Monday, September 17, 2018

Working Women: Have You Ever Had a Career Hot Streak?

Witnessing an athlete's hot streak is very exciting.  Are hot streaks exclusive to athletes?  Nope.  published their findings about the hot streaks experienced by over 30,000 professionals including artists, film directors and scientists.  The main findings were that the streaks last four to five years and some people have more than one hot streak.  Hot streaks can occur at any point in your career. 
Recently, Dashun Wang and his research team at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management

How do people get on a hot streak?  As the famous golfer Arnold Palmer is often quoted as saying, “The more I practice, the luckier I get.”  Malcolm Gladwell wrote in Outliers that “ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness."  Both of these quotes relate success with practice.  If practice really does make perfect, you need to get practicing.  

How can you practice in the business world?  Well, first of all, you have to show up.  And when you do show up, put in the hours to do the work, sign up for new assignments, and stretch yourself a bit.  Put your hand up when a difficult yet interesting project comes up.  Show up for a meeting prepared and ready to present your opinions and information.  And if a great opportunity comes along, whether you think you are completely ready for it or not, put yourself in line for it.  

Put in the Time:  I do believe that to get ahead you have to put the work in.  The harder I work, the luckier I've always gotten.  Perhaps it is being in the right place at the right time, or it is building my career "muscle memory" to be agile when it is needed.  If I hadn't deliberately put myself in the right place at the right time, I probably would have had a much different outcome.  

Not Simply Doing the Work:  Now, some say that it is not about hard work alone.  For an interesting view on this, check out Rosina Racioppi's article at Three Obstacles Hindering Women's Career Advancement.  While hard work can result in job security, you also need to work smarter not just harder.  Being strategic where you invest your time and effort is as important or perhaps more important than how hard you work.  Don't try to be the best at completing the same work the same way every time.  Figure out new things that need to be done, solve problems your company is facing and create efficiencies wherever you can.  

Find a Mentor:  As Racioppi mentions, women also need to seek out mentors.  Yes, ladies, you do.  Identify people you interact with at work and in your profession that you admire and respect.  Asking to be that person's protege may seem awkward, but it never hurts to ask.  Put yourself out there and do it.  This includes showing up at work, doing the work, and taking the time to build relationships with potential mentors.  Great mentors will have excellent advice to lead to greater career success.  

Equal Opportunity Mentorships:  Over my career, I've been the protege of both male and female mentors.  Having been one of the first women in some of the roles I've had, many of my mentors are men.  With the current #metoo movement a lot of troubling stories have come out about sexual harrassment, pay inequality, and other situations women in the workplace suffer.   I have dealt with plenty of these issues, but I am tired of the man-bashing that is going on right now.  To have solid relationships in the work world, foster quality relationships with men and women.  I have to sing the praises of some very honorable men who have supported me.  My husband has always been my biggest advocate and I wouldn't be successful without him.  My former boss at Yoh Company taught me everything I know about recruiting.  He was always a gentleman and had his employees' best interests at heart.  Now as a self-employed consultant, I have the privilege of working with a diverse array of winery professionals.  I've severed relationships with some clients that were not professional, and have also fostered relationships with wine businesspeople who have turned out to be my biggest mentors.  I've built a business working with great personalities in the wine industry.  The more I work, the better I get at figuring out which will be solid business relationships.  

Learn from Successful People:  As a career advisor, I am always looking for different perspectives on how to advance one’s career.  Recently I’ve been listening to the Secrets of Wealthy Women podcasts produced by The Wall Street   These are interviews with successful women; how they got where they are, and how they invest their money.  The ones I appreciate the most are from women who have climbed up the corporate ladder.  On the podcasts many CEO’s, entrepreneurs, and other successful women share their stories about starting from an entry level role and making it to the C-Suite.  These women tell tales of working hard, handling stressful situations and juggling family and work responsibilities.  They all have put the time in, done the work, and have been successful.  They have all asked for tough assignments, put themselves into the mix for promotions and yes, they have faced setbacks. Listen to the podcasts by Joanna ColesEllen Kullman and Barbara Corcoran for interviews of women I have really enjoyed learning from.

