What I Learned at the GABF This Year

The Great American Beer Festival is truly remarkable. It’s not in any way run-of-the-mill…unless the “mill” is an extraordinary machine of success.

It was my 12th ( I think) year attending the GABF. Over the years I’ve helped pour beer for a brewery, taken it in as media, and vended. This year included vending and being a media cred holder. Kudos to our famazing crew who made the WEB booth rock and roll: Diane G/Captain, Darcee/Cashier & Sales, Wendy/Sales, and Sarah/Sales. They made it all possible – thanks!

WEB crew ready for the throng of GABF'ers

WEB crew ready for the throng of GABF’ers

I learned from them that perspective can be too close to our own noses. We need to get other people engaged in what we do and try to best communicate what we can. Then we need to listen as they tell us in return what they know and heard. It’s a practice I totally enjoy and learn from – listening to one of my Fine Crew talk about WEB with others. It’s helpful as I pick up various ways to talk about the business and techniques of sales, conversation, and communication.

Learning was everywhere you could turn your head if you so desired. The Farm to Table event was uber tasty this year – extra fun was had since I have frolleague Kellie with me, meeting, eating, laughing, and talking. The Beer & Food Pavilion is an area of (minor) respite to listen to accomplished folks educate, people like Beervangelist Fred and Sarah Amorese of Piece, Love & Chocolate. The Pro-Am booth had beers created by homebrewers and brewed on pro equipment available for tasting – and up for an award too.

That’s just the tip of the jockey box too. The GABF affords enough happenings to keep you busy from when you arrive til last call. Grooving to the Silent Disco, sponsored by Oskar Blues, is a personal fav!

I’ll be back with more information on GABF and American Beer. As a credentialed member of the media this year, the Brewers Association and Visit Denver took very good care of us – making sure we had full and easy access to a wealth of educational information.

Keep learning no matter where you go and what you attend. I encourage you to thank those who organize and plan, execute and clean up well run events. Being savvy to their efforts makes the learning all the more rich.

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Marketing Beer To Women

This afternoon found 26 guests, 9 hosts and myself at our Marketing Beer To Women workshop. We’re holding them pre-CBC and pre-GABF to really deliver useful insight on how to successfully market to the most influential population on the planet: Females.

These workshops are free with a refundable deposit required to hold required reservations – making sure we’re both vested in the event. The first time we held it we had all 40 show; today 25 of 26 were present and listening.

Here’s the deal in marketing to women:

1. Females make up the majority of the human population.

2. Marketing is communicating. You better know how to communicate with all the target markets you wish to engage.

3. It’s about opportunity – not gender.

WEB was launched 6 years ago. I looked around and wondered “why aren’t more women enjoying beer?” That seemingly humble question has propelled and motivated us to delve into that question and the myriad replies and insights women want to share.

Black Shirt Brewing taproom

Black Shirt Brewing taproom

In 2012 we offered a voluntary Women + Beer Survey – over 240 women all across the North American continent replied with heartfelt and specific input. I could tell they were felling *finally!!* some one is asking me what I think about beer. The flood of input was encouraging, fascinating, incredible, and useful. (here’s a link to the original post)

Marketing beer is about knowing your audience and clientele, as is marketing for all goods and services, organizations and associations. Know your market. Pursue it correctly. Have fun and be successful. In that order. The workshop today covered a lot of ground, based in our qualitative research an don specific Women + Beer survey reports.

  • Thank you to The Neenan Company for their First Pint sponsorship – all attendees were treated to a fresh beer at the workshop.
  • Thank you to Black Shirt Brewing for being our host location. Carissa, Chad, Mary, Casey and crew were on top of things, have a clean brewhouse and taproom and it was a conducive space for education.

Call on WEB when you’re ready to skyrocket your success in marketing to women. We’ll come to you, educate, enlighten, assist your internal and external growth. After all, we’re about Bringing Beer To Life.

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Be In It For Good

  • Remain connected to the experience and flavors
  • Be generous hosts – make everything feel easy
  • Who are you, what do you want, what do you want to say

The above thoughts all came from a friend and colleague whom I much admire, like and respect; Fred Bueltmann, New Holland Brewing & widely known as the Beervangelist.

