"Entrepreneurship is where it's at... We are at the end of the first industrial revolution, with too many non-sustainable systems... Planning is actually incompatible with an entrepreneurial society and economy, planning is the kiss of death to entrepreneurship... Shut up and listen to what people need, not what you think they need." ~ Ernesto Sirolli
I had the opportunity to go to Kentucky with a couple of good friends in January. Being that Kentucky is the whiskey capital of the world, our trip was not without a desire for some distillery tours. While we were there, we visited two distilleries. The first distillery was Barton's 1792. It was a rather snowy day, which decreased the normal amount of people that arrived for tours. As a result, we had an extended tour and a lot of perks thrown in. We enjoyed a very detailed look at what goes into the production of a fine whiskey. Despite the small size of Barton's distilling grounds, there was a lot of production flowing through it. Literally.
The second distillery we toured was Makers Mark. The distilling grounds at Makers Mark were large and well designed. Stone buildings, vibrant colors and a well crafted tour that gave us the opportunity to taste the different steps of the process. Another great experience was watching each bottle get hand dipped; a process that Makers Mark has patented. Several members of our group bought their own bottle and dipped it themselves after the tour. We learned the proper way to smell, taste and define each whiskey.
Barton's gave us a detailed account of the step by step process as well as the chemistry behind distilling. Makers Mark gave us an overview of the production side of the process and allowed us to taste different parts of the distilling process. Both touring experiences complimented each other and provided us with a well rounded understanding of whiskey distilling.
From corn delivery to the barrel house, good whiskey is a craft that not every distillery masters. I won't claim to be a large fan of whiskey, but I do enjoy a conservative taste of finer, smoother whiskeys. More than that, however, I enjoy the science, chemistry and detail behind the bottle. Both distilleries are worth taking some time to visit and experience.
This past summer I was part of a group of journalist and broadcast students from Winona State University that went to the Navajo Nation in Arizona and filmed five documentaries on five individual Navajo Elders. This project was a part of a 5 year partnership between WSU and Diné College with the mission of capturing the stories of Navajo code talkers. This past year was the fifth and final year of the project. Part of the final year of documentaries was the focus on Navajo artists. My group specifically filmed a documentary on a Navajo rug weaver. It was filmed in Navajo and translated to English with subtitles. Though it is no great work of cinematography, the power of the story and the importance it holds in the hearts of the Navajo people is where the value is held.
I recently returned from a trip to L.A. where my team had the incredible honor of having our documentary shown in a film festival. Our film was selected to premier in the L.A. Skins Film Festival at the Regal Cinemas L.A. LIVE theatre.
The L.A. Skins Film Festival is an event that creates the opportunity for Native American films and film makers to share their work and develop a voice in the industry. We were flown out to attend the showing of our film and present on our experience afterwards, which also included a Q&A time for audience members to ask us questions. It was a great experience having our film shown in such a venue, and my team and I were very thankful for the opportunity.
It's so important for good stories to be told and for the truth in them to be heard. What an honor to have the truth in our film selected to be shared.
The film is located under the projects tab as "Navajo Oral History Project".
"Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth."
- Marcus Aurelius
I often overhear people making statements about a person, event or object in a manner that suggests that they have a library of knowledge on the subject. When, in fact, they are just really good at acting like they are educated based on an opinion they developed after reading a tweet over breakfast. Who doesn't enjoy feeling educated?
In my experience, it is easy to walk into a room assuming you're the smartest person. However, holding this position is rather precarious and arrogant. Were I to hold this type of attitude, if someone was to dare challenge me with an opposing opinion I might cut them short, throw down my gauntlet and challenge them to an intellectual dual. That would most likely result in them retaliating in some passive-aggressive manner, as is most often the case when you're from the midwest, and leaving me thinking that I'm awesome.
I value the relationships I have with people. I have learned to value them more than I do my opinions and what they think of my opinions. If I place more value on expressing my lengthy opinion on why the coffee I drink is better than yours or why my choice of cell phone is better than yours, I'm not placing any value on you as a person or giving you the opportunity to share your own opinion. In fact, in that case, I'm practically dictating to you what opinion you should hold in place of whatever opinion you currently hold. In my experience, every attempt I have made at sharing a lengthy opinion most often ends in me feeling great and the other person's eyes glazing over. Not very helpful in my attempt to be someone people want to be around. The only people that want to be around someone like that, are the people that are like that. I'll let you figure out where that ends.
I am not, in fact, the smartest person in the room, nor do I hold the only opinion or knowledge about things. This is a daily truth I have to accept. This conjures up a challenge towards one of my natural tendencies; wanting to be right and wanting to have the best opinion.
Having an opinion is not a bad thing. Opinions are very helpful tools in communicating your position towards something. However, it's important to understand that not all opinions need to be shared. Especially those that are not well thought out or are not backed up with some facts. Opinions are different than convictions and beliefs. I can listen to someone's opinion without having to agree or disagree with it. This saves them the experience of me sharing my own opinion, and saves me from having to invest energy in expressing said opinion as well as endure their blank stair. In most cases, expressing my opinion isn't of much value in the long run. I'm better off enjoying someone's company and simply listening.
This is not to say that I don't have strong opinions or that I don't enjoy sharing them. I do and most often they are well thought out, in my opinion. Ha. One of my daily challenges is focusing on learning when to express my opinion and challenge the opinions of others, and when to keep my mouth shut and listen. I would offer the same challenge to you. Perhaps, you're not the smartest person in the room and that's okay. Though, if you do find that you're the smartest person in the room, you're probably in the wrong room!
It is better to first seek to understand, before seeking to be understood. Should you find that you cannot agree on someone's opinion, agree to disagree agreeably.