9 Tips For Record Book Success
Ahh… Record books. You either love them or you hate ‘em. Throughout my years as an FFA-er doing my own books, and being on the “other side” judging them, I have a few tips to help you rock them!
1. Make entries to your record of experiences REGULARLY.
This is the number one problem I see where students could go from good record books to great record books. When a week, month, or even 3 months pass since you last wrote in it, you are left to make up what you think you did. What a mess! When you write in them daily or weekly, they are more accurate, and your judges will definitely notice come proficiency time.
2. Keep accurate records.
While this ties into #1, it has a whole other meaning when applied to numbers. Did you just compete in a Career Development Event and place 1st? Write it in your white pages so you don’t forget. Just bought twenty head of cattle? Make a note of it so you aren’t left last minute calling dad asking him. Wrote a newsletter that got sent out to 350 people? Write that in your record of experiences and also make a note of it in your own records so you remember to throw that shameless brag into a proficiencies interview!
Pro tip: Create a system to track all this information that works for YOU. It doesn’t have to be super complicated, and could even be as simple as making a notes or calendar entry into your phone. Make the system work for you!
3. Know your vocab.
“How do you calculate net worth?” In my opinion, this is one of the most commonly asked questions in interviews in regard to vocab. Some others to make sure you know are: gross earnings, net earnings, assets, liabilities, and equity.
Pro tip: scan through those books of yours, write down every word and phrase you don’t know, then ask your Advisor to explain them to you!
4. Know your numbers.
Just like it’s important to know your vocab, remembering your numbers is also important. Maybe you know how to calculate net worth, but do you know yours? Being able to recite these numbers when judges ask for them will make them think you are a total rockstar!
Pro tip: Assets – Liabilities = Net worth (A.K.A. “equity”)
5. Know your books like the back of your hand.
“What page is your net worth located?” Be prepared to answer this question in your next interview!.
6. Become a money master.
Being frugal is not only important in the “real world”, but if the judges can see you were responsible in growing your entrepreneurship books or sourcing budget-friendly inputs in your placement books, that will definitely earn you brownie points.
7. Fill out blanks strategically.
What I mean by this is… You know those pesky places where you have to come up with safety procedures? List all the different kinds of tasks you completed in the past year? Make sure to fill those out as completely as possible. Use up all the lines if you can. It shows you are active in your books, and are not being lazy when filling them out. Put some thought into it!
Pro tip: Vary the tasks year to year by changing them to reflect new tasks that show you took on more and more responsibility, and also show that you gained some managerial duties!
8. Know your WHY.
While this one doesn’t seem so important, it really sets you apart when speaking to the judges in your proficiency interviews. You may be able to tell the judges WHAT you do, or HOW you do it, but can you tell them your WHY? Maybe your record books are on your family’s corn and soybean farm. Perhaps your why is “because although my work may seem small, I am contributing to feeding the world.”
Thinking big picture will also help motivate you when times get tough and you feel like giving up.
Pro tip: Watch this Ted Talk by Simon Sinek about the importance of knowing your why.
9. Master your intro
First impressions are so important not only in job interviews, but proficiency interviews as well. This is a surefire way to WOW the judges and set you apart from your competitors!
Pro tip: Include your name, FFA chapter, high-level summary of your books, and your future plans (this could include college plans or simply returning back to the farm).
Maybe not all of these pro tips apply to you, but if you even implement half of them, your project will be amazing!