Deep Thoughts on 2015

It's been far too long since I've checked in personally on this blog. When I was working on getting Modern Times open, writing for the blog was a key outlet for me, as a way to both let people know about this awesome thing we were building, and as a way to vent during an exceptionally stressful time. But as challenging as it was to get the brewery open, it's many times harder to actually run this 2.5 year old beast, which has made it difficult for me to write regularly.

While the process of getting this place open felt like a sprint through thick mud to a tangible finish line, running the brewery is like a sprint through thick mud, over lava pits, around deadly booby traps, and between the legs of towering monsters (yes, we've been playing some D&D recently), with no finish line in sight. The challenges are endless and far more complex than the ones I faced getting this place up and running; the day-to-day is the definition of "decision-making fatigue."

Opening a brewery follows a fairly linear path: buy this stuff, build these things, get it all approved and licensed, then start brewing & selling beer. While there are innumerable ways to go about all of those things, the steps themselves follow a well-worn path.

Running a brewery is nothing like that. There is no path and there is no end goal. You can do almost anything, which sounds liberating but is actually an unfathomable challenge. It's like writing a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book during the adventure, with your life's work at stake.

When I was dreaming of opening the brewery, I couldn't wait to be the decision-maker. But as the business has grown into something akin to an enormous Rube Goldberg Machine, I'm now thrilled every time I'm able delegate decision-making responsibilities to someone else. Doing so means my decision-making fatigue is ever so slightly lessened, and it means I've hired and trained someone I can trust. Those are far greater victories than simply making a good decision because they mean good decisions will be replicated endlessly. That is my new definition of success.

Naturally, I've brought a lot of this complexity and fatigue on myself. We could brew nothing but our core beers and make a very healthy living, but I find it impossible to have the power to do something awesome and not take advantage of it. And rapid growth has meant we've rapidly accumulated the power to do lots of awesome things. We're doing as many of them as we can afford, and eagerly planning for more in the future. It's an incredibly difficult approach to manage, but it's the only one that's true to who I am.

Anyway, that's where my head is at as we close out 2015. It's been a mind-bending year, with far too many highs to even remember and only a few humbling lows. If anything, 2016 will be an even more ambitious year for us, with more elaborate projects and sphincter-puckering challenges ahead. It should be pretty rad.

Cheers and thanks for all of your incredible support. Hope you'll keep following along.

Jacob McKean
Modern Times



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