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Bartending Is Better Than Business School

Jun 29, 2017
Sarah Begley is a staff writer for TIME.

Want to successfully lead an organization? Then start mixing drinks, writes Helen Rothberg in The Perfect Mix. Although she's now a management consultant and a professor of strategy at Marist College, Rothberg argues that she learned her most valuable leadership skills while tending bar during grad school.

Among them: reading body language to analyze interpersonal situations (useful in tamping down barroom brawls and also in keeping the boardroom civil); managing charming but deadbeat workers (great for weeding out waiters who are more show than substance); and communicating key details (at her bar, sales started plummeting after a boss revamped the menu without explaining it to his waitstaff, who couldn't explain it to customers).

"This is life leading an organization," Rothberg writes. "Sometimes you stir, sometimes you shake, and sometimes you blend. And sometimes you just serve it up neat, just as it is."


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