Episode 9: Crafting a Successful Business from Scratch with Adam Higginbotham

Apr 4, 2023 | podcast | 0 comments

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You can find the full transcript for this episode at the bottom of this page

In this episode we do speak about alcohol consumption as it relates to the company founded by this week’s guest. As this is a podcast about founder mental health and well-being, I want to warn you that parts of this episode could be triggering for anyone who struggles with alcohol use. Please choose wisely before listening.

In this week’s episode I’m introducing you to a founder with an inspiring origin story that involves three college kids, with no formal business training, turning their hobby into a successful business. We know that 90% of companies will ultimately fail, 10% within the first year, but today’s guest and his cofounders have managed to defeat the odds, continually growing their company and team over the past eleven years. A feat which I’m sure you’ll find even more inspiring when you hear about everything they were up against when Covid hit.

Adam Higginbotham is one of three co-founders of Liber & Co. Essential Cocktail Syrups based in Austin, TX. Liber & Co. is a leading manufacturer of premium quality cocktail syrups for professional beverage programs and home bartenders alike.

Wishing to capture the quality and style of the syrups made in-house at the world’s best cocktail bars, Adam and his partners Robert and Chris started Liber & Co. 11 years ago. In contrast to neon colored commodity mixers that have long littered the market, Liber & Co. uses the best available raw ingredients along with pure cane sugar for their cocktail syrups. Today, they work with over 1,000 bars and restaurants around the U.S. and also sell directly to countless bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts wishing to improve their drink-making skills at home.

There seems to be a correlation between the higher stress moments in our business and in the incidence of experiencing that impostor syndrome. It’s those times we might feel a little bit in over your head. That’s when you’re gonna feel that you’re most incapable, or you’re most like, ‘What have I gotten myself into? Is this really, for me? Am I really the person that that’s going to be able to do this or get that done?

Adam is also a husband and father and in this episode we speak about the important role his family plays in his entrepreneurial journey and what helps him to juggle the demands of work life and family life. We also explore the challenges he’s faced in transitioning from a founder-operator to a more executive role as the company has grown, how he finds the balance between being a confident leader, while still modeling humility and a growth mindset, and more.

Tune in to the full episode to hear Adam’s story and learn from the challenges he’s overcome on his entrepreneurial journey.

What You’ll Learn in this Episode:

  • How three college friends without a business background turned a hobby into a successful business venture
  • Adam’s experience with the challenging stage of transitioning from a founder-operator role to growing and leading a larger team
  • How he finds the balance between being a confident leader, while still modeling humility
  • A mindset shift that helps him deal with imposter syndrome and other mental setbacks
  • The important role his family plays in his entrepreneurial journey and what helps him to juggle the demands of work life and family life 
  • How he and his team navigated the uncertainty of the pandemic and managed to stay afloat 
  • His words of wisdom for anyone considering going into business with a friend or family member (especially if it’s an identical twin brother)

Find Adam Online:

Resources & Inspiration from the Show

  • List of resources to help you find a coach, therapist, or peer support If you’d like additional support for your mental and emotional well-being as a founder

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About Founders’ Fears & Failures and your host, Dr. Melissa Parks

Melissa is an entrepreneur, former therapist (PhD in Clinical & Health Psychology), and an executive coach for entrepreneurs with a special focus on startup founders. Her passion for supporting startup founders in particular began after witnessing firsthand the emotional rollercoaster her husband experienced as a startup co-founder.

She started the Founders’ Fears & Failures podcast with the mission of shining a light on the mental and emotional challenges that come with life as a startup founder. Having lived abroad for 10 years herself she realizes how much we can learn from hearing stories from around the globe which is why the show doesn’t focus on a country-specific startup ecosystem.

Melissa is also the co-founder of the Location Independent Therapist Community, and a mom to a toddler who keeps her on her toes, and fuels her passion for helping to make the world a better place.

If you are interested in coming on the show, please get in touch. We would love to hear your story.

Want to connect further? Get in touch with Melissa on social media:

Want to work with Melissa?

Melissa is a former therapist who now provides mindset coaching for ambitious professionals around the globe. Schedule your free discovery call HERE.

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Did you enjoy listening to this episode? Leave your review on Apple podcasts or Spotify.

Disclaimer: The Founders’ Fears & Failures is for educational, informational, and entertainment purposes only. It is not meant to be used for personal health advice and should not be construed to constitute personal or professional consultation or guidance, or to replace medical or mental health treatment. The opinions expressed by this podcast, including the podcast guests, are not meant to replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of a medical or mental health provider regarding any questions or concerns you have about your medical and/or mental health needs. If you are in crisis, please visit this website to find a list of suicide hotlines around the globe. 

Episode Transcript

Melissa 

All right, Adam, thank you so much for coming on the show today.

Adam 

Thank you for having me.

Melissa 

Yeah. So we’ve been talking about having you come on the show for a couple of months now, I’m just I’m really excited to get started and dive into this interview. So why don’t we start with you telling us a little bit more about yourself? And how did you get into this world of entrepreneurship?

Adam 

Yeah, thank you for having me. Quickly, I’ve been listening to the ones that you’ve released so far, and they’re great. So I think having a podcast that steps into this space, you know, to explore it a little bit through the, through the lens, and through the perspective of entrepreneurs, and their experience, I think, is a very useful and powerful thing. So thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here. So yeah, you know, I’m a co founder, I have my identical twin brother, and a third partner that founded the company with me, we all went to high school together, we all kind of grew up together, came to college together here in Austin, Texas, where we’re based, and you know, sort of, it’s a little bit looking back, it’s kind of a romantic little story, like we, you know, we just sort of bonded over food and drink, and particularly me, and Chris, the third partner, that’s not my brother, you know, we sort of bonded over an interest in cooking and exploring, you know, doing kind of college level, but you know, college kid, gourmet foodie type adventures together.

