A few weeks ago, I flew to London to set up a new 7 Mindsets Academy to teach students the 7 Mindsets as part of their school curriculum. I travel frequently, and was thrilled when Delta upgraded my seat to first class. With my dinner, I was served a glass of wine called Inception Chardonnay. I’m not much of a wine drinker, but I do like the movie Inception, so I was willing to take a few sips... maybe seven of them. That experience inspired this week’s story…
From the time she was five years old, Andrea was interested in food. She enthusiastically cooked her way through her childhood and into high school, honing her ability to pick out and focus on particular flavors. During college, which Andrea attended to study economics and finance, she got the opportunity to take a wine tasting class for beginners at a local restaurant. She knew nothing about wine, and simply thought the class sounded fun. Unexpectedly, she found herself captivated. She was intrigued by the vast range of factors that affect wine character. Suddenly, her youth spent cooking and thinking about flavor combinations seemed more relevant than ever.
Andrea graduated and went to work on Wall Street in the investment world. She had been recruited by one of the top investment banks in the country, Morgan Stanley, but while working for them, she was also indulging her enthusiasm for wine. In her free time, she volunteered at a little wine store called the International Wine Center as a pourer, which allowed her to take classes for free and meet wine makers and experts who came into the shop.
One day, while helping out at a tasting for Krug, one of the world’s most renowned Champagne makers, Andrea had a revelation: She genuinely loved wine and everything about it, and faced the fact that her career in investment banking was going to become extremely consuming the longer she pursued it… which might eventually get in the way of her passion for wine. That was just not going to work.
The next day, Andrea approached her boss and said, "I like investment banking, but I love wine and want to try and make a living at it, so I'm going to leave." To her surprise, he said, "You know, that's great. I wish I had the guts to do the same." And that was that.
Andrea bought a Eurail Pass, a youth hostel card, and a plane ticket to Europe. There, she traveled through various countries for six months, sleeping in cheap hostels and learning as much as she could about wine, from growing and harvesting grapes to barrel-aging to the history and significance of some of the most important winemaking regions in the world. One of the most interesting things she learned that the Europeans know so well is that wine doesn’t have to be expensive to be really, really good.
Andrea’s impressive willingness to risk her future in pursuit of wine knowledge helped her get a job in a prestigious wine department when she returned home. She was mentored there by Kevin Zraly, one of America's most famous and entertaining wine teachers, and she went on to become the first female cellar master at the restaurant. She never looked back.
Andrea’s list of accomplishments since her days on Wall Street is enormous. She earned her Master Sommeliers Diploma, making her one of just eighteen female master sommeliers in the world. She was the first woman ever named Best Sommelier in the U.S. by the Sommelier Society of America. She is the author of several books, a TV show host, has been a Dean of Wine Studies, and is the recipient of numerous culinary-world accolades including three James Beard awards.
Today, Andrea Robinson is one of the country’s leading wine educators. She has her own line of stemware, as well as a video wine education course that highlights her simple, engaging method for enjoying and demystifying wine. She is also the Master Sommelier for Delta Air Lines, and she selects all of the in-flight wine for first class customers. After just a few sips, I can tell you that she knows her stuff.
Andrea connected her passion to her profession, and wasn’t afraid to make a career change to ensure she was pursuing her dream. Discover what inspires you, and then make it a major part of your life. Like a great wine, living your passion only gets better over time.
Until Next Week…
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