Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Healthy Workplaces/Healthy Families Act of 2014: Paid Sick Leave

Last week I attended Cook Brown, LLP's employment law seminar about employment law changes coming up in 2015.  One big change for employers is the new law requiring paid sick leave for all employees.  To learn more about this legislature, and what it may mean to your business, visit the legal brief here.

Starting at the beginning of next year, make sure you have this poster displayed where employees can easily read it.  

Friday, December 5, 2014

How to Enjoy Yourself Professionally at the Annual Office Party

It’s time for the annual office holiday party.  No matter how festive the occasion however, it’s important to remember that a holiday party is an extension of the work environment. While it’s okay to relax and have fun, a professional demeanor is still important because your behavior reflects on you as an employee or as a leader. 

Jacqueline Whitmore, an internationally-recognized etiquette expert, author of Poised for Success: Mastering The Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals and founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach, offers these 10 tips to avoid a night of barefaced blunders:

-          Don’t make a beeline for the food and drink. It's best to eat a little something before the event so you don't come to the party hungry. Scope out the crowd first and the goodies second.  Stay away from messy or difficult-to-eat foods (anything in a red sauce or on a bone) or large hors d'oeuvres that can't be eaten in one bite.

-          Hold your glass in your left hand. Always keep your right hand free for handshaking. No one likes to shake a cold, wet hand. Avoid juggling your food and drink and don't talk with your mouth full of food. Ladies, leave your large handbag at home. It only gets in the way. Carry a wristlet instead.

-          No swinging from the chandeliers.  An open bar isn’t an open invitation to drink yourself into oblivion.  Indulging in too much alcohol could have unfavorable repercussions if you’re not careful.  To maintain your professionalism, limit your alcohol intake to one or two drinks.

-          Choose your guest carefully. The person you bring to the party can reflect either positively or negatively on you. Follow the dress code and make sure your date does too. This is not the time to wear your most revealing outfit or your favorite blue jeans and a t-shirt. Keep it festive, yet professional. 

-          Don't talk shop. Though work topics are bound to come up, this is not the time to plan your company's next advertising campaign, talk about the recent layoffs, or gossip about a co-worker's divorce. Keep the conversation light and positive. Be sure to include spouses, partners and guests in the conversation.

-          Be all there. A holiday party is a great time to get to know others on a personal level. Be engaged and don't spend a majority of the evening texting, talking on your cell phone, or posting photos on Facebook. Put people first and put your phone on silent.

-          Make an appearance.  When you make an effort to attend the office holiday party, even for just a half hour, you show interest in and support for your colleagues, organization and supervisor.  If you are unable to attend, let the host or someone in charge know that you have another obligation and will not be attending.  Simply not showing up shows a lack of respect.

-          Practice remembering names. The sweetest sound to someone's ear is his or her own name. When you meet someone new, repeat his name immediately after hearing it. Use the name a couple of times in conversation. If you can't remember someone's name, say something like, "It's been one of those days. I know you’re Paul’s wife, but please tell me your name again." Or, extend your hand and say your name. This will prompt the other person to say her name too.

-          Don't sit with your friends. Reach out and introduce yourself to people you don't know rather than sticking with only those you do know. An office party is a chance to shine and mingle with those you don't see very often. Have some conversation starters available. Most people love to talk about travel, food and hobbies. 

-          Give thanks to those who helped.  Saying thank you is not only cordial behavior, but will make you stand out from those who don’t express their gratitude.  Send a thank-you note to key persons who helped organize the event and to those who made the event possible. 

For more information and tips of business etiquette, visit Jacqueline Whitmore's websites at: http://www.etiquetteexpert.com/ and http://jacquelinewhitmore.com/

Monday, October 6, 2014

Happy to Have Known Harvey Posert

Last week seemed to move along at glacial speed.  I heard from a close friend that Harvey Posert wasn't doing well and was in the hospital.  For the next several days I was eager to hear about improvements and reluctant to hear the news on Friday that he had passed away.  I am thrilled to have known Harvey and will miss his laughter and his funny anecdotes.

Early on in my efforts to get WineTalent going I was introduced to Harvey Posert by a good friend of his.   Harvey was happy to discuss my business goals and give me ideas.  While I did not adopt his slogan, "Talking Frog Recruiting" I did quickly learn anything I could from him.

