Podcast #39: More of what you want

It’s easy to focus on the things we don’t want in life and business. We don’t want to run out of money. We don’t want our employees getting hurt. We don’t want the neighbor driving through our field. You get the picture. But in practice, diligent focus on what we do want helps us to better create thinking and action that aligns with achieving our goals. In this episode of Modern Farm Business™, Dean uses some practical farming examples to apply this proactive mindset.

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Fill your farm's roster with team players

What would your farm be like if it were filled with employees who want to see it succeed? Think about the ideal attributes of those employees—the qualities and behaviors that would make your operation run like a well-oiled machine. What comes to mind?

In this article from Water Street Solutions' Business Essentials series, we explore some of author and leadership expert Patrick Lencioni's insight into the ideal team player, and apply it to the farming environment.

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Handle bookkeeping before planting hits

Planting season is approaching, and with it the hustle and bustle of springtime on the farm. A farmer's mind is no doubt turning toward preparation for spring at this time, but one part of prep for field time is finalizing your office time and getting the books in order.

It's easy to fall behind in the books during these busy seasons. Getting the business side running smoothly now will help alleviate headaches in that area when farm leaders will be scurrying as it is to find planting windows between the rains and complete all the other typical seasonal tasks this spring.

Darren Frye, in his latest Finance First post, brings you some questions to ask yourself and assess whether your operation's books are ready for the spring. You can read all about it at FarmFutures.com.

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Podcast #38: Live your legacy w/ Ben Newman

Best-selling author and performance coach Ben Newman joins Dean today to share insights he's learned in working with professional athletes & top business executives around the world. The conversation turns around motivation, goal setting, overcoming adversity, and connecting one's performance to a purpose. It's an exclusive interview you'll only find on the Modern Farm Business™ podcast. Subscribe today wherever you get your podcasts, or listen below.

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Plan for crunch time

As spring approaches, it's a great time to get the team together and communicate plans for the season, because once it's go time, it's GO TIME. By proactively setting expectations ahead of time, the farm leader finds less frustration, more focus and better support for his team from their respective homes.

In this column by Dean Heffta—which originally appeared in print in Corn + Soybean Digest—we learn how to help ensure your employees' families are willing to give a little more of their loved ones' time during the busy seasons.

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Realistic planning required for spring optimism

Each year spring feels kind of like hitting the reset button as hope blooms anew from freshly worked dirt. It's important to keep that attitude of hope and optimism about the future—especially when all we seem to hear about is the economic downturn in agriculture. But blind optimism or optimism without proactive behavior is foolish. Nobody gets ahead or stays ahead by simply hoping to do so; it takes planning and effort to achieve any goal.

In this week's Finance First column on FarmFutures.com, Darren Frye helps you get in gear for an optimistic spring in 2018. 

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Embrace change or get left behind

Farming is a rich tradition, and many farmers are proud to say how long the family has been farming—or even just farming a particular piece of land. Change is part of that tradition, as new technology continually affects how we think about and use machinery and inputs from generation to generation.

Today's successful farmers approach farming with more of a business mindset than was necessary in their great-grandfathers' time. We can't always control what's happening in farming, but we can choose our reactions. In volatile times, level-headedness and flexibility prevail. Adapting to change is a must in today's ag climate. We can't expect change to adapt to us.

In Darren Frye's latest AgriNews piece, he looks at the importance of forward-thinking leadership on the farm, giving the reader some avenues to explore in developing a leadership style with a competitive advantage.

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Podcast #37: Better decision-making

Farm leaders face new decisions every day, and a great leader exhibits confidence in their own decision-making. In this week's Modern Farm Business™ podcast, Dean Heffta presents three tools to help bolster your confidence, along with common decision-making traps to avoid.

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Farm's metrics shine light on current situation

Running your farm by the numbers is critical, especially as there are more moving pieces and activities going on in your operation. Farm leaders are looking for ways to manage their margins and make smart decisions about the farm’s finances.

It can be a good idea to take the pulse of your farm’s financial situation. You might do this with certain metrics you watch regularly to get an idea of how things are trending, and to anticipate any changes you need to make.

In this article originally published in our Smart Series newsletter, Darren Frye discusses why a farm leader should track financial metrics—which show the results of the decisions and activities of the operation—and utilize that information to make decisions as it moves into the future.

