No two leaders are the same. People may share certain personality traits, business strategies or aspects of their morning routine, but each successful leader has a distinctive quality that makes them exceptional. Embracing what makes you unique will help you define the leadership style that works best for you and, ultimately, lead to your success. With this “Artisans of Business” leadership series, I will speak with successful people from a variety of industries to learn more about their business philosophy, how they handle failure and discover what makes their creative process work. This leadership series is about celebrating great leadership in all its shapes and sizes.
To kick off the series, I had the pleasure of meeting Pierluigi Giachi, the owner of Tenuta Torciano Winery, at his home in San Gimignano, Italy. The winery was founded in 1720 and has been in the Giachi family for 15 generations. Since he took over the business, Giachi has taken the company from producing 5,000 bottles of wine per year with five employees to producing more than 700,000 bottles of wine per year with 50 employees. He grew the business by taking a leap into a direct-to-consumer business model. An American businessman encouraged him to cut out the middleman and ship his product to the consumer the fastest way possible. Thirty years ago, it was a quite a risk. This was before the Internet made such business models easier to navigate. But Giachi took the plunge and became the first winemaker in Italy to sell wine directly to the consumer. That decision helped him grow the business while still staying true to the traditions and quality of the past. Giachi shares his business philosophy, offers insight into how he balances tradition with new technology and explains how the Tuscan way of life is embedded into his business.
Family is at the heart of the Tenuta Torciano Winery and it’s one of the reasons that the business is so successful. There are approximately 50 immediate family members who are employed by the winery and Giachi works in tandem with his wife (Luciana) and son (Emanuele). “Were it not for my relatives 15 generations ago taking it upon themselves to create this legacy, we would not be where we are today,” says Giachi. “It’s the fact that this winery is engrained in my family’s blood that drives my passion and desire to share our magical property and products with the world.”
However, a lot has changed since the winery opened 300 years ago. Giachi now has access to machinery and supplies that aid in the production of winemaking like streamlining the fermentation process. But he has not lost sight of the value and quality of traditional winemaking. In fact, the overall methodology of the winery is still the same as it was when it first opened, notes Giachi. For instance, they still carefully pick each grape by hand and make sure the grapes have ample time to ferment in the cellar. “The ancient art is still deeply rooted in the same historic process,” he says.
Creative process captures a moment
It’s those moments that spark Giachi’s creativity. He is often inspired by a moment that is connected with one of the five senses—whether that is a smell, a beautiful photograph or tasting an amazing dish. He says the “creative process always starts with an awakening of the senses.” Next, he works with his colleagues to determine how to best capture that moment into one of the winery’s products. “We strive to create products and moments in life that are not only enjoyed, but also forever engrained in your mind as an experience you will never forget,” he explains.
Winemaking and the business world have a lot of similarities, notes Giachi. “Both are extremely systematic, require constant innovation and analysis of what works, but in the end, it’s all about your final result.” His advice for executives is to stop getting caught up in the minutia of daily life and simply enjoy the process.
The benefits of the Tuscan way of life
Learning to enjoy the moment is a large part of the Tuscan lifestyle. “I have spent extensive time in the United States and can tell you that very few people, especially fellow business owners and executives, take time for themselves, let alone time to reflect and enjoy the actual moment they are living in,” Giachi says. The Tuscan lifestyle is about taking a minute to enjoy the sunset, breathe in the fresh morning air or have lunch and dinner with family —a priority for Giachi.
If you want to experience the Tuscan lifestyle, you may have the opportunity. From November to April every year, Tenuta Torciano Winery brings a taste of Tuscany to the United States. It helps coordinate private “Wine School Events” at homes, restaurants and private events. “Our wine-tasting managers (who we bring over from the winery) demonstrate proper wine drinking etiquette and how to properly taste and identify different styles of wine,” Giachi says. It may be the perfect opportunity to slow down and savor the moment.
Giachi’s advice for American workers is to stop working 36 hours a day. “You have forgotten the day only has 24 hours and you need eight hours of sleep,” he says. You may become a multimillionaire, but it you are too stressed from the job to enjoy life, then what was the point.
For Giachi, making wine and running the business isn’t a job. “It’s life,” he says