These days there are tons of companies that say they want their people to be more engaged, but are they giving them permission to do so? Yes: permission! It’s subtle, but powerful.

Permission is a powerful idea in determining company culture. Are you giving your people permission to be creative, make decisions, solve problems, and take responsibility? Or, in the name of efficiency, structure, or compliance, are you preventing the very type of support you need?

Here are some ways to give your people permission:


Some part of employees’ compensation should be based on sales, growth, and profits. It will take some time to identify and agree upon metrics used to measure those key indicators, but get started now and tweak it every year until it’s right.

If you offer a bonus, make it quarterly. A year is too long for them to remember, and after a poor first half of the year, they may just give up. Quarterly is short enough to remember, and if they have a bad quarter, well, there’s a new opportunity next quarter.


Your staff can’t help you if you don’t tell them what you need. Many businesses believe in the “need-to-know” policy which keeps employees in the dark. We believe in the “know-the-need” policy which includes them in the company’s challenges, opportunities and triumphs.

They already have your corporate knowledge and a stake in solving your problems, especially if they share in your success. We suggest quarterly meetings with sales and sales support staff (i.e., everybody not in sales) to brainstorm solutions. They will surprise you with their great ideas!

To read the complete article, please visit The Business Journals  



Who Are We.

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 in 1986, to the board room of E&J Gallo, where they successfully sold their brand in 2005. 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 offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) to help entrepreneurs become successful and help corporations achieve entrepreneurial cultures to engage and empower their people.

Currently they travel the world keynoting at universities, corporations, conferences and symposiums. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals; along with being FOX News Radio Network’s Workplace Culture Experts. They are also the recipients of the 2014 Distinguished Entrepreneur Speaker Award from the Turner School of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Bradley University. Visit their popular brand building site at To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey
-Barefoot Wine Founders