Sunday, April 9, 2017

Book Review: In Memory of Bread by Paul Graham

I like to joke that I am pro-gluten and a bread fanatic.  Right now, downstairs on my kitchen counter is homemade challah rising for my quasi birthday/Easter/Passover dinner tonight.  I have been a devotee of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, the cookbook my challah recipe is from.  Years ago, with my freshly minted bachelor's diploma, I went to work for a food laboratory.  The reason I applied was because they made sourdough cultures--my all-time favorite type of bread.  Growing up, a classmate always had "Fred" in the fridge, a sourdough culture that her mom fed weekly and used to make sandwich rolls that I was so envious of.  I have been a bit flippant about gluten adverse people, but have always respected the fact that celiac disease is a true reason to completely avoid gluten, and often, bread.  Reading In Memory of Bread by Paul Graham was truly enlightening, and gives me true empathy for gluten intolerant people and those dealing with celiac disease.

Why would I write a review of a memoir of bread on WineTalent's career blog?  Because many of us in the wine industry are also big foodies, and many of us love great yeasty breads, a good craft brew, and are adventurous eaters.  So was Paul Graham, up until he was waylaid by celiac disease at the age of 36.  Paul Graham was an accomplished home brewer, a voluminous consumer of homemade wheat breads and someone who loved to experience life through food and drink.

As a professor of English at St. Lawrence University in upstate New York, Paul is an accomplished writer who loves reading authors that write about food.  Much of his food education was based on the writings of gourmands like M. F. K. Fisher, Julia Child, Calvin Trillin, Ruth Reichl and my personal favorite, Jim Harrison (a cool book shop owner in Medford, Oregon turned me onto Jim Harrison years ago in his book Dalva, and I've voraciously consumed all of his books since then).

Paul Graham writes a breezy, food-centric memoir about his life before and after his diagnosis.  He delves a bit into our food supply chain, and talks about his commitment to living the locavore lifestyle as outlined in Barbara Kingsolver's book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.  This is a lifestyle many of us have adapted, and many of us may continue to purchase wheat that is farmed and processed far away from us because we just need to have flour and make bread.  Ironically, I am also currently reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's book, On the Banks of Plum Creek, where the Ingalls family is so excited about their wheat crop, saying it is going to bring large sums of money to the family.  Wheat was and is a very important crop in the world, and as Paul Graham notes, wheat and gluten is hard to avoid in our society.

For much of his book, Paul Graham mourns the lose of bread and of gluten.  Then he has an epiphany and realizes he needs to approach food and cooking from a non-wheatcentric angle.  Once he realizes there is a big food world out there that's GF, he starts to explore new foods and embraces food and cooking again.

He and his wife also try hard to make GF breads and baked goods.  The first attempts were awful, as were their experiences with GF beer.  Paul starts baking with America's Test Kitchen's The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook.  Rethinking how to bake, the ingredients and techniques were his first challenge.  But once he embraced America's Test Kitchen's ways, he was pleasantly surprised and quite pleased with many of the things he could make and eat again.  One of those was pizza.  I too love to bake homemade pizza, and would be lost if I couldn't eat or make pizza ever again.  As he writes, America's Test Kitchen attracts a nerdy type of cook.  And yes you guessed it, I am also a devotee of ATK--listening to the podcasts on my way to and from wine country on business, and thrilled when my new Cook's Country arrives.

It was hard to read about how gluten destroyed Paul Graham's body, and how he had to completely rid his house and his life of gluten.  Being completely gluten free is hard for anyone to be, and Paul's storytelling of his odyssey really brought it to light for me.  I have new respect for my friends who have to be GF for their children with celiac disease and also now more fully understand why many people are avoiding gluten.

I am thankful that I can still enjoy my glutinous food, but now more completely understand what gluten can do to those who are intolerant, and will gladly help anyone be GF when they feel it is warranted.  Luckily, as Paul Graham notes, wine is most always completely GF.

Great book, read it if you enjoy learning about our food history, how people are dealing with gluten intolerance, and for a memoir of a great writer's farewell to bread.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Book Review: Money on the Table by Melissa Greenwell

This winter I read "Money on the Table:  How to Increase Profits Through Gender-Balanced Leadership" by Melissa Greenwell.  Ms. Greenwell is promoting more gender balance in corporate boardrooms, in executive leadership and in management positions to reflect the population and to increase diversity of thought and experience at the upper levels of companies.

Ms. Greenwell is herself an executive level business professional.  She has worked her way up through several different large and small companies.  She has witnessed gender inequities and had to push hard to make herself part of the leadership board.  

As a woman in top roles, she has also seen how more gender balance at the top allows more diverse thinking and problem solving than occurs at companies that are out of balance.  