So we would, we had a garden together in college, where we, you know, grew our own stuff, and we would have barbecues. And if there was an interesting recipe or technique that we wanted to try out, when usually do it together, which kind of introduce each other to that kind of stuff. So it was really a hobby that college kids were into, you know, just in Robert was always there, you know, we had a friend group that would be around for that, but it really was just a shared love of like food and drink. And I think timing wise, you know, we were kids of the Food Network generation. And so I think that tore down some barriers, you know, cooking and engaging in, you know, more more advanced or like intermediate level, cooking and drinking, I think comes kind of naturally to millennials, you know, it’s something that we’re into and and that’s, that’s really where the initial bond was. And we always in college, the three of us in particular, we kick around ideas about like, hey, while we’re young and unattached, and you know, without responsibilities, let’s, what can we do, you know, that would be like, kind of trying to give it a go at our own thing. And we weren’t business school kids, Chris has a science background, worked in labs, and even after he graduated, took a year and a half to take like a, you know, a postgraduate position in Kansas and Robert was pursuing law school.

So he went off to DC for a handful of years after college and worked on the on Capitol Hill. And I was here, you know, I was a, an economics and philosophy major and took a couple of victory laps here at UT. So I kind of lingered around Austin and yeah, that we sort of kept obviously in touch my brother and I, but, you know, the three of us kind of kept in touch and kind of kept this idea afloat. You know, we were like, hey, what about a, you know, what about a boutique, like men’s clothing store, or what about like, a boutique, I say boutique, that’s really code for like, small and underfunded, like, just whatever, we could get off the ground, something’s tiny, but, but like a liquor store that, you know, future high end, you know, you got to remember this is 11-12 years ago, but like a liquor store that was, you know, featuring like, high end hard, harder to find, moves, you know, which now I’m kind of kicking myself because I’m like, well, that would have, that would have been a good a good route to go.

And, you know, what’s happened over the last 10-12 years with the alcohol industry, but all that to say is, like, you know, we, we didn’t have a business background, no formal sort of training or anything, but we did have this itch to start something on our own and give it a go. And I think we felt we had the intuition, and the, I don’t know, the, the drive to try something and we felt like we were we were learners, you know, we could learn on the fly and we could figure it out. And so I’d say that was really the initial passion was was a passion for learning, you know, as corny as that sounds, you know, we weren’t, we weren’t like hungry business school kids that had like, hey, let’s put together a business plan and try to get something launched here in college, you know, it was more like, let’s try to go like learn something brand new. And so yeah, that’s really how we got started with you know, we were, as I said, you know, during the backyard barbecue thing and started going to some craft cocktail bars as they sprouted up around town. And that was a totally different experience from what we were getting on Sixth Street here in Austin, you know, as college kids, it was a radical departure. And it was intriguing, and it made us enthusiastic about consumption. You know, it was like, hey, yeah, are these at the time, you know, it sounds silly now, but at the time, it was like, Hey, are these eight to $10 cocktails, to craft cocktails at eight to $10? Are they worth it when compared with $5 drink specials that college kids are getting. And we felt like it was like, we were just getting this full experience behind the bar, you know, the the bartenders had such command over what they were doing, the tools and products they were using to build these drinks were so different from what we were seeing it, you know, these volume college bars. And so we just sort of fell down that rabbit hole. And I think that combined with our, you know, food and beverage interests at home, and that we went home and tried to recreate those cocktails at home. And notice very quickly that the separating factor in these programs, these bar programs, we could find the same booze that they were using, we could find the craft brands at our local liquor store. You know, the way they were separating themselves was obviously their ability, their command over the recipes and how these drinks were being made. But it was also the non out components, you know, the non alcoholic mixers, for lack of a better word, they were being made in house at these bars that the kitchens would get involved.

And it was a culinary endeavor. And it just blew open the door of what was possible in a recipe. And it was just these recipes were just they tasted obviously way, way, way better. But they were way more complex, they had, you know, pages and pages at times of recipes featuring all these just amazing flavors. And so it was really just an exploration that got us kind of down the rabbit hole. And then you know, it kind of clicked, we were like, let me back up. You know, not to ramble. But in high school over the summers, I would go home. And you know, my hometown is about an hour and a half from Austin. And I would go home and work with a family friend who was bottling, like cosmetic products, but they were sort of off the radar cosmetic products at the time, like they weren’t regulated medicine or medical products, they were like, you know, like hyaluronic acid or salicylic acid, like face peels and things like that. And he grew his business on Amazon, but but it was a cottage industry kind of thing. But he was quite successful. And I was there helping him from the ground up. And you know, that exposure was very formative, you know, for me, and just seeing how that could come together of, you know, making at a small scale, making, packaging, you know, putting on on an E commerce site and selling and shipping, you know, all of it start to finish, you know, these model products. So seeing that and getting getting that exposure, I think kind of took down some of the barrier of, you know, complication of like, Man, this is this must be really difficult to do or this must be crazy complicated. It’s like, not really, it’s kind of simple to do, you know, each step along the way is, has its own kind of problem solving that you have to do. But I think that was that was formative for me. And you know, so we kind of clicked is like, man, some of the stuff we’re making it home and serving ourselves and our friends and cocktails. We’re making it home. There’s gotta be other people out there like us that want to make better cocktails at home. And that’s really how we you know how we got started. That’s a lot. But yeah, that’s, that’s really how it got started.

Melissa 

No, but I love it. Adam, I love I love hearing these stories, you know about looking, you know, you look back 10 years ago, it’s like, I love what you’re saying to like, hey, that would have been a really good business idea. But yeah, you gotta stick to one, right? Keep your head down stick to one thing. But it sounds like it really helped you to have somebody in your life who you kind of seen go before you I don’t know, did that person that you mentioned from your hometown take on like a mentorship role? Or did you seek out any mentors as you were building the company?

