Apprentice Audiences Outside of Work

One of the big messages in Be the Master is that you need to find your Apprentice Audience. And a second part of that message is that, for many of us, our apprentices aren’t going to be in the same workplace as we are. While you certainly don’t need to be the smartest person in the room at work in order to offer something to people, sometimes you have just as much, if not more, to offer people outside the office.

And remember that we need to break the toxic ideas we have about teaching and education: finding and helping an apprentice doesn’t mean you need to set up a class and teach people things.

I love wine. I love the different varieties, I love the different ways in which it’s made, and I love tasting it. I like talking about it, too. I recently realized that a big group of my friends enjoyed drinking wine, but mainly because it was… well, wine. They didn’t know what about it they liked, and when they went out, they usually defaulted to something they’d tried and liked, rather than feeling they could experiment a bit.

So we went out for a wine tasting one evening. I got to talk about something I liked – how American winemakers tend to go for varietal names like Cabernet Franc, unless they were making a blend, but European winemakers tended to name wines after their winery or region. I showed them how I’d often Google a European label to figure out which varietals were in it, since I know which varietals I liked, and that’s how I learned to navigate bigger, Euro-heavy wine lists.

I also proved to them that cheaper, “table wine” was often really good, really drinkable, and really inexpensive. I mean, my favorite in the world is, quite honestly, a cheap Chianti Classico, almost no matter what I’m eating, or even if I’m not eating anything at all. I pointed out that it’s easier to build your wine repertoire at places with large by-the-glass menus, since servers are often perfectly willing to bring you a little splash of something to see if you like it.

Anyway, wine aside, the point here is that I was passing along some information. I was sharing something, and weeks later several of my friends told me that they’d been enjoying a much broader array of wines, and thanked me for de-mystifying it all. One of them even brought me a bottle of something they’d found and loved, as a thank-you. And if there’s any better form of success than a free bottle of great wine, please don’t tell me.

So get outside the office. Find your apprentices wherever you find yourself enjoying something that you love enough to want to share.

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