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March, 2013

  1. Wine…A Learning State of Mind

    March 4, 2013 by Jeff Forrest

    A special thank you to last month’s ghostwriter, Bethany, who will remain anonymous. I truly appreciate her stepping in for me while I was exercising my brain during the month of February. At age 49, I can finally say I graduated from college…kind of.

    A few weeks back I completed a program called Owner/President Management, or OPM. This is an executive education course where I spend 3 weeks a year, for 3 years, in a dorm on-campus at Harvard Business School reading case studies, talking about successful (and not so successful) companies, and going to classes on leadership, control, finance, marketing, negotiation, strategy, entrepreneurship, sales/operations and wine. The wine education usually happened around 8 pm when I got together with my study group for a few hours, opened a bottle of wine and talked about the case studies, our lives and received amazing advice and feedback from truly smart people on how to make WPC better. The relationships I built with my 160 classmates were half the value of being there. They are all owners and/or presidents of their companies from all over the world including China, India, Brazil, Thailand, Australia, Jordan, Nigeria, the Philippines, Canada, Bulgaria, Egypt, and Denmark. I could go on and on. Our professors are some of the smartest and brightest people around and challenged us to participate in an environment that encouraged us to learn and think beyond our comfort zone. Regardless of the subject matter, I found value in the process, gained key insights into our company, and myself, and hopefully will translate that into a strategy to implement now that I am home. In short, I realized that life is a constant learning process and I gained the tools to raise my intelligence level a few notches. It is a life changing experience to say the least.

    If I were asked to say two things about what I learned while being at Harvard, it would be a self-awareness of both my strengths and, more importantly, my weaknesses. The second would be how proud I am of the culture that exists at WPC. During the many conversations, both in and out of the classroom, it became clear to me that WPC’s distinctive competitive advantage is it’s people and their passion for providing an experience that is unique to our industry. Doing the right thing, taking care of our customers and vendors, providing exceptional customer service, having fun (check out WPC’s Instagram account to see some of that @WPCCo) and protecting our reputation are a few of the cornerstones of that culture. By living up to these values, we live up to our motto of Building Beyond the BlueprintTM. Maintaining and improving this culture will always be a critical part of preserving our advantage.

    Although I graduated and was greeted by warmer weather when I came home, the learning process will never end and my hope is that it will translate into actions that will benefit all of us by improving our company and ensuring our sustainability. Tracy is an Harvard OPM graduate as well and we see everyday the threads he has sewn into the fabric of our company to get us where we are today.

    A special thank you to all of the WPC staff for letting me sneak away from work these past 3 years and accomplish a little something that will make my mom proud…kind of.