Ignite Your Own Hot Streak:  While it will take hard work and sticking your neck out from time to time, career advancement is personally and financially rewarding.  Doing the work and being strategic can lead you to your own hot streak.  I'm hoping it will be the first of many.  

Monday, August 20, 2018

Road Tripping: Charting a Path for Healthy Living

With summer drawing to a close, my family and I went on a road trip to the Pacific Northwest.  We stopped at houses of family and friends I've grown up with, and with friends I've developed over the last several years.  I love getting a mental snapshot of how others live, and this road trip was quite enjoyable.  A big take away for me was the healthy routines my friends follow.

For years I've been following research and anecdotes about the secrets of a long and happy life.  Over a decade ago, Dan Buettner started researching long-lived communities around the globe.  When he wrote The Secrets of Long Life for National Geographic in 2005, he showed how communities in Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; and Loma Linda, CA had the best health and life expectancies on the planet.  The article talked about their life choices, their commitment to community, their diets and their vigorous physical activities.  If you have heard of the Mediterranean Diet, you have Dan Buettner to thank.  He has gone on to write a series of books about healthy living based on his findings.  (To find out more about this, visit Blue Zones)

In the wine industry, The French Paradox made drinking red wine a healthy idea for Americans.  In 1991 on 60 Minutes, Morley Safer convinced Americans to drink more wine.  Drinking red wine is good for you my friend, and I raise a glass to this on a regular basis.  If a glass of red wine can make me live longer, what other secrets can I learn?  Scouring the internet today, a Thrive Global article spells out how being healthy will help you succeed.  From quitting bad habits to seeking out ways to be more active, the idea that practicing healthier habits will equate to personal success is quite compelling.  On my road trip, I was visiting happy and successful friends who were practicing healthy habits.

Learning about healthy living and personal success brings up the idea that healthy living isn't just about eating and exercising.  Having joy and purpose in your life is very important as well.  Harvard University has been running a 78-year-old study on adult development that has tracked how people feel throughout their lives.  Dr. Robert Waldinger, director of the study, gave a great TED Talk on it in 2015.  Key takeaways:  Being connected with your community brings you a lot of happiness and that quality relationships are very important to your personal happiness.

Healthy Living Lessons Learned on the Road

Wine Country Weekend:  Our first stop on the road trip was at the home of a good friend in California's wine country.  Over the years we have built a great friendship, and he's been a mentor of mine.  Visiting him for a few days gave me great insight into his daily activities, and I learned a lot about the life he has made for himself.
Connection with Nature:  Stepping into the backyard, I was so pleased to see a thriving, well-tended garden.  As a plant lover, I enjoy seeing what plants my friends are watching over.  A wide selection of pollinator-friendly plants, a beautiful water wise front garden and spots for reflection throughout the garden were evident.  This was a garden I wanted to spend time in.  And the wildlife that visited it were nice to see, including the mischievous squirrel who is pulling out the succulents in the garden boxes.
Healthy Activities:  Heading out for a hike in the morning, my friend hit the gym instead.  Doing strength training and stretches has become an important part of his daily routine.  Regular swims are part of the plan too.
Intellectual Curiosity:  Books, magazines, newspapers and notes were everywhere in his house.  A true interest in learning about new things and staying involved in current events was evident.  And in our conversations, he has a true interest in learning new things, sometimes delving deeply into a topic that especially catches his interest.
Healthy Choices:  Spending a few days in his home, I got to learn about how he stays healthy.  Some say that the secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine.  Well, long life may just be the secret here.  A good cup of coffee, a nutritious, whole-food based meal and time to contemplate were on the menu for breakfast.  While avoiding sugar to reduce inflammation, a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meat and a glass of good wine were on offer throughout the visit.
Community Involvement:  Going into the visit, I wasn't sure who else I would meet during my stay.  With my friend's open door policy, we had plenty of visitors;  from the neighbor dealing with his wife's terminal illness, a wine buddy stopping in before a flight, to evenings spent with his close friends.  Going out on the town for dinner brought us together with people who had grown up with his children, young adults who had been coached in his soccer and basketball leagues and of course wine industry friends.

