Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book, chosen as recommended reading for the CEO Library in CEO Forum, chronicles their start in a laundry room in 1986 and creating a nationwide bestselling wine label. With virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas and strategic alliances to overcome obstacles and create new markets. They pioneered “Worthy Cause Marketing” and performance-based compensation with a comprehensive view of customer service.
In 2005 they successfully sold the brand to E&J Gallo. Since then, Michael & Bonnie share their experience and innovative approach to business as authors, keynote speakers, corporate trainers and consultantants with Fortune 500s. One of their clients made the Inc. 500 list for the second year in a row. They are sought-after workplace culture experts in both print and broadcast media with hundreds of interviews and articles in professional and national publications.
They are the recipients of the 2014 Distinguished Entrepreneur Speaker Award from the Turner School of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Bradley University; and keynote speakers for 2014 SOCAP Symposium (Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals in Business, 2014 World Conference on Entrepreneurship (ICSB) in Dublin, Ireland, and C-Suite Conference.
Michael & Bonnie speak throughout the country and internationally to corporations, conferences, universities and symposiums. Business leaders and professors of entrepreneurship highly recommend them as inspirational speakers and entrepreneurial thought leaders. Their new book The Entrepreneurial Culture, 23 Ways to Engage and Empower Your People will be featured in Jeff Hayzlett’s C-Suite TV Network launch and C-Suite Book Club.
Award Winning Speaking Topics
As winners of the 2014 Distinguished Entrepreneur Speaker Award from the Turner School of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Bradley University, Michael and Bonnie will be glad to speak to your group on the following topics:
- The Barefoot Story (From the Laundry Room to the Boardroom)
- Going Global (Rise to the Challenges of International Business)
- Branding, Marketing and Innovation (Barefoot is the #1 Wine Brand in the World)
- The Entrepreneurial Culture (Sales is King)
- Worthy Cause Marketing (Social Reasons for Customer Loyalty)
- The Ultimate Customer Experience (Customer Service on Every Level)
“The International Council for Small Business (ICSB) held its World Entrepreneurship Conference in Dublin in June 2014 and it attracted an audience of 876 delegates from 61 countries. Michael and Bonnie were Keynote Speakers at the conference but they also gave talks at dedicated workshops for Irish Entrepreneurs and at the Women’s Entrepreneurship Forum. While each talk needed to be tailored to the specific audience that they were addressing, their professionalism, practical advice and excellent communication skills ensured that they enjoyed a rapturous response on every occasion. They have an ability to speak to any group of people in a way that resonates with their particular needs and through their stories the hard lessons of business are understood in an entertaining fashion. Because of the success of their talks, they have already been invited back to Ireland for other speaking engagements and I understand from international colleagues that invitations to other countries are also likely to happen.”
– Professor Thomas Cooney, Chair International Council for Small Business, 2014 Organizing Committee, College of Business, Dublin Institute of Technology
“Bonnie and Michael were excellent keynote speakers for our inaugural entrepreneurs’ awards luncheon. They tailored their presentation to fit the Chamber’s mission and the audience’s expectations. The duo’s success story captured the audience’s attention from the first sentence to the last word. Their presentation was informative, useful and charismatic. I have only heard positive feedback from everyone in attendance and several chamber members have asked us to bring them back to Mobile. They inspired Mobile’s business community and the next generation of local entrepreneurs.”
-Darrell W. Randle, VP, Small Business Development, Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce
“The Barefoot Founders were a big hit at the recent Northwest SOCAP Chapter meeting in San Francisco. Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey are truly charming and engaging presenters! They shared stories of the challenges they faced founding the Barefoot Wine brand and how they overcame them by putting the customer first and creatively responding to their needs and wants. Their tag team approach was refreshing and kept us entertained while delivering this important message. It was fun and our members had nothing but praise!”
-Northwest SOCAP Board
“It is so refreshing to hear the mindset behind such a great product and the evolution of your business. I will be able to take your business lessons and relay them back to those that are working to expand. I especially enjoyed your explanation of the “money map” and “organizational charts” but more importantly the idea of treating suppliers (and all others) how you would like to be treated. Such a basic idea that seems to fall by the wayside.”
-Gina L. Sederstrom, Financial & Portfolio Advisor, Morris Fuller Group, Merrill Lynch Private Client Group
“We enjoyed listening to the lessons that they learned. The worthy cause marketing concept was worth the evening by itself.”
-David Torrance, President, Executive Forums Dallas, Member, Dallas Area Chamber of Commerce
“Michael and Bonnie were great! It’s hard to be the last speakers at a conference and they pulled it off. So many people commented on their presentation. They really are connected on a very special level. Well done!”
– Pat Murphy, CEO, The Institute for Social, Search, and Mobile Marketing
“Michael’s reputation as a successful entrepreneur precedes him. He is on top of his topics and consistently delivers news we can use. He has given my staff sales tools and insights that have resulted in increased sales and a new appreciation for customer relations. He is clear, understandable and practical. He shares his real world business experience with passion and intensity. Nobody dozes off when Michael is speaking!”
– Jeff Stevenson, Founder and CEO, VinoPRO Inc.
“It was a great pleasure to have them speak at our EO Alchemy 2014 conference in Las Vegas.
Our members were very pleased with their participation and greatly valued your keynote speech.”
-Michael Tsang, President, EO Las Vegas
Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey’s Blogs: