It’s 2015, Where Have All The Leaders Gone?

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Leadership principles stand the test of time. To me these are defined by integrity, a strong sense of right and wrong, hard work, persistence and resiliency. Finally a commitment to a greater good or cause (helping others) is integral. Letsal20081-206x300(pp_w124_h180)adership is not popularity; good leaders will have times when they are more or less in and out of favor (see Sir. Winston Churchill). Leaders have a strong sense of their core principles from which they don’t depart, regardless of current popular opinion.  Leaders are human beings and by definition are not flawless.  That said, all true leaders have a sense of service – service to their organization or community and to other individuals – from which they strive to lift up organizations and people.  I agree with Robert K. Greenleaf’s view on the topic.

In my travels, I frequently have the opportunity to spend quality time with extraordinary individuals in all walks of life. These include Business CEOs, nonprofit directors, education experts, entertainers, politicians and just ordinary people doing their thing. Many of these individuals are not interested in public leadership, yet in their very day-to-day actions, quietly provide outstanding examples of true leadership.  In a recent interaction with one highly successful CEO, our conversation led to the question of political leadership and the level of vitriol in much of the public dialogue going on. Whether in race relations, economic and entitlement disputes, or combating terrorism, one need only turn on the television and flip channels to hear it on all sides of the political spectrum.

I grew up in a family of teachers and liberals. I was known back then as the “Alex P. Keaton” of my family (Michael J. Fox’s character in Family Ties) by many relatives. In other words, I was a conservative thinking person in a household of liberaFamily tiesls. I grew up debating the issues of the day at the kitchen table. And while at family get togethers even today, we may disagree on approach, inevitably there is agreement on many of the problems in the world and that the status quo is unacceptable. There is no name calling or questioning of each others intentions, but rather a healthy disagreement on solutions. I’m struck by how rare this is in today’s public discourse.

For example, there is widespread agreement that America’s education system is failing our country, our communities and our kids.   Teachers think this. Parents think this. Kids think this. CEOs think this.

See What’s Holding Back American Teenagers?

Why American Education Fails

The Failure of American Schools

The Graph That Shows How Badly U.S. Education is Failing

I view the bureaucracy and the statist entrenched interests as fundamental impediments to change for effective education. One can be quite liberal and agree with that viewpoint. Where there is significant disagreement typically are in the methods and approaches for changing it. Without addressing the solutions here (my point is leadership and constructive discourse not solving education in this post), the level of personal attacks and vitriol around the debate, is often times exacerbated by our public officials. The current fights around Common Core are bringing out some of this (see Who Is Fighting Against Common Core?).   Common Core has brought conservative and liberal groups together in opposition (for very different reasons). In every state and locality, there are the powerful teachers unions who tend to oppose most reforms of any impact. In many cases they have captured the statehouses with members who pledge allegiance to them regardless of position (see Teachers union fights Cuomo’s school reforms).  The debate in most cases is not a debate, but rather, a contest of sound bites to make political points, usually denigrating the opponents.

 

Back to my conversation with the CEO above, we reminisced about leaders in the past who seemed to bronald-reagan-brandenburg-gate-west-berlin-june-12-1987-picturee above the fray and always showed class and respect for their opponents. I mentioned President Ronald Reagan, whom I never had the chance to meet, but admired greatly. I have read and heard from those who knew him, that Reagan treated everyone with respect. He would speak to the gardener, as he would address a world leader. He was also willing to take tough stands regardless of the political winds. His advisors and speechwriters, the State Department and all around him reportedly advised strongly against any mention of the Berlin Wall coming down. When Reagan made his now famous speech at the Brandenburg Gate he overruled them all as he spoke that incredible call to action “Tear Down This Wall”. All agree it was a pivotal moment in the history of cold war, and it would not have come to be had he been willing to say what he thought was right at that moment.  I remember Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan exhibiting these qualities and being willing to tackle tough issues regardless of the dogma of his party.  He had an ability to reach across the aisle and collaborate with political foes on important issues.

Former Indiana Governor and current Purdue University President Mitch Daniels has this quality as well. Mitch served for a purpose, and it was NOT for the purpose of being in office. These were leaders in the true sense of the word.   Individuals who would stand by their convictions in spite of opposition, but who never seemed to make personal attacks against individuals. They also served in the true sense of the word. I miss that.

