It is very surface-level to think that a company merely brings a product or a service to market. Companies are run by people, and people are more complex than that. We are driven by interests, desires, and principles. We have intentions, passions, and compassion. In a previous post I explained a little about the underlying reasons for my overarching theme: to be helpful, inspirational, and creative. In all that I do, I want to help, inspire, and create. Here’s what it looks like in a brewery.
A company doesn’t just make a product. A brewery doesn’t just make beer. There is more going on.
Brett Tate’s brand was inspired by his heritage: His family journeyed out of Dust Bowl Oklahoma to the promise land of California. They lost almost everything, but they still had a thirst for success and dedication to one another. Today, Brett tells that story with Dust Bowl Brewing Company’s entire brand. Read more here, or listen to the story on MicroBrewr podcast episode 27.
On the surface, it looks like Nike sells shoes. Actually it goes much deeper than that. Their ads and commercials feature the best athletes. They talk about performance, and strength-mental and physical strength. And nobody can beat their market share for athletic shoes.
For more great stories about higher aspirations in business, I highly recommend this book: Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek. My mother gave it to me, so I kind of had to read it. Then it turned out to really bring to life and affirm some thoughts on my higher aspirations in business.
So a brewery doesn’t just make beer. My brewery helps, inspires, and creates. Notice that I describe the brewery below as if it already exists. This is not to mislead nor to pretend that the project is more advanced than it is. This is to cast the vision more vividly, to bring life to the vision, to make it clearer to others.
Help, inspire, create for ourselves
I have been in bad workplaces. I have had a job where I felt exploited, undercompensated and abused. I have had a job that gave me anxiety attacks, a job from which my doctor told me to take a break for 30 days and put me on drugs.
In fact, did you know that the workplace is the leading cause of stress for American adults? Workplace stress accounts for increased rates of heart attack, hypertension, and other disorders. I don’t want to contribute to that.
I have seen what a good workplace looks like. I have had a job where I felt part of a team and I felt good about my work, even though I got paid only minimum wage. I have had a job where my boss cared about me personally and took me out to lunch just to check up on my emotional state.
This brewery is a good workplace. A place where employees are paid a living wage. A place where each employee is helped to be the best they can be. Where they are trained and equipped to be better people, personally and professionally. A place where each employee is inspired by the team to do better work for a larger goal. A place where creativity brings something new and unique to the world.
I’m working on my leadership and managerial skills. I know that I need to become more encouraging, more flexible, and willing to let others take the lead. I really like what Matt Greff said on MicroBrewr podcast episode 022 about managing staff at his brewery.
“The best idea we ever had,” says Matt, “was realizing that we had to give up control of a lot of the operations to our extremely capable staff, if we wanted the business to grow and succeed.”
“Instead of saying, ‘I want you to run the brewpub the way Rene [his wife] and I run the brewpub,’ we said, ‘Run the brewpub as if it were your own. Don’t try to figure out how I would decide what to do in a situation. Act like it’s your own business and make the decisions you would make if it were your own business.’”
As a recovering micromanager, it is important for me to realize that someone else is capable of doing their job. It might not be done the way that I would have done it, but it will be done well.
Giving others autonomy and letting others take initiative will make me a better person. It will allow my staff to be better people.
“The freedom it’s given us,” Matt continues, “and the growth and creativity that it has fostered among our staff and us has really been the single most important thing that has allowed us to grow all of our businesses. And it makes it really, really fun to run the businesses because I feel like we have a huge team that are all committed towards the same goal.”
Help, inspire, create for others
This brewery is helpful, inspirational, and creative, not only for ourselves, but also for the larger community.
We help by contributing to social and environmental causes. A portion of profits will be donated to protect the natural environment, and we commit to this as a member of 1% for the Planet. Staff are encouraged to volunteer for a social or environmental community group, and they are given paid time off to do so.
We inspire by our actions and our message. The products we create, by being of excellent quality and creatively unique, extend our values beyond our facility.
We are not the only company to do so. I have been inspired largely by Patagonia, who has proven that protecting employees and protecting the natural environment increases—not decreases—profits.
If you are wondering how your business can be socially and environmentally responsible while still making profits, I highly recommend this book:
Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman by Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard.
This book is also enlightening to consumers who wonder how their purchases can influence social and environmental responsibility.
It is possible for a brewery to be helpful, inspirational, and creative. I’ll explore this more in more detail in future posts.