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IAM2081 – CEO and Global Innovator Creates a Global Portfolio of Hyper-Authentic Prestige Brands

Podcast Interview with Adam von Gootkin

In this episode, we Adam von Gootkin, a lifelong entrepreneur and a pedigree in the spirits industry date back to his family's distillery in the 1800s.

Adam is a global innovator in the spirits industry, bringing his family's legacy into the next generation by co-founding Onyx Spirits Co., an award-winning craft distillery offering America's first ultra-premium moonshine in New England's first whiskey.

His nationally released book Living Proof: Onyx Moonshine’s Journey to Revive the American Spirit, chronicled his unique approach to traditional business principles.

Adam is committed to bringing ultra-luxury global products born of distinctly authentic brands rooted in the uniqueness of their terroir and providence.

The conversation highlights the importance of having a strong team and prioritizing employees, as they represent the brand and deliver the desired customer experience. He also mentions the need to hire and fire efficiently, especially when the business is evolving.

Website: Highclere Castle Gin
LinkedIn: Adam von Gootkin

 

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Transcription:

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Adam von Gootkin Teaser 00:00

Becoming an entrepreneur. And it really is not for everybody, and it's not a journey that I would recommend for everybody because it can be very, very stressful, and it can be very, very daunting and very, very difficult. But I think daunting and difficult and challenging are the very features that build our character and make us who we are. If you have an easy path through life, you may not be living to your full potential nor be as fascinating as your capacity within you.

Intro 00:27

Are you ready to hear business stories and learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and level up your business from awesome CEOs, entrepreneurs, and founders without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, you've come to the right place. Gresh values your time and is ready to share with you the valuable info you're in search of. This is the I AM CEO Podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:54

Hello. Hello. Hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO Podcast, and I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Adam von Gootkin. Adam, excited to have you on the show.

Adam von Gootkin 01:03

It's great to be here. Thanks for having me.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 01:05

Yes. Super excited to have you on and talk about all the awesome things that you're doing it so the audience can learn a little bit more about you. And of course, before we do that, I want to read a little bit more about Adam so you could hear about some of those awesome things. And a lifelong entrepreneur, Adam von Gootkin, pedigree is in the spirits industry dates back to his family's distillery in the 1800s.

While his lineage as a risk taker can be traced directly to his great grandfather's Prohibition-era speakeasy in shipping operations on the Connecticut River. Adam is a global innovator in the spirits industry, bringing his family's legacy into the next generation by co-founding Onyx Spirits Co., an award-winning craft distillery offering America's first ultra-premium moonshine in New England's first whiskey. In 2015, his nationally released book Living Prook: Onyx Moonshine Journey to Revive the American Spirit, chronicled his unique approach to the traditional business principles.

Adam's next venture could take him from the New England coastline to the rolling grasslands of the English countryside into one of the most famous homes in the world. And in 2017 he partnered with the 8th Earl & Countess of Carnarvon, the owners of Highclere Castle, known as the “Real Downtown Abbey”, creating the Highclere Castle Cigar Company and Highclere Castle Spirits, where he launched an award winning cigar in the world's most awarded gin.

He's an adviser to the Queen's Commonwealth Trust and a founding trustee of the Royal Ethiopian Trust, advisers to his imperial highness, Prince Harmonious Selassie. Adam is committed to bringing ultra luxury global products born of distinctly authentic brands rooted in the uniqueness of their terroir and providence. In a central celebration of history, authenticity, and irreplaceable pedigree, he is committed to sustaining agricultural and manufacturing processes.

And what I really loved I didn't love the introduction as much as I was saying. I love everything he's doing, but he's a man that has accomplished a lot of numerous things. He's been a keynote speaker for Dale Carnegie's 110th International Convention. He's been featured on Bloomberg, Forbes, Fortune, NBC, ABC. And I really loved his TED talk. It's extremely impactful. One of the things that I took from it is he said that we are who we are because of the people that came before us.

So, Adam, excited to have you on the show. Are you ready to speak to the I AM CEO Community?

Adam von Gootkin 03:29

Absolutely. And I have to tell you, I was really impressed with that week because I didn't realize how much of a mouthful my bio actually was. I think you just read it out loud.

Gresham Harkless 03:37

Yeah. Thank you. Thank you. I appreciate that. Next time for the next time you come on the show, I'm a say it three times fast. So that's gonna be, something that everybody's wanna tune in for. I'm excited to have you as well too. So I guess to kick everything off, I know, obviously, I touched on it a little bit. I wanted to rewind the clock a little bit, hear a little bit more on how you got started with all the awesome work you're doing, what I call your CEO story.

