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“There’s a huge talent pool that agriculture needs to pay attention to” quips BDO’s Jim Synder as we visit on the plane . Jim leads the agriculture component of a Canada wide accounting firm, and has experience with the chartered banks as well. He spent a lot of time on the road last year at seminars with Leona Dargis, an Albertan ag. producer and Canada’s youngest Nuffield scholar who is under 30 and running a large operation with her sisters and their spouses.

Waking up to women on your farm team is a reminder not to overlook the female gender and the skill sets they bring to your operation. Our C.A, book-keeper , lawyer, and non-farm income stream provider are all women. My husband is obviously okay with that, as he seeks the expertise and skill sets he needs for management success, regardless of gender. There are lots of talented women in the seed trade business that we also are happy to deal with.

In my coaching practice I am seeing a strong trend of female successors who are anxious to get the shareholder agreements written, because they are the herd managers, and their partners and spouses are also playing a key labour role on the farm.  Founders are also keen to give their daughters operational duties while they are spending winters in the sunny south. Are you open to giving more authority and responsibility to the women on your farm?

The issues?

Respect. “Elaine , dad treats me like his little girl, not his future business partner.”  We all have to be intentional in our family businesses to communicate expectations clearly, show respect and appreciation for diverse opinions and ideas, and remember what role we are in.  Time has flown by , your daughter is smart, well-educated, and ready to roll with a new business plan. Why are you resistant?

Validate my ideas and needs. Each generation may have a different way to do things and different enterprises they want to grow. “Different is not wrong, it is just different.” Sometimes the young female farmers need to ask clearly and directly for what they want and  need . I recall a family meeting where the issue of naming the breeding stock brought tears. Deep love for the livestock, coupled with a need to be affirmed by “Dad”, was a telling story of the quest for validation.

Different family needs and values. “Just wish you would understand that when we have our children, we will have a different work style on this farm. We will take more time off for child care needs and go to activities. Please don’t think I am just here for the “free babysitting by grandma”, we want to make this business different to meet our family’s needs.” The next generation will not regret that they  did not make time to play, they are already making this choice to balance out farm work demands.

Risk tolerance and debt capacity. “Elaine, can I take you home with me,?” says the young farmer whose girlfriend is from a pay cheque family.” He is listening to thoughts about understanding farm cash flow and debt servicing capacity. He knows how much debt he can sleep with, but is not sure how to get  understanding from his female friend who may soon be his life partner. Women, like men, have different sets of financial smarts, so is your financial illiteracy holding your farm team back? Are you intimated by the financial strengths your female partners hold ? Who is doing the books? Who really knows the gaps in cash flow and credit? We are all life long learners, and it is okay to ask questions without “appearing stupid”. The only stupid questions are the ones that never get asked. Be curious. Find out what you don’t know, and learn from your team and your advisors. Encourage financial debate, with the facts on the table. Attack the issues, not the person.

Boundaries. The next generation is very clear about what is acceptable behaviour and what they will not tolerate. This sometime makes the daughter-in-law, the “bad guy” when she refuses to get entangled in family gossip triangles, and wants to have the conflicts addressed at the board room level, not the barn or shop banter. Women tend to be the family mediators, and some are tired of carrying the emotional weight of the farm business conflict. Educated and confident women see conflict resolution as a business risk management strategy, so they are the first to sign the family up for conflict resolution coaching and courses (www.resolutionskills.ca ).

Everyone has a heart.  Tears make many nervous. Tears are good because they reveal you have a heart and are emotionally connected to your family and business. The degree of emotional intelligence on your farm team may vary, but everyone typically has a passion for the business to succeed, and may express that in different ways. Are you okay with showing emotion? Do you avoid females who may be more expressive than you are comfortable with? Are you stuffing the issues that need to be addressed because of your sensitivity and don’t want to cause offense  ? Encouraging the heart of your business involves being aware of your own emotional self-care and seeking to understand the other person’s perspective. Sometimes the matriarch or dominating female shareholder or owner may need to be informed that their tears are no longer acceptable as emotional blackmail or control. I have experienced folks who are avoiding the tough conversations because they don’t know how to sit in the space of tears and deep emotion when key decisions need to be made.

I consider myself a strong woman. I cry. I am okay with that. So is my husband who asks first “Is this about me?” If not, he carries on and lets me have a great therapeutic cry. I feel better, and he knows he is not causing me hurt. Sometimes I cry when I am deeply thankful, and the tears are gratitude.

Choose your attitude on how you wish to connect with women.  This is actually a smart approach for either gender. Each morning when you wake up you get to choose what kind of team player you are going to be on your farm that day. The founders who are habitually negative, blaming, and wallowing in self-pity, I have no time for. I send them to counselors. I challenge them to listen to their business heirs, and the key message that their adult children are trying to build a strong business team, not trying to push away the skills of the older generation.

I cringe when I am one of the few agriculturally  based women in a sea of men, and the podium language is disrespectful to my gender, has sexual connotations, and no relevance to the desired outcomes of the gathering. Be professional. Be respectful. Be willing to share content that matters, or be quiet !

This could turn into a book, so I will stop now. Let me know the success stories of how your are embracing both genders on your amazing ag. team.

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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