The Pursuit of Happiness

Tara Hunt is someone thinking creatively about marketing and other business topics, and what I appreciate about her is that she isn’t afraid to relate the world of business to the world of the personal. I loved her recent blog entry Happiness as Core to Your Business Model because it again effortlessly aligns the goals of individuals with the goals of business. She relates the four elements of happiness as defined by the American Psychological Association (autonomy, competence, relatedness, and self-esteem) to the three core concepts of Web 2.0. (openness, collaboration and community). I think it makes sense. I think everyone would like to work at a place where the business goal was to bring happiness to others.

In fact, I may have taken my last job for that reason. I felt good about selling wine because of the experiences I was offering. Family gatherings, social events, parties; all are places where people feel connected to each other and where the pleasure of enjoying our product would enhance (in most cases) people’s good feelings. Of course, I don’t think my employers thought about this directly, but it was a positive that 95% of the people who worked for us were wine lovers (in one or two cases, perhaps a little too enthusiastic in their appreciation) and one of the perks of the job was meeting people at events and enjoying our products at our own company parties.

The barriers, of course, were competence and self-esteem. The world of wine can still seem stuffy and class-conscious and there are enough wine snobs around to make even the most eager student feel stupid. I think this is why so many wine web communities sprouted around the same time. WineLog and Cork’d are great ways to share your drinking experiences with others, and Gary Vaynerchuk’s Wine Library TV video blog makes learning about wine fun.

Now, how do I begin to apply some of these concepts to the new world of accounting I find myself in? 😉

Wine-ing on the Web

I posted the following entry last June on my company’s blog:

Early last year, I pointed to the excellent Cellar Tracker web site, where the hardcore wine geek (or aficionado, if you please) could keep track of everything in her cellar and even connect with a community to share tasting notes. Despite the overall thoroughness and wealth of features, though, the design is a bit spare, and the site is clearly aimed at people with large cellars.

Now, along come not one but two new sites offering to bring the benefits of online cellar management to the masses. Both WineLog and Cork’d have launched recently, and are in a desperate battle to sign up new users who will share their wine tasting notes and recommendations. I’m happy to see that these sites make use of some newer web technology like tagging to make classifying (and more importantly, finding) wines easier and more intuitive.

Though both sites are evolving rapidly, I’d have to give the edge at the moment to Cork’d, whose playful graphic design really invites users to jump right in. I also like the community features (though calling it “Drinking Buddies” might strike the wrong note with some people) and look forward to using this as a resource in the months to come.

But I won’t be abandoning Cellar Tracker, whose powerful features are just too useful. If we could just get them talking to the folks at Cork’d…

I have to admit that since then, the underdog WineLog seems to have closed the gap considerably, and maybe even pushed ahead. While Cork’d attracted a lot of the web design/blog crowd who enjoyed the work of designers/programmers Dan Cederholm and Dan Benjamin, there seem to be fewer, well, wine people there, and I find the site harder to actually use, especially when searching for wines. I still think the biggest challenge involved in making sites like these useful is formatting the information consistently and weeding out redundancies. Which is why I still generally use Cellar Tracker over the upstarts. But it’s fun to keep track of how these projects are developing.