Adam von Gootkin 03:57

Yeah. Sure. College wasn't really for me, so I only lasted about a semester. And then I went on to start a series of my first businesses that were outside of the spirits business, of course, where I go my expertise falls now. Through that process, it would might keep in mind, I'm 40 now, so that was twenty-two years ago. My family was very disappointed. In fact, the first chapter of my book is called McDonald's Military or College.

And that was the advice that my guidance counselor gave me were my three options in life. And this is twenty-two years ago. It was before the time that I think society really got behind becoming an entrepreneur. And it really is not for everybody, and it's not a journey that I would recommend for everybody, because it can be very, very stressful, and it can be very, very daunting, and very, very difficult. But I think daunting and difficult and challenging are the very features that that build our character and make us who we are.

If you have an easy path through life, you may not be living to your full potential nor be as fascinating as your capacity within you it could be. And so leaving college early and having to figure out my own way was really the the kind of beginnings of, I think, who I've become as a man, as an entrepreneur, certainly as a father. And it wasn't really until I was about in my mid-20s that I found a real passion and a love for distilled spirits and everything about them, from the farming side to the the branding and marketing side of things, distribution, and really just brand building.

And it's a really beautiful art form in a way, not unlike fashion, the fashion industry, or even like being a chef. You're really working with these raw base ingredients. You're working with farmers or your own land. And, all we end up seeing is being at that sexy nightclub or restaurant with the beautiful bottle on the shelf. But the people that are behind that and all the effort and money and resource and know how that it takes to bring that to life deeply inspired me. And from there there on forward, I was hooked.

Gresham Harkless 05:53

Nice. I absolutely love that. Oh, well, I wanted to drill down a little bit more here about all the awesome things that you're working on and impact you have. Could you take us through exactly, like, how you're making an impact in, in the world and in yours.

Adam von Gootkin 06:04

Yeah. My primary business is Highclere Castle Gin. So in this business, I had built a distillery, as you mentioned earlier, here in Connecticut, and that's where I really learned the ropes of the industry. We were using some of our own, corn farmland and spring water to make this moonshine, which was the celebration of the spirit of New England that my ancestors made a long, long time ago and other people did as well.

And, it was not it was where I learned the art of distribution, and it's where we as a team, and I felt I as a CEO and entrepreneur, was prepared to take a brand global. And so I started looking at where does a brand live that is deeply authentic, which is very, very important to me, has an element of craft to it, is still in that kind of sphere of luxury that I felt had a story that was not being quite told in a particular way. And that's what led me to Highclere Castle. I'm a British heritage. To be honest with you, I was selfishly looking for an excuse to spend more time in England.

And so I was looking across the pond and I was pondering maybe this is where my next brand and business should be rooted. And I learned about Highclere Castle through the same way that about three hundred million other people did through a TV series called Downton Abbey, which is now the single most watched TV series of all time. And I was enchanted by it. And when I learned that it was a real place called Highclere Castle, I reached out to the castle as a cold email.

And the next day, the phone rang, and it was the Earl of Carnarvon, godson to Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth. And I did not expect that to happen. And we had a wonderful conversation. And a few weeks later, I was on my way over to the castle to stay for the weekend at the invitation of Lord and Lady Carnarvon, and, which was also not expected. And from that was born a great friendship, and I think we quickly found a shared vision and that I wanted to bring the spirit of Highclere Castle to life, no pun intended.

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But by celebrating the botanicals that grew around the estate and by celebrating Highclere's legacy for entertainment and hospitality, because they've been hosting kings and queens and royalty and celebrities and statesmen and poets and all the most fascinating people of the world for 400 years at Highclere, and they still do today. And every evening starts with gin cocktails. So I wanted to celebrate that little tiny corner of what Highclere Castle represents in a fun and a sexy way that people could celebrate the Earth of Highclere all around the world, to take part in the celebration that is Highclere Castle. And thus was born Highclere Castle Gin and we're now the most awarded gin in the world in just a few short years. So we're very proud of the work we've done.

Gresham Harkless 08:56

Yeah, absolutely. It's so exciting to hear that, especially this year. I don't know if you feel the same way that this is part of your secret sauce, the thing you feel because that's you or the brand, a part that makes you unique and you seem to have that ability to be able to see the forest for the trees and not lose sight of that human part.