To sign up for our free newsletter, just visit www.waterstreet.org/smartseries 

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Keep finances in view this spring

As you prepare your farm to begin the spring routine, it's easy to lose yourself in all the tasks that have to be accomplished in a relatively short window—and to forget that one factor which is equally important to your farm's health next growing season is its finances.

Darren Frye reminds you this week to always keep your farm's financials in focus as a point straight ahead on the horizon. Keeping that focus will help you make decisions for the operation based on the numbers and less on emotion—to keep moving the farm forward toward its goals.

Read the full article at FarmFutures.com.

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Podcast: Economics for the farm leader w/Dr. Matt Roberts

Few people truly understand the economic trends and forces that are at work in the world, constantly influencing the planning, decision-making and profitability of business leaders everywhere. In this week’s Modern Farm Business™ podcast, Dean sheds some light on the world of economics with his guest, Dr. Matt Roberts.

Click the title of this post to listen, visit the website at www.modernfarmbusiness.com, or subscribe to Modern Farm Business™ wherever you get your podcasts 

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Look beyond urgent

A farm leader faces challenges every day in order to get the day-to-day tasks done, put out fires that pop up unexpectedly, deal with personnel issues, develop one's team to raise up leaders, keep one eye on the path to the future and the other on the books...the list goes on. Being skilled at balancing priorities on-the-go is a must.

In this article previously published in Corn + Soybean Digest, Dean Heffta explores a modern approach of balancing the urgent vs. the important, popularized by Stephen Covey in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Learn how to use this model to prioritize your list of to-do's and make the most out of the time you invest in your operation.

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Three skills for future farm leaders

Part of envisioning the farm's future is determining who its next leader will be. Maybe that's an easy decision, maybe not. Either way, as the current leader of the operation, you want to be 100% sure that your successor is prepared for that eventual role—starting today.

This week, Darren Frye writes in his Finance First blog about why it's vital for future farm leaders to work on developing their skills in three main areas of business, financials and leadership. Read all about it at FarmFutures.com.

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Podcast #35: Ready the team

Any seasonal business has to deal with the fact that before the season starts, they need to get the team ready. On the latest Modern Farm Business™ podcast, we’re going to talk about what happens when we don’t get the team ready, the importance of setting expectations at the beginning of the season, and some tools for helping prepare your team to bring their best.

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Dad has opinions but no ownership

Water Street CEO Darren Frye recently answered a reader question in his Finance First column: "My brother and I took over the farm from our dad a couple years ago. He still helps out driving tractors and as a laborer during busy seasons. He has no financial stake in the farm anymore, other than renting us some land. But he continues to give us his opinions and even takes action on some purchases and decision-making for the farm as if he’s still an owner. What’s the best way we can deal with this?"

Read on at FarmFutures.com to find out what advice Darren has to give this reader.

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Podcast #34: Seven tools for selecting top talent

Recruiting and hiring is one of the top challenges not only for farms, but for every business looking to grow. In this Modern Farm Business™ podcast episode, Dean covers seven tools for improving your selection results.

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Why employees need training

If you have employees who want to grow in their responsibilities and understanding of the operation, there are several ways to go about helping them achieve their goals. In this week's column at Farm Futures, Water Street CEO Darren Frye answers a reader question about how and why to provide driven employees opportunities for continued education and training, even if you have limited time as a leader to participate or facilitate the additional training.

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Podcast #33: Delegation that works

As a farm—or any business—grows, it becomes necessary as a leader to step back from some of the tasks we've always taken care of and begin delegating jobs to our growing team. Many leaders have difficulty giving up the reins on even the most menial task because of a mindset which tells us, "I can do it better myself," or, "What's the point in training people if they're just going to end up leaving?" Some of us don't even know what good delegation looks like.

In today's Modern Farm Business™ podcast, Dean takes a look at delegation—breaking it down to give you new insight on the importance and impact of delegating tasks to the team, and giving a few pointers on how to become more comfortable with the idea and get it done right to improve the effectiveness of your operation.

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What's your backup plan?

In planning for the upcoming crop year, it's key to develop different strategies for several scenarios that could play out. Nobody can tell what the future holds, so having a few contingency plans in their back pocket can only serve a farm leader well. When a snafu presents itself, that leader doesn't have to scramble for footing because several likely scenarios have already been planned for.

It's foolhardy to think that all the variables at play in a crop year are going to line up perfectly to fit a single "Plan A" that's been set out for the farm. Water Street CEO Darren Frye has more on crafting contingency plans in this week's Finance First post at FarmFutures.com.

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