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Welcome to the home of the Modern Farm Business® podcast, hosted weekly by Dean Heffta. Modern Farm Business translates proven methods and best practices from the business arena to today's modern farm leadership environment. We'll be learning from forward-thinking experts and discovering how to apply time-tested techniques to make real improvements on the farm.

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Nov 15, 2018

“There’s never any downtime anymore,” is a common lament in agriculture. We pine for times past, when there was a simpler pace and two distinct seasons of planting and harvest. Today we can feel tossed from one season to the next, never having enough time to catch our breath, let alone get ahead. In agriculture we’re beholden to the weather and the seasons; much of what we’re able to do on a given day isn’t in our hands, despite the to-do list in our head.

Regardless of that feeling of “12 months of busy”—there are still seasons in agriculture: there’s calving season for the cow-calf operation, there’s planting for the grain farmer, and so on. What we really sense is the continual business of our lives. Every day seems to fill up with a stream of meetings, phone calls and paperwork. We’re connected 24/7 and find ourselves not farmers in the agrarian ideal—but business owners in the modern, entrepreneurial sense. As leaders of the business, it’s up to us to make the most out of every season. Sports teams know that championships are won by what gets done in the off season.

“The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.”
- Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf

Whether you are a CEO, a coach or a general, it’s what you do with your downtime that matters most to how well you do when it’s “Go Time.” To get you thinking about the off season as winter approaches, here are five exercises to help you make the most of it.

  1. Key Frustration Process: review and focus on what didn’t go so well this season. These are the opportunities to turn the off season into a workshop for eliminating frustrations.
  2. Radical Preparation: Challenge yourself to prepare & plan to a further level than you’ve ever done before. Plan for more eventualities so you’re not caught off-guard.
  3. Recharge: Remember we have to take care of ourselves and our families as well as the business. Sometimes that means rest, or sometimes it means getting away or spending time on a hobby.
  4. Sharpen your skills: Have to get better every day. In the off season that could mean taking a class at a community college on online through sites like Coursera, Udemy or Lynda; it could mean attending a farm meeting or even a non-farm meeting in town.
  5. There IS NO off season: There are only different seasons. Do we look at them as hyphens in-between the “real work of farming,” or recognize that the business of farming has all kinds of seasons necessary for success? In reality you get 6, 10, maybe 15 seasons on your farm. Define them, give them a goal, focus your energy on them, define their purpose, and weave them into your planning and communication with your team and the family.

Thanks for listening! Email me any questions or comments at See you next week!