Adam 

That’s a great question. And yeah, it did. As I say, it’s, excuse me, especially as I grow, you do look at those fledgling years, you know, that experience was was very impactful. I would say that that person is and was, you know, a dear friend. And so at the time, I probably didn’t recognize kind of a formal mentorship happening. You know, it was just a person that, that I felt like it was just a person that was giving me a job that I was helping and, you know, we had a good personal relationship alongside that. But But yeah, I mean, looking back, absolutely. It was it was it was formative in the sense that, as I mentioned, it just tore down those barriers. And if I had questions or even just being able to kind of shadow and witness somebody problem solving, that person was very technologically gifted as well as entrepreneurially gifted so you know, a lot of the problems he was solving were above my head and still would be above my head. You know, he was, again very early to kind of the Amazon days and E commerce in general. And so while that’s a powerful part of what we do now, certainly not my expertise, you know, that’s something we’ve kind of built into our business and manage at this point. But, but yeah, I mean, mentorship, formally or informally was, yeah, looking back very, very important for me, and I haven’t seeked out, you know, much mentorship, there are some folks here in Austin in the CPG space, that, that help. And really, for me, mentorship has been something we’ve, we’ve picked up along the way and sort of this informal way, just being very blessed with strong relationships, you know, that are kind of have a personal nature that, you know, it’s like an asking your friend, which I imagine, that’s what a lot of healthy mentorship, relationships look like. But I also know, there’s some that are a little more kind of formal, or people will carve out time for mentorship to give back to younger entrepreneurs, which I think is, you know, wonderful, but that hasn’t really been our experience. You know, we don’t, we don’t have like a set number of people that we turn to with specific kinds of questions, but we do have a great network of, you know, just kind of personal professional, friends and family and, you know, things that have always been there to help support and answer questions or give us, you know, again, just really give us a lit, you know, look a peek into just sometimes it’s the most powerful mentorship is just watching somebody, as you said, Go before you and, you know, learning in that that way, you know, it’s not always going to people with problem that you have, and trying to, we’ve done some of that, but, but that’s not the bulk of our new experience. It’s more like trying to glean what you can from people that are successful and trying to synthesize ideas and synthesize things that you witnessed and you know, piece it together, but

Melissa 

yeah, absolutely. Inspiration.

Adam 

Exactly. Inspiration and aspiration. And, and I think part of it for us is, you know, there aren’t a lot of syrup companies out there, you know, it’s kind of an interesting niche that we find ourselves in. And so there are these industries that are sort of adjacent to what we do. The beverage alcohol industry, being one of them. The consumer packaged goods, CPG industry being another where it’s like, middle of the aisle, grocery products, consumables, you know, in a sense, we can learn a lot from, you know, each of those industries, and people that are actively involved in those industries, but, but it never, never fits perfectly. And I’m sure that’s true for pretty much every entrepreneur, but you know, in our industry, there aren’t there aren’t like, people that you know, who’s experienced lineup one of the ones I think, in a sense, you’re always you’re always just trying to synthesize ideas and try to figure out ways that can work for you and strip down to the truth of what what’s going to be beneficial there, you know, and that’s, that’s kind of how we have learned it that way. But

Melissa 

yeah, well, but it is, I mean, I’m feeling inspired listening to you, because it’s true that like, you want to solve a problem that’s there that, you know, doesn’t have a solution yet. But at the same time, it’s quite risky too, right? To jump into that world, and it’s worked out for your company.

Adam 

Yeah, so far, you know, we’re moving right now from what feels now like a dinky 7000 square foot space that we have just completely stuffed to the gills with activity and commerce, you know, which is great, but we’re tripling our floor space and moving into a brand new, you know, built to suit location and space that my partner Chris has spearheaded, you know, fleshing out and building out, but it’s going to be a full, you know, moving and transplantation of our food manufacturing. And we bought a new bottling line. And I mean, it’s so yeah, that speaking of risk, you know, I definitely feel the dots right now. It’s a daunting endeavor, but you gotta be grateful for the opportunity and continue to grow your business. So

Melissa 

yeah, so let’s talk about that growth. You told me that Liber & Co. has grown from three founder operators to a team of 12 full time employees now, lots of challenges coming up there, I’m sure with that growth, how do you manage a team and how do you delegate and how do you step away? What are what are your your tricks or tips for that?

Adam 

That’s we’re sort of in the midst. And so I don’t know that I have any confident tips or tricks yet, but but that is, that is where we are and you know, so we’ve been around for, you know, over like over 11 years now. We’re coming up on 12 years. But again, we when we were founded, it was I want to say was December of 2011. And it was three people with a hobby I mean, it was very, very, very small scale. And I mean, it was a cottage industry and you know, we would literally just bootstrap, you know dump everything we sold here would make, I think our first batch was like 40 cases of product. I mean, it was just nothing. But we just, you know, dumped, dumped it back in reinvested in the next batch, and then we just grew grew of batches from there. And, and we, we did that, I mean, I want to say we hired our first, like, our fourth quote unquote fourth person, you know, the first non-founder, you know, within four or five years, you know, probably five years is about halfway through probably is, is how long it took to, to even get to four. And so it took a while. And that is a transformation. I mean, we’ve, I think a lot of founders, what I’ve read and gleaned is that a lot of founders sort of face that transitionary experience of turning it over, you know, going from operator to manager or going from operator to executive or leader or however you want to term it, but, you know, just kind of changing roles. And for us, I mean, we got everything we could out of the three owner operators, and, and relatively quickly have gone from like four to 12. And so we’re definitely learning, you know, in the middle of learning how to how to build and managing an organization.

