We called our New York Times Bestseller “The Barefoot Spirit.” We call our business “The Barefoot Spirit.” We call our website, www.thebarefootspirit.com. And now we are calling our new theatrical- style business audiobook “The Barefoot Spirit.” So, what is the Barefoot Spirit anyway?

When used in terms like “team spirit,” the word “spirit” identifies a collective attitude of confidence, comradery, and common goals. When used to describe the tenacity it takes to overcome obstacles, we say, “That’s the spirit!” Or “She’s got great spirit!” So “spirit,” in the context of goal achievement is a term we all use to describe the components of drive and strategy. Drive keeps you going and strategy gets you there.

Sounds simple, but it’s not. It’s not just any attitude that supplies drive and it’s not just any strategy that gets you there. The Barefoot Spirit is a specific type of drive and strategy that we promote which includes a philosophy, an outlook, and a set of principles anyone can apply to overcome obstacles and achieve goals sooner – and with much less money and anxiety!

We learned most of these principles the hard way. We acted on many commonly held misconceptions that nearly killed our brand. But over the years, and over the many lumps we suffered, we discovered how things really had to be done, what the best practices really were, and how to build and maintain a loyal, productive and engaged team. When we finally sold our business and monetized on our brand equity, our team implored us to write a book that encompassed the Barefoot Spirit.

At first we listened to the experts, the business book writing gurus. They told us to make the book a procedural outline and textbook. You know, the 5 things to do, the 3 things to never do, and the 28 things your customer wants from you. Pretty standard …and pretty ordinary! But we initially followed their advice. What did we know? We had never written a book before. But then, when we looked at the draft and started to doze off ourselves, we asked, “How can we expect anybody else to really read this, let alone remember it, and apply the lessons to their business?

So, we literally threw it right in the trashcan.  We decided to rewrite it in a more entertaining way, using story to convey the principles instead of relying on prescriptive text. We were blessed to meet a wonderful and humorous writer, Rick Kushman, a Stanford grad who had achieved awards in journalism and was columnist for the Sacramento Bee. We gave him our stories, and he wrote it for us. This time it was much more entertaining and much more memorable! It became a New York Times bestseller! We were thrilled when the book become a case study at more than 50 schools that teach entrepreneurship.

But still, most people only read the first couple of chapters. We were looking for an even more compelling and entertaining format that could bring the stories to life in a way that more folks would remember the lessons and apply them to their businesses.

We began to notice, over a period of just a few short years, that the folks we were trying to help were suddenly all wearing ear buds. At first we thought they were listening to music. That is, until we started asking them what they were listening to. To our surprise, it wasn’t music at all. It was podcasts and audiobooks! They were learning while working, exercising, or commutting. Podcasts were on fire and audio books were increasing in sales.

So we thought, “Why don’t we turn The Barefoot Spirit into an audiobook?” We started listening to business audio books to see what was popular. We found that most audiobooks were simply narrations of the printed book. This was a great advance and certainly enabled true mobility while listening. But narration, even by your favorite celebrity, seemed one dimensional.

Whenever we are driving on Saturdays, we tune into the local Public Broadcasting Stations and listen to a Prairie Home Companion episode. The audio skits are fun and entertaining. Like the old 1940’s radio theatre of the past, they created scenes and action in your mind’s eye. With the help of music, script, and sound effects, a printed story can come to life in a way that you will remember. That’s when we knew what we had to do.

We converted The Barefoot Spirit into what we call, “business audio theatre.” We converted the dialogue into scripts and found Hollywood actors to play the characters and act out the stories, added sound effects, and an original musical score and brought The Barefoot Spirit to life!

It was a big gamble. This approach to experiential learning is relatively new and unproven. To our delight, initial reactions from listeners is overwhelmingly positive!

Our goal is to get the Barefoot Spirit to more people in an innovative format that is both entertaining and educational. We hope you will enjoy The Barefoot Spirit audio theatre, now available everywhere audiobooks are sold, or get a special rate at our author’s direct site. And please, tell us what you think! We would really like to hear from you on our latest new endeavor!

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 www.consumerbrandbuilders.com.

To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact sales@thebarefootspirit.com.