Willamette Valley Visitation  After saying goodbye, our next trip was up to Oregon to visit a former winemaker and Napa Valley College professor friend of ours.  Over the last few years, this friend has been inviting my family to his place in Napa to help with a winemaking project.  The family dinners we had afterwards with the entire crush team were the epitome of wine country living.  Enjoying good food and wine while dining in the vineyards with friends will always be the highlight of the harvest for me.   Recently my friend moved up to a small city in the Willamette Valley.  He and his wife are getting reacquainted to the area and are starting to get the lay of the land. 

Connection with Nature:  The house is perched atop a small hill, overlooking a forested greenway

leading to the creek.  Birds, deer and other wildlife are always visible from the house.
Healthy Activities:  After a morning walk the first day, the second day had me doing Qigong in their living room.  This was my first experience with this exercise, but it was so fun and relaxing.  My friends do this daily.
Intellectual Curiosity: Having retired to a college town in Oregon, the couple is regularly going to foreign films, lectures, and community activities.  A daily newspaper arrives, as well as the weekly installment mailing of their former Napa newspaper.  With these two educated friends, the piles of books, lists of podcasts and other publications are notably large.  And when an interesting topic is discussed, a deep dive into the specifics is quite normal.
Healthy Choices:  Early to bed and early to rise makes a man happy, wealthy and wise.  So true.  My friend gets up early, heads out for a pre-dawn walk, follows that up with reading before preparing fresh fruit and coffee.  Afterwards, a simple, nutritious breakfast is made.  A love of food and wine is evident in the standing trip to the Saturday Farmers Market, the selection of domestic and imported wines in the cellar and the preparation of homemade pizza for dinner.
Community Involvement:  Besides the intellectual pursuits, this couple is actively getting to know their neighbors.  Upon our arrival, my friend was hosting his neighbor while baking her a pizza.
Environmentalism:  A connection to our community can and does include a connection to the world as well.  My friend has one of the first Prius hybrids produced, 250,000 miles on it and counting.  Many of my friends on this trip expressed a concern about global warming and had made personal living choices because of it.

Next stop, Portlandia   My husband's cousin has been in Portland, OR for over two decades now, and this was a very convenient stop on our way up to Washington.  Having not seen the cousin or his family for several years, we had a lot to catch up on.  The couple is the same age as we are, so it was interesting to see their take on being empty-nesters and the choice to live in the city instead of the country.  The couple has 3 daughters in college.  They have recently left the suburbs to live in the city of Portland.  Walking to Salt and Straw for a memorable ice cream took about 15 minutes.  The hustle and bustle of the city was invigorating.  And the ice cream was amazing.  (I endorse the Pear and Blue Cheese flavor.  Olive Oil as well as Green Fennel & Maple were good too.)
Healthy Activities:  My hostess is an avid runner and Pilates practitioner.  Her husband gets in some form of exercise daily.  They are big proponents of the locavore movement.
Environmentalism:  My host is a director of a local nonprofit that is bringing affordable clean energy  to the Portland area and helping low-income families get affordable housing options. Driving a 100% electric car is quite practical for him in the city.
Community Involvement:  With their oldest daughter just returning from 2 years in the Peace Corps, working in Mongolia, I have to think they are actively engaged with their community and promoting community engagement with their daughters.

