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July 2012 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.

Simple and Effective

Jul 23, 2012


iStock Farmhouse   compressedFrom Legacy Moment (07/20/2012).
Please join us for future issues,
delivered via email each Friday.


Benjamin Franklin had a simple if not excellent method for making decisions. He used a "T" bar to compare and contrast the pros and cons of any decision. Whether you label him a statesman, founding father, inventor, printer, or publisher, he was a genius. His depth of pragmatic understanding is evident in everything he accomplished. As Americans, we’re the living beneficiaries of his legacy.
Albert Einstein said everything should be as simple as possible, but no simpler. Franklin’s "T" to articulate the advantages and disadvantages of a particular decision certainly fits the bill. Try it the next time you’re faced with a tough choice and indecision seems to rule the day. Literally draw a "T" on a sheet of paper, with "Pros" and "Cons" on either side of the page. Then, allowing your mind to simmer on the question, begin listing each pro or con that comes to mind.
After you’ve compiled the list, Franklin recommends you go with the alternative that has the most entries. If advantage outweighs disadvantage, your path is clear—go for it. If disadvantage outweighs advantage—decline it. In the following example, I’ve used Franklin’s decision-making model to decide if a person should engage in the succession planning process.
Engaging in succession planning: 
Pros Cons
Control the outcome Pay a planning fee
Include family in the decisions Loss of privacy
Allow next generation to prepare Limit options/ability to change course
Plan for the future Upset family harmony/cause conflict

Eliminate estate tax/transfer  

Disagreements about the recommendations/results
Save money and wealth  
Pass along family values/farming wisdom/ valuable experiences
Leave a lasting legacy

News & Resources for You:

As you begin to consider succession planning objectives, these 20 statements may help you identify your key priorities and potential first steps.
"Shared vision," "common values," and more: Read Danny Klinefelter’s thoughts on Strategic Management and Planning.
Does innovation breed growth? Here’s how one family has answered that question. 


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Live Big Inside

Jul 17, 2012


Aerial of Michigan Farms   USDA NRCSFrom Legacy Moment (07/13/2012).
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delivered via email each Friday.

There's a sticky note that's been taped to my daughter's bedroom door for so long I forget it's there. So I was taken by surprise when a recent house guest came downstairs repeating, "Live big inside." He was impressed that a young lady might be so moved by a simple saying that she'd tape it to her door. As we enjoyed a cup of coffee and watched the morning come up, he explained the value of repeating aphorisms.
He said, "Self-talk is key to success and a tool to learning." He went on to explain, "Simple words, phrases and cliches repeated on a regular basis plant the seeds of achievement in your mind. Your subconscious responds to the positive and negative impulses it hears in self-talk." It was an engaging conversation, and the perfect complement to the coffee, but I wasn't aware how the topic began.
Then our house guest asked when Sara [my daughter, now a college graduate] taped the sticky note to her bedroom door. I thought for a moment. Sara? Sticky note? Bedroom door? I was clueless. After a moment's thought, I realized what he was referring to. When my daughter was in high school, a friend of hers gave her a bug in a jar to complete a science project. To make sure no one opened the jar, this friend put a note on the lid that read, "Live bug inside." Sara, thinking the note was a fun "warning" for anyone who might dare to enter her room, taped it to the door and it's been there ever since.
We both got a great chuckle from the irony of the conversation, yet I walked away repeating the misreading he originally thought was so insightful, "Live big inside."
News & Resources for You:

The Legacy Project 2012 Report is here!  If a copy hasn't yet hit your mailbox, you may browse online.
This Minnesota family is "putting together a creative plan to keep the orchard in the family."
Weren't able to join us for this week's Legacy Project Workshops? We'll be back on the road in December! Make plans now for Amarillo, Texas, Dec. 3; Salina, Kan., Dec. 5; and Denver Colo., Dec. 7. Registration will open in the fall. 
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Photo courtesy of USDA NRCS

America's Favorite Uncle

Jul 10, 2012


Ben FranklinFrom Legacy Moment (07/06/2012).
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delivered via email each Friday.


He’s been referred to as a Founding Father, yet most Americans view him with the warmth of a favorite uncle, the wit of a fishing buddy and the creative drive of a Steve Jobs. From eighth grade history, we know that Benjamin Franklin was an inventor, author, statesman, scientist and a framer of our Constitution. As you read his list of accomplishments—and it’s a long one—what doesn’t immediately come to mind is how much never would have existed without his genius.
Each endeavor begins in the mind of a single individual. As the entrepreneur might attest, business is founded on a great idea and then executed with the assistance of many. Most businesses fail and, though the reasons for failure are many and the rationales for success few, can you imagine building a nation from scratch? Franklin and our Founding Fathers didn’t have an example to follow, didn’t have a mentor to confide in and didn’t have the wisdom of past experience.
We live in a country that encourages and even celebrates the entrepreneurial spirit. This nation is an exemplar of what is possible when a single idea catches fire and attracts the energy of a willing group of supporters. Great things happen when determined people focus their attention and combine their capabilities to achieve a common goal. America is the result of self-determination. Americans are the standard-bearers of the torch of leadership. We have an inherent responsibility to lead the world and create a better tomorrow.
Happy Birthday, America. Thank you, Mr. Franklin.

News & Resources for You:

While "pulling in the same direction" is key to one family - flexibility, diversity and growth allow another to "chart its own paths."
Last-minute registration is still available for the Legacy Project workshop on July 12 in Omaha, Neb.
Watch last week's episode of "Leave a Legacy TV" to meet an ag aviation family that is smoothly transitioning their operation to a well-prepared second generation while positively impacting efficiency and safety across North America. 


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Not a Surprise to Me!

Jul 05, 2012


Grasses   Iowa   USDA NRCS

From Legacy Moment (06/29/2012).
Please join us for future issues,
delivered via email each Friday.

The title and subtitle of the article say it all. "The Triumph of the Family Farm: Farming is in the midst of a startling renaissance – one that holds lessons for America’s economic future" (The Atlantic, July/August 2012) is an excellent portrayal of your story. It’s a testament to our farming way of life, the resilience of the Ag community and a demonstration of the values we hold dear.
As the quintessential family business, and the sector of our economy that is working, American farmers represent all that is good in family enterprise. Not only are you responsible for providing a safe, plentiful and affordable food supply, you do it based on the virtues of self-reliance and independence. You accept the risk and focus your capabilities on results.
The author, Chrystia Freeland, briefly explains the changes in production agriculture over the past several decades. She writes positively about the "technological revolution and global integration" and compares those forces to some of the current challenges that plague the American economy today. To her credit, the author recognizes what so many don’t understand, when she writes, "One of the most surprising aspects of the farm story is that its heroes are self-employed entrepreneurs [agripreneurs]."
Not a surprise to me. In fact, your growing capabilities in the face of adversity are the stories that heroes are made of. Our challenge now is to pass on not just the land, not just an appreciation for the farming lifestyle, and not just the implements, but rather the intellect, the wisdom, the confidence and the ability to overcome the trials and tribulations of changing environments to continue providing a plentiful food supply.
News & Resources for You:

Designing your ideal operation can be one of the most exciting endeavors for an agripreneur.

This week on "Leave a Legacy TV," meet an ag aviation family who are pioneering change, while successfully transitioning to a next generation of skilled leaders.

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Photo courtesy of USDA NRCS.
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