And I think when you talked about the joy, the excitement, all those feelings that we have, we sometimes forget that as products or services or things that we have a creator do, that we are actually creating that human experience. And we have the opportunity to be able to create joy, happiness, that whatever it is, you have that ability to do that. Do you feel like your your ability to have that awareness and pulse on that is is part of what's actually important to make you unique?

Adam von Gootkin 09:36

I hope it is. I'm deeply disappointed in the activities that a lot of market leaders in the United States do. Because if we really cared about the customer and their experience, we wouldn't put 138 items in what it takes to make their food or a bag of chips. We wouldn't poison our own people for the sake of a dollar. And there's many other practices that have gone on and many across many different industries that are very, very disappointing to me.

I think that we as leaders in business have an obligation for responsible entrepreneurship. And the moment we stop chasing that extra dollar and we start getting back to what business should be, which is providing a service or product to customers with the responsibility that goes with that, we'll be a better country, we'll have healthier, happier customers, and I think the brand will last longer. And many great CEOs that I've gotten to know are absolutely subscribing to that philosophy now. Sadly, it's a relatively new philosophy, which is preposterous.

But I think companies are being unfortunately, they're being forced to go that way, which is, all this and that. But now they've got ways to trick you on labeling for all natural and organic and stuff. So it's getting harder and harder to trust. Just like with politics, it's getting harder and harder to trust. And so people, more than ever, are getting their truth from other places like the Internet, which is equally hard to trust. So I think we've got a society culture problem right now where there's a deep lack of trust.

And we are capitalists. So I think we as capitalists, as entrepreneurs, as CEOs, we can set the tone and we can take a little bit of that hit. We can forge that new path and say, no. I'm determined to be authentic with what I'm promising my customers. And if that fundamentally means that my margins go down from 72% to 64% because I'm not going to produce the glass for my gin in China. We're making it in England because we say it's made in England. Then that then I'm gonna take that margin hit, and customers over time will understand that when we say something, we're not kidding around.

Gresham Harkless 11:47

Yeah. And that's so powerful to be able say that. And I wanted to switch it a little bit, and I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an Apple book or even a habit that you have. But what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

Adam von Gootkin 12:01

Running a couple of businesses with three children at home. I have to tell you, I have no hacks right now. I'm exhausted. Deeply so, and I'm not even kidding around. But I will say this, I think for me, I'm very committed to my faith as a Roman Catholic. I find that prayer and meditation and a good old fashioned run, few miles of a run, those things together can take care of just about anything. I'm also I take deep investment and pride over the people that I keep around me, other entrepreneurs and CEOs specifically, and some mentors who I spend quality time with, who help me think through challenges in a different way and a different perspective.

And I think, for me, at this stage of my life where I'm at right now, we're having some people with wisdom that I can really rely on, you're staying true to prayer and meditation, even if it's for two minutes, and going for a nice run around the neighborhood. That's normally enough to get my head right and get me where I need to see clearly and think clearly.

Gresham Harkless 13:01

Yeah. I appreciate those. So what would you consider to be what I call a little bit more of a CEO nugget? So that could be a word of wisdom or a piece of advice. It might be something if you were to hop into a time machine this time, you might tell your younger business self.

Adam von Gootkin 13:15

Yeah. That's a really great question. I think that goes back to really fundamentally around the team. The team that you keep around you, the management team, and such. I will say the customer's always right or customer comes first. And I really do think it's the team and the employees that come first because they represent you, they represent the brand, and if you instill on them the importance of customer, then you're going to deliver the customer ultimately with what you want.

My nugget, the lessons I've learned over time that I'm still will admit I'm not always great at is firing faster and hiring scalably bigger quicker or hiring that the kind of senior veteran when that time needs to come. It would definitely be around that kind of family, managing the team, and knowing when to fire, knowing when to hire at the at the point that you need to solve that next evolution of the business. Matter of fact, we're going through a big evolution, right now that's gonna be very important, the moves and decisions that I make in the next coming months.

Gresham Harkless 14:11

Yeah. That makes so much sense. So what would be your answer to my absolute favorite question, the definition of what it means to be a CEO? And our goal is to have different quote unquote CEOs on their show. So, Adam, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Adam von Gootkin 14:22

It means to dream the strategy, guide the tactics, and inspire the team and the customers.

