Friday, October 31, 2014

Bremerton: Nice

Plenty of good stuff. But as a last visit - some wine and some cheese.

Strath: Beautiful as always

I pulled up to Strathalbyn to buy a pie. It reminds me of happier times, but still beautiful.

Why it's not always about wine.

I dropped into The Winehouse in Langhorne. Here I was reminded how clever it is to have other things to buy. Here I might buy olives for my daughter Mia and Rocky Road for my wife Sylvia.

Verdelho: Challenge me

I am driving back through Langhorne Creek and wanted to challenge myself. Adam, winemake fro Taylors in my MBA class tells me that the big wineries have been really promoting Verdelho as the next big thing.

I can see why it could be. These ones were full flavoured and complex. I sensed that they might have had malolactic fermentation but the cellar door staff couldn't tell me and it wasn't written on the bottle. Perhaps it is a dumb question.

Anyhoo. I'm leaving with Old Vine. $29 vs $18 and worth it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Spring pruning: a real job

Having vines at home reminds me of what the guys on the land are up to. This spring flush caught me, and I've been out this morning trying to knock it back.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Too much and I might just shut your channel down

I thought it odd that an acquaintance became quite heated sometime ago in their condemnation of me for not answering my phone. It wasn't an emergency - just a matter of convenience for them. All of my good friends are really cool when this happens.

I must add that this person has never called me to tell me they just made my life easier - it has always involved me taking some time out of what I'm doing and turning my mind to their stuff.

No biggie, but my phone is for my convenience, not yours. If it happens to be an emergency then scream the house down - call everyone I know, leave a dozen messages and raise hell. I'll be there.

But if it happens to not be an emergency, then let's remember that I might have some other things on my plate. I only just raised an invoice for $600 yesterday for expenses I incurred in July. It was important but I chose to carry that debt because I had many things on my list that needed to be dealt with in turn. Methodically and calmly.

The fact that my phone rings and your name happens to be on it - that fact makes no difference at all to the things I have on my list. When there's too much on, I might just shut the channel down. Nothing personal.

I say this as I open one of my email accounts for the first time since last Wednesday. I'm nervous - all hell might have broken loose - but at least I did all the things over the last five days that I promised I would. It's just time to see who wants to add to my ToDo list now.

Monday, October 27, 2014

An "in pub" retail shelf

At the Daniel O'Connell hotel for a quiet Guinness before a meeting with friends. A nice retail display of South Aussie wines.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Mollydooker shared with great family

We shared the Mollydooker sparkling red at a little celebration with goddaughter Charley, on her 16th. How cool is that?

Sparkling red: Why not Mollydooker?

Fine. So paint me a South Aussie. We're wll known for liking spakling red. Perhaps an Andrew Garrett hangover from the 1990s.
But if it's to be a sparkling red, then why not this one? I have a student doing their project on the winery, I met the crew once and enjoyed it.
So why not Mollydooker?

Merlot flowers and Downy Mildew: Just another Spring

I like my garden. As a tribute to wine, I planted a Merlot and a Sauvignon Blanc about 15 years ago. I've also got table grapes of many types.

It doesn't matter what I do in spring I always get enough moisture for downy mildew. I have a particularly no resistant sultana grape that is hit first. These few drops of rain and the wrinkling of the leaf tells me that we're on, again. Every year, I kid myself into thinking I'll beat the fungus. But as my friend Andre said: "your garden is a laboratory, with everything so close, you're sure to have problems". Don't get me started on the many kilograms of different fungicides I've tried.

But it's still nice to see grape flowers.

Far flung friends: Wine gave me this

In 2002, I was one year into a three year teaching contract which had a requirement that I was enrolled in a higher degree by research (more or less a PhD). Larry Lockshin was acting head of school which - at the time meant tidying up others' messes. I was one such mess - a person running out a contract with no research degree supervisor.

"I suppose if it makes the paperwork easier you can put my name against you as a supervisor. But I do wine research, so whatever you do needs to include wine in some way." From that (less than warm) start I worked pretty hard, seized a few opportunities (grateful to a clever guy name Cam Rungie), and did some research  - including wine. And have come to regard prof Lockshin as one of the five best bosses I've had.

