Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Three Hats Your Broker Should Be Wearing - Part 2: The Advocate

Two weeks ago tomorrow, on a cold Thanksgiving afternoon, we cut our Christmas tree down from the top of Humbug Summit, somewhere between the union of the Cascade and Sierra Mountain Ranges.

We got out of the warm truck and stepped into a bracing 19 degrees, and ya, it was cold!  That's not accounting for the wind chill factor either.

My kids know better than to complain.  Well, they used to, but after about ten years of this routine, it’s all business to them.  The faster we find, cut and tag a tree, the faster we head down the hill and back into warmth.
 This was the first year, unbeknownst to them, that I actually considered altering our tradition a bit.  It wasn’t only that I wanted to avoid the cold, or the long drive with all six of us squeezed in the truck, or the lack of running water, or all the other factors that make this endeavor so challenging.  

Honestly, it was everything, all together, that made me think more than twice about why this annual holiday hoobie whatie (ok, I’ve watched The Grinch too much maybe) was such a big deal to me.  

It is a hard trip.  

But it’s worth it, for several reasons.  

As we were traversing the mountaintop, truly ‘Laughing as we go,’ out came the retelling of past years excursions. My four kids range in age from 13 to 21, and so many of the details of these trips, mostly fun and enjoyable, are part of their holiday memories.  I can’t say I’m looking forward to how these stories will be retold by my grandchildren, if that day ever comes, but I do think that we have given our kids some happy meaningful childhood memories.  That is important to me.

And we eat great food, we play, stand by the fire and sing, watch favorite movies, and of course, bring home beautiful trees.

So yes, it’s worth it.  The gain is worth the pain.  The short term challenges that we encounter pale in comparison to the rewarding experiences our family shares.

In a similar way, truck brokers have to make decisions like this as well.  Sometimes, we have to choose to take the road less traveled, ignoring the easier option, to bring ultimate good to those who depend on us.    

Brokers, as I wrote about last time, have obligations to their customers, in both the produce and transportation industries, to carry out certain responsibilities.  I referred to this as ‘wearing a hat’ because often this is the way we refer to jobs and roles that people fulfill in their lives.  
The second hat we (brokers) should wear is Advocate.  It is often the other side of Advisor.  Personally, the more time I invest in helping people solve their problems by making suggestions or guiding them through a difficult produce transportation problem, then, the natural result is that I want to speak up and support them publicly if and when they need me to do so.

In the world of moving produce, things happen, both good and bad.  Often, it’s the result of someone making a decision to do or not to do something.  Add to this, the other unique characteristic of moving fresh product is that things happen very fast, and so just like that, the opportunity to turn the tide of events and reach a necessary or desirable outcome is gone.  

If I have had a role in an undesirable result because of some advice I gave, then there really are no options.  It is part of my job to own the problem and help solve it.  

But sometimes, after the dust has settled and it turns out that I was not part of the issue, it still may be my job to speak up and explain or advocate for someone in a predicament.

Here is a quick example.

Anyone who has been in the brokerage business for any length of time has had trucks run late.  Not fun for sure, but it’s part of the business.  Of course, it always has to happen when the product is on ad, or something time critical like this.  The supplier AND the receiver is on pins and needles hoping that the load arrives on time.  

“What?! The truck is going to be late?? How did this happen? Why did (or didn’t) they do this or that?”

And then the unfair accusations begin.  When the hours available at the start of the load should have given the driver enough legal time to arrive, it can be difficult to explain the delay.  

If I know the trucking company well, which is true for us here at Pam Young & Company, Inc. most of the time, or if I have worked with the driver enough to know how they work and it warrants my defending them, then that is what I should do.  My experience with the carrier and its drivers place on me the obligation to go to bat for them when they need me most.

Things happen on the other side too.  

One situation that I do understand can be frustrating happens when someone will order and start a truck, and at some inconvenient point, the dispatch and pick ups change.  Maybe it’s extra miles, or longer wait times, or moving product around in a trailer to get the weight and space correct.  Any of these quickly can drain a driver’s energy and patience, especially because this is the person everyone is depending upon for an on time delivery.  

