I was recently listening to a podcast via Bet On You in which my friend Ted Pappas was interviewed about Big Bottom Whiskey and what inspired him to start the business. In this 45 minute conversation (it’s an interview but has a deep conversational tone that Ted cultivates well), he discusses a lot of the early trials and difficulties in the path and choices for the business. But, while I believe early failures are good and critical to success, what I believe is even more important is the latter part of the conversation when he begins discussing more of the ethos and philosophy behind the respect, camaraderie, and cooperative efforts which Big Bottom Whiskey is leading in the industry. Which gives me an opportunity to talk about it from my own perspective not only as a tenant to Big Bottom Whiskey with my own company Tualatin Valley Distilling, but to also expand the ideas beyond just the alcohol industries.
Ted’s ethos is about mutual benefit, respect, and helping others succeed in their passions. It is a direct result of this attitude that Tualatin Valley Distilling is a possibility and as a result of this shared vision, we also strive to help as best we can. As an alternating proprietorship, our visions are aligned and keep us focused on what matters: making great products that we all believe in; working together towards common goals.
It was while listening to Ted in the interview above that I realized our shared ideals, philosophies, and vision wasn’t specific to just the whiskies world. Rather, I started thinking of some big “what-ifs”: What if social business wasn’t seen as a zero-sum game. What if we all worked cooperatively, with a shared ethos of respect and camaraderie as social business professionals, while seeing competition as positive drivers for improvement rather than negatives to be conquered or fought.
What does this look like to a social business professional?
First and foremost it means seeing social business as something other than a marketing tool. Social business is in itself an ethos as well as a tool.
Secondly, the guiding principle of being a social business means engaging in conversations and listening to your audience more than talking AT them. It is conversing WITH your audience and building relationships using the tools of social platforms like twitter, google plus, tumblr, Facebook, and others. It is more about relationship management than marketing, working with your clients more than selling to them. It’s about building that community and collective intelligence to move us all forward in our collective and individual goals.
This spirit of cooperation and mutual benefit is alive and well in the Oregon spirits industry, one in which the Oregon Distiller’s Guild is helping to drive the recognition of Oregon products to the benefit of all. It is this same focus, this same attitude which can help redefine what social business does and how we do it. Ted has proven that the ethos within his business model works (as he touches upon in the podcast about listening to his consumer base), and I am hopeful that my own work in social business can help exemplify how collaborative knowledge sharing can also drive success in both my day job as a global social business strategist as well as a small business co-owner creating products for our local market.
Until that day when my own success stands as self-explanatory, I will continue to drive the open and transparent, collaborative, inclusive, and humanist ethos within all of my work; whether it is in strategy or production. I also hope you’ll jump on board and also adopt a strong collaborative ethos as well… after all, I can’t collaborate alone now can I?