“You should totally enter this contest!” the headline read. My buddy (and Murphy Goode wine club member) had just received an email from the winery announcing a new contest. Ironically, I was sitting on a cruise ship in the Bahamas sipping on a glass of Liar’s Dice at four o’clock in the afternoon wondering if my friend cosmically knew I was drinking the wine he introduced me to. Maybe he subliminally thought to forward a message he received about #AReallyGoodeJob.
It was March 2009. My wife and I were newlyweds living near Boulder, Colorado. I had been working for a startup run by one of the TechStars mentors doing marketing and UX design. The company ended up not making and I was supplementing my income as a broker for Broadbent Selections as well as in-store wine marketing.
When I got the chance to finally click the link and read about Murphy Goode’s promotion it seemed like a no-brainer. They were looking for a lifestyle correspondent who would live in Sonoma for 6 months and use social media to share the Murphy Goode life with winemaker, Dave Ready. At a salary of $10,000 a month, it sounded like a sick opportunity for someone savvy in wine and social.
I worked in the wine business and had a pretty solid understanding of the social web so I thought I had a good chance to win the contest.
What I expected when I entered the contest was to be a finalist, but what I didn’t expect was how much A Really Goode Job would impact my life (and the lives of so many other people). I also didn’t expect the friends we’d meet along the way. Although only one person won, the contest opened a door of opportunity that allowed a number of other people to change their lives. At least a dozen other contests moved across the country to wine country to pursue their own dream jobs.
Five years later, many of them are still kicking ass. Here’s where #AReallyGoodeJob candidates are now:
Hardy Wallace - Atlanta’s Hardy Wallace ended up winning #AReallyGoodeJob with a combination of an engaging personality, wine chops, connections in the Atlanta foodie scene and a loyal following through his blog, dirtysouthwine.com.
Since winning and serving his 6 months with Murphy Goode, Hardy has gone further and deeper into the wine industry first as part of the NPA, then to Corison Winery in Napa and finally to the point where he was able to launch his own wine brand, Dirty and Rowdy.
Maria Ogneva - Maria and her husband, Gregarious Narian are smack dab in the middle of the bay area’s tech scene. When A Really Goode Job launched, Maria was living in New York but shortly after moved to the bay area.
Maria was already well on her way to a successful career when the contest happened and has since gone on to work for Attensity as Director of Social Media, Nimble as Director of Community, Yammer as Head of Community, Salesforce.com as Director of Product Marketing and is currently Head of Community at Sidecar.
You can usually spot Maria and Gregarious at conferences and events where the cool kids go to find out what's next on the cutting edge. Mrs. B and I haven't gotten to know them over the past five years and enjoy hanging with them when we get the opportunity.
Ed Thralls - Atlanta’s other transplant-turned-winemaker came to wine country with an IT background. Ed made it to the final top fifty but couldn’t quite eek out the win over Wallace. Ed wasn’t deterred from moving west and following his dream of becoming a winemaker.
In 2010 Ed started his new life in wine country as an intern for Pinot Noir producer, Holdredge Wines and by the end of the year landed a full time Social Media Marketing Manager gig at Vintage Wine Estates (after Eric Hwang left). He realized his dream in 2011 with the production of his first 25 cases of Thralls Family Cellars Pinot Noir. The following year he ramped up production to 450 cases of Pinot Noir from Russian River Vally, Sonoma Coast and Anderson Valley. In 2013 he added Chardonnay from the Petaluma Gap to his lineup.
Ed now also leads the Direct to Consumer sales and marketing for iconic Flowers Vineyard and Winery on the Sonoma coast.
Ed has become a good friend and I admire they way he completely rebooted his life in pursuit of doing what he loves. The path has had its set of challenges along the way, but Ed is a new man at the top of his game.
Adam Beaugh and Jenna Weber - For those who followed the contest may have thought Jenna Weber would win the whole thing. Her entry video had the most votes start to finish and her loyal following from her food blog eatliverun.com helped keep her out in front through the entire process.
At the time, Adam had been handling social media for Texas Governor, Rick Perry in Austin, Texas when he entered the contest.
Adam and Jenna met during #areallygoodejob and started dating after the contest. The two married in 2012 and now have a 3-month baby. They've put down roots in Northern California where Jenna continues to grow her blog, publish cook books and raise their son. After the contest ended, Adam joined Murphy Goode's parent company, Jackson Wine Company to run their digital marketing before leaving to cofound Zignal Labs in San Francisco.
They get my vote for being the biggest winners to come out of #areallygoodejob!
Frank Gutierrez - When I saw Frank’s entry video I thought he was the dark horse that would come out of nowhere to become the lifestyle candidate. Frank’s submission video was by far the “best” in the competition, which makes sense seeing as how he and his wife met in film school. Beyond great video production, Frank brought a breath of fresh air with his sincerity, beautiful story telling and a passion to discover more about wine.
Although Frank was born and raised in Napa, he didn’t get bit by the wine bug until his late ‘20s. In 2010 he realized his dream when he joined the Wagner Family of Wine (Caymus, Mer Soleil, Emmolo & Belle Glos) as their film maker. After three years, Frank is loving his job and couldn't be a better fit for an iconic winemaking family.
Eric Hwang - Eric was another top ten finalist who moved from the northwest to wine country in 2009. After landing in Northern California, Eric went to work for Vintage Wine Estates in 2010 handling their social media efforts.
After spending a few years in wine country, Eric moved back to Washington where he and his wife live and travel.
Rick Bakas - As for myself, I made it to the final 50 candidates but didn’t make it any further in the contest. When Murphy Goode announced their top 10 candidates I was finalizing a more permanent job with Leslie Keffer at St. Supéry to become their Director of Social Media (thanks to an intro from Twitter friend, Lisa DeBruin). I was also able to get involved with the Court of Master Sommeliers as a contributing writer to the guild. I’ve been fortunate to travel around the world speaking at conferences and meeting so many inspirational passionate people who are doing what they love.
Leslie gave me my big break that opened the door to a whole new life for myself and my family. Mrs. B and I moved from Boulder to wine country where both of our careers have taken off. My wife now runs the global social media team for a Fortune 50 company in Silicon Valley. We’ve enjoyed living here so much that our parents sold their homes and moved out west to join us. This year we welcomed our baby boy into the world and continue to put down roots in Northern California.
After leaving St. Supéry in late 2010, I started Bakas Media to start transitioning out of the wine industry and develop social tools of the future. One of the first projects was helping launch a mobile payments company called PressPay. In early 2013 PressPay merged with a global payment gateway called 34 Commerce (chaired by NFL great, Herschel Walker) and subsequently signed an exclusive deal with Dallas-based video commerce company, Cinsay, Inc. From the signed deals in place, our little 3-person company will be live on 10-30 million mobile phones by this time next year.
I also am an advisor and investor in companies that fit into my wheel house of food, wine and tech, including Forkly which will be pivoting into a restaurant CRM tool this fall.
Murphy Goode set out to capture attention with #AReallyGoode job and bring one person to wine country. No one could have predicted how many others would walk through the open door of opportunity and move to wine country. I have no idea where I’d be right now if it wasn’t for this contest. Like so many others, we owe Dave Ready and Murphy Goode a debt of gratitude for creating something so big that it literally changed all of our lives for the better.