Fred’s words often resonate with me as I believe the philosophy of what he is communicating is not prevalent enough in the industry. I’ll expound.

1. Remaining connected to the experience is where the consumer starts. The consumer wants to connect with your beer and brand. The industry professionals already involved need to constantly and emotionally remember this every day. The customer is who you are making the beer for. Yes, you have to love it yourself to really do it justice. That said, you can’t drink it all yourselves so keep one eye on the customer, always.

Be in it for good.

Be in it for good.

2. Remain connected to the flavors. I am a huge proponent of flavor, not style. Consumers 1. Don’t necessarily know about style 2. Consumers don’t necessarily care about style if they do, 3. Flavor is where the conversation needs to start with everyone, no matter their experience. Flavor is a common ground topic. Every one tastes and explores flavors. Start with this common denominator to make steady constant progress.

3. Be a generous host. Do all of your guests feel welcome to the brand? Do they buy your products on sale or off sale or both? What does the environment in which they purchase your beer look like? What do the labels look like? Who do they speak to? Who do they repel? Being generous implies a cognizance and awareness of Who The Customer Is. Many times the “who” is she.

4. Make everything feels easy for the customer, including buying your product and consistent taste of beer. Attention to quality is key here. Successful businesses, otherwise known as brands, build their worlds on consistency. Something the consumer can count on, to return to over and over again, for the experience they are looking for. How specifically consistent? That’s up to the company and what they want to be consistent. I can guarantee if you have a flagship beer (or more) they must be the same, every time to the consumer.

5. Who are you? Who you are is part of the story. The story is what the consumer, especially the female buyer and consumer, want to know and embrace. The story makes a brand.

6. What do you want? Knowing what your goals are, aka what do you want, is critical in every endeavor from playing musical chairs (I want to be around til the last chair) to businesses (I want to deliver a delicious high quality product every time).

7. What do you want to say? Communication is addressing your story and message forward, it’s called marketing – bringing your product to market. It’s a good word and a principle concept in building and sustaining a solid beer company.

Your female customers deserve no less. You deserve no less. Be in it for good.

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Beer & Glassware

Last spring I attended a Spiegelau Glass Class at the Craft Brewers Conference. I went to the session since My Fine Husband had noticed it, had hoped to go the previous year, was unable to locate last year and then had a conflict in going this year (drat!). So I went.

And I was blown away.

I knew that glassware influences beer and our experience with it. I had no idea how much until the session leader got up and got cranking. WOW! What a ball of energy and knowledge, good humor and passion. It was hands down one of the best presentations I had ever seen at this conference. Period.

Consider your glassware

Consider your glassware

Having shared a bit before, I want to share some more today – insights and thoughts about how we think about glass and glass ware and how it relates to our beer.

  • Spiegelau has been in business 500 years, with the parent company of Riedel
  • They call the ubiquitous and worst-shape scenario beer glass (tapered pint) a Joker
  • Ask: Is your glass designed to hold aroma?
  • Ask: what makes glass different, one kind or brand to another?
  • Answer: Quartz
  • Iron oxide in quartz will give the glass a green cast
  • Ultra pure quartz makes ultra thin glass
  • Think about: thermodynamic equilibrium
  • Humans have preconceived notions of how something works based on what it looks like.
  • Humans agonize and analyze.
  • In glass, microns are like miles
  • Spiegelau is cut from molds with lasers then polished
  • If your glass is bad, it’s not the beers fault.
  • Aroma in glassware needs to be harnessed or regulated

And as the speaker summed up the presentation with a very special feature glass (the Stout Glass, ala Left Hand Brewing and Rogue), these were prescient words:

“This is the status quo being changed.”

Cheers to that.

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2014 Marketing Beer To Women Workshop: Invite

Immediately prior to GABF this fall, I’m giving another free workshop that specifically addresses marketing beer to the world’s largest and most influential population: Women.
Free Marketing Beer To Women Workshop, pre GABF

Free Marketing Beer To Women Workshop, pre GABF

Ready to step up your marketing to successfully address the primary buyers of all goods and services in America? Reserve your seat today. If you’ve been to my presentations before, you’ll know they are lively, full of immediately usable information, well worth your time and will help you increase your business. Ask those who attended the sold-out one pre-CBC this year if you wish….

