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October 2011 Archive for Leave a Legacy

RSS By: Kevin Spafford, Legacy Project

Kevin Spafford is Farm Journal’s succession planning expert for the Farm Journal Legacy Project.  He hosts the nationally-televised ‘Leave a Legacy’ TV, facilitates an ongoing series of workshops for farm families across the U.S., and is the author of Legacy by Design: Succession Planning for Agribusiness Owners.

Success Secrets of America's Best Agripreneurs

Oct 25, 2011

 Cornfield Farm   iStock CompressedFrom Legacy Moment (10/21/2011).
Please join us for future issues, 
delivered via email each Friday.

Part I of II:
Our agriculture heritage has endowed each of us with the values of hard work, independence and self-reliance. Tapping into that legacy will provide your family with financial security, peace of mind, and lasting success.
Industrious people are searching for more fulfilling occupations. They’re learning that government is not the answer, corporations no longer offer jobs for life, and self-employment is more difficult than it sounds.
Farming is the quintessential family business, and American farmers are the patrons of effective business principles. Ten secrets of entrepreneurial success from the American farmer include:
1. Plan your cropping rotations. Use your personal values to generate business value. Plan your business. Start with a vision statement, declare specific goals, design action plans and follow through.
2. Prepare the ground and plant your crop in the spring. Without action, nothing happens. Your plan should be so big, so motivating and so important that you’ll do whatever is necessary to achieve success. Like work expanding to fill the time allotted for a job, your capabilities will expand to fulfill the commitment to your goals.
3. Maintain your equipment to avoid costly repairs and downtime. Execution is key to lasting success. It isn’t how many times you get knocked down that matters, but rather how many times you get back up. There are certain inglorious details that must be attended to in growing a successful business, and it’s incumbent upon an owner to ensure they are done.
4. Cultivate as necessary to ensure a healthy yield. A growing business may be likened to a child in the family. It requires nurturing and care. It demands attention and needs support. A vibrant business is never a once and done affair. To grow a successful business, an owner must market, sell, manage, invest and suffer risk.
5. Consult professional advisers to learn and adapt the most efficient technologies. One person can’t possibly know it all. Utilizing the knowledge and expertise of others is a smart way to grow the business, integrate new technologies and invest limited resources. Striving to do it yourself may become a costly mistake for a business owner.
Part I of II.  Please join us next week for five more success secrets. 
Want to add to the list?  Share your ideas (or questions)!
All correspondence is handled with complete confidentiality.

News & Resources for You:
If you’re not sure where to start, browse through our Frequently Asked Questions.
Our growing library of succession planning tools is designed to help you take action. 
Legacy Project Workshops are designed to remove the mystery, clear the clutter and define a simple planning process. Have you signed up yet?


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The Common Denominator of Success

Oct 18, 2011

iStock CropFrom Legacy Moment eNewsletter (10/14/2011).
Please join us for future issues, 
delivered via email each Friday.


In the corner of my desk drawer sits a tattered yellow booklet that I’ve had for the better part of 30 years. I used to carry it with me but, due to its age, now it stays tucked away for safekeeping. The pamphlet was given to me by a then-leader in the financial services industry. This industry giant is still recognized around the world for his resumé of outsized accomplishments. Over the course of my own life, I’ve aspired to live up to his example.

That pamphlet is titled The Common Denominator of Success. The sum and substance of the piece is an essay by Albert E. N. Gray in which he expounds on the key to lifelong achievement. Gray says, "The common denominator of success—the secret of success of every [person] who has ever been successful—lies in the fact that he formed the habit of doing things that failures don’t like to do."

He then explains what things "failures" don’t like to do. Well, you may surmise that the things failures don’t like are the very same things you or I don’t like to do either. For instance, any given farmer may not like planning, decision making, physical labor, managing others, establishing professional relationships, etc. Yet, if we embrace the premise of the message and learn to like—or at least be effective and efficient at—doing the things most people don’t like to do, we will become more successful.

To paraphrase Mr. Gray, "[Agripreneurs] form habits and habits form futures."

News & Resources for You:

Consider these Five Keys to Planning Success.

Are you Ready for Succession? This tool may be a good first step in pinpointing your goals.

