Real Leaders and Inspiration: Takeaways From Entrepreneurship @ Cornell #ESHIP15

Real Leaders and Inspiration: Takeaways From Entrepreneurship @ Cornell #ESHIP15

Cornell ESHIP cover photo

I had the opportunity to participate in Entrepreneurship @ Cornell last week. Besides it being enjoyable to get back to campus after a 15-year hiatus, I left feeling inspired by the people I met. This included my fellow speakers, attendees, the faculty and most importantly the Cornell students. Anyone worried about the state of America today and the next generation of leaders need only spend a week like mine to gain a renewed sense of optimism. More than anything, the drive to create new enterprises to solve new and old problems with innovative approaches and the sense that “no one can stop me” I got from so many individuals was gratifying. Cornell seems to be doing a better job than most university systems in coordinating across the various schools to support and encourage entrepreneurship. As Director of Entrepreneurship @ Cornell, Zach Shulman said, “I have 13 bosses. I report to all 13 Deans and they all support our activities.” The ability to cut across schools as diverse as Agricultural, Business, Hotel, Engineering, Industrial & Labor Relations, Law and support would be entrepreneurs regardless of their chosen field is powerful.

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Jay Walker ‘77, a keynote and founder of Priceline.com and Walker Digital put the entrepreneurial bug in perspective by calling it a “disease”. Do you have it? If you do, you can’t get rid of it. He also made a great point that you don’t build a company with a group of people who ALL have the disease. That would not be successful. You need a team that can build processes, and get things done. That certainly fits my experience. As I said to some of the classes, we are glorifying the entrepreneur this week and it is a great thing. However, one does not build a business with all entrepreneurs. One builds a business with a team of people with complimentary skills and ability to execute. Every visionary who can articulate the future and see what no one else sees, needs someone pulling back asking the questions: that sounds great, but how do we DO that? What needs to be in place to make it work? What about these problems?   One must have a balance and the how do you actually do what is being proposed way of thinking is critical.

Jay Walker @Cornell IMG_5313 Mayor Svante Myrick twitter exchange

Jay went on to identify 10 ‘superforces’ – Jay Walker shares 10 ‘superforces’ of the business future. At the opening night banquet, the superstar Mayor of Ithaca, Svante Myrick addressed the group. Mayor Myrick is truly a remarkable leader. He called all entrepreneurs the “annoying” people without whom, nothing would change. When I commented to Jay Walker that I’d like to see Mayor Myrick in higher office, he said something with which I immediately agreed… “We need fresh leadership doing good things at the local level. Let him do that now.” In the excitement for how good I think he is and his potential on a larger stage, its easy to forget that we need a whole bunch of Svante Myricks doing exactly what he is doing locally in this country. The Mayor and I got into a little twitter exchange after his talk above.

Tech Entrepreneurship Roundtable Prgm image IMG_5281IMG_5320IMG_5284 Smoke at Cornell - Hosp Roundtable

Leading into the celebration, I had the privilege of participating on the CHR Technology Entrepreneurship Roundtable at the Cornell Hotel School. This roundtable was of the highest caliber and I really enjoyed learning from and debating the latest developments in hospitality and how technology is affecting everyone’s businesses.   There are several people I met through the roundtable with whom I will remain friends far into the future. I presented the case for why today is better than any other time for new brands to reach their audience, which led the group to a discussion of the asynchronistic nature of startup/new brands vs large established brands. This applies to hotels and to beverage brands. The bottom line is using today’s technology, a new brand can communicate with its core following or “Tribe” directly, something that in the past was nearly impossible or cost prohibitive to do. Larger established brands have a much harder time competing at that level and by their very definition, cannot micro market as easily.

I also really enjoyed sharing stories of our entrepreneurial journey on the CEN panel on Friday with Panelists:
Jamey Edwards ’96, MBA ’03, CEO, Emergent Medical Associates
Carl Forsythe MBA ’82, President & CEO, Globe Composite Solutions
Smoke Wallin ‘88, CEO, Taliera

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Jamey and Carl both brought great perspectives as we took turns telling stories and engaging with the audience.

The Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship hosted two panel/socials that promoted a group of entrepreneurs interacting with students. Both of these were a lot of fun as I enjoyed the panels and students!

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Finally, I’ve had a half dozen follow up calls and discussions with student entrepreneurs since last week. These folks are pushing ahead with their various new ventures and represent the future of our country. I am pleased that I can play a small role in giving them input/guidance on their respective journeys.

 

Cheers

Smoke

 

New Beer Industry Technology Symposium™ “BITS™” Set For June 30 & July 1 in Napa, California

New Beer Industry Technology Symposium™ “BITS™” Set For June 30 & July 1 in Napa, California

Excited to announce the first Beer Industry Technology Symposium in collaboration with our 10th Annual Wine Industry Technology Symposium… it will be a technology extravaganza!

