Everyone would like that—it’s easy to like that.
If I ask you, “What do you want out of life?” and you say something like, “I want to be happy and have a great family and a job I like,” it’s so ubiquitous that it doesn’t even mean anything.
A more interesting question, a question that perhaps you’ve never considered before, is what pain do you want in your life? What are you willing to struggle for? Because that seems to be a greater determinant of how our lives turn out.
Everybody wants to have an amazing job and financial independence—but not everyone wants to suffer through 60-hour work weeks, long commutes, obnoxious paperwork, to navigate arbitrary corporate hierarchies and the blasé confines of an infinite cubicle hell. People want to be rich without the risk, without the sacrifice, without the delayed gratification necessary to accumulate wealth.
Everybody wants to have great sex and an awesome relationship—but not everyone is willing to go through the tough conversations, the awkward silences, the hurt feelings and the emotional psychodrama to get there. And so they settle. They settle and wonder “What if?” for years and years and until the question morphs from “What if?” into “Was that it?” And when the lawyers go home and the alimony check is in the mail they say, “What was that for?” if not for their lowered standards and expectations 20 years prior, then what for?
Because happiness requires struggle. The positive is the side effect of handling the negative. You can only avoid negative experiences for so long before they come roaring back to life.
At the core of all human behavior, our needs are more or less similar. Positive experience is easy to handle. It’s negative experience that we all, by definition, struggle with. Therefore, what we get out of life is not determined by the good feelings we desire but by what bad feelings we’re willing and able to sustain to get us to those good feelings.
People want an amazing physique. But you don’t end up with one unless you legitimately appreciate the pain and physical stress that comes with living inside a gym for hour upon hour, unless you love calculating and calibrating the food you eat, planning your life out in tiny plate-sized portions.
People want to start their own business or become financially independent. But you don’t end up a successful entrepreneur unless you find a way to appreciate the risk, the uncertainty, the repeated failures, and working insane hours on something you have no idea whether will be successful or not.
People want a partner, a spouse. But you don’t end up attracting someone amazing without appreciating the emotional turbulence that comes with weathering rejections, building the sexual tension that never gets released, and staring blankly at a phone that never rings. It’s part of the game of love. You can’t win if you don’t play.
What determines your success isn’t “What do you want to enjoy?” The question is, “What pain do you want to sustain?” The quality of your life is not determined by the quality of your positive experiences but the quality of your negative experiences. And to get good at dealing with negative experiences is to get good at dealing with life.
There’s a lot of crappy advice out there that says, “You’ve just got to want it enough!”
Everybody wants something. And everybody wants something enough. They just aren’t aware of what it is they want, or rather, what they want “enough.”
Because if you want the benefits of something in life, you have to also want the costs. If you want the beach body, you have to want the sweat, the soreness, the early mornings, and the hunger pangs. If you want the yacht, you have to also want the late nights, the risky business moves, and the possibility of pissing off a person or ten thousand.
If you find yourself wanting something month after month, year after year, yet nothing happens and you never come any closer to it, then maybe what you actually want is a fantasy, an idealization, an image and a false promise. Maybe what you want isn’t what you want, you just enjoy wanting. Maybe you don’t actually want it at all.
Sometimes I ask people, “How do you choose to suffer?” These people tilt their heads and look at me like I have twelve noses. But I ask because that tells me far more about you than your desires and fantasies. Because you have to choose something. You can’t have a pain-free life. It can’t all be roses and unicorns. And ultimately that’s the hard question that matters. Pleasure is an easy question. And pretty much all of us have similar answers. The more interesting question is the pain. What is the pain that you want to sustain?
That answer will actually get you somewhere. It’s the question that can change your life. It’s what makes me me and you you. It’s what defines us and separates us and ultimately brings us together.
For most of my adolescence and young adulthood, I fantasized about being a musician — a rock star, in particular. Any badass guitar song I heard, I would always close my eyes and envision myself up on stage playing it to the screams of the crowd, people absolutely losing their minds to my sweet finger-noodling. This fantasy could keep me occupied for hours on end. The fantasizing continued up through college, even after I dropped out of music school and stopped playing seriously. But even then it was never a question of if I’d ever be up playing in front of screaming crowds, but when. I was biding my time before I could invest the proper amount of time and effort into getting out there and making it work. First, I needed to finish school. Then, I needed to make money. Then, I needed to find the time. Then … and then nothing.
