Dan Szor, founder and CEO of the Cotswolds Distilling Company, speaks to the importance of taking risks and getting the right people in the right seats. Leaving a successful career in finance to make award-winning whiskey and gin in England, Dan knows the best response to growing pains is a long-term perspective.
From Hedge Fund To Hedge Row
Dan says getting into the financial industry was never a part of his plan. It wasn’t until he had a near-death experience while whitewater rafting that he realized he needed to start doing more of what he loved.
A long-time Francophile, he pitched an idea to his employer to start a small foreign consulting company in Paris. The idea was approved and in the early ‘90s Dan and his wife moved to France.
That’s where Dan’s romance with excellent spirits and their craft began. Traveling frequently to Scotland, Dan was introduced to single malt whiskey and took every chance to tour distilleries there. When he eventually moved to England’s Cotswold region, Dan noticed an abundance of local barley, a lack of locally made whiskey, and saw his opportunity. Thus, his business was born.
Don’t Make Hard Decisions Alone
Like any leader, Dan has faced his share of hard decisions. He says that one of the hardest came about when his company’s gin started to do well — so well, in fact, that they struggled to keep up with the demand.
Dan had to decide if they were up for the level of growth toward which they were being propelled. With the support of his team and an investor, they went for it.
Open communication, a team-oriented mindset, and willingness to ask for help are key to making good decisions, especially as the leader of a company. Dan emphasizes that it takes grit and determination to transform your decisions into success stories.
Get Real With Yourself
Dan highlights that leading with a pompous attitude or imperious air does nothing for you or your company. Good leaders are transparent, do their best to understand others, and to communicate clearly. They lead by example and aren’t afraid to make mistakes or try something new.
[22:51] “I think it really is important to figure out whether you are the right person in the right seat… keep your strengths going, address your weaknesses. Don’t be afraid to try and figure those out — and don’t be afraid to try and get help.”
Dan’s advice is to take time to know who you are as a person and get real with your strengths and weaknesses. Every time he has taken a course, networked, or read a recommended book, it has always paid off. It’s all part of the journey to becoming the best leader you can be.
Also Mentioned In This Episode:
- “Spirit Guide: In Search of an Authentic Life” by Dan Szor