I was in a stable of pretty good people, who I now consider to be far flung friends. When I announced on FB that I was running this blog for a few weeks I got this:
Damien Wilson Great initiative, Cullen! Will try my best to follow how this goes.

Best from Burgundy!

Andre Beaujanot is now a Vice President in a private University in Chile. Wade Jarvis is an Associate Professor in University of WA.
I'm a (part time) Drop Zone Bum that sometimes teaches in a University, and sometimes teaches wine courses. And sometimes I act as a chief investigator of a nationally funded research grant into Wine, Social Media, and Experiential Branding. 
And I have a few other great people I have met through wine. Klaus Kilov, Armando Maria Corsi, Steve Goodman.

I like wine. It has given me some good friends. Friends I hardly ever see, these days.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Paul Smart showing off his blog

After class drinks: let's rock the staff room!

I know what we can do after class. We can go up to level 12 for our "after class" drinks. The view could be worse.

Beautiful day, beautiful Adelaide, beautiful cheese.

I'm off to work. But after work, it could be nice to come around the corner to cheesefest. What could go better with a beautiful wine?

Some wine for after class?

I wonder which of these I might take to try with my students after class today?
No, I won't be playing guitar.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Success is not about offloading your problems onto others...

Perhaps it's because I have a few around me who have yet to learn it. Perhaps I'm just old and grumpy and forgot what I was like at that age. Probably that.

But if there's one thing age has given me, it's a very clear head on what I respect and what I don't. And what I don't respect is this approach to solving a problem:

  1. I have a problem
  2. I find a way to turn my problem into your problem
  3. You solve your problem
  4. My problem is solved

I think it starts in early childhood. When I was a newborn baby, everything was my parents' problem. Quite simply, I'd die if my parents didn't feed me and protect me. Big trouble for them. As I got older my parents still had a responsibility for me. Feed me, school me, roof over my head. My needs were their problem - to some degree. I suppose it's natural for all of us to confuse needs and wants - and if the line is too blurred I suppose that's where people begin to act entitled.

I've mostly managed to check myself when watching some young people and resisted the urge to say "you don't hear the word 'no' very often, do you?".

Schoolteachers - at times - are held responsible for kids' learning at school, even if the kids are there under sufferance. Not only are they expected to lead their pupils to water but force them to drink.

I think "management courses" have a lot to answer for. It's all about "making things happen" but there is often not enough recognition that "if it's to be, it's up to me" or in the world of Terminator 2: "There's no fate but what we make."

Or at the very most those ideas are just abstract concepts to many people.

I'm reasonably OK when people are dependent on others and just deal with it. But I do find it irksome when I see people who trumpet their independence but do nothing to create the wealth that they're sharing in.

Big tip: It's not a "job" to find some new legal loophole or benefit that you can receive when you're not providing anything of value in return. I don't know what it is, but it's not a workable system.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Woolies checkout lines six deep: Fail.

I'm not in a particular hurry today. Neither, apparently are Woolworths. I'm here at Marden and the lines are six deep. When they are that deep and I have some time I just sit back to see how long it take for them to open another checkout.

I think we're up to about ten minutes now and nobody who got on then end of either of these lines is through yet.

Op! One just opened up in front of me. Time to hustle.

Yep, I don't think I'll come back here much. They have no self service aisles and they're not snappy enough to make it up with people.

It's just as easy to to turn left to Coles Avenues as it is to turn right towards Woolies Marden when I leave my house.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Instant experts: The reason I love skydiving.

I run across "instant experts" far too often. I remember an episode of the Partridge Family where the lead male (a teenager in high school) was failing on his sex education and Reuben said "I'm a man of the world - if you want any help just ask" and the boy asked Reuben a whole bunch of advanced biology questions. Reuben couldn't help - didn't have the answers.

Sorry, perhaps I don't understand fertility biology
And it happens in most things I do:

"I was once a kid, I know how to do parenting"
"I went to school, so I know what it's like running a course of 400 students"
"I once owned a milk bar, I know all about marketing"

So you can see why I love skydiving. Nobody has ever said "I've stood on a tall building, skydiving would be easy".

