Go Looking for Opportunity – Why I prioritize education 

A week in Texas in January, things could be worse. 


I hate missing my favourite farm show of the year (Crop Production Show), but when given the opportunity to learn from some of my mentors and top business minds in agriculture, it was not even a question. Since I started farming and working in public accounting, I have wanted to attend what many will say is the top executive agriculture program in North America. The opportunity just never arose, until now. 


In January, I am slated to fly into Austin, Texas, and attend TEPAP (The Executive Program for Agriculture Producers) as the class of 2024. Based on what has happened in our business over the last twelve months with Farmer Coach, learning new business practices and theologies is something that I am truly excited about. I believe it will allow me to help my business partners at Hebert Grain Ventures, as well as learn new concepts and apply them to our consulting clients in other ventures.


I have also booked my flights for Strategic Coach in December. This one is more entrepreneurial and occurs four times per year, so the lustre in comparison to TEPAP has faded, but I still love spending one day a quarter concentrating on the business and learning new ways of thinking about business ownership and leadership. This is where I have found our niche in agriculture, bringing mindsets of entrepreneurship and business back to the industry. Helping others replicate what many of the farms we work with have accomplished.


This is my story of continued learning, what’s yours?


In agriculture one thing is always certain, we can find work. In fact, I have never worked with a producer who was bad at finding more work that needed to be done. Maybe it comes with many of them living ten steps from their job, or maybe it is the fact that being an owner drives bad habits, but you find a farmer that does not have work and I will find a retirement plan. Just because there is always work to be done, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go looking for opportunities. 


So why is continuous learning and education so important? First off, nobody is perfect. The moment we believe we are winning the race we have lost because there will always be somebody else out there somewhere who is kicking our ass. The quote my business partner often throws around is, “If it isn’t broke, you haven’t looked hard enough”. 


The second reason is that change is constant, and our success is determined by how quickly we can adapt and shift. I would like to think I know enough to be dangerous, but every day I learn more from not only my clients but my networks. New ways of doing things, or ways to effectively increase performance or optimization, are all common in my line of work. As a producer, a difference of 1 bushel per acre or $1 per bushel can be the deciding line between profit or loss. Yes, outside factors have a say in your success, but how you manage them is just as important. Knowing enough to be dangerous is always the goal.


Lastly, we need to get out of the weeds. You have all read the quote “cannot see the forest through the trees”. This is applicable as many producers are so entrenched in the daily operations that continuous learning or working on ways to be better at management and ownership falls down the priority list. This I see firsthand as a lot of my consulting lately is about getting out of the role of operator and into the boardroom. How the top farms are using human resources to make better decisions at the top and empower others to work with them on success.


So, when the plane takes off in -40 degrees in January (because we all know the week of Crop Production is always the worst weather of winter), and I land in Texas in a much sunnier light, I will be focused on two things. Warmth and a cold beer.


Okay, learning too.