The Long Game Leadership

Calling back the introductory Long Game post. What is the ultimate goal of any parent?

How do we keep this goal, front and center, when you have a starving screaming kid choking on their own snot because they are in a tantrum spiral which they can’t help?

It’s hard to stay calm and level headed in the thick of it but we care deeply about these little humans.

If your kids are anything like mine, they’re smart…..very smart.

When I wake up on Tuesday with a shitty attitude, the negative energy is transferred to their little brains in 2.1 seconds and they begin mirroring me. Then their true superpower comes out and they take that shitty attitude, tweek it, and project even shittier behavior.

Evolution is a bitch.

I remind myself every moment, this struggle is temporary, and will pass. It takes every ounce of energy to remain calm and redirect.

At some point children will fly away and the day to day grind will disappear. I struggle with this concept so I constantly remind myself of this.

If you have children, you are not alone, we will get through this.

If you don’t have children, take all the struggles of entrepreneurship and multiply it times 10.

The Long Game play for any brewery owner is to have a positive impact while elevating your team to their highest and best ability.

What the heck is positive impact?

Is the environment at your brewery conducive to changing lives? And I don’t mean millennial emotional and mental care here.

Do you, on a daily basis, encounter positive attitudes and excitement?

Is there space to learn and do better? Or are mistakes publicly shamed?

Positive impact is elevating your team to their highest potential. Providing the environment (Space) to learn and be excited about the work they do.

In order to create a positive impact you need the right leadership in place to usher this new way of thinking.

Honestly, it starts with you.

Let’s take a look at the history of you.

When it comes to leadership, every business owner goes through roughly the same rights of passage. There are three distinct phases, however, most don’t make it to the end.

  • V_1.0 Individual Contributor
  • V_2.0 Team Player
  • V_3.0 Impact Leader


V_1.0 Individual Contributor


This is the first business you have owned. You opened your doors less than 10 years ago and the vision of success is not exactly playing out.

In the beginning, you set out to make award winning beers and watch the profit roll in. While in reality you are grinding to manage cash flow. You envisioned celebrating many thousands of people enjoying your beer. However, most of your time is spent dealing with HR issues.

At the start you were doing everything. This is what I call an individual contributor.

You remember, grinding to get the beer packaged and then transition to the office to answer emails about being on the local news.

You did it all.


V_2.0 Team Player


Individual contribution is exhausting, but it must get done. At some point you realized this was not sustainable and you began to build a team.

As the team grew you were afforded the ability to delegate tasks that are not the highest and best use of your time.

This felt great.

At each win (the team stepping up), you gained confidence to hire more, delegate more.

At the Team Player phase you are still in the day to day but at a lesser capacity.

Most founders stop here. Which is a shame.


V_3.0 Impact Leader


Impactful leadership is hard for many reasons.

Humans have trauma and trauma travels. Most team members will bring their past work experience to your brewery. Someone, at some point, had a positive or negative impact on the way they interpret work.

It is your obligation as an Impactful leader to exhibit a positive work environment where teams can learn and grow.

What separates the typical founder from an impactful leader is the ability to step away from the noise and allow the team to thrive.

This does not happen by osmosis. In fact, the journey through V_1.0 and V_2.0 will determine your success as an impactful leader.

The journey is SO important. Your attitude, knowledge transfer, and daily demeanor are the start. Pile on the perception of your brand, the industry, and competition and we have a very powerful voice.

Impactful leaders have a voice.

Your team is begging you to lead them with purpose. They want to celebrate the wins and learn from the challenges.

But How?

Gonna take a wild guess here…I am suspecting you think everything I’ve laid out above sounds like roses and unicorns.

Am I right?

Being an impactful leader starts with YOU. (and your co-founders)

Yes, you must show up every day, smiles and positive attitude in-tow, until you believe this is the path forward.

I want you to take a hard look at what you’ve built, with the people in place, and the progress you have made.

Right now, in the brewing industry, too many founders have lost the passion and drive to elevate past Team Players.

Founders fatigue is real.

News Flash: Founder is just a title. Change can happen.

I am publicly asking all the founders to step up and make a hard ass decision. The industry is not in a place or time for complacency or wavering opinions.

If you find yourself rolling your eyes or not really connecting with the content in this post, I encourage you to consider resigning. Think about how nice it would be to have the daily worries and firefighting off your plate.

Likewise, if you have read this far and are thinking, hmmm, my co-founder has been disconnected for the past 3 years and I’ve carried this place on my back. It’s time to have a hard conversation.

Impactful leadership is the FUTURE. Anyone that tells you otherwise is a clown.

Just commit to the positive attitude and smiles for the next 30 days.

I am predicting it will take another 3 years before we emerge into the next craft beer resurgence. In order for you to make it there, leadership should consider a change of strategy sooner than later. If you want to play the Long Game, you must break through the Team Player ceiling.


p.s. Stay tuned for a really cool announcement next week on how Small Batch Standard is bringing the Long Game to a city near you!

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