Who are you, and what do you do?
My name is Ryan Newhouse. I’m the marketing and content director for two national craft beer conferences, author of Montana Beer: A Guide to Breweries in Big Sky Country, and the creator of the Montana Brewery Passport.
What has been one insight or lesson that has been most helpful in your career?
I’ve always thought to live life being flexible but with direction, and it has served me well, especially in my career(s). I’ve found it’s okay to have a plan but to fail at it; okay to set goals and not stop once you’ve reached them; and perfectly fine to change course if the one you’re on isn’t fulfilling. And most importantly, whatever you’re doing at the moment, make sure you’re learning from the experience.
What has been your favorite mistake? A mistake that in retrospect led to a great lesson and progress.
To build on what I said above, I think one mistake I’ve made was to hold on to a job I didn’t like for too long. The work itself was great, but the environment and leadership was not. During that time I worked hard to find ways I could learn from people (and bosses) who were way different than me, who held substantially different viewpoints (politically and personally). And though I ended up leaving the job, I was satisfied with my ability to work alongside such different people and not leave bitter. We don’t always get to choose the people we spend our days with. It’s important to find common ground where we can.
Project forward ten years. How will your industry or field be fundamentally different then? What opportunities do you see?
Given my industry is beer, and there are now over 7,300 breweries in the United States, the big question I often get asked is, “When will we hit the saturation point for breweries?” I don’t know, but I do believe the landscape will change a lot over the next 10 years. Breweries will get smaller, and offer much more than beer. They will seek to make more personal connections with the ones supporting their brand. We will get back to one-on-one interactions and rely less on tricky messaging and obnoxious advertising.
What are some bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
A lot of my background and experience has been as a freelance writer. I feel like I can draw on that for many, many recommendations on life. But one I often refer to, and has been the hardest for other budding writers to hear, has been that “Good is not good enough.” It’s really not; it’s competitive out there, in writing, in job searches, in the workforce. The example I give is what if an author wrote a book that was 99.9% typo-free. Is that good enough? On average, a book contains 60,000 words for a 240-page book. .01% of 60,000 is still 60 words that are wrong. Imagine reading a book that had a typo every four pages. Would you take that author seriously? Probably not. Give everything 100%.
In the last two years, what have you become better at saying no to?
Tough question! I don’t know if I have, or I want to, but in an attempt to answer honestly I think I’ve gotten better thinking about invitations and projects before I get involved with them. I’ve always been eager to do as much as possible, to explore everything, to experience it all, but now I spend at least two nights thinking about anything that will take up substantial time and energy.
What is the one book you recommend most often and why?
Every book written by Mary Oliver(!), and read her poems out loud, in your own voice. I encourage this so people get used to hearing their own voice, so when they need to raise it and speak up they’re confident in how it sounds and it’s familiar to them.
What advice would you give a smart and ambitious recent college graduate? What advice should they ignore?
Be willing to try anything not once, but two or three times. Just like I instruct people who taste and/or judge craft beer, you won’t get everything from the experience after just one sip. So it’s impossible to get a “taste” for something new in life after just one try.
Ignore: “Just put your head down and get through it…” I really don’t like this one. I wish more people would stand up, speak up, question everything! Just because something was, doesn’t mean it always has to be.
What is your favorite quote, one you aim to live by?
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything.” – Rainer Maria Rilke
If you’re old enough, let’s have a beer! I’m pretty easy to find online and through montanabrewerypassport.com.