Sage Insights into Success of Stone Brewing Co.

Stone Brewing Co. has grown into the nation’s 10th-largest craft brewer by tapping into its customers’ thirst for freedom, one of six key emotional measures of values-driven marketing, Zenzi Communications CEO Sarah Hardwick told a group of San Diego business executives.
Hardwick described the six markers – freedom, purpose, tradition, pleasure, security and prestige – in a presentation hosted by Sage Executive Group, an peer advisory organization that bring together CEOs and top executives from across the region to learn and share ideas in shaping new directions for their companies.
Some of the most successful firms in establishing a brand identity, such as Chipolte and Nike, “make an emotional connection” by understanding and catering not only to the product needs of customers, but also to what is important to them – and the people they talk to personally and through social media. “”A brand is not what a company says it is. It’s what people tell each other that it is,”,” said Hardwick, who founded Encinitas-based Zenzi Communications in 2002.
Stone, which started out as a small craft brewery in San Marcos in 1996 producing about 2,100 barrels, has expanded to a major brewing facility combined with a specialty restaurant and extensive gardens in Escondido. Produced exceeded 213,000 barrels in 2013. It is now planning new brewing operations in the southern United States and in Berlin, the beer heartland of Germany. For Stone, “attitude is everything,” Hardwick said. It has built “an engaged and passionate audience” by fostering “a point of view” that appeals to independent-minded freedom seekers and is manifested in the name of one of its signature beers, Arrogant Bastard Ale.
The company, founded by brewing icons Greg Koch Steve Wagner, has put a premium on beer as a “passionate experience” and fosters its values in its own employees, who now number about 900. “Their employees are the most passionate representation of the brand,” Hardwick said, a fundamental reason that Stone trusts and builds its own identity.
In summary, Hardwick said “values are the missing link in making deeper connections” as companies seek to engage a diverse and often fragmented customer base.
Hardwick gave her talk at the quarterly networking event on Aug. 14 held by Sage Executive Group at Mintz Levin law firm in San Diego. It was hosted by SkyRiver IT.
Commentary on leadership from Stone CEO Greg Koch and on the Sage experience from Stone President Steve Wagner is available on Sage’s YouTube channel.
Chuck Buxton

Being on time is still a virtue

“Eighty percent of success is showing up.”
Woody Allen
I am convinced that the other 20 per cent of success is showing up on time.  I think that we are experiencing  a breakdown of some basic values that is affecting businesses in a negative manner.  Being on time for meetings and appointments used to be a virtue.  Now they seem to be more like general guidelines or approximate place-holders on the calendar. Companies that have discipline, respect and great values in place believe that being on time for meetings and appointments is important. Unfortunately, many of the negative behavioral traits are being demonstrated in the C-suite and trickle down to every level.  There are a number of different reasons for this. Some people do not have the organizational skills,  others have never learned how to balance their calendars, some lack discipline,  some over commit,  and in other cases people abuse power by making people wait for them.
Now that I have had my weekly rant, maybe I have the problem of being a perfectionist and need to lighten up. Comments please!
Weekly Wisdom, Jerry Rollins, CEO of Sage Executive Group

The Behavior of Successful CEOs

Who is the typical CEO?
Countless studies and articles have tried to pinpoint the CEO personality.
A recent Duke University study found that CEOs are more likely to be optimists and risk-takers than are members of the general population. According to New York Times columnist Adam Bryant, author of The Corner Office: Indispensable and Unexpected Lessons From CEOs on How to Lead and Succeed, CEOs are curious, confident, fearless team players who prefer simple, concise information. But how do these abstract characteristics translate into action? How do successful CEOs behave?
Here’s one thing studies tell us about those at the top: They are social—very social.
A joint study by professors at Harvard University, the London School of Economics, and the European University Institute found that CEOs spend 85% of their time working with other people – attending meetings, on the phone, or at work events – and only 15% of their time working alone. Of time spent with others, nearly half of that time included people outside of the CEO’s organization.
Whether by nature or nurture, CEOs are collaborative individuals.
As our world becomes increasingly interconnected – spurred on by the ever-expanding social media universe – it is clear that the collaborative nature of business is here to stay. A 2012 IBM study found that more than two-thirds of corporations plan to partner with other corporations this year – up from only slightly more than half in 2008, according to Forbes.
People used to talk about competition, about protecting industry secrets and shutting out competitors. Now we talk about cooperation and coordination, explains Jerry Rollins, Co-Founder of Sage Executive Group. “Coopetition’ is the new competition. CEOs who learn from other companies gain more knowledge than they ever could if they limited their interaction to their own firm alone,” he says.
So how can a busy CEO ensure his or her company is not functioning in a vacuum?

  • Read industry newsletters to keep abreast of industry trends.
  • Implement a social media strategy. Take note of other companies’ social media strategies in order to learn from their strengths and weaknesses. Do not underestimate the power of virtual and digital communication.
  • Join a CEO peer advisory group to gain the perspective of CEOs outside your organization.

While the personality traits of successful CEOs may vary, evidence suggests collaboration is one behavioral trait successful CEOs have in common.