The Legacy Project can help you form your future. Register today for the Legacy Project Workshops in Kansas City, Mo.; Normal, Ill.; and Memphis, Tenn. Get a jump-start on your 2012 resolutions by joining us for one of these December events. You may also call (877) 482-7203 to register.

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Whose Responsibility Is It?

Oct 12, 2011

redding spaffordFrom Legacy Moment eNewsletter (10/07/2011).
Please join us for future issues,
delivered via email each Friday.

Who should initiate the succession planning conversation, and how? In every Legacy Project Workshop, we devote time to discussing that question. We hear opinions from many stakeholders in each operation and the conversation runs the gamut. That discussion often leads to two core questions: how and when.  

Russell Redding, Dean of the School of Agriculture at Delaware Valley College and guest author of the 2011 Legacy Project Report, recently offered a great piece of advice during an interview for “Leave a Legacy TV." As one of multiple children, Redding knew working on the family dairy might not be an option.
He suggests that children think and act in terms of solutions rather than problems, because parents and grandparents have enough to deal with. “I’ll use my own experience. As one of 11 family members, there had to be some agreement among [siblings] before we could get our parents to take a step,” he says. “They’re [parents] looking for a solution, not a problem.” He further explains that most people present their individual wants, needs and problems, instead of offering solutions. For instance, when it comes to fair versus equal, Redding says, “Don't expect Mom and Dad to choose among the children -- is not something they want to do.” He suggests that there be some agreement by those who want to be involved in the operation as to what is fair and equitable, before approaching the parents and grandparents.
“We knew full well there were some who wanted an active role, some wanted occasional contact with the farm, and others wanted to do something else,” he says about his family. A family shouldn’t let the planning process be intimidating; beginning is the important part.
News & Resources for You:
Without a formal plan, it’s a battle to keep the farm. (Russell Redding for the Legacy Project 2011 Report.)
The galaxy of agriculture.” (Russell Redding on "Leave a Legacy TV," June 2011)
Many families struggle with fair versus equal. This tool will help you explore potential solutions. 
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The Real Cost of Outsourcing

Oct 04, 2011

WorldFrom Legacy Moment eNewsletter (09/30/2011). Please join us for future issues, delivered via email each Friday.

Yesterday, I came across an article from the Harvard Business Review that addresses the issue of outsourcing. The authors, Gary P. Pisano and Willy C. Shih, explain our waning capabilities related to the high-tech industry and outsourcing our manufacturing capabilities. The fact is, research and development follow manufacturing. Cutting-edge breakthroughs happen in the moment, with manufacturers, engineers, researchers and scientists huddled around a complex problem. Things happen in real time, not over the phone in a conference call seven time zones away.

The authors say that, once lost, the "industrial commons" that fosters scientific advancement no longer exists. Once that happens, the trend is irreversible.

I bring this to your attention to ask: Is this a warning for the agriculture industry? As the enviro-humane-activist crowd continues to work against our industry, how long will it be before it’s more cost-effective to grow our food overseas? Over time, and with the right incentives, well-meaning farmers intent on practicing their profession will look for a favorable environment: economically, environmentally, regulatorily and socially. They’ll decide it’s OK to farm in a more competitive location.

By the same trend, research and development will follow production and soon we’ll be over a barrel. Looking into the future, you may see an America dependent on foreign sources for food. Which, like oil, will make us beholden to regimes that neither like nor respect us. A little farfetched? I, for one, don’t want to find out.

To stem the tide, leadership development must become an all-consuming effort. Tomorrow’s agricultural leaders must be prepared to:

1. Continue to grow skills and capabilities.
2. Build a strong team of employees and strategic partners.
3. Become a voice in the community, as a farmer, business owner and family leader.
4. Exercise good stewardship of the land, limited resources and the profession.
5. Act as a leader, making sure their actions support their words and intentions.

News & Resources for You:

"Restoring American Competitiveness," by Gary P. Pisano and Willy C. Shih, for the Harvard Business Review, provides an excellent, in-depth look.

Or listen to the related podcast from the Harvard Business Review (13 minutes).

Prepare the next generation of ag leadership to realize their dreams.

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