top of page

By Kyle Reyes

I Found My CEO Roots In Bartending


Every once in a while, I look around our offices and just pause to take 'it' all in - staff running all over the place, projects being completed at break-neck speed.  It’s hard to believe that some of the roots of my business were in bartending.


I'm a little bit of a throw-back to an earlier generation. I keep a stocked twenty-five foot bar in the office for staff and clients. So how about we have a cocktail together and I’ll share with you what I learned about running a business from tending bar?


Lesson #1: Don't Dip Your Pen In Company Ink

So this guy walks in, sits at the bar and throws down a $100 bill.

"What can I get you?" I asked.

"Your silence," he said. "That's for you - and there's more where that came from. But you never saw me here."

I looked at him in shock. Integrity has a price.

And at that point in my life, it was about $100.

"Cool - and what about the drink?"

This happened five or six times. Turns out the guy owned a big corporation in Jersey with his wife...and he'd come up to our neck-of-the-woods monthly to meet with his girlfriend - who also worked for him, just in a different division. Really nice guy.

Worked out great. Until, of course, the girlfriend wanted a raise and a promotion. When things took a nasty turn, she complained to H.R. Who ran H.R.? The guy's wife.


Lesson #2: Sometimes You Take The Money and Run

Guy owned a big insurance firm...he was really a rising star. And this guy WAS actually a really nice guy. 

Comes in one day and tells us all how a company wanted to buy him out for $11 million - and he laughed in their face.

A year later, he opened his own bar and restaurant...just because he could.

Less than a year after that, he was arrested on a whole boat load of charges -  fraud and more.

Lost everything. And went away for a long, long time.

Should've taken the money before he decided to dive into the whole world of shady business practices. $11 million doesn't buy happiness. But it buys a damn nice jet ski. And when was the last time you saw someone on a jet ski who wasn't smiling?


Lesson #3: Never Dine Alone

There was another business owner - an older gentleman - who was in, everyday, for lunch RELIGIOUSLY.

He was with a different person each time.

I finally asked him about it.

"Are those your employees who you have lunch with every day?"

"Nope," he said. "Not always. Sometimes they are my competitors. Sometimes they are prospects. Sometimes they are just people who I think I would like to chat with."

His argument? If you never dine alone, you have hundreds of additional opportunities each year to close business deals. He claims that was the simple trick to becoming a millionaire.


The Verdict

Every business owners needs to find a way to vent.  For some, it’s a therapist.  For others, their therapist is their neighborhood bartender.  But the most important lesson?  Whether it’s with the bar staff or the guy sitting on the bar stool next to you… never stop networking.



POSTED BY:  Kyle Reyes is President and CEO of The Silent Partner Marketing.  He's also an acclaimed Keynote Speaker on entrepreneurship, leadership, marketing and social media. You can find him on Facebook, LinkedIn and Snapchat (@dasilentpartner).

bottom of page