Gresham Harkless 14:34

I love that. Dream, guide, and inspire. They're so powerful words that I think so many times as we talked about, like, some of these innovations, these things, they didn't exist before, but it takes somebody able to dream, able to actually guide that to come to fruition and making sure people understand each of those aspects and why is part of, like, why you end up inspiring and being that leader and that that CEO.

Adam von Gootkin 15:07

Hope so.

Gresham Harkless 15:08

Yes, absolutely. I think you're doing it phenomenally well. So, Adam, truly appreciate that definition. Of course, appreciate your time even more. So what I wanted to do now is pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional that you can let our readers and listeners know, and, of course, how best we will get out of you, find about all the awesome things you and your team are working on.

Adam von Gootkin 15:26

I think this was an excellent interview, and you asked some fantastic questions that were thought provoking and even had me had to think from. So I enjoy it when certainly the interviewer is well versed in this, which obviously you are. I just I would say that we're we if you're into spirits, give our our Highclere Castle Gin a try.

If you're into cigars, try the Highclere Castle Cigar. It's one of the top 25, ranked cigars by Cigar Aficionado, and our gin is now the Most Awarded Super Premium Gin in the world. Anybody can visit us by going to highclerecastlegin.com, get a bottle delivered to your house, or get some cocktail recipes and learn about some of our history and heritage. And, yeah, I hope to see you at some of our cool and dry and enjoy cocktail with you soon.

Gresham Harkless 16:06

There you go. Absolutely. And to make it even easier, obviously, we're gonna have the links and information in the show notes as well too so that everybody can get a glass, a bottle, or just to connect it as well too. But I truly appreciate you, obviously, taking time out today, and I hope you have a phenomenal rest of it.

Adam von Gootkin 16:20

You're amazing. You too. Thanks for having me on.

Outro 16:22

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO Podcast powered by CBNation and Blue16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at iamceo.co. I AM CEO is not just a phrase. It's a community. Want to level up your business even more? Read blogs, listen to podcasts, and watch videos at CBNation.co.

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Also, check out our I AM CEO Facebook Group. This has been the I AM CEO Podcast with Gresham Harkless, Jr. Thank you for listening.

Title: Transcript - Mon, 15 Apr 2024 08:29:25 GMT

Date: Mon, 15 Apr 2024 08:29:25 GMT, Duration: [00:16:56.84]

[00:00:00.10] - Adam von Gootkin

Becoming an entrepreneur. And it it really is not for everybody, and it's not a journey that I would recommend for everybody because it can be very, very stressful, and it can be very, very daunting and very, very difficult. But I think daunting and difficult and challenging are the very features that build our character and make us who we are. If you have an easy path through life, you may not be living to your full potential nor be as fascinating as your capacity within you.

[00:00:27.69] - Intro

Are you ready to hear business stories and learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and level up your business from awesome CEOs, entrepreneurs, and founders without values your time and is ready to share with you the valuable info you're in search of. This is the I am CEO podcast.

[00:00:54.70] - Gresham Harkless

Hello. Hello. Hello. This is Gresh from the I am CEO podcast, and I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Adam Von Gookin. Adam, excited to have you on the show.

[00:01:03.79] - Adam von Gootkin

It's great to be here. Thanks for having me.

[00:01:05.90] - Gresham Harkless

Yes. Super excited to have you on and talk about all the awesome things that you're doing it so the audience can learn a little bit more about you. And of course, before we do that, I want to read a little bit more about Adam so you could hear about some of those awesome things. And a lifelong entrepreneur, Adam Von Gookin, pedigree is in the spirits industry dates back to his family's distillery in the eighteen hundreds. While his lineage as a risk taker can be traced directly to his great grandfather's Prohibition era speakeasy in shipping operations on the Connecticut River. Adam is a global innovator in the spirits industry, bringing his family's legacy into the next generation by co founding Onyx Spirits Co, an award winning craft distillery offering America's first ultra premium moonshine in New England's first whiskey. In twenty fifteen, his natural nationally released book, Onyx's Moonshine Journey to Revive the American Spirit, chronicled his unique approach to the traditional business principles. Adam's next venture could take him from the New England coastline to the rolling grasslands of the English countryside into one of the most famous homes in the world. And in twenty seventeen, he partnered with the eighth Earl and Countess of Carnivaughn, the owners of Highclere Castle, known as the Real Downtown Abbey, creating the Highclere Castle cigar company and Highclere Castle Spirits, where he launched an award winning cigar in the world's most awarded gin. He's an adviser to the Queen's Commonwealth Trust and a founding trustee of the Royal Ethiopian Trust, advisers to his imperial highness, Prince Hermonius Selassie. Adam is committed to bringing ultra luxury global products born of distinctly authentic brands rooted in the uniqueness of their terroir and providence. In a central celebration of history, authenticity, and irreplaceable pedigree, he is committed to sustaining agricultural and manufacturing processes. And what I really loved I didn't love the introduction as much as I was saying. I love everything he's doing, but he's a man that has accomplished a lot of numerous things. He's been a keynote speaker for Dale Carnegie's hundred and tenth international convention. He's been featured on Bloomberg, Forbes, Fortune, NBC, ABC. And I really loved his TED talk. It's extremely impactful. One of the things that I took from it is he said that we are who we are because of the people that came before us. So, Adam, excited to have you on the show. Are you ready to speak to the IMCL community?

