2023 Year in Review – It was anything but dull.

Maybe it’s just me, but as I get older, I am finding that time is speeding up and each year passes at a much faster rate than the one prior. When I try to sit down and identify key pieces of inspirational information over the past twelve months, I barely can remember who or what I did yesterday. Maybe that can be the message for 2023 – the year that wasn’t. There, done for the day, lock the door and go home.


In all seriousness, I found that 2023 had so many ups and downs that there really wasn’t one item to nail down as the “TSN turning point”. So, rather than leaving you with my final blog of the year about any one thing, we are going to call this the blog of “inspirational quotes” of the year.


Play to win with the cards you have, not the cards you wish you had.


This quote came directly from Dan Sullivan at Strategic Coach the last time I was in Toronto; I don’t usually take notes during a session, but this one I had to save for later. Since that moment I have found myself using it in presentations as well as in numerous conversations. To me this was one of the focuses of 2023, whether capital or land, play the hand you were dealt.


In agriculture we always find it easy to look over the fence. In fact, our consulting division has made a living off running X9 quotes for farms based on this same sentiment. As we move into a tighter margin 2024 and come out of the latest canola drop in price in 2023, we need to remember as operations we will live or die by our own hand. Yes, environment and markets play a role, but in a business where you can use insurance to safeguard profitability, the true risk is either internal management or external policy (see point number 2 for this).


So, moving into the coming year, I believe we need to remember that none of us know what anybody else is going through; or furthermore, we always judge ourselves considerably harder than those around us. In the end, we need to realise that somebody somewhere in the world will always be kicking our butt at something.


Can’t go green if we are in the red.


I could have written an entire blog on how 2023 was the year that policy died, but to tell you the truth I am tired of the discussion. My business partner often has thrown out this statement, and I believe it sums up the discussions in government and between producers today quite nicely. To be sustainable in the future, we need to work together to find a solution that works for all sides of the coin.


For us, the year was probably one step too far into politics. We had planned to be more involved in policy back in 2020 but as Kristjan currently flies back from Dubai and COP28, we went a little further than any of us probably expected to. 


The truth is we don’t know what the next steps may be, and we are just trying to be involved at some level in the process of building the sidewalk. I see both sides as we do need a clean future for our children and the next generation to be able to thrive, but this must be in both the environment and financial areas. If one of those is not in line, they both fail. For this I would say that the year has identified that the future of farms may be fought in boardrooms and government buildings, not in the dirt.


Success is having the freedom of choice.


As an entrepreneur, I have been given the freedom to create a future however I want. The problem that I have found is that in my past life this was always driven by a motivation of money. I believed that freedom of money would lead to happiness and being able to do everything in life that I ever wanted or dreamed about. This year for me personally, has been a year that changed my mindset on the future, both professionally and personally.


When I left public practice, it was less about money (I was similar in both circumstances), and more about time commitment and future. The first year of Strategic Coach was probably a waste of money to be honest, as my focus remained on money because that was always my mindset. Only in the last couple of years has this changed. I now look at freedom of time and freedom of purpose as being more important than making another dollar. Yes, I need to be able to pay the bills, but for true happiness overseeing my calendar and my purpose going forward is now just as important.


I think as farms, we always had a focus on money and thought that time worked was more of a success metric than it is. Now, with the generational wealth in land, money has become lower on the list for many operations, and they are finding that time to spend with loved ones, or for some, a purpose moving forward are more important factors. This is a shift I saw in 2023, the newer generations are trying to buy back time.


In the end I could have written a novel on all the things that happened in the year. From commodity price swings to the recurring drought to several government policies coming down on agriculture. But I find every other article or blog has focused here. I chose to go the route of mindset and thought as I believe that times are slowly changing in agriculture. Moving forward I don’t know what will happen with tighter margins, a looming recession, or a currently dry environment for most, but I do know that it will be anything but dull.