At our first meeting he recommended that I expand from strictly technical recruiting in the wine industry to other roles.  He succinctly said, "You are an idiot if you don't also place sales and marketing folks."  If Harvey said don't be an idiot, you should have listened.  He was right and was very helpful in many plans for WineTalent.

Harvey had a quick wit and funny stories that brought points home.  He was a great mentor for me and would introduce me to people whenever it made sense to.  I can't count the number of relationships I have that were sparked by HP.

A few years ago I sat down with Harvey to discuss his career and posted it on this blog.  Here's a link to that interview.  Hope you enjoy it.  We will miss you and your lovely smile Harvey!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Wine Business Monthly's 2014 Salary Survey

The new issue of Wine Business Monthly has the annual Salary Survey.  Click here for the October issue.  The article includes great information from my fellow recruiters, salary levels for various winery roles and the rates of salary increases that the industry is seeing this year.  Back to where we were before the Great Recession finally.  Check it out!  You may just see my smiling face somewhere along the way!

Also I was pleased to see some benefit information included this year.  Great information for employers to see what insurance options are available.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Tips for your LinkedIn Profile

Fortune Magazine recently profiled Jeff Weiner, the CEO of LinkedIn.  Story Here.

I did find out that recruiters are LinkedIn's number one customer.  As a recruiter, I use LinkedIn daily to find new candidates, to network with others and to stay up to date to industry happenings.  The article also included the CEO's recommendations on building a perfect LinkedIn profile--a must for anyone keeping their career on track.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Napa Earthquake Report

Early Sunday Morning Napa was shaken by a 6.1 magnitude earthquake.  The event has drawn worldwide coverage.  There has always been tremendous interest in California’s wine industry and Napa Valley wineries in particular and the earthquake has only intensified this interest.  In an effort to address the concern and sympathy from all corners of the world, I wanted to give some first hand reports on how the quake has affected the wine business, how folks are coping and what impact it has had on business.  

The media has shown picture after picture of the crumbled building in downtown Napa, and several of my friends have tasting rooms, storage facilities and houses in that area.  Some people woke to a violent shake and the clamor of breaking glass from their cupboards.  Fireplace chimneys have come down, one of which caused the worst injury from the quake.  

Elan Fayard of Azur Wines was woken up to the shake in her home 10 minutes from downtown Napa.  Her home, which is under renovation didn't suffer much damage at all.  This was quite different from what she discovered when she visited downtown Napa and the site of her tasting room at Vintner's Collective.  This beautiful old building suffered extensive damage and it will take some time to figure out the extent of it.  Elan also visited the shared barrel storage site, which had a lot of damage from barrels falling off the racks.   Elan and her winemaking husband Julien have been working to assess the damage to their wines.  While the pictures show a lot of destruction, Azur has been fortunate to have had only minor losses.  

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Elan did mention that timing was a blessing in this situation.  The quake hit at 3:20 am on Sunday, a time when most people in the area were home in bed.  Workers were not crushing grapes for the harvest, not moving wine into tanks or barrels and luckily not working in storage areas.  News reports and social media posts show extensive damage at some winery facilities.  (Visit Napa Register's site for more quake news and photos)

My recruiting partner Nancy McIlvaine was jolted out of bed and was out of power for several hours.  Her youngsters were able to get back to bed, and luckily not much damage occurred at her house on the east side of town.  My friends on the other side were not as fortunate.  Brown's Valley saw a lot of damage, with pipes bursting and flooding occurring at many properties. 

Speaking to Martin Jones, President of Artisan Source, LLC, he didn't experience the shaking of the quake at his home in Sonoma County, but later in the day he did visit Napa and found it eerily quiet. Driving down Highway 29 many tasting rooms were closed and traffic was nonexistent on the road.   In the afternoon he visited downtown Napa and was surprised at how quiet the streets were.  Sunday is normally a busy day for the tourism industry, and the only people in downtown were either the media or locals who were handling quake clean-up.  

Martin did stop at the building on Brown Street that has been getting all of the media attention
and walked around downtown a bit.  Outside of a few other buildings with some damage and some bricks  strewn around, the amount of damage was surprisingly minimal.  Elan Fayard also went downtown later in the day on Sunday and it was quiet.  The shops were closed and people were somber.  The loudest sound was that of the media helicopters flying overhead.  