With the continued growth of the industry and increased choices for the consumer, you need to know how to reach the most valuable buyer around: Women.
Women + Beer = Success. If the goal is 20% market share of small American Brewers by 2020, it’s time to look at the population that will support this growth: women. There’s still much to do to totally tap into the female beer buyer and consumer with full respect to their brains and taste buds. The 20/20 Vision would include seeing women in every phase and facet of your brand development.
The workshop is free and space is very limited. Serious people are invited to contact me directly (not Black Shirt Brewing) to save your seat. This event is for professionals in the industry: breweries, distributors, vendors, growers, suppliers, retailers, journalists…. everyone who has a vested interest in marketing to women correctly.
Wednesday October 1st, 2 – 4 pm.
Black Shirt Brewing, 3719 Walnut Street, Denver CO
Beer: Thanks to The Neenan Company, all attendees will get a free fresh First Pint of Black Shirt beer.
Buy your own additional beer & food (to each, your own tab!) – there may be a delicious food truck available…
RSVP’s required, limited seating
Call Ginger to save your seat 515.450.7757 PST, week day daytime calls only, no emails
First reserve, first sat. We’ll create a wait list as necessary – and it’ll fill up fast.
Neenan JPG LogoThe workshop will include information from reports based on the 2012 Women + Beer Survey, immediately useful marketing beer to women insight, and there will be plenty of time to ask questions. Please be prompt.
Thank you. See you soon –

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Energy Source = Women + Beer

What’s your energy source? Where do you get the gumption to get up and move, shake and otherwise make the world a better place?

My money’s on women and beer. Two universal aspects of Life On Earth, these two everyday and everywhere ‘things’ are what drives me forward.

OBF: Women + Beer = success

OBF: Women + Beer = success

Women and beer were more than prevalent in some recent travels too. First at the 2014 Oregon Brewers Festival, Portland OR. This festival is a massive one, with tens of thousands of guests roaming the breezy Tom McCall Waterfront Park in the heart of The City Of Roses.  Not only do masses of guests descend, the workaday folks in downtown as well as locals show up to support, sip and enjoy.

Women make a healthy amount of the guests attending. And why wouldn’t they: Flavor is for everyone. Beer is not a gender drink, it’s global and meant to be enjoyed by all.

Next, Toronto’s Festival of Beers, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. What a joy to get to be at this festival, work it and work with the organizers and guests. The TFOB is a gathering place, for again, tens of thousands of revelers in a comfortable setting at the Bandshell Park, Exhibition Place in

Fun & Flavor Lovers at TFOB, Snowman Brewing booth

Fun & Flavor Lovers at TFOB, Snowman Brewing booth


Last year we lead a Cooking with Beer session in the Grillin‘ Tent; this year I was invited to lead 9 various tasting tours, Trails, we called them, for guests – walking tasting tours covering unique flavors, ciders, and gluten-free choices. Education makes the work go round and it was certainly moving at TFOB!

Finally (at the moment!) onward to Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, in sparkling Las Vegas, Nevada. It’s obvious females make between 75 – 85% of all purchases, as there are always lots of women in Las Vegas taking advantage of all the opportunities to be had there. Sarah Johnson, an incredible quiet and constantly moving forward force at Mandalay Bay, gets it. Check this out.

Women and beer. You can bet your top, middle and bottom dollar it matters to include women in the conversations. She’s a flavor lover, an adventurer, and ready to jump in.

Cheers to women & beer, OBF, TFOB & Mandalay Bay –

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Talk About Flavor, Not Style

Seems that beer enthusiasts are consumed with talking about beer styles. Is this one brewed to style? Is this one not? How about which style beer goes with which kind of food? Which styles do you like or not like?

ENOUGH, I say!!

Beer also does not like people with prejudice.

Beer also does not like people with prejudice.

If you want to educate about beer, you must start with flavors first. Talking about styles don’t matter one malted barley kernel unless you know about flavor first. Jumping to styles is a bad tact and one that is sadly all too common.

