BarefootSpirit_3D_030113Today there is more interest in entrepreneurship than ever before. Half of the college grads are facing self-employment, as perhaps their only opportunity for employment. But are they prepared? It takes a lot more than book knowledge, a good business plan, and fancy four-syllable words to navigate the challenges of entrepreneurship.

Many middle managers saw their jobs disappear during the recession, never to return. They also are trying to figure out what to do. Will they start their own business? How hard can that be? Then there’s the challenge of being under-capitalized and not having experience in the critical aspects of the business they may choose. Sometimes they don’t even have the luxury of choosing what they want to do. It just falls in their lap. Now what?

The big corporations also have a keen interest in how they can become more entrepreneurial. They want creative, resourceful, and imaginative solutions. But many are hamstrung with compliance, structural and compensation plans that put out-of-the-box thinking right back in the box. They wish their own people could be light on their feet, react quickly to market dynamics and demonstrate all the other skills of successful start-ups. They want to hire people with the entrepreneurial mindset and cultivate an entrepreneurial culture. But what is that exactly?

We successfully emerged from the same tunnel that many new grads are about to enter. Having built a positive company culture to achieve that success, we realized we had something valuable to offer students, aspiring entrepreneurs and companies seeking to be entrepreneurial. We decided to write a book. But how would it be structured? We had so much to share.

We have read hundreds of business books over the years. Check that – we have started hundreds of business books, but the truth is, like many people, we actually finished very few. Why? Frankly, they were tedious and somewhat boring. Most were prescriptive texts with the 5 things you should always do, the 7 things you should never do, and the 28 things your customer wants from you today. After a few chapters of lists like this we kind of lose interest.

So how could we write to communicate the helpful business principles we learned the hard way that our readers would finish? How could we hold their interest in a world of tweets, elevator pitches, and short sound bites?

Our entrepreneurial experience was anything but boring. Surprising, unpredictable, and dramatic, yes, but boring, no. Filled with challenges, failures, and ah-ha moments, but boring? No. So why not write a fast-moving business adventure story where the reader rides along with us on a seat-of-their-pants rocket ride, behind the scenes of the mysterious wine business? Let them draw their own conclusions from story after story about what it’s really like to grow to be a successful entrepreneur. Let them see folks, not that different from themselves, face seemingly overwhelming challenges and somehow overcome them. Sometimes in the strangest and most surprising ways!

Is it just about wine? No. It’s about ideas. It’s about the ideas, philosophies, and guiding principles we call the “Barefoot Spirit.” They helped us and they can help anyone selling anything.

When we built the Barefoot Wine brand, we knew nothing about winemaking. So we teamed up with the best winemaker we could find, Jennifer Wall. When we wrote The Barefoot Spirit, we teamed up with the best writer we could find, Rick Kushman.

We wrote the book to entertain you with the humble beginnings of a brand you know. We want to encourage, inspire and empower a whole new generation with the American entrepreneurial spirit – west coast style!  And yes, it’s a perfect Beach Read – just in time for summer. We hope it adds a few laughs and a few pearls to your vacation.

The Barefoot Spirit will be released next Tuesday, May 21st. It is now available everywhere. Get the ‘Spirit and pass it on!

We would love to hear what you think of our book!


Michael & Bonnie

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