Despite fantasizing about this for over half of my life, the reality never came. And it took me a long time and a lot of negative experiences to finally figure out why: I didn’t actually want it.
I was in love with the result—the image of me on stage, people cheering, me rocking out, pouring my heart into what I’m playing—but I wasn’t in love with the process. And because of that, I failed at it. Repeatedly. Hell, I didn’t even try hard enough to fail at it. I hardly tried at all.
The daily drudgery of practicing, the logistics of finding a group and rehearsing, the pain of finding gigs and actually getting people to show up and give a shit. The broken strings, the blown tube amp, hauling 40 pounds of gear to and from rehearsals with no car. It’s a mountain of a dream and a mile-high climb to the top. And what it took me a long time to discover is that I didn’t like to climb much. I just liked to imagine the top.
Our culture would tell me that I’ve somehow failed myself, that I’m a quitter or a loser. Self-help would say that I either wasn’t courageous enough, determined enough or I didn’t believe in myself enough. The entrepreneurial/start-up crowd would tell me that I chickened out on my dream and gave in to my conventional social conditioning. I’d be told to do affirmations or join a mastermind group or manifest or something.
But the truth is far less interesting than that: I thought I wanted something, but it turns out I didn’t. End of story.
I wanted the reward and not the struggle. I wanted the result and not the process. I was in love not with the fight but only the victory. And life doesn’t work that way.
Who you are is defined by the values you are willing to struggle for. People who enjoy the struggles of a gym are the ones who get in good shape. People who enjoy long workweeks and the politics of the corporate ladder are the ones who move up it. People who enjoy the stresses and uncertainty of the starving artist lifestyle are ultimately the ones who live it and make it.
This is not a call for willpower or “grit.” This is not another admonishment of “no pain, no gain.”
This is the most simple and basic component of life: our struggles determine our successes. So choose your struggles wisely, my friend.
We get advice all the time. From people that we know, we respect and those we don’t know and we don’t necessarily respect….but we learn from regardless. Here is a collection of advice from a group of people from all walks of life…. May something resonate with you!
1. Don’t lose sight.
“‘People who used to run car companies were really into cars. People who ran hotel chains loved hospitality. Now, everything is run by accountants, and you feel it as a consumer.‘ This slightly grumpy rant from one of my mentors, the famed mad man Martin Puris, inspires me to stay focused on the purity and passion of a business pursuit.” –Andrew Deitchman, co-founder of The New Stand
2. You get only what you settle for.
“The best business advice I ever got came from my dear old Dad. It’s quite simple and immeasurably powerful. It goes like this: ‘You, and only you, should set the value of your talents, ideas, services, and/or product. Don’t ever expect anyone to pay or give you more than they have to.’ As an entrepreneur, you have to get used to the fact that, quite often, you’ll be faced with an offer that seems less than the value of your talent, ideas, services, or product. That’s business. You are the sole arbiter of what you, your ideas, services, or product is worth. Therefore, what you get is what you are willing to settle for. You have to fight for what you feel you’re worth. Not that settling is necessarily a bad thing, but where you end up is what you settle for. Sage advice.” –Neil Powell, fine artist and co-founder of Mugnacious
3. Be clear and transparent.
“I learned many things while working for Steve Jobs in the ’90s, including what not to do. While Steve was arguably the greatest marketer of our generation and gave some of the most inspirational speeches of our time, he wasn’t the best communicator when it came to individuals. Steve didn’t set defined expectations for me or other employees: he simply knew it when he saw it. Watching him operate made me recognize the importance of clarity and transparency with my team, and how imperative it is to set expectations and effectively communicate with them. The more transparent I am about where I want to take the company, the clearer my team is about how to get there. Making sure everyone is on board before you make business decisions will help ensure you won’t alienate people (sometimes your best ones) in the process.” –James Green, serial entrepreneur and CEO of technology company Magnetic