Try this instead:

1. First of all relax, make a conscious effort to not judge or argue. Make these conversations productive and enjoyable for everyone.

2. When talking with someone, anyone, about beer, start the conversation with “what kinds of flavors do you enjoy?” Make sure to qualify it by stating all flavors, not just beer flavors. The world will open up.

3. Ask a question and then listen. Try “what do you like about that flavor?” and let them talk. Stay silent, don’t argue.

4. Then start going back and forth in conversation, making sure it’s a diplomatic exchange, never judgmental. Enjoy yourself and plug-in to learn something new from the other person.

Talking about flavor opens up entirely new idea avenues for you and your guests. Your guests support the brand so always be listening. People want to talk to you about your brand, about what they think about your brand so be a diplomat and take it all in graciously. Very few people will maliciously attack a brand with a brand representative.

Talk about flavor. Leave style behind for now.

Eventually style will emerge as people grow and learn and it’s not critical to enjoying beer. What are critical are an open mind, open ears and grace.

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Let’s Talk About Your Brand

1. What do you make or what is your service?

2. Who is your target market?

3. Why do you think you want to attract more women?

4. What are your company and organization goals?

5. Why does your brand exist?

Talking about your brand openly with your colleagues and clients is critical to your success. The time to start the conversation is before you open the doors, before you make your first sale, before you hire anyone else.

Communication = brand development. Brand development = success or failure. Success or failure = dependent on customers. Customers = women. Women = brand enthusiasts you need. Brand enthusiasts needs and deserve sound communication. Sound communication = successful business. Now you’re getting somewhere.

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Drinking Responsibly

Drinking responsibly. What does that mean to you?

A quick search online yields a lot of possibilities to think about. Here’s one resource, and another, and yet another.

What do you know about drinking responsibly? Read up!

What do you know about drinking responsibly? Read up!

To me it means a number of things, among them:

1. Being educated in ABV (Alcohol By Volume) in various beverages available, knowing what quantities of those beverages looks like in various glasses.

2. Under-drinking. I am very aware of how much alcohol I consume, never aim to get drunk or even tipsy, and drink water between beverages as much as possible. When I’m teaching and presenting, I take the responsibility seriously and do my best to limit tastes in small portions.

3. Having someone to count on and call as needed, for myself or others if and when situations arise.

4. Never drinking in games or contests. That’s a total knothead thing to do and denigrates the effort and resources behind all alcohol beverages.

5. Knowing something about what I’m drinking. I’m a learning enthusiast so am ever seeking educational insight on what interests me – alcohol is one of those topics. There are so many resources this day and age to tap into; find some that interest you and get to it.

6. Knowing when to intervene for someone else, whether they think they need or want it or not. It’s never cool to not help someone out.

No matter where you are in the community of consumption, be aware. Teach yourself, seek education, talk to people and read. Knowing about alcohol goes a very long way toward success and smooth sailing for everyone, whether you imbibe or not.

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Women + Beer: 3 More Reports Available by 10/1/14

Earlier this year, WEB published the first of many reports based on the 2012 Women + Beer Survey. The survey was available to everyone on the internet and almost 300 women from all across the United States plus some from other countries freely offered their opinions.

FG 072210

WEB conducting a women & beer focus group

Let me rephrase that: They offered their impassioned, its-about-time-someone-asked-us thoughts, ideas, positions and opinions about beer. The time is ripe to take a look at the majority of the humans on the planet (female) and her relationship to the universal beverage of beer.

The best way to do this is to go straight to the source: women. Women Enjoying Beer is the company that does just this.

The input is astounding and profoundly simple all at the same time. Useful – yes. Applicable – yes. Important to your brands and business – yes

News today is that 3 more of the reports will soon be released for purchase. Buying these reports does way more than give you interesting reading. It’ll change the way you do business for the positive – it’ll increase your profits, improve your marketing abilities and savvy, increase the welcoming receptivity of women to your beer brands, and elevate equity and gender equality. Are those worthwhile to you?