[00:03:29.59] - Adam von Gootkin

Absolutely. And I have to tell you, I was really impressed with that week because I I didn't realize how much of a mouthful my bio actually was. I think you just read it out loud.

[00:03:37.50] - Gresham Harkless

Yeah. Thank you. Thank you. I appreciate that. Next time for the next time you come on the show, I'm a say it three times fast. So that's gonna be, something that everybody's wanna tune in for. I'm excited to have you as well too. So I guess to kick everything off, I know, obviously, I touched on it a little bit. I wanted to rewind the clock a little bit, hear a little bit more on how you got started with all the awesome work you're doing, what I call your CEO story.

[00:03:57.30] - Adam von Gootkin

Yeah. Sure. College wasn't really for me, so I only lasted about a semester. And then I went on to start a series of my first businesses that were outside of the spirits business, of course, where I go my expertise falls now. Through that process, it would might keep in mind, I'm forty now, so that was twenty two years ago. My family was very disappointed. In fact, the first chapter of my book is called McDonald's Military or College. And that's what that was the advice that my guidance counselor gave me were my three options in life. And this is twenty two years ago. It was before the time that I think society really got behind becoming an entrepreneur. And it it really is not for everybody, and it's not a journey that I would recommend for everybody, because it can be very, very stressful, and it can be very, very daunting, and very, very difficult. But I think daunting and difficult and challenging are the very features that that build our character and make us who we are. If you have an easy path through life, you may not be living to your full potential nor be as fascinating as your capacity within you it could be. And so leaving college early and having to figure out my own way was really the the kind of beginnings of, I I think, who I've become as a man, as a as an entrepreneur, certainly as a father. And it wasn't really until I was about in my mid twenties that I I found a real passion and a love for distilled spirits and everything about them, from the farming side to the the branding and marketing side of things, distribution, and really just brand building. And it's a really beautiful art form in a way, not unlike not unlike fashion, the fashion industry, or even like being a chef. You're really working with these raw base ingredients. You're working with farmers or your own land. And, all we end up seeing is being at that sexy nightclub or restaurant with the beautiful bottle on the shelf. But the people that are behind that and all the effort and money and resource and know how that it takes to bring that to life deeply inspired me. And from there there on forward, I was hooked.

[00:05:53.89] - Gresham Harkless

Nice. I absolutely love that. Oh, well, I wanted to drill down a little bit more here about all the awesome things that you're working on and impact you have. Could you take us through exactly, like, how you're making an impact in, in the

[00:06:04.39] - Adam von Gootkin

world and in in in yours? Yeah. My primary business is Highclere Castle Gin. So in in this business, I had built a distillery, as you mentioned earlier, here in Connecticut, and that's where I really learned the ropes of the industry. We were using some of our own, corn farmland and spring water to make this moonshine, which was the celebration of the spirit of New England that my ancestors made a long, long time ago and and other people did as well. And, it was not it was where I learned the art of distribution, and it's where we we we as a team, and I felt I as a CEO and entrepreneur, was prepared to take a brand global. And so I started looking at where where does a brand live that is deeply authentic, which is very, very important to me, has an element of craft to it, is still in that kind of sphere of luxury that I felt had a story that was not being quite told in a particular way. And that's what led me to Hiker Castle. I'm a British heritage. To be honest with you, I was selfishly looking for an excuse to spend more time in England.

