Miss American Angus

Lauren Wolter - 2024 Miss American Angus

Servant Leader

Kelsey Theis

It was foggy, cold, and completely dark outside. At 6:00 AM my dad and I climbed into the truck to deliver a bull, I thought to myself “You know what I need? A large cup of coffee.” My dad on the other hand, already several cups deep, was on a completely different wavelength as he proceeded to turn on none other than The John Maxwell Leadership Podcast. Perfect start to the morning! Several things have changed since that fateful bull delivery years ago. I am now a morning person and fan of The John Maxwell Leadership Podcast. But a few things remain constant too, like my passion for Angus cattle and my desire to serve others to the best of my ability.

Servant leadership, it's one thing the Angus breed, John Maxwell and I can all agree on. John Maxwell himself declares, “The measure of a leader is not the number of people who serve him, but the number of people he serves.” Serving more than 25,000 members, the American Angus Association is already embodying the servant leader mindset. But how can I serve others? How do I make a difference? Answering these questions sounds like a daunting task if you ask me. Thankfully, I have been brought up in the Angus Family, an environment that has taught me what it means to live by a set of values, use them to guide your principles, and above all else be an individual of great character. In my mind, leading in our world today is simply a function of three Is: integrity, inspiration, and initiative.

As a section FFA officer in high school, one of my duties was facilitating chapter visits. Part of our activity was creating little credit-card sized pieces of paper called goal-cards. These slips asked the students what their core values and goals were. During this activity I was able to identify that my own core value is integrity. It's a value I have seen demonstrated everytime my family stands behind a bull we have sold, and it's one that I believe Certified Angus Beef is a prime example of. They demonstrate how the value of integrity can foster success. Many might ask. “Does a black hide really make all that much difference in meat quality?” and the simple answer would be no. CAB did not become the highly respected, reputable brand it is today by simply providing the consumer with Angus beef. No, CAB is successful because it promises that every bite will be delicious, and as a company they have the integrity to deliver on this promise to the consumer. Sure, CAB is pretty tasty, but taste alone doesn’t generate over a billion pounds of beef sales. Integrity does.

The second I, Inspiration. Our ability to inspire is one of my favorite qualities of the Angus Family. I could stand up here today and run through my list of every person within the Angus breed that has ever inspired me, but we might be here all day long. If we are going to talk about inspiration, I would be remiss to leave out George Grant. Now there is a man who has been able to serve the world. In just five short years of life following the delivery of the Angus bulls, Grant was able to lay a foundation for a breed founded on innovation. Like all great leaders do, Grant saw adversity during his time, but he persevered knowing his four bulls would have the ability to impact the industry on a global level. One-hundred and fifty years later Grant is still serving the world.

Integrity and inspiration are two values I have been raised to live by, not only by my parents, but by my Angus Family as a whole. We show up when it matters, we lift each other up, and we push each other to be better. My first week of college made me appreciate this more than ever before. When my mom and I were moving into my dorm, our personal struggle with patience led to a much deeper struggle to loft my bed. With just a few texts, former Miss American Angus Esther Tarphoff was at my door with a rubber mallet and a lunch invitation. That same week, as my family dealt with my grandpa’s cancer battle, countless members of our Angus family reached out with expressions of sympathy and hope. Friends and fellow breeders from states away attended the funeral, showing me what it means to be there when it matters.

When it comes to the third and final I; initiative, I am a firm believer that Angus does a better job of investing in the future than any other organization. The mission of the Angus Foundation is one of servitude in itself: youth, education, and research. Through conferences, educational seminars like Angus University, and fundraising initiatives like Fund the Future, Angus has set itself up to continue serving in the future. We understand that the best way we can successfully lead in our world today is by taking the initiative to develop the leaders of tomorrow.

As much as I love attending LEAD and Raising the Bar every year, I recognize that simply sitting in leadership workshops isn’t truly where my leadership was born. Rather it is the opportunity to surround myself with like-minded individuals. People who also desire to leave an impact on the world like George Grant and serve others as effectively as our association does. As Angus breeders we embody what it means to be a servant leader. We all have our own set of values, our operations follow a set of principles, and as an Angus family we are constantly pushing each other to take initiative and be better.

I’ll conclude with another quote of John Maxwell’s: “Everything you want to accomplish as a leader ultimately hinges on the people you have around you.” I could not be more thankful for the Angus Family surrounding me. Looking around this room there are so many faces in here that have offered advice, served as a listening ear, or simply been a role model in my life. You all have shown me what it means to live with integrity, work to inspire others, and always take initiative. Thank you for showing me how to be a servant leader.