4. Forget “having it all.”
“These days, there’s an ongoing debate about whether women can ‘have it all,’ and I’ve often been asked that question. I’m a person who likes to give 100 percent to everything I do. I want to be the best at my job and as a mother. But I realize I can only give 100 percent in the moment. If I’m at work, am I giving 100 percent to my kids? No. If I’m at home, am I giving 100 percent to my work? No. It’s a balancing act, but worthwhile as long as we don’t kid ourselves that we’re superwomen.” –from the book Getting Real by Gretchen Carlson, host of The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson on Fox News, used by permission
5. Don’t get caught in analysis paralysis.
“Work is never going to be as slow as it is today. The pace of business in general — and start-ups specifically — will only quicken in 2016. So, we have to make a lot of important decisions quickly. I got some great advice early in life, which was: ‘Sometimes you won’t know the right decision, so you have to make the decision right.’ In other words, when you lack perfect information and time, you have to be thoughtful about your process, be diligent in your analysis, then make the decision quickly. After that, it’s all about execution and putting all your energy into making it work.” –Don Smithmier, founder and CEO of The Big Know
6. Listening is very different from hearing.
“The best piece of advice ever imparted to me comes from my mom, who is fond of saying ‘What you say matters less than what people hear and understand.’ As a teacher, she was a brilliant listener, and she used what she heard to build a bridge between what she needed to teach and how the student needed to learn. From that, she taught me to focus my efforts on helping people understand rather than on what I wanted to tell them. She taught me how to hear, and it is the single most important skill in my professional success.” –Courtney Buechert, founder and CEO of creative marketing agency Eleven, Inc.
7. Put your weirdness into your work.
“These words were spoken to me by famed voice-over and recording artist Ken Nordine. This was many years ago, and I’ve carried these words with me ever since. He recognized that we all get a little weird from time to time, but it’s how we choose to channel our weirdness that’s key. To offset my very ordinary life, I infuse every project I touch with experimental and fluid creations. It’s what’s led to my best work and most successful endeavors. With weirdness and imaginative thinking embedded in all facets of your work, you are free to spend the rest of your time enjoying the little things in life, a balance that is delicate yet so profound.” –David Slayden, founder and executive director of designer-founder accelerator BDW
8. Action creates opportunity.
“There’s a variety of advice that has had lasting impact, but this is the one that I continue to return to on a weekly basis. It’s a quote from my former CEO. This phrase remains valuable in the big and small, in the tactical and the strategic. We are in an industry that requires the creation and fostering of constant change. We have to invent new ideas, create new services and capabilities, all while increasing the quality of our craft. So while we can all spend an endless amount of time contemplating and planning, there is one force that cannot be denied. Take action, as it will surely create and open up new opportunities.” –Ed Brojerdi, CEO of KBS New York and co-founder of Spies & Assassins
9. No cohesion, no team.
“In creative industries especially, teams are central to the work. They are integral to collaborative cultures and, far more often than not, essential to innovation. What too many people fail to recognize, however, is that two or more people working together doesn’t automatically constitute a ‘team.’ These people may be partners and co-workers, but that’s not enough to effect the magic that genuine teamwork can produce. When I was running the brand-strategy practice for consultancy FutureBrand, we assembled teams to take on each assignment and were careful to include a diversity of skills and backgrounds in each. I couldn’t help but notice, though, that certain teams were far more effective than others. In a management meeting, we discussed the issue and then we each went off to gather more data. When we reconvened, the lesson became clear: No cohesion, no team. It turned out that the highest performing teams simply liked each other more. They would break for dinners. Go bowling. Share their weekend plans and recaps. They genuinely cared about one another. And that led to a level of performance that far outstripped anything that less cohesive teams could hope to achieve. I keep that lesson in mind, not just when I’m putting teams together but also when I’m hiring. However brilliant or accomplished a prospect is, I don’t want to hire that person if he or she can’t play well with others. I look for the right mix of skills and mindset, of course, but beyond that I want to know that the person will be worthy of colleagues’ trust and a positive presence within the company. If not, I’d prefer that person play on someone else’s team.” –Andrew Benett, Global CEO of Havas Worldwide and Havas Creative Group
10. See the spaces, not the trees.
“This is a snowboarding reference. It can be daunting, standing at the top of the mountain readying yourself for the trip down, and seeing all the trees in your path. But the key is to see the space between the trees. This sort of mindset, seeing the opportunity and not the obstacles, is important as you start out on your next life chapter, both personally and professionally. When you’re deep into your work or facing a personal challenge, it’s easier to see the barriers, but don’t let them stop you from pursuing the opportunity that exists around them. Remember the business of your business. Many companies get caught up in the service they provide versus what actually drives their business. For example, Twitter is a micro-blogging service. But at the end of the day, what pays the bills is selling ads and sponsored tweets on the platform. Don’t lose sight of the actual economics of your business; it’s what keeps the lights on
It’s critical to note that people who’ve made a real difference aren’t all privileged, advantaged or “special” by any stretch.
