Over the past ten weeks, I have been meeting with G Patel of Social House Vodka biweekly to learn about working in the business and entrepreneurship field. If you do not know G, he is an incredibly successful and experienced businessman and philanthropist that has created and co-founded many successful businesses in the Raleigh area. G and I began our “meetings” by creating a list of topics I wanted to learn about, and over the course of the next two months, we would go in-depth with these topics.
The topic I learned about most from G would have to be networking and growing your company. He taught me the basic and most impactful form of marketing, “grassroots marketing”. G used the phrase “shaking hands and kissing babies” to describe grassroots marketing, as meeting people face to face and connecting them with your brand. I learned that this is the most influential way to expand your business. G supported this belief by bringing me to a startup company event in downtown Raleigh. He introduced me to many other local entrepreneurs, and I was also able to witness how he connects with and introduces new people to Social House Vodka. Being more of an introvert myself, this experience helped me to understand networking is about curiosity, listening and learning instead of about being a salesman.
An additional lesson I found incredibly beneficial was the practice of a sales call. G taught me the importance of a strong sales call, and I was able to practice this by calling many ABC Liquor Stores to gain sales information on Social House. I also called an abundance of restaurants in the greater Raleigh area, pitching a sale to managers in an attempt for them to serve more Social House in their restaurants, or to introduce new consumers to the brand.
I found my biggest struggle over my meetings with G to always have a topic or a question to ask. As I am only twenty years old and a sophomore in college, I lack experience in a “real” business career environment. In addition to this, I am still not positive on the direction I want to go regarding my professional career. But this so-called “weakness” turned out to be a great discussion point with G, as he has lots of experience under his belt when it comes to following passion. He told me there is no recipe or formula for finding your “why”, as each path people take to find their “why” differs greatly. To help my curiosity and to reinforce his point, G provided a plethora of resources for me to get more in-depth with finding fulfillment. I was given contacts of people with their own programs, videos, and documents all to help me gain an understanding on finding my “why”.
Although I did not fully know what direction I am hoping to progress my career in, I was able to learn a copious amount of more basic topics from G. From topics such as the interviewing and hiring process, insurance, budget management, compensation packages, and dozens more, I was able to expand my horizons that I had little to no knowledge on prior to meeting with G.
If I had to provide any criticisms about my meetings with G, it would hardly be a criticism at all (maybe that I wasn’t able to be as fashionable). Sometimes, he can go off on a tangent from what the topic was originally focused on, but this is far from a bad thing. I have learned so much from his digressions in conversation, I even found myself forgetting what my original question was, and moved into an entirely new field of conversation where I could learn from.
Overall, I believe my time with G was incredibly well spent. I gained substantial knowledge from an entrepreneurial point of view which will greatly benefit my future, and I was generously given an abundance of resources for my future success and career path. I am forever appreciative to G for taking me on as his student intern. I have no doubt he will be a phenomenal mentor for the next person in the future.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Class of 2021