“What?! The buyer (this is always the culprit, right?) knew this was going to happen but didn’t want to say anything.  If he/she was driving this truck it would be a different story.  Well now I can’t be there on time.”  

Sometimes this is exactly what has happened.  But not always.  Often, because produce is fresh and perishable, things don’t go as planned.  So when the questions and untrue/unfair accusations start flying around, just as I would defend the carrier or driver, so too will I advocate for my produce customer.  

Again,  the more I invest in a person's success in moving their produce or loading their truck, the more skin I have in the game.  When our customers (carrier and produce) choose to ask, listen to and/or follow our advice, it is my responsibility to complete that process if and when they get in a situation where they need someone to stand up for them.

As one would expect, after seventeen years in this business, loading produce is fraught with challenges.  Deliveries go awry.  Late trucks, early trucks, hot temps, cold temps, pallet leaning, pallet falling...

And this is only part of the drama.  Wrong or unavailable product, too much weight, extra picks or drops…  All along the way, time, product, location and often 'people' issues arise.  

Welcome to transportation.

My point is simple.  As we work through these issues, we (everybody) are making decisions that may or may not be the best in the end.  It's in those moments, when everyone is looking at the facts and trying to delicately move through conflict and disruptions, that people may need their brokers to stand up for them.  

It is hard and often uncomfortable. We don't want to lose our main produce accounts, or anger our strongest trucks.  I get it.  But it's part of being in the middle.  Speak up and defend the reputations, the experience, the character and the decisions that you helped (or should have helped) make.

Heading into 2016, significant challenges lie ahead for all of us working in produce and transportation.  There is a lot of confusion and uncertainty surrounding what the new regulations will require and how they will be implemented.  Having an advocate willing to speak up and/or stand up for you will help you understand and move through the transitions.

If you are a produce or carrier customer, your broker is in a unique position to represent you when you need it.  Expect this as part of the service.

If you are a broker, take the high road and go to the mat for your clients.  It’s not only the right thing to do, but it is the most rewarding thing to do.  

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Three Hats Your Broker Should Be Wearing - Part 1: The Advisor

Some people are famous for the hats they wore during their lifetime.  

Abraham Lincoln seemed to live in his stove pipe hat, Picasso made the beret famous, John Wayne sported quite a collection of cowboy hats, and Charlie Chaplin made the bowler famous.  

There are notable women that also are known for their hat choices, among them Amelia Earhart in her leather helmet, Coco Chanel’s trend setting designer hats, and of course, how could we leave out Carmen Miranda and her fruitful and sometimes flamboyant headdresses?

Hats are definitely a matter of personal choice, they have varying levels of usefulness, and while some people look great in a hat, others should never even go there.

A long time friend of mine called me the other day and within a few minutes he was telling me about a recent experience when he had relied on a truck broker to cover a load.  It was a painful few minutes, because honestly, from the very beginning of the story I could tell it was going to turn out bad.

So what does this have to do with hats?

This little story is one that happens all the time in the business of moving produce.  The retelling of it is because brokers fail to wear the hats that are part of the job.

Sometimes truck brokers can actually be like hats:  a matter of personal choice, varying levels of usefulness, and while some people really understand how to manage a produce shipment, many shouldn’t even think about it.

A truck broker is called upon to find a truck or book a load, and the transaction often boils down to a few basic details like location (truck, product origin and load destination) single or team drivers and of course, rate.  In fact, many brokers think that if they handle these details, the work of is done.  And I use the word ‘handle’ loosely.

The truth is, a truck broker committing to moving a produce load should be relied upon to do far more than the above bare essentials.  There are ‘hats’ (responsibilities) that a broker should not only be able to wear well, but should offer and be prepared to do willingly for any customer that chooses to pay for the broker’s services.  

The three roles that a both produce company and a carrier is correct in expecting from the brokers they work with are advisor, advocate and partner.  Perhaps there are more, but generally, most of the skills and abilities that a broker should have will fall into one of these areas.  And of course, depending on a company’s individual goals, some brokers are a better fit than others.  You just have to try them on, sort of.  Right?