Many come from disadvantaged families, crushing circumstances and initially limited capabilities, but have found ways to pick themselves up and rise above their circumstances (and their genes) to transform their own lives and those around them.
Researching these makers, shakers and disruptors, and working with our own clients who shape the world around them in powerful and constructive ways, We have observed 9 core behaviors that set them apart – habitual ways of behaving and approaching life and work that distinguish them from those who long to make a difference but can’t or won’t find the way.
The 9 core behaviors of people who positively impact the world are:
- They dedicate themselves to what gives their life meaning and purpose.
- They commit to continually bettering themselves.
- They engage with people in open, mutually-beneficial ways
- They invest time and energy not in what is, but what can be.
- They embrace critique.
They spread what they know.
They uplift others as they ascend.
They view the journey as the goal.
They use their power and influence well.
Now go out and impact the world!
When talking about their careers, there are two stories I often hear women telling themselves:
- “Unless I figure out the one thing I’ve always wanted to do, I’m going to be miserable.”
- “I’ve invested so much time striving to be successful in this industry, if I transition to something else it’ll have all been for nothing.”
Women (and men) often feel an urgency to find their ‘one thing.’ Or, they stay in the same industry longer than they’d like because they feel obligated or stuck. To discuss finding purpose and getting unstuck I talked with Nicole Antoinette, the host of the Real Talk Radio podcast. Antoinette is a self-described “recovering self help addict” and a queen of reinvention.
With a resume that includes highlights such as camp director, owner of a web design firm, goal setting coach, and cookie shop owner, Antoinette says the theme of her career has been change.
This is a dramatic juxtaposition to her husband, an engineer at Twitter whose path has been pretty linear. She says, “He’s taken the more traditional or ‘recommended’ path that was put on a pedestal when I was younger: pick your thing and become really good at your thing.”
Around the time she turned 30, Antoinette struggled with shame and guilt that she hadn’t found her ‘one thing’ like her partner. Without her ‘one thing’ all the choices she had made in her 20s felt like a waste. She asked herself, “What’s wrong with me that I’ve had all of these seemingly unrelated careers?”
Paths Aren’t Always Linear, But Skills Are Transferable
Antoinette felt badly about this pattern of behavior until she had a realization. “The model of pick one thing, get better and better at that thing, and always be continually interested in that thing is actually pretty rare.” Stories of achieving greatness through perseverance in the same profession (picture Michael Phelps) are the ones celebrated in the media, she argues, which causes us to falsely believe that kind of career consistency is the norm.
In addition to craving an idealized ’one thing’, people are reluctant to lose all the opportunities they’ve created for themselves in their industry. Antoinette, who’s had at least 4 careers already, says if you go to do something else, all the experience, skills, and relationships you’ve developed come with you. “ It’s not like you leave a job or an industry and someone comes and ‘Men in Blacks’ your brain ,” she explains referencing the memory erasing technology from the popular film series.
For example, the same organization and communication skills that made her a good camp director were a tremendous asset when she ran her own business. As I started my consulting practice, a woman I’d met in my last role, managing a political campaign, became my first client.
Ask Yourself Good Questions
When it comes to her own transitions, Antoinette says the best advice she’s ever gotten is to ask yourself good questions, such as:
- What’s something you’ve been told is really important that actually isn’t important to you?
- What are you willing to give up?
- What’s true for you that you’ve been denying?
Referencing her own experience, Antoinette says, “If you’re actually willing to go back and ask yourself again and again, eventually you just get sick of yourself,” and get to the answer.
Asking herself those questions relentlessly, she realized she didn’t care about having a big flashy career. She says it took all of her 20s to accept that a “capital C Career” wasn’t important to her. She challenged the idea that there was a finite destination to reach, and she’s not looking back. Or as she says,“F*ck, I’m so much happier now.”
