New Adventures

“Go make it happen!”

10+ years ago, we had a vision to grow Upland into a strong regional brewery that would thrive for decades into the future. We brought in smart, creative thinkers. We rolled up our sleeves and honed the craft of brewing beers and preparing meals that we were proud to serve. There is still work to do, but the company is positioned for a long, successful run ahead. We’ve made a lot happen.

With that in mind, I decided it was the right time for me to step down as president. After working with our board to develop a plan over the past few months, we’re now ready to share this news.

I’m leaving the business in the very capable hands of the BEST management team in independent beer who will carry this momentum into the next decade of growth and development. The board will be recruiting a replacement over the next few months. (PM me if you think you might be the one.) Until then, I’ll continue to work on rolling out our sours program and advising the leadership team as they ease into the added responsibilities.

My close friends know how much this company has meant to me. It still does, and I’ll always be its loudest cheerleader. We’ve grown from fewer than 20 people brewing a couple times each week, to employing more than 200 people and selling almost 250,000 cases of beer. I will always have deep pride in what we’ve done and how we’ve gone about doing it. The beers are simply excellent. Our pubs deliver excellence without pretension, and they serve as gathering points for some of the best people on the planet. In a bunch of small but important ways, we’ve made a difference.

I have a couple ideas for my next adventure, but for now I’m focusing on a smooth transition. Let’s have a beer and talk about it later this fall.

Thanks to all of you who helped make Upland a great brewery—your encouragement, advice, and work in the trenches have been keystones to our success. But I save my biggest thanks to those of you who shared pints with me along the way: that was the best part of it all!

Cheers,
Doug

My Podcast With Jeremy Goodrich On Entrepreneurial Leadership

Last week, I was interviewed by Jeremy Goodrich on the Scratch Entrepreneur podcast. We spoke about how Upland grew from a small Indiana brewery into an internationally recognized producer of craft beer and multimillion dollar company. You can check out the episode on Soundcloud or download it on iTunes.

leadership psychology

How To Lose Your Sanity In 3 Easy Steps

Or One Key Step To KEEP Your Sanity

leadership psychology

Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas – Ralph Steadman

I’m like the journalist, Raoul Duke, in Fear and Loathing: I see ALL the bats. Fail to hit budget in one of your markets: there’s a bat. Read a post in our company’s social feed which isn’t very interesting: bat. Walk onto the production floor and notice some poorly organized supplies: bat, bat, bat.

One of those little shits doesn’t bother me. But when 50 of them are wheeling overhead, you’ll quickly find yourself sitting on the corner of Sanity and Madness.

Is hunting and killing bats an essential duty for the CEO/entrepreneur? I’m certain the rest of the team doesn’t see most of them. So if I don’t do it, who will? Some Harvard snot will say the key is to distinguish between those details and shortcomings that matter and those that do not. Well, I’m not smart enough to get in to Harvard, and I’m not smart enough to tell the difference between those two types of details.

I’m lying, at least on one count. But my natural tendency is to see all the bats and worry about every single one of them. It’s the entrepreneur’s blessing and curse. And I’ve seen more than a few commercially successful entrepreneurs who follow this recipe (and go insane):

  1. Focus on the negative/gaps in execution
  2. Do it all the time
  3. Don’t cut anyone, including yourself, any slack

I started out down that path, but with the benefit of hindsight I know this much: you better focus on learning how to happily ignore many of the bats. Don’t even ask one of your managers to see them: like Mr. Duke said, “The poor bastard will see them soon enough.”

Your sanity will thank you.

Cheers,
Doug

 

You see, the Devil haunts a hungry man,
If you don’t want to join him, you got to beat him.
I ain’t sayin’ I beat the Devil, but I drank his beer for nothin’.
Then I stole his song.
~Kris Kristofferson, “To Beat the Devil”

Why I Write

Leadership: Hard-fought Wins, Undeserved Losses, and Vice Versa

I stole the title, “Evangelical Agnostic,” from a middle-aged guy who got into trouble and then wondered, “How do you know when it’s too late to learn?” That’s an interesting question for someone like me who’s had his fair share of hard-fought wins alongside a few undeserved losses, and some undeserved wins and hard-fought losses.  Go figure.

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Hard-fought Wins, Undeserved Losses.

As the title suggests, I’m passionate about not knowing, especially when it comes to the right way to lead people and grow a business.  At any given moment, I have ten ideas, and I’m absolutely certain that six of them are correct.  I just don’t know which six.  Evangelically agnostic. Such are the paradoxes of being an entrepreneur.  

Now I’m running a craft brewery, which is an industry full of more challenging paradoxes than any I’ve ever seen.  We must simultaneously be world-class creatives and scientists.  Beyond the brewpub, it’s a capital-intensive industrial business.  Treat it like a factory, and your culture and brand fall apart.  Treat it like a marketing agency, and your beer will be mediocre and you’ll never generate a return on all that capital.  Treating your team like family is a requirement; managing your team like family is a disaster.  And if you juggle all those balls but lose sight of your personal family, friends and health, you’ve lost the only things that matter.

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It’s enough to drive a man crazy.  And I’ve been out on that limb a few times.  

Cheers,
Doug

P.S. Because I like straying outside the lines, I’ll say here and now: I intend to write about leadership psychology, organizational culture and performance, and navigating the daily shitstorms that come your way as an entrepreneur (what Alex Trebek would call “Potpourri”).  That, and any other issues I can’t deal with in therapy.

 

A little out of place, a little out of tune

Sorta lost in space, racin’ the moon

Climbing the walls of this hurricane

Still overall, I can’t complain.

~Todd Snider, “Can’t Complain”