Glengoyne Whisky Distillery prides itself on having the slowest stills in Scotland. My sister and I visited a few months ago, and in huge letters on the doors to the building holding the stills and the washbacks, it reads:
THE RIGHT WAY IS THE LONG WAY
Everywhere at the distillery and on their website and whisky, this particular brand proclaims proudly: we are slower on purpose. For good. To create a different kind of whisky. Even slower, even longer than the others. All good Scottish whisky takes time (there’s a minimum of three years required for whisky to be whisky), but most distilleries let the whisky wait and rest and become its best self over a period of 10, or 12, or 18, or even 25 years or longer.
I’ve been thinking about how much good work goes on in the quiet, in the dark. When the whisky is bottled, it’s clear. None of the flavours from the barrels and the time have come through. And every year, the flavours and the colours begin to seep into the liquid from the barrels. From the bourbon barrel or sherry barrel or port barrel. This happens by the whisky simply….sitting there. In the dark. In the quiet. Being in the right cask with the right flavours, year after year.
Nobody sees it. From time to time the master distiller may test the whisky and see how it’s coming on, but until it’s finished, bottled, and presented to the world, you don’t even know it’s happening. They are doing good work. Slow work. Patient work. The Glengoyne website uses words like “savoured”, “appreciated”, “stillness”. They proclaim “unhurried since 1833”.
I’ve been thinking a lot about rushing. Christmas is one of my favourite holidays of the year, and yet no matter how hard I try, there’s always a little rushing added in. Did I get this secret santa gift ordered on time? What day will we be celebrating Christmas and can everyone in the family make it? Did we order the right food? Did I remember to buy the whisky?
I don’t like rushing. I prefer the long way, the patient way, the quiet way.
My business will be 10 years old in January. A business is like a good whisky. It’s not to be rushed. You can do good things in 3 years (the minimum for whisky to be called whisky), but how much more maturing is done in 10. And how much further there is ahead: how much good, how much depth of flavour and spirit.
As we consider our own brand, and the brand of the businesses we are privileged to serve, we remind ourselves we get to choose. You can decide what your brand stands for – like Glengoyne saying “others may do as they like, but we move slow on purpose and here’s why. Here’s what it delivers for you”. Similarly, PF has a philosophy of the long game. The work you put in now bears fruit many years ahead – and that’s hard. At first it can seem much more appealing to hurry. Rush. Get the quick wins. Use ads or promotions or discounts or offers. Be visible. Get noticed. Go viral. Hurry, hurry, hurry.
But when we see the businesses who are getting that “drip feed” of the best kind of clients coming from they don’t even know where (“you seem to be everywhere!” or “I’ve been following you for years and now I’m ready”), and when we look at where we’ve come in ten years, we’ve realised that’s our style. That’s our game, our brand. The long game with the deeper results.
We’re rebuilding the new PF website, and one of the core messages on it will be “Better, not more”.
Because we want to work with people who don’t want MORE leads for the sake of it. People filling in forms, more prospects, hurry, hurry, hurry. We want to work with those who are tired of more (which cause problems later), and instead want better.
People who honour and value themselves so much they wouldn’t take on a client who didn’t respect that and have similar values, no matter how much money it means.
People who charge what they’re worth, and focus on showing where that worth comes from – a philosophy, an approach, a way, a track record. Sort of like a warehouse full of barrels sitting quietly, producing over a period of years, not minutes.
We get the privilege of saying “yes, we go the long way, and it takes time, and it’s worth it”.
So for those of you who appreciate and lean into that philosophy: you too, keep going. Take your time. Recognise change and maturation happens slowly, steadily, almost imperceptibly, until one day you have this beautiful amazing thing (a whisky, a book, a business).
Take your time. All the best things do.