Whether you’re just starting out in your career or decades in, consider giving yourself permission to explore what kind of work is fulfilling rather than searching frantically for your ‘one thing’. Who knows, maybe cookie shop owner is in your future.
Unicorns are hard to catch. Back in the 1500s, it was believed that only fair young maidens could gain the trust of these elusive, horned creatures.
I’m no fair maiden. Still, in my time, I’ve had the luck of getting close to many magical unicorns … in the form of “unicorn” employees. Not to be confused with unicorn companies—startups valued at $1 billion or more—“unicorn” employees, for me, are staff who possess a unique set of qualities that make them extremely rare and valuable. Like actual unicorns, they’re hard to find, but once hired, offer up enormous benefits in the workplace. To name a few, they shatter expectations, raise the bar for everyone and are simply a joy to be around. Unicorn employees can literally take your business to the next level.
Whether you’re looking to build a unicorn army, or hoping to boost your own value in the workplace, here are the five key qualities of unicorn employees:
You aren’t limited by your job title.
In the span of about 5 years, my company, Hootsuite, went from a 100-person tech startup to a 1000-person global company. Through this stage of “hyper growth,” employees who truly flourished were flexible and intellectually curious.
Earlier on in the business, this meant having the ability to wear many hats and excel at varied tasks, critical at a fast-growing startup. For example, just because somebody’s job title was “Office Administrator,” didn’t mean she would shy away from pitching in on a major marketing campaign by helping brainstorm some catchy tweets.
Later, as the company grew, unicorn employees jumped at the chance to dive deeper into specific, growing areas of business, which needed good people. Some even decided to move across several departments. I saw unicorn employees make surprising leaps—one even went from financial specialist to software engineer. I think this is so important to employee growth that we recently launched a new pilot initiative, called the “stretch program,” to help people expand their knowledge and expertise across the business … and grow their unicorn horns.
You think big and small.
Exceptional employees are able to think strategically. This means having the ability to take a step back and see the overall company goals, or the industry as a whole, then apply it to your work. To be effective in business, you must be able to see the big picture.
On the flipside, while big-picture thinking is critical, I’ve also found that the best employees also know the devil is in the details. Running a business requires meticulous attention. A minor copyright issue, improperly executed email campaign, or even what seems like a small technical glitch can end up being catastrophic, affecting a lot of clients in a short period of time. The best employees are those who take the time to read the fine print. These are the types of people I know I can entrust with serious responsibility.
You have true grit.
The concept of “grit” has made its way into popular culture recently, perhaps sparked by psychologist Angela Duckworth’s popular TED talk and book, on the subject. She defines grit as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals,” and says it’s a crucial factor to achieving success.
I couldn’t agree more. Being an entrepreneur since I was a teenager, I’ve learned that the business world is like being on a boat in the open sea. Whether it’s a patch of rough waves or an unexpected storm, unexpected obstacles are inevitable. During these turbulent times, having grit—a dogged persistence—can help you keep focused on the destination. In fact, that very outlook helped my billion-dollar company weather the storm and get to the next level. Unicorn employees have true grit, and are able stay calm and focused on the task at hand, even on choppy seas.
You’re respectful by nature.
The ability to work well with others is a skill that benefits any workplace. It seems simple enough, but you’d be surprised.
A few years ago, I put out a job posting for a high-level sales role. Many people applied, and after a series of interviews, I had some top candidates in mind. However, when I checked in with my executive assistant at the time, I was shocked to find out how many of those people who had been personable and courteous to me, had been downright rude to her.
Unicorn employees are respectful by nature, and would never treat someone—regardless of title —in this way. It’s something that absolutely sets a stellar employee apart from an average one. In fact, this is so important to the well-being of our staff, it’s been built into two of our four core company values: “Respect the individual,” and “lead with humility.”
You get it done.
A few years back, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner sent out a short status update on his platform: “In simplest terms possible, the people I most enjoy working with dream big, get it done, and know how to have fun.”
