Modern Farm Business Podcast: The leader as coach

When we’re a part of a group—be it leading our farm, a work group at church or a volunteer at the thrift store—there are many roles we end up taking on depending on the situation. We might be the person setting the priorities and the pace of the group, or we may be a contributor of talent to the team. Regardless, research is showing one of the most valuable skills we can possess is that of coach. Coaching is a special skill that we can develop, and the great thing is that the fundamentals are learnable and something we can improve upon over our whole life.

In this podcast episode, Dean Heffta explores the idea of approaching the role of farm leader as a coach. The goal of coaching is to instruct and guide one's team members to help them develop their skills and abilities, increase their self-confidence, and ultimately improve their effectiveness even when leadership isn't present to oversee their work. To hear Dean's three steps for effective coaching, just listen to this week's Modern Farm Business podcast.

You can follow the link below, or subscribe using your favorite Android podcast app or Apple Podcasts.

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Roll with the changes in farming

Change has always been a part of farming's rich tradition, as new innovations in technology have repeatedly made big impacts on machinery and inputs over the industry's vast history. Farms which have grown over the past decade or two with that change have found that their larger operations now require larger decisions to be made. It's become more prudent to run today's farm as a business because of these big decisions.

A leader on today's farm will find great value in running the operation like a CEO, engaging in solid, forward-looking business plans to keep things running well into the future. As change keeps happening, it's important for farm leaders to step back and assess how they themselves respond to change. The operation's response to change will typically follow their lead.

Darren Frye addresses this issue in the latest installment of his Finance First blog at Click here to read more.

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The 80/20 equation for farm success: Then & now

From evolving equipment technology, to the role that landlord and lender relationships play in the operation, to creation of solid business plans—there’s a lot for a farm leader to think about these days. In the past decade or two, a shift has been happening. It’s moved the farmer from focusing primarily on production, working and laboring hard to produce a crop or livestock herd, to a farm leader responsible for running a full-fledged business operation—complete with employees to manage and major financial decisions to make—in addition to the production decisions.

Water Street Solutions CEO Darren Frye shares some thoughts on coping with this shift in focus for farm leadership roles. Click to read more.

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Podcast: Raising your inner game w/David Levin - MFB029

David Levin is the co-author (with John G. Miller, who was a guest on our podcast back in episode 10) of the million-selling book QBQ! The Question Behind the Question, the author of Don’t Just Talk, Be Heard! and the creator of the “Focused! Every Day” training program. He is also an award-winning songwriter and recording artist, and lives happily ever after in Viroqua, Wisconsin, with his wife and their two children.

His latest book, Raise Your Inner Game, presents the world’s first system for developing the fundamental self-mastery skills of cognitive control, emotional self-regulation and impulse control—the Holy Grail of personal development which allows people to thrive in today’s distracting, fast-paced world.

In the latest Modern Farm Business™ podcast, he joins us to share insights in how to manage distractions and ourselves so we can do our best work.

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Envisioning your farm's 2018, part two

Last week CEO Darren Frye wrote about taking the first steps of planning for the upcoming crop year, including a hard look at the operation's financial reality and a big picture view of the farm's direction into the future.

This week Darren continues the discussion to help farmers develop strategies for prioritizing and reaching their 2018 goals. This means setting benchmarks, tracking progress along the way, and establishing accountability for the changes that need to happen. Read the full Finance First blog post at

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Action tips for the farm's future

When it comes to the future of a family farming operation, there are two choices: Either the farm business will continue into the future, or it won’t. It’s a pretty clear-cut choice—if you decide that the business will wrap up when you retire, you probably have land, livestock and equipment to sell, loose ends to tie up—and then it’s time to move smoothly into retirement.

But what if you want your family farm business to continue in the future—beyond your involvement? A more detailed succession and estate plan for how that will happen will be in order. But what happens to the operation in the meantime—before your legacy plan is set in motion?

Account Manager Lance Burditt helps you organize your strategy for a business and legacy plan which complement one another and move the farm into the next generation smoothly—so that you can have the retirement you deserve.

Read more in the full article, originally published in Water Street Solutions' Smart Series newsletter.

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Modern Farm Business™ Podcast: Five ways to sabotage your goals

As 2018 begins—just as when every year begins—people tend to set new goals for themselves to make sure the new year is their best year ever. Some of those goals will be met but, sadly, many valid and beneficial goals will inevitably fall by the wayside as the year progresses. Here's a list of five sure-fire ways to make sure you never reach your goals in 2018. And for those readers interested in actually attaining their goals, there might be a few pointers in this podcast episode on how to do that as well...