Today let’s start with advisor.  This is huge, especially going into the early stages of the implementation of the ELD (electronic log) and Sanitary Transportation regulations.  But leaving these two issues aside, just a normal ‘run of the mill’ load can require a broker to assist in making decisions.  Being prepared and able to advise should be part of a brokerage service.

Here are some examples.

Aly and I have had numerous situations arise where a customer was going to load product that was not compatible in some way.  Sometimes pick up or destination locations do not work, either because of time or geographical areas.  

Weight issues, and occasionally ‘wait’ problems, should factor in on whether a load is doomed to fail when it’s still a mere dispatch.  Yikes, we have seen some interesting attempts at what is destined to be the ultimate failure!  

Temperature monitoring devices?  Did your broker make sure it was on the order? Did he or she remind you to note which pallet it was on?  Not on the floor or wall, right?  Or back up even further. Of course you were reminded to check product counts and make sure that what was loaded was actually on the dispatch.  At the same time, did you make sure that the product was pulping at the right temperature?  Do you know what the right temperature is?

The problem lies in the fact that, as in all industries, it’s easy to make assumptions, especially about people in the jobs and positions they may have.  A dispatcher (and for that matter, at times even an owner) may have the power or the responsibility to book a load for a truck, but that does not translate to having the skills, knowledge or experience to handle a particular shipment.

On the produce side, all I can say is that we frequently encounter a buyer’s inexperience and lack of knowledge about a product’s unique characteristics.  Temperature or ethylene sensitivities, weight limitations, wet/iced product ordered to ride close to or on top of dry cases, and so on.  

Are you an owner operator?  Have you had a question about something about your load and had the broker either ignore you or be act like YOU should know the answer?  Given the costs of both the transportation and product on a produce shipment, there is no ‘stupid’ or inappropriate question.

This is just a short list of things that arise and  that may require a broker to weigh in before the product is ordered, dispatch is sent and the truck is started.  What we have noticed is that the more we choose to share our opinion, the more often we are asked to contribute to serious decisions.  Hence, ‘advisor.’

Honestly, I have not always been willing to wear the advisor hat.  There were reasons for this, and none of them were good.  What I have learned over time is that people want to do a great job, and sometimes, this requires help from those most qualified or in the best position to be helpful.  Often, that would be the truck broker.

One last point about this advisor role.  Brokers are not perfect. There have been plenty of situations when Aly and I were not sure about what to do or say.  So at that point, what I would advise, is honestly say just that, “I am not sure.”  And then get to work and try to find the answer.

It actually can be quite fulfilling to have ideas and information that give our customers, produce and carrier, an opportunity to be successful.

For all you brokers out there, go ahead and put it on.  Be the advisor you are paid to be.  Experience the rewards of being helpful to those dependent on you.  

And those of you working with a broker? Encourage them to advise you when you need it.  Don’t assume you have to know everything.  Leaning on this person for advice can build a great relationship!

Next post, the advocate hat.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Tell Us Another Story Jack!

They say, “All good things must end.”  So comes the end of National Truck Driver Appreciation Week.  All the grateful words and poignant videos of some of our most valuable workers will fade away, at least until next year.

My kids and I have talked about this sometime annoying reality of how the best things in life have endings.  A great meal at home or a beautiful restaurant, a snowy trip to the cabin, a visit to the aunt’s pool, a victorious horse show, movies that really should go on forever...it just seems like there never should be an ending to some of the perfect things in life.

But the one thing that we do have is memories.  Unfortunately, I am finding that they too can diminish (darn age thing), but at least not as fast as time.  For me, it is the people who are in these memories that I remember the most.

So while this week in which America focused its attention on our truck drivers, their work and contributions, both collectively and individually, draws to a close, my gratitude, however, remains.

In the seventeen years that I have owned this company, we have had some very significant achievements and successes.  But my favorite parts of our history are primarily centered around the drivers who are the reason we are who we are today.

Every business has a story, which makes it unique and interesting.  Most good stories, much like memories, have a person somewhere in the telling of it.  Our company has many stories, of course not all with happy endings, but many that not only have a good ending, but they have a main character either doing or saying something that becomes incredibly memorable.