And it’s a challenge that we’re going through right now. It’s, you know, I, we have, we have some organizational things that we’re, like working on, right, like right now as we move, but I mean, there’s some stuff we’re going to try to install, like as we get into the new space that is going to hopefully kind of help us continue to make sure everybody is is understanding of their role, and that we’re all rowing the boat in the same direction. And but I guess, I can’t give you a good answer, because those are the problems we’re solving right now. You have things I guess, you know, 1 thing, I’ll say, like, you have these roles and responsibilities, and that’s kind of how we’ve fleshed out our team, so far as you just have these natural roles and responsibilities that come up. And you can foresee the very next step, you know, to say, hey, you know, we have to free up, for example, you know, I lead our sales and marketing silo, if you will, and then we’ll just the growth of our businesses, you know, kind of ultimately, you know, my purview, the growth of our business in the market. And, you know, so the operation has to be in place, you know, the manufacturing side, the fulfillment and warehouse side has to be fully fleshed out and rock solid, if we’re going to try to go press the gas in the market. And early on, you know, pressing the gas in the market looks like, just taking on as many opportunities as possible is a little bit of an unfocused, you know, endeavor, and, but as we gain focus, you know, it’s become very important to have that operational foundation, well, that sort of makes it obvious, it’s like, well, you need to hire people that can can help, you know, in that regard, so we’ve been informed by need so far, and I think there’s going to be this inflection point at some point that where you’re starting to identify future needs, and you’re actually kind of investing in the future of your organization. And, you know, we’re not quite there yet. But we’re probably toeing the line, I mean, we have a very good team in place. And we’ve had some turnover over the last two years or so. And, and that was a great learning experience.

So, you know, maybe that’s one piece of wisdom that, you know, some tiny little piece of wisdom we’ve gained is like, turnover, you know, if it’s not working for you, you know, rip the band aid off, and you have to move through something that’s not working for your organization, you have to move through it as quickly as you can, as soon as you recognize it as a problem. You’ve got to address it with your team, your leadership team, and you have to get everybody on the same page about how to move forward and you have to move forward as swiftly as possible, or else it’s going to drag, you know, drag your business down, it’s going to put things at risk that you can’t afford to risk, you know, in our case, that might be product quality, or, you know, deliver, you know, just deliverables like how quickly are we getting people with a need? And how accurately are we getting people what they need, things like that. And so thankfully, we have a great team in place right now. And, you know, and I think they’re sort of forgiving, or their, their, their understanding that, you know, we’re, we’re new, you know, it’s like we’re we’ve been around for 10 or 11 years. But as far as where we are in our business right now, it’s we’ve never, we’ve never been here before. And every every day, every year is new to us. And I think when you’re an entrepreneur, that’s probably something you also have to be able to do is like, be honest with yourself and honest with your team. And just everybody needs to know transparently the situation like I think, you know, if we were to pretend like we were seasoned entrepreneurs, because we’ve had a business, you know, running for 10 or 11 years. I think we’d be fooling ourselves and we’d be doing a huge disservice to our team and, and to our business ultimately. You think so for us, we’re like, hey, yeah, we’re 10 or 11 years in here, but, you know, every path is somewhat different and our path has led us to as being 11 years down the line with a very, sort of fledgling organizational skill set. And so we’re trying to develop that that’s just actively something we’re trying to do.

Melissa 

It sounds like from the start, you really had this value of, of learning and really having a growth mindset, right, just we’ve got a lot to learn, and we don’t have it all figured out yet. And so let’s let’s just keep growing and being open.

Adam 

Absolutely. I think that that’s, you know, I remember, I remember telling my girlfriend at the time now wife, that, I mean, way, way back, you know, probably within the first two years of starting this company, I think, I think this is an accurate number. You know, I think I literally remember telling her, I was like, man, if we, if we made $100,000, in revenue, selling these zeros that we’re making, I would feel pretty good about it. Because it’s like, that’s, that’s, that’s a big number. I mean, $100,000 is a lot of money, and it is still, to me and to, you know, in the world, that’s a lot of money. And, you know, obviously our business at this point, I mean, we, we do more than $100,000 in sales, and, and I feel proud, and I feel grateful for that. But just looking back and, and seeing the perspective of that of that person that said that, you know, to his to his girlfriend, it was like, Well, yeah, I should. Yeah, I should hope you you know, you should, you should definitely see see past that, you know, and, and it’s not that I wasn’t being passive, but I do think it was, I was well aware that look, I mean, for three kids to make a product and sell $100,000 of it out there in the big world. You know, that meant something big to me. And I try to keep that, I try to keep that in mind. As we grow. It’s like, you know, you’re, it’s all new to you until you’ve done it. And then even if you’ve done it, once you’ve gone through one, one rodeo, as it were, it’s like, you’re still I mean, there’s still so much to learn that there’s no sense and trying to pretend like you, like you know very much at all.

And that’s, you know, and I guess, you know, on the topic of this question, I mean, that’s one thing organizationally that I’ve, that I’ve sort of, struggled with, or grappled with maybe not struggle, but kind of grappled with and gone back and forth, in my mind is, you know, I do think one tension, I feel that I’m supposed to, I mean, I am a leader, I am in a position of leadership in my business. But at the same time, I do have that perspective that I just shared, which is, you know, I’m, I’m always trying to learn and I, part of that is, you have to just sort of always be reminding yourself that, hey, you’ve never done this before, whatever’s happening this month, or next month, some of it you’ve done before, but if it’s a big step, like moving your operations, or that it’s even making certain hires or, you know, in a sense, it’s like, well, I have a team of 12. Now, well, what if we have a team of 14 in six months? You know, have you ever led a team of 14? Well, no, have you ever led a team of 15? No. So you know, every marginal move that you make, being so new, you know, there’s that there’s that kind of line, you have to toe, of, hey, you have to you have to have a vision, you have to be confident enough to lead and confident enough to move forward with a plan and a sense of what you’re doing, you know, knowing what you’re doing. But at the same time, you kind of humble yourself and remind yourself that you kind of don’t know what you’re doing, and it’s okay to be new at it. You know, but that is something to kind of grapple with, because you don’t want to send the wrong message to your team that you’re, you know, that you’re on shaky ground or that you know, that you don’t have a sense for how things should be you know, so that’s something I’ve grappled with on the topic of management and building a team.

