Great books to give as a gift for Christmas – Country Guide

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Published: 12 hours ago
Guide Life
Everything is Figureoutable
By Marie Forleo

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The Outward Mindset: How to Change Lives and Transform OrganizationsThe Arbinger InstituteBerrett-Koehler Publishers Do you ever think about how you…

If there’s one thing farming is lousy with, it’s those “head scratchers” that stop you in your tracks until you figure things out. Forleo’s book is based on the premise that every challenge has a solution and that everything is “figureoutable.” Her approach helps you counter the thoughts that act like viruses in the computer that is your brain, causing it to opt out of solution-focused thinking. First is “I know this already” and second, “This won’t work for me.”
The tips and insights in this book really will help you make the right decisions in high-stakes situations and to train your brain to think more creatively and positively, especially in the face of setbacks. It’s all based on a scientific gem of a quote from University of Oxford physicist David Deutsch: “Everything that is not forbidden by laws of nature is achievable, given the right knowledge.”
Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
By Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton and Sheila Heen

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It’s vital for farm business owners to lower the risk threshold on the difficult conversations they have to have. As these authors point out, a major reason why our farms fail to change and grow is that “successful implementation (of change) requires people to have difficult conversations…”
Why are so many conversations so difficult? The researchers discovered that in difficult conversations people tend to only trade conclusions back and forth instead of digging deeper into the information and into each person’s experience. They also found that each difficult conversation isn’t only about what you think it’s about. It’s also about what just happened, what each person is feeling, and what each person’s identity is telling them. 
A difficult conversation doesn’t have to be a battle between messages or about one person’s story (a.k.a. reality) trumping another. “Instead of wanting to persuade and get your way, you want to understand,” the authors tell us. Hmmm … that does sound like a message for Christmas!
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The Farmer’s Office: Tools, Tips and Templates to Successfully Manage a Growing Farm Business
By Julia Shanks

Launching, growing, pivoting and stabilizing your farm all sound like different business phases, but they do have one need in common: a solid financial road map. Understanding what makes you money (and conversely, what does not) helps you focus on how to maximize profitability while developing informed strategies for growth. 
The author of this book says, “the only way to make informed decisions about your business is to have a solid grasp of the numbers. And to have a solid grasp of the numbers, you need a basic understanding of accounting and a solid bookkeeping system.” Designed for all farm managers (particularly for those starting out) this book offers immediately actionable steps and lots of templates and how-to videos.
Shanks also delves into why it’s important to develop a business plan and shows readers how to make one. Plus, she covers the four “Rules of the Hole”: how to quit digging, how to keep the dogs at bay, how to climb out of the hole, and how to get your head out of the sand. And with her 10 tips you’ll even see the holes before you fall into them in the first place.
Think Like a Rocket Scientist: Simple Strategies You Can Use to Make Giant Leaps in Work and Life
By Ozan Varol

Should we be surprised that a profession as mythic as “rocket science” can offer life-changing lessons to all the rest of us, including farmers, and that by implementing them we can improve our professional and personal lives? It all comes down to employing a thought process that was designed for tackling complex, unfamiliar and uncertain situations (adjectives that also describe farming!) The take-home is, we can adopt a rocket scientist mindset to make innovative leaps. And here’s a promise: you’ll find numerous powerful and proven moves in this book (e.g. thought experiments, backcasting, pre-mortems and more) that can be applied immediately to your farm business challenges.
You can even begin here. Varol tells us how to approach our problems. Instead of thinking we already know what kind of solution to look for, and we just have to connect the right problem to the right answer, begin as a beginner would. That’s when the real magic happens. 
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Contributor
April M. Stewart is the owner of Alba PR, a brain-to-brain communication design firm, and the creator of “The Farmer’s Survival Guide: How to Connect With 21st Century Consumers,” a blog and workshops which look at communication impact boosters. She is also a sixth-generation Quebec dairy farmer, president of Canadian Young Speakers for Agriculture, and a member of the Canadian Agri-Business Education Foundation board. You can find her on Twitter under @FarmersSurvival.
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