While people may not think of this much gravity per women and beer, we do. We know it to be a truly worthy pursuit – to give voice to consumers who’ve not been invited to the conversation. And we want to help you learn, exercise, and promote full respect of all genders and their taste buds. Indeed, beer doesn’t care who’s drinking it and enjoying it and buying it. It simply wants to be savored.

Reports 2 through 4 will be available by October 1st, 2014. The first Report is available now – here’s the link.

  • Report #1: Why Do You Drink Beer? Available now
  • Report #2: Why Do You Like Beer? Available by 1 August 2014
  • Report #3: What Kinds Of Beers Do You Like? Available by 1 August 2014
  • Report #4: How Often Do You Drink Beer And What Helps Dictate That Pattern? Available by 1 August 2014

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Food Writing Inspiration

I just spent an hour of time searching for various authors and writers on-line (are they one in the same? not sure…) The list of folks I pursued came page after page in the Best Food Writing 2013, Edited by the very capable Holly Hughes.

Why I invested an hour of my life in looking for people I’ve yet to meet was inspired by the book. I want to hear more of what they can share with me, help me learn , point me in different directions and in general make my world more.  Lots of the people I looked for are on twitter, so there I went. I don’t use Facebook nearly as much (rarely personally too) so that’s out. LinkedIn request feels stalkerish if I don’t know them. So bring on the twitter stream chatter…

The Best Food Writing series has been around for a number of years and I came across it on display at my local library. “What the heck”, I thought as I picked it up. I love to read and I love food. I’ve now read at least 5 of the collections.

Ms. Hughes chooses extremely well written essays and groups into various concepts which she, as the editor, organizes. Of course they’re well written – I imagine the plethora of food writing each year is enough to fill a few navy yards worth of pages!

The essays are thought-provoking, thoughtful, interesting, enlightening, educational, disturbing, fun, funny, serious and meaningful. I found when I read one of them – the essay on “what is local” – the whole argument of “craft beer” rang loudly in my mind. It’s exactly the same thing. Not one to spoil a great opportunity, I recommend you find the book and read it. Buy it, get it from your library – if they don’t have them request the series.

Concepts that are truly universal are flexible in what key words you can insert, i.e. instead of “local” insert “craft”.

I’ve had a mixed relationship with the word craft as it goes with beer for a long time. Part of it for me is that craft is a label and having had some public school teaching experience I found labels and titles are more damning and limiting than they’re helpful.

Read the book, read the essay. Tell me what you think.

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Beer In Bismarck: McQuade’s & Women Get Together

There are great people everywhere. I truly believe that.

And when I get to work with and around them, it makes it all for motivating.

63 terrific enthusiasts ready to taste beer + food at McQaude's

63 terrific enthusiasts ready to taste beer + food at McQaude’s

Last weekend found me participating in a women + beer event in the lovely state of North Dakota, at the McQuade Distributing Company HQ with 3rd generation company president and very inspiring person, Shannon McQuade-Ely.

Shannon and I have worked together before and it was with particular relish and enthusiasm I was asked to help put together (possibly a first for ND) a women and beer + food fundraiser. What a success it was!!

Picture this:

  • Roomy room, 63 women present to support a cause, try new things, and meet new people.
  • 4 beers, 1 cider, food tastes to match them all.
  • Sunday afternoon, 4 – 6 pm.

Suffice it to say, they were lined up outside well before we started (RSVP’s were required), the seats were full of engaged women of all ages and knowledge levels, and they eagerly embraced the event. Knowing in my gut it was going to be a home run, I was thrilled when it actually happened.

You can tell the success level of an event, to a certain extent, with the noise level – particularly if you have to regularly ask people to quiet down. It’s a good sign because that means everyone’s chatting and have a great time. Great time = success. I had to shush often (and always allow open times for guests to chat unhindered…it’s good to get people talking).

Cheers to Shannon (r) - a smart & savvy leader, beer lover and frolleague

Cheers to Shannon (r) – a smart & savvy leader, beer lover and frolleague

A special thanks to Shannon and the whole McQuade’s team and all the people who bought tickets. We’ll surely do it again with increased success. The fuse has been ignited, there’s no keeping smart and flavor seeking women back!

Here’s the menu we enjoyed:

Anyone hungry??!!

