Teach others and continue learning to ensure the future

What do you know now that you didn't know back then? If you've been farming a while, you've surely gathered a fair amount of wisdom along the way that you wish you hadn't had to go through hardship to discover. Sure, some things we just have to experience for ourselves, but wouldn't it be great if you'd gotten a heads-up on a few of those other things?

In his latest blog post at FarmFutures.com, Water Street CEO Darren Frye explores how lifelong learning can help producers make an investment in the future of agriculture—not just by acquiring knowledge for oneself, but also by passing it on to the next generation.

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Smart Series Midsummer 2018: Sneak Peek

The latest issue of our Smart Series newsletter has arrived! Take a peek inside with this article on farm leadership written by Senior Director Dean Heffta, “Five business lessons from the farm.”

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Who's asking the questions? You or your farm's financial advisor?

If your farm faces challenges related to the current ag economic climate, are your financial advisors bringing you new ideas? Do your advisor and accountant ask you questions that help to spark new thinking within your operation?

Darren Frye, President and CEO of Water Street Solutions, has some ideas around the types of questions your advisor should probably be asking you to make a real difference in how you're running your farming operation.

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Create a competitive business plan for your farm

What’s the key to drafting a successful farm business strategy? It’s getting everyone in the operation on the same page—literally. Write the plan down, follow through, and follow up. This piece taken from a previous issue of our Smart Series newsletter explores the steps to creating a business plan that works, and what a farm leader needs to do to ensure its success.

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Podcast: Overcoming four hurdles to creative problem-solving

It's our one-year anniversary here at Modern Farm Business™ podcast, and this week we're talking about using creative thinking to solve problems. Many factors can hamper creative thought, and Dean discusses how to tackle them and get the ideas flowing. Also, stay tuned next week for an exclusive giveaway opportunity in celebration of our first year of podcasting. Subscribe now at Apple Podcasts so you never miss an episode!

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What are the best farm leaders doing?

Water Street Solutions President and CEO Darren Frye has some thoughts he'd like to share this week on what attributes or practices many of the best leaders have in common--whether we're talking about historical political leaders, modern-day entrepreneurs, or maybe even someone we know on a local school board or in restaurant management. What common practices set these successful leaders apart from their less successful contemporaries? Read his latest Finance First piece at FarmFutures.com to find out.

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What do top farmers have in common?

There are certain traits that the best farmers, as a group, tend to share. Passion and commitment to farming are just a couple of these traits. Darren Frye, President and CEO of Water Street Solutions, shares another quality that top farmers seem to share: grit. Find out what he means—and how you can develop this quality in yourself and the next generation on your farm—in this piece previously published in his Finance First column at FarmFutures.com.

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Podcast: The power of standards

“This is how we put the tools back at the end of the day.”
“We wear steel-toed boots here, all the time.”
“There is no tobacco use allowed on the property.”
Standards.

In this episode of Modern Farm Business™ podcast, Dean Heffta discusses the power of standards as they relate to our business and lives. As leaders, we are charged with building strong business systems, developing our staff and keeping a clear vision of the future in our minds. Standards are a key component of what’s at work under the surface when we see successful businesses and families. Explore why having standards is important and how to go about putting them in place if your operation is lacking.

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Financials: not just for "down time"

One of Darren Frye's Farm Futures readers recently wrote in with a question about how to use their farm's financials more regularly throughout the year rather than maintaining their current mindset of only really looking at them in the winter. His response involves using financials in the summer to test one's projection abilities from the past winter. To read more and find out how this can help your farm, see his piece at FarmFutures.com.

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Podcast: Tools for healthy conflict with Nate Regier, Ph.D.

We've all faced conflict with others. It's not only a part of doing business, it’s part of the human experience. This week, we discuss providing leadership through inevitable and unavoidable conflict while debunking the notion that conflict itself is inherently bad. Dean's guest is Nate Regier, co-founder of global leadership training and certification firm Next Element, and the conversation will highlight some of the core ideas in his latest book, Conflict Without Casualties—shedding new light on how to think about and deal with conflict.

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Diversifying to hedge risk

So you want to diversify your operation. Why? What are the benefits? What kind of trade-offs will you face? It's a lot to take on and it's not right for everyone—but if, after having examined your motives and your level of dedication, you decide to proceed, Darren Frye has some thoughts to help get you started on the path to diversification. He explores this topic in response to a reader question in this week's Finance First column at FarmFutures.com.

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Podcast: Following to lead

In many conversations about developing leadership there is an important element that is frequently missed—the role of the follower. For organizations to truly have a thriving leadership culture, there has to also be thriving "followership." In this episode of Modern Farm Business™, Dean digs in to this rarely discussed component which is so critical to success in organizations.

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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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