Melissa 

Yeah, it’s a topic actually, that’s come up with a few of other guests I’ve spoken with to just, yeah, I think there’s like the old school leader idea, right? Like that. You just got it all together, you have it all figured out, and you lead in that way. But you’re saying of leading more with, like humility, and now I don’t have it all figured out. But I’m one step ahead of you probably, hopefully, I think that that’s, that’s really inspiring, and it’s the kind of leadership we need.

Adam 

I hope so. And you go back and forth, because sometimes there are days when I’m, you know, there’s part of the psychology of a of a, of an entrepreneur that I’m sure I’m not alone in this, but certainly it’s you know, certainly I have dealt with this but you know, that it is it is a, you know, there are days when you’re not feeling very confident, or maybe you’re feeling Yeah, you sort of feeling uncertain, and those are sometimes days where, you know, at your at your weakest, you might, you might sort of succumb to that notion that like, well, the way through is just with this kind of brute force and saying, you know, it has to be this way because I dictate that this way. And usually I can sort of catch myself and remind myself that that’s not the best way to lead. Even though again, at my weakest when I’m feeling my most uncertain, you know, that feels like it grasping at straws a little bit that that’s like feels, it makes me feel almost more secure and more powerful to be able to say that. But, you know, I, it seems very obvious to me that that’s not the best thing for my team. And that’s not the best thing for my business. So I have to sort of be careful to say, you stay in the right frame of mind and always say, no matter what, even if you are feeling the doubt, like that’s just part of the, it’s just part of the thing you have to cope with and learn how to how to live with or at least learn how to manage as an entrepreneur. And that’s not something you sort of turn on to your business or turn onto your team. You know, that’s something something that the entrepreneur kind of goes through. And, you know, I’m not I’m not saying I’m a martyr, yeah, I’m not saying you do that without, you know, I’m not saying you sort of have to just eat that. But I’m saying you have to learn how to, you know, there’s skills that I imagined, I only imagined, because I don’t have them right now, but I imagine they’re out there yet to be developed. But there are skills to to manage and to, you know, to get through that, but but again, not to not to turn that on your team or try to try to displace that feeling and put it somewhere else, you know?

Melissa

Yeah. Well, it sounds like you do have some of those skills in place. But absolutely, it can be it can be challenging. And and as you’re saying, you know, there’s always room for growth with learning those skills of emotional intelligence and regulation and all that stuff that that I’m an expert in, I would say. But that doesn’t mean I’m an expert in applying them myself. You know, I think that that’s why it’s so helpful to

Adam 

I need to call Dr. Melissa.

Melissa 

I don’t provide that service. But I am curious. What about impostor syndrome? Would you go so far as to say that something you struggled with?

Adam 

Yeah, yeah. As far as I understand it, you know, I think that’s one that you know, not to. I mean, I’m certainly don’t want to be dismissive. It’s just these terms have meanings. And I have not done enough research to, to have super clear, defined understandings of the terms. But as far as I understand impostor syndrome, yes. You know, absolutely, that’s something I struggle with on a on a pretty regular basis. And I would say, obviously, there’s a correlation, I would think this is a natural kind of relationship there. For me, there seems to be a correlation, you know, between the higher stress moments in our business. And in the, you know, the incidence of, of maybe experiencing that impostor syndrome, where it’s like, you know, those, those, those times, we might feel a little bit in over your head, you know, that’s when you’re gonna feel that you’re most incapable, or you’re most sort of like, what have I gotten myself into? This? Is this really, for me? Or am I really the person that that’s going to be able to, to do this or get that done? You know, that’s, that’s definitely something that that I’ve encountered. And, you know, the way that I cope, for lack of a better word, is just to sort of remind myself, like, one foot in front of the other, you know, some days are gonna be flourishes of productive activity, other days are gonna feel, you know, stale or stagnant, or, you know, like, things aren’t aren’t going the direction or moving in a positive way that you as you want them to, but, you know, if you can do one or two things a day that are, you know, sort of that you feel very confident are going to better your business. You know, that feels like a good way forward, in the face of that, but I don’t know if it’s, if it’s like, the weather, you know, it’s like imposter syndrome feels like it’s just almost like a psychological state as much as anything else. It’s just a feeling an emotional, kind of psychological feeling that you get and experience that it’s, you know, like the weather, and I think sometimes you just have to learn to accept those things, and let them come and go. You know, like the weather.

Melissa 

I don’t think you need my help, Adam, because that’s exactly what I would tell my clients like, imposter syndrome is like a cloud floating through the sky. So you’re right on track, just to give you

Adam 

Yeah, but sometimes you do get wet, you know, what I mean? Like, sometimes the weather can catch you in a position unprepared or unwitting, and it can it can make a mess, for sure. And, you know, and sometimes, you know, I have to be careful. I have a two and a half year old daughter now and we actually have another on the way in June, which

