When I opted to visit a local vodka distillery with a few of my MBA classmates, I knew I'd enjoy the experience (they included a free tasting) but I did not realize I would walk away re-energized and inspired.
I honestly believe there are times when planets align or when connections are made as if they were always meant to be. This is exactly what I thought about as I stood in the distillery area of Middle West Spirits and listened to Brady and Ryan tell the story of their company and their vodka, OYO. What happens when your significant other brings you along to one corporate event after the next? In this case, an advertising exec and fourth generation distiller discover each other's backgrounds and shared passions. Voila! A new company is born!
Brady summarized the essence of their company's start: serendipity. What a succinct way to capture the magic of the way things seemingly just fell into place! Mind you, they did not get to where they are without a lot of work, plenty of obstacles, and a struggle here and there. The inspiring part of the story is the way they handled each and every hurdle. They addressed them and worked through them by recruiting experts to help.
Everything at Middle West is done with a focus on quality and achieving the best result. Being different is good and they will tell you exactly why that is true. Brady also shared that they "wanted to give their vodka a sense of place". Much thought was put into the logo, the name of the company, the name of the vodka, the company's location, the partnerships sought, the distilling equipment purchased, the distilling process, and the ingredients used. On top of it all, their operation focuses on sustainability. In a word: impressive.
I couldn't help myself - I began relating all this intentional detail back to the internship search and recruiting process we're facing as first-year MBAs. How interesting things would be for each of us if we were so focused and intentional while creating our own brand. As I continue to hone my story, I will now incorporate some of the same concepts into my work (focus, different is good, have a sense of place, deal with obstacles, work with intention). Seeing the world from a new point of view is energizing and gives me new hope as my personal search continues.
As I've mentioned before, Columbus is turning into a city for foodies. It also cultivates and promotes an entrepreneurial spirit and the success of start-ups, local producers, and small business. I am confident we will see more great things from Middle West Spirits in the future. If we're lucky, we (as Fisher MBAs) can partner with them on various business cases as they continue to grow and expand. In my opinion, they prove there is great potential in ideas, innovation, and dreams. I doubt I'll be the only MBA to be inspired by their story.
"Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." - Seneca
AND "The two most important requirements for major success are: first, being in the right place at the right time, and second, doing something about it." - Ray Kroc (founder of McDonald's)
NOTES: For a nice overview of the process information Ryan shared with the group, check out this article on Columbus Alive, John Schumacher's blog post, or The Pegu Blog. Each offers a great summary of additional information I learned on my visit.