TBS.12.30.15How would you like to improve the world in the New Year? How would you like to really make a difference? We’ve often said, we vote with our money. Every time we make a purchase, we are “voting” for more of that product or service, where it comes from, and how it got here. We are voting for the labor practices, environmental practices, and political views of the producers of those goods and services. Our money goes into their hands to continue practices that we may have some serious issues with.

Recently we read with horror about shrimp-shelling factories in Thailand that enslave refugees and force them to work inhumane hours in virtual incarceration. The shrimp is then dumped on a very fungible market where those slave-peeled shrimp are almost impossible to track when added to other supplies of shrimp from other factories that respect human rights. Because the shrimp is used as a generic supply by brokers who sell to wholesalers who then sell to the big box stores, American consumers don’t know if their appetizers or their cat’s food has slave-peeled shrimp in it. We don’t even know which products to boycott! But it has to make us all think about buying any shrimp that cannot certify humane labor practices. At least we are asking now. And we hope that you will too. It’s the only way to change the world. We all must become more aware about the products we are buying.

Instead of acting like there’s nothing we can do about commercial practices that hurt the environment, or harm people or our health, we can take action in the New Year with our “voting” dollars. Here’s how:

  1. Ask about origins and practices. If you don’t get an answer, go to your local farmers markets and ask them. They will answer you. We make it a point of buying most of our food from local growers we know and trust. We feel good about supporting their practices and not contributing to a fungible food supply that doesn’t know the origin and practices of their suppliers.
  2. Reduce your dependence on petroleum. Think twice about using your gas-powered car. Look for alternative means of transportation, use technology, a bicycle, carpool or look into an electric car. Even as the world knows that we are pushing carbon emissions beyond the tipping point, drilling for oil continues as if there will never be an alternative. Terrorism runs on oil.
  3. Don’t just buy the cheapest thing. The purchase price might be cheap but the medical bills and environmental damage is unaffordable. Do you really want to save a few bucks today by “voting” for something that results in long term-costs that will come back to you in the form of increased taxes? Who paid for the Katrina superstorm or the drought-ravaged fires in the west? We all did!

So, if you really want to change the world in the New Year, consider the power you have as a consumer. This is, after all, the world’s largest consumer economy. The world’s producers vie for a position in the American retail market. They want our money! But we may not want to give them our “vote” to prosper in the short run if we have to pay for the results of their practices in the long run. Ask more questions about where your money goes. Support merchants and producers who stand behind their products and practices.  Send a New Year’s message and make your “vote” count! Here is to a prosperous – and healthy – future!

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 www.consumerbrandbuilders.com.

To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact sales@thebarefootspirit.com.