Chapter 4Leadership 101love the mistakes

I feel an everlasting itch for things remote. I long to sail tumultuous seas and land on barbarous coasts.

—Herman Melville

It's never easy to admit mistakes. To err is human, of course, but for an entrepreneur it is probably harder than normal to confess to screwing up. Your personal reputation is tethered to your professional reputation and your business is your heart and soul (to say nothing of your life's investment, in many instances). You don't want anyone to think you'd ever do anything stupid to put your business or your own reputation at risk. Then there's the ego factor. An entrepreneur wouldn't be an entrepreneur without a high level of self-confidence. Your natural instinct is to trust yourself, particularly in the face of contrary opinion; to make the right bet. Once you're established and you have found your own sustainable niche in the marketplace, the inclination is to keep doubling down, taking new risks, and making new bets with the hope that each one will prove you right as they have before.

Being proven wrong can feel like a blow to the gut, especially when you have made decisions by your gut, your intuition, that prove to be unsustainable. This was especially true in the early days at Dogfish Head, when I could be pretty headstrong and single-minded. I'd discuss major initiatives with our leaders, we'd have lively conversations about them, but in the end it usually came down to my telling them—as the owner and vote-holder ...

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