Melissa 

Congratulations

Adam 

Thank you exciting. And so, you know, I think imposter syndrome can can maybe leak into other aspects of your life like I have these responsibilities. I have this vision of a future. You know, now I’ll have two two little girls and a wife and, you know, so my role is a provider, a husband and a father. And I’m just a person to be there and support my family. Like, if I’m feeling unconfident at work, or about my work and about the future of my work, if I’m feeling doubt, you know, it can, it can creep in at home too, it’s sort of like, if I feel like something is unstable, or not built on solid foundation, or, you know, some, some profound out like that, you know, it, that’s where it kind of bothers me the most is when I take that home, and I’m like, Well, if I, you know, if work is on a, you know, if my business or my, you know, my work is on a shaky foundation, then what, what does that mean, for my role here? Am I Am I taking my family down a path that’s not, you know, super sound and super solid? And, you know, am I somehow failing, you know, failing on that, and, you know, that’s really the part that would bother me the most, but same deal, I try to sort of, you know, remind myself that, you know, nothing is guaranteed in life, and I don’t think my wife and I don’t think my kids would ever, you know, sort of say like, Oh, dad, or Adam, you know, you, you’ve got to be this person, or your life has to look like this, and you know, your work and your job, and your business has to look like this. And it has to perform specifically like this, in order for us to be made whole or, or have, you know, a chance at our best life or any of that, I think, you know, it part of the family situation that I sort of remind myself, like, No, we’re sort of all in it together. And so even if I guess it’s like, facing your fears, and sort of like, even if your business fails, or you’re not the, you know, the entrepreneur that you want to be or this first go round doesn’t go, you know, exactly as you want it to or whatever. Your family is, your family, still your family, and they’re still gonna love you and support you. And that’s, that’s a reminder, I have to sort of provide myself there. But

Melissa 

yeah, but um, thank you for acknowledging the people at home, right, because I think it’s something that doesn’t get as much recognition and entrepreneurs, startup stories. It’s not going to work unless you’ve got that support of people behind the scenes as well.

Adam  

Oh, 100%. And in that regard, I’m very lucky. Yeah, I have a very amazing wife who, you know, listens and sort of puts up with my, my, you know, moodiness, I think that, you know, along with the agency, the imposter syndrome topic, you know, there’s kind of a whole other basket of, you know, social and, or sorry, you know, psychological and emotional responses to your work, you know, impostor syndrome being one of them, excuse me. But it also comes with, you know, moodiness, sometimes they’re, like, you know, a certain intensity that I’ll bring into the house, that is a carryover from what I’m doing at work, or what’s going on at work. And sometimes that, you know, again, I mean, we’re moving, we’re uplifting our entire business and moving and we have a team and, you know, payroll, and I mean, you have all of these responsibilities. And so sometimes that that sort of intensity, or that, that that emotional state, you know, can last months, you know, there have been months of that, and, you know, my wife has been extremely, like, understanding and supportive and in tune with my needs, and yeah, and so I’m very lucky in that regard. I imagine that a lot of entrepreneurs don’t, don’t have that I can only imagine because I think it is special. And but yes, it’s extremely important. And to be honest, it sounds trite, but you know, given my, my just my whole situation is I’m very, I feel lucky that it comes naturally to me to have this perspective, but it is, you know, it I kind of, I do it all, you know, my whole entrepreneurial underpinning, you know, that the thing that makes it all mean, something to me, is, is my home life, you know, it really is just sort of, make, make something that is lasting or make something that is but but ultimately just going to provide for my family. I mean, that’s, that’s really the goal. And so it kind of it, that’s the that’s the most important part, and I don’t ever stray that far from that understanding of it. You know, in some ways, it’s, it’s actually probably the case that I, you know, that I probably, compared with other entrepreneurs, I could probably be more sort of, like, what’s the word more? In the early days, you know, we were very, like, we’d have these long 12 hour like production runs. Well, we were the ones making everything, you know, and all that. And so, you know, it pulled pulled me away, but, but these days, I mean, I’ve tried to just, I try to be around for my daughter. I mean, at the time, you know, she’s two and a half and I’ll blink and she’ll be 15. And so I’m very cognizant of that. And I find it kind of easy to be tied to that. And in some ways, my family is my escape. When I get to hang out with my my family, it’s a good it’s a very good thing for me, so.

Melissa 

Oh, that’s fantastic. Because yeah, I do think that but that is a challenge for many entrepreneurs to, I don’t know, I don’t know that like the word work life balance, but you know, just create a bit of separation between the two things. And it sounds like you figured it out. I mean, maybe we don’t have to be an expert, we won’t have to give you that title. But, but you’ve learned a lot, and you found a way to juggle the two.

Adam 

Yeah, there’s definitely an ongoing, you know, and as we grow, I mean, you know, ideally, grow, you know, keep growing, you know, it’s got to be more demanding. Well, and I think that returns us to that kind of organizational point of, I think, if you do if I do want to, and if most entrepreneurs I imagine want to, sort of maintain a semblance of balance, I’m with you, I don’t, I don’t love I think that term is a little overused, that work life balance thing, and I think it’s kind of just life, you know, and, but, but if you do want to maintain balance in your life, you have to grow as a leader, you have to learn to delegate, you have to sort of turn, you know, in some ways, you the way I look at it in some ways, I’m you know, we’re building a business that it becomes a living, breathing entity in and of itself, and your job is to steward it and attend to it, you know, give it what it needs. But your organization needs to support that thing, goal, everybody is taking care of this thing that takes care of us, you know, the organization. And, you know, and so as I grow as a leader in the business, you know, turning it over to others is a requisite part of the journey, as far as I can tell, and so that’s probably how I see myself maintaining that balance is just learning to delegate making good managers become good leaders, you know, in their own right to, to carry on, you know, carry carry the business forward. You know, I think if I, if I had my claws in it, or if I’m, if I refuse to let it, go, as we as we grow, I think my work life is going to suffer, but I think my home life is gonna suffer too. So, you know, that’s kind of the motivating force is to maintain that balance.

Melissa 

Yeah, well, I do know, something that we spoke about. Well, before we hopped on the call was about how the pandemic had affected your company. It was a I don’t know if Hiccup is the right word. Hiccup sounds quite gentle. It sounds like it was, there was a lot of upheaval with that with a pandemic.

