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Froese: St. Nick’s easy ways to kick-start succession success

How about some practical gifts that show you are serious about transition?

Froese: St. Nick’s easy ways to kick-start succession success

As Christmas approaches I wonder what special gifts would make your life easier. Most farm folks want better communication and harmony on their farm. What if you gave gifts this Christmas that shout loud and clear that you are ready to talk seriously about transition? Share gifts that create harmony through intentionally blocking time to create understanding.

Imagine the decrease in anxiety over the uncertainty of your future when folks start unwrapping some fun tools to talk about tough issues, and create solutions. How good will it feel to have a sense of direction for your own life, your kids, and your parents?

This can be easy to solve when you have the right tools at hand.

Let’s get the list ready for St. Nick.

1. Giant Post-it pads which now cost about $40. You can easily paste them to a blank kitchen wall space or your farm office wall to visualize what each person envisions for the farm. One sheet can have names, ages, and desired goals for transition. One sheet can have a parking lot of issues that need to be addressed over the winter, and one sheet can have five smaller coloured Post-it notes for each person’s top five values. Email me at [email protected] for my values cloud to get you started.

2. Mr. Sketch Markers… preferably the blueberry-scented ones. Let’s make this process smell good, and have fun at the same time. Eyesight is failing, so you need decent markers and someone with good printing. As you document ideas, solutions, and action lists on your large paper, you take a photo of each sheet with your smartphone, instant minutes. Easy! My free farm family tool kit at has a meeting action template that is easily fillable to help you keep folks accountable for what they promise to do after your meeting.

3. Black metal flip chart (not the easel) from Staples for $200. OK, you are willing to spend $700 or more for a bag of seed canola. What if you were 21 per cent more profitable in 2021 because you used the flip chart twice a month for operational meetings on the first Wednesday morning, and succession/transition meetings on the third Wednesday of the month? Folks who meet regularly for robust communication get things done. Drama is not their thing, they are action oriented and the flip chart helps the visual learners explain their ideas better.

4. Coffee cream and good hot drinks. St. Nick thinks you deserve to have more than milk in your coffee or tea. Keep drinking your milk, spend the $2.69 on cream to enjoy your beverage as you explore what everyone on your family team is thinking, feeling, needing and wanting. Since I started buying special cream for my tea, I enjoy the pleasure of a tea break more.

5. Binder tabs, and a one-inch binder. No way can St. Nick read your mind unless you write him out a list. Same goes for planning. It’s time to stop guessing what everyone else wants and get it written down. This is the place for your letter to your parents requesting timelines, and where you present them with your one-page business plan, your farm vision. You need to get your own documents in order. This planning binder is going to save you time and money as you navigate between your lawyer, accountant, financial planner, insurance broker and your coach. You do have all those expert advisers on your team don’t you?

6. Coloured file folders give you energy if you like to be more organized. I find page protectors useful to keep important documents or task lists top of mind. Google Docs is also a way to keep documents sharable between the generations and advisers. I use red files for tax documents, and special projects. Get in the habit of scanning your handwritten notes into your digital files.

7. $60 in free credits for farmers to access ag expertise through their phone. Get yours here: For ag experts, it can be tough to recoup your time spent on phone calls. AGvisorPRO automatically tracks your time and bills your clients through its app. Download AGvisorPRO in the App Store or Google Play for free.

8. Whiteboards are handy to use in the machine shop for maintenance tracking, the seed office for bin maps, and you might like one for meeting agenda items in your farm kitchen entryway. When you write things down it activates the subconscious part of your brain and starts things flowing. It’s also a great way to get better sleep, when you “brain dump” your issues on the board, knowing that the thoughts and breakthroughs will not be lost in the night.

9. WhatsApp. We used this in days gone by when travelling overseas. Our Swiss trainee used it to connect with his family at lunchtime. One farm woman uses it with her team as a way to track the operations of the farm, like a mini-mgt. tool. Don’t know if St. Nick can afford new phones, but there are likely some apps you will find useful.

10. Chocolate Advent calendar. Advent is the time of preparation and anticipation of the celebration of the birth of Jesus. What do you have to look forward to this Christmas 2020? Build your own sort of treat-laden calendar that rewards you as you meet small transition goals, and cross tasks off your list. I am enjoying chocolate-covered raisins with my afternoon tea as I coach farm families through the day.

Small rewards and counting your wins through the week can keep you motivated. Some farmers may prefer lemon pie, so pick your treats and celebrate moving in the right direction.

11. Online assessments at $55 per person can help you figure out your positive conflict habits and your hot buttons (called the conflict dynamic profile). Knowing how to improve conflict will make you unstoppable when you navigate tough conversations.

12. Massage gift certificates for $85. Healthy bodies support healthy decision-making.

13. Audiobook: Building your Farm Legacy, under $15 at Listen while you walk.

14. The EASY button from Staples for $6. Hit it often as you work on creating certainty for your future, talk things out, and enjoy harmony through understanding each other this Christmas.

About the author


Elaine Froese is a Manitoba 150 Woman Trailblazer. She is passionate to guide farm families to find harmony through understanding. Her mission is for you to have rich relationships on your farm. Visit to learn more and book her for speaking engagements at



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