Book Review: Brewing Up a Business

"Of all that the world has to offer, it is innate human potential that is the most impressive."

I recently finished reading a book that I've been meaning to read for a while now, Brewing Up a Business, by Sam Calagione about the founding of Dogfish Head Brewery. I got the second edition a few years ago when it came out and actually got it signed by Sam when he came to visit University of Delaware to promote it. Dogfish has always piqued my curiosity since it is something from Delaware that a lot of people know of. I've had a few beers of theirs that I've liked, and recently (finally) visited their brewery in Delaware (they have a ale house here in Maryland that I need to check out too). Nevertheless, I've appreciated them as an ambassador of my (sort of) home state and was excited to sit down with this book after far too long putting it off.

I will say that this book didn't grab me in its entirety. There are cool parts, like the stories about the early days of Dogfish Head. There are also less cool parts, like going into how to balance your small business's budget (oversimplifying a bit here). I personally wasn't reading this book for the introduction to business lessons. I wanted stories and advice about life. I appreciate that the book has both, but it ended up with a decent portion of the book not being for me. I skimmed through the parts that started to lose my attention. It felt mostly like pretty boiler plate leadership and business tips that are very much currently part of the zeitgeist on sites like Inc or Fast Company (granted this book came out several years ago, so it was probably a little ahead of the curve).

There are some fine morsels in there (see the above quote which I love). There is also some neat connections for me personally between the obvious location for the brewery in Delaware, where I grew up, but also where I was born in Maine (the state as a whole, not my hometown). I really like craft beer, going to breweries with my partner, trying new things, and meeting the people who are passionate about their craft. It helps get a local flavor wherever I go and is a great way to relax and connect with others. I look forward to continuing this trend. I appreciate the opportunity to read this book to deepen the respect I have for Dogfish Head.

Go check out this book at your favorite book retailer or your local library. Sam Calagione also released another book recently, Off-Centered Leadership, so if you want more from Dogfish Head, check it out too!

Thanks for stopping by!

A Geek's Guide to Leadership


 "This is a stream of consciousness on some leadership tenants that even this endearingly awkward geek can abide by."

My journey to considering my self a leader has been a long one. I was always a pretty shy and humble kid (and still am to some extent) who never wanted to be the center of attention or take charge. It was only once I went to college, found my niche, and was able to have the pleasure and privilege of attending leadership workshops as well as take some awesome courses on leadership, did I build my confidence as someone who had something to offer as a leader. We all are unique and our leadership will take equally unique forms. That being said, there are some general attributes that I feel make for good leaders, which can be adapted and interpreted in their own ways, creating your own mix of how to get things done and lead a team towards a common goal.

I also use the word leader pretty loosely. While I supervise students, I also see myself as a leader in my campus community, working to forge ahead with projects and efforts that will help all students, prospective, current, commuter, and residential.

A lot of this connects to another post of mine about how to maximize the best of geek culture for building community. Check out that post too to learn more of my geeky revelations!


A big thing for me is being authentic, genuine, and real. I never want to seem like a phony to my students or some one I'm not to my friends and colleagues. I share my geeky passions regularly and have my office decorated with all my toys and posters. I also let my colleagues know what I think about what we're doing, especially if I don't agree with it. I have gotten great feedback on this, with people appreciating me speaking my mind in a thoughtful and respectful way. Being a leader means being someone people can connect with and speak to about whatever it is they need. You shouldn't ever seem inaccessible or uncaring. I am human, I have thoughts, feelings, opinions, interests, and needs. I don't try to hide this from anyone. I have found it has been very beneficial to let my geek flag fly and to be a genuine caring person to those I work with. People know what I'm into when they want to collaborate (more on that later) and my work comes to be connected to my passions. It all coalesces to make work a more fluid part of my life, where I don't have to hide who I am when I clock in. I do the things I want to do and can do well, which ends up being better for everyone.


I enjoy working on a college campus since it encourages (most of the time) collaboration. We're all working towards the same goal, and we all have limited resources. Work constantly flows in and out of different offices for different efforts like orientation, homecoming, and other large scale events. I also appreciate the opportunity for me to connect with particular offices I want experiences with and that I can just jump in and help out. When people know what I'm genuinely passionate about, I can take the lead on projects that connect with my interests. On this topic, being open to helping folks with anything they might need is another great aspect I've learned over the years. I have become a resource for folks to collaborate on starting podcasts, helping with blogging, and getting rolling with social media efforts. Being open to helping builds good rapport and capital in your organization. A lot of the time, your reputation proceeds you so it is good to be helpful to folks when you can manage it. At the very least, connect folks with each other if you can't help them or don't have time. Each person will be appreciative and you'll have done your good deed for the day!


Something I've continually read in leadership books and articles is the importance of gratitude. It helps us be happier, it helps other feel good, and it is a generally positive thing for anyone to do, especially leaders. Appreciation of the work we do everyday is something that is tragically missing from a lot folks' lives. As a humble leader, I'm very gracious for anything people to do to help me out. I feel like I don't deserve it but in the end, it's just positive thing to do to value the contributions people put in, no matter how big or small. It goes a long way to building a solid foundation for relationships to give honest, genuine thanks (especially in handwritten thank you notes). Rarely do we ever actually tell the people in our lives how much we appreciate them and what they do. Start doing it today!

This is a stream of consciousness on some leadership tenants that even this endearingly awkward geek can abide by. They've transformed how I view leadership and my confidence in being able to put my unique spin on it. Hopefully it is helpful to some folks out there, even with how you might inspire your students to be leaders in their own ways.

Thanks for stopping by!


My Favorite TED Talks

[youtube] I wanted to curate this YouTube playlist for everyone of some of my favorite TED Talks that I've found so far. I'll keep updating the list and would love to hear more recommendations from folks.


CiSA 2013: A Lesson on Personal Growth


On this past Sunday, I put on an event called the 2013 Careers in Student Affairs (Un)Conference  [CiSA for short] here at Rutgers University. I had been planning it for the entire calendar year amidst all the other things I’ve been up to so it was amazing to have it finally have it happen.

The journey to the actual fruition of this event has been an interesting one, with my original feelings on it all being very negative, since it was not what I had thought I’d be doing with my year. It just fell into my lap since no one else wanted to take it on. Although it was hard to swallow at first, it came to be something I could be excited about once I made it my own.

Making it my own took some time to plan out, with many details that had to come about from scratch, and it was hard since I am not a particularly detail-oriented. It was a very educational experience in making a large-scale event happening and fulfilling the experience it is you have envisioned. I know it will be something I can talk about in the gauntlet of interviews I have coming up about all the challenges and successes I went through.

My biggest takeaway that I feel like I can talk about now is getting over this paralysis I was getting into planning the event. I was so concerned with the event being perfect and how many people were going to come but after some pep talks and inspirational podcasts, I was excited to just get it out into the world to help people rather than be just an idea in my head. Also, when you think about it, it doesn’t matter how many people come since the people that came got something from it and that’s the most important thing.

I am very glad to have had this special experience and to have met so many awesome student affairs people in the process. Stay tuned for CiSA 2014!