Martin did mention that while the epicenter was just south of Napa, some locations as far away as Sonoma experienced significant damage, including Sebastiani winery.  At this time of year a lot of wine is being moved around with crush getting underway, and tank space is at a premium,  This photo on Facebook from Christopher Johnson shows one winery tank room that suffered some quake damage:  

Getting back to business.  Napa would not be Napa if wine did not continue to be enjoyed.  Just today I got a notice that Villa Ragazzi suffered only minimal damage to some bottles and glassware, but that they are open and raising a glass to the wine industry.  The warehouse Azur uses has held off on placing any orders this week so they can assess the situation.  But don't let that worry you--Azur Wines were being showcased by Dean &DeLuca at a private tasting event just hours ago.  

Services and Resources:  The emergency responders did wonders during the hours immediately following the event.  Many people are displaced, some have been injured and numerous houses and businesses have been severely damaged.  The City of Napa has routine updates about the situation at http://www.cityofnapa.org   Several groups are getting information and services together for the local community.  Napa Valley Grapegrowers offices suffered some damages from the quake, but the association has gotten right to work to provide services and resources for the community.  

Lewis Purdue who publishes Wine Industry Insight and the Daily News Fetch has put together a news forum for those in need of help and for people who can help out.  For more information, please visit http://napaearthquake.com.  

My thoughts go out to those who have suffered injury or damage from this earthquake, and wish everyone a speedy return to normalcy.  While the clean-up will continue, Napa is definitely back to business as usual.  Visitors are enjoying all that wine country has to offer.  With the camaraderie the wine industry has I know we will all be working together to get through this as quickly as possible.  I hope to see you there soon!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Great infographic: 200 Jobs Compared

The folks at Degreequery.com sent me a really cool infographic this morning that shows various jobs and the amount of education, stress and flexibility each job has.  Great visuals of pay versus stress levels and education requirements alongside average salaries per profession.

Play around with it a bit, and you'll be intriqued that not all jobs that require a high level of education have high stress levels, or salary potential.  Might be a good tool for parents of college bound children to look at when they are choosing their field of study.

You can link to it here: http://www.degreequery.com/job-match/# 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Life Lessons You Didn't Learn In College--But Will Need at Work

Life Lessons You Didn't Learn In College--But Will Need at Work
By Vicky Oliver

Millennials, or people born between 1983 and 1999, are a talented generation of workers, bringing with them new skills to the workplace. And while this generation has been studied a lot, not all studies concur on their conclusions. Are our youngest employees more socially conscious than previous generations? More into life balance? Sometimes it seems there are almost as many theories as studies.

But a recent survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that more than half of Millennials surveyed were not content with just working. They wanted to be provided real opportunities for career advancement. A new Deloitte study found something similar; 75% of its millennial respondents sought hands-on leadership development from their employers.

Perhaps we can all agree that the newest group of workers seek more power, responsibility, and influence at work faster than their older counterparts did. In this 24/7 Internet-connected world, it makes sense that this generation would expect speedier recognition. But do they have the right skills and attitudes to do it? Here are seven essential lessons for career progression that most Millennials didn't learn in college.

1. Don't feel entitled.  There are now three generations of workers at the workplace. And sporting the entitlement chip can be very off-putting to older workers. The truth is, no one is entitled to any special perks or plum assignments until after he's proven himself. So come in early, leave late, and respect those deadlines. (Unlike in college, deadlines at work often can't be pushed back.)

2. Pay those dues. Today research can be pulled up in a nanosecond, and we're all six degrees of separation from Warren Buffett. But one thing hasn't changed: in order to scramble to the top rung of the corporate ladder, you still have to excel at the bottom. So don't shirk the boring assignments, and do volunteer for additional work if possible. Show supervisors and coworkers alike that you're diligent, self-motivated, and reliable.

3. Find a mentor. How, you wonder? Everyone decries the disappearance of mentors. Seek mentors from the outside if you can't find them on the inside. Look for mentors among your peers at other companies--particularly those who are 5-10 years ahead of you in terms of experience, and hold the kind of position that you yourself would like to occupy in a few years. (Be sure to return the favor once you advance. It's only fair.)

4. Work hard. Make your first job your number one priority--above your love life, exercise routine, and hanging out with your friends. When you're at the office, resolve to be mentally present by turning off your mobile device, too. Thomas Jefferson famously claimed, "I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it."

