Podcast: Investing in tomorrow's ag leaders w/Nancy Barcus

Agriculture Future of America (AFA) is a Kansas City-based nonprofit organization which helps young leaders engage in the world of food and agriculture. Our guest today is Nancy Barcus, Chief Operating Officer of AFA, and she shares with us some of AFA's principles and how the organization interacts with and shapes today's young people into tomorrow's leaders—a great lesson for current farm or small business leaders who work with the younger generation in building skills around leadership and independence.

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The smooth handoff, part 1

This week in his Finance First column, Darren Frye begins tackling the idea of transitioning one's farm to the next generation. It's a daunting task, especially when you still have to run a working farm while undertaking it. It can be a challenge to set aside time regularly for planning the legacy of your farm, but when you consider the stakes—there's not much choice but to make the time. 

In this article, Darren covers the first two aspects to consider when drafting a plan for the future of your farm and planning its transition: The question of "why?" and the communication aspect of the plan. Read this insightful piece only at FarmFutures.com.

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Podcast: Highlights—Five from 50

Welcome to the 50th episode of Modern Farm Business™ podcast! This time around, Dean reviewed some of some of the lessons from a few of our guests which really resonated with him so far. This week he's highlighting some of those items which stood out as particularly impactful to business, relationships and just to better our lives in general.

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Read our latest Smart Series newsletter for free

The early summer 2018 edition of Smart Series has been released. In it you'll find a look at how to take advantage of rally potential this summer, why you should revisit your farm's projections, why the difference between cash value and replacement cost matters so much, and how asking questions is one key to good leadership—as well as a new farm success series story and commentary on making 2018 a winning year by Darren Frye.

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A farm's books are its foundation

Everyone in farming has certain aspects of the job that appeal to them, and probably can think of a few parts of the business that don't quite hold the same fascination. In your business, where does bookkeeping lie on that spectrum for you? If you like digging into numbers, maybe your heart just skipped a beat. If you dread doing the books, perhaps you think of a way to avoid that particular task whenever possible. Or maybe you don't exactly enjoy working with the books, but you don't mind doing what has to be done—especially if you're the best-suited to deal with that sort of work in your operation.

Bookkeeping may not be very "sexy," but if you read this week's piece at FarmFutures.com by Darren Frye, you'll be reminded how integral the farm's records are to the success of the farm. 

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Podcast: The power of habit

What separates both the most successful and the least successful people from the average in our economy? It's one thing: their habits. In this episode we're talking about how, as leaders, we can put unconscious thinking to work as an advantage for our business. Developing good habits, this week on Modern Farm Business™ podcast.

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Day-to-day decisions affect your legacy

Planting season, much like harvest, sometimes can have the tendency to get us focused on knocking out a daily list of to-do's and losing sight of the "bigger picture" at stake. Diligence pays off when it comes to accomplishing those day-to-day tasks, but occasionally that kind of tunnel-vision can be a detriment to your farm's legacy.

In this week's Finance First column, Darren Frye offers reminders and tips on how and why to "zoom out" to a wider view of the operation to help keep perspective on all the aspects it entails. They're your goals...don't lose sight of them because you've been blinded by the immediacy of daily tasks.

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Be a contrarian

Doing things the way they’ve always been done provides comfort and confidence. Today’s environment, however, is sorting out those who refuse to adapt to change. In this piece originally published in Corn + Soybean Digest, Water Street Solutions’ Dean Heffta writes about the advantages of using contrary thinking to tackle problems from a new and innovative angle.

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Podcast: The farm business mind with Dr. David Kohl

Being Professor Emeritus of Agriculture & Applied Economics at Virginia Tech and part owner of a value-added dairy business would be enough to keep most people busy. Dr. David Kohl is that and more. In addition to his duties as co-owner of Homestead Creamery in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Dr. Kohl has spent the latter part of his career travelling over 9 million miles conducting financial/business workshops & seminars. He's been an insightful and particularly well-received guest speaker at a couple of Water Street Solutions events in the past—but we haven't heard from him in a while, so we thought we'd reach out and see what his thoughts are on today's ag environment. This week Dr. Kohl joins Dean on Modern Farm Business™ podcast to discuss his latest insights on farm leadership and the business of farming.

