April 24, 2006
News & Opinion: Two Business Beer Books
We are coming up on the annual booksellers convention. It is huge deal for us folks. It gives us a great opportunity to talk with publishers, find out what is going on, and see what they have planned for the fall.
At last year's convention, Wiley had an event at their booth which featured two books. The first book was Beer School by Brooklyn Brewery founders Steve Hindy & Tom Potter. The second book was Brewing Up A Business by Sam Calagione, founder of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery. The event was a hit, because they had a sampling of both breweries flagship brands.
For some reason I have hung on to these books for the past year, meaning to write a post about them. Beer School tells the tale of building the Brooklyn Brewery. Each chapter ends with lessons from the authors. Chapter Five for example is "Steve Discusses the Keys to Successfully Motivating Employees" and ends with Lesson Five: Feeling Goods Is No Substitute for Prudent Controls. These guys favor the Jack Welch style of management with annual performance appraisals and having no problem firing people if they don't work out. I particularly liked Chapter 10 and the story of them selling their distribution arm. It was complicated, emotional, and got to a point of needing lawyers.
I like Brewing Up A Business a little more though. Sam Calagione was an English major in college and knows how to spin a tale. Marketing on a Small Budget, Stalking The Killer App and Cash Is King (well sort of..) are typical chapter titles. He is also a maverick who has taken on Mothers Against Drunk Driving. I love this paragraph because he gets it:
Picasso once said, "The creative act is first and foremost an act of destruction." As a small businessperson I couldn't agree more. When you go into business for yourself, you are destroying preconceived notions. You are destroying business as usual in that it can only be created by you. For small businesspeople, our greatest challenge is gaining customers. The way you gain customers is by gaining attention. The way you gain attention is by standing out from the other businesses you compete with...If you can disrupt business as usual, you will attract positive attention while shifting the spotlight away from your biggest competitors.
Grab a cold one and kick back with one of these books to see the business behind the brew.