The update blew up, striking a chord with the tens of thousands of people who commented and liked it. (Weiner followed up by writing a full post on the topic.) Like him, I too am a huge proponent of having fun at work and believe it’s crucial to success. However, I can’t stress how important it is for people on the job to be able to get shit done. After all, no matter how great a co-worker is to be around, if he can’t produce actual results, his presence is isn’t ultimately helpful and may even be damaging to others. Great teams can be shattered by a single member who can’t get shit done.
Meanwhile, studies have shown that top performers contribute to a business 10 times more than their average counterparts. In fact, some firms, including Microsoft, claim that figure to be 100 times.
The bottom line: At the end of the day, you can be respectful, multi-talented, tenacious, detail-oriented and a big thinker. But if you don’t produce real results and move the needle, all those traits are wasted. You must be able to execute. It’s an essential unicorn quality.
For companies and business leaders, it’s probably worthwhile to put some extra time and effort into chasing unicorns. Unlike their mythical counterparts, they’re very real and they can change your company. And for unicorn employees in the making, it’s never too late to grow your strengths and make yourself more rare and valuable than ever.
CEO @ HootSuite
Image: Evonne Heyning
Celebrating 21 years in the Wine Industry
There’s two things you need to know, right off the bat, about these hiring criteria.
First and most obviously, the six criteria on Danny’s list are psychological traits, not technical skills. Even though it is generally easier to hire for technical skills, whether they are knife skills in the kitchen, great customer-centric leaders like Meyer feel confident that they can teach technical know-how to almost any newly-hired employee, but on the other hand find the idea of teaching empathy, teaching work ethic and so forth to be essentially a fool’s errand, much better addressed in the selection process than in post-employment training and discipline.
The second point is this: Even though you’ll be hiring for personality traits rather than technical skills, you still need to develop highly-skilled employees before they even face the first customer. Otherwise, you’re doing your customers (and your company) a huge disservice.
Meyer: “I used to think that you could just hire people for their emotional skills and if they had the six essential emotional skills, that’s all it took. I learned the hard way that you can’t unleash somebody’s hospitality unless you have first completely drilled all the systems, the technical skills and know-how that are needed, to a point of excellence.”
In other words: These wonderful, warm personality traits that you have hired your new employees for aren’t going to manifest themselves in ways that are useful to your customers until the training for skills is complete and has become second nature.
Meyer compares this to learning to drive a stick shift.
I remember when I first learned to drive a stick shift [as a teenager back in St. Louis], I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. And until I had learned to be proficient at doing that, I wasn’t having any fun while I was driving. I wasn’t switching the stations on the radio dial. I wasn’t telling jokes to my friends. I wasn’t pointing out the beautiful trees on the side of the road.
At that beginner’s stage, I was “all systems all the time.” But once I learned those systems, how to shift gears, find a sticking point when I was on a hill, all those kinds to things that are really taught. Once I cleared all that out, that’s when I could get back to being myself and pick the best music for whoever was in the car, tell jokes with people, you know, enjoy the scenery.
So even though the emotional skills that lead to hospitality are not really teachable, but they are also not revealable until first you’ve learned the systems, the technical side of getting the job done.”
Meyer and his Union Square Hospitality Group restaurants hire for what Meyer calls an employee’s “hospitality quotient.” These are the six traits he feels are required for an employee to have the potential to provide true hospitality to the guests of his restaurants.
Here’s his list of six traits to hire for, which I’m using here with his permission and hope you find useful.
1. Optimistic warmth (genuine kindness, thoughtfulness, and a sense that the glass is always at least half full);
2. Intelligence (not just “smarts” but rather an insatiable curiosity to learn for the sake of learning);
3. Work ethic (a natural tendency to do something as well as it can possibly be done);
4. Empathy (an awareness of, care for, and connection to how others feel and how your actions make others feel)
5. Self-awareness (an understanding of what makes you tick;
6. Integrity (a natural inclination to be accountable for doing the right thing with honesty and superb judgment).
Yes, I hear you complain about them every day: Those millennials, they ask about vacation time in the first interview! They get a bad cold and disappear for days!
They want my job after a week in their job!
“Who do these upstarts think they are,” you moan to me over every business lunch.
I feel your pain—but question your premise. Sure, there are tons of indolent slackers lounging in their parents’ rec rooms and some of them should stay there because they make terrible employees. But don’t dismiss the generation; just take some hiring and management precautions. Here are six steps to weeding out the duds and finding the eager hard-chargers who’ll stick around, build your business and make you look good.
