Advice for New Bartenders: H. Joseph Ehrmann

H. Joseph EhrmannH. Joseph Ehrmann
Proprietor of Elixir, San Francisco

Knowledge is the key to confidence
When I worked in sales roles trying to sell something I didn’t really know or care about, I was miserable and I ultimately failed. When I left all of that behind to follow my love for the bar business (because I accepted that I knew nothing better, nor enjoyed anything more) I excelled immediately and the success kept coming. The more I threw myself into it, the more I succeeded. Today when people ask me about anything I am passionate about and follow that with “How do you know so much about that?”, I simply say “Because I love it.”

Know yourself
It is important to go beyond your norms and stretch your boundaries in order to grow, but it is also important to know when you are clearly not in the right position and sinking. Being self-aware is an amazing way to avoid wasting time in your career.

Exploit your strengths
When I won “Bartender of the Year” I knew it wasn’t because I was the “best bartender in America,” but that I was quite possibly the “best marketed bartender in America.”

Compensate for your weaknesses
I’m not a numbers guy, but I got an MBA and forced myself to understand finance and accounting because I knew I had to if I was going to run my own companies. Now I pay an accountant and I consult with financial advisors, but I can understand them and use the information to make smart decisions.

Grow by replacing yourself and moving forward
Empowerment is the key to moving on (for everyone). I miss being behind the bar all of the time, but at this point in my life I have three companies and I have to tend to all of them every day, and be home by six to bathe my daughter and put her to bed. My bar runs great because my bartenders are pros, they enjoy what they do and they are fully capable of carrying on what I started. Learn everything you can, pass it on to others and keep learning more.

Read more advice for bartenders from the experts.