Smoke & Mitch Daniels

I’m not saying there are no leaders today who exhibit these characteristics, but it is simply too rare. As long as personal attacks of motives and cult of personality (regardless of how bad the behavior) are accepted and even encouraged, this will remain the case. I fundamentally believe one can disagree on ideas and still have great respect for others. This is true in politics, business and life. As serial entrepreneur, Sir. Richard Branson posted today “The importance of good neighbors is often underappreciated. By fostering a healthy and respectful relationship, everybody stands to gain.”   I have many friends who exhibit these qualities traveling to Melbourne, Australia this week for the Global Leadership Conference (GLC) for the Young Presidents Organization (YPO/WPO).  In business and nonprofits, and community organizations, there are individuals exhibiting great leadership every day. I’d be interested in hearing your examples of people who exhibit the qualities of true leaders in their words and deeds.

Vanderbilt Business: How I Did It

Note: This is the first in a series that Vanderbilt Business (the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University) is doing on Alumni to share their stories.   Interestingly, I have subsequently left Lipman Brands and sold the majority of my interests in Napa Smith Brewery.  So it is already a little out of date in terms of what I do (the first question), however,  the rest of the Q&A is not.   That’s why the title is a little bit off.. I’m not done doing what I’m going to do (stay tuned).  I hope to encourage and inspire those who aspire to achieve their success in any way I can.  Hopefully this interview gives a bit of insight to some and is encouraging if you need it.  Kind Regards, Smoke

VBusiness-Masthead

 

LINK:

Have you ever wanted to ask someone questions about their career path? How I Did It asks those questions for you. Serial entrepreneur and beverage magnate J. Smoke Wallin, MBA’93, starts off this recurring series.

jsw at NSB pub

COPY OF INTERVIEW:
Q. What do you do?

I turn ideas into actionable things. Whether working on community issues, industry issues or business ideas, time and time again, I tackle a challenge by manifesting something that was not before.

J. Smoke Wallin
Wallin
In recent years, I have been looking for ways to acquire or create new brand businesses in the beer, wine and spirits space. This pursuit has taken many a twist and turn, and the process has not always been pretty. Today I run several businesses.

I am president and CEO of the Napa Smith Brewery and Winery in Napa, Calif. I acquired the brewery in late 2010 with some partners. We sell in 10 states and Sweden, the U.K. and Hong Kong.

I serve as managing director of Lipman Brands, a brand marketing and sales company. My task has been to build out the infrastructure (systems, process and people) for Lipman Brands to be a national selling organization.

I am chairman, CEO and founder of eSkye Solutions, a technology dot-com I started with a number of Owen alumni back in 1999. Though we have changed our business model a number of times, acquired numerous companies and sold our winery software division in 2007, we continue to build our national account pricing business with large retailers and brands.

And through my holding company, I am still engaged in various consulting projects for new brands, existing businesses and startups. This is a minor part of my job, but it keeps me in touch with new ideas, people and opportunities.

Q. What’s your educational background?

I started as an engineer at Cornell, then was in the hotel management school and then settled on agricultural economics (Cornell’s undergraduate business program). It turns out my time in hospitality management and the agricultural economics department—with a huge emphasis on the grocery and consumer packaged goods industries—gave me a great initial preparation for the beverage industry. At Owen I had a triple concentration in finance, marketing and operations. My view was I wanted to be a general manager/entrepreneur so I needed to learn about all those areas.

Q. What was your first job?

My first job out of Cornell was with Seagram in their management training program. After a summer at Seagram, I had the opportunity to join them full time or join their distributor, National Wine and Spirits. I joined NWS when it was doing $150 million annually. When I left 14 years later, we were a $1 billion operation.

Q. Tell us about your consulting and brand work.

With eSkye, we were doing business with beer, wine and spirits companies all over the world. At one point we had over 250 wineries making or selling their wine using our software. I ended up advising many clients on not just their technology but also on their distribution and business strategy.

I got a bit frustrated with trying to get an old, sleepy and successful industry to be creative in their business strategy. This inevitably led me to want to own my own brands so I could demonstrate my ideas in real life. Starting a new business takes a level of commitment that has to overcome huge obstacles. To make such a commitment, one has to be fairly passionate about whatever it is one does. I have been passionate about the brands business for some time now.

Q. What would you say was your big break or opportunity?

Growing up with a mom who was (and is) very independent-minded, hard-working and stubborn. Becoming a wrestler in high school and later at Cornell. No sport teaches better discipline and self-reliance. Select coaches, teachers and mentors along the way who saw potential in a kid with big ideas and no wallet.

