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terry jones.jpg American Angus Assn.

Cattle producers told to be disruptors

Cattle producers attending Angus convention told to turn disruption off and turn innovation on.

Innovation and disruption are two sides of the same coin, and which side one chooses to reference depends a lot on if it’s their idea or that of another, Travelocity founder and former chairman of Kayak.com Terry Jones told those attending the Angus convention opening session in Reno, Nev.

“Change is inevitable. Growth is optional,” Jones said, “and if you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.” He encouraged the cattle industry to “own the edge,” because that is where the customer is found.

Uber, the largest limo company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the largest publisher, develops no content. Ali Baba, the largest retailer, doesn't have inventory. Air B&B has no real estate. What do they own? They own the edge, Jones said.

Be innovative. Be the disruptor. “Don’t let some kid in the Valley take your assets and edge,” Jones said, referencing how technology is quickly progressing and changing how the world does business. The cattle industry needs to be a part of that, he said.

Don’t think for one minute that your margin isn’t someone else’s opportunity. You may have the brand, the supply chain, the logistics advantage and even the customers, but are you easy to do business with? If you aren’t easy to work with and use, Jones said, someone else is going to come along and take your business and customers away from you.

That said, disruption should never be viewed as a business threat. As an organization, an industry, you’ve got to experiment, Jones said, noting that when one fails, as one will, always kill the projects and not people. When one kills people, they also quickly kill innovation.

On the topic of innovation, Jones embraces the idea of starting with a dream -- a big dream. The booking of travel was made easy, accessible and self-reliant when Jones disrupted the business and founded Travelocity, the first website that allowed customers to reserve, book and purchase travel online without going to a travel agency.

The same thing was done when Kayak launched. Both Kayak and Travelocity were possible given the growing connectivity of systems. As Jones noted, it took 75 years for the telephone book to reach 50 million users -- an audience that Pokemon Go recently achieved in just 15 days.

Kodak invented the digital camera but never took it to market. Someone else came along and did just that and put Kodak right out of business. Photography didn't go away, Kodak did, Jones said, noting that it never works well when one tries to hold back technology.

So, Jones asked the group, what is holding you back? He encouraged the industry to stop saying no and to instead start saying yes. “You have to get that idea over the finish line,” he said.

Have clarity and focus, and never settle. You know where you need to go, so adopt the technology to get you there. Turn the disruption off, and turn the innovation on forever, Jones said.

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