Rising Through Resilience: Georges Daou of PATRIMONY Estates On The Five Things You Can Do To Become More Resilient During Turbulent Times
An Interview With Savio P. Clemente
Resilient people admit the negative forces are there, but never lose track of their goals, and in turn don’t give up ever on their mission. They realize that persecuting themselves or feeling like a victim doesn’t accomplish anything. Hard work and courage to continue the journey is where all the gifts wait to be unlocked.
Resilience has been described as the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Times are not easy now. How do we develop greater resilience to withstand the challenges that keep being thrown at us? In this interview series, we are talking to mental health experts, authors, resilience experts, coaches, and business leaders who can talk about how we can develop greater resilience to improve our lives.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Georges Daou.
A California first-growth Cabernet Sauvignon without peer, fulfilling the Adelaida District’s destiny as the world’s next benchmark for Bordeaux varieties. Patrimony is the Cabernet Sauvignon-focused creation of brothers Georges Daou and Daniel Daou, proprietors of DAOU Vineyards & Winery. Patrimony is rooted in the DAOU mountain’s unmatched alchemy of soil, aspect and climate, and realised through meticulous vinification of the estate’s noble vineyard rows. The phenolics produced here are known to be among the highest in the world, fostering an immensity of colour, depth and structure that is only enhanced by the rigorous viticulture required to make Patrimony.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take-aways’ you learned from that?
There are many stories in our career that are interesting but perhaps the most interesting one is the first one where we formed DAOU Systems, a networking technology company that would go on to revolutionize hospital computer systems. We had to be successful and profitable within the first year and have a minimum of seven employees for our parents to stay in the US on an H1 visa. If that didn’t take place our parents were going back home and all the money they invested in our education would be in vain because we would have to go back with them to France, as we would not let them go back alone. So, it was very interesting to have that pressure to start a new company when you never worked for anyone, with a limited amount of money to start it, and ask yourself why someone would buy your product or your service before even approaching a consumer. It was a very scary moment but it built discipline and understanding of why we do what we do and why would someone want to buy it.
What do you think makes your company stand out?
We guessed right when we decided to plant our flag on DAOU Mountain for amazing products, warm hospitality that is genuine and centered on providing an amazing level of service for all walks of life. The consumer voted and humbly made us number 1. We take that vote seriously and it fuels our passion even more to continue innovating, staying relational (not transactional) and aiming to always be the approachable dream for the wine consumer.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
My story here starts with my first math professor when I was 14 years old in France at St Nicolas in Igny. His name was Monsieur Bois. The few hours I would see him for tutoring on the weekends (from a long train trip from Paris after we spent the entire week in school and gone home Friday evening) for me to return to Igny the next day. I went from last in the class to first in the class in 1 semester. It allowed me to believe that regardless of how people think of me, what they think, say or judge shouldn’t affect me. I learned at a young age that I was not a victim.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
Resilience is the elasticity of your brain to bounce back when you have been dealt a bad hand or a bad scenario. Daniel and I have had a fair share of these moments. Perhaps too many of them. Resilience is when the sum of the positive forces is larger than the negative forces presenting themselves. When I was younger it was determination to get through the dark clouds. I knew I had to push forward but didn’t understand the forces being applied. As I got older and learned more about humanity, I realized that feeling like a victim is the source of all issues. As you feel victimized, you try to rescue yourself by finding what we call mediators. None healthy most of the time. Then you find yourself persecuting yourself and returning to feeling like a victim. Therefore, a vicious circle. This is where the expression “you are your own worst enemy” probably emanates.
Resilient people admit the negative forces are there, but never lose track of their goals, and in turn don’t give up ever on their mission. They realize that persecuting themselves or feeling like a victim doesn’t accomplish anything. Hard work and courage to continue the journey is where all the gifts wait to be unlocked
Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion how is courage both similar and different to resilience?
Courage certainly helps propel you forward. In my opinion, courage alone isn’t enough. It’s a necessary component but not sufficient. Once in the doldrums of a situation, you have to investigate all the options to continue the road. Some of it would be education, some of it may require the injection of some skills you don’t have, some of it requires a complete change of your lifestyle like moving from Beirut to France, then to San Francisco to San Diego to Paso Robles, and unlock the potential in a mountain that has been there for thousands of years. Courage is wonderful, but human instincts, a little research and more will define courage with a big C.
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
My father and mother. They had many setbacks but never lost faith in their children and always believed that hard work, faith in what you are doing, and determination will yield fruit. Perhaps the result won’t be what you were aiming for but at the very least you gave it your best.
Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?
All of my YPO friends told me not to get in the wine business. All my customers in my first company told me it won’t scale. My principals in school said I would never graduate with a high school diploma. Even my own parents were worried I would never amount to anything as a young boy. The simple reason they felt this way is because I needed to know why I needed to study etc. Following other sheep wasn’t for me. I had to craft my own road. I had to use God given gifts to unlock what providence had for me and find my destiny. I must say I tried nonstop until age 46 when I stumbled upon DAOU Mountain and realized all along this has been there waiting for me to be unlocked. Very humbling indeed and a task I took on passionately with my brother, knowing in my gut that this is why we were invited to this beautiful planet at the time we arrived. I say it often that for the first time in my life I created something that is bigger than I will ever be.
Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?
At 12 years old, I went to sleep as a boy and woke up as a man. When the rocket hit our home in Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War, I lost 6 liters of blood, had lungs and liver compromised, went in the coma for 48 hours and woke up feeling GRATEFUL and lucky I am still here. It’s that gratitude that I have carried since then that taught me that life is short, we are here for a purpose and my goal is to try very hard to find that path. I did not stop until I put footsteps on DAOU Mountain.
How have you cultivated resilience throughout your life? Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?
Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.
You are not a victim
Investigate options when you feel this way
You are worthy, important, valuable and lovable
Keep the search and don’t let anyone distract you
NEVER GIVE UP on your dream, life is too short to do that
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
My movement would be to eliminate hatred in this world. Improve the level of awareness in our humanity and eliminate comparative analysis on a personal level (it has nothing to do with business which compares to competitors for a living).
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?
Brenee Brown in Houston. Her power of vulnerability is so spot on. I mirror her sentiments and believe this world will be in a better place if humans learned to become more vulnerable in the right setting and with the right boundaries. Ultimately understanding humanity is a privilege to improve your quality of life and the quality of your craft, whatever that may be.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!