Recently, my husband and I attended the American Craft Brewers Conference in sunny San Diego. I was honored to be selected as a speaker for this amazing event. And I do mean amazing. Over the past six months I interacted with a number of people at the Brewers Association and every person I encountered was exceptional. This was by far, one of the best conferences that I have attended.
I arrived early at the event to scope out my room and was greeted by a sea of enthusiastic people who were clearly passionate about their brands and their affiliation with this growing industry. As I walked around the convention center, I observed craft brewers exchanging brewing secrets with one another, in an effort to help their fellow brewer succeed. Now tell me, where else would you see competitors helping one another out?
If I could select one word that described the feeling in the room, I would say passion. My session was jammed pack, in spite of the fact that it was early Saturday morning. You see, these people attend sessions because they come to the conference to learn, as opposed to most conferences where attendees are there to collect CEU credits to retain their certification or license. As the session came to an end, a line was forming, as people were still thirsty for knowledge.
The energy in that convention center was contagious. My husband, who has attended his share of dental conventions, couldn’t believe the difference, not to mention all the free samples that he was handed along the way.
What I love most about this industry is how many young people are making a name for themselves. They know what they don’t know and they aren’t afraid to ask for help. Refreshing. But I also love the fact that experienced business people are trying their hand at something completely different and they are succeeding because of the support of their fellow brewers and the association.
Those outside the beer industry can learn a lot from this young industry.
Hire people with passion. You can’t make people be passionate. They are either in love with your product or your company or they are not. Find people who believe in your purpose and your business will soar.
Surround yourself with people who want you to succeed. There are plenty of naysayers out there who will tell you why things won’t work or will provide you with unsolicited feedback. Ignore these people and find a group that will support your desire to be different and better than the rest.
Constantly improve. You can’t rest on your laurels. If you aren’t moving forward then you are standing still. That’s when the competition has the best chance of passing right by you without you even noticing.
Ask for help. Trying to tackle a problem on your own when you have little expertise in that area is foolish. Find a trusted resource and get the help you need, so you can get back to the business at hand.
Treasure your people. Owners of brew pubs know who put them on the map and who will keep them there. It’s usually the brew master. They honor and treasure those who are most valuable in the organization. Can you say you do the same in your business?
Create a culture where it’s fun to come to work. I’m not suggesting that you need to bring in a ping pong table or that you have to have ice cream socials every week. But there is certainly something in between. People who are passionate about work, look forward to coming to the office everyday and making a contribution. Don’t know where to start? Read my Fast Company piece, Low Cost Ways to Show Employees They're Highly Valued .
--Roberta Chinsky Matuson is the President of Human Resource Solutions (www.yourhrexperts.com ) and author of Suddenly in Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around , a Washington Post Top-5 Leadership pick. Sign up to receive a complimentary subscription to Roberta's monthly newsletter HR Matters. 
[Image: Flickr user Michael Fajardo ]