New Beer Industry Technology Symposium™ “BITS™”
Set For June 30 & July 1 in Napa, California

Craft Brewing Industry Leaders to Collaborate on Best Practices and Strategies
BITS to partner with the 10th Annual Wine Industry Technology Symposium® “WITS®” for First Event

For Immediate Release
February 20, 2014

(NAPA, Calif.) – Leaders of the brewing, distribution and technology industries have formed the new Beer Industry Technology Symposium, BITS, to create a dedicated industry forum where technology and strategy intersect. The first BITS will be held in Napa, California in conjunction with the Wine Industry Technology Symposium® – WITS® June 30 & July 1, 2014 at the Napa Valley Marriott.

The purpose of BITS is to address the unique information technology, and service needs, of the beer industry. BITS is dedicated to bringing the world’s leading beer industry professionals together with the world’s leading technology experts, to foster learning and discussion. Panels of experts will discuss specific examples and case studies that will deliver tangible take-home value and create relationships.

SteadyServ Technologies®, has built technology to help bars and restaurants, distributors and craft brewers — even patrons — keep track of the beer remaining in a keg and more effectively manage their beer inventories. SteadyServ’s Founder and CEO Steve Hershberger said, “Given the massive changes occurring in the beer industry, BITS is the right gathering at the right time. Getting the craft beer industry together, to discuss technology solutions and the strategies needed to ensure continued growth and success, is difficult due to both the high number of beer producers and the vast geographic differences in their physical locations. BITS will provide an important venue for the industry’s thought leaders to collaborate for the greater good of the industry. SteadyServ will be there in full force.”

The growth and importance of craft beer is widely documented. According to the Brewers Association, the number of craft breweries in the US has risen from a low of > 100 1977 to > 3,500 in 2013. Over the next 5 years, the growth in craft beer volume is expected to be greater than over the past 25 years combined. Given this explosion in consumer demand, and the number of new operations that have been formed, there is a specific need to understand best practices and strategies within the industry. Many new brewery owners are attempting to reinvent the wheel in terms of processes and systems to run their businesses. BITS aims to be the industry-wide resource to help educate beer industry members and unite them with best-of-class technology providers.

“After owning a rapidly-growing craft brewery from 2010 – 2013, and then working with a number of others to help build their beer businesses, I spent a lot of time networking with other breweries and observed their efforts to manage growth and establish systems that are vital to run an efficient and effective business,” said J. Smoke Wallin, BITS Chairman and Founder. “While there are many beer industry events such as NBWA and GABF, there has never been a forum focused on the technology needs of craft brew operators. BITS will fill that void.”

Expected attendees include craft breweries, distributors, retailers and on-premise and technology providers. There will be content for everyone from the Owner/GM/President to the Information Technology Manager or CFO to the Brewers to the Sales Managers. Building on the successful model of WITS, with cross-functional workshops and keynote speakers, BITS will draw from industry leaders to present tangible take-home value as a result of a focused gathering.

The agenda includes sessions on: Technology Leadership – Best-of-Class Tools, Consumer Direct Sales – Managing the Tap Room and Online Presence, Trade Sales & Marketing – Craft Beer Route To Market – Gaining & Managing Distribution, Brewery Operations – Hops to Kettle to Keg or Can

Interested sponsors and speakers can contact Waunice Orchid (Tradeshow Coordinator) Waunice@swgnapa.com (707) 261-8716 today. Registration will open March 1, 2014. Space is limited and BITS is expected to sell out, so register early.
www.beertechnologysymposium.com

ABOUT BITS:
The Beer Industry Technology Symposium (BITS) was created to address the unique information technology and services needs of the Beer industry. BITS is dedicated to bringing the world’s leading breweries, distributors and retailers together with the leading technology experts to foster learning and discussion. Expert panels and keynotes discuss leading edge case studies involving consumer direct marketing and sales, operations, financial management, trade sales and distribution, brewing and input management

On Being Grateful II – – – Ruth McMullan Wallin 95

On Being Grateful II – – – Ruth McMullan Wallin 95

I wrote about being grateful on Easter Sunday, when I awoke to the stunning beauty of the Colorado Rockies at Grand Lake.  In that post, I called out a long list of family and friends.  Little did I know then,  just a few hours later, my Grandmother, Ruth McMullan Wallin (“Mimi” to all of us) would pass from this living world to the next.  There have been many great remembrances by family members to each other over the past two weeks.  And while I won’t share those here, I will share the obituary my father, John Luther Wallin III wrote on his mother below.

I also came across this “Morning Prayer” that executive coach Jim Warner shared with my YPO Forum some years ago.  It felt appropriate here as well.

Morning Prayer

Let me awaken every morning and be thankful for what God has brought me.