Q. What was—or has been—your biggest challenge?

Overcoming financial distress when either markets or circumstances have gone against me at select moments. …The good news is, if you can get through those times and never forget them, it makes for a wiser, more humble perspective. This is something I think I was meant to learn.

Q. What was—or has been—your greatest thrill (or accomplishment if you’d prefer to answer that)?

Biggest thrills: Closing on a $110 million bond deal for NWS as CFO, closing on a $60 million equity deal for eSkye as CEO and acquiring the Napa Smith Brewery. Also a handful of sales closes over the years that were big enough to materially impact that particular business.

Biggest accomplishments: I would say seeing some of the people I hired, believed in and worked with go on to be very successful in their own right. That includes some Owen grads and many others along the way.

Q. If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be?

I’ll give two:

Don’t let fear prevent you from pursing your dreams. Nothing great was ever accomplished by someone who simply thought great things. It only happens in doing.
Enjoy the journey. I spent a lot of energy focusing on outcomes: raising money, IPOs, deals and sale closes. Those are important, but enjoying the process of getting there, each and every day, needs to be constantly remembered. This is where we spend most of our time and if that is so, how do you want to remember most of your time?

Easier said than done, but you asked for advice.

Wine 2.0 Announces New York Premiere Of Documentary Film ‘America’s Wine: The Legacy Of Prohibition’ At Wine 2.0 New York Nov 18

New Film Takes Unprecedented Historic View of America’s Wine Industry – ‘America’s Wine: The Legacy of Prohibition’ Includes Interviews Which Chronicle The Rebuilding Of The Wine Industry And The Emergence Of A New American Wine Culture.Wine 2.0

NEW YORK, NY, November 06, 2009 /24-7PressRelease/ — Wine 2.0, the innovator in social networking and events in the wine industry, announces the Premiere and New York release of the documentary film America’s Wine: The Legacy of Prohibition at Wine 2.0 New York, November 18th at Webster Hall.

The new documentary film, commissioned by UC Berkeley’s world renowned Bancroft Library, is an in-depth look at wine in America. It covers everything from the “Noble Experiment” of Prohibition, which decimated the vibrant wine community, to the rise of the “Phoenix” generation of wine pioneers including Robert Mondavi and Ernest Gallo to the more recent battles over direct shipping of wines to consumers. No wine lover should miss this historic film.

‘America’s Wine: The Legacy of Prohibition’ will be showcased in a Reserve and Trade Event prior to the over 1,000 wine and tech lovers and media at Wine 2.0 New York and supported on Wine 2.0’s social network www.winetwo.net with a public fan page.

Commenting on the New York Premiere, Bancroft Director Dr. Charles Faulhaber stated, “The Bancroft Library has been documenting the history of California and the American West for almost 150 years, always using state-of-the-art technology. In the 19th century it was the steam-powered printing press. In the 21st century we now use digital media for the same purpose. “America’s Wine: The Legacy of Prohibition” is a major step forward for us, the first time that Bancroft has been involved in a documentary film on what has historically been one of California’s most important agricultural industries. We are thrilled at the work that Carla De Luca Worfolk and her crew have accomplished.”

“The remarkable journey we experienced in putting together this documentary enabled us to witness historical events, record final interviews, review private archives and share never-before displayed images, yet didn’t prepare us for the emotional impact of recognizing the passing of a generation.” said Filmmaker Carla De Luca Worfolk. She continued, “Immersing ourselves in the era of Prohibition and then its Repeal, we came to understand these complex times, as well as the culture we live in today, through vivid memories and personalities as their words informed our script and enlivened our images. While inevitable, we didn’t expect to be so personally moved as we worked in post-production and learned yet one more member of the “Phoenix Generation,” – eight total – had died since our interviews.”

“We could not be more excited to host the New York premiere of ‘America’s Wine: The Legacy of Prohibition'”, said J. Smoke Wallin, Chairman of Wine 2.0. He continued, “Wine 2.0. The ‘America’s Wine: The Legacy of Prohibition’ movie should cause everyone to gain perspective on the rich history of wine in America and appreciate what so many have done to lay the foundation for today’s vibrant wine market.”

Carla De Luca Worfolk, the Director, Executive Producer and Writer will have an interview with Wine 2.0 New York to discuss the film and wine with attendees. Media interviews are available.

