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   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  

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 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: 

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 ( 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 She is a Houston based freelance writer and blogger. Questions and comments can be sent to brooks.sarah23 @