filament. The material does not get shrink after 3D printing. All these properties make PLA a good component for developing sustainable textiles.

ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene): It is a terpolymer made by polymerising styrene and acrylonitrile with polybutadiene. This is another widely used bio-plastic in 3D printing. It can form filaments easily and is durable, strong, heat-resistant, flexible and cost-effective. A drawback if ABS is that it creates a slightly unpleasant smell when heated and its vapours contain nasty chemicals. Therefore, one needs good ventilation to get off these irritating fumes. Because of this drawback, 3D hobbyists prefer PLA over ABS.

PVA (Polyvinyl Alcohol): This is a synthetic polymer and is water-soluble. PVA is a new class of 3D printing materials that are used to make supports that hold 3D prints in place. This is not used for making finished products but create support for portions of a product. Once the product is finished, you can immerse it in water and PVA support structures will dissolve leaving rest of the insoluble print behind. In 3D printing, this is mainly used as glue, thickener or a packaging film.

Although the range of materials used in 3-dimensional printing technology may evolve with time and rising interest of customers, these are the three mainstream plastics currently popular for all 3D printing applications.

Is My Business Actually What I Think It Is?

Many of us at some point have aspired to become a business owner; a large portion have taken action. And as we all know, many of us have failed. Perhaps you’re one of those that have taken a few tumbles along the way. Hindsight is 20/20 they say and I’m inclined to agree, but our foresight can be much improved by learning from the mistakes of others. I’ve made plenty of mistakes in multiple business ventures and would like to share a paradigm shifting solution to business operations by using my little farm as an example.

Now I know most people are two or three generations removed from the last family member that knew the difference between a disk harrow and a spring tooth harrow, but the concepts are the transferable across most business models.

In 2015 I started managing my grandfather’s cattle herd. Being a guru of anything sustainable and pure, I set out to ensure that 1) the beef was free from any chemicals and 2) that the soil grew richer each passing year through nutrient cycling (grass passing through cows and returned via manure). That last part can be tricky, as cows can destroy land if managed improperly. It is imperative to maintain good ground cover with the grasses to ensure bare soil doesn’t bake, wash away or get blown away.

Enter the world of management intensive grazing. I can’t possibly cover all the details here as entire books have been published on the subject, but the concept is that the cows are confined to small temporary paddocks made with electric fencing and moved every day. This gives the grass ample time to recover and grow tall without the cattle constantly trekking back to the same spots and clipping the most desirable species down to the ground. If left to their own devices, cows will always overgraze good plants and leave the weeds and before you can blink twice you’ve got a field of weeds and starving cows.

Now this is the obvious part yet so many of us haven’t made the revelation: you have to nourish what nourishes you. I’m no longer a cattle farmer. I’m a GRASS farmer. Now obviously I can’t sell grass. Who could eat that? I sell beef but the minute I put my emphasis on grass productivity, the beef productivity follows suite. All my business decisions are now focused on grass productivity rather than individual cow performance.

Look at your business model very carefully. Don’t focus on the product, technology, tools, or equipment. Those are just expenses that help you achieve your goals. Look at the very basis of your business. For many of us contract or employed labor provides a service to our customers. Give your team a big hug and a bonus and let them know they’re appreciated. Foster what you can’t easily replace. It is your backbone.

Newman Turner once said that the most productive time a farmer can spend is to “lean against a fence post and observe.” Take a step back and look for a paradigm shift. Focus on what matters. In fact, maybe we should carry this over to the personal relationships we have with our friends and family. Life can’t be divided into isolated parts but yet it is a whole made up of shared parts. It’s time we look at the big picture.