Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Career Journal Articles to Read

Today's Wall Street Journal's Career Journal section had two insightful articles for job hunters.

The first article deals with how to search for a job without your boss finding out. As I have posted previously this article touches on things you need to keep under wraps while job hunting. Especially helpful is the information about confidential posting to job boards. The article notes that on sites such as Monster.com, hotjobs.com and theladders.com you can block the viewing of your resume by certain companies. So if you are working for ABCXYZ winery, you can block anyone from that winery viewing your resume on these services. View the whole article at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118764719494903387.html.

The second article talks about getting your resume noticed. Similar to my notes in Black and White and Never Read this article advises you to make your resume stand out from the competition. Interesting ideas include a free-lance writer who structures her resume as a press release and a resume packaged as a slick marketing brochure. Keep editing those resumes, and take a look at the article at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118764668396403385.html.

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Book Review: Judgment of Paris

Just finished Judgment of Paris: California vs. France and the historic 1976 tasting that revolutionized wine. This book was written by George M. Taber, the former Time magazine reporter who first wrote about the now famous wine tasting.

This was an excellent book. Mr. Taber did a great job of developing the story, giving a lot of insight into the people who were a part of the tasting--including the judges, the winery owners and the winemakers. There was a good description of what was happening with California winemaking in the 20th century. The story allowed keen insight into who was changing the wine world.

The 1976 tasting had a major impact on California wine and George Taber's insight is very helpful in understanding it. He also delves into the long term effects the tasting had on the international wine industry.

After slogging through the Robert Parker book this book was a joy to read. George Taber talks about how he came to be involved in the tasting, he was the only journalist there, and also the reaction to the tasting. His love of the wine world is apparent and he treats his subjects with much respect. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about the judgment of Paris, the history of California winemaking, and the future possibilities of the wine economy.

Judgment of Paris: California vs. France and the historic 1976 tasting that revolutionized wine by George M. Taber, c. 2005, Scribner

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Book Review: The Emperor of Wine; The Rise of Robert M. Parker, Jr., and the Reign of American Taste

It hasn't been all sunshine and sightseeing on my vacation. I've also hunkered down to get some industry reading under my belt. Here's my take on Elin McCoy's biographical book on Robert M. Parker, Jr.

Having a general knowledge of Mr. Parker's impact on the wine industry, the book was a good in depth look at his upbringing, his interests and many of the struggles he has dealt with on his path to becoming one of the world's most important wine critics. The writer, Elin McCoy, is a journalist and longtime contributor to wine columns for Bloomberg Markets, Food & Wine, New York Times, and House and Garden. Her writing is very imformative, if not exhaustive, in telling the tale of Mr. Parker's rise to prominence.

Not knowing Mr. Parker, some of the stories show a favorable side of him, but many times he is shown as brutal to wineries he doesn't care for, tender to criticism and quick to defend himself, sometimes excessively.

I thought the book was very helpful in understanding Robert Parker's impact on the wine industry and offered some insight into the wine world. The writing style was a bit dry for me, and didn't lend itself to enjoyable reading. If you want to get an insiders view of the wine world, of Mr. Parker, and of wine criticism overall, it's worth your time.

The Emperor of Wine; The Rise of Robert M. Parker, Jr., and the Reign of American Taste, by Elin Mccoy, c. 2005, Harper Perennial.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Career Decisions: Following Tradition

As I sit on a houseboat in Lake Powell I’m vacationing with a well educated group of people. I’ve got lawyers, doctors, nurses, engineers, PhD’s and educators sitting around me. And as all good houseboat trips include, there are lots of children. As parents, all of us want the best future for our children. And for most people, a college education is a first step in getting a better education.

Looking at resumes and working with wine industry professionals, I see every background in the book. From the career changing self educated salesperson to the UC Davis Viticulture and Enology PhD, every background has its place.

If you’ve come to love the winemaking world, and want to be involved in making wine, the best first step is to work a harvest. Believing you will love it, the next best step is to get a degree in viticulture and enology.

I am a firm believer in going to the best school that you can. But even more important is graduating from the best school possible. Going to community college for two years of undergraduate work and transferring in to a well respected school can save you money on the front end, and allow you to gain the GPA you need to be accepted into the right school. For winemaking, UC Davis is the school to attend. Other good schools in California are CSU Fresno and CalPoly. The professors you will interact with and the research you can be involved with will set you up well for future positions.

I do believe that going to the best school in your discipline is the best thing you can do. Many of my clients will request a manager with an MBA from one of the top 50 US business schools. Going the distance and getting a degree lends a “stick-to-itness” that employers feel will serve them well in the future.
Also, professional degrees including law and medical degrees allow a fall back career to you anytime. Having a professional degree allows you to experiment with different career paths, and find the vein of your profession you enjoy most.

Many job seekers have a law degree but decide to try out production positions. More often than not, they move into the executive circle working on land-use, merger and acquisition, or trademark issues. They are able to marry their love of wine with their professional training—with financially rewarding results.

So, while I think many people can succeed without a degree, there is definitely a place for a degree, and often job security to be had with one.