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Doug's Market Intel: If you want your results to make a quantum leap forward, here are some simple, but not easy, methods to get there.

Doug Ferguson

May 26, 2023

8 Min Read
Doug's Market Intel
Watch each Friday for Doug Ferguson's Market Intel blog on Beef Producer and BEEF Magazine.VECTORBOMB-THINKSTOCKPHOTOS

An email discussion group I am a part of recently had a short discussion about being average.  It seems many people are satisfied with being average.  Probably because it suggests they are doing just as good as everyone else around them.  I think this probably all started when we were school age.  The kids that consistently got high scores on tests were made fun of for being “over achievers” and the kids that were failing were made fun of were called “slackers”.  If you were right in the middle where average was, no one made fun of you. It was the safe zone.

After I graduated from high school and became more serious about rodeo, things inside my mind began to change.  I came to despise average or just being mediocre.  I have come to realize there are several reasons why.

The first reason I despise average is the bar is set so low.  We tend to think of average as in the middle.  It is not.  There is only a handful of people that pull the average up a bit.  There are thousands of people pulling it down.  The average then is not in the middle, it is pulled to the lower end.  Here’s an example from a sale of 250 head of first calf heifer pairs.  The sale toppers sold for $3,250.  There were three dozen of them sold at over $3,000.  Then there were drafts that sold for $1,600.  The sale average for the heifer pairs was $2,246.  That is $650 above the least expensive lot and $1,000 below the sale toppers.  Average is not in the middle, it is below the middle

The second reason I despise average is it takes just a little more effort to rise above it.  The $1,600 pairs would have brought $2,000 if they were 100 pounds heavier.  Just a little more feed each day and their sale price would’ve been higher, and the sale average would’ve been higher.  I can see it on my 12-year-old daughter’s basketball team.  We can tell who practices at home on their own time and who doesn’t.

The third reason I despise average is more personal, and that is because I am afraid I will see it in myself.

Some of you have heard this before, and I believe it is true.  Where you are 10 years from now will be determined by the books you read and the people you talk to.  Right there is the little extra effort.  If you can just read 10 pages a day from a good book you can improve your average.  What if you spent an hour a day studying your craft for an entire year?  By December 31 that will equate out to nine, 40 hour work weeks of just improving yourself.  That will certainly improve your results and raise your own personal average.

Then there’s the people you talk to.  This is where I am going to cut deep because, as you already can guess, I am talking about cutting them out at the most or reducing time spent on them at the least.  A decision has to be made, and for some it is a tough one.  Do you want to be average and have average friends? Or are you dedicated to your mission and achieving high performance goals?

I have cut people out of my life before that were holding my personal average down, and each time I did my results took a quantum leap.  It is crazy how just that little influence from them hampers us like that.  I quit talking to a person eight months ago and since then I have had the longest run with the most consistently profitable trades I have ever done in over 20 years!

This past fall/winter I told some people to give this practice a try.  They weren’t satisfied with the results they were getting and asked for my opinion.  I knew these people and told them to quit taking part in a monthly conference call or mastermind group they were a part of, or to cut off a certain mentor for a few months. This suggestion was met coldly and all of them didn’t speak to me for months.

Within the last month I have finally heard from them again, except one, and they shared with me that their results have improved.  One of them is experiencing quantum leap results.  He is now noticing things he never noticed before and once a person achieves that higher level of awareness, it is locked in. 

I hope this illustrates how the slight influence from a person can have a huge impact on our results.  We have the privilege to chose who we spend time with and who we listen to.  This gives us the power to choose our personal average.  We have the power to choose if we spend our time studying something or watching TV.  If you don’t like the results you are getting, make slightly different choices.

Market commentary

After the atypical cow last Friday, I thought we would see prices back off a bit.  This is the problem with market forecasting, it is just a guess and it is likely going to be wrong.  Prices for all classes of stock were higher.  As I quickly scroll down social media, I can’t help but notice stockyards are not posting pictures of their feeder weights and prices.  They are posting pics of weigh cow weights and prices.  With slaughter values going up, it changes the Intrinsic Value of breeding stock.  The Actual Values of breeding stock has had a difficult time out pacing IV and these higher slaughter values will continue to make breeding stock’s AV under-valued to their IV.

On the feeder and fat part of the industry it is certainly a weight gain business right now.  This week the Value of Gain was higher on cattle under 700#.  Between 700 and 900# VOG got a little weak at some auctions (weak meaning slipping below cost of gain).  As a whole, if we look at VOG from a three weight to a fat we are in the good.

Corn price got at little rebound this week.  Another market shocker to me was the price of hay at hay auctions.  Once again we saw new highs.  If the prices stay at this level it will create an imbalance between the COG and VOG that won’t be sustainable.  Sell/buy marketing skill will be necessary to be sure that we are recapturing the full value of feed.

Mental Health

May is mental health awareness month and I want to thank my wife for her input on the topic the last few weeks.  I will not be handing over my keyboard to her to finish out the month on this topic.  I want to share my own personal observations of being married to a mental health therapist. Before I write the things I do, I want to underscore that if you feel like you need help do not hesitate to reach out for it and ask.  That is what they are there for.

To me it looks like a super tough job being a mental health therapist.  Some of the things my wife hears in a session or has to deal with at a local school have to be tough to handle because as a parent you have that fear in the back of your mind that it could’ve been your kid.  These therapists have to learn how to compartmentalize and separate themselves and not bring that garbage home with them.  Its tough to do when your heart aches for a child.

I remember one time my wife answered a call on the agency’s 24-hour crisis line during family time.  I could tell afterward something was off by the way she acted.  The person she was talking to was suicidal and she was certain they were going to go through with it while she was on the phone with them.  The good news is she talked that person out of it, but it affected her for a while.

We hear things all the time like “thank a farmer” or “reach out if you need help”.  I just want to show the other side of what these therapists do and maybe we need to thank them as well.

I also want to share some of the good they do.  My wife tells me the success rate with clients is super low.  It is super hard to get people to change behaviors.  But for the ones it has helped the results are astounding.  I have witnessed people thank her in public.  People have given her hugs and stated if it weren’t for her or another therapist in that office they, or their child, may not be alive today.

There is a young man here that was a drug addict.  The police officer that arrested him called in a referral for him, again.  Finally, that last time the addict followed through on it and got help.  He has been clean for a while and has his life in order.  He has set up housing, and provided a safe structured environment for other addicts who are on the road to recovery.  A pattern I have seen here is that when one person like this receives help they tend to turn around and help others that were like them.  There is a compound effect.

Being the cowboy type myself, I understand the stigmatism of asking for help.  My wife will back me up on this.  If you ask for help, find a therapist that fits.  We need one that understands our way of life.  A yuppie therapist wont work, be selective just like you are when buying bulls.

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