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Farm Coach story on Elaine Froese

By Bill Redekop
Winnipeg Free Press
April 30,2006

BOISSEVAIN – Elaine Froese doesn’t look like someone who once had 23 shock therapy sessions for what her doctor called the worst post-partum depression he had ever seen.

Froese is energetic, upbeat, engaging and direct. Her experience is part of the reason. “I don’t want to ever go back there,” she told me.

Froese bills herself as a “farm coach.” Don’t laugh. She gets $3,000 per speaking engagement, and recently returned from a gig in Lewiston, Idaho. She applies her practice across Western Canada, helping farm families untangle emotional issues from the business of running a farm.
Read this article as published in the May 8, 2006 Brandon Sun (pdf format)

And there is often much untangling to be done. So much of farming mixes business and family, with the potential to leave lasting scars.

Froese often deals with farm successions where a son or daughter is poised to take over the farm. The parents want to help him or her get started, but how do they ensure other family members are treated equally, and that everyone retains some link to the land to which they have emotional bonds?

Or she will tackle a case where a farm has been in a family for four generations, but now the son doesn’t know if he wants to take it over. His father has always dreamed he would. Neither of them can talk about it.

“This whole love issue stuff? Love is a part of business,” Froese says.

Or there are sons who took over the farm and now can’t pay the bills, or who want to make a career change, but feel like they’re letting down four generations of family.

“Now do you see how complicated it gets?” she asks.

Many sons, farming alongside their fathers, don’t feel appreciated, she said. “There are sons who have never heard their fathers say ‘I love you, and I’m proud of you, and I think you’re a great manager,'” she said. “We’re still dealing with farmers who are 76-years-old. Our generation is much different.”

Her depression two decades ago helped prepare Froese to help others. “This is my life’s calling,” she says, and, after sitting down with her for a short while, it’s hard to disagree.

A farm coach isn’t something you just one day decide you’re going to be. She obtained her certificate from the Hudson Institute in Santa Barbara, Calif., through an eight-month distance education course, with four on-site learning components. She has several other certificates, like one from an estate planning course.

But she also has hands-on experience from working for 20 years as a mediator between farmers and creditors with the farm debt review board. She is also deacon in a local church and confides that she keeps a prayer list for those she sees struggling.

Last year, Froese self-published an advice book for farm families called Planting the Seed of Hope, which sells for $20, including taxes. She has sold close to 2,000 copies already.

“We, as farmers, are a minority culture. Where do you go to find people who understand what you’re going through?”

She generally meets with family members separately or in smaller groups before bringing the family together.

“I say, ‘Tell me about the bull in the middle of the room that no one wants to talk about.’ ”

She is, like so many rural people, more computer savvy than most city people. She has used a technician based in India to do things like install new database programs and rearrange her computer desktop. The Internet brings the world to her farm door at the end of a dusty, gravel road. Her website is elainefroese.com.

Froese also helps farm couples prepare mentally, physically and emotionally for retirement, and even helps clients find mates. “In rural areas, how do you meet people?”

Froese is spoken for, however. She was raised on a cattle ranch in Dugald, and travelled to Boissevain to work as a home economist. She picked out the carpet that’s still on the floor of the house she now lives in, without knowing she would one day marry the customer’s son, Wes Froese.

Elaine Froese also gives a handful of speeches for charities and church groups each year, setting aside her regular speaking fees.

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Read this article as published in the May 8, 2006 Brandon Sun (pdf format)

Fixing Your Time Stress Mess

60 minutes

Workaholics will discover helpful strategies for managing their time stress. Gain understanding for the tensions of your age and stage on the farm. Learn why some problems are not solvable, but just need to be managed as polarities. Self-renewing people are joyful and productive producers.

