Several years ago, while building side-by-side vacation homes in Mexico, George Clooney and two friends were sipping tequila when they decided they wanted to, as Clooney put it “create the best tasting, smoothest tequila as our own house tequila to drink and share with friends…”
Casamigos Tequila was born.
The trio started selling their brand publicly in 2013, and four years later, Clooney & Company sold their stake to Diageo for upwards of $1 billion.
Here’s how it happened:
At its very core, Clooney wasn’t trying to make money or grow a business. He was scratching his own itch. He was fulfilling market demand. He was engaging his muse. His focus, his passion, was simply to create a great tequila for himself, that he could enjoy for decades to come. The creator is always customer #1. (This is how I write books… I write for an audience of one — me. My rationale: If I’m willing to give a year of my life to writing a book, surely there must other people who’ll spend a few dollars to real the best that I’ve discovered.) It starts with passion.
Takeaway: Don’t just do what you love — do what obsesses you. If your passion is authentic, it will infect others.
Casamigos roughly translates from Spanish to “house of friends”, and Clooney didn’t try to do it alone. He partnered with Rande Gerber (a nightclub/bar owner with two decades of experience) and Michael Meldman (a real estate mogul specializing in luxury developments.) Evidently the trio have awesome chemistry. (Friendship can be a great foundation for a business relationship because the trust factor is already built in.) Equally as important, each of the three men brought their wealth, experience, and connections to the table.
Takeaway: You can only reach so far. Having partners helps you all reach further than any of you could alone.
Notice how they didn’t rush a shoddy product to market. They took two years and sampled more than 700 tequilas in order to perfect their recipe. George Clooney could market ice cubes to Eskimos, but if the quality of his tequila was sub-par, he’d quickly get called out by the high standards of the ultra-premium market. Rande Gerber explains their quest for the perfect tequila: “We wanted one that we could drink straight or on the rocks. One that we could drink all day and all night, and not be hungover in the morning.” They took the time necessary to craft a drink with excellence.
Takeaway: Create products and services that are absolutely, quantifiably, undeniably excellent.
The world’s fastest-growing tequila brand set themselves apart by being authentic and personal. Their marketing is candid and inclusive, and they don’t exploit Clooney on billboards and TV commercials to hawk their wares. But the message is clear: the owners are real people who actually drink their own product.
Takeaway: Don’t hide behind your brand name. Be real, be authentic, and personally put yourself on the line. Tell your story. Share your heart. Cast your vision.
#5. Profit Reinvestment
Within three years of launching their tequila publicly, Casamigos was selling 120,000 cases per year. Clooney and his team could have started scooping cash into their pockets, but instead they pumped it back into their product, their people, and their publicity. Rather than taking dividends, they pulled a Warren Buffett and re-invested with a long-term mindset.
Takeaway: Be patient. Seed save and replant your fields. If your idea is good enough to turn a small profit, it might be good enough to turn a big profit.
Obviously making money shouldn’t be the end goal of business. Making a positive impact is. Clooney and his friends upped the industry’s game by bringing an authentic, high-quality product to the market, but hopefully they also use the profits to improve the world in even far more meaningful ways. Just imagine what the Clooney Foundation will do!
So that’s my perspective. I’d love to hear your thoughts below.
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During Clooney’s climatic speech in Intolerable Cruelty, it took 41 slow claps to get the standing ovation going. If you liked this article, please click the LIKE and SHARE button… cheers!