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Manage dairy employees, establish farm protocols, take on milk marketing, and become more confident in your farm financials.


The old adage of farming being a “way of life” no longer rings completely true. Farming is very much a business these days, much like any manufacturing or service industry in town.

Even the smallest dairy operations can show assets in excess of $1 million, as milk quota, in many cases with this size of unit, is the main contributor to the farm balance sheet.

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We’ve all heard of the Peter Principle, which states that “in a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.” One special flavor of the Peter Principle is something I call the Derek Principle (my apologies to those of you who share the name), after a brilliant software designer I once worked with, a young man who could apply his creativity and ability to work tirelessly toward the solving of some of the greatest technical challenges our company ever encountered.

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A developmental milestone is reached when the leader is able to build trust and motivation with their employees to the degree that they are willing to openly follow their direction regardless of circumstances. This is not achieved until a leader is able to demonstrate – through personal example – that they have earned their employees’ respect and admiration.

The practice of interactive leadership provides leaders with a distinct set of advantages that cannot be realized without their active presence.

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One of the tricks of a great farm succession is the ability of the founder to let go of management and, ultimately, ownership.

There are many 60-something and 70-something farm dads on the bald prairie that just don’t know how to change from being the main manager to “the hired man.”

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Have you experienced a situation where having many communication tools at your disposal has actually made it more difficult to effectively and efficiently communicate? We can’t deny that things like email, voicemail, texting, Facebook and smart phones have increased our ways to connect with one another.

But are we truly communicating with each other to get things accomplished and avoid mistakes?

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Dairy producers are always asking me to describe what I do. I am often contacted after a peer or trusted adviser has referred them.

More times than not, one of the first topics they want to discuss is: “Tell me what you do.” And also more times than not, my first reply will be: “I help people answer the question: ‘What next?’”

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