[00:07:13.39] - Gresham Harkless

And so I

[00:07:13.80] - Adam von Gootkin

I was looking across the pond and I was pondering maybe this is where my next brand and business should be rooted. And I learned about Highclere Castle through the same way that about three hundred million other people did through a TV series called Downton Abbey, which is now the single most watched TV series of all time. And I was enchanted by it. And when I learned that it was a real place called Highclere Castle, I reached out to the castle as a cold email. And the next day, the phone rang, and it was the Earl of Carnarvon, godson to her late majesty Queen Elizabeth. And I did not expect that to happen. And we had a wonderful conversation. And a few weeks later, I was on my way over to the castle to stay for the weekend at the invitation of Lord and Lady Carnarvon, and, which was also not expected. And from that was born a great friendship, and I think we we quickly found a shared vision And that I wanted to bring the spirit of Highclere Castle to life, no pun intended. But I by by celebrating the botanicals that grew around the estate and by celebrating Highclere's legacy for entertainment and hospitality, because they've been hosting kings and queens and royalty and celebrities and statesmen and poets and all the most fascinating people of the world for four hundred years at Highclere, and they still do today. And every evening starts with gin cocktails. So I wanted to celebrate that little tiny corner of what Highclere Castle represents in a fun and a sexy way that people could celebrate the Earth of Highclere all around the world, to take part in the celebration that is Highclere Castle. And thus was born Hike Thar Castle, gin, and we're now the most awarded gin in the world in just a few short years. So we're very proud of the work we've done.

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[00:08:56.00] - Gresham Harkless

Yeah. Absolutely. It's so exciting to to hear that, especially this year. I don't know if you feel the same way that this is part of your secret sauce, the thing you feel because that's you or the brand, a part that makes you unique and you seem to have that ability to be able to see the forest for the trees and not lose sight of that human part. And I think when you talked about the joy, the excitement, all those feelings that we have, we sometimes forget that as products or services or things that we have a creator do, that we are actually creating that human experience. And we have the opportunity to be able to create joy, happiness, that whatever it is, you have that ability to do that. Do you feel like your your ability to have that awareness and pulse on that is is part of what's actually important to make you unique?

[00:09:36.70] - Adam von Gootkin

I I I hope it is. I'm deeply disappointed in the activities that a lot of market leaders in the United States do. Because if we really cared about the customer and their experience, we wouldn't put one hundred and thirty eight items in what it takes

[00:09:49.89] - Gresham Harkless

to make their food or

[00:09:50.79] - Adam von Gootkin

a bag of chips. We wouldn't poison our own people for the sake of a dollar. And there's many other practices that have gone on and many across many different industries that are very, very disappointing to me. I think that we as leaders in business have an obligation for responsible entrepreneurship. And the moment we stop chasing that extra dollar and we start getting back to what business should be, which is providing a service or product to customers with the responsibility that goes with that, we'll be a better country, we'll have healthier, happier customers, and I think the brand will last longer. And and many great CEOs that I've gotten to know are absolutely subscribing to that philosophy now. Sadly, it's a relatively new philosophy, which is preposterous. But I think companies are being unfortunately, they're being forced to go that way, which is, all this and that. But now they've got ways to trick you on labeling for all natural and organic and stuff. So it's getting harder and harder to trust. Just like with politics, it's getting harder and harder to trust. And so people, more than ever, are getting their truth from other places like the Internet, which is equally hard to trust. So I think we've got a a society culture problem right now where there's a deep lack of trust. And we are capitalists. So I think we as capitalists, as entrepreneurs, as CEOs, we can set the tone and we can take a little bit of that hit. We can forge that new path and say, no. I'm determined to be authentic with what I'm promising my customers. And if that fundamentally means that my margins go down from seventy two percent to sixty four percent because I'm not going to produce the glass for my gin in China. We're making it in England because we say it's made in England. Then that then I'm gonna take that margin hit, and customers over time will understand that when we say something, we're not kidding around.

[00:11:47.29] - Gresham Harkless

Yeah. And and that's so powerful to to be able say that. And I wanted to switch it a little bit, and I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an Apple book or even a habit that you have. But what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

[00:12:01.20] - Adam von Gootkin

Running running a couple of businesses with three children at home. I I have to tell you, I have no hacks right now. I'm exhausted. Deeply so, and I'm not even kidding around. But I will say this, I think for me, I'm very I'm very committed to my faith as as a as a Roman Catholic. Mhmm. I find that prayer and meditation and a good old fashioned run, few miles of a of a run, Those things together can take care of just about anything. I'm also I I take deep investment and pride over the people that I keep around me, other entrepreneurs and CEOs specifically, and some mentors who I spend quality time with, who help me think through challenges in a different way and a different perspective. And and I think, for me, at this stage of my life where I'm at right now, we're having some people with wisdom that I can really rely on, You're staying true to prayer and meditation, even if it's for two minutes, and going for a nice run around the neighborhood. That's normally enough to get my head right and kinda get me where I need to see clearly and think clearly.

