The Business of Beer
From the time I was a toddler, I can remember beer (or more broadly alcohol) being ingrained in the social fabric of society. Remember that first ball game you went to? And the shrill cry of the vendors echoing throughout the stadium: “Beer Here!”
But as recent as a few years ago, it became apparent that beer wasn’t just reserved for times of leisure; it was often a key element of doing business. From happy hours, to cocktail receptions and the three martini lunch.
Today, it may be more like the one martini lunch, but the fact remains. And even as a candidate in during the Orr Fellowship interview process, you are exposed to the reality of alcohol in the workplace, perhaps during an on campus info session and certainly at Reception on the Circle (ROTC).
You will hear many anecdotes of business professionals picking up golf as an almost necessary “skill” to possess in conducting business. In many ways, alcohol is as much a part of the business culture as golf or similar sports.
Now, I make this comparison not to convey that one should imbibe whenever given the chance, nor to persuade those who would prefer to pass on drink to partake, but rather as a caution. Regardless of whether you drink or not, you will be confronted with situations where alcohol is present and where your guests, peers, business partners, etc. will likely be indulging.
If you choose not to drink it is important that you feel comfortable in the company of others who are and more importantly that you do not make them feel uncomfortable for choosing to drink. Alternatively, if you decide to drink it is important to observe an etiquette fitting of a business professional.
I prefer lists when I’m trying to digest something, so I’ll leave you with one from my own experience as a seasoned traveler of the trade show circuit (a veritable watering hole for the business attendee):
When to drink: If you feel or know that drinking will have a negative impact on your performance or ability to interact – DO NOT DRINK
Always in Moderation: In business, you are not out to prove your capacity to slug beers, stick to one, but certainly no more than two in an hour – and if you notice any side effects kicking in, switch to water.
Hydrate: I always drink a glass (bottle) or two of water between each drink to pace myself and stay hydrated. It’s also a good idea to be aware of how dehydrated you may be before picking up any alcoholic beverage.
Fuel up: Make sure you are not drinking on a completely empty stomach. If eating is difficult or no food is available, pay even closer attention to the amount and rate that you drink at.
No Pressure: If you aren’t a drinker, don’t feel pressured to do so, but if you are, don’t feel pressured to stop either – if you are worried about maintaining an image in a group of heavy drinkers, a tip I picked up is to simply switch to a tonic and lime or a dark soda; you can always pass it off as a mixed drink.
I hope I haven’t shared anything you don’t already know, but then again, that is the point.
Alcohol will forever and always be intertwined with business and if treated with caution and respect, it can lubricate more than just the social atmosphere, quite possibly the matter of business itself!