Northward to the San Juan Islands in Washington  My childhood neighbor moved up to
Washington many years ago and it is always a pleasure to visit both her and her husband at their house on on this small island.  The San Juan Islands offer breathtaking scenery and small-town living.  To get there, you have to board a ferry.  Once off the ferry, you are on an island of about 700 people.

Going to the island is always a highlight for me and my family.  Catching up on my friendship is effortless, and learning about how things are going with this couple and with their families is so important.  As this trip revealed, these friends too were making healthy choices for a happy life.
Connection with Nature:  Looking out the backyard the yards drops away to the water.  The view of the glistening water, a smattering of islands, as well as several birds, ships and clouds is jaw-dropping.  This is gorgeous country.  My friend's husband's work desk is upstairs, in the "crow's nest" of the house.  When he is not staring at the computer, he is looking out across the water.
Healthy Activities:  On this small island, the inhabitants have a community center where my friend and I did Zumba.  Afterwards we headed to the mainland for aerial yoga.  The aerial yoga studio was the same place my friend regularly goes for Pilates.
Healthy Choices:  After yoga we headed to the grocery store for fresh produce and dinner fixings.  Breakfast again featured my favorite thing, a strong cup of coffee.  Following that we had a healthy breakfast.  The couple has been following healthy cooking and Weight Watchers for several years and it has kept them feeling fit and healthy.  They definitely have found that being active and eating sensibly has helped them age gracefully.  Enjoying a glass of wine, beer or a cocktail was a welcome treat before dinner.  While they don't eat a lot of sweets, ice cream and cookies capped off our last night on the island.
Community Involvement:  I think it is nearly impossible to live on an island and not be closely connected to your community.  Walking onto the ferry with your neighbors, sitting in the ferry line with the friend across the island, to shopping at the island market, you are constantly interacting with your community.  My friend has also been active in bringing events to the community center and being involved in volunteer organizations in the area.

Birds of a Feather
The people you surround yourself with have a major impact on you.  Seeing the healthy choices my friends make leads me to want to adopt them.  If healthy habits lead to success, here's my roadmap to a healthy, happy and successful life:
  • Get out and experience nature.
  • Have quality friendships and work on them.
  • Have a healthy diet that includes a lot of whole foods, fruits and vegetables.  Lean meat or vegetarian options are recommended.  
  • Enjoying a good glass of wine with friends has been a recipe for success for generations.  
  • Get some form of physical exercise daily.  
  • Stay at a healthy weight.  Get on that scale once a week.  (Do it Wednesday morning.  Why?  Check out this article)
  • Get plenty of quality sleep.  Naps are great too.  
  • Get involved:  Help out your friends, neighbors and community.  Volunteer for a cause you believe in.  
  • Never stop learning.  Intellectual curiosity keeps us sharp.
Be healthy my friends.  Success is sure to follow.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Book Review: The Food Explorer by Daniel Stone