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Face current reality with an eye on the future

One of the core responsibilities of the farm leader is to envision the operation's future and guide it toward those goals. It's been tough the past few years on most farm leaders, but that eye on the future continues to be a vital part of leading any business. The key is to remain grounded in reality while steering the farm toward those goals.

A reality check is a good place to start. In his latest Finance First post, Water Street Solutions CEO Darren Frye explains how critical it is to know the farm's current financial state and have realistic projections for the current crop year, as well as the importance of stakeholder communication to get everyone on the same page in pursuit of those goals.

Read on at FarmFutures.com.

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Podcast: Cut the cost of drama with Cy Wakeman

In the latest episode of Modern Farm Business™ podcast, we feature a conversation with guest Cy Wakeman. Cy is a highly accomplished leadership expert, bestselling author, keynote speaker, business consultant and global thought leader who is best known for her concept of “reality-based leadership.” Her latest book, No Ego, presents a modern approach to leadership which helps to diffuse workplace drama and create a culture of accountability, innovation and cooperation by eliminating ego-driven leadership.

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For less frustrating communication—confirm, don't assume

Communication can be challenging, and farm operations are no exception to that rule. When the pressure is on to get things done on the farm, that’s when communication needs to be running smoothly, but that’s also when it can tend to break down the most. Maybe time is running short and we think we’ve explained something in a crystal clear way to an employee, yet find out later that they misunderstood us in some way. It can be frustrating to feel like you’ve explained something multiple times but the message still doesn’t seem to be getting through.

In his latest Finance First piece, Darren Frye takes on communication with less frustration. Read it on his blog at FarmFutures.com.

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Is your farm attracting the right employees?

The people working on your farm make a big difference. The way your leadership team handles poor performance and coaching is just as important. Water Street Solutions CEO Darren Frye writes about human resources issues which farm leaders face and how they can impact the bottom line of your operation if not properly addressed.

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Focus on the farm's opportunities

Data from a recent Farm Futures survey revealed that the current operating environment is presenting challenges to farmers everywhere. The executive editor Mike Wilson pointed out that in a blog post about the survey that there appears to be a very large range in terms of how farmers are facing challenges, which he summed up as, "One man's roadblock is another man's opportunity."

Darren Frye built on this topic in his own blog post at Farm Futures, showing readers how to "flip the script" and find the mindset that helps us concentrate on proactive, opportunity-driven motivations instead of living our lives with a "roadblock" mentality of victim thinking. Read the piece only on Finance First at FarmFutures.com.

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Podcast: Compensation dynamics on the farm

Working with family and partners in business can lead to questions about the right approach to compensation. Larry Custer, Account Manager with Water Street Solutions, joins Dean to share best practices about setting the stage for good expectations with partners and employees.

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Three areas of focus to build a professional operation

At some point, most farmers make the decision to push their farm to the next level. Often, when we think about other area farms which encompass what that means for us, their level of professionalism is admirable. Having a reputation of being a professional operation can have many benefits in the community and in your business relationships.

In his latest Finance First post at FarmFutures.com, Darren Frye covers three ways to build a reputation of professionalism on your farm. Click the link to read the article.

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Podcast: "It's complicated." Leading with Systems Thinking

The brain tends to oversimplify when it comes to interpreting causes of our successes and failures; they're really brought about through various systems rather than one factor. It's vital that we recognize this as leaders, because effective leading requires a clear understanding of the world around us and the problems we have to address.

In this episode of Modern Farm Business™ podcast, host Dean Heffta explores how to lead using Systems Thinking.

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Talk with your banker about where you stand

Darren Frye writes about the importance of open, frequent communication with stakeholders in your operation—and in particular, two key metrics a farmer can utilize to help ease their banker’s mind. Take a look at what up-to-date net worth and working capital figures can do to help a farmer diagnose their operation’s financial health.

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Is the farm's future clear or cloudy?

A farm CEO is responsible for guiding the operation toward its goals, defining its priorities, and designing and executing the plans needed to reach those goals by taking care of the farm's priorities. Sometimes the farm's future isn't as clear as we'd like. You might get caught up between juggling financial goals, growth goals, production targets and leadership development in the succeeding generation.

Darren Frye wrote at FarmFutures.com about the incredible benefits of having a third-party advisor work alongside you in your operation. Read all about it in his latest Finance First column.

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