Our 97-year-old friend, Don, built the P-51 Mustang fighter planes during WWII. This was the airplane that really made the difference for the allies because of its speed, range, and fire power. Don knows quite a bit about aircraft and has worked with it his whole life. According to him, when airplanes first came out, they were used mainly for entertainment. Folks set them on fire, flew them through barns, and walked on the wings. And nobody ever dreamed that they would carry passengers to Chicago!

When we began the Barefoot Wine brand, we were using calculators, and ended up with the internet and social media. We saw and used every iteration of digital technology as it proceeded, developed and improved. Now we can’t live without it! And we are chomping at the bit for the next big thing. But are we still, in the scheme of things, in the barnstorming days, like the airplane was for so many years?

Are we ready for the “advantages” that technology brings? Has social networking actually hurt our social skills?  Has the sheer amount of information impacting us reduced our attention span? Have we become so impatient we will act on over-simplified answers?  Have we gotten to the point where what’s new or sensational is more important than what ultimately effects our health and well-being? Do we have a reliable independent source of news beyond our “friends” on Facebook?

These are the challenges we face now, in the early days of the information revolution. Like the early days of the airplane, we are still “barnstorming” with tools that have a much greater potential.

The improvements required to meet that potential are not so much in the technology, but in us! We need to realize how much technology has changed us in just the past decade. By returning to time-tested classic values we have a better chance at getting the most out of technology. Here’s our short list of classic values which we think should be driving technology:

  1. More Visual Communication. Text is a great tool when you need to get picked up at the airport. Email is great tool for documenting what’s been said. But live video is the best tool for first meetings (if you can’t do it in person). Voice is second best. But real-time visual and audio communication conveys reactions, feelings, and queues you just can’t pick up in virtual communication. You can avoid misunderstandings by demanding and using more real-time communication.
  2. Less “News” from “Friends.” Prevent yourself from being manipulated by fake news sources and network ads that are designed to exacerbate political differences. Realize that as a society, and as an economy, we need the cooperation of those with whom we disagree – to maintain our livelihoods, and our freedom. Open your mind to understanding opposing ideas by talking to “the other side.” Demand fact-checking before you pass along information to your network, and be skeptical when you get “news” from your “friends”. Respect science!
  3. More History and Civics. Regard history as a teacher, a warning, and a path toward wisdom. Don’t look at it as something old, outmoded, or irrelevant. There is a vast difference between retro and classic. Learn and understand how entire countries have been subjugated by misinformation and the exploitation of prejudices. As the Irish statesman Edmund Burke said, “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.” This is as true today as it was during his lifetime, 1729-1797. By learning civics, you will understand what our governing bodies and offices can and cannot do. You will be less likely to vote for candidates who promise more than they can legally deliver.
  4. Less Simple Answers. Appreciate that there are no absolutes. There’s lots of grey! Learn the nuances before you act. Don’t let the current state of technology pander to your impatience to quickly “get to the bottom of it.” Stop saying, “Just tell me the one thing.” The real answers are never simple. Seek sophisticated answers that discuss various sides of the issue. Stop looking for who’s to blame, or how to make 6 figures in 6 months!
  5. More In-Person Conversations. Don’t “hide” behind a technological “shield” to protect you from personal contact. Have a meeting, talk to some people, become vulnerable. Learn some lessons about human-to-human, in-person interactions. People will appreciate your undivided attention. Your social, business, and cooperative relationships can reap many benefits. Stop using social media as a substitute for real social interaction. Social media is a great way to let folks know what you’re up to, but don’t let it atrophy your social skills.

Realize that technology, and more important, how we use it, is still in its infancy. Our standard of living, our economy, and the peace and tranquility of our lives depend on it.  Let’s take control of this “airplane” before our impatience lets it take control of us! Get out there and say “Hello!” to a real, live person!

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 www.thebrandauthority.net. To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact info@thebarefootspirit.com.

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey
-Barefoot Wine Founders