Let me awaken every morning knowing things are as they are meant to be.

Let me awaken every morning knowing life is a journey and I am just a part.

Let me awaken every morning knowing the day will bring challenges, opportunities and learning experiences.

Let me awaken every morning with self-love and self-acceptance, so I may be more tolerant of myself and others.

Let me awaken every morning with an open heart, so love may rush in and out like the tide of the mighty ocean.

This made me think of my Grandfather, John Luther Wallin, JR –  “Luke” who passed way in 1998.  I include an article my dad wrote about his father at the bottom of this post.

Shots of my grand parents

Shots of my grand parents

MIMI PIC2 John Luther Wallin, Jr  "Grand Daddy"

Ruth Wallin

Wilmington, NC — Ruth McMullan Wallin, 95, of Wilmington and formerly of Columbus, Mississippi, died Monday, April 1st, 2013, at her home. She will be buried in her family plot in Friend- ship Cemetery, Columbus. A memorial service will be held in the fall, at a time to be announced.

Ruth was born in Newton, Mississippi, to Thomas Eugene McMullan and Ruth Hudson McMullan. She graduated from high school in Meridian, Mississippi, shortly after the death of her father, and moved to Columbus with her mother and brother, Thomas Eugene “Gene” McMullan, Jr.

Ruth married John Luther Wallin, Jr., and they had two children, John Luther Wallin III and Twila Wallin Robertson (deceased).

Luther Wallin, Jr., operated Wallin Lumber Company for many years, and later served as president of the National Bank of Commerce in Columbus. He and Ruth were early supporters of wildlife and forest conservation, and active members of the First Baptist Church. Ruth was known for her flower garden and contributed to her garden club’s “Plant the Town” initiative. Many live oaks and flowering pears in Colum- bus are the legacy of her group.

Ruth had a special grace, beauty, and dignity. She was a wonderful mother and grandmother, and had many friends.

She is survived by her son, Luther Wallin III, and his wife, Mary Elizabeth Gordon; by Luke’s children, Smoke and his wife Anitra, Clay and his wife Sarah, Rain, Patrick and his wife Sheen, and Eva; by Twila’s children, Kim- berly and Lisa; by 11 great grandchildren; and by her sister-in-law, Dorothy McMullan Lang- ford, and her daughter Nan.

Friends and family may leave remembrances of Ruth at www.wilmingtoncares.com website.

10th Annual American Distilling Institute’s Craft Spirits Conference

10th Annual American Distilling Institute’s Craft Spirits Conference

I had the great honor of speaking at the 10th Craft Spirits Conference put on by the American Distilling Institute this week.  ADI’s mission is to

The American Distilling Institute’s mission is to disseminate essential information regarding the art and science of distilling.

American Distilling Institute
I must say, the energy at this conference was palpable.  There are so many exciting things happening in craft spirits.  The growth in craft spirits is a continuation and natural extension of what we have seen first in the winery space and later in the craft beer space.  Today’s consumers more than ever before are interested in trying new hand crafted, unique expressions of wine, beer and spirits.  ADI tracks the new distilleries across the US.  Check this map out:
Directory of Craft Distillers from ADI
Truly amazing.  One of the challenges a craft spirits brand owner has is route to market.  You can do everything right in terms of setting up production, coming up with a great liquid, branding and packaging, but if you cannot get your brand into distribution, into retail and ultimately in front of the consumer, it is all for naught.

I participated on a panel of industry experts from distribution and retail and moderated by Craig Wolf, my friend and the CEO of the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America WSWA.  Craig did a great job of bring together knowledgable people to give insights into this route to market challenge for young brands.  Our panel included contributions from

Gary Keimach of Martingnetti in New England

David Jabour of Twin Liquors in Texas

Sam Rubenstein of Horizon Beverage in New England

Scott McKee of RNDC in Florida

Ken Fredrickson of Tenzing Wine & Spirits in Illinois

Here are my remarks on how a young craft brand can think about the challenge of route to market with some simple things to focus on for success.

 

Thanks to Bill Owens and Penn Jensen of ADI for leading the charge for craft distilling!  It is a great movement that will only continue to thrive.

Craft Spirits Conference 2013 Craft Spirits Conference 2013  Craft Spirits Conference 2013  Craft Spirits Conference 2013

Smoke Wallin Vanderbilt Address – 2008

I came across this video of my address at Vanderbilt back in 2008.  I had tremendous feedback from this from those in the audience.  I thought I’d share…

 Vanderbilt University – Alumni Weekend 2008  J. Smoke Wallin the 1998 Distinguished Alumnus and incoming President of the Vanderbilt Owen Alumni Board introduced by Jim Bradford, Dean of the Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management.  Smoke addresses students, faculty, staff and prospective students on what matters in life, business and friendship.  He reflects on some difficult experiences.

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