We want to talk about brands. Specifically, the moment when any one of us is presented with a brand that we may or may not want to work with. This is a moment in any of our careers that has a myriad of personal responses, anywhere from a flat-out “No,” to “What are they looking to do? How much? F#%k that. I don't work with flavored vodkas!” or, “Really! Holy crap I would love to be on the team."
We’ve all had this moment. We take our position behind the stick, standing in front of whatever back bar we have and then with our personal tastes/values/opinions/egos decide which of all these products we want to support. And so the game begins. We all have friends that are brand managers, we have reps we like and those we despise, brands that we have been taught to love and brands we've been told to hate. This is that moment where we ask you to ask yourself: are you a sheep, or are you a wolf? With so many outside opinions telling you what you should and should not do, what do you do? To this we have two things to say: "Opinions are like assholes; we all have one," and, "Find your truth and work from there."
Over the course of our careers, if you were to ask people who’ve had to deal with us, you would hear varied stories on how we’ve dealt with this delicate subject. One of us has a checkered, overly opinionated past that has proven gruff if not downright rude to people peddling their wares. The other one has played this game diplomatically and hasn't been committal but hasn't turned his nose up at a possible moment to build a relationship. And therein lies the point. Relationship building. This business, game, craft, lifestyle is all about relationships. It is a marathon not a sprint. Brands come and go but the people who work for them don't. In this digital mess that is our time, we have the unique position of remaining able to interface with people.
Relationships are what make your career, we believe. Kindness and honesty. We can't advocate lying to a brand ambassador when he or she comes in with a new product that is dogshit. Tell them, they are your friends. Wouldn't you like to be told? But when you do, soften it by complimenting something they have that you do like. They may work for one of those "evil" companies that don't have obscure, hand-hewn brands made to satisfy us geeks. Just for a moment imagine being them. They’re saddled with a portfolio of megabrands that sell almost everywhere, and they have to come in and endure your facial expressions that probably look to them like you think what they have is as anathema to you as a rotten dead dog on the side of the road in a desert climate. Not a fun day at work if you ask us. All the compassion you show the little guys is to be admired, but why limit it at that? The people hired to rep these products are usually of our ilk and usually complete badasses. They have done all that we do and someone headhunted them to help their brand that doesn't do well with “us.” They haven't sold out, they took a job and they have bills to pay like we do.
The point is, the generosity of spirit we give our guests is also deserved by the brands we peddle to our guests. Without them we wouldn't have the various cocktail weeks we all enjoy around the country. We also wouldn't have that moment of reprieve in the middle of an insane night where we get to pour an eleven dollar vodka soda or six. It's strange how we take these moments for granted when we are one on one with a rep or a brand person. We live on our craft, our tips and the taste of the general public. We gotta give ‘em what they want and we have to keep happy the hands that feed us. Of course at the top of a food chain there is a perfect predator but very few of us are in the position to hunt this mega shark. We are all in this pool making friends and keeping the aquarium clean so that we can continue with what it is we love to do.
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