I knew that Patron tequila seems to be marketed as a high-end brand, but not being into the spirit, I didn't know much about it. Ilana Edelstein's book The Patron Way: From Fantasy to Fortune - Lessons on Taking Any Business From Idea to Iconic Brand filled in the history of the brand for me, and it's an interesting read. While it's marketed as a business book, it reads more like an insider's view of the birth and rise of Patron, complete with mystery, love, heartbreak, and political maneuvering.
Contents: Part 1 - R&D: Out of the Blue; A Brief History of Tequila; The Taste Test Part 2 - Brand Building: Hollywood Star; By the Seat of Our Pants; The High Life Part 3 - Sustainable Development: A Rude Awakening; Loose Ends; Patron Today Epilogue - No Regrets; Aperitif - Marking the Patron Way; Notes; Index
The birth of Patron tequila was the combined effort of John Paul DeJoria, Martin Crowley, and his life partner, Ilana Edelstein. They discovered a tequila that they felt surpassed the taste and quality of anything else on the market. Using unconventional marketing techniques, they started to define and build a market niche (ultra-premium tequila) that didn't exist. Everything was focused on positioning the drink as an exclusive and sought-after item... and it worked very well. While others have moved into that niche, Patron still holds the lion's share of that market, remaining focused on quality, taste, and sophistication.
Edelstein does draw out various business learnings and lessons throughout the book, and they're summarized well in the end. A lot of it came down to trying things that no one else was doing, basically because they didn't know that it was "wrong" by conventional wisdom. However, the main tone of the book documents the love relationship between her and Crowley, and how it went from soulmates and complete partnership to legal eviction notices and drawn-out lawsuits cutting her out from the company entirely. The details would make for gossip column fodder, and Edelstein is very open about the lifestyle they led during the boom days of the company. It's hard not to side with Edelstein and the raw deal she got in the end. It does reinforce the wisdom of making sure that love and business don't get mixed together too deeply. While you may think that your partner would never do anything to hurt you, it's still critical to get legal agreements drawn up and defined... just in case.
The Patron Way isn't your normal business book, but it also has certain lessons that aren't part and parcel of "normal" business books, either.
Thomas Duff, aka "Duffbert", is a long-time member of the Lotus community. He's primarily focused on the development side of the Notes/Domino environment, currently working for a large insurance … more