Where Bartenders Drink

If you love cocktails, travel, or quirky coffee table books, you must order Where Bartenders Drink by Adrienne Stillman. In the 12+ years of our friendship, Adrienne has introduced me to more memorable dining and drinking experiences than any other human being. It’s one of the many, many privileges of being her friend. She was going to Milk & Honey and Pegu Club in college while the rest of us were drinking Natty Lite. I first heard about restaurants like Faviken through her blog and came to appreciate sipping on rose in the summers thanks to her influence. We created Dipsology together and I watched her transform from a financial marketing professional to one of the most networked and knowledgeable cocktail connoisseurs in the world. Our events, content, and brand were all shaped through the lens of her passion and taste.

It fills my heart to see her talents showcased in this book. It’s the culmination of years of hard work, her discerning palette, and her gift for listening and telling stories.  I pre-ordered my copy and squealed when I finally got my hands on it. The book is substantial containing 300+ interviews from the world’s best bartenders. It features bars from all over the world, which is perfect for any cocktail lover with wanderlust. You can’t go wrong with any of the advice that this book delivers.

 

Adrienne — Thank you for more than a decade of friendship, delicious eats, and epic imbibing. You’ll always be my dipsy partner in crime and trusted advisor for all things taste. Love you!

My New Empathy Office

A couple of years ago, the executive team at Stack Overflow had the privilege of doing an off-site with Jerry Colonna, the CEO of Reboot and one of the most badass executive coaches you’ll ever find. I took so many things away from that session, but my favorite was this tool, “Red-Yellow-Green”.

So much of what Jerry teaches is radical self-inquiry and the importance of understanding ourselves and each other as part of our leadership. This “Red-Yellow-Green” exercise is designed to foster empathy without being overly intrusive.

It’s simple: Go around the room before a meeting or ask the person you’re speaking with if they’re red, yellow, or green.

  • Red:  You might be going through a tough family situation. Maybe you’re coming down with a cold and feel plain awful. Bottom line: things aren’t good.
  • Yellow: Meh. Something’s off, but it’s not terrible. You might have just come off a string of long meetings. You might be anxious about your in-laws coming to town. There’s something that’s preventing you from being your best self.
  • Green: You’re all good and ready to rock n’ roll.

We can’t expect everyone to always be open and vulnerable about how they’re feeling. Sometimes we’re not even equipped to understand what we feel or why we feel the way we do.  Having this simple, shared vocabulary gives everyone a tool to express themselves without having to divulge all the details.

You can imagine that if someone is in the red, you might reconsider how you give that person feedback or confront them about a tough situation. If they’re not engaged in a meeting or seem distant, it’s easy for the group to understand that there’s something happening to that person that’s preventing them from being present. I’ve instituted this shared practice on my team and it’s something we’ll occasionally do when we meet as an executive team.

This is anecdotal, but I’ve made a few observations after doing this exercise maybe 100+ times.

  • We’re social creatures and our colors are contagious. I rarely find even distribution of colors on my team. When folks are stressed or anxious about work, the majority of the group is red/yellow. When we’re in our flow, everyone is mostly green.
  • Most colors come with an explanation. Even though you’re not obligated to share, I find that most people give a reason for why they’re a particular color. In some cases, we might even opt to say things like, “I’m green at work, but red at home.”
  • Colors can change after a conversation or they can last for weeks. Someone can start off red, but move to yellow or green if a conversation or meeting gives them resolution. In contrast, someone might be in a steady state of yellow or red for long stretches of time. These are the people you need to reach out to. A simple, “How can I help?” or “Let me know if there’s anything I can do for you” can go a long way.

I took my obsession with this exercise to a whole new level tonight when I set up these LED lights in my office. Each December, Stack Overflow employees get a holiday gift from the company. It’s usually something tech-related – a Sonos speaker, Jawbone UP, Kindle, etc. This year we all got a set of Nano Leaf Aurora lights.

You can control the lights via mobile app and create custom settings or scenes. I immediately created three:


So if you see me on a Google hangout or Zoom room with one of these backgrounds, you’ll never have to ask me how I’m doing. You’ll see what I feel instead.

A Peak Inside Seth Godin’s New Book

People often ask me if I majored in marketing and when I say I didn’t, they ask me how I learned so much about it.

The full answer is complicated, but Seth Godin’s work is a key component. Over the years, his books and his blog shaped how I view the world, how I tell stories, and how I get over tiny creative hurdles that stunt my growth.

When I heard he was compiling a collection of his work in a limited edition book, I jumped at the opportunity to get my hands on a copy. The book finally arrived today and it was better than I ever imagined.

For starters, the book is huge and heavy. The weight on the shipping label says 17 lbs!

Everything from the packaging to the inside flap description to the very last page feels like a tailored experience for the reader. And that’s the beauty of Seth. No matter who you are or what you do, his words manage to find a truth that stirs something inside of you.

Fun seeing my name in print as part of “the tribe” aka early supporters of the project.

A tapestry of images are woven throughout the book and serve as a beautiful backdrop to the words on the page.

My first pass made me feel like I was revisiting an old friend and recalling some of our favorite conversations over the years.

Here are two pages that reflect some of the awesome that lies within:

And there you have it. A tiny glimpse into my new desk companion and source of daily inspiration.

Thank you, Seth! <3

Cocktail Classes with Fluent City

A few months ago, I had lunch with an old friend, James Rohrbach. We’re both liberal arts nerds and love connecting the dots between different disciplines. He told me about his new venture, Fluent City, which offers language and culture classes for insatiably curious individuals like me.

He and his team were nice enough to let me be a guest at their “All Shook Up” class, which teaches you  all about foundational cocktails skills – how to read a menu, stock a home bar, and even make some cocktails of your own.

Working on Dipsology, I learned a ton about cocktails simply by going out to hundreds of bars and befriending some of the world’s best bartenders. It’s taken me years of imbibing to learn that I love negronis, gin martinis, and drinking whiskey neat. Fluent City has successfully taken what I spent years learning and compressed it into a 4-week fast track.

Their approach to teaching you cocktail basics is fun, practical, and social:

  • Learn from the experts. My class was led by Robby Nelson who works at Long Island Bar and Prime Meats along with Channing Centeno from Momofuku Ko. They belong to a class of bartenders who are committed to the craft of cocktails and really put in the time to train and hone their skills.
  • Learn by tasting. You show up to class and you’re greeted with a smile and a cocktail. We kicked things off with a tasty daiquiri. If you haven’t had a *real daiquiri* (not a frozen one you get on Bourbon Street or a sour mix one from TGIFridays), you haven’t lived!
  • Learn by doing. After a quick demonstration, Robby gave us an overview of some basic ingredients and tools – a Boston shaker, jigger, simple syrup, etc. We then headed to our own cocktail stations, which were fully stocked with everything we needed to start makin’ and shakin’.
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  • Make new friends.  I don’t have the data to back this up, but if I had to classify cocktail drinkers, they’re more curious and open-minded than the average person. The entire vibe of the class was judgement free. Everyone I met was there to learn and have fun.
  • Practice at home. We were all sent home with a tote bag containing our very own cocktail shaker! I’ll admit I rarely make my own cocktails at home, but I’m inspired to practice more after tonight’s session. I think everyone should start with the classics, specifically a good old fashioned.

img_5657If you’re looking to learn something new that will enhance the way you eat, drink, or experience the world, I highly recommend you check out Fluent City’s classes. And if you’re in New York City on Saturday, December 10 and want a taste of intellectual imbibing, they’re hosting a Bloody Mary pop-up class at the Django.  Cheers and happy cocktailing! 
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