Kristjan Hebert, managing partner at Hebert Grain Ventures, discusses how to leverage your team for year-on-year growth and optimization. From CPA to entrepreneur, Kristjan knows the importance of moving fast, making mistakes, and trusting your gut.
From Accountant to Farmer
Kristjan began his career as a CPA. He soon realized, however, his true calling was in farming. After returning to the family farm, he grew it to a 30,000-acre operation, becoming recognized as one of the best and most progressive young leaders in agriculture.
Since then, he’s founded or led several businesses dedicated to helping farmers optimize their land and profits.
If You’re Not Growing, You’re Dying
Sports is a prevailing metaphor for Kristjan, from which he has adopted a team mindset. His father, a key mentor in his life and business partner, taught him the first of his core values: “Can’t isn’t an option; it’s a challenge.”
His other core values include:
- Adopting a win-win mentality and a spirit of collaboration.
- Innovating and optimizing instead of getting stuck in the way things have always been done.
- Choosing a growth mindset because, “if you’re not growing, you’re dying.”
- Encouraging your team to believe in themselves.
Cultivating Future Leaders
Noting that too many entrepreneurs quit early, Kristjan instead encourages leaders to lean into the strengths of others. This will help you move past obstacles and get you where you want to be.
Kristjan strives to lead by example, often working right alongside everyone else and putting in long hours.
He believes in training team members to be leaders by explaining to them where the pitfalls are, how to avoid them, then encouraging them to take initiative. You need fewer managers when you’re selective in finding the right people who will take ownership and initiative.
Leveraging Success as Veto Power
While Hebert Grain Ventures successfully negotiates the tension of improving the land for the next generation while also increasing financial performance now, his private equity firm, Maverick Ag, maintains a two-fold focus:
- Help young people buy out the business they’re in when the owners want to retire.
- Invest in ventures that affect his industry and their consumers.
Yet, Kristjan doesn’t define success in terms of numbers:
[24:40] “My definition of when you’ve made it as an entrepreneur…is [having] complete veto [power] on what you say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to on a day-to-day basis and…only do things you love or [that are] in your Unique Ability®.”
Like many entrepreneurs, he doesn’t plan on ever retiring.
It’s Not Risky to Trust Your Gut
Kristjan closes with two pieces of advice.
First, trust your gut. The biggest risk you could take is doing something you don’t believe in.
[29:55] “It’s not high-risk if you really believe in it.”
Second, remember that you only have to be better than the competition 5% of the time. After all, the difference between the average ball player and the All-Star is that the All-Star hits the ball one more time every 20 at-bats.
How do you gain that competitive advantage? Build a network with people smarter than you who can poke holes in your theories.