Thought Leader Life with Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey (@TheBrandAuth) #017

In this episode of Thought Leader Life, Michael and I hang out with two thought leaders, Bonnie Harvey and Michael Houlihan, the couple behind the success of the Barefoot Wine brand. Michael and Bonnie share their journey from being struggling entrepreneurs in the ’80s to consulting for Fortune 500s and start-ups, and giving inspiration to thousands of university students. Their story is replete with valuable lessons that they dutifully documented in a book entitled The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. In talking about their success, Michael and Bonnie highlight their partnership and how the strengths and qualities of one complement the other.

In the interview, the couple talks about the qualities of a thought leader, and assert that it is not a title you assume, but something your followers give to you. True to the essence of thought leadership, Michael and Bonnie have not stopped working, and have dedicated most of their waking hours helping young people — most of them university students — to become their own bosses and build successful businesses. Shared with them are the same principles that guided Barefoot to become a national brand. One of the valuable lessons Bonnie and Michael shared is how they built Barefoot without any advertising, relying on “worthy cause marketing,” which Bonnie described as going to the communities to support things they are interested in. Michael gives a crash lecture on how to build a successful business, focusing on the “7 Sales,” as well as business standards and guiding principles which, interestingly, are now being taught in many business universities across the U.S. Aside from their lectures, Bonnie and Michael write blogs (Barefoot Wine Founders and Brand Affinity Technologies) that consist of straight-forward, informative pieces designed for young entrepreneurs who, as Michael says, are “tired of rhetoric.”

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Here are some “‘aha’ moments” from the episode. See more in the Aha Moments from Thought Leader Life books available in the THiNKaha App and watch the interview below!

Create advocates by giving them a social reason, not a mercantile reason, to buy your products. @TheBrandAuth

People are always looking for that easy answer, but there isn’t one. You have to diligently follow your plan. @happyabout

In starting a business, be small and be very successful in a limited territory. Any mistake you make will be confined to your little area. @TheBrandAuth

In business, it’s less about your product and more about how to bring your product to the general public through the distribution channel. @TheBrandAuth

Follow Michael and Bonnie on Twitter at @TheBrandAuth. Tune into Thought Leader Life every Saturday for more thought-leader goodness!