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How Dairy Cattle Judging Made Me Rich

How Dairy Cattle Judging Made Me Rich


No, I have not judged the Royal or Madison.  No, I have not bought or sold a Supreme Champion.  However, what I have gotten is worth far more, and has helped me become far richer than any of these things could have.  It gave me the confidence to be heard, the ability to know what I am talking about, and the skills to defend my position, and these three things have served me extremely well in my career.

With Ontario Summer Show & Dairy Cattle Evaluation Clinic coming up tomorrow and Friday it has me thinking about how fortunate I was to grow up and have the amazing opportunity to learn at these great events.  I  remember being 11 years old and poking my head around Lowell Lindsey or Orton Eby trying to get a look at the cattle.  I can also remember trying to stand as close as I could to Bert Stewart so that when he would pick someone to give reasons he would pick me.  The skills that I learned there have served me extremely well.  The following are three skills I learned at these evaluation clinics that have set my career on fire.

Public Speaking

There is no question the ability to speak well in public is a great skill to have.  Everyone always ask me why don’t you get nervous before speaking to crowds of five hundred and sometimes one thousand people?  I say, “Why that is easy. Try giving reasons on a class of Jersey 2 yr. olds after Court Carmichael has just given reasons on the class that you placed exactly opposite to his. Of course,  they do look at me kind of funny, but the point is, there has been no better place to learn how to speak in public than at these clinics.  I can tell you I  remember to this day the feeling I had when Orton Eby and Frank Donkers came over and said, good job kid.  I tell you I was on top of the world.  Two men that, to this day, I still think the world of, patting me on the back.  There could be nothing better.

I can never forget  the first time I went to Madison and heard the 4-H members from the US give their reasons.  Man, did they sound sweet and long.  “She is dairy from the tip of her nose to the tip of her tail,”  They have some good sayings that seem to roll off their tongues.  Fortunately, for me,  Bert Stewart was there telling me, “Just say what you see and leave all the other BS for them.”  Those experiences showed me that having the ability to articulate what you are saying and putting mental images in your audiences’ head can do wonders for bringing what you have to say to life.  Not only do you learn  to say that she has a “more desirable” set of feet and legs instead of “better”, but, you also gain the ability to clearly articulate what you are thinking.

Evaluation Skills

From having to hire sales people or selling  to some of the biggest tech companies in the country or building demand generation programs for extremely complex products, the ability to evaluate options is a skill everyone should have in their tool box.  Learning at these evaluation clinics the importance of a scorecard or understanding how subtle nuances can make the world of difference to overall conformation or profitability, has helped me understand the need for systems and processes for everything you do.

When I first started judging, I tried to do everything on gut feel.  Sure, I got lucky sometimes, but in order to build repeatable results you need to have systems in place that set you up for success.  That  starts with knowing what   the end result is aiming for  (the true type model) and then understanding what areas are where  the money is made (mammary systems) and what areas are  just for show (size and stature).

Confidence to Defend My Position

Some might say I have enough confidence to fill a sinking ship, others might call it arrogance. Either way, the ability to translate that “arrogance” into “confidence” comes from the lessons I learned during these dairy cattle evaluation clinics.  Knowing your reasons for why you believe one option is better than another one is and having the ability to defend your opinion, even under the most rigorous of scrutiny, is a skill all young people should have.

It’s a skill that will serve you well regardless of the career you choose. This is especially true of you go into a sales career, such as I have.  Knowing the reasons why one option is better than another is one thing, being able to convince others that it is, is even more important.  That skill has served me extremely well.  I have been fortunate to sell products from $1.99 to over 2 million and the one thing that is the same in all these processes is you must have  the ability to defend why your option is the best option for that specific prospect’s needs.  That’s a skill I learned at these clinics.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

From my first trip to the InterCounty 4-H  Judging Competition and winning top placings and still not making the Madison team, to my last trip and winning top reasons things sure did change as  a direct result of what I learned at the dairy cattle evaluation clinics.  However, more importantly, the lessons I learned at these clinics have served me in every facet of my career as I judge, show and sell in the arena of big business.  Rich indeed!


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