Listen to the podcast by clicking the title of this post, or subscribe to Modern Farm Business podcast in your favorite podcast app.


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Envisioning your farm's 2018, part 1

Thinking about the year ahead, what is your general state of mind? Anxious? Excited? Apprehensive to even think about it? If you do have fear or anxiety around the coming season, there's no better time to face it than right now. It's always better to understand and face the situation early than to let it drag on.

The first thing to do--as soon as possible--is to get a clear view of the financial reality your farm is currently facing. An advisor can help you put together forward-looking, accrual-based projections of your farm's next year, which in turn can help you set a realistic and workable budget as well as other parameters to work within for the coming year.

For more ideas on how to get started, read Darren Frye's latest Finance First post at

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Face financial reality on the farm

As in life, farming tends to throw us curveballs when we least expect them. We might not be able to control everything that's happening at all times, but one thing we can control is our response. Who we are plays a large part of that response; we might be more inclined to take a thoughtful approach and analyze the situation and possible solutions for days or weeks, we might have a knee-jerk judgment and respond immediately, we might take an "out of sight, out of mind" approach and immerse ourselves instead in something else we'd rather do.

Water Street Solutions Account Manager Jason Ladman says--no matter the situation--keeping a calm head and using appropriate thinking for the situation can make a real difference in the expected outcome. This is good advice for any area of the business, but to put it in terms of the farm's finances--how we respond to this year's results can dramatically impact our mindset for planning next year on the farm.

Listen to Jason's interview with KRVN's Dewey Nelson for more on this topic. The full interview is available by clicking the title of this post.

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Podcast: The unstoppable family business w/Bryan Dodge - MFB027

Bryan Dodge is one of America’s foremost experts in the field of selling and personal development. His 29 years of experience teaching and inspiring people of all walks of life to reach their full potential have made him one of the nation’s leading choices as a professional speaker and trainer for corporate events, conferences, and conventions.

Bryan's inspirational keynotes cover professional development, success habits of the wealthy, team-building and leadership principles, negotiating skills, and much more. The underlying thesis of all of Bryan’s teachings is that “Life is too short not to be happy, and life is too long not to do well.” His programs are designed to accelerate professional/personal growth, and produce the favorable results people look for in life.

In this week's Modern Farm Business© podcast, Bryan joins Dean to discuss his perspectives on principles that make a difference in the success of a family business. Listen to the podcast by clicking on the title of this post.

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Communication is vital to the future of the farm

Many farmers work with family members every day in their business. This time of year we typically gather with family for holiday celebrations, so it becomes a good opportunity to think about our communication habits and patterns, particularly in regards to those whom we work with on the farm. It's a good thing to examine, as communication affects the future of the farm. 

Lack of communication about the direction of the farm not only creates a problematic gap in future planning and how to make decisions for the operation; it's also commonly tied to feelings of anxiety and uncertainty--especially for the younger generation: "Is there even going to be a place for me in the future of this farm?" Questions such as these can begin to really eat away at a person if they are not addressed. Yet many of the younger generation feel it's not their place to bring it up, so they remain silent and distressed as the worry builds over time.

In his latest post at, Water Street CEO Darren Frye helps combat these fears and open up communication on the farm. Read on to find out what you can do in your operation to allay the fears of the younger generation and improve the clarity around your farm's path into the future.

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Podcast - Better farm owner insurance decisions

Ryan Taylor is an Ag Risk Advisor for Water Street Solutions in the multi-line insurance service line. He helps his farmer clients get customized insurance-based risk management plans in place for their farming operations. Ryan has a strong passion for working face-to-face with his farmer clients and for providing his clients with a high level of service. In this episode of Modern Farm Business© podcast, Ryan joins Dean to cover some of the common mistakes and gaps in insurance selection, and how to avoid them.

Listen to this episode by clicking on the title of this post.

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Get ready for winter lender meetings

Switching gears from the hectic day-to-day operations of harvest to the paperwork-heavy winter season can be a tough transition. Though the winter can mean a bit of a breather from the stress of daily operations, it's certainly not a time to rest on one's laurels. A successful farm leader knows that the winter is planning season, and one person they're going to need to have a conversation with is their banker.