$15

Rave reviews

“A joy to work with, heard loud and clear. When the farmers laughed or asked a great question, I knew they were listening and really wanted to learn from her. Her tips were easy to understand. It was just about understanding that conflict happens, and to have the confidence in yourself to ask for what you want. In the glowing review from farmers after her presentation, I knew they had heard that loud and clear.”
Maddy Berner, Event Planner & Communications Coordinator, National Milk Producers Federation National Milk Producers Federation
“I wanted to say a HUGE thank you for your virtual kitchen table chat with Arlan Academy. My wife and I signed up as it was exceptionally relevant to our current journey with potentially transitioning to her parents’ farm. The session was able to cover so many aspects of these crucial conversations and hearing you speak to both sides of the conversation was eye opening for my own perspective on this topic. It seemed to be very well attended and sounded like there were many other people who would echo my thoughts and feelings on it.”
N. Oakley, Farmer, Ontario
“Elaine helped me allocate $1 Million of assets the night I listened to her. Elaine’s presentation brings value to the use of my services in my office.”
Don Forbes, Forbes Wealth Management
“I recently joined in and listened to your Healthy Farmer Agriwebinar for FMC. I truly enjoyed hearing your perspective and even went and grabbed my Mom, away from her work, to come and listen in on some of your main points as well! One area that really stood out for me, both personally with our own succession plans and with our clients, was your discussion involving "Instant Influence" and how ready are you to change? I loved this concept!”
Annessa Good, FCC Transition Specialist, Alberta
“Elaine Froese truly is the Farm Whisperer. With her big heart and stern resolve, she guides families through uncharted waters and helps them arrive safely at their desired destination. She has been there, done that, and has helped hundreds of families come out on the other side. With your family and your farm legacy on the line, you owe it to yourself to start this conversation. You do not need to do it alone. Let Elaine Froese guide you through. Your legacy is being written day by day. How will you be remembered?”
Tracy Brunet, Host of The Impact Farming Show & CEO of Farm Marketer
“You speak like you’ve been sitting at our kitchen table! You know our family issues well. I am feeling more comfortable understanding what we now need to do. Elaine Froese is real.”
Audience Member,
“I attended the meeting you spoke at in Stratford Ontario recently. We held an emergency family/farm meeting today because of issues that I had enough of. We used a 'talking stick' like you recommended and wrote a chart of rules. The rest of the family thought the idea that we needed a meeting was worth rolling their eyes over, until we got started. The younger ones were quick to clue in that they now have an opportunity to be bluntly honest. The older ones took a bit longer to believe they could truly say what they think. In the end, the meeting needed two sessions because there was so much to talk about… and so many things people didn't realize were a big deal to the others. Your lessons and encouragement have given us the tools we need to get to a better place in our relationships and our business. Truly thankful.”
Kim Martin, Dairy Farmer, Ontario
“Helped me develop my framework to start having constructive and meaningful conversations around the farm.”
Tennille Wakefield, Farm Partner
“Some great lessons, Elaine! You continue to do some remarkable and potentially life-changing work.”
James Mitchell, Principal, Conversations Consulting
“Our family had a good farm meeting yesterday afternoon. Your Fairness video was a great topic of discussion. One of the action items after the meeting was to have my two non-farming siblings watch the video before the next big meeting they are involved with on the farm. It will be a great conversation starter as we catch them up on our current plan. As they are younger, we also hope it will help them to ask new questions that may not have been on their mind.”
G.G., Farm Family Legacy Coach, Alberta
“Elaine gives me excellent tools that help me work with my clients!”
Laurianne Osmack, Financial Planner / Partner, Doell Osmak Wealth Management
“She has a sense of “knowing” quickly what is happening in the family dynamic. Her messages to her audiences drive home what needs to be done next to solve the complex issues of farm transition and conflict resolution.”
Audience Member,
“Eye-opening. Excited to open the door of communication with my spouse and farm family.”
Ashley Hoppe, Farm Partner
“The Strong Farms, Strong Families session gave farm families an opportunity to meet face to face with Elaine Froese... hear her own story, experiences and skill set. From this information packed session and related materials, families could identify areas of success in their journey and other places they need assistance. The greatest take away was that participants could see that Elaine Froese is someone they can trust with the things that they hold most precious.... their family and their farm.”
Nancy Atkinson, Nobleford Ag Society, Alberta
“Elaine’s real-life scenarios help her audiences know they are not alone, knowing there are creative solutions to help them get the life on the farm they have always wanted.”
Audience Member,
“A long time female client who had refined the art of procrastination was so moved by the end of your presentation that she accepted your permission to “drop the bananas.” She contacted me soon after for an appointment to do some planning which included the selling of the family “Century Farm.” A very, very emotional decision on her part that was not likely to have occurred without your presentation.”
Don Forbes, Forbes Wealthy Management
“I just have to say… that your work is amazing and I have never forgotten your teachings from our session in Williams Lake at TRU. It is super important work. I know so many people going through the trauma of succession. I hate to use that word, but I was an “out-law” and know it can get terrible. I continue to forward your emails on to others. Keep doing what you do! You are amazing. You kind of walk into the fire regularly… and with a smile. Proud to have met you.”
Megan, BC Rancher
“As my husband and I eagerly started the course we were optimistic and excited to be taking this next step in our Farm Transition. We were starting to question ourselves and whether or not we were just being selfish and greedy, and if this Farm Transition was still an option for us. We barely got through the first Module and were already having such a huge relief. As we moved through the modulus there were so many times that we just sat back with our hands in the air and thought YES. My husband and I would smile with relief because all of the concerns that we have been struggling with were relevant and came up in the modules. We really enjoyed the course and are excited to move on to the next stages to find our farm resolution.”
Shannon Gilchrist, “Get Farm Transition Unstuck” online course participant
“My hubby farms with 2 brothers and parents, and it’s become a really toxic place. No communication, no respect, etc. Twelve months ago, my husband’s brothers told him they don’t want to work with him anymore and offered him a pay out. His parents did nothing to stop it! He had no choice but to leave. Three months later, we moved off the farm and into town. He has been offered heaps of jobs and is now truck driving and carting hay and grain. We have tried communicating with his parents about what happened but they are not interested. So basically my hubby has lost his family. Very sad but we as husband and wife are overall in a good place and moving on to create our own life. Please continue on with all your wonderful work in helping families on the farm. I continue to tell any farmers I know about you, that they must ‘google’ you, and read your books.”
Donna, Farmer, Australia

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+1-204-534-7466 | elaine(at)elainefroese.com

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