Yes, most companies, boardrooms and management ranks continue to be male dominated.  Ms. Greenwell cites case studies and uses good statistics to lead the charge for more women at the top.  Of course if there are men at the top of the organization, Ms. Greenwell needs to write to her audience.  Her writing style is easy to follow and gives both strong statistics to support her argument and anecdotes to promote her cause.  

Money on the Table does promote gender balance as a tool to be financially and managerially competitive in today's global economy.  This book is a great one to review as companies are planning their governing boards, determining their executive team and filling their management ranks.  Attention to gender balance is always important when you are placing the right people for the job.  

To find out more about this book and the author, please visit http://melissa-greenwell.com/book/  

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Mind Your Manners: Don't Forget to Say Thank You

Good morning job seekers!  With the current tight employment market the job seeker can have the upper hand in the job search.  This is great news for you.  Now I want to give you a little piece of advice; no matter how busy, important, or sought after you may be, you can always give yourself just a little bit of an edge in the job search if you practice good manners.

It Starts at Home:  As the mother of a recent college graduate I was advising him how to go about getting his first career job.  I was telling him to target his ideal companies and contact them directly.  Then after submitting a resume, politely following up within a week to show his continued interest in the position.  If he was given an interview, I told him to make sure he sent a thank you within 24 hours of the interview.  Seemed simple to me, and something I try to do after any meeting.  My son wasn't sure how to go about writing a thank you.  I am suddenly realizing that people don't naturally know to send a thank you after a meeting.

This was called to my attention recently when I set up an informational interview between a great family friend and my 32 year-old nephew.  My nephew is a math whiz, a college math instructor, very personable and well traveled.  He's looking to make a career change, and my friend is involved in many businesses that could use a sharp mathematician.   Being the gracious host my friend is, he invited my nephew to lunch to discuss career options, and picked up the tab.  This was of course a very kind gesture, and the meeting was very informative to my nephew.  Reports back were very positive and I was glad I could connect them.

To my surprise, a week later my friend followed up with the promising math mind, to give him additional resources for his career search.  I all of a sudden wondered if my nephew had thanked him for his time and help.  One week after that lunch and he hadn't.  I quickly gave him my recommendation to always follow up timely with someone in this type of situation, and that in no way is it being obtrusive.  I recommended in any thank you to say you appreciated his insight, his time and his help.  If there were any items that were brought up in the meeting that required following up on, bring them up in the note.  This isn't pestering, just a gentle nudge and acknowledgement that you were paying attention during the meeting.  My nephew was surprised by this advice, but said he would put it to use from now on.

Set Yourself Apart:  As a recruiter we are interviewing candidates for hard skills, and often, more importantly, for the soft skills that are so important for a cultural fit with an employer.  I do wait to see if someone that I interviewed sends a thank you, and sends it timely.  A little timer starts going off in the back of my mind after an interview to see if I'll get that follow up.  A great candidate does it quickly and often with a nice tidbit of information for me.  A good candidate is punctual and thankful in the message.  And then there are those that never follow up.  I don't remember them.  (Ok, just kidding, but it is something to think about)

Are Thank You Notes Old Fashioned?:  Several of my clients have been asking about thank you notes.  They are not getting them.  They too are looking for a follow up message after interviews, and sometimes it is the deciding factor when a few different candidates are under consideration.

As a fellow professional, I know many of us are working at our peak and time is precious.  Don't forgot that the interviewers time is precious as well.  Thank them.  Please!

PS:  I used to send letters, in the mail, to thank people.  I still do, but email is my preferred mode of communication in most thank you notes.  In a highly confidential situation, if you send a letter directly to the interviewer afterward, that letter may be seen by their assistant or raise questions about who sent it.  If you are interviewing for a very sensitive position, err on the side of caution and send an email directly to the interviewer.

PPS:  Ask your interviewer for his or her business card or for the permission of his or her information to be shared, say, with that crackerjack recruiter who put you up for the interview--me!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

WineTalent Classifieds: Accounting Manager-Ranch with Long Meadow Ranch in St. Helena, CA

WineTalent is working with our client, Long Meadow Ranch, on an Accounting Manager position supporting the ranch operations.

Long Meadow Ranch is a family owned and operated producer and purveyor of world-class wine and food that is economically successful and socially responsible using diversified, sustainable, and organic farming methods. We produce award-winning wines, handcrafted extra virgin olive oils, grass-fed beef, eggs, and heirloom fruits and vegetables.

Long Meadow Ranch has a unique opportunity for an Accountant to join our administration to provide quality customer service to our ranch management team, our business partners, our customers and our vendors. Reporting to the Vice President of Finance, the Accounting Manager – Ranch will be responsible for the financial reporting and analysis, accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll, and other general accounting functions for Long Meadow Ranch Partners LP. The Accounting Manager – Ranch will follow generally accepted accounting practices, adhering to the policies and procedures set forth by the company.

