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Monday, October 8, 2018

Two Cowboys: The Best Memories In Life is Made at the Cabin in Bridesville, BC, Canada

Building Liberty

“There is some of the same fitness in a man's building his own house that there is in a bird's building its own nest. Who knows but if men constructed their dwellings with their own hands, and provided food for themselves and families simply and honestly enough, the poetic faculty would be universally developed, as birds universally sing when they are so engaged? 

But alas! we do like cowbirds and cuckoos, which lay their eggs in nests which other birds have built, and cheer no traveller with their chattering and unmusical notes. Shall we forever resign the pleasure of construction to the carpenter?” ― Henry David Thoreau, Walden


I've finally succeeded in buying a small plot of land where I can build my little castle. My land. Paid for, completely. My name on the title. With a 75 Gallon per minute well gushing sweet, sweet cold water. Pushing up from 300 feet under my heels.

The view is incredible. The sky, enormous. Behind me a mountain. On my left a pond. Before me the future. I can see for miles.

Here, I will be building my little house and making my new home. Modest and simple from wood and finished by hand. A refuge. A fireplace, a mantle. My anchor.

It has been a four-year-long journey towards simplicity, value and significance. It is only the start. Yet, Some of it already feels a world away. Far from the daily grind of playing to the masters of interest and tax. Smiling for a dollar. Dancing for preservation. I've left that world behind now. Like so many others, I too was living for the modest 25 cents in the Dollar.

“Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumbnail. In the midst of this chopping sea of civilized life, such are the clouds and storms and quicksands and thousand-and-one items to be allowed for, that a man has to live.” ― Henry David Thoreau, Walden

This is a journey like no other. A journey of liberty, self-discovery and purpose. Learning. Life. Meaning.

It is beautiful.

Hendrik van Wyk 
Liberty Cowboy

P.S. We will share progress on this journey. Stay tuned for regular episodes of our trials and tribulations as we set up our new location in the Boundary Country of British Columbia.

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too.


Thursday, October 4, 2018

Two Cowboys: Customer Reviews Are the Moments That Define Us in Rock Creek, British Columbia

Important Moments

I've discovered something real about life:

"Today is for the living. Yesterday is but a memory. Tomorrow is only a dream."

Our lives have profoundly essential moments that are strung together to ultimately define who we are and what we become. When these moments occur, the consequences often elude us until much later.

Customer feedback, in the form of an Online Customer Review, is one of these crucial moments in a business' life.

When something happens, we do not immediately grasp the importance nor its significance. We struggle through events that are painful. Happy moments encourage us. Years later, when we look back and recognize pivotable events, then we appreciate what it did for, in, and to our lives.

When one is young, a future fear accompanies each event - a fear of consequence. "Will it take me closer to my dream? Is it good for my career? Will it disrupt my business? Will I lose out on the opportunity? Maybe, I need to dream more and try a little harder."

As you get older, it is less about the consequences and more about the loss of an opportunity. The dreaded "if only" looms closer and closer when you realize that tomorrow is coming faster than you can dream and yesterday's memories are only a blur. The older you get, the more you appreciate how precious each moment is. You become more conscious of with whom you choose to spend it.

Here in lies the lesson. It is not the moments that define us as much as it is how we rise to deal with them. This sets the course for our lives. 

Choose Well

There are really only two choices. Moments happen to us, or we choose to create and rise up to meet them. Life is either a current that overwhelms and drags one along or a wave one accepts and rides.

Like it or not, our lives are impacted daily by the people around us. And this is where the proverbial rubber hits the road. Our family, co-workers, customers and businesses, are constants in our lives and defines who we are. We impact them and they have an influence on us.

If we mistreat them, the consequence is likely to be negative. If we support and encourage our customers, we will likely be better off.

Ultimately, we are a social species. Our livelihood depends on the way we treat others and the way we choose to see the world. It is good advice when parents teach their children to treat others the way you want to be treated.

Where Should I Spend My Dollar?

The Two Cowboys also get to decide, consciously or unconsciously, with who we do business and which people we allow into our moments. We recognize that it is a decision that doesn't nearly get the amount of attention it deserves. When we support a business, do they return the favour? When we get feedback, what do we do with it?

Our dollar for the coffee, the tenner for a steak, the oil change, or the more-than-half-our-paycheck we hand over in taxes and interest payments are all crucial decisions we should be making, aware of its consequences because it has a profound impact on our livelihood, and our daily lives.

For the business or government that gets our money and attention, it may be just another transaction - a drop in the day's ocean. For us, personally, it is much more profound. Our money and our time (our most precious commodity) are involved. For us, and many other customers it is a big deal!

The question that needs answering is, "To who does it matter more?". As consumers, we should not only make the decision with more intent, but we should be much more vocal and transparent about it. As a business, we can waste an opportunity engaging with someone that won't return the favour.

We are encouraging every customer to step up and become more visible and vocal about why they choose to deal with business A or B, or why they decided not to. Post reviews. Also, when a government spends your money, you should hold them much more accountable. Express your approval or disapproval. Don't wait for an election or fear retribution. If you don't tell them immediately, you are already a victim.

The Imbalance

We've come to develop a new appreciation for, and are now advocating "vocal 'activist' consumerism".

Our money and our time matter much to us. We want to spend it with people that value us. It should matter equally to those that get it. That is why we relish sharing our experiences in online reviews with the world regardless of the size of business with which we engage. Having a choice is no longer enough. We've found it even more liberating proclaiming our favourite and sharing our displeasure, and there are more and more people like us.