I used to mince words with prospective employees. In my lexicon, senior people with monstrous egos that needed to be not only tolerated but massaged were referred to as “challenging” or “difficult.”
I’m not polite any more.
I tell the prospective employee that the wine industry marketing environments, for an example can be hard to work in. I also tell them I don’t allow screaming, yelling, throwing things ain the organizations they may work in.…but those “difficult” people will still find ways to torture you. (I don’t, of course tell them that back in the day, at X Winery, one of the Sr. Marketing VP threw a box of yellow Kleenex at a friend of mine saying, “Don’t come back until these are white!”) I also tell them that the WIne Marketing business is a somewhat stagnant business right now. Several tiers of the job ladder have been eliminated and now there are only assistants and senior brand managers. Where I used to have five mid-level jobs to promote assistants into, I now only have one. I tell them it can take four years instead of two to advance. If they are still sitting in the chair across from me when I’m finished with this non-seduction, I figure they must really want the job.
2. Don’t hire them if you sense even a whiff of entitlement. I tell every prospective employee that they will be gofers for the first two years (that means chores like packing wine and POS for various events) even if they won’t be. When one young man who wanted to be a brand manager said, “But my university led me to believe…,” I said, “Stop right there. No one cares what your college led you to believe. They only care if you can use a copy machine and answer phones. That is how we all started.” No surprise: Our discussions ended there.
3. Do a hunger check. For a big part of my career, my assistant’s chair was held by a revolving door of fill in the blank recent top 10 University Grad . I wasn’t looking for a University Grad; it’s not as if I graduated from any of these schools or wanted to do something for my alma mater. It just so happened that at the time, these smart, heads-down kinds of people worked perfectly in the male dominated wine industry. Later on I tried out grads from other Ivies, but after going several rounds with Harvard kids who embarrassed me with their sloppy, “I’m above all this” office work, I put a moratorium on Harvard diplomas. (See, you don’t have to be a millennial to feel entitled.) I feel the same way today: The hardest-working, most attentive, most intelligent starters still come from schools with un-fancy names. They’re millennials, for sure, but not slackers. I have come to believe that America’s top-tier schools are doing their graduates a disservice by boosting their expectations about starter jobs. Entry level is the great flattener of the working world.
4. Remember, everyone announces themselves in the interview.
I learned this the hard way when I ignored my gut response and hired a young woman who made me feel uncomfortable in the interview. She startled me during our first discussion when she suddenly asked intimate questions about my children. Turns out that in preparing for the interview she had done something smart: She’d gone back and read all of my editor’s letters, in which I’d written often about my kids. But she didn’t explain that in the interview, leaving me to feel she’d snooped in a creepy way, which made me squirm a bit. But I hired her. Our entire time together (less than a year) was marred because she constantly tried to front run my desires and fumbled them; she couldn’t wait for direction.
5. Shake ‘em up a bit. Ok, so I’ve worked with some of the scariest people in wine—and made it through. While some people are just mean and awful because they can be, I’ve carved out a spot as a pretty nice person who is tough but fair. But every now and then, especially when working with the overly pampered (millennial or otherwise), I find it’s a good idea to borrow a trick from the monster-boss playbook and send a tiny chill down their spine. I am a little sterner than I would normally be; I play the tough parent who won’t put up with the crap they just handed me. I let them know I set a high bar and plan for them to jump high enough to clear it.
6. When you find the good ones, help them move up—even if that means losing them. Yes, I said that. When you find those great millennials, be generous. Part the waters for them, give them perks, jump into their court and use your influence to move them along to the next tier when it’s time—even if the better job is not in your winery and it kills you to lose them. That’s how you win their loyalty. Forever. And you just may be nurturing an employee who’ll come back to you years later.
News From Napa…
As I am sure you have all heard and seen the images from Sundays 6.0 quake. Thank you so much for all the calls and texts, and emails. We were very lucky – the Benchmark family is safe and intact. We had a few few minor breakages, but overall we are grateful and our hearts and prayers go out to our neighbors and friends who did not fare as well.
We wish a speedy recovery to our industry friends and families.
