In interviews and podcasts, we are often asked to boil down the Barefoot Spirit to three words that would capture the essence of our business philosophy – three words that thread across everything we advocate, everything we write, and everything we speak about. It’s a tough order!

With the new year upon us, and folks determined to make resolutions that will truly make a difference in their business, health, and peace of mind, it seems like this is the perfect time to embrace the Barefoot Spirit with what we call the 3 “E’s”: EMPATHY, ENTHUSIASM, AND ECOTHERAPY.

1.  EMPATHY. Resolve to be more empathetic. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes at every level of business and community. This practice forces you to understand what the other person wants. It may not be what you are offering. It may even surprise you, but knowing what they want will help you understand how what you are offering better fits into their plans.

Be sure to asks lots of questions of everyone who touches your product or service. Do more listening than selling. Remember, the world’s greatest sales pitch is, “I can help you achieve your goals!” That means you know what their goals are and you know how you can help.

We had a buyer that said, “I’m trapped in this office all day but I love buying from you guys because you always update me on my competition, the current trends, and what going on in the marketplace!” We had a customer who said, “I buy your products because you supported my community fundraiser.” And we had a salesperson who said, “I love working for you guys because I get to go where I want!”

2.  ENTHUSIASM. Resolve to be more enthusiastic. If you’re excited, they’re excited. Enthusiasm is contagious. It’s probably the best way to motivate folks and to get them on board with your plans.

It’s not easy to stay in a constant state of enthusiasm, but you can certainly resolve to be more enthusiastic. Get yourself in the right frame of mind in the morning, before you start your day. Think about your long and short-range goals and how much value they will bring to everyone upon completion.

When we started we couldn’t get into the big chains stores. We were kind of depressed until we realized that there was a whole market of smaller independent buyers out there that were glad we weren’t in the chain. They wanted a product the chains didn’t offer. We got excited about making lemonade out of lemons!

When our salesperson came in one day all down and out, we said, “Hey! What’s the problem?” He said, “The competition’s tearing down our signage in all my stores.” To which we replied, “Great! That proves they’re scared of us and we’re on the right track!” He enthusiastically returned to those stores and replaced all our signage, determined to prove to the competition that we were in the stores on a regular basis and they could not stop us! Then we heard the rumor going around, “Barefoot is a brand that will not die!”

3.  ECOTHERAPY. Resolve to take a walk in nature every day. Sure, you will skip a few days, but making it part of your routine will help you improve your mental and physical health. It will also improve your business by boosting your creativity, attitude, and determination.

Last month NBC News reported that 50 physicians in 11 states believe so strongly in the health benefits of connecting with nature, they have joined together in a non-profit organization, Park RX. These doctors actually give prescriptions to take a walk in the park! Finally, we are getting official endorsement for something we have been advocating for decades.

It’s great to get off the screen, out of the office, and beyond the confines of a man-made environment. You’ll think more clearly, make better decisions, and put things in perspective. Your stress will go down and your enthusiasm will go up. You’ll become more resourceful, solve problems faster, and get your priorities straight.

Once, we were perplexed because our business was expanding so quickly, we didn’t quite know how to handle it. So, we just took off to Kauai. Went hiking for a week! No screens, no phones! On the plane, on the way back, a whole new organizational plan hit us all at once in every detail. We just had to spend some time in natural surroundings to give our brains a chance to reboot and solve the challenge.

People ask us “If you are business advisors, why do you post so many pictures of nature on your Instagram?” We say, “We are promoting the best way to get ahead!”

So, practice the 3 E’s and your new year will be happier and more prosperous – all the way around! Thanks for following us in 2017, and we look forward to sharing more with you in 2018!  Happy New Year everybody!









Who We Are

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey Barefoot Wine Founders

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.

Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.

They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) to help entrepreneurs become successful. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.

Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular brand building site at

To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact