Get Outside Your Area

by Dallas Mount

Are you happy with the results your business is producing? If you want different results, you need to act differently. In order to act differently, we must think differently. If you think producing big calves is the secret to a profitable ranch, you will take actions to produce big calves. At the Ranching for Profit School we teach that there are only three things you can do to increase profit. Finding which of these three is the greatest impediment to profit and then developing strategies to address it, will lead to a breakthrough for your business. Often the process of discovery challenges our fundamental beliefs about the “rules of ranching”. Just attending a Ranching for Profit School is a step outside the comfort zone for most of our participants. However, it is often this step and the vulnerability we feel that create a significant opportunity for change.

When Allan Crockett teaches a Ranching for Profit School, he usually starts with an example he learned from Steve Chandler in the book MindShift. Allan draws a circle on the board and an inside the circle writes “Your Existing Knowledge and Comfort”. He then asks “Where is your greatest opportunity for learning and growth?  Inside your circle or outside?”. It is a powerful example and one that reminds us that if we want to grow, we need to get outside of our comfort zone. 

mindshift circle

One of the most common questions we receive here at RMC is “When are you going to hold a school in my area?” I understand the thought behind this, but it really is the wrong question. Sure, a school closer to you might make travel a bit easier and one might think that you want to be among ranchers with similar challenges to your own. This is not the case as many of our alumni report that their best experience attending a RFP school is when they attend a school completely out of their area. After all, who’s problems are easier to solve? Your’s or someone else’s? You can see all the silly things your neighbor does and often scratch your head wondering why they waste their time doing those things. What if you could sit with ranchers from a completely different part of the country and they had the opportunity to review your business? Don’t you think they would find things you hadn’t even considered? 

I recently had a phone call with a young man who had taken the leadership role in a good size operation. He needed to make some significant decisions that would have a major impact on the business. He had heard from a neighbor about our economic planning process and was sure the school would help him evaluate his proposed changes and avoid some costly mistakes. He really wanted to attend the RFP school in Billings since it is only 100 miles from the ranch, but with our waiting list for that school at 13 it is unlikely a spot would become available. He told me he would just wait until next year to take the school and get signed up early. I asked him what the economic impact could be of the decisions he was preparing to make. He said that by implementing these changes it would be at least $50,000 and more likely $100,000 annual difference in the business. Without hesitation he said, “With that in mind it seems foolish to want to wait a year to save $400 on a plane ticket to make changes that would save the business that kind of money.”

For the last two summers I’ve hosted groups of Australian Graziers (Ranchers) who were traveling the US looking for ideas to bring back to their businesses. Talk about getting out of the area! We don’t have anywhere close to the same climate, yet these Aussies repeatedly observed that the key issues in our businesses were often the same in theirs. Issues related to communication, succession, cashflow, scale, etc. Despite the differences the Aussies found principles to take home and apply in their businesses.  If you want different results, look outside your comfort zone for inspiring answers.

Tricia and P.J. explain how they benefited from attending a Ranching for Profit School farther away from where they live instead of waiting to attend a school within their ranching community in Montana.

2 Responses to “Get Outside Your Area”

November 27, 2019 at 8:32 am, Doug Gillham said:

When I attended my first RFP school in 1994 I sat at a table with people from Mexico, Australia and Louisiana. Their view of the world expanded my little view from northeast Colorado.


November 27, 2019 at 5:28 pm, Executive Link Member said:

Great advice. The further away someone goes to take the school, the better the experience. Want to get our of your box? Then get our of your area!
And waiting a year, or even 6 months, is CRAZY!!! I’ve never met anyone who complained, “Gee, I wish I’d waited longer to take this class.” People who wait almost always kick themselves for not having taken it when they first heard about the class.


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