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  January 5, 2016
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Urgent Vs. Important   Happy Holidays

It’s a typical busy morning. You arrive at your winery to find that the dishwasher is broken, you have a large group arriving at 11 a.m., and the key team member you had scheduled to host them just called in sick. Budgets are due in two weeks, and you had been planning to spend the day working on them. Does this mean you should put this important work on the back burner? Make it this year’s resolution to focus on the important things.

In the 1960s, Charles Hummel published a little booklet called Tyranny of the Urgent, and it quickly became a business classic. (Hummel’s concepts became the foundation of works like Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.) Hummel noticed that there’s a natural tension between the urgent and the important — and far too often, the urgent wins. In business, this means that crises often take priority over things like strategy, planning, process improvement and team building. The urgent, though less important, is prioritized, and the important is put on the back burner.

The challenge we all face is that “urgent" items often masquerade as “important." But there’s a simple litmus test to help identify the truly important: Ask yourself if the activity will make a significant and lasting positive impact on the business. Identifying and working on the "important" stuff requires focus and concentration. As managers, this is where we want to be spending the majority of our time.


2015 has come and gone. Since every vintage is different, do you know how to describe the wines currently aging in barrels or tanks to the visitors coming to your tasting room?

Most professionals recommend preparing a Q&A for employees in order to convey a consistent message that does not disparage the vintages that are currently available for sale, but instead touts the positive differences of all.

We suggest teaming up with the winemaker and reviewing all of the bottles available at the tasting room as well as all future wines. Each person will have his or her own opinion, and the winemaker should be able to guide staff through the sensory experience of each wine as well as suggested wine pairings…

All this information can be printed and conveniently distributed as an “Employee Tasting Sheet.” This flyer can include suggestions for describing how the local weather impacted certain aspects of each wine, which can help with selling futures at your next barrel tasting event. Cheers!


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Copper Peak
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Oak Conference

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"WISE Bites" continued.   "Tasting Room Forum" continued.
Below is a sample matrix that separates urgent from important, and the tasks that belong in each quadrant:

Quadrant 1
Important but not Urgent

This is where real strategic success, professional and personal growth lies. It can be hard to find the time for Quadrant 1, because these items could always be done tomorrow.

Example: Planning, budgeting, metrics analysis, improving event/brand experience, marketing, outreach, vendor management, staff coaching and training.

Quadrant 2
Both Important & Urgent

Easy to prioritize . . . Just do it.

Example: Sales and customer- / event- / employee-related crises.

Quadrant 3
Urgent but not Important

Unless we find a solution for Quadrant #3 activities, we will never get to Quadrant #1.

Example: Some management requests, meetings you don’t really need to be in on, email you really don’t need to be copied on.

Quadrant 4
Neither Important nor Urgent

Procrastinator’s paradise, a no-brainer to ignore unless you are a huge procrastinator, then watch out for time sucks masquerading as the “faux” important.

Example: Personal phone calls, junk mail, junk emails, web surfing.

What will it take for us to spend more time in Quadrant 1 (Important but not Urgent)? Our goal should be to greatly reduce and almost eliminate our time spent in Quadrant 3 (Urgent but not Important) activities. We need to delegate more of our Quadrant 2 (Important and Urgent) activities, which may seem scary, but this is the sign of a true leader.

Schedule Big Rocks
When something is important, we need to prioritize it. Every day we manage urgency and importance simultaneously. Important projects require time and mental discipline to complete.
Managers tend to get stuck in the urgent, while leaders factor in time to take care of the important things. Covey’s Seven Habits calls this making room and time for the “Big Rocks.”

In this image, if the Big Rocks are our Quadrant 1 activities (our important stuff), and the sand is all the other stuff that takes up our time, and the glass jar is all the time we have available, then how can we ever find time to get to these big rocks? Put the big rocks in the jar first and then fill in the sand around them.

This is the secret of successful leaders. It is also the difference between managers and leaders, and we need to be both. There is no way we can effectively juggle both important and urgent on our own. To do this, we need great staff, great processes, training of systems and real discipline to move from the urgent to the important. Time spent in Quadrant 1 is not a luxury, it is a necessity for every successful manager.

Time Management Best Practices
This sounds good, but realistically, how are we going to make it happen? Here are some best practices:

Prioritize. Be ruthless, and stick to it! Make a list of the five most important things you need to do to positively impact your business. These are our Quadrant 1 activities. The most important use of this list is that it provides clarity about what is not on the list.

Act. With urgent problems and conflicts, act immediately. If we dwell on them and don’t act, we will just be distracted. Bias toward action here is critical.

Delegate. Entrust your team, especially with urgent items. Don’t hoard them. Be ruthless about Quadrant 3. Push yourself to delegate more in Quadrant 2. Get your ego out of the way. Urgent does not necessarily mean complex.

Take Control. Literally make an appointment with yourself. Set aside time – especially early and late – for focusing on the "important." Block off time on your calendar, when your office door will be shut or you go offsite. The gift of time is not something that your boss is ever going to give you; it is a discipline you have to create for yourself. Your success depends on it.

Successful managers are great delegators – not abdicators, but real delegators. Successful leaders take it a step further and are constantly working themselves out of a job. For some this may be counter intuitive, but decreasing organizational dependence on you as a manger actually makes you more – not less – indispensable to your employer.

So delegate that broken dishwasher problem to a staff member, get your next most experienced team member to host that large group, close your door and get to work on those budgets! Why not make your resolution to spend time on the important – not urgent – things?

Source: WISE Academy,


Wine Industry Metrics:

Nearly half of all wines sold direct to consumer are priced $60 or more per bottle, and most of these are Cabernet Sauvignon. The varietal accounted for the largest share of all DtC sales in the past 12 months at more than $450 million. Chardonnay had the second-largest share of $60-plus wine sales at around $170 million. Read the whole story at Wines & Vines.

Wines Industry Metrics:
Winery Job Index

This sector was still going strong in November 2015.

What U.S. Winery Professionals
Think of their Business Challenges

What business skills are needed to prosper in the U.S. wine industry? A new survey by the SSU Wine Business Institute Research Team provides some answers.

Where to Look for Winery Jobs?
With more than 9,200 wineries in North America (5,880+ with tasting rooms, and 4,650+ with wine clubs), there are many opportunities for DtC professionals. The site to visit is

Eastern Winery Exposition
For the 3,000+ wineries east of the Rocky Mountains, the Eastern Winery Exposition (EWE) returns to the Lancaster County Convention Center in Pennsylvania this March 8-10, 2016.

VingDirect Announces Vin65 Integration for Growing Business Results
This article published by our affiliate Wine Business Monthly describes the integration of Vin65 software with VinDirect services. Details here.

Oregon Sparkling Wines
Andy Perdue wrote this article about Oregon sparkling wines and lists some of the top producers.

With 108 wineries (83 with tasting rooms), Illinois’ wine industry is doing very well. See Nat Williams’ article in the Illinois Farmer Today.

With 98 wineries (78 with tasting rooms) and constant improvements in hybrid grape cultivars, Iowa’s wine industry is also doing very well. Catlin Elliston’s article in Iowa Farmer Today goes into detail.


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Jacques Brix is vice president and director of sales, West Coast, for Wines & Vines. This column is based on his personal experiences at winery tasting rooms and events.



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