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The Story

Part of the story has to be the data.” – Dan Wandel, Symphony IRI, CBC 2014

Yes, I’d agree. I respect and like Dan and fully enjoy talking to another pro who’s in research.

AND I’d add that the data has to be both qualitative and quantitative.

Here’s a simple graphic to help you along.

In order for numbers to make sense they need reasons. You need to Qualify the Quantities. If you simply only gather and know the Yes or No type, a strictly quantitative story, you’re missing a world of information. This does the end subject and organization wanting the full picture a disservice.

Make very sure you include qualitative psychographic market investigation on your work. It matters.

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What’s Your Place Smell Like?

Let your nose be your guide.

What does your business smell like? Is it inviting? Does it smell like what people expect, like a bakery smells like freshly baking bread? Does it stink like sanitizer or bleach?

Aroma is so very noticeable and important in building business. All business – for profit to non-profits, all classifications and types.

Smell’s important because it is one of our strongest sensory indicators of memories we hold with particular aromas, smells and odors. It’s also a part of your brand. Have you ever thought about that?

Smell your places & spaces

Smell your places & spaces

Once upon a time I worked in a bread store. One that mixed and made fresh bread from scratch every day, no bromate in the flour, no day-old sold (all donated if remaining). Getting to work was a pure olfactory joy! And my clothes, though they certainly smelled like work when I left, were always pleasantly odoriferous.

Try this: Recruit a few volunteers and give them a guide, put them in pairs. Blindfold one, have the other safely and carefully lead the sightless person into carious areas of your operation and have them tell you what they think they smell. It’s best to have people unfamiliar with what you think spaces are supposed to smell like. Don’t let the guides prompt the blindfolded either – this needs to be visceral and honest.

Be sure to smell all areas of your operations. Inside, outside, doorways, bathrooms, parking lots, patios….aromas linger everywhere.

Finding out what your space smells like is a wise exercise, can be lots of fun and it’ll keep you up to date on what your place smells like. By the way, it’s important for internal and external customers alike.

Afterall, if someone has to spend their days inhaling the air, it should be fitting to the place (and safe as well).

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Keys To Business Success: Quality & Consistency

One of the primary keys to any business success is a true focus and commitment to quality. Another that goes hand in hand is consistency.

Great brands are built so the consumer can count on them.

In the beer world quality and consistency are talked about quite a bit. I think the conversation was jumped started a bit more when Paul Gatza, the Brewers Association, dropped the f bomb emphasizing quality import at the 2014 CBC.

Quality + Consistency = worthy brands

Quality + Consistency = worthy brands

I agree. If you choose not to fully dedicate to quality, get the F out. Of any business. The world has enough crap, enough sub par junk, more than enough mediocrity and middling service, enough detritus for us to float on for millenia. And yet some people, breweries included, still keep pumping out junk.

And no, this is not where anyone can trash ABI or SABMiller. Quality and consistency has helped them build their global branded businesses, keeping the experience for the consumer, the same every single time.

Sensory Analyst Lindsay Guerdrum, New Belgium Brewing, gave an enlightening and very thorough sensory talk at the 2014 CBC (lots to take in this year…as usual). I want to share a bit of what I took from her talk to this end.

  • Consistency + Quality = Key to Brand Success
  • You absolutely need to know your customer; You need to know who you’re responding to
  • “Make sure you’re shooting at the right target.”
  • Beer is inherently the variable, there is no gold standard
  • Aim for True To Brand; in lab speak – is it “Go” or “No Go”?
  • “N” can never = 1 on a sensory panel. You need 3+ people on panels

And in her summation, I’d stand up and shout YES:

Never stop training.

Thanks to Lindsay and New Belgium for continuing to set the pace for quality and consistency. People don’t call the brand Fat Tire (vs. New Belgium ) for nothing. They know what they’re doing.

Do you?

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Craft Beverage Expo, Inaugural Event

“…all we had was a vision and a floor plan…

Hats off and glasses up to Kellie Shevlin and the crew who made the first Craft Beverage Expo a success. It was an honor and pleasure to be there last week in San Jose, California.