5. Master the rules, then challenge. Learn the way things are done, and excel at that system and process, before trying to change anything. Too often, especially when we're first starting out, we believe we know a better way. Trust that the system in place is probably there for a reason. If it isn't efficient or up-to-date, learn everything about it so you can build a cogent and convincing argument for doing it differently.

6. Hone your people skills. As the old adage says, "It's not the grades you make, it's the hands you shake." Realize that every business is a people business. Yes, it's essential to be good at the details of your job. But it's even more important to polish those soft skills, including helping others, listening, asking smart questions, not interrupting, being attentive, and getting along.

7. Lead your own way. Don't look for your boss to carve out your career path. You may get lucky and have a boss who will take a special interest in helping you get ahead. Then again, you may have to make horizontal career moves a few times before you move up or find the right career trajectory. With today's "flat" hierarchical structures becoming the norm--i.e., having few if any managers between employees and the top leaders--you may be expected to define your own leadership role.

* * * * *
Vicky Oliver (www.vickyoliver.com) is a Manhattan-based job interview and image consultant and the author of five bestselling books on personal branding, etiquette, and career development, including 301 Smart Answers to Tough Business Etiquette Questions, 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions, and Bad Bosses, Crazy Coworkers, and Other Office Idiots. She is a popular speaker, has made more than 500 radio appearances, and is interviewed and quoted often in the major business media. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

5 Key Challenges of Workforce Management

Although managers work in diverse industries, many are faced with similar challenges. Motivating staff while keeping job satisfaction high are concerns most managers face, for example, as well as meeting organizational objectives with the resources at hand.
From staffing appropriately, to mobilizing exceptional output, wine industry professionals are familiar with what it takes to effectively manage staff, including the following considerations addressed by managers at all levels.

Successful Recruiting
Matching employees to the tasks at hand is a primary concern for managers, who strive to bring personnel to projects where they can excel.  Assessing skills and experience sheds insight into each employee's skill set, which effective managers use to delegate work responsibilities.  The ultimate goal is to maximize output, without sacrificing quality, which is best achieved with hand-picked staff proficient in particular areas.  Consultants and employment advisors help managers refine their searches for employees, highlighting the traits employers most need to fill spots within their organizations.

Good Communication
Effective communication is at the heart of employee relationships, keeping workers and their managers on the same page.  And it is a two-way experience, so good leaders account for their employees' perspectives, rather than simply issuing directives for them to follow.

To keep communication flowing freely in both directions, successful organizations create feedback mechanisms and conduct regular interpersonal reviews.  The face-to-face meetings furnish venues for sharing ideas, and elicit genuine feedback from employees.  Follow-up is important, as being heard is only one feature of positive discourse between managers and employees.  Addressing concerns shared by employees cements working relationships, reinforcing each employee's voice within the organization.

Optimal Productivity
Keeping staff firing on all cylinders is essential to maximizing productivity, directly influencing an organization's bottom line.  As a result, managers devote a large share of their resources to ensure output meets organizational goals.

Productivity is closely linked to employee job satisfaction, so maintaining high levels of employee engagement is essential to ongoing success.  Within the wine industry, for example, managers use just compensation and other incentives to keep employees focused on producing exceptional end-user experiences.

Motivate and Inspire Staff
Productivity wanes when employees harbor ill feelings about their employers.  As a result, successful leaders motivate employees by example, illustrating an organization's commitment to its staff and maintaining industry best-practices on the job.  And inspiration isn't always about money - employees also respond favorably to perks like flexible delivery options, family benefits, and other non-cash incentives.

Maintaining positive organizational culture reinforces teamwork and furnishes plenty of reasons for staffers to be proud of things they do on the job.  Double-standards and other inconsistent behavior, on the other hand, undermine collective thinking and drive wedges between employees and managers.

Accommodate Diversity
In the past, particular industries were often characterized by employee 'types' that filled most of the jobs within individual employment sectors.  As a result, similar educational backgrounds and frames of reference were commonly found throughout a given industry.  Today's workforce, on the other hand, is truly global in nature, leading to work environments reflecting much greater diversity than they once did.  Language and cultural differences aside, employee's simply come from all walks of life, blending into workplace dynamics, which must account for the broad perspectives comprising the modern workforce.

Managers wear many hats as they orchestrate the best possible outcomes for their employers.  And though wine industry jobs lean on particular skills and experience, managers within the industry account for some of the same workforce issues seen in other businesses.  Wine professionals find success by recruiting suitable staffers and supporting their efforts to excel on the job.  By communicating effectively and accommodating diverse points of view, wine industry managers set the stage for high job satisfaction and exceptional output.

