Leaving Canlis – Aaron Reid’s Story

Thinking Out Loud with Aaron Reid



I’ve never heard another company talk about this way, but Mark always used to say, we should be very involved in how you leave. It’s like my job for my duty, my employees, to make sure they’re moving on to something better, that they’re better off having worked here and that they’re somewhere better when they leave. And where they go next is huge. And so, that process for me was a lot of conversations with Mark about here’s what I want, here’s where I’m hoping to go. And him saying well, how do I get you there? So, if this is where you need to be then we have to be all about getting you there and we gotta be doing the things to help you grow and to strengthen where you’re weak. And I’ve never heard that concept of like, we want to see you quit. We want to see you go somewhere else and be better. I was obsessed with coffee and then was introduced to wine. And was really intrigued at the similarities and became kind of obsessive I guess. I started passing sommelier certifications, I started getting involved with tasting groups and eventually part of those conversations were talking to Mark and saying hey, I have an opportunity to go make wine and I need to leave the restaurant for a couple months. And he’s like okay, that’s hard on the restaurant to have a server leave, but if this is what it means for you to be growing then we’ll support it. And so, I left for a couple months and made wine in Walla Walla. I came back from my time away making wine and realized that I really loved the creation of something being out in the country and having like the freedom to think and to make wine, to make a vineg, to see how entrepreneurial and exciting that is. I no longer work a Canlis. I moved down to Oregon, to the Willamette Valley and I’m working at a winery. I’m in charge of their hospitality program and running a lot of the tastings. And it’s a totally crazy environment compared to Canlis. It’s a startup, it’s a small winery, it’s new, and the team is like 10 people. And I’m doing a lot of tastings, but I’m in my element and very much because I worked at Canlis, taking care of people, making them feel seen and heard. I’m doing the same thing as I did at Canlis, only in wine country, I’m not in a suit, I’m in flannel and it’s relaxed. I walked into that job with every tool for success and because I had the confidence in the ability to make people feel valued. And I’m kinda just living out the Canlis values at that place. And that particular winery is new and figuring it out. They don’t have the values and mission vision, everything lined up and it takes time. It took Canlis you know, 67 years to really fully iron it out. And it’s interesting being in that space. I find myself, it’s kind of being on an island, like Canlis was supporting these values from the top down and encouraging it and I was living it out and now, I’m the one who has to do that and I don’t get like the cues from the owners. I just say well, this is who I am, I believe in this, Canlis has given me a vision for what it looks like to take care of people and the kinda culture I want and the kind of manager that I wanna be in that environment and I’m just gonna like whether they like it or not I’m gonna keep doing it ’cause it works, taking care of people in that way. Both the guests that I serve, the wine that I pour for them but also the employees that I’m training and teaching them how to taste wine, teaching them how to be hospitality masters, teaching them how to read people and adapt to what they need. All of those skills is something that I learned at Canlis.

Dig deeper. Watch Becoming on Youtube.

Center for Faithful Business

Seattle Pacific University

Dr. JoAnn Flett, Executive Director



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