Ginger, Kellie and Tom McCormick/CCBA

Ginger, Kellie and Tom McCormick/CCBA

The entire premise is ground breaking AND so sensible, it makes one scratch your head and say “why didn’t anyone do this before?” Well, Kellie did just that. She researched and broke new ground that needed to be tilled.

The basis of the Expo is to bring together beer, wine, spirits, cider and mead people to talk about common ground: Bringing Artisan Beer, Wine & Spirits to Market. Regulatory concerns, marketing, sales, and marketing solutions is what was billed. And guess what? You got that and then some. The brilliance of the concept grew on me and I fully appreciate what we can all do when we help and assist. Not that the conventions I’ve been to have been unhelpful. They’ve simply been solely focused on one very specific niche.

The point being is that when we intentionally cross categories, then we cross pollinate we share ideas. This is one of thee most powerful tools in creating sustainable remarkable change.

To to over 1000 attendees, dozens of trade show exhibitors, speakers, and sponsors the event was one that I took to saying you couldn’t tell it was a first year effort. As a colleague of mine put it, it was well produced. In this he meant that it was all very professional both in appearance and operation.

CBE opening session panel

CBE opening session panel

Are there ways the 2015 CBE can improve? Of course – every convention, expo and conference better be looking at continually improvement. Kellie knows this as does her crew and they encourage and welcome constructive feedback. A wise organizer will want specific input to consider moving forward.

Well, Kellie – your vision has paid off nicely. Bringing various alcohol beverage people together to talk, listen, share, connect and start and build relationships makes us all stronger. The people I met were well worth the trip alone, the friends and colleagues I saw were also worth the endeavor. It was a big bonus to be invited to present as well (3 Universal Truths: Attracting and Keeping Female Patrons). I am eager to get back and explore more of the area too, another benefit to traveling to work events.

Your time and dollars are valuable. You want to be sure as possible that your efforts are well founded, rewarding, offer some sort of payback and it’s all enjoyable. We all want to get helpful and useful information, to meet worthwhile contacts and fun ‘new’ people. Perhaps even to get some press and media coverage.

Lovely San Jose, California

Lovely San Jose, California

The City of San Jose was one place 1. that I had not yet been to 2. that I certainly want to explore more of and 3. has much to offer visitors. The Ethiopian restaurant as well as the Mexican establishment as well as the lovely public spaces….the art museum and technology museum are on my short list. You get the idea.

In my work I travel a good deal. One thing I want from my adventures is to feel like attending was indeed a smart investment of time. Like a friend of mine once said, if you don’t like something, “there’s 3 days of my life that I’ll never get back.” The size of the CBE was very manageable too – meaning you could in fact meet those you wanted, have time to talk and not feel too crowded.

Rest assured when you attend the CBE 2015 you’ll be glad you did. It’s in Santa Clara next year, a relative hop skip & jump from this years host city San Jose. I’m already looking forward to returning. See you there.

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Business Books

Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”Harry S. Truman

Fortunate are those who can read. And those of us who can, should make sure we do what we can to support and encourage literacy.

Here's one I want to read. What's on your reading list?

Here’s one I want to read. What’s on your reading list?

Education in the form of being literate is critically important.

My entire family, immediate and extended, are readers. Perhaps it goes alllll the way “back”, wherever back is, as to the importance or reasoning my family all reads. All familial affiliation aside, life would be less fulfilling without the ability to read, both from the educational side (having learned) and visual side (having eyesight). It’d be a lot more difficult too.

Appreciation for what was then Books On Tape (now Audio Books) was writ large when I had happily inherited a beloved blind grandma years ago.

If you want to lead in any kind of capacity, from your own self to really large groups of people, reading is one way to augment, enhance, and develop leadership skills.

What are you reading?

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Beer + Food + Quilting = Swig & Stitch

  • Did you know that quilting in America experienced a renaissance in 1976 due to the United States Bicentennial?
  • Did you know that quilting and jazz are two uniquely American arts?

With roots from all over, America adopted and ran with both of these quintessentially (now) classic elements of everyday life. What was once perhaps necessary (quilting with scraps so as not to waste), quilting is in a fade out phase. It’s time to rejuvenate and instigate a much younger wave of quilting enthusiasts into the aging quilting population.