Responsibilities include (but not limited to):
  • Hold accountability for the preparation of monthly financials including handling the month end-close process. 
    Posting all required monthly journal entries, reconcile inventory in multiple locations, reconcile other balance sheet accounts as required, and perform overhead allocations. 
    Reporting on any significant budget variances. 
  • Manage daily accounting tasks including: Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, 
    Payroll, Bank reconciliations, daily banking tasks. 
  • Assist with all accounting aspects of Human Resources for the ranch including time card 
    and PTO tracking, EDD reporting, workers’ compensation management and policy 
    development. 
  • Monitor, track and report on all required external compliance including sales tax, 
    property tax returns, CCOF certifications, etc. 
  • Develop and manage the budgeting/reforecasting process and the cash forecasting 
    process. 
  • Manage and be responsible for timely and accurate monthly, quarterly and year-end 
    closing cycles. 
  • Evaluate, recommend and implement policies, procedures and systems related to 
    company efficiency, productivity and internal controls.

    Qualifications and Requirements
  • Minimum of 3 years of experience in financial analysis and/or general ledger accounting practices. 
  • Agriculture accounting experience desirable. 
  • Bachelor’s degree in Accounting, Finance, Business or related discipline. 
  • In-depth knowledge of Accounting Software, QuickBooks preferred. 
  • Proficient in MS Excel and MS Office including PowerPoint. 
  • Sharp attention to detail with good oral and written communication skills. 
  • Able to work in a team environment as well as operate independently. 
  • Valid driver’s license and maintain a safe driving record. 
  • A pre-employment background check is required. 
  • Able to lift 40+ lbs. 
  • Compensation and Benefits 
  • This is a full-time, salaried position. 
  • Competitive compensation depending on experience plus benefits including 
    medical/dental insurance, paid vacation and 401(k). 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

WineTalent Classifieds: Consumer Sales Manager in St. Helena, CA


Consumer Sales Manager
WineTalent is working with our client, Long Meadow Ranch, on a Consumer Sales Manager role in St. Helena, CA.

Description:  Long Meadow Ranch is a family­ owned and operated producer and purveyor of world-­class wine and food that is economically successful and socially responsible using diversified, sustainable, and organic farming methods. We produce award­-winning wines, handcrafted extra virgin olive oils, grass­-fed beef, eggs, and heirloom fruits and vegetables.

Long Meadow Ranch has a unique opportunity for a Consumer Sales professional to take on a pivotal role with the company.  The Consumer Sales Manager is responsible for managing the direct-to-consumer related sales activities for Long Meadow Ranch including wine club, e-commerce and telesales (outsourced). The Consumer Sales Manager will develop and execute strategies to increase sales in all direct-to-consumer channels across the business including forecasting and budget management while motivating the sales team to exceed goals.

Responsibilities:
      Manage consumer sales channels including wine club, telesales, and e-commerce.
      Manage customer databases including development of new strategies for targeted customer communications and club membership growth.
      Supervise order processing and warehouse fulfillment and resolution of customer service issues.
      Develop and manage consumer sales channel budget including forecasting and expense management to meet or exceed sales and membership acquisition goals.
      Deliver periodic reporting on sales performance and membership growth the management team.
      Provide training and mentorship to consumer sales teams including hospitality, wine club, telesales, e-commerce, customer service and seasonal employees to exceed goals.
      Develop and maintain SOP’s for Vin65 platform, order processing and fulfillment.
      Develop customer relationship management systems.
      Participate in all consumer facing seasonal brand and membership events.

Qualifications and Requirements
·      Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality, Communications, Marketing, Business or related.
·      5 years of wine industry experience including tasting room, wine club and DTC sales.
·      Proficiency and experience with Vin65 administrator tools, Google Drive, Excel, as well as current digital tools and related technology
·      Sharp attention to detail with good oral and written communication skills.
·      Proven track record of growing wine club memberships and DTC sales.
·      Able to work in a team environment as well as operate independently.
·      Highly professional in all interpersonal and customer communications.
·      Creative problem solver with drive and dedication to succeed.
·      Able to lift 40+ lbs.
·      Valid driver’s license and maintain a clean driving record.
·      A pre-employment background check is required.

Compensation and Benefits
·      This is a full-time, salaried position.  Incentives will be provided to foster goal achievement and increased revenues.
·      Competitive compensation depending on experience plus benefits including medical/dental insurance, paid vacation and 401(k).

Interested in this position?  Please email your resume to amy@winetalent.net.  All communications will be kept strictly confidential. 

Know someone who is a great Consumer Sales Manager?  WineTalent offers a referral bonus for anyone referred that is hired through WineTalent.  Let us know who you think is the right person for this job.