When someone shows you who they are, pay attention.
People do not change and you aren’t going to change anyone, nor do you have the power to do so. I’ve found that applies to both business and personal life. As a leader and in a professional work setting, it’s imperative you know your audience and master the art of how to adapt to different people, how to work with individuals with dissimilar backgrounds, and how to motivate a team of variegated personalities. When someone shows you who they are, for better or worse, pay close attention. Do not try to change them, but rather make a silent note for yourself in your head of who they are and keep your expectations of that person in line and allow them to be their true self.
As a part of my series about “Grit: The Most Overlooked Ingredient of Success” I had the pleasure of interviewing Nicole Eurieck. Nicole is a well-respected, recognized professional in the beverage alcohol industry who currently oversees some of Massachusetts largest casinos and restaurant groups for New England’s leading distributor of fine wines and spirits, Martignetti Companies, who is now in its third generation of family ownership. In a historically male dominated business, Nicole has proven to be one of the industries preeminent women. Nicole has garnered an exemplary reputation in her industry on both a local and national level for her ability to consistently deliver high-yielding business results, sustain valuable relationships, and develop strategic partnerships for some of the worlds’ most highly recognized importer partners including Moet Hennessy USA, DIAGEO, and Pernod Ricard USA. Nicole currently serves on the Board of Directors for Mass Mentoring Partnership, Martignetti Companies Mentorship and Women’s Beverage Alcohol Symposium committees, and serves as co-lead for The Women of the Vine and Spirits Wholesale Group. Nicole was selected as a Boston Business Journal 40 under 40 honoree and has been featured in Boston Voyager Magazines ‘Most Inspiring Stories.’
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what events have drawn you to this specific career path?
I moved to Boston in August of 2012 to work in the non-profit sector. After only working in this position for three months, I had an instinctual feeling there was an absence in my professional life. I was partaking in meaningful work, yet there was a constant privation of any enjoyment. I was no longer driven, nor fulfilled. I was consuming an immoderate amount of coffee most days just to remain focused and engaged, and I was not normally a person who even indulged in a cup on a weekly basis at that time.
I knew I was meant for a different industry and path; something in sales that combined strategy, a focus on consumer goods, significant market size and share, production, and the comradery of a team. It was a cold winter evening in Boston. I was out at a local bar grabbing drinks before I went into TD Garden when I looked over and saw a young lady promoting a liquor brand to various consumers in the bar. I was not so much intrigued or drawn to the grassroots style marketing she was executing, but more so engrossed in the business behind the bottles and the brands. I became immediately inquisitive and proceeded to ask the young lady about the company she was working for and how the business worked. That evening is what sparked it for me. I remember looking at the bar, the consumption patterns of the consumers as I glanced around thinking to myself, “this has to be a really large-scale, fun, almost recession proof business…. and I want in.” The very next day I called a Boston-based company that was handling grassroots marketing for some of the worlds’ largest beverage alcohol and cosmetics brands and the rest is history.
Can you share your story about “Grit and Success”? First can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
When I reminisce on how my journey began, I distinctly recall several encumbrances I had to overcome. The first was tenure. I was in my late 20’s in a new city where I didn’t know anyone, except my brother. I had non-existent networks and had never even had a modicum of experience in the beverage alcohol industry. How could I change career paths this late in the game and be successful? I felt slightly imprudent for even considering it and anyone I discussed my plan with expressed how mindless they thought it was as well. However, I knew myself and I knew I had the grit to achieve whatever path I chose to venture down and so with that, I moved forward to pursue a career in an industry I knew nothing about. That said, I knew I could outwork the competition and bring ideas, energy and strategies to the table that others could not. I knew I could pro-actively gain valuable mentors and allies in the industry, listen to those who had years of experience and learn from them, and maintain a level of focus and drive that would at many times be unmatched. The second was confidence and mindset. The simple truth is, I had no idea what I was doing. I knew nothing about spirits, wine, or beer and I had never worked in a bar or liquor store. My baseline knowledge was the keystone light beer I drank in college and the tequila I had taken shots of the week prior with friends in Brighton. I had no comprehension of the tiered system the industry was built on and I knew no one on the wholesaler or importer side. The third was loneliness. I was living on a friend of a friends couch in Beacon Hill. I had no car and I had recently vanished from a physically abusive relationship that nearly broke me. I was weeks out of having just found the courage to move to Boston and start over while hanging on by what felt like at the time, my fingertips, although I hid that quite well.