After seventeen years I have gathered a few good tales.  And trust me, some of the do turn into tales bordering on fiction, only because most everybody  loves a ‘happily ever after’ ending.  I do have some great stories, and I wouldn’t trade (most) of them for the world.  But the part of our company’s past is best told by the man I bought the business from in 1998.

Jack is from the northeast corner of Texas.  Before he started this company, he worked everywhere, but mostly in the produce industry.  Oh his stories are good.  They are about a time which in some ways have a fairy tale feeling because it just seems like ‘the good ol’ days’ were full of possibility.  If you could imagine getting something done, darn it, there was a way to do it.

And that’s pretty much how Jack ran the truck brokerage.  Of course, now it seems like everything has to be black or white, right or wrong.  Now we live with technology and regulations and benchmarks and all those measurement doohickies that prove you are, or are not, doing things correctly.  You know, if you can’t measure it, you can’t move it!

To some degree, this rigid world sort of lessens the impact and influence that people wish they could reach.  It sort of takes the ‘try’ out of some of the more ambitious individuals, many of whom are toiling away behind the wheel of a big rig.  

But thanks to stories, even if we have to let some of the more daring dreams of today wait until we can figure out how to ‘implement the most effective and cost saving strategies to maximize the’ whatever, we still have great storytellers like Jack who can tell the tale of Michael B. and his magnificent attempt to haul over 100,000 pounds of carrots over the Tehachapi Mountains on California’s Highway 158.

To this day, when Jack starts this story and several others, he always says things like “If you look back over our history there are a lot of scary things that went on.”  He is talking about the rearview mirror stuff, hindsight vs foresight, that had he known how things would unwind, he would have taken a different path.

But Michael was a ‘cross the T and dot the I’ guy, and never would he even think about leaving ‘illegal.’  No way would he take an ounce over 73,280 pounds (the legal weight limit in those days,) even if it took hours and a million trips back to the loading shed to get it right.

Until one day...just like that, he decided that he was going to make ‘bigger money’ and load his wagon to the max.  Some of his friends who also loaded with Jack were hauling citrus and making some big money, and he wanted the same.

The only problem was that the load he decided to ‘go big’ on happened to be carrots.  

Jack, of course not dreaming Michael would ever load over the limit, told him to put on as many packages as he thought he could carry.  In those days freight was paid by the package instead of a flat rate.  And Michael did.  120,000 pounds worth.

To this day, every time Jack tells the story, he says, “I should have never told him that.”  Jack says he was on pins and needles all the way until Michael called to let him know that he had arrived in Jessup Maryland.  

The receiver was scared to death that the trailer would break in two pieces as he maneuvered around the dock.  And by the time Michael got there, among many things, he had blown at least 3 or 4 tires.  The juice was not worth the squeeze.

Ya boy, Jack has a few humdingers!  But not all scary like this, and many are about wonderful drivers who were hard workers, great family people, and ultimately, awesome friends.

Which brings me back to where I started, about all good things don’t really have to end.  The week may be over, but I still have a job that is filled with great truck drivers who understand the perseverance and consistency required to be a professional driver.  They deliver on the ‘nuts and bolts’ of what it takes to move a load of produce.  

And in the end, I may be getting a brokerage, but for the most part it’s the friendships that have been forged over the past seventeen years that I most appreciate and value.  

Thank you for a job well done, and being wonderful friends!

Monday, August 17, 2015

The View from the Middle

I signed up with Constant Contact last week.  Within an hour one of their reps called me to find out how they could better serve me.  But of course, to offer any worthwhile advice, it all starts with this question:

“Pam, who are you talking to?”  

It is an important question, because if I am going to take the time to write a blog, and hope that something I say ends up being helpful, I do need to know who is listening and who may benefit from something I have to say.

I am a truck broker.  My job is about bringing two worlds together.  As a truck broker specializing in produce transportation, this means I need to understand the unique needs and expectations of both the trucking and produce customer.  

When people refer to brokers, all sorts of things come to mind, as much bad as good.  But one thing for sure is that a broker is a ‘middle person.’   And I won’t even touch the question about whether a broker serves a real purpose, because obviously, if this is my business, I do believe that there are ways a broker should be able to add value to both freight and carrier customers.   