Three years ago Bancroft’s Regional Oral History Office at the University of California, Berkeley, embarked on a project to augment the California Wine Industry Oral History Collection with a documentary to mark the 75th anniversary of the Repeal of Prohibition. In the making of the film, De Luca Worfolk and wine historian Dr. Victor Geraci used scholarly oral histories from the Bancroft’s Regional Oral History Office and Bancroft archival materials, augmented with over 40 original interviews and photographs and film clips from numerous other collections, to provide an historical overview of the legacy of Prohibition and the rebuilding of a new American Wine Culture.

About Wine 2.0

Wine 2.0 is the innovator in social networking and events in the wine industry. Wine 2.0 focuses on the next generation wine consumer and breaks down the barriers to learning about, experiencing and enjoying wine. Wine 2.0 events feature the newest generation of emerging technology companies, services and communication tools that are changing the world of wine. (www.winetwo.net)

About America’s Wine: The Legacy of Prohibition
America’s Wine: The Legacy of Prohibition is a documentary film celebrating the rich history of the American Wine Industry. This documentary offers an unprecedented overview of the legacy of National Prohibition (1920-1933) and its continuing impact on the wine industry and everyday lives of Americans. Covering a span of one hundred years of winemaking up to the present day, the film tells the story of how the leading entrepreneurial wine families overcame obstacles to rebuild the American wine industry, which had been decimated after National Prohibition and its Repeal. From within this historical context, the film also explores the most significant news-making subject areas in today’s media that reveal Prohibition’s legacy: laws governing direct shipping of wine to consumers; scientific research that influences alcohol and health policy; and the changing global marketplace.

Marking the 75th Anniversary of Prohibition’s Repeal, the documentary brings to life never-before-seen archival photographs and film clips, and features nearly 40 interviews including those who experienced Prohibition, historians, winemakers, members of Congress, and public policy experts. Among those filmed are Kevin Starr, California Librarian Emeritus, Leon Panetta, Former Chief of Staff for President Bill Clinton, and Kathleen Sullivan, Former Dean of Stanford Law School, as well as legendary winemakers Brother Timothy, Robert Mondavi, and Ernest Gallo. Through differing views and historical perspectives, the interviews contribute informed commentary as the documentary chronicles the rejuvenation of the American wine industry and the emergence today of a new American wine culture. It also pays tribute to the passing of a historic generation. Equally significant are the insights fueling the continuing societal debate over the issue of alcohol in America.

About Carla De Luca Worfolk, Director, EP/Producer, and Writer

Carla De Luca Worfolk, an Emmy award-winning television and documentary producer, has enjoyed an extensive career across media, gravitating towards highly creative assignments with an emphasis on education, public service and policy. Throughout her career, the San Francisco Bay Area native has worked as an independent producer, magazine editor, writer, public relations executive, and paralegal. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from Santa Clara University, and a Master of Journalism degree from the University of California at Berkeley. During her years as a CNN producer in Atlanta, Worfolk supervised content for the highly-rated CNN Saturday/Sunday Morning program, a live, two-hour magazine show, and was also on the Emmy-winning team that covered the Olympic Park Bombing in 1996

WINE 2.0™ ANNOUNCES WINE 2.0 EXPO SAN FRANCISCO PRESENTED BY CRUSHPAD, APRIL 2ND, 2009

Event Features Cutting Edge Wine Industry Start-ups And Wineries From Around The World, Plus Over 1,000 Wine And Tech Lovers In One Exciting Event Timed To Coincide Again With O’Reilly Media’s Web 2.0™ Expo

 

San Francisco, CA (NEWSWIRE), February 19, 2009, Wine 2.0, the innovator in social networking and events in the wine industry, today announced that Wine 2.0 Expo San Francisco will be held on Thursday April 2nd at Crushpad urban winery. Crushpad will again host the 3rd annual San Francisco event which is being held during the leading Web 2.0 Expo conference. Last year Wine 2.0 Expo San Francisco hosted over 1,000 wine and technology lovers for an exciting evening of world-class wines and networking around cutting-edge Wine 2.0 start-up companies.

