Read a recent interview on World Class Performer with Michael Houlihan below:

Michael Houlihan is a leading business strategist, keynote speaker, consultant, and corporate trainer. He was the founder, president, and CEO of Barefoot Wines and is co-founder of Business Audio Theatre. Houlihan is also a C-Suite Network member and trusted advisor and the author of the bestselling business book The Barefoot Spirit.

Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?

I grew up in Oakland and attended catholic schools. I got a great education for the times. I had one sister and two brothers. I was #2. Oakland, even then, was gritty. You had to know how to behave. You had to be a homie. I walked home past a junior high school that had bigger kids because they went to the 9th grade and our school only went to the 8th. Plus we had to wear catholic school uniforms, so we were walking targets in east Oakland. One Christmas I got a new basketball. The next Saturday I took it to the playground at the Junior High school where the kids were bigger and more aggressive. They all wanted to play with my new basketball, but I told them that I was forming a team and only wanted the biggest guys on my team. The next week I was walking home and got jumped by several kids from the junior high. As they were threatening me, I mentioned that Reggie, Eddie, Tyrone, and Elron were on my team. They backed off, helped me up, and dusted me off. They just said “Hi” after that. Lesson: There’s more than one way to do things, find strategic allies that you can help and can help you. And yes we won all the games!

To read the complete interview, please visit the World-Class Performer 




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