Sandi leading the quilting session last night.

Sandi leading the quilting session last night.

Last night was the inaugural Quilting Edition of Swig & Stitch, a monthly gathering for all that Sandi, Fabric of Vision, and I conduct. She’s done them for years – first with a wine meet-up. 3 years ago we started a beer version that’s been very successful and energetically received.

Stepping out with a special quilt version was a natural step. I found myself leaning in to the story of quilting and information within this fascinating facet of life.

Coupled with beer + food tastings, Swig & Stitch is an engaging educational endeavor that I’m very happy and proud to be a part of. Thanks to our fine Host, 4 Daughters Irish Pub, and all the guests who perpetuate this event in good taste. And a big fluffy thanks to Sandi for the vision and opportunity to work side by side, beer by beer, project by project. Lucky me.

4/29/14 Swig & Stitch Menu

  • Stella Artois with Chicken Pot Pie
  • Ninkasi Total Domination with Tomato Bisque soup and bleu cheese crumbles
  • Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA with 4 Daughters’ signature Oregon Salad

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ROL: Return on Learning

There are gobs of acronyms – an infinite variety available worldwide. ROI, CRM, RFP, B2B, B2C, EBITDA, TQM, P&L….and the list goes on. I dare say it’d be more accurate to call them acornums, since talking with them and listening to others talk about them sometimes makes my mind go num.

All that aside, ROL is a newer one to me, shared by my wise and insightful frolleague, Mike. He’s one of those generous sorts who has freely given of his time and brain the entire time we’ve known each other. My ROL from him is sky-high! And what he’s helped me learn continues to have positive residual effects.

In return, pun intended, I try my best to give a ROL to him. The givers gain only works when all involved parties are invested in the joy and altruism of the gain by giving and therefore the cycle is perpetuated. Giving to takers doesn’t work.

Books = one way to amp up your ROL

Books = one way to amp up your ROL

How does this relate to WEB, you may (or may not) be asking?

ROL is in everything we do. Return on education from the distributor to the retailer, from the brewer to the distributor, from the retailer to the consumer, from consumer to brewery…..and every other possible combination will both allow a reaping of rewards and a receiving of enlightenment.

Return On Learning starts with you and me. What do I have that I can share with you to help you learn? What do you have that you can give me to help me learn?

I’m a firm believer that education and learning changes the world. Love and money come and go. Education is forever.

ROL. When it’s working right, it’s the best merry-go-round around.

p.s. Here’s a funny list of, well, funny slightly ridiculous acronyms

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Why Do You Do What You Do?

If you don’t know why you’re doing what you’re doing…

Why are you doing it?

Those words of insight should be blindingly obvious. They were delivered by the venerable Dr. Michael Lewis at the CBC earlier this month in conjunction with proper professional education.

2014 CBC Opening Session

2014 CBC Opening Session

I took his meaning to be: If you don’t know why you’re doing what you do, if you can’t answer that question first, then it’s time to rethink what you’re doing. There are too many brewers in America that are not focused on quality and too many that are putting out poor quality beer. And there are plenty of brewers, like many other kinds of businesses, that are too myopic about the big picture.

Yes, it’s important to be passionate about your ventures. Yes, it’s important that you like it.

AND it’s critical that you focus your energy on proper education and therefore quality of progress as a cornerstone and driver of that business. That’s bad for everyone.

Education provides a singular opportunity and atmosphere for the best results, skills development and therefore an elevated end product, whether it’s beer, information, or any other product or service. Education is not replaceable by experience. They should go hand in hand and work together. Though without one, the equation is lopsided and will inevitably be imbalanced.

Like Mitch Steele, Stone Brewing and the 2014 recipient of the Russell Schehrer award, “If you hire someone, makes sure they know what they’re doing.”

With beer schools and programs popping up all over, it’s best to investigate and vet the choices.

Start with: Which programs am I interested in and why? Then do your diligence to carefully examine those you look into. Doing the research on the front end will more than make up the time you put into it very quickly.

If you know why you do what you do, good. If you don’t, it’s time to stop and answer that question. Education is powerful and always a good idea.

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