But I do think there are advantages of having a good broker on your side.  Here’s the reason I think this is true.

I am a middle child.  Last week I found out there was actually a Middle Child Day.  We are a special group for sure.  As I thought about my family, especially my siblings, I realized that growing up in that position, while at times it was not a fun place to be, maybe it actually has helped me be a better truck broker.   

Even as grown ups, when there arises a situation where someone in the family needs assistance in communicating or solving a problem with someone else in the family, I still can be the kid in the middle that is called upon for one of three things:

Advice, advocate, and camaraderie.  

For example, some advice, “Since you are around Mom all the time, what would she like for her birthday?”  Or, “Do you think I shouldn’t have told Dad that maybe he should….(fill in the blank?)”  

My advocacy role often meant that I would be given the job of presenting a sibling’s problem to Mom or Dad, often being relied upon to arrive at a compromise or complete solution.

And then there have been times that just being available to lend an ear, nothing being needed beyond a chance to vent or test an idea.

Can you see the similarities between being a middle kid and a truck broker?

Sometimes this means that I am between a rock and a hard place, and sometimes it gives me the best of both worlds.  But for sure it puts me in the best position to help both truck and produce customers.

As a broker, managing a load, from pre-dispatch through delivery and beyond, I need to be available and able to help with all sorts of issues that come up in moving produce.  And often the best way to be most helpful is to see and understand both sides of the problem.  Then, hopefully having this perspective will help lead to successful solutions for both sides.

But before any broker can fill this middle position, there needs to be a solid foundation of key qualities and/or characteristics that actually should be part of any solid business relationship:  loyalty, integrity, determination, and a willingness to serve.

So back to the question of who is in my audience, or why write a blog?

Two points to answer these questions.  

First, I have learned a lot in my seventeen years as a truck broker, but it seems like there are always new things to try, to learn and to experience.  This leads me to believe that others are also interested in learning more about the best ways to move produce.  If something I write about gives someone an idea, a new method to try, or even encouragement, then it’s worth writing about.

Second, in reading various articles about whether brokers are valuable in the both the produce and trucking industries, I do sense that there are a lot of customers on both sides of the fence that are not getting what they are paying for when they work with a broker.  This is disappointing to me.  

If nothing else, my expertise and experience as a middle person may be what someone needs to set their own expectations for their transportation service providers.  Because we all get so focused on getting a load of produce picked up and delivered, often there is not a lot of time, and quite honestly, there is a  lack of interest, in being more careful in selecting a truck broker that is the best fit for a transportation partnership.  

Hopefully your middle person has become your advisor, advocate and compadre.  

Good luck and give us a call!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Learn From a Vaquero Part 1: Ask Questions

A few weeks ago I drove my son down to his first roping clinic. Tim is my third child, now sixteen, and finally getting his turn at fine tuning his skills in something that interests him. Much like other kids who pursue sports, music, dance, etc, Tim has become very determined to learn, improve and excel in handling both his horse and his rope.  

His trainer and boss at the ranch where he works generously offered to sponsor him at this clinic, so with an opportunity to learn with one of the experts, Tim did not hesitate and off we went to a weekend in Paso Robles with Dwight Hill, a renowned horse trainer from Idaho.  

This experience felt a little odd for me. I have three other kids, and they have shown their horses in various equine such as dressage, 3 day events, and cuttings. On the morning of their big day everything is fast paced. Get the horses fed, check your tack and ride times, boots polished, shirts ironed, endless stuff to do. Even on some of the most prepared days we would encounter chaos bordering on mayhem trying to get someone on their horse in time for their round.

But not on Tim’s first day. In fact, it was so quiet over in the arena where he was supposed to be riding that I thought that maybe they had ridden off somewhere unseen. I took a closer look and darn if they all weren’t standing in a circle. Hmmm...I hoped he was learning something. I decided to check it out.

I happened to get to the arena just as Dwight started the clinic. After introducing himself, rather than telling everyone what he was going to teach them, he asked them to be ready to tell him why they came to the clinic, and what they hoped to learn.  