We want you, the business owner, to consider the significance of something as simple as an online customer review. Someone not only spent their time and money with you and had either a positive or negative experience but also took time to tell others (and you implicitly) about it - publicly!

Customer Reviews

The tables have turned in the marketplace. There used to be a massive imbalance where a customer or consumer's voice didn't count for much. There wasn't an audience for complaints and compliments like there is now in the online world. Gone are the days of a "complaints department" or "customer service" counter.

With the Internet, customer experiences are "democratized". Everyone has a say and a vote! Every voice has the potential to count, and some count for a lot more than many businesses would expect or like to recognize. One image, a video clip, one Google rating, a sentence, has the potential to make or break national brands! It does the same for a small obscure niche local business.

The consequences for businesses are profound, yet very simple. Treat every customer with the dignity and dedication they are entitled to, given that they too chose to spend their precious dollars and time with you. Ignore them at your peril. Know that your livelihood is in play.

Celebrate the positives. Respond to the negatives. Interact. Please, don't ignore feedback. It is an opportunity and a gift when someone wants to talk to you about your product or business. Don't delegate your social media interactions to a nitwit that only "handles" customer interactions. You are the nitwit for allowing a less-than-capable person to interact with your customers and do it publicly. If Elon Musk and Donald Trump have time to talk directly to their customers and the American people, what makes you so special that you can entrust it to an unqualified social media or marketing "underling".

Don't dismiss critical feedback. Good news travels fast. Bad news, travels even faster. The best advice we can give entrepreneurs and business owners out there is to be truthful, authentic, call out issues but stay vigilant and engage. Be part of the conversation and in the discussion. The worst thing that can happen is when you are left out of it. When people talk about you, instead of with you.

You cannot please everyone. However, make sure you satisfy the right ones. Especially, those with a platform that showcases businesses, and garners large public online followings. Their opinions tend to matter more than others.

Choose the opportunity, respect the customer, and build a relationship. It is a crucial moment.

Customer service is no longer optional. It is what you do as a business in a connected, always on, public world.

Hendrik van Wyk 
Feedback Cowboy

 We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Two Cowboys: Elevating Craft 2018 at the Montana Brewers Association in Missoula, MT, USA

Maturing Beer

Can beer and brewing mature? It is an industry that is as old as civilization itself. However, in North America and Canada, the market is going through substantial growth as entrepreneurs and brewers are allowed back into the market to make, create and explore the incredible life of craft beer and brewing commercially.

With it comes success, challenges and above all, an opportunity for innovation.


We attended the Montana Brewer Association's Elevating Craft Conference last week (2018).

What a pleasant surprise to see how their industry is growing and maturing where the euphoria of new licenses has worn off, and people are now more serious about their craft and the business of beer.

After two decades of craft beer, better businesses are succeeding, and an ample amount of good (great) beer is produced and consumed. Craft beer consumption in the USA continues to grow as a segment of the market. Still, there are up to two new breweries opening daily in the USA. This continues to be serious stuff!

Even more encouraging is to see how the Montana Brewer Association and its stakeholders are working together to grow the opportunity of great beer from a regulatory, educational, marketing and positioning perspective. Is it becoming easier to brew in Montana and elsewhere in the USA? Not necessarily, but people are learning how best to do it as small businesses, and slowly making their mark in numbers across the country.

The conference covered several aspects of the business of beer that should interest every brewer and brewery owner. From how to clean and inspect your keg stem to how to establish a brewing laboratory for managing the quality of your processes and products. It was indeed education and is definitely an event to consider attending if you are in the industry or the area and love the business of brewing beer.

We've seen that Canada, and in particular the Alberta Province, is still mainly going through the growing pains of establishing their craft beer industry. They have a lot to learn from markets adjacent such as Montana.

In general, the good news is that Provincial Governments in Canada are relaxing regulations for people to do craft beer. Unfortunately, while doing it, they are dressing up their contributions as the second coming to Canadian producers and beer drinkers. Not so fast, we say. In Canada, fledgeling breweries struggle to put out quality products (we know, we've drunk a lot of bad beer, already) and to remain afloat without grants, protectionism and handouts (some would say, what is new in Canada, eh?).

The very people that crow about their contributions to "help" craft is the ones in the way of craft beer and brewing's success. We are all for "free your beer". There should be a free and open market with opportunities for entrepreneurs to make the best products they can and to succeed in their businesses because they are doing a good job, not because some bureaucrat anointed them for success with a license and a grant.

The focus should be on good beer and sound principles for managing a beer business. This was the overwhelming theme of the conference and our takeaway from the event. Once the beard dress-up and bureaucratic meddling subside, the business of beer is a serious business. The breweries with a customer focus, good marketing, local presence and with a quality product are the ones that should and do succeed in Montana.


Two presentations stood out for us. John Holl, the Senior Editor of Craft Beer and Brewing Magazine, made a point about the need for breweries to tell their stories. In doing so, they can build customer loyalty and become intimate with their customers. This was music to our ears as we work to tell more stories of breweries and beer in the places we visit as the Traveling Cowboys.

The second presentation that caught our attention was one by Tom Britz from Glacier Hops Ranch. You heard it right. They have hops ranches in Montana! He is pioneering the production and use of freshly distilled hops oil for application in craft beer. It is an exciting story that we have to pursue further. Stay tuned for more on this new "revolution" in hopping beer.

We appreciate the invite from Matt Leow (Executive Director, Montana Craft Brewers Association), and the opportunity to attend the conference. We will be back for sure. We love the people we met and enjoyed the beer!

Now, how many breweries are there in Montana that we still need to visit? Stay thirsty my friends!

Hendrik van Wyk 

Hops Cowboy

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too.




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