When 2019 Top Producer of the Year finalist Ron Rabou, of Albin, Wyo., promised his father he would carry on the farm, he thought that meant staying on the ranch. Yet, with the benefit of hindsight and experience, Ron now looks at the concept of legacy much differently.
Ron and his wife, Julie, threw family tradition aside and went on their own to focus on niche markets as well as organic crops. This path is completely different than the way Ron was raised — but Ron knows he is keeping his promise.
“Dad’s legacy was who he was and who he taught me to be,” Ron says.
Legacy is also about ideas and people, not just about the physical farm ground or the work a farmer does, Ron explains.
“Farmers and ranchers tend to wrap our identity in what we do rather than looking introspectively and asking, ‘Who am I?’” he says.
New Goals, New Skills
It was no surprise when we met for his first complimentary Farm CEO Coach session, (one of the prizes sponsored by BASF for Top Producer of the Year finalists) Ron didn’t want to talk about farming. Instead he chose to use our sessions to focus on building his speaking and publishing reach.
He is publishing a new book, “Make Your Own Way,” an autobiographical story, as well as his tips for farm succession from someone who has lived it.
“It’s the white elephant in the room and no one wants to talk about it,” Ron says. “Transferring farms from generation to generation is not an easy thing because it’s all about emotion. That emotion is something some families are never able to get past.”
While Ron has a strong desire to help others avoid some of the pain and mistakes he went through, articulating it publicly is a different story. That’s where the CEO coaching has paid off.
“This provided a perspective I couldn’t get anywhere else,” he says.
The Power of Accountability
With that in mind, Ron used the Farm CEO Coach program to help him set goals for his book. The accountability of a coach helped him stay dedicated to carving out time for this project.
“I have become more focused on ‘what’s the purpose behind this?’ Our conversations helped to provide a lot of clarity for this process,” Ron adds.
Ron hopes his message will help his farming peers through tough decisions. Yet, he also hopes to remind them farming, while it might be a big part, is only one part of the farmer.
“Farming is one of the things I do, but it’s not all that I am,” Ron says.
Maybe that should be the next quote you jot down and save.
To read more about Ron Rabou and his farming journey, AgWeb.com/ron-rabou
Read more from Top Producer.
Sarah Beth Aubrey’s mission is to enhance success and profitability in agriculture by building capacity in people. She provides executive coaching as well as peer group and board facilitation.