Opportunity is Everywhere

Find your market, and be the best.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Nov. 5, 2014) — “I’ve waited a long time to have this much fun in the cattle business,” said Tom Field, director of the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL) as he took the stage during Angus University at the Angus Means Business National Convention & Trade Show Nov. 5.

Tom Field
Tom Field

Field said he has had a chance to work with all kinds of organizations across many different industries in pursuit of the idea of entrepreneurship, and he has learned that the American Dream is alive and well.

"The American Dream is what we seek deep in our hearts,” he said. “It’s how you live. It’s why [you live]. That’s what entrepreneurship at its heart is all about.”

Field cited a Gallup poll that asked employees and managers in all kinds of industries across all types of companies a series of questions about their engagement. What it found, Field said, is that 30% of people who are active in business and work today, whether as owners or as employees, are fully engaged. He reported 50% are simply along for the ride, and 20% are so disengaged that their presence undermines the organizations they serve.

Entrepreneurs come from the 30%, and must be our focus, he emphasized.

Opportunities are everywhere, but there are things that get in the way of us seeing an opportunity and actually taking it to the market, he noted. He suggested that we remember to be relentlessly positive all the time.

A lot of things can get in our way, but they’re not really the problem, Field said, offering a quote by the character Captain Jack Sparrow of the Pirates of the Caribbean film series: “The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem.”

Asking what you would attempt if you knew you couldn’t fail, Field suggested a series of questions to family members and employees based on that premise, and then following up with questions relating to performance now compared to performance a year ago. After the questions, Field said, then we have to embrace “at warp speed” the understanding that a lot of solutions are outside of us.

“The solutions — part of the answers — are going to come from people we’re not comfortable dealing with because they don’t look like, behave like or understand us,” Field asserted. “They’re the techies, the consumers and the people who see the world just a little bit differently.”

Field insisted that all the value is in the intersection of our differences. Field said this is true even in the business of ranching, cattle production, stockers, feedyards, packers, purveyors, wholesalers, retailers and even chefs.

Though there are many great things going on in agriculture today, Field suggested young people are being discouraged from entering the industry. He asked the audience to encourage young people in agriculture, offering two immediate ways to do so:

Field spoke Wednesday, Nov. 5, during the Angus University program featuring "A Story of A Steak." This extension of the award-winning series of articles in High Plains Journal and segments on The Angus Report was sponsored with support of Merck Animal Health. For more information about the Angus Means Business National Convention & Trade Show, visit www.angusconvention.com.


Editor's Note: This article was written by staff or for the Angus Journal®. It is available for reprint upon request to editor Shauna Hermel. Photos are available upon request.

ANGUS MEANS BUSINESS. The American Angus Association is the nation’s largest beef breed organization, serving nearly 25,000 members across the United States and Canada. It provides programs and services to farmers, ranchers and others who rely on the power of Angus to produce quality genetics for the beef industry and quality beef for consumers. For more information about Angus cattle and the American Angus Association’s programs and services, visit www.angus.org.