BFW picAs we travel throughout the world and speak about our entrepreneurial experiences and the lessons we’ve learned, we were surprised to discover that the United States is viewed by our international audiences as the cradle of entrepreneurship. Of course, there is leading-edge entrepreneurship in many countries, but none have quite the public cultural support for risk takers like the United States.

Many countries, we find out, have cultures that actually discourage people from starting their own businesses. Their families remind them of the many who have tried and failed. They encourage them instead to go for the security of employment with the government or a large corporation. Some actually view starting your own business as foolhardy and bound for failure. If the young person’s enterprise does fail, they are too often chided with “I told you so.”

By contrast, in the United States we not only understand that our economy is supported by entrepreneurship, but we have deep respect and admiration for those who have taken the risks, suffered the sacrifices, and had the tenacity to see their entrepreneurial concepts become a reality. In the United States, entrepreneurs are often revered like folk heroes, with movies celebrating their challenges and accomplishments; on television shows like Shark Tank; and publications like Entrepreneur, Fast Company, and Inc.

American public and social media increasingly offer articles and tips on the hows and whys of successful entrepreneurship. Sure it’s risky and many enterprises fail, but in the United States we view failure, as Edison once said, as successfully discovering what doesn’t work along the path to success.

This week we were honored to be keynote speakers at the Western Region EO Alchemy annual conference held in Las Vegas. This event brought together members from chapters of Entrepreneurs’ Organizations from the western United States. For the Entrepreneurs’ Organization to choose Las Vegas for this conference was both fitting and symbolic. These are the real gamblers, betting on themselves, betting on their teams and betting on their enterprises.

Simply put, it was all about mitigating risk with proven methods, attitudes, and processes that give these gamblers a fighting chance. At EO Alchemy, as it is called, we heard from entrepreneurs of all ages, sharing their lessons and best practices. That’s right, they were here sharing their secrets, and helping each other to succeed! Far from the classic view of dog-eat-dog competition, these EO members had one goal: sharing their experiences so that all their members would find the success they’ve found.

The event’s culture of support for entrepreneurs attracted several entrepreneurs from other countries including the Netherlands, Mexico and India. Those delegates told us how much they appreciated the unselfish sharing, stories of challenge and success, and the concrete practices they can’t wait to get home and try in their own businesses.

The entire experience made us proud to be part of the American entrepreneurial culture that says, “We did it. You can do it!

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