When Not Everyone Agrees With You
The more invested we are in an idea, the more likely we are going to present an idea persuasively. And even if we do present it well, there will likely be some resistance to some or all aspects of it. How we react to resistance is a determining factor in both the growth of our ideas and ourselves.
What is there to do when not everyone agrees with you? You could rejoice at the evident diversity of perspectives, but realistically, you must remember that this is not a personal evaluation. Keep discussions objective and tightly anchored to the original idea.
Perhaps you feel very strongly about something. As situations become more qualitative than measurable, the ultimate redress may be impossible to define. As you may have previously noted, others will have their ideas and beliefs at least as strong from another perspective.
Perhaps you have taken great pains in presenting an idea. Opening ideas up to questioning allows you to use the knowledge gained from experience and research to further elaborate on the merits of the issue. As you rationally express your points, you will learn more deeply about the subject, as well as increase your general ability to maintain a positive and productive attitude.
Karissa Kruse says one of her top priorities when she assumes the position of president of the Sonoma County Winegrowers is to continue the joint marketing effort developed by the organization and the county’s vintners and tourism groups. Kruse, who had been hired as the Winegrowers’ marketing director in August 2012 has been picked by the group’s board to replace outgoing president Nick Frey, who will officially retire May 1. With the industry associations in Sonoma County already linked by the same marketing strategy, Kruse said the next step is to leverage that cooperation to elevate the reputation of the county’s wine and grape industry both nationally and internationally.
“What a win for the growers to have such a strong relationship with the vintners,” she said. Getting to know their neighbors Kruse will also continue to implement the group’s community outreach program to help Sonoma County residents who don’t work in the wine industry gain a better understanding of it. “They often don’t even know as much about our vineyards and wineries as our visitors,” she said. And while the county’s wine and grower groups have improved the region’s reputation in the wine trade and press, Kruse admitted the same isn’t necessarily true for the people living in the group’s own backyard.
“We haven’t done as good of a job of relating to our community,” she said. Some of the tension between growers and county residents has stemmed from vineyard development. Just recently, Sonoma County and conservation groups worked out a $24.5 million deal to preserve 19,652 acres of land, of which nearly 1,800 were to be developed into vineyards in a plan backed by the state employee retirement fund CalPERS, according to a report by the Santa Rosa, Calif., Press Democrat newspaper. Kruse said the proposal and deal were worked out well before her transition into the president position, but she views it as a “win-win” agreement for conservationists and growers. Simple supply and demand economics indicate there’s benefit to not having a large amount of new acreage getting planted with vines. Kruse said the winegrowers are focused on producing the highest quality fruit and improving the region’s reputation for fine wine. “It’s nice that it doesn’t have to go into development,” she said. Keeping the transition smooth Nick Frey joined the county’s grape growers association in 1999 and led the group through its reformation as a state commission in 2006. He will stay with the group through the end of the year to help ensure a smooth transition. When the change is complete, Kruse will oversee the roughly 1,800-member group, which recently changed its name from the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission to the Sonoma County Winegrowers. The organization has a small staff including a grower programs manager, winery and sponsor-relations manager and a part-time bookkeeper and part-time web developer. Growers pay $1.2 million to the group in assessments collected from grape sales.
“Karissa has been a great addition to the commission staff in just six months,” Frey said in a statement released by the group. “She is quick to learn and motivated to represent growers’ interests to the wine trade and local community. Karissa’s experience and energy are what is needed to continue moving the commission to new heights.” The promotion came at the end of an 18-month recruiting and succession-planning process, during which the group’s board identified Kruse as someone who could first help the group’s marketing efforts and then follow Frey.
Kruse earned a master’s degree in marketing and a bachelor’s in economics from the The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to joining the winegrowers, Kruse worked for General Mills, Universal Studios and the Dairy Management Inc., a national marketing group for the U.S. dairy industry. Kruse came to Sonoma County in 2007 to purchase a vineyard and pursue a career in wine. She owns a 25-acre parcel in Bennett Valley AVA, of which 5 acres are planted to Syrah, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The grapes are used for Kruse’s Argot Wines, a company she owns with a partner. Kruse said she makes about 2,000 cases with fruit from her vineyard and also buys grapes from county growers. “I’m not just the president, I’m a client,” she said.
Original Article Here