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Off-Centered Leadership by Sam Calagione

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Chapter 1From Entrepreneur to Leader

Since the day Dogfish Head started back in 1995, we've been lucky. That's not to say that we haven't worked hard for our success or that we haven't had to learn to roll with some punches. All in all, though, a lot of good things keep happening to Dogfish Head. We try to do good things every day. I used to believe you make your own luck. I now think that is only partially true. Karma is a close relative to luck. And as Joseph Conrad said, “It is the mark of an inexperienced man not to believe in luck.”

Within the first year of launching the company, we had a consistent positive cash flow to build on at our original brewpub. Few entrepreneurs can say that. What's more, we achieved this early success in the particularly brutal world of the restaurant industry, where most new establishments don't survive past their third year. The company opened up as Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, a pub in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, where we brewed and sold our beer. The decision to launch as a brewpub, a brewery business within a restaurant, was a gamble, but I figured that I could reduce the risk of the brewery failing by supplementing it with revenue from the restaurant. That proved to be a good bet, but it was never a sure thing.

When I say lucky, though, I'm not talking about monetary good fortune. As I mentioned previously, “being lucky” to me means being well served by good karma, which is something we consciously try to cultivate. The hallmark of our culture, ...

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