Author Bio:

This is a guest post by Sarah Brooks from Freepeoplesearch.org. She is a Houston based freelance writer and blogger. Questions and comments can be sent to brooks.sarah23 @ gmail.com

Friday, July 18, 2014

Employers: Why You Shouldn't Post a Blind Box Ad

Every day I scan the top job postings that come through on my Wine Business Daily Digest.  (To get your daily digest, go here).  I was just scanning one of the roles, DTC Manager, and wondered who was hiring. Clicking over to the link, it is a blind box ad.  This means that the company is not mentioned and the email address is a generic one.

The Nancy Drew in me always kicks in and I start to wonder who is hiring.  The clues I have are that it is in Paso Robles, is with a growing winery and with a winery that has a solid tasting room staff in place.  Knowing that there are about 180 wineries in Paso I can narrow it down fairly quickly.  If I was in Paso Robles and knew the word on the street of which wineries were growing fast and had a strong hospitality and tasting room staff, I could quickly narrow it down even further.

Why do companies post blind box ads?  Well, anonymity is the first goal.  If you have a small managerial or personnel staff, you probably don't want to get barraged by calls from job seekers, some of which you probably know.  The second goal often is to keep the search confidential within the company.  Why is this fast growing Paso Robles winery seeking a DTC Manager?  Did their manager possibly give notice, isn't working out, or maybe is out on medical leave?

Anonymity and confidentiality can also work against you when searching for that next employee.  With this blind box ad they are seeking a  DTC Manager with proven leadership skills who can maintain the winery's status as the best in class.  This job takes a great talent.  But will the best in class apply for this role?

The Best in Class Won't Apply:  Often highly qualified people will not apply if it is a blind box ad. The reasons why are very understandable.  First off, if they are in Paso at another winery they may not want their current employer to know they are looking.  (Resume submissions should be kept confidential, but people are people and sometimes might talk out of turn to their friends.)  If this talented DTC Manager is working at a best in class winery, they could rightly worry that they would be applying for a position with their own employer. (Visit my Beware the Blind Box Ad post for a job seeker's perspective)

The Rest Probably will Apply:  So if the talent that has carefully cultivated their careers do not apply, who will end up applying to this position.  Everyone else.  You will get the Florida based hotel receptionist who manages the hotel's social media campaign.  You'll get the telecommunications exec who wants to make a lifestyle change and loves Paso Robles wine community.  You'll get the tasting room associate who is known to sample a bit too many of the bottles he is pouring for the guests.  This does not build on your best in class status.

Use the Brand Name You Have Built:  This company is a thriving Paso based winery with best in class status.  So use that to your advantage.  If you have the best wine tasting, hospitality and education staff in the area, scream it from the rooftops and let job seekers know they would be lucky to be able to join the staff.

Uh-Oh!  Now You are Getting Inundated with Resumes and Inquiries:  Good! If you post the position and are a world class winery, you want to be inundated with highly qualified candidates.  You want the best in class to work every angle to get the opportunity to get an interview.

So How Can You Manage A Posting Better?  It is easy for me to say "shout your company's name from the rooftops" but I also know that you need to be able to control the search process.  Here's how I would control the process a bit better.  While you are putting your winery's name on the ad, you can create an email box that is something like jobs@BestinClassWinery.  When resumes are submitted to that, respond to the emails letting people know their resume has been received and is under review.  When crafty candidates find out who is the hiring manager and leave you a message, be happy they used their good investigative skills and hear what they have to say.

And When a You Might Want to Outsource the Search:  When you can't scream the company name from the rooftops due to confidentiality needs, you can turn to a search firm.  As a recruiter, I do keep all company and candidate information confidential.  I can contact those best-in-class stars at the competition and find out if they are interested in talking about the job.  I can also screen candidates that apply to the job--if they are not good for this role they often will be good candidates for a future opportunity.  While not every winery does need to use a search consultant, it is an option to keep in mind.  WineTalent:  The Right People for the Job!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Lessons on Loyalty Learned at Obedience Class

I really want my dog back.  Oh, she's around here somewhere, but not stuck to me like glue as before.  Being a dog owner for years, I've always been my dogs' leader, sometimes through a lot of hard work and other times by just being there.  My new dog is a beautiful and smart, raven black Labradoodle who joined the family at Christmastime.  Raven is her name and she was quick to understand that I was the one who fed her, bathed her and looked after her.  When I said sit, she sat.  When I was getting ready to go for a walk, so was she.  Every night she slept on pillows on the ground by my bed.  And then I enrolled in dog training classes.