The Food ExplorerEarlier this year I stopped in for a book signing in Davis, CA at the Avid Reader bookstore.  Daniel Stone was talking about his new book, The Food Explorer:  The True Adventures of the Globe-Trotting Botanist Who Transformed What America Eats.  It was quite insightful to see Daniel Stone in Davis, returning to the town he spent his youth in.  His friends as well as his former farm employer were in attendance.  It was evident from the audience and his subject matter that his exposure to farming had a profound effect on him.  Writing a book about the man who significantly changed United States agriculture was a natural for Daniel.   
The Food Explorer is the story of David Fairchild, the botanist who brought new plants to the US for commercial propagation.  These introduced plants number over 200,000 and include the Meyer lemon, avocados, mangos, hops, vinifera grapes and many types of melons.  Additionally, some of our most cherished plants were introduced by Mr. Fairchild.  The flowering cherry trees that are celebrated in our nation's capital were a treasured, and politically charged, find of this botanist.   He also helped build and improve many of our commercial crops such as cotton, bringing improved strains of it from Egypt.  
This book does a great job of chronicling how David Fairchild became the nation's most important food explorer.  Daniel Stone tells how Fairchild stumbled into plant collection, found his footing in discovering plants, rooted new plants on our soil, and became a pillar of agriculture in Washington DC.  The story includes Fairchild's lucky meeting of a San Francisco bon vivant, Barbour Lathrop.  Mr. Lathrop took Fairchild under his wing and along on his worldwide explorations, all while financing Fairchild's work.  
Daniel Stone also tells about the inner workings of agricultural government agencies and the real problems the farmers of the late 1800's and early 1900's faced.  When Fairchild began his explorations, the US Department of Agriculture was a small agency.  While Fairchild's discoveries were growing, so was the size of the Dept of Ag, with the staff and offices exploding over the course of just a few years.  Farmers had been struggling with scant profits on their crops.  As Fairchild's discoveries took root here, so did isolationist views, and fears of introduced disease and pests.  This book puts that in great perspective, through the view of a plant scientist.  
Many areas of the US have been directly changed by David Fairchild's plant discoveries and propagation.  Florida and California were perfect climates to grow tropical and warm-weather plants that would have withered anywhere else.  His introduction of new varieties of grapes led to the success of the wine industry and the acres of beautiful vineyards we have today.  With his introductions, and successful farming, whole populations of American have been established in new US regions.  
Through his travels and success in plant introduction, David Fairchild was recognized as the most traveled man in the United States.  This gave him a great measure of celebrity.  He was invited to speak to influential groups and to publish his stories in National Geographic and other publications. He met President Theodore Roosevelt, married Alexander Graham Bell's daughter, and was friends with Orville Wright, to mention a few.  
Going to the book signing in Davis was fun for me.  When I attended UC Davis, I was one of the last graduates with a degree in botany.  Now botany has been renamed plant biology.  The average person doesn't know the impact botanists have had on the world around us.  Historically, botanists were included on explorations, asked to settle new colonies and worked to strengthen local environments with plants and their produce.  Having traveled around the world, I have always stopped in the botanical gardens to find out the discoveries and important plants in any country.  So, to read about the exploits and struggles that an early American botanist faced really brought all of my education and experience into perspective.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

WineTalent Classifieds: Vice President of Finance - Destinations and Services

WineTalent is working with our client, Long Meadow Ranch, to find a Vice President of Finance for the award winning restaurant Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch and the company's hospitality destinations.

Long Meadow Ranch is a family-owned agricultural enterprise producing grapes and wine, olives and olive oil, grass-fed beef and lamb, fruits, vegetables, and eggs in the Napa Valley, Anderson Valley and Marin County. The Long Meadow Ranch operations also include an acclaimed farm-to-table restaurant, a general store and wine tasting bar in the historic Logan-Ives House, an outdoor cafe, a farmer's market, a working garden and a variety of unique event spaces all located at Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch.

The Vice President of Finance is a key participant in all major business decisions regarding the LMR (the Company) portfolio of entities engaged in multi-faceted hospitality, shared services and farming activities. Hospitality operations encompass multiple outlets which include restaurant, hotel, private events, café and retail activities. Shared Services include shared finance, marketing, facility, IT and HR activities for multiple related entities. Farming operations include organic fruit and vegetable, poultry, beef and lamb activities which produce product for internal culinary and retail operations.

Reporting to the Executive Vice President & COO, the Vice President of Finance serves in a core leadership role and is responsible for driving both long-term strategic planning & business structure and hands-on execution of financial planning, reporting & accounting, managerial reporting & analysis, partnerships & contracts.

