Anyone love business meetings? Robert’s Rules of Order?

Whitehurst marci
Freelance Writer
Marci Whitehurst is a freelance writer, ranch wife and the mother of three children. You can foll...

I can’t say that business “meetings” are my favorite, but I do love talking and dreaming about possibilities.

In a business meeting, you usually have old business and new business. At the beginning of New Year's, I’m always inclined to look for the “new business.” What’s new this year? What could be new?

I imagine that most of us are looking at the cattle market and the state of our land. With much of the country undergoing drought and cattle prices being high, we all wish we could hedge our bets to make the most income while ensuring healthy cattle. But that can’t be considered new business.

Recently, while moving cattle, we had to stop traffic on a state highway to cross the cattle from pasture to pasture. We’ve done this multiple times, but it’s always a carefully timed process because we try to be respectful to travelers. We don’t want them to have to wait very long. We put up signs on the highway, alert the highway patrol and often post a rough idea of what time our cattle traffic jam is expected.


Usually, the cattle move right along, and it only takes a couple of minutes. This past time, there was a truck whose driver decided he didn’t feel like waiting and kept moving. He drove toward the cows, then into the ditch and ramped up the other side to get by without waiting.

I understand what it’s like when you’re in a time crunch or come across cattle you weren’t expecting; it slows you down. However, I’d rather be late than push through someone’s cattle. Yet, not everyone is accustomed to driving around cows. Maybe they didn’t know that going the opposite direction of the cattle would move them unfavorably? I don’t know.

What I do know is that when we have to cross the highway, we have flaggers each direction, we have riders pushing cattle across, and we have someone poised at the gate to open it when the traffic has stopped. Everyone in their position at the correct time is key. There is no way we could cross cattle by ourselves. For the safety, well-being and future of ourselves and our cows, we need people at different places and with different points of view to make sure we streamline the process.

Fortunately, in that incident, the cows knew where they were going and didn’t get too riled by the obstinate truck. We try to remain as calm as possible while moving cows, even across a state highway, so the cows file in where needed and we don’t have a rodeo on the road. What makes this possible is a team.

Many of us in ranching are considered to be solo operations. It is just the family operating the ranch, and the team is the family. That’s great. We’ve done that for many years. Understanding each other’s strengths and talents and allowing each family member to operate within their gifting helps day-to-day operations flow more smoothly. Not to mention that everyone is happier when they are pursuing their passions.

The only problem that we’ve had with that is us.

Now, don’t get me wrong. We know what we are doing. We have decades of experience – we’ve learned the hard way and the easy way – and my hubby’s schooling doesn’t fit on one resume. It isn’t that we aren’t educated or experienced; it’s that we will always be learning, and we only have our point of view.

While we know many of our ideas work and we’ve helped others implement theirs, we also know that when we brainstorm with others, the ideas skyrocket. We see different perspectives, and thoughts seem to grow into fruition before our eyes when we talk it out.

So in this coming new year, our “new and old business” is building connections. Connecting, and continuing to connect, with like-minded, driven people who want the best for our industry and each other is imperative for health and growth.

I’ve seen the opposite, usually at farmers markets. Like many of you, we finish beef to sell locally. We used to sell at farmers markets, but the input didn’t justify the output. Additionally, the sellers often bad-mouthed each other: “Oh, you don’t want their product because …”

This didn’t sit well with me. I understand that people do things differently and we each have unique marketing angles, but bad-mouthing the competition … Well, I’d rather not. The more consumers buy, the more it benefits all of us.

Negative talk can’t exist in a team or a forum of people. We need each other to exist, to grow and to thrive. We need idea bouncers and possibility chasers. As we cross over into a new year, do you have a group of people to reach out to? I believe God wants us to thrive in healthy communities and build. Would this be old or new business for you?