What: Wine 2.0 Expo San Francisco

When: Thursday April 2nd from 7 pm to 10 pm

Where: Crushpad, 2573 3rd Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

Cost:   Advance Purchase Tickets are $45 per ticket or 2 tickets for $70

Day of tickets $60 per ticket, VIP tickets for $125.00

Wine 2.0 Expo San Francisco tickets can be purchased online at: www.winetwo.eventbrite.com.

“Wine 2.0 Expo San Francisco is the West Coast showcase for the emerging companies and wineries that are reinventing how wine is made, marketed or sold. These forward thinking companies, combined with new players from the web 2.0 space are the cutting edge of wine sales and promotion.” said J. Smoke Wallin, Chairman of Wine 2.0. “We are very excited to have the strong support of leading industry players like Crushpad and new early adopters like Robert Oatley Vineyards and Hahn Family Wines which both recently signed on as a Wine 2.0 Cornerstone sponsor for the 2009 season.”

Wine 2.0 represents the future of the wine industry with a consumer trade show and a networking group combining online social networking and real world components. Wine 2.0 events highlight leading edge tech companies focused on various wine categories including winery direct sales, online wine retailing, community driven wine reviews, and online winemaking. Wine 2.0 has hosted over 3,500 wine trade and consumer advocates, 250 wineries, and more than 150 wine focused technology companies at their events since inception in 2006. Currently, Wine 2.0 has registered over 20,000 members across various social media networking platforms from over 90 countries.

Wine 2.0 San Francisco will be held from 7 pm – 10 pm on Thursday April 2nd at Crushpad, 2573 3rd Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

Some of the companies attending past Wine 2.0 Expo’s include:

AmericanWinery.com, Bibola.com, Binends, Bottlenotes, C. Donatiello Winery, Camacho Cigars, Cameron Hughes Wine, Charles Krug, Chateau St. Jean, City Winery New York, CNET, Compli, Corkeeper, Cornerstone Cellars, Crushpad, Cruvee.com, Cycles Galdiator, Due Vigne, Eventbrite, eWinery Solutions, Fantesca Estate, Faust, FirstMark Capital, Foster’s Wine Estates, Francis Ford Coppola Presents, Fulcrum Wines, Gary Vaynerchuk, Glasshalffull.com, GoodGrape, Grant Street Vineyards, Greatfood.com, Greenhill, Hahn Estates, Highflyer Wines, Hinman Carmichael, iSante, KRON4, Kyte, Lenndevors, Magito, Michael David, Modus Operandi Cellars, Mutineer Magazine, New Zealand Wine, Ning, Oriel Wines, Orrick Law, POSLive, RadCru.com, Raymond Vineyards, Redeye Bloody Mary, Robert Oatley Vineyards, San Francisco International Wine Competition, ShipCompliant.com, Spencer Roloson, St. Supéry, Steelpoint Capital Partners, Stormhoek, TastingMaster, The Tasting Panel Magazine, Three Thieves, Thrillist, Twisted Oak Winery, Twittertastelive, Vator.tv, Veramonte, Vinecandy.com, Vinography.com, Vinvillage.com, Web 2.0 Expo, Wine and Spirits Magazine, Wine Business Monthly, Wine Tasting Network, WineLibrary.tv, Winelog.net, WinePod, Wines and Vines Magazine, WineSnob, Winetastetv.com

About Wine 2.0™ – “Blending the Line Between Wine & Technology”

Wine 2.0™ is the innovator in social networking and events in the wine industry. With a focus on the next generation wine consumer, Wine 2.0 breaks down the barriers to learning about, experiencing, and enjoying wine.   Wine 2.0 events feature a rich diversity of world class wines and the newest generation of emerging technology companies, services and communication tools that are changing the world of wine.  (Get Social at www.winetwo.net)

Wine 2.0 has a limited number of Cornerstone “Whole Season” Sponsorships available in key product and service segments.  Contact Cornelius Geary at Cornelius@winetwo.com or via phone at (415) 596-1191 for information on available sponsorship packages.

About Crushpad

Crushpad is custom winemaking service with locations in San Francisco and Napa, whose over 5,000 clients include professional winemakers, wine enthusiasts, fine wine retailers and restaurants. Crushpad specializes in small-lot, luxury wine production from California, Oregon and Washington’s most notable vineyards. The company was founded in 2004 by wine industry veterans and technology industry refugees determined to liberate winemaking from its traditional stereotypes of impossible wealth, expansive chateaus and Golden Retrievers.

For more information about Crushpad, call 415-864-4232 or visit http://www.crushpadwine.com.

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