Obedience Class:  To get the family involved in Raven's care I encouraged my sons to join me.  My oldest son did, and sat on the sidelines while I went to our first class.  Raven had been very well taken care of by her previous owner.  He had worked with her and she knew a lot of commands.  Our dog trainer let us move up to the intermediate class where people are there to work on agility training, competitive dog showing as well as a lot of us who just want a great companion by our side--heeling--by our side.  Our instructor has been training for 30 years and had a great group of dogs and owners.  He gave us the basics--that training should be fun for both of us, that training was based on positive reinforcement, and that all actions have consequences.  Getting used to a young dog in a group training setting had me backing into trees, tripping over the leash and feeling silly part of the time.  My son just sat and watched.

Practice Makes Perfect  Many things about dog training are things you have to do regularly.  Going to class one day a week and not working with the dog the rest of the week won't make things happen.  While I did work with Raven a bit, I saw my son taking Raven out in the evenings to work on her commands and have a lot of fun.  Well, that was a good sign.

Who's Your Master?  The next week I wasn't able to attend the class, so my son and his younger brother went to class for me.  

 My oldest son took the lead and had Raven jumping over obstacles, sitting and staying and behaving herself.   He came back and continued to work with her, as did I, and we went to two more classes, picking up some new tricks and learning how best to communicate with the dog.  My son continued to work on things with Raven, giving the training healthy doses of play and praise.  Now Raven can sit and stay for an extended time, avoid distractions when told to, and follows commands very well.  She and I continue our runs and walks, while she plays a lot of fetch with my son.

And now I am all alone.  Raven is by my son's side whenever he is home.  If he gets up and moves about the house, she is up and next to him.  If I have taken Raven for a walk and come home, she immediately checks to see if he's home.  If he is in his room, she rattles her bell to be let into his room--not to go outside like in the past.   Just this moment she was sleeping under my desk.  My son drove up and she sprinted downstairs to greet him.

Loyalty:  Having that furry creature by your side all the time can get overwhelming my son commented.  He asked, "How can I get her to not be loyal?"  I told him to be inconsistent and beat her (knowing of course he would never do that dear readers.).  And that led me to think about leadership and loyalty.  Many of the things Raven looks for in her master are things we all want in our work life.

  • Involvement:  A dog owner who doesn't walk the dog or work on commands will not have a well mannered pet.  In the workplace you want someone who shows up and is involved in things.  The absentee boss who pressures her staff to give it their all while she can't waste time being around does not breed loyalty.  
  • Knowledge:  Having the knowledge of how to teach a dog new tricks led to Raven being a quick study and succeeding in training. Knowing the subject matter and the industry goes a long way in the work place.  Having experience and success in roles that your employees are working in lends a lot of credibility to your leadership.  
  • Consistency:  For every command, the trainer should have the same outcome.  If the dog is to heel and be given a reward when she heels, through consistently doing that she learns to perform the command correctly.  This is the same with people.  When an employer consistently gives promotions to top performers and coaches those who need help, people understand what it takes to be successful in the company.  A boss that reprimands top performers one day and showers praise on them the next creates a very dysfunctional work environment.
  • Communication:  Sit, Stay.  Saying the right words at the right time allows Raven to know what she is being asked to do.  Screaming "No, no, no" every time the dog does anything wrong starts to turn the dog's ear off to that word--it is not important and is said all the time.  This applies in the work world too--a leader who has clear communication with employees is understood and respected.  Commands get carried out.  Hot tempered, poor communicators tend to create teams that avoid interacting with them and who often do not perform well.
  • Rewards:  In dog training rewards come in many different flavors.  There are the food rewards.  There are also rewards of favorite toys.  And showering them with praise, petting them and playing with them motivates them to do what you want.  Paychecks are important in the work world, and paying people what they deserve is equally as important.  But rewards can be recognition by the company and their peers, bonuses, commissions and other opportunities to feel appreciated for their work. 
  • Acknowledgement:   "Good Girl Raven".  Giving her praise whenever she does the right thing at the right time makes her want to always do the right thing at the right time.  So too is it true in the work world.  Let your employees know they are doing a good job--when they are, and give them regular feedback on their performance.   Acknowledge their achievements both privately and publicly to create a performance driven work environment.  
  • Consequences:  In life and dog training there are always consequences.  Knowing that performance is based on rewards and consequences creates a tension that favors positive performance.  When Raven won't let go of her tennis ball she can't play fetch.  When an employee is caught misbehaving they must know there will be reasonable consequences.  While many furry friends and coworkers will be highly motivated to perform because of rewards, bad behavior does have to have consequences.  The consequences should match the infraction.  Coming in late to work could mean getting your pay docked for time absent.  Being late to turn in your expenses means you won't get the check cut for another month.  Failing to perform tasks may mean you no longer have a job where tasks need to be performed.
Out to See the World:  Now that the weather has warmed and my son has completed another year of college he is headed out on a backpacking trip.  His loyal companion will be right at his side.  

