There it stands before you – a big eyesore. It’s weathered and showing it’s age. Your neighbors scowl and roll their eyes as they drive by. Time and the environment have dilapidated the exterior, showing flakes and deep veins of coarse texture. But the foundation and supports within are thick, stable and as strong as the day your grandfather built it.

paint_the_barn1As you look at it you see more than a dusty, old building. You see a lifetime of sweat equity. It’s not just a barn, it’s part of your life. From a simple point of view, it provided shade on hot, Summer days. But in perspective, it created a focal point for your entire existence. It sheltered livestock and equipment. It kept dry the seed and fertilizer for the upcoming planting seasons. It was a playground for you and your family. But through the memories, through the anxiety of change, you realize… it’s time.

So, with your hand on you son’s shoulder, just as your father did with you, you say, “Well, boy, it’s time to paint the barn.” He looks up at you not realizing this is HIS time.  Time to take the first step into his own destiny.

How do you think you, the farmer, would continue that conversation? Do you picture handing the boy a big bucket of red paint (’cause all barns are supposed to be red, you know) and yelling “HAVE AT KIDDO!” I’m sure the boy would have loved that! Ker-SPLASH! Or do you think “the farmer” would have knelt down beside the boy and explained the need for planning and preparation?

It’s a story that we hear almost on a daily basis (especially those of us in the Midwest). The passing of the torch. The changing of the guard. It’s called succession. Succession is the road map that the above farmer’s family has lived on for generations. While this story talks of a farmer and the “family business,” it applies perfectly to any business looking for success and longevity. It’s imperative when it comes to planning for business and development. It’s imperative to remember when branding.

It’s all about PLANNING for the future.

So, what happened with the boy and the farmer?

Of course, as the boy rolled his eyes, the farmer told him about preparing the surface of the walls for painting. He told him about removing aged paint and sanding the rough spots. He told him about pulling old nails and replacing boards that were too weathered.

He explained to the boy that protecting the barn was one of the most important jobs on the farm, for the barn provided the shelter and a starting point for virtually everything that took place around them. And he told him that his father taught him these things, just as his grandfather had done. And some day, the boy would pass the same advice and values on to his children.

When the farmer was done talking, they both stood there surveying the barn. It was huge. It was going to be a lot of work to paint this barn. It would take days, if not weeks for the two of them to get the barn back to it’s original glory. Intimidating. Tiring. Frightening.

Soon, the boy looked up at the farmer and said, “Dad, why don’t we just rip it down and sell the scrap to craft shops and mills at 170% more than your original purchase price? Then we can parcel off the land to out-of-state commercial developers for $3,500 an acre making you and mom millionaires! That way, I could go off and live on a beach with my gorgeous, yet vapid trophy wife…”


How does your company plan for the future? Are you looking for growth, sustainability and generations of pride and quality? Or are you looking for a quick buck and an escape to an “easier” life with little effort or accountability?

Food for thought.

Keep Cooking (for a future worthy of your children)
Andrew B. Clark
The Brand Chef