Saturday, September 20, 2014

What to do When You find YOU are the Problem

The Reward of Struggle

"What is worth savoring that isn't worth toil.
Is gain satisfying without cost?
Without darkness can we explain light?
Our teacher is pain, our brother the fight.
Our effort is gain but our pride the price.
No bliss in bereavement but strength through the test.
Reward through trial: That is wisdom expressed." - Unknown author
 
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Poetry? No this isn't Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy but I have a management philosophy supported with  recent story to share that I hope inspires you in a way that might dramatically improve your business. 
 
While the Napa quake was more than a bummer for many, it produced some really interesting positive results such as creeks that started flowing in the middle of a three year drought
 
Another positive from the quake and the work I did talking to wineries to determine a damage estimate: I've now heard four separate stories about wineries who found something during the clean up - and one CEO in particular who found something he had lost for some time in the clutter and din of repetitive work. He found his well-intended efforts were to blame for the problems his winery faced.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Crazy Path to Get Federal Aid for Napa

 
 
I had a request from an industry friend who asked me to talk on this blog about the thought process I went through last week - agreeing to something that was crazy, and outlining my philosophy that trumped common sense. It's a little uncomfortable for me but I'll give it a try and hope you find something positive in the thoughts and updates on the process at the end.
 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Can You Help Me With A Damage Estimate for Napa?

 
I've been asked to help calculate a damage estimate of the losses of the Napa Wine Business Community which will then be used to support the request for Federal Assistance to President Obama. [articleWhile I have several sources of information available to make good estimates, I'd like to be as inclusive as possible. Can you help and send me your best guess on your loss estimates?
 
The timeline is crazy tight. I've been asked to have the estimate completed by Friday evening  - so doing this now would be good. (I'm sorry) I promise I'll not use the information for anything other than this purpose and will not use names in any document I prepare.
 
This isn't a commercial endeavor. We're trying to help and we are donating all our time and resources in that effort. Please send your basic guestimates to my work email: rmcmillan@svb.com and include the business name in something resembling the following format if possible.
 
 
Please make your industry colleagues aware of this need by forwarding this post on social media.
 
Thanks again for your help - Rob

Monday, September 1, 2014

Should You Push Brand PR in a Natural Disaster?

The answer to the title this week is: It depends on how its done because the stakes are raised and if you screw up the message, there's a larger opportunity to end up with scrambled egg on your face.
 
This past week has been pretty hectic for me and all my neighbors who live near Hess Winery. Early Sunday morning I woke to my fiancĂ©e screaming in my ear and the bed jumping like ping pong balls in a bingo parlor. Pitch black since there was no moon, I jumped up but couldn't find shoes or a flashlight. No matter, I had to move alacritously to see if my mom was alive in the back 40. With nothing to illuminate my path, I slid barefooted through all my shattered Riedel stemware - brail style, then maneuvered my way through the maze of furniture which had moved around like Tetris blocks.
 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Oversupply and a Bubble Forming. Now What?

Somewhere early in the year 2000 my mother-in-law was moving things out of a vacation home in Mariposa CA. I volunteered my help. So together with Anthony; a young and fit assistant from the Starving Students Movers we started lumping furniture. During a coffee break where we enjoyed delicious Starbucks Latte, Anthony started sharing his stock investment strategy. Wait...what? Investment strategy? (Disclaimer: I'm invested in Starbucks at this moment.)
Anthony couldn't have been much more than 21 and it turns out he really was a student - a student taking a videotape course in "How To Retire BeforeYou're Thirty" and was day trading. He explained his trading philosophy: high growth Internet stocks. He had amassed a small fortune already and he did it all with credit cards and margin debt.
I started to wonder if I was missing out and perhaps being too cautious with my own investments. After a little more thought on my drive home, I called my broker and cashed completely out of the market. With the Tech Crash hitting just weeks later, I had discovered a new technical indicator that would define my investing strategy from then on. I called it, "the Starving Students Bubble Indicator (SSBI):
"When a Starving Student gives you stock tips, get the hell out of the market because it’s overbought."

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Do Tasting Rooms Take Away Sales from Distributors?

Procter & Gamble has long been respected for it's integrated product development, integration of acquisitions, and brand marketing. Consider the number of iconic brands they hold like Ivory soap, Pampers diapers, Duracell batteries, Gillette razors, Tampax feminine care products, Crest toothpaste, Tide detergent, and the list goes well beyond that. P&G has more billion dollar brands than any company in the world ... but they don't sell wine. If P&G sold wine people would be running to their mailboxes for free samples and the TTB would not be happy about that.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Wine Distributors: Legalized Pot vs Prohibition

 
Thirty-seven states have liberalized the 1970 Federal Controlled Substance Act with respect to marijuana use. Thirty-five now allow medical marijuana. Two states; Colorado and Washington have fully legalized recreational and medical marijuana use. Oregon, Alaska, and Washington D.C. are expected to do so in 2014.
 
Two weeks ago I spoke to a large group of high-level sales people and distributors. I enjoy talking to this particular group because I get real-time unfiltered intelligence from very experienced business people. Outside of all the expected discussion of supply, demand, sales tactics, competition, pricing and the like, there was a surprise discussion on the impact of legalized marijuana on wine sales.