Water Street Solutions Account Manager Jason Ladman knows how important those lender meetings can be, so in order to help farmers prepare for banker meetings, he recently discussed some tips for preparation on-air with KRVN's Dewey Nelson. Click this posts's title to listen to the interview and learn what your banker wants.

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5 steps to better utilize your "off season"

You might typically think of the winter season as "time off" from farming--a time when your attention turns toward the office work of the operation, perhaps even squeezing in a vacation between office time and the frenzy of the holidays. But when you use your office season to its full advantage, you can begin taking critical steps toward defining how the operation handles the upcoming crop year.

This "off season" can actually be a great opportunity to lay the strategic groundwork for pursuing the farm's goals throughout the upcoming season. This doesn't mean attending the same farm meetings you go to every year or even planning the impending crop year by the same methods you've always used.

Water Street Solutions CEO Darren Frye has compiled five steps to use in putting together a better plan for how to use your office season to its full potential in crafting the year ahead of your operation. You can read all about this five-step checklist at

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Podcast - "Who are the Funds?" And other market questions

Marketing is a confusing and at times scary business. To a layman, even some of the basic terms often discussed can lead to confusion. In the latest Modern Farm Business© podcast, Dean talks with Rich Feltes, Head of Market Insights at R.J. O’Brien, to add clarity about various aspects of the market including: Who are “The Funds?” What do I need to know about “open interest?” How does the “Commitment of Traders” report work?

Listen to the latest podcast by clicking the title of this post.

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Prepare to make land decisions this winter

Decisions on adding land can come up quickly on us and we can quite unexpectedly need to resolve ourselves on a course of action very fast. If you're not prepared, it can be tough to determine what your operation can handle in additional cash rent or land payments or whether an addition even fits financially with your farm.

Many of the farms we've dealt with have found that a feasibility study is an extremely helpful—and indeed vital—first step to determining how additional acres can potentially fit into the operation from a standpoint of working capital, equity and other key financial metrics. Water Street Solutions Account Manager Lance Burditt explains to ag broadcaster Dewey Nelson.

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Keep the farm ahead of its next curveball

Sometimes it seems like nothing ever goes as planned. Life is really good at throwing us curveballs just when we least expect them, and the farming business is no different. At times the blow dealt by one of these unexpected turns can leave us reeling and knocked off-balance. It's difficult to face losing control over a situation we thought was going to play out in a completely different way. Regardless of how it came along or how it affected us, there's still one thing we can control—our response.

In his latest Farm Futures column, Water Street Solutions CEO Darren Frye discusses response patterns of certain personality types as well as various other factors that typically go into shaping a response to stress and the curveballs life can throw your way. He also suggests, especially when looking at financial challenges, to face them head-on, recognize them and take action.

Read the latest Finance First blog post.

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Early Winter 2017 Smart Series Newsletter

Our latest Smart Series newsletter has arrived! In this issue, explore topics like how to build your farm's team with the right people, how to know when is the right time to grow the operation, using forward-looking accrual projections to help in farm decision-making, an interview on working to assess and improve your negotiation skills with award-winning author, scholar and consultant G. Richard Shell, and much more. Click the link below to access your free copy!

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To be your best, beat your best

Farming is a competitive business. A lot of that competition is working to improve your own operation so that it's better and more efficiently run than the previous year. To stay competitive with yourself, much like a professional athlete, you need to be able to rely on the data from your past experiences. A runner can only top his personal best if someone timed it with a stopwatch and recorded the data. As a farmer, your stopwatch data can be found in the right financial metrics.

But in farming, as in many sports, the data can be overwhelming. So many different metrics can be tracked. How do you know which ones to watch in order to make improvements? In this post from AgriNews, Water Street Solutions CEO Darren Frye explains how to narrow down all the data and separate the wheat from the chaff in order to streamline the reach your operation's goals.

Read the article by clicking the title of this post above.

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Modern Farm Business™ podcast - What Toyota can teach the farm

After World War II, Toyota was one company that took quality and efficiency to heart, and the changes begun then would ultimately turn them into one of the most respected and successful manufacturing companies in the world. Their success isn’t a fluke, and the practices and principles they mastered can help farms improve as well. In this episode of Modern Farm Business™ podcast, Dean takes a look at lean manufacturing and the Toyota Production System (TPS)—its origin as a business philosophy, and how its principles can benefit the family farming operation.

Listen to this week's all-new Modern Farm Business podcast by clicking the title of this post. Subscribe in your favorite podcast provider.

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