The Barefoot Spirit audiobook is a fully casted, cinematic-style theatrical production, with actors voicing characters, scenes with action and outcomes, and interviews. The stories are professionally performed, complete with sound effects and an original musical score. It was adapted for audio theatre from the original New York Times bestseller, The Barefoot Spirit, How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand.

Based on the true story of the humble beginnings of the now famous Barefoot Wine brand, audiences will experience a rollercoaster ride, seat-of-your-pants, business adventure. From the laundry room of a rented farmhouse to the boardroom of the world’s largest wine company, they will accompany the founders, Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey, as they meet and overcome the apparently insurmountable challenges of being inexperienced and undercapitalized.

The audiobook is delivered in a fun and light-hearted style, so audiences can experience first-hand how a steadfast adherence to the guiding principles of the “Barefoot Spirit” enabled the founders to overcome obstacles, build strategic alliances, and forge a loyal and engaged team to take them across the finish line!

Like Barefoot Wine itself, this business theatre-style audiobook pioneers a new category, offering a fresh genre and fun approach to business audiobooks.

Audiences will gain insight, inspiration, and innovative solutions as they are emerged in this engaging and entertaining business tale.  Each episodic chapter delivers a plethora of business lessons through dramatically performed stories that are memorable, practical, and applicable.

After You Have Taken the Leap, How Hard Could it Be?

 We are often told to follow our passion, but in this story, following your opportunity provides the more plausible route to entrepreneurial success. You can still employ your passion, but use it to capitalize on your opportunity. The only problem is that we tend to oversimplify the obstacles on the road ahead, especially when we are both excited and inexperienced!

We also tend to be guided by commonly held popular misconceptions. These are usually caused by our consumer-sided view of the marketplace. These fallacies can wreak havoc on first-timers. The unforgiving realities of the marketplace were there long before your “great idea” came along.

When you think about the business you’re going to be in, when you imagine what you will need, or try to project what you will be doing, it’s hard to accept the hard truth about what must  be done. The question is, “Will you do what must be done?” Will you object, argue, or try to say it’s someone else’s job? Or will you do it, no matter how seemingly contrary it is to what you imagined?

You’re in the Game, Now What?

 What if you go into business with your sweetheart? Does that condemn the relationship? Are there rules that keep your business and you as a couple together? Having different skill sets, clear boundaries, and mutual respect is a great start but, kids, don’t try this at home! It’s truly rare to find a partnership of business skills and love with the same person.

Sometimes being an outsider gives you a fresh and unique view of the market. It’s like slicing the pie a different way, a way that the industry hasn’t thought of, a market they may have not recognized or addressed. Being new, different and disrupting is a double-edged sword; you have pared down the competition, but you now have some missionary work to do.

Do what you do best and delegate the rest. Without adequate capital, you are forced to be resourceful, and without experience, you must defer to the skills of others. Be ready to pivot when your business success demands a new heading, even if you must take on more responsibility and uncertainty!

Taking on the Behemoth, the Right and Wrong Ways

You can be suddenly thrust into an unfamiliar arena, taking on challenges you did not expect. But you must perform. You learn by doing, on the fly. It’s not without cost, but it’s necessary.

You are in love with your product. It’s affordable, it’s attractive, and it’s what everybody wants. What’s not to like? This is the biggest mistake you can make! Your success requires all that, but there’s much more that can make you or break you. You just don’t know it yet. When you finally find this out, it can be quite a shock and a setback. You had better have a plan “B”!

Everybody wants to milk the cow. Nobody wants to raise the calf. When you are new and unproven, customers come one at a time. Discovering what they need and what you need to do to keep them is probably the greatest lessons you need to learn in order to move ahead.

The Brick, What it Is, and Have You Had Yours Today?

 Caution! Entrepreneurship is a Hardhat Area! Like any construction zone, you must be prepared for the unexpected “bricks” seemingly falling from the sky and knocking you flat. You may seek comfort in knowing that others in your shoes are getting hit with bricks as well, but that won’t make their blow less painful.

The realization that you have been operating under a misconception that costs you time and money is painful. The realization that you may have to start over can be down right discouraging. So, you may as well expect your brick for the day.