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Profile of a Wine Job: Enologist (courtesy of Wine Folly)

Madeline Puckette of Wine Folly posted a great article about what it is like to be an enologist.  Anyone out there wondering what different types of jobs there are in the wine industry should take a look at the post here.  

Some excerpts:

What exactly is an Enologist?  An enologist is someone who is responsible for everything having to do with the science (chemistry and biology) of the wine. Their responsibilities vary a lot from winery to winery depending on the winery size, wines produced, and needs of the winery.

How to become an EnologistAdvice: It is most important to have a good foundation in chemistry and microbiology. Many enologists will also get a degree in Enology.
  • Community College: There are quite a few community colleges that offer certificate programs in Viticulture and Enology. Some of these programs do a great job.
  • University: There are a few universities who offer a B.S. in Enology and have Master’s and PhD programs. The university I attended had a fully operating winery where the students got to experience it all, from harvest to marketing the wine.
Most people who get into wine production like to take advantage of the fact that there are wine producing regions all over the world. It’s fun and educational to travel andwork harvest at different wineries. That is a great way to get experience. You can learn a lot in school, but nothing can prepare you more than hands-on experience.

Wine Folly has lots of other great articles about the wine business and wine appreciation.  Take a look, you'll enjoy it.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Be Prepared: The Pre-interview Checklist

Every good scout knows to Be Prepared.  It is just as important when you are set up for a face to face interview, so here's my quick 7 Point Checklist

 7 Things I recommend to everyone when they are about to interview
  • Bring a copy of your resume.
  • Bring a list of references, present it if asked for.
  • Dress appropriately.  Clean and pressed clothes are always a safe bet. 
  • Avoid coffee right before your interview, but sipping a bit of water beforehand keeps you from getting dry mouth.
  • Brush teeth before leaving home and check for spinach in your teeth before getting out of the car.  Pop a breath mint for good luck!
  • Tell yourself you are a winner.  Check out this article on interviewing, attitude and luck: http://danariely.com/2013/02/16/ask-ariely-on-interviews-luck-and-the-canoe-test/  
  • And most importantly, get there early.  15 minutes is good.  If you are there earlier, hang out nearby and drive into the business parking lot with 10 minutes to spare. 
      That should do it.  Now go in there, and knock them dead.  

Monday, March 31, 2014

Notes on South Africa

Cheers from Mossel Bay!
Greetings from the other side of the world.  Last month I traveled to South Africa to learn about the wine industry there and explore the Western Cape province.  Traveling to the other side of the globe with my husband took some time, with a three day layover in Istanbul, Turkey letting us get used to the 11 hour time change.  Istanbul was a great country to spend some time in--we could walk to the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia easily from the hotel.  Such an ancient trading port with so much history.

Hopped off the bus in Camps Bay
to enjoy a glass of wine at Zenzero
Arriving in Cape Town, South Africa. Cape Town is the mother city of the country.  We flew in at the end of February, which found us in beautiful, balmy autumnal weather.  For several nights we stayed in the downtown area of Cape Town.  The first night we made our way out to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, a very modern shopping and dining complex at the marina in Cape Town.  It felt a lot like Monterey or San Francisco, but with a touch of Afrikaans thrown in and some new dishes to sample.  And it was surprisingly affordable in South Africa.  When we were traveling the US Dollar was buying a bit more than 10 Rands.  Dining out with an appetizer, entrees for two and a bottle of wine typically cost about $40.

