Is your email flooded with marketers pandering to your thirst for quick knowledge to “solve” the immediate problem at hand. Is your news feed is packed with ads promising six digits in six months, and all from your phone! “Just follow this process,” they say, “and you too will be a success!”

With the overflow of information at your fingertips, it’s easy to get the idea that whatever you want to know is instantly accessible. “There’s an app for that,” has now evolved into “There’s a cut-and-paste process for that.” But is process knowledge enough by itself? Just access, copy and apply, and all your needs will be fulfilled. Right?

By the time you figure out that the quick fix doesn’t achieve your desired results, the damage has been done. You are out both the fees you paid and the time you invested. You realize that the knowledge you attained was inadequate for the outcome you had envisioned.

Because you have been inadvertently “trained” by the very searching and training process itself, to copy examples, it is easy to miss out on the principles behind those examples. When you learned that process, did you really understand the commonality of principles that can be applied to other situations? “Who cares if there’s an overriding principle,” you might say, “I’ll just cut and paste a new example when I need it, and never have to learn the principal behind it.”

To learn and appreciate those overriding principles, lessons should start with a good solid foundation in the basics. But this may take more time than you were willing to invest. You may have to learn some things that apparently don’t immediately apply to the problem at hand. This would take time, too. So, you skip all that in favor of applying the process without the principles. You have knowledge without wisdom. You got the “how” without the “why.”

But the digital marketer, the preacher, and the politician are glad you’re impatient and want quick, simple answers. It’s easier to sell you a process than a philosophy. It’s easier to sell you a sensational headline than a history book. And it’s easier to blame and marginalize minorities when you’re looking for simple answers. Basically, you’re easier to manipulate if you let today’s over-simplified approach to knowledge dumb you down.

With all this knowledge, so readily available, why does the “crowd” continue to make so many mistakes? The crowd is knowledge hungry, but as history unfolds, we are seeing demonstrations of how easily the crowd can be, and has been, manipulated. The crowd can be easily spooked. Its weakness is impatience.

Sourcing the crowd for navigational assistance is one thing, but sourcing the crowd for instant decisions that impact our social behavior is quite another.

Simply put, is the crowd wise enough to rule directly? Will they be manipulated by ads that play into their suspicions? Will they elect one demigod after another in search of a quick fix without ever learning why the government has checks and balances? Will they allow the environment to degrade while they are transfixed by the latest trending story?

Without patience, healthy skepticism, and a thirst for principle over process, the crowd is limited to reporting status. True, this is very helpful. But before the crowd can be relied upon for guidance, it must embrace strategy over tactics, principles over examples, and history over headlines.

We’ve never before had so much knowledge at our disposal. The fact is, we are all quite new at this. How many disasters will it take for the crowd to gain the long-term wisdom it needs, and then use that knowledge wisely and not be corrupted by its ease of access? True wisdom takes time. Will we give it the time it deserves?

If this all sounds like an ad for classical education, it is! Until the crowd understands the basics, the big picture, and the implications of its own periodic stampedes, it will be relegated to telling you where the next road hazard is, or the room for rent.

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