The trick is to pick up those bricks and use them to build a more stable platform built on the reality of the situation, not your preconceived notion. You must be humble enough and resilient enough to take your lumps and keep moving forward. Oh, and that hardhat? That’s your sense of humor!

How to Hit the Enemy Where the Enemy is Not

 One of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make is underestimating the cost of sales. Not the cost of goods, everybody knows what that is, but the cost of sales! That’s the cost of getting your product to market and keeping it there! This includes customer service, exchanges, store visits, representatives’ compensation, expenses, promotions, and the list goes on!

And, the cost of sales is not the same in every market, or even with every customer. Some are just higher maintenance than others. Some may be so high, in fact, that you may not be able to expand in that direction until you have a war chest. You may want to strike where the enemy is not! With reduce competition comes reduced costs of sales, plus more appreciative buyers.

Expanding into an expensive market can drain your budget. You may not be able to provide the customer service necessary to protect your reputation. Look for places and ways to expand that are affordable, practical, and provide a rapid return.

Mama Mabel, Surfers, and Monks

Finding your strategic allies is crucial to success. Basically, look for who benefits when you benefit. Whether it’s increased business or finding your way around a problem, identifying these natural allies can reduce your costs, mitigate your risks, and improve your sales.

Strategic allies can come from the most unlikely places. Keep your eyes open for companies, groups, and organizations you can help …and who can help you. They may have goals in harmony with your business, your approach, or your values.

By supporting non-profits and worthy causes, you can give their members a social reason to buy (and advocate) your products. Standing for a cause bigger than your product’s features and benefits can gain you respect, loyalty, and engagement from your employees, vendors, and customers alike.

 The “Romance” of the Wine Business & How You Can Take This into your Niche

 Once you really get into a business, you realize that it is harder work and different work than you had imagined. You also realize that you must delegate the technical aspects to experts. This requires an honest understanding of what you really need.

Different industries seem to develop a bigger-than-life outward appearance of wonder, mystery, and excitement. But down deep they are just like any other business. The romance quickly fades, and it’s soon all about getting the tedious work done!

Identifying the real priorities is key. Minding the mundane details is crucial! It’s not what you think your business is all about; it’s discovering and tending to the hidden, surprising, and inglorious work that needs to be executed with excellence and tenacity.

Why You Should Never Waste a Perfectly Good Mistake

 From our upbringing to our formal education, from sports to our first job, mistakes are frowned upon. So much so that you would be wise to fix them quickly and hide them, like they never happened. Taking this programming into the business setting is a real recipe for disaster.

Most mistakes that hurt your business are repeat mistakes. They’ve happened before, but they were covered up. Who wants to get fired for making a mistake, right? Wrong! If mistakes are handled properly, they can be the building blocks for your success. But top management must promote a culture of permission to encourage admission, investigation, understanding, resolution, and mitigation.

It’s not the mistake, it’s what you learn from the mistake, and what you do about it. Identifying mistakes and setting measures in place to reduce the likelihood of their  reoccurrence is how you never waste a perfectly good mistake!

Why A Smaller Slice of a Larger Pie is a Great Growth Strategy

 Companies who try to see how little they can pay their employees are looking at labor as a commodity. This can set them up for an increase in the #1 hidden cost of any business: Turnover. You don’t just lose the cost of replacement, you lose all your training, corporate knowledge, and the value of their relationships with vendors, outside services, and customers.

But you also lose something else, you lose the benefit of their engagement in problem solving. Viewing your people as your greatest asset instead of a necessary cost, will pay off when you share your challenges with them and ask frothier  help.

 When they can benefit financially from your success, they will be less likely to leave and more likely to help solve your problems. They are already committed to your company. Besides, who cares if they make more when you make more? When you pay for production, the producers can’t afford to leave, and the non-producers can’t afford to stay.

This is an outline of some of the lessons we learned, and they are all portrayed in stories performed by professional actors with sound effects and music in our audiobook, The Barefoot Spirit. In the coming weeks, we shall delve further into these lessons, so tighten your seatbelt! It’s going to be a wild rocket ride into the real world of entrepreneurs!


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