Stepping up and living larger….
April 25, 2016, 11:06 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Backseat drivers. The first to speak up and the last to get behind the wheel.


This year I took a risk, stepped out of my comfort zone and jumped into the driver’s seat. I’ve held leadership positions throughout the years but never felt fully at home.


Most of the time I fell into those positions because no one else would take them and I have a problem saying no if asked. Feeling the need to sharpen the axe a bit I decided to take advantage of an opportunity through the Montana Stockgrowers Association. They developed a new 12 month Leadership Series to help folks like myself prepare for a future in leadership positions. Securing a spot in the class was the easy part.


You’ve heard of the training programs where the students are broken down to be built back up in the desired model. Our program isn’t as intense as that but our leadership styles and philosophies are broken down, analyzed, digested, and finally crystallized into a model that is unique to each of us. Working through the program, there are plenty of aha moments; mine tend to be Duh! moments.


Teasing out my personal style, my strengths, and my weaknesses was not easy, nor was it comfortable. What I’m finding, though, is that I’ve known about these all along, hence the Duh! moments. I like to lead with humor, honesty and integrity, knowledge, practicality, all while helping others. Utilizing these strengths should help me be a better leader. Working with those talents will hopefully lead to more cohesion in my efforts. One of the great lines in class was “Trust of self comes first. Know yourself, then lead others.”


Acknowledging weaknesses is not pleasant. Looking at your strengths is a lot like fishing for compliments. Digging into your weak underbelly flat out sucks. As it turns out, I’m pretty much terrible at empathic listening. I get so wrapped up in defending my position or decision that I fail to listen fully to the other side. I listen to defend, not to understand.


So what is the end game here? I feel that improved leadership skills can be utilized in many settings. At home on the ranch I can practice better communication. On the volunteer fire department as Assistant Chief I can be a stronger officer in difficult situations for our community. In the Montana Stockgrowers Association I can be a better voice for the needs of producers in the state. I have a ways to go but I’m headed in the right direction.


I want to be better. I want to be a driver.

From Ties and Suits to Jeans and Boots
January 12, 2012, 1:01 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Some day has arrived.

I’ve always thought that some day I would return to the ranch in Potomac. Up until about a year ago, I didn’t know when that day would be. Over the last couple of years it has become very apparent that I want to be there sooner, rather than later.

Before I elaborate on our decision to jump into the cattle business, let me fill you in on the back story. Being raised on a family ranch in beautiful Western Montana, we had many opportunities presented to us. Mom and Dad always told us to not feel pressured to stay on the ranch. We were encouraged to explore other avenues for education and employment. We were in 4-H like many of the other ranch kids, but instead of raising hogs, sheep, or steers, we chose to try model rocketry, cooking (Purple ribbon for my Swedish puff pastry, btw!), and leather working.

In college, my brothers and I spread across Montana. I earned my degree in Athletic Training and moved West to Bend, Oregon with my wife Jennifer. In 5 quick years I was burned out of sports medicine and was recruited into a Fortune 100 financial services company where I have been for 7 years. Initially, Jennifer and I would return to Montana once or twice a year. Lately, we get back there three to four times a year and it got harder to return to Oregon every time. Montana just felt like home.

Last spring I had a long talk with Dad. He had been hinting for the last couple of years but this time he was blunt. He wanted to retire from the day-t0-day operations of the ranch. I had to ask myself the question. Has the day arrived for me to return? We talked more about it and both thought it was a pretty good idea. Mom was hesitant. She repeated what she’d always told us. Come back only if you want to, not because you feel you have to. Indeed, I wanted to and so did Jennifer.

With that decision made, I’ve been working to transfer my book of business to my partner. My plan is to arrive on the ranch in time for the start of calving season. I figure that is a fitting start to my ranching life.

Some day has arrived. I’m going home.