Adam 

Yeah, I mean, so we were very lucky in some senses. But yeah, it was also very disruptive, I mean, our business so we make non alcoholic cocktail syrups that we serve, direct to consumer, we have a direct to consumer business, we sell online to people that want to make better cocktails at home, cocktails that reflect the quality and style that, you know, they’re finding the best bars all around the world. And then, but then we also we also sell to bars and restaurants. And that’s a huge part of our of our business, and has been for probably seven, eight years. You know, the, probably the first three or four years, we were largely direct to consumer, but you know, kind of word got out that our products were there. And a lot of these bartenders and bar beverage programs that are making these syrups in house, they’re doing so out of necessity, they’re doing so because the commercial options, just they’re not are not good enough to support these programs, and support, frankly, the demands of the people. I mean, the consumers are getting much better at discerning that, you know, the good cocktail from a bad cocktail. And so, you know, there are still a lot of bars and restaurants out there that can kind of put lipstick on a pig and, and pass off a crappy cocktail for a good one. But, again, thankfully, a lot of consumers are starting to see through that. But all that to say, by my pandemic time, you know, we had a very diversified business, you know, we had almost 50/50 You know, maybe more like 60 want to say it was like 65/35 on premise meaning bars and restaurants and we were selling to beverage professional beverage programs around the country.

And then the pandemic hit that, obviously, that that business, I mean, literally evaporated within a month. I mean, we just slowed to a to a nothing, which was devastating to that sector of our business was also devastating to so many of the people we work with so many of our partners and customers that we care about and watched they’re, they’re sort of from the owner operator of a bar to a bartender at a big, you know, corporate chain restaurant, you know, to, you know, all of it. I mean, it just it just went away and so, it was pretty devastating to an industry and you know, in us being a part of it, but, but what we didn’t see on the other side and kept us kept us afloat and even positive is that people at home started just like they loved to learn and how to make sourdough bread and, you know, bake and hailed and develop hobbies in seclusion and isolation, which I thought was cool. I thought that was cool. Yeah, I don’t, I hope it’s not, not too soon to speak positively of a global pandemic, I don’t want to be. I don’t want to be perverse, but like, but I think that was kind of a cool outcropping of this pandemic was that people turned inward, and seemed to cultivate, you know, new skills and new hobbies. And some of that involves making great cocktails. And that was beneficial to us, though, we saw our online business and in our Amazon business, you know, pretty much all of our direct to consumer stuff, you know, explode and or, you know, at least have, you know, a very, very powerful surge.

So, definitely a road block to a degree or sort of road bump, but we just saw this sort of big shift, you know, went from one sector to another, and we just said, Okay, well, let’s double down on our, on our email marketing, and kind of all of our digital marketing and online, you know, in support of our online and E commerce. And so that’s when we really put a lot into our social media and YouTube were like, how can we educate our customers at home on how to make better drinks and learning about different spirits and just sort of fleshing out their understanding of, of their home bar, you know, that was kind of where we turned our focus. So again, having a great team in place made it so that we actually, you know, in hindsight, it’s kind of mind boggling how well we did there. And it was not, it was not due in large part, to me, I mean, it was like, it was our marketing team. They were just, I mean, there’s extremely talented, and we’re able to very quickly kind of get a very robust digital marketing and social media, you know, campaign and just sort of activity, you know, and put together and organize extremely well organized, we’re active on Instagram, and Tiktok, and YouTube, all of it. And we do it all in house, you know, we have an editor, you know, we have all that we do all of our own video production and means that we can be very immersive, you know, people can come into our office, and we have characters in our office now that show up on our Tiktok. And, and it’s all us. And so it’s taking, I think that third party thing, when you have other people running your digital marketing, it can be a little bit of a, just a little bit of a removal from your brand. But I think post pandemic, we were able to bring people closer to us, which was great.

Melissa 

That’s great. Yeah, I mean, I can imagine at the very beginning, it was so like that uncertainty, right? I mean, there’s already so much uncertainty as an entrepreneur, and then bam, like, global pandemic, right in the middle of it that’s affecting, yeah, affecting your business. But it sounds like, yeah, we can say, I used the term silver lining, right. It’s obviously like, there was so much tragedy wrapped up in the pandemic, but your company as it is, found a way to pivot and well, not not even pivot, right, I guess the, the economy found a way to pivot and benefited your company.

Adam 

Exactly. And, like I said, I think a lot of that carried over, you know, we haven’t seen our online sales drop in, in really any way. I mean, we’ve actually seen steady growth even since then. And I think that that accelerated some trends that were already there, you know, people drinking and enjoying, you know, making cocktails and things at home, it was already starting to happen. I just think the pandemic accelerated. So, yeah, I think that was a good thing for people and their skill development, obviously good for our business.

Melissa 

Well, I have to ask the question that probably many other people ask him to, what is it like having a twin brother as a co founder? And would you recommend it?

