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April 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.

It's an Inside Job!

Apr 26, 2011

Fotolia OperationFrom Legacy Moment eNewsletter (04/22/2011)
Please join us for future issues, delivered via email each Friday.

Communication is Critical to Long-Term Success

Family farms are not destroyed by outside forces
---the estate tax, government regulations or any other untoward burden. The farm is often left in ruin by a lack of communication and the natural self-interests of active and inactive family members. As a rule, most farmers are not good verbal communicators.

But, if communication is critical to long-term success, we must learn to communicate in a constructive manner and on a consistent basis. Succession planning rests on the family’s ability to talk openly, share goals, discuss concerns and define common goals.
The Family Meeting Agenda on the Farm Journal Legacy Project website will get you started.  It will encourage better communication by providing a complete outline for the meeting. The agenda puts outlines the topics, and lists the questions most people struggle with.  
In the Legacy Project Workshops, we spend a great deal of time preparing participants for family meetings. Check out the Family Meeting Agenda and explore the links below. See if it may help you and the family to have a constructive conversation about your goals for leaving a legacy.   
News & Resources for You:
Read a review of Randy Owens' book Born Country, which was the topic of last week's "Legacy Moment."
Need some help to get the ball rolling? Try Conversation Starters.
Communication: Your Survival Depends on It (Farm Journal, November 2009) 
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He Was Born Country

Apr 19, 2011

iStock Filtered Sunlight over StockyardMost people know him as the front man for Alabama – the legendary band that, in 1999, was named Country Group of the Century by the Recording Industry Association of America.

After a recording career that spanned 42 number-one singles, Randy Owen and the boys from Fort Payne, Ala., have moved on to the next challenge… For Randy, it’s a solo recording career, a new autobiography, ranching on the ‘home place’ (a purebred Hereford/Angus Ranch---Tennessee River Music) and community service -- he’s on the board of trustees for Jacksonville State University and is a founding member of ‘Country Cares’ for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. 
Based on his music, many people think they know Randy. No doubt he’s graced your family room on the TV, and who hasn’t sung along with their favorite Alabama tune? Yet, in his recent autobiography, Born Country, you’ll learn there’s a lot more to Randy than music.  
In this book he talks about VISION for his business, his band: “…an audience-oriented band that forged its own definable sound and style drew a whole new audience to country music and made it big.”
He also discusses the importance of FOCUS: “…if you want to go fishing, go fishing. If you want to go hunting, go hunting. Exercise if you want. But if you’re off to exercise or hunt or fish and someone wants to stop you and distract you with some urgent matter, that person is not your friend.
“Don’t stop,” he writes in the book, “to talk to people and be responsible for everything that’s going on in the world. If you continue to stop every time to solve every problem that comes along, you’re going to end up destroying yourself.”
“It’s a simple lesson – drop the idea that you have to be all things to all people all the time.”
Owen also discusses in his book the importance of the FAMILY FARM: “I think the family farm is an essential part of American life, and I try to do whatever I can in the state of Alabama to help young farmers-to-be get on their feet and pursue that life.”
“I have many other passions that get me out of bed in the morning and put me in touch with the community at large, especially if it involves helping farmers and preserving the family farm.”
“My goal is to encourage young people to stay in the field of farming. One of my efforts has been to lobby the legislature of the state of Alabama to actively promote family farming as a career choice.”
“If there’s not a future in farming, you might say, then we ain’t got a future.”

News & Resources for You:

Defining your goals? Check out the Goals Clarification Worksheet.
I Want to be a Rancher (from May 2009, one of our most requested ‘Leave a Legacy’ columns)
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Talk Succession - or Just Let It Go?

Apr 13, 2011

iStock Brown BarnFrom Legacy Moment eNewsletter (04/08/2011)
Please join us for future issues, delivered via email each Friday.

A reader writes: "Now we sit where our folks did so many years ago. We have two boys who would like to farm, but they have good jobs now. Should we talk to them about succession, or just let it go? I am 71 years young, and want to be fair to all."
Thank you for asking. Every day we receive letters, e-mails and phone calls from readers asking if, when and how to tackle the topic of succession planning. I don’t want to sound like a broken record, and I know each situation is different, but there is no single best way to bring up the succession topic. One of our first ‘Leave a Legacy TV’ guests, a communication specialist, very aptly explained that “the most dangerous thing to a family or to an operation is what hasn’t been said.”
I suggest you download the Legacy Project’s Conversation Starters tool. Print a copy for each of your children. Ask them to think about the questions and be prepared to share their thoughts with the rest of the family. Then schedule a family meeting to discuss each person’s interests and address their concerns.
The first family meeting can be as formal or informal as you want. For the reader above, I suggest an informal structure, following a few basic guidelines. A family meeting should:
1. Take place in a neutral location
2. Be scheduled in advance
3. Follow an agenda
4. Abide by common ground rules
5. Conclude with action steps
News & Resources for You
Your success depends on the quality and quantity of communication within the family. Download The Family Meeting to help you plan an agenda for your family's first talk about succession.
Have questions? Let us know.
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Succession is Not a Do-It-Yourself Project

Apr 12, 2011
iStock Hammer Nails   CompressedFrom Legacy Moment eNewsletter (04/01/2011)
Please join us for future issues, delivered via email each Friday.

1. Can you actively participate in and objectively facilitate your family meetings?
2. Do you know how to define common objectives and focus the family’s attention on clearly defined goals?
3. Are you able to effectively direct a multidisciplinary team of professionals to implement your succession objectives?
4. Do you know where to go for technical support related to accounting, finances and legal needs?
5. Will you follow through to the finish and arrange annual reviews?
If you answer no to any of the questions above, I suggest you look into hiring an adviser to help you navigate the succession planning process.
A key decision is choosing the right facilitator to guide your family through the complexities of succession planning. The person or firm should have the credentials, experience and education to support your objectives. Just as in sports, you need the right team in place.
The Legacy Project’s "Selecting an Adviser Tool" will help you to evaluate the adviser choices and make the selection that is best for your family.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding the "Selecting An Adviser Tool," don’t hesitate to contact me.
News & Resources for You
Why is planning important? Consider ‘Our Ties to the Land’ (Pam Smith for Farm Journal, July 2010).
When a Legacy Shines Through' (Charlene Finck’s Editor’s Notebook, January 2011)
Ready to begin? A good starting point is the Legacy Project FAQ page. 


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