Generally, if people are offering opinions in skydiving, they know what they're talking about. The "instant experts" are few, and generally nobody is listening.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Meshach 2006 at $160

Hey I have 2-3 bottles of 1988 in my cellar but I haven't opened my cellar for over 13 years. Wanna try these?

Beware: We may steal or throw away any left baggage!

Has anyone else found this to read strangely?


Who wants an egg?

My students: let's do it again today

We were all in a classroom yesterday. I like the idea of talking about how we can make wine an experience for our customers - even before they taste it. See you soon.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Fresh eggs: A surprise for the students in tomorrow's class

Chookies have gone to bed now. I have a bunch of eggs that I will take to uni tomorrow.
Big surprise for tomorrow's students. Im trying to talk about how - in social media - you need to draw your customers into your story. Force them to know what you are and what you do. They might not be clicking through immediately, but the post will be there forever. It's called curation and it goes to your authenticity as a brand, as a person. It puts a stake in the ground and adds perspective to your story.
So, today's story is when Cullen of Adelaide took a dozen eggs to uni to give to students as his ode to curation, content marketing and living your brand.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

English cricket: A bullying culture is a losing culture

Now, I'm not talking about toughness, robustness, accountability or the odd screaming match. Some of the best, highest performing business teams I've been a part of have had regular shouting matches. I remember champion boss Rod Davis and myself pulling up to the office, shouting at each other, walking up and in - still shouting - sitting in his office - shouting - getting up and shutting the door and continuing the match. Evenly matched, no malice, not stacking or politicking. Just a robust work culture. A boss who was prepared to be human, allow others to be, and get on with the job.

Some of the worst performing teams have had all the opposite. An iron fisted ideologue as "leader" with a string of ducklings all tagging along, squabbling among themselves to be the first behind the boss. The boss duck actively encouraging the squabble. I have always considered that to be a losing culture, but those cultures are also self delusional. Where I've seen it, the scoreboard is so confused that the members actually think they're doing OK.

In business or sport it becomes very clear. If our sales were going down or rival companies making inroads to our customers, the team would be losing. We never did.

And so, in sport. As I look at this photo of Andy Flower and Kevin Pietersen I realise how tempting it is to imagine that a bullying culture is good leadership. Flower looks to be decisive there, and Pietersen seems to be paying attention. It's easy to get away with this "pea and thimble" trick when the scoreboard is confusing.

But the English cricket team were losers - at least the last time they played Australia. Furthermore their performance seemed to fall off a cliff between the previous ashes series in England and the most recent here in Australia.

Team games are tough. It involves tough people with their focus and drive. Harsh words get spoken. But harsh words are not the same as a cringeing culture of intimidation, exclusion and idolatry. Often there will only be one person speaking out - such is the toxicity - because once you're out you're out for good, an enemy to all. The culture takes good, or ambivalent, people and makes them a part of the machine. Lessening them in the process. That seems to be what happened with the English Cricket team.

‘I’ve been one of the only ones who constantly through his reign as coach did not say “How high” when he said “Jump”. He built a regime, he didn’t build a team. 'I told him on numerous occasions, “You’re playing by fear here, you want players to be scared of you. And Andy, I’m not scared of you”. And he hated it.

I've spoken about this before with Mick Malthouse when I stated you have to love the ones you lead, and why I will forever hold Collingwood in contempt.

But I like to think that where it counts, where the scoreboard accurately reflects a team's performance, the losing teams actually lose. And where people are allowed the luxury of self delusion, that self delusion actually becomes its own cross to bear.

I may look back on this in months, or years, and amaze myself at how wrong I had it. But it's how I feel right now.

Monday, October 6, 2014

A nice fish and a nice wine

I had a great friend give me a fish. I met the owners of this winery ten years ago when I spoke at a NZ Wine Exporters forum. Nice mix.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Walk: A nice part of a weekend away

I have a few things to do away from town this weekend. My sister invited us out to her "away place" down at Victor Harbor, which makes the logistics a great deal more workable.

A few drinks with close family last night and a reasonably early walk around the beach this morning has had this going nicely.