[00:13:01.79] - Gresham Harkless

Yeah. I I appreciate those. So what would you consider to be what I call a little bit more of a CEO nugget? So that could be a word of wisdom or a piece of advice. It might be something if you were to hop into a time machine this time, you might tell your younger business self.

[00:13:15.00] - Adam von Gootkin

Yeah. That's a a really great question. I I think that goes back to really fundamentally around the team. The team that you keep around you, the management team, and and and and such. I I will say the customer's always right or customer comes first. And I I really do think it's the the team and the employees that come first because they represent you, they represent the brand, and if you instill on them the importance of customer, then then you're going to deliver the customer ultimately with what you want. My nugget my the lessons I've learned over time that I'm still will admit I'm not always great at is firing faster and hiring scalably bigger quicker or skyr hire hiring that the kind of senior veteran when that time needs to come. It would definitely be around that kind of family, managing the team, and knowing when to fire, knowing when to hire at the at the point that you need to solve that next evolution of the business. Matter of fact, we're going through a big evolution, you know, right now that's gonna be very important, the moves and decisions that that I make in the next, you know, coming months.

[00:14:11.79] - Gresham Harkless

Yeah. That that makes so much sense. So what would be your answer to my absolute favorite question, the definition of what it means to be a CEO? And our goal is to have different quote unquote CEOs on their show. So, Adam, what does being a CEO mean to you?

[00:14:22.60] - Adam von Gootkin

It means to dream the strategy, guide the tactics, and inspire the team and the customers.

[00:14:34.39] - Gresham Harkless

I love that. Dream, guide, and inspire. They're so powerful words that I think so many times as we talked about, like, some of these innovations, these things, they didn't exist before, but it takes somebody able to dream, able to actually guide that to come to fruition and making sure people understand each of those aspects and why is part of, like, why you end up inspiring and being that leader and that that CEO.

[00:15:07.20] - Adam von Gootkin

Hope so.

[00:15:08.70] - Gresham Harkless

Yes. Absolutely. I think you're doing it phenomenally well. So, Adam, truly appreciate that definition. Of course, appreciate your time even more. So what I wanted to do now is pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional that you can let our readers and listeners know, and, of course, how best we will get out of you, find about all the awesome things you and your team are working on.

[00:15:26.79] - Adam von Gootkin

I I think this was an excellent interview, and you asked some fantastic questions that were were thought provoking and and and even had me had to think from. So I enjoy it when certainly the interviewer is is well versed in this, which obviously you are. I I just I would say that we're we if you're into spirits, give our our Hiker Castle gin a try. If you're into cigars, try the Hiker Castle cigar. It's one of the top twenty five, ranked cigars by cigar aficionado, and our gin is now the most awarded super premium gin in the world. Anybody can visit us by going to hiker castle gin dot com, get a bottle delivered to your house, or get some cocktail recipes and learn about some of our history and heritage. And, yeah, I hope to see you at Submarco and enjoy cocktail with you soon.

[00:16:06.60] - Gresham Harkless

There you go. Absolutely. And to make it even easier, obviously, we're gonna have the links and information in the show notes as well too so that everybody can get a glass, a bottle, or just to connect it as well too. But I truly appreciate you, obviously, taking time out today, and I hope you have a phenomenal rest of it.

[00:16:20.60] - Adam von Gootkin

You're amazing. You too. Thanks for having me on.

[00:16:22.70] - Intro

Thank you for listening to the I am CEO podcast powered by CB Nation and Blue sixteen Media. Tune in next time and visit us at I m c e o dot c o. I am CEO is not just a phrase. It's a community. Want to level up your business even more? Read blogs, listen to podcasts, and watch videos at CB Nation dot c o. Also, check out our I Am CEO Facebook group. This has been the I Am CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless junior. Thank you for listening.

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Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(CEOBlogNation.com), podcasts, (CEOPodcasts.com) and videos (CBNation.tv). CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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