Right from the beginning, Dwight started with what the students wanted or needed to learn.  

You know, teaching is not for everyone. Lots of people think that they can, but while they may have some experience or knowledge that is worthwhile to share, effectively sharing these things is not something that they are able to do. And trying to ‘learn’ a grown up gets really interesting, for a lot of reasons.

Dwight clearly is a gifted teacher. But it’s not just because of his style that I say this. Just as important, there seemed to be an underlying purpose in all his advice and encouragement. He was genuinely interested in his students and in what mattered to them.  

It was an interesting two days. Tim learned a lot, and left more addicted to his sport than when he arrived. As for me, I didn’t ride a horse or throw the first rope, but I also ended up with a ‘take away’ from the weekend.

As I watched Dwight work with his group, I could see how his style and method of helping his students could be applied to my own business as a truck broker. Often, my job is to match a truck with a load. Yes, this is what I do, but my purpose for doing so is to help people in both the trucking and produce industries move their own businesses forward.  

There was quite a lot to learn from Dwight’s teaching example, but the most relevant to me in my own pursuit of delivering quality service to our customers comes down to three main points:

1) Start with the question: Why are you here?

2) Know your stuff: People are depending on your experience and expertise.

3) Participate: Don’t tell, but show.

Today I write about the first lesson, ask questions.

Every rider showed up for a reason. They all had different expectations and various levels of roping and riding skills. Some were preparing for upcoming events and a few some were in the early stages of learning to rope. Others could rope but had new or difficult horses that were preventing them from roping successfully.

So around the circle Dwight went, asking more questions for clarification, giving some short term encouragement, and often dropping bits of advice that the rider could think about before practice started.  

This was not a fast process. It took time, thought and a definite level of vulnerability on the rider’s part to describe his or her goal. But it was a necessary step because each of them had specific reasons and expectations for attending this clinic. The only way Dwight could successfully help them accomplish what they sought after was to find out what it was that was most important to them.

Why is this process important to a truck broker?

In today’s transportation industry, particularly in relation to the produce business, a broker is often seen as a person who has a load or a truck available for some price. I see this a lot, and it is often a true assessment of how many brokers do operate.

It’s not how it should be, however. Just as Dwight started the training relationship with a desire to learn and understand what his students were needing and expecting, so should a broker give careful attention to customers to make sure that the work done actually helps their customer accomplish a specific goal.  

Of course, it takes time, and more important, it takes discipline and willingness to craft a service that is tailored for a customer’s particular interest.  

For example, someone may be working on a new account and having detailed, frequent updates will help them establish competence in the eyes of their new customer. Another situation we have seen often is an inexperienced buyer or salesperson who needs some help in how to cube or properly combine product. Listening and asking questions give us opportunities galore to assist in this meaningful way.

Maybe this person is trying to get something done that should be done in an entirely different manner, or not at all. A trusted broker can make suggestions that ultimately lead to consistent successful deliveries.

On the trucking side, a broker can be incredibly valuable to new or inexperienced carriers, dispatchers and drivers. Produce can be tricky to get loaded and delivered. We have found many companies that are very capable of hauling fresh product but have not had the opportunity to learn how to do it correctly. A quality broker noticing this will be ready, willing, and actually able to make recommendations to guide a carrier new to the produce industry through all sorts of challenges.

It all starts with questions. Why are you here? What do you need to do today? Where are you going? What is, and what is not working? What matters to you?

After all, knowing where someone wants to go is really the best way to get to the destination. Right?

Next, we will take a look at the importance of experience and expertise. See you down the road.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

What is Your 'You-er' than You?

This has been quite the ‘people’ week. All sort of events and celebrations have been happening, and at the center of each one has been a person. And at the center of each of them is a ‘who’ that in many ways influences their lives.

I had a birthday, which of course sprung all sorts of well wishing from wonderful family and friends. Aly had her baby, little Elizabeth, tonight my oldest baby graduates from Hartnell and Tim, my third baby, heads to his first roping clinic.