Strategic Planning & Business Structure
  • Develop the multi-year business plan
  • Identify short-term and long-term financing requirements
  • Establish and oversee construction budgets
  • Develop pro forma post-construction start-up and operational budgets
  • Identify and install required managerial operating systems

Financial Planning, Reporting & Accounting
  • Direct all accounting, budgeting, forecasting, finance, and cash management functions of the Company
  • Establish and implement next generation financial accounting systems, controls, and measurement systems to assure fiscal integrity as well as accurate and timely financial and management reporting
  • Formalize and document accounting and finance standard operating processes (SOPs) to ensure accurate and timely data synthesis
  • Manage the annual budget and strategic business planning processes, working closely with the President & CEO, Executive Vice President & COO, and key operating managers
  • Manage accounting firm for assigned business units; oversee and direct all income tax-related activities
  • Assure compliance with state, federal, and general accounting and regulatory guidelines
  • Manage all sales, use, property and other tax reporting
  • Maintain solid banking relationships
  • Direct ongoing analysis of Company’s capital requirements to ensure appropriate capitalization and availability of funds
  • Manage entity reporting for Company investors including K1
  • Maintain all Company financing and capitalization documents, including details related to stock ownership rights, limited partnership interests, warrants and options

Managerial Reporting & Analysis
  • Develop and deliver timely, accurate, and effective analysis and reporting of financial and operational performance to the key operating managers, EVP & COO, President & CEO
  • Track and measure performance relative to budgets, schedules, milestones, and performance targets, providing timely feedback to the key operating managers, EVP & COO, and President & CEO
  • Develop and manage budget, periodic financial forecasts, short and long term financial projections, Company cash positions, current risks and probabilities
  • Prepare timely financial report packages for review by the key operating managers, EVP & COO, and President & CEO
  • Ensure compliance and accurate reporting with regard to all regulatory matters
  • Perform operationally focused financial analysis and intelligence gathering to support strategic and business development initiatives
  • Provide guidance and advice on proposed capital expenditures
  • Recommend opportunities for profit improvement, productivity enhancement and cost reduction

Team Management & Development
  • Maintain organizational structure of shared services finance and accounting team and refine or make changes where required to achieve strategy and goals
  • Contribute and continue to drive a culture of collaboration
  • Provide training and opportunities for growth as needed for direct reports
  • Become a go-to resource by continuing to develop and foster a strong team which is sought out and respected by the entire organization for the quality of information and insight provided
  • Encourage innovative approaches to employee communications and continuous improvement, recognition, and celebration in order to attract, reward and retain the highest quality staff

Partnerships, Contracts & Compliance
  • Assist the President & CEO, EVP & COO, and key operating managers in financial analysis and negotiation of partnerships, licensing and contracts
  • Manage preparation, negotiation, review, and acceptance of all contractual documents
  • Advise management of contractual rights and obligations and provide interpretation of terms and conditions
  • Ensure the Company is compliant with all federal, state and local regulations and that internal agreements as well as client contracts and SLA’s are properly documented and followed

Shared Services
  • Manage expenses, allocations, and financial reporting and analysis of all shared services, including Human Resources, Marketing, IT, and General Admin
  • Manage preparation, negotiation, review, and acceptance of all insurance policies; oversee claims
  • Consistently review and improve respective policies and procedures to ensure compliance with regulatory environment
  • Emphasize cross-departmental collaboration to ensure efficient and effective communication and support provided company wide

Education, Experience and Requirements
  • Bachelor’s degree in Finance, Accounting or Business
  • Certified Public Accountants preferred
  • Distinctive finance and accounting experience of 5 years or more within restaurant and/or hospitality organizations
  • Proven understanding of finance and accounting issues related to restaurant and hotel businesses highly desirable
  • Experience with NetSuite desirable
  • Experience with DOMO and KPI analytics dashboard tools desirable
  • Extensive experience with Quickbooks required
  • Prior experience implementing new accounting software systems and/or ERP required
  • Able to work in a team environment as well as operate independently
  • Able to lift 40+ lbs.
  • Valid driver’s license and maintain a safe driving record
  • A pre-employment background check is required

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)

All Inquiries will be kept strictly confidential

WineTalent:  The Right People for the Job