June 2, 2023

DrKohl_color The Ag Globe Trotter

Dr. Dave M. Kohl

Welcome to the weekly edition of The Ag Globe Trotter by Dr. Dave Kohl.


One of the pleasures of being an educator is to see the fruits of your work through engagement with former students. I have had the opportunity to guest lecture in my former classes at Virginia Tech, taught by former students. Recently, Dr. Alex White asked me to give one of his classes a “dose of the real world.” It was a challenge developing the lectures. This process required some thought on what perspectives and wisdom I could provide based on my former academic experience, industry experience and time as a business owner.

Dr. White indicated that the majority of one of his classes was composed of analytical students, otherwise described as a high “C” on the DiSC personality profile. They often want everything in black-and-white and to be exact. A dose of the real world would indicate that inputs, outputs, and assumptions are not often black-and-white, but in the gray area. This is why in the financial world of spreadsheets, various assumptions for prices, cost of production and interest rates provide the outcomes of possibilities.  

When constructing economic forecasts at our creamery, we have now used four different scenarios: best, average, worst-case, and a new one called the best of the best. The latter was developed to challenge our management and employee owners to seek our “BHAG” or big hairy audacious goal (a coin termed by business author Jim Collins). With a dose of the real world, you will get better at forecasting with experience. However, black swan events such as weather, a pandemic or consumer change will always throw a curveball so you must also have plans A, B, C and D. 

Another dose of the real world is that it is all about people and interconnectedness. Yes, technology is the wave of the future, but people skills are particularly important in business success and life in general. I suggest everyone shut off the technology and be in the moment when engaging with people or in public settings. In terms of communication, oral and nonverbal communication skills and listening skills are the oil and grease that keep the bearings of life moving smoothly! 

One does not go it alone in life. Identify five individuals that are your “go-to” for advice, counsel and new ideas. Often what separates these individuals is that you can depend on them under a wide range of circumstances. Remember, part of your self-worth is equated to your network of people.  

This is just the start of my lectures, and I may incorporate more nuggets over the next few months to help you think critically and contemplate not only finance, but life. 





Dr. Kohl is Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Finance and Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Dr. Kohl has traveled over 8 million miles throughout his professional career and has conducted more than 6,000 workshops and seminars for agricultural groups such as bankers, Farm Credit, FSA and regulators, as well as producer and agribusiness groups. He has published four books and over 1,300 articles on financial and business-related topics in journals, extension and other popular publications.

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