The wonder of people, as I watched the week unfold, is that we really are all unique. Desires, passions, habits, attitudes and other sorts of characteristics define each of us.  No doubt, even baby Elizabeth, by now only a mere 24 hours old, has begun expressing specific personality traits that she will either come to appreciate or hate in a few years as they probably will affect her life.  

The ‘you-er’ parts of my two children, as is true in most of us, have up sides and down sides. Johanna is very determined, and will be incredibly successful, but has a serious stubborn streak that has at times brought me to the brink of...well, I will leave it at that.  

And Tim, he is so thoughtful! I always hear from people about how kind and helpful he can be. But, and trust me, this weekend will severely test my patience when I watch his clinic because of this particular trait, he has to be perfect. He can catch his cow perfectly, but oh my gosh, if he sees his loop out of the corner of his eye forming anything less than a perfect shape, well, just forget the perfect catch!

On the morning of May 26th, I opened Google and noticed their Doodle was focused on Sally Ride. She shares my birthday. I read a few quick bios about her life, and found that the one thing that seemed to support most of her lifelong endeavors was her love and passion for science. Not only did it drive her pursuits of four (B.A. English, B.S. Physics, Masters and Ph.D in Physics) but it led to quite a notable career at NASA. Later she would become the founder of Sally Ride Science, as well as write books, mostly dedicated to nurture science passion and learning in young people.  

I didn’t take the time to fully learn about her whole life, but I did catch that Dr. Ride was an excellent collegiate tennis player. I also read in several places that she was very focused, and quiet. So it seems as though part of the ‘who’ of Dr. Ride was a consistent determination to excel in the things that mattered to her. Even when the outcome had to be uncomfortable and uncertain at times. While she wasn’t the first woman to be in the astronaut corps, she was one of the earlier women to embark on a career in this program.  She was the first woman to orbit the earth.

Sally has a long list of accomplishments, but the stuff that emerges out of all of this is her ‘you-er’, the part of her that pushed through adversity and setbacks and obstacles so that she emerged with a reputation of honor and courage and 'can do.'
I found her commitment to follow the paths that aligned with her interests and passions motivational. My truck broker world is continually an intersection of competing interests and needs of people in the produce and trucking industries. Often, I see both sides, and in my earlier years of running my business, I found the tension between the two groups distracting and unproductive.   

Something that those who know me and my ‘you-er’ laugh at this, but one of the meanings of my name ‘Pamela’ is peacemaker. It is sort of funny, because making peace (Johanna’s little stubborn streak may have come from me) has not always come easy to me. But I have to say, deep down, I want people to get along. I see much potential when people appreciate and respect each other. This really is a significant part of my ‘you-er.’

I decided about four years ago that if I was going to keep this business, I was going to be happy. I started being more proactive by looking for (and seizing) opportunities to help people understand the parts of the produce transportation industry that were unclear or maybe needed some explanation.  

There is not a day that goes by that there isn 't something in the produce and transportation news that isn't laden with potential conflict or challenge.

Bearing down on the produce industry are issues such as GMO questions, drought impacts, Go Local push, uncertain immigration reform, food safety changes, and the debate over how to get people to eat more produce.

At the same time, carriers are dealing with the impact of hours of service , questionable CSA scores, the driver shortage, fuel price inconsistencies, uncertain margins, year round freight, and yes, for them too, food safety.

But in all these challenges and travails there lies the one wonderful constant: the ‘you-er’ that lies in all of us. There will always be those who see beyond the obstacles and issues, those who love to work hard and well, and definitely those who find strength and courage in helping others move forward.   

People are truly amazing, particularly when they find their best ‘you-er’ and use it to make life positive and productive for themselves and others.

One last interesting note about Dr. Ride. Her move into NASA did not happen because she was noticed and sought after by the space program. She responded to an ad in a college newspaper. There aren’t a lot of details about this decision, but it seems like she saw and then did. That simple.

I mention this because sometimes, for various reasons, I make the mistake of hesitating to follow through on something that is definitely aligned with my interests and passion.  One little step for Sally Ride launched her into her amazing career, doing the things she loved!

So what is your best ‘you-er’, and what are you doing with it?