Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What's Your Worth

As the second portion to this weeks short series of the major differences I see between urban and rural life, I'd like to focus on what your time is worth.

Hourly rate.  There, I said it.  Urban people are notorious for this little phrase.  I've overheard a great number of people recount stories of astronomical rates charged by big wig lawyers, psychologists and executives.  As a side note, I find it interesting that many people out on the plains actually pronounce "lawyers" by combining the awy into an i.  I'll allow you to do the translation.

Businesses must know what their people's time is worth in order to generate fees, calculate revenue and create projections.  As I've stated, I work for an international design firm and I too have an hourly rate associated with my time and labor.  I know what I get paid and I know what the company charges for my time.  Oddly enough, there is about a 3.5x difference in the two.  It doesn't bother me that my billing rate is much higher than my take home pay and I am thankful to be well employed with a great company.

Nevertheless, what if we were to apply this same principal to agricultural producers.  Is that even a relevant thought?  First of all, I know that it really isn't.  Second of all, why not?  As a farmer or rancher, do you know what your time is worth?  I understand this thought is almost impossible to calculate, but is there something valuable for rural folks to take away from big city business?  Absolutely.

When I stop and think about how much a client is paying for my time, it automatically kicks me in the behind to continue productive and efficient use of my time.  Ag producers and rural citizens might ponder this in context of their daily activities. Yesterday I spoke about a couple of tailgate conversations that I have witnessed turning into an hour long event.  I even argued that this is one of my favorite parts of rural society.  However, if I was to apply that model to business and my hourly rate it simply can't compute. 

I am absolutely advocating folks continue in the rural tradition and take the time to live the good life. But, some urban ideas might be able to help improve it.  Trying to think critically about what my time in corporate America can bring to the table when I  find myself out in fly over country is a useful exercise for me.  Take for example being efficient as possible will leave me more time for my family and property.  This could allow me to maintain it properly so that urban folks feel absolutely comfortable visiting and learning about agriculture if they decided to visit. On the flip side,  I've been told a person can't always run at a break neck pace on the ranch because it will absolutely ruin you later in life. Most likely a good balance between efficient use of time and living the rural life is appropriate.

So, take pride in your work and remember that your time is worth money.  Even if a person doesn't spend the time to calculate an hourly rate, taking pride in a job well done and efficiently can do some good for the soul.

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