90 Percent of Success is Down To . . .

by Gaz Regan · Friday, March 2nd, 2012 · Mindful Bartending

I’m about to let you in on what I think might be the biggest reason I get enough work to keep me busy 365 days per year.  And I think that if you apply it to your career, you’ll find that it might work very well for you, indeed.  Ready?  Here it is:  I’m pretty easy to work with.

It’s not quite as simple as that, but to paraphrase Woody Allen I can tell you with absolute certainty that

90 percent of success is being easy to work with.

Now let’s look at what that means, and before we get down to how to make yourself easy to work with, let’s take a look at the parameters you might want to think about setting.  Here’s what I refuse to do:

  • I won’t lie about whether or not I think any product is good or bad.
  • I won’t allow anyone to put words into my mouth.
  • I won’t accept work from a company that mandates that I can’t accept work from another company.

And here’s a list of things I highly recommend you think about incorporating into your work ethic:

Never agree to do something you don’t want to do.

Always meet deadlines.  This means being on time for your shift behind the bar, and/or coming through on time with a new drink recipe that you’ve been hired to create.

Communicate, communicate, communicate.  This means that, if for some reason you’re not going to meet a deadline, or you’re going to be late for your shift-because we all know that shit does happen, after all-LET SOMEONE KNOW.

Help promote your competition.  This is something I learned years ago from Deepak Chopra, and believe me it pays off in spades.

Never badmouth anyone, ever.  This is a tough one.  Some people just piss you off, right?  Me, too.  And I can’t claim to live up to this rule 100% of the time, but I can tell you with absolute certainty that every time I say something bad about anyone at all, I feel bad about saying it almost immediately.  When we badmouth others, what we are really saying is that we are better than they are.  And that’s never true.  Never.

Here’s an example of how best to handle the last two points:  If someone asks you your opinion about a certain bartender who you don’t have a high opinion of, instead of putting them down, you might say something like, “Personally I prefer the style of Jim Smith behind the bar.”  Like I said, these are tough issues to live by, but I promise you’ll be happier if you concentrate on the positive.

Don’t be a prima donna.  You are no better than anyone else.  And neither am I.  If you never agree to do anything you don’t want to do, you’ll never have to imply that you’re too good to do that.

Never pretend to be good at anything that you’re not good at.  If you’re very fast behind the bar, but not very creative, tell that to whoever is interviewing you for a job.  That way they’ll never be disappointed if they hire you.

To the point above I’d like to tell you right now that I fit into that “fast but not very creative” category, though I must say that I’m a little more creative these days than I was, say, 5 or 6 years ago.  Why?  Because I’ve been learning from younger, more creative bartenders.  That’s why.  Keep learning.  It’s a lifelong proposition.

If, say, you’re a bar consultant, and a bar owner asks you to accomplish 4 things for them, and you’re no good at one of those tasks, hire someone to work with you on that task.  You’ll make only 75% of the fee, but your client will be happy, and you’ll get more work that way.

I think that just about wraps up what I have to say for the time being.  I’d love to hear comments, though, so please let me know what you think.

18 Responses to “90 Percent of Success is Down To . . .”

  1. Steven Dean Lauria says:

    I agree. You have to get along with people. If you don’t, you won’t work. Getting along with people is one of the biggest reasons why people hire and keep other people to work for them. How often we hear, “He’s a nice guy,” or, “She’s a nice lady,” or, “s/he does a good job.” Well, good job means doing what’s expected of you and being agreeable. Yes, what’s expected of you is to be punctual, reliable, honest, friendly. By taking the diplomatically honest tack that you’ve talked about in this fine article it’s easier to be those things. You’re not compromising yourself or anyone else. Being true enough to say that you won’t do what you don’t want to do is a big one. Congratuations! Good wrtiing! Good reading!

  2. Another great post, Gaz. You can easily apply this across a spectrum of working environments from the bar to the board room. If you just say what you’re going to do and then do it people are often impressed. Cheers!

  3. Jeremy Crittenden says:

    Yes! Yes! Yes! Being easy to work with is the foundation of success. I like to take it a step further (very applicable for us bartenders): make the people around you
    successful, and your success will be inevitable.

    THANK YOU for your article, your contribution, and YOU!!!

  4. Andrew says:

    Gary – thanks a lot for writing this.

    It seems…amazing…that these things need to be said, but good goddamn do they ever have to be said. Reading through that list, there were a number of things that I need to get better at (sorry, Esquire Mag! I will get you that picture!), but these simple rules are going to be reviewed for sure at my bar, and as tough as it is to satisfy them all, all of the time, it’s surely worth the effort.

    Sadly, talking shit seems to pay off, and not just during an election season. And prima donna/barstarism is going to be sticking around – but luckily (I’ve said this a million times and I have meant it EVERY time) here in Seattle we have Murray, and he’s such a great influence that I can’t tell you how many times someone in Seattle has quietly (or not so quietly), when something negative has happened, said, “You know, Murray’d never do/say that”. And, now we have this post to forward around, too.

    Thanks, Gary.

    Andrew Friedman
    Liberty, Seattle

    • gaz regan says:

      Thanks for your comment, Andrew. You are, indeed, lucky to have Murray in Seattle. He’s one of my idols. Your words caused me to re-read this piece, and that led to me realising that I need to re-read it more often! Living up to these standards is not something that comes easily, and I think it’s good to keep reminding ourselves of them from time to time.

  5. John Henry says:

    We get better by showing our best work and helping others to do same.
    Egos are not part of that equation. Consider ego the glacial iceberg to bar community waters on the rise.
    Talking better work than actually doing same, silently and consistently, seems to be another core perfect storm here, Gaz.
    If you do great work at the bar your work will be rewarded. Don’t blather on. We serve drinks, not self-promotional sound bites.

    Thanks for steering your solid course up river, COMMODORE Regan.

    CPT John

    • gaz regan says:

      Wise words, John Henry. Thanks for posting. I’m here in Germany right now being treated very well indeed by the guys at Jagermeister. Wish me luck!

  6. Marc says:

    This is great career advice for any industry! Well said.

  7. Doug Compton says:

    Love this article, Gary, thank you! Like Andrew, I’m in Seattle as well and I’ve personally heard him comment on us having the example of Murray to look to. Beyond that, Seattle has so many talented bartenders that are so helpful, willing to share information and not so quick to run other bartenders down. All of us can and should take this to heart and I thank you for writing this piece.

    Doug Compton
    Volterra, Kirkland..

  8. Judi Laing says:

    Oh, man, wish everybody could read this. People would be able to let go of their fear and boost their self-confidence so they could navigate with a clear focus and ‘no worries’….thanks, Gaz…wise words once again.

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