As we stood by the graveside of my friend’s father we both noticed two Canada Geese winging overhead as the casket was being lowered into the grave. I smiled and thought God had provided a gentle reminder that He was there, the geese mate for life, and they flew overhead to remind me of the strength of family bonds.

My friend’s father was a great, gentle leader in his community as he served in his work and also blessed with family with great conversations, meaningful touch and a ready ear to listen to their concerns and queries. His legacy of love spilled forth in a 2 hour funeral service where many of us felt we wished we had spent more time with this awesome man. The celebration of his life caused us to consider how to be more intentional with the time we have left on earth, to make a difference, especially with our own families.

As a farm family business coach, working out conflict resolution and succession planning conversations I am curious to find the right words or tough questions to move families to action and build legacy. I have recently encountered some scenarios that I would not like to see repeated.

I am calling you as a father, to be a leader for your family. I urge you to stand up for what is right, honest and true, and lead your family with strong character and integrity. This works out in practical ways by being present in the conversations and dialogues about change for your family. It implies that you will listen intently to the perspective of others, weigh the options presented, and make wise decisions with a collaborative style, not an autocratic tough hand.

Family secrets are not allowed. You will communicate directly to the children, adults and extended family members who may have to hear some tough words from you. You will mediate with fairness and patience so that the skills you model will leave a legacy of collaboration instead of the curse of conflict avoidance.

You will be a strong enough man to have the courage to ask for outside advise or counsel when you are not sure that you have all the information necessary to make the best decision. You are wise like a respected community elder, and you do not do things in haste.

We can read heaps of information about tax planning and share structures for transferring the farm to the next generation, but I haven’t seen much work done to expose the cowardice of men and women who shy away from doing the tough things right in planning open communication with the successors of their business. Back-room deals or secret meetings with the lawyer keep me employed.

Fathers need to be courageous in having direct conversations with the folks who will be impacted by the nature of their legal and accounting decisions.

What do fathers need in order to give leadership to their families?

Respect: Sons who verbally affirm the role their dads have played in helping them succeed. This also translates into a deep sense of appreciation for the sacrifices and delayed gratification modeled by the founding generation so that the sons and daughters could get a decent start in farming. Respect of course is a two way street, and is most helpful when it is reciprocated.

Integrity: Do what you say you will do, and be honest. Family lies and secret keeping are abusive. Integrity in farming speaks of sound character that your word is your bond and you can be trusted to do what you say you will do.

Pride: Good pride is ripened when you have a keen sense of what true success means to you. It’s bad pride when it keeps you stuck in behaviour that elicits arrogance or stubbornness to change. Fathers who are proud of their work and proud of how they have transferred their learnings to their adult children can use the energy of success to fuel future good choices.

Trust: Can you trust your family to make the right choices even when you are gone? Fathers who die before their time and fathers who have a tight fist of control may leave a legacy of conflict and confusion rather that solid agreements that let everyone rest in the peace of certainty.

Process time: Timing is everything with good management, yet sometimes we get stuck in the neutral zone and don’t act with concrete decisions that are implemented. Dads, you need to dialogue with your family and decide to act on what you have communicated clearly to your farm family. You don’t let the wild oats go crazy in your crop, so please don’t let the tough decisions slide. Contamination of family goodwill is a huge expense you want to avoid.

As my master coaching colleague John Schuster says, “Leadership as a set of skills and as a head and heart set is available to most of us and needed everywhere.” (Hum-Drum to Hot-Diggity on Leadership by John P. Schuster.

“Mental toughness is humility, simplicity, Spartanism. And love…. Love is loyalty. Love is teamwork… Heart-power is the strength of your corporation.” said Vince Lombardi speaking to the American Management Association.

Lead with love. Farm dads are hurting because their love tanks are running on empty. This year I urge you to be courageous and write a note of appreciation to your farming dad with an attitude of gratitude for the sacrifices he’s made for your farm team. If there needs to be forgiveness for past messes, then fess up and finish this crop year with a clean slate and more love in your relationships.

Courage to lead and heart are the qualities of spirit that farm families desperately need. Schuster calls it the “courage of countless little acts; trying something new, taking the heat for our mistakes, picking ourselves up for the next round, giving up the illusion of control and replacing it with employee empowerment.”

Choose to be a respectful, honest, loving leader of your farm family. Model what’s right for the next generation. Celebrate and be a strong farm team. Fathers, give your family your leadership!

I look forward to hearing your stories. Look up and see the possibilities of strong bonds.
Happy Father’s Day Dad, we appreciate all that you do and your enduring love!

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.


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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