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If you’re sorting cows or waiting on combines, grab five minutes to soak this story in. You cannot neglect tending to the needs of your cows. Let’s talk about embracing the same urgency with your farm transition conversations.

My speaker friend Shelle Rose Charvet, author of Words that Change Minds, has tools for better language that persuades and influences. Here’s a suggestion you may wish to consider. Stop using the word “problem” and start saying, “What do we really want for the future of this farm?”

Problem is now an Objective:

If you see farm succession as a problem, how about shifting to specific transition objectives. For instance, the first objective is to get wills signed and power of attorney documents. This is a basic business risk management strategy for the founders and the successors. Objectives are targets and tangible goals. The benefits of taking action are that you’ll create movement. Start with baby steps. Are you not tired of rehashing problems? The will document will be changed as agreements are confirmed over time. Having a will is better than no will!

Why is now How?

Instead of asking why a situation is stuck, ask “How would you like to move forward ?” Sharing your intentions, your “why” in transition is important to you is a good place to start. When you are asking about “HOW” you are creating solutions for a process to move. How would you like to proceed? How comfortable are you hiring a third-party facilitator to help us actually have conversations that get somewhere? This fall you might want to approach your lender with “How can we negotiate a new set of terms for our financial plan? This cash flow stress is keeping me up at night!”

Shifting Limits to Possibilities:

Talk about tough issues is to play with possibility and not pre-judge the outcome. What limiting beliefs are keeping you stuck with anxiety and overwhelm? Are you afraid the next generation is bound to have a financial failure? Have they not proved to you they have great management skills, passion, drive, and commitment to the business? Do you come from a place of scarcity thinking rather than abundance, there will be enough for the farm team? Love does not read minds. Assuming you know the other team member’s thoughts, dreams, desires, and goals are foolish. When you work with an experienced advisor you have the benefit of seeing many possibilities because the advisor has seen many workable succession/transition scenarios.

Charvet suggests that to get people to go somewhere with you, you need to meet them where they are, and not just pretend they are already where you want them to be. She says “go to their bus stop, and from their bus stop, invite them on the bus.” Another way of saying this is to look at your aging mother and father and consider what farm life looks like from their perspective. As they age they need a steady income stream, a decent place to live, and a way to ensure they can have resources to give them a great 20 more years, and also take care of their inheritance expectations. Are your parents motivated for things to stay the same, or are they willing to experiment with small gradual changes that eventually transfer the labour, management, and ownership of farm assets to the next generation?

Failure now becomes Feedback

There needs to be a shift in the culture of agriculture from failure thinking to the outcome of decision-making with really good feedback. When you make a mistake, is the culture on your farm one of creating solutions or just yelling, blaming, and shaming? When you are mature in your emotions and language you can give feedback about how close you are to creating better outcomes. Tax specialists who do good work will save farmers heaps of tax, yet farmers who are afraid of failure don’t choose to pay for professional tax efficiency help, and these farmers get caught with expensive mistakes unable to navigate the tax system. They are the ones who do their own accounting, buy inputs or equipment to “save tax” and then get shocked when they are not ready to be strategic about farm tax laws they were not aware of.

So, if you are ready to let go of your fear of failure, embrace the outcome model of dealing with difficult feedback and ask your advisors for financial transparency and sound feedback. The longer timeline you have to plan for tax execution the better, don’t let this decision be made by a heart attack, cancer, stroke, or accident!

No movement shifts to movement.

What filters of prejudice or pre-judgment are you making with the successor or founder rather than coming from a curiosity? Watch my video on YouTube “Discuss the Undiscussabull” where coming from curiosity is a key tool for talking about tough issues. When I was 11 years into our marriage, sitting with my in-laws at the accountant’s office, the accountant said, “Pretend Elaine is not in the room. I am just curious what you would do with the farm if your son, Elaine’s husband, was killed in an accident?”  No drama followed, just a brief comment from me that my intention was to keep farming to give our children a chance to farm. My in-laws switched quickly from “taking back the farm” to a stance of “sounds good Elaine that you stay farming”. All of this came out quickly by using the language of “I am just curious…”

There is a good reason why our online course is called “Get Farm Transition Unstuck”. Many families are stuck with procrastination, overwhelm, and a high degree of anxiety trying to avoid conflict. You want to switch your thinking and situation from no movement to movement. As you can only deal with so much information at one time, it’s important to have someone act as the driver of your transition process. The driver calls the family business meetings, makes appointments with advisors, and keeps track of the binder of plans.

Start filling your binder with your decisions, one step at a time:

  1. Action items: Meetings
  2. Lawyer: Will, Estate
  3. Lifestyle $ Plan
  4. Loans, Credit, Banking
  5. Insurance
  6. Accounting, Tax Information
  7. Coaching: Communication (Conflict Profiles)
  8. Business Plans

This planning binder will be a great tool to keep you on track.

Download your binder tabs here.


Elaine Froese, CAFA, CSP, CHI Coach is wired to help farm families find harmony through understanding.

Did you enjoy A New Frame to see Transition Possibility and Movement? You might want to check these articles out too:

“Shut down” Insights to get folks to the transition table to talk
How to Get Unstuck in Your Farm Transition Plan
Farm Transition Planning: 19 Ways to Change Your Mindset

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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