Monday, February 14, 2011

Sine Metu ~ Without Fear!

The history of John Jameson and Irish whiskey is a great story as it relates to tough times today! If you have never traveled to Dublin that is ok, as I will take you on a journey of what it takes to succeed during tough times and what you can learn from this historic entrepreneur. So relax with a shot of Jameson (neat –no ice or mix) and relate my thoughts to the future of your business.
October 5, 1740 on a bright sunny day, a legend was born and the history of whiskey making began. Many people think that John was born in Ireland (after all it is Irish Whiskey), but he was born in Scotland and became more Irish than the locals in his quest to make the best whiskey in the world.
Although Jack Daniels is the most sold whiskey in the world, Jameson Irish whiskey is by far some of the best whiskey in the world.
Sine Metu – Without Fear is the family motto and the crest of John Jameson Irish Whiskey. His bravery of battling pirates on the high seas as he sailed to Ireland in search of his quest to make his mark on Irish Whiskey was a test of strength. Remember the Irish already had become known as the leaders in Whiskey making before John Jameson ever was heard of. Then he comes with a vision to make it better – Sine Metu!
Just like business today, the most important part of building and leading a successful business is about quality, best ingredients, best people and commitment. He worked with farmers to grow the finest barley and bought the finest wood barrels to mature his whiskey. He was competing with Guinness who also was buying up all the barley, so John gave farmers the best seeds to grow the finest barley for him and purchased it in advance to beat Guinness to the harvest so he wouldn’t lose out to the big beer maker.
Keep in mind that he went against the norm, fought the average and challenged status quo ~ not very popular with the competition. – Sine Metu!
Again, if you are not familiar with whiskey making, it is fun to know that in the late 18th century, whiskey was distilled twice like it was in Scotland. That is ok, if you are fine with just a double distilled whiskey, but John Jameson was not happy with that. He decided to go for a third distillation, as he found it made the whiskey that much smoother. He even kept trying, four and five times but could never perfect the taste past 3 times.
He created all this in a single distillery on Bow Street in Dublin. Stored all the barley, triple distilled and hosted all the best parties in Dublin at the distillery. Today, even in Cork The Irish Distillers Group (Jameson joined forces with rivals Powers to distill the best whiskey in the world) work this same way. Although there is much more technology, much of how the original whiskey was made is still the foundation of today’s whiskey making is the same.
It was great to work for John Jameson. He paid the best wage for the best talent, gave them great working conditions and even sat down for a nice drink of whiskey at the end of the day with the employees. If you think about our world today, we have to watch reality television about under cover bosses, read books about employee engagement and if you treat your employees right, they will treat your customers and business better. John Jameson was way ahead of his time. I am a firm believer that we can learn so much from history on how to create our future. To this day you will notice on a bottle of Jameson next to John Jameson’s signature 2 men balancing a barrel, just another tribute to his employees, symbolizing the passionate and committed ladies and gentlemen that made Jameson Whiskey the best! The men that worked on the barrels were called Coopers and each of them were given nicknames that have gone down in history. It is said that John Jameson’s nickname was “Glorious John” because he threw such great parties that when he would walk into the room, he would ask his guests how they were enjoying their evening and the response was always “Glorious John Glorious!”
My visit to the Brazen Head in Dublin (the oldest pub in Dublin) gave me another look at how smart John was. He would take his whiskey to the Brazen Head and ask customers to try it (market research of yesterday). He would get feedback and continued to perfect his whiskey – everyone would know to ask for a “jimmie” because it was Irish and the best.
Success does not come easily, and John and his sons kept the tradition of quality, commitment and loyalty alive just as “Glorious John Jameson” envisioned his future.
What are you doing to drive success in your business? How do you engage with your employees and customers? Yes, it has been a tough 18 months, but history has shown us that if you work hard (really work), strive to be the best and take a risk – you will not only survive but thrive ~ – Sine Metu!


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