Things to see and do in Cape Town:  In the next few days we took the Hop-on, Hop-Off tour bus which allowed us to learn about the entire city and spend time at places we wanted to explore a bit more.  We saw all the government buildings including the Houses of Parliament where Nelson Mandela gave his first speech after his release from prison, the church where Desmond Tutu was archbishop, the wonderful Kirstenbosch botanical gardens and the Constantia wine producing area.

Neil Grant of Burrata
Food and Wine:  All good travel includes plenty of wonderful meals, and South African food was very good.  We had a lot of curries and fresh seafood.  I loved trying as many South African dishes as possible, and have a soft spot now for bobotie.  Not so much for biltong, but I wouldn't mind packing it for a hiking trip.  I came across a "pop-up" winery spot near Long Street, and got to sample local food with the wines of Spier.  We also got to have some great pizza with a wonderful Cinsault (2012 Waterkloof, Stellenbosch) at Burrata, a great restaurant run by Neil Grant in The Old Biscuit Mill.  Neil is also the President of the South African Sommeliers Association.

Visiting with the elephants in Knysna
Touring the Western Cape:  From Cape Town we headed out east to Cape Agulhas, the southernmost tip of Africa and then on to Knysna.  Knysna was a quiet waterfront town with beautiful views of the bay and the ocean.  Knysna also had an elephant sanctuary where we got to be with the elephants and learn about their habitat and rehabilitation.  Touring to Mossel Bay had me eating oysters on the half shell with a fun South African sparkling wine.  Delicious!  A surprising hit of this part of the trip was visiting the Birds of Eden, the world's largest free flight aviary.

The thatched huts at the game lodge
Game Reserve:  Visiting South Africa as a tourist would not be complete without seeing Africa's Big 5; the elephant, rhino, leopard, lion and the Cape buffalo.  Our trip took us to the Garden Route Game Lodge, where we saw 4 of the 5 big animals.  Our guide did a great job of teaching us about the animals, and keeping us close to the animals but out of harm's way.  We stayed in a private thatched roof cottage and enjoyed ourselves immensely.

La Carbonne's Winemaker Hardus Van Heerden
Wine Country:  The Western Cape has many wine producing areas, and we visited Franschhoek, a quaint European enclave just to the east of Cape Town.  Winery visits included Glenwood, Haute Cabriere, La Motte and Chamonix. We also got a personal tour at La Carbonne during the harvest, visiting with Winemaker Hardus Van Heerden for a tour of the production facility and samples of the tank fermentations and of the wines in barrel.  Visiting La Motte for lunch we dined on wonderful cuisine at Pierneef a La Motte, an award winning restaurant in Franschhoek.  This was consumed along with a memorable Shiraz blended with Viognier.

Enjoying a braai with locals:  Upon returning to Cape Town we had the fun experience of a braai at Denis Garret's spot in Woodstock, just outside of The Old Biscuit Mill .  Denis Garret is a wine consultant and sommelier serving as an ambassador for Champagnes and Cognac in South Africa.  Denis hosted us at a friend's house where we had wonderful conversation, home cooked food (the grilled pork belly was yummy), superb wine which included a 1981 magnum of Nederburg Edelrood.  That wine had held up wonderfully and was quite a special wine to share that night.  Denis is very optimistic about the future of South Africa's wine and culinary scene and provides educational and consulting services to promote the wines of the Western Cape.  He's also an excellent host who knows A LOT about wine, a good friend to have!

University of Stellenbosch.  The next day we took the Metro train to Stellenbosch where we visited with Dr. Wessel du Toit who teaches enology at the University of Stellenbosch.  The university is the epicenter for enology and viticulture studies and research in all of Africa.  It was quite interesting to learn about the wine industry and about enological research from a well respected professor in the winemaking field.  Having lunch with Professor du Toit allowed us to find out about the students involved in the program, the connections with the wine industry and about some of the research projects the university is undertaking.

It's All About the People:  As always, the people are the most important component of any trip I take, and everyone in South Africa was extremely friendly and approachable.  From wine folks who took us under their wing to commuters on the train who offered up stories of day-to-day life, through to the street vendors we dealt with, all the South Africans were excellent ambassadors for their country.  South Africa does have their share of challenges to deal with, just as every country does.  We were pleasantly surprised by everything in South Africa, and would go back in a heartbeat--if only the getting there part wasn't so exhausting.  If you are interested in visiting South Africa I give it two thumbs up--way up.