Adam  

Yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s, you know, identical twin, right. And we’re, you know, we’re too. I don’t know, I don’t want to pigeonhole myself or paint myself too broad strokes here. But like, we’re like sports guys, right? Like, we’re, we’re competitive. We’re hyper competitive. And we’ve butted heads, pretty much our entire lives. And you know, and I do think we both have a very, you know, I don’t want to be too abstract here. But we have a sense that we need to respect each other and treat each other with respect. And we don’t always practice that, but the sense is always there. And so I think that always kind of ground our relationship in this sort of truth that hey, like, you know, like, I know, I speak for myself, and I hope that this is somewhat reciprocated, but, you know, I admire the hell out of my brother and, you know, respect him and he’s, he’s one of the best, you know, people he’s, he’s talented. He’s, I mean, so many good things about him. But on a day to day basis, you know, it definitely comes with a struggle, and I would say that the best person to ask that question to with Chris probably, he finds himself you know, literally and figuratively, you know, On in the middle, you know, and across buyers, and, you know, I think we all want growth, and we all want what’s best. And I do think being an identical twin gives you or, at least in our case, you know, having working with your twin brother gives you a certain style to your you know, management and problem solving things like that, like, you know, we definitely sort of chip at each other and bigger. So, we work on it. It’s not for the faint of heart as for do I recommend it, you know, it has its pros and cons, you know, we, we definitely see eye to eye on a lot of things, you know, which is crazy, I mean, 90% of things we see perfectly, you know, in alignment. And I would say that the storms come, you know, on the 10% that we that we don’t see eye to eye on it just we’re just fiercely sort of. Yeah, we can sort of be very, you know, very, there’s a personal boundary. That’s not that’s not a, that’s not there as much, you know, and you can kind of tell we have to work on that. I mean, and so generally speaking, the personal relationships, and the business relationships, I would say tread forward lightly. You know, we’ve hired several of our close friends. And, you know, work with, you know, I think it’s almost part of our culture, frankly. But it’s something that has come up as something that we have to sort of be careful about, because we love our friends, and, and they do an amazing job. And so in that way, it’s been very, you know, easy, but But I do think it could, if we hadn’t, if we aren’t, if we, if we weren’t as lucky as we’ve been, I think there are some natural sort of pitfalls there, that we’ve sort of skirted, but have not done. So without awareness of them, you know, they it’s like being on a on a on a list and looking down over the edge. Okay, I see the danger here, you know, but, you know, so far, it’s worked out for us. And as far as working, Robert, you know, we’re getting better, which I think is great. as our business grows, we get better. And, you know, so some of that just comes with growth and maturity, some of it comes from seeing our business, take shape, and feeling maybe some mutual pride, and you’re proud of him, and you’re proud of yourself that you sort of just ate the business and the business pulls the best out of you and you, you learn to respect each other and in building your business together. Yeah, but it’s complicated.

Melissa 

The good news, I guess, is we don’t have probably have too many people listening who are identical twins considering whether or not they want to be become a co founder,

Adam 

if you’re out there, if you’re out there, listen, it’s complicated.

Melissa 

But it is I know, I know that from speaking with other founders, well, and I’m a co founder of a online community myself, like, it’s just you, you sometimes don’t even know what to expect going into it. And I think when you have a previous relationship that’s brings its own set of complexities. Adam, I could talk to you forever, I have so many more questions, I’d love to ask, but we’re out of time. So I’m gonna ask you the last question. What advice would you give to your younger self, if you could go back in time on the beginning to the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey?

Adam  

First of all, thank you, because I ramble. And I, too, could talk to you for a long time, you’re very easy person to talk to you ask great questions. Very insightful. So thank you for having me. Great question. I feel like I kind of saw this question coming a little bit, but I didn’t develop a great answer.

Melissa 

One piece of advice, it doesn’t have to get the best.

Adam 

Yeah, I think I land on, you know, keep your head up. You know, I like for me, I, you know, I’m, I’m a sensitive guy. And, you know, the so the emotional journey of entrepreneurship has been trying for me, and it’s come with a whole bag of you know, I mean, even I’m in the alcohol business, well, I don’t really even drink anymore. I mean, you have this journey of like, how are you interacting with your work? You know, is it healthy, that, you know, is it good for you, because it’s good for you, it’s going to be best for your business. That doesn’t mean you’re going to get what you want out of your business necessarily, or at least the first go around. But you have to take care of yourself. You have to keep your head up, you know, stay, stay positive, be emotionally buoyant. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Don’t take what you’re doing too seriously. I think as an entrepreneur, it’s very easy to fall prey to this idea that like, if stuff goes wrong, it’s just so catastrophic. And I think that speaks to the investment that entrepreneurs make in their in their ventures, just with their whole lives. I mean, I think you’re told as an entrepreneur, you have to just pour your whole life into it. And I think that speaks to the instinct of an entrepreneur. And so it’s very easy for us to do that. But I think you have to realize that, you know, life goes on and you There’s a lot more to life than what you’re doing right now with your with your venture, you know, do your best and keep your head up and try to stay positive and buoyant.

Melissa 

I love that. Yeah, I know, we could just keep talking about a bunch of little pieces from that advice you just gave, but we have to wrap things up. So where can listeners find you learn more about Liber & Co.? Let us know.

Adam 

Thank you. Yeah, like I said, we’re very active on social media. So Instagram challenges, do more static posts, but definitely your recipes, things like that. useful. We hope and, but Tik Tok is actually a big platform for us right now. Lots of great video content. We try to keep it fun, but it’s always you know, recipe based, we have some kind of competition there. So Instagram, Tik Tok, YouTube, we try to keep it educational. And then our website, tons of recipes and your great information there. And that’s just Liberandcompany.com all spelled out. And then we’re easy to get in touch with we’d love to hear from people to reach out. Tell us your favorite cocktail.

Melissa 

Awesome. Yeah, well, I do follow you on Instagram and you have some reels on there with little recipes and stuff. I really like watching them and I’ve seen some of those competitions on there too. So I’ll be sure to drop all of that in the show notes. It’s been fantastic. Adam, thank you so much for taking time out of your day to have this conversation.

Adam 

Thank you, Melissa and I hope to talk soon. Bye!

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HI I’M MELISSA

I'm a therapist-turned-coach who loves working with clients around the world! I work with the globally mobile community to support them through transitions as well as entrepreneurs who need support navigating the rollercoaster of entrepreneur life.

I'm also the co-founder of the Location Independent Therapists (LIT) Community, a mom, a self-compassion advocate, and an aspiring author.

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