The Bookshelf Summer 2016

Quench Your Own Thirst by Jim Koch

Quench Your Own Thirst A Book By Jim Koch,
The Founder And Brewer Of Samuel Adams

Let me guess… the best lessons you ever learned about life, your career or the pursuit of happiness
didn’t come from a text book. Maybe you had a conversation with your favorite uncle or best
friend, and from that discussion a few pearls of wisdom just stuck with you. You were also probably
drinking a beer, enjoying the conversation and reveling in the camaraderie..

That is the feeling you get when reading the new book written by an incredibly talented brewer named Jim Koch. He happens to be the founder of The Boston Beer Company, maker of Sam Adams.

Koch’s book, Quench Your Own Thirst: Business Lessons Learned over a Beer or Two can be found in the business section of a bookstore. While it is a chronicle of the leadership lessons he learned while building The Boston Beer Company – with lots of insights and funny anecdotes – his book is really a light-hearted
autobiography.

In the book’s first chapter, “Blow it Up”, Koch confronts the one thing that stymies many would-be entrepreneurs: fear of failure. He credits his father, whose personal mantra was “every problem has a solution”, for teaching him by example that taking risks in pursuit of financial and personal fulfillment is OK. Jim Koch did exactly that. In 1984, he left a lucrative job as a business consultant for a career brewing beer. “Doing something you love isn’t the only reason to start a new life,” he says. “You could also do it to find out what you love.”

That is about as touchy-feely as Quench Your Own Thirst ever gets. Jim Koch is known for his quick wit and irreverent sense of humor. And while the book is full of great business advice, it is a quick read because Koch tells such a good story: like the one about the marketing agency that suggested he call his beer Sacred Cod. Then later on in the book, chapters with the titles “Take the Giant Turds in Stride” and “Welcome the Dude with the Gold-Painted Toenails” keep it light, yet still manage to impart some valuable management know-how. Not to leave you hanging, the turd was a “parting gift” from a disgruntled employee. Hint: Never fire someone without asking for the return of the office keys. And the dude with the nail polish? That’s Alan Newman, mega-successful serial entrepreneur who founded the Vermont craft brewery Magic Hat. The takeaway from that chapter; creative and successful business people don’t have to wear a three piece suit. Koch enlisted Newman to head an experimental brewery called The Traveler Beer Company, which makes shandys. Traveler’s tap handle boasts a handle-bar mustache with a top hat on it. You can’t miss it. Try it next time you’re out.

Quench Your Own Thirst is an entertaining must-read for anyone who wants to start a business. And in this season of graduations, consider giving it as a gift. It just might inspire a recent graduate to find the solution to a different problem. Or as Koch puts it, “You don’t climb a mountain to get to the middle.”

Available at bookstores and online for $27.99, profits from the sale of Quench Your Own Thirst will be donated to fund small business microloans through Samuel Adams’ philanthropic program, Brewing the American Dream, which provides coaching/ mentoring and microloans to up-and-coming food and beverage businesses and craft brewers.

Another lesson from Koch, always give back.

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