Anyone I had a close relationship with was a minimum of two (2) hours away, with the exception of my brother. I had to figure out how to build a community for myself and do things everyday that would help enrich my life and push my career into high gear towards the success and potential I knew I had inside me. I had to learn how to love myself and believe in myself again. I often remember whispering to myself, “You got this. Do not stop. You can do this. You’ve done hard things before.”
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
I’m going to answer this question in somewhat of a backwards way. The everlasting characteristics I value most in myself are my perseverance and my resilience. Those characteristics pushed me through the bad times and allowed me to get through the roadblocks along the way while providing me with the drive and strength I needed to continue, even during the dark times.
I think my time as a competitive swimmer explains the answer to this question best. I began competitively swimming at age 6. Picture a very, very skinny girl with light features who didn’t smile much and wore a highlighter bright pink swimsuit cap. I continued swimming through the end of high school. When I was swimming at a competitive level, I would almost always be chosen by the coach to swim freestyle for the medley relay. If you are not familiar with the sport of swimming, this is one of the most high-pressure positions one can be placed in as a team event. The first person in the medley relay begins with the butterfly stroke. This sets the tone, but is far from the defining moment of the relay. Then, the second persons continue with the back stroke. By the end of the back stroke, you gain a sense for who may be in the top two or three positions. The third swimmer continues on with the breast stroke and while that swimmer is close to reaching the end of the last lap, it all comes down to the swimmer doing the freestyle stroke to bring the relay home for the team.
You have to understand, the coach chose me not because I was always the top swimmer on the team, but because the coach knew I would get the job done. The coach knew I would give every cell and molecule in my body to win that relay. I lived for that heart pumping lightning through your veins feeling I used to get right when I saw the swimmer right before me on their last lap coming in. I still live for that feeling.
The coach recognized that piercing gut-wrenching grit desire I had to achieve and do something beyond the ordinary. To me, the worst thing in the world that could happen to me as a human was become, ‘ordinary.’ I had the grit to always do everything in my power to catch up to that other swimmer at the end and likely win because that is what I do. It is who I am. I am the consummate team player and I have the grit and perseverance and the strong will to outperform and be successful under those high-pressure situations. That is what grit has always been to me. That feeling inside down to the cells and molecules in your blood and your core; a full force drive living within your being and your heart to succeed and do extraordinary things that other people can’t do and to see what others cannot see.
The other driver for me was my mother, Amy. She gave me everything a parent could as a child. She was very tough on me and pushed me to always challenge myself so that I would be afforded every opportunity for a beautiful life full of meaning and passion. She taught me to question people, things, and reject the sheep-like mentality. She taught me how to see the full board, while others can only see the small puzzle pieces. I wanted to succeed for her and myself. I wanted to show her that all the time she spent teaching me about structure, hard work, strategy, and emotional intelligence had paid off. I wanted to show my strong Jewish mother from the Pelham Parkway neighborhood in the Bronx that the grit she instilled in me from the time I was young would not be taken for granted, but instead it would take me all the way, and further. That grit would become my saving grace.
So how did Grit lead to your eventual success? How did Grit turn things around?
Grit is a core component of who I am, through and through. Grit provided me with that never stop, forge ahead, we can do hard things, never rush towards the exit sign, bullheaded kind of mentality. Grit provides me with the ability to always do whatever I need to in order to reach my goals and maximize my potential. I will not always necessarily win the race, but you can bet I will learn from my errors, admit when I’m wrong, set my pride aside and get right back up. The Grit that was instilled in me from a very young age is the underlying ingredient to anything I do in my career that becomes successful. Failure has never been an option for me. It simply is not in my blood or my core. I always kept going and always will, no matter the challenge, no matter the opposition, or the disappointments. That is what genuine Grit is and that’s what it’s always given to me.
I imagine a part of me will always be that girl standing at the swimming block arms and hands stretched out as far as my body allows, wide-eyed, fingers moving, heart throbbing, fully laser-focused, eyes straight ahead, lightning running through my veins, ready to jump in that pool and swim as fast and hard as humanly possible to succeed for myself and my teammates, even if the girl in the lane next to me has a lead. I do not look at the person in the lane next to me. I focus on pushing myself to extraordinary lengths and limits. Grit leads to success because people who are cut from the same cloth as me have something inside them always whispering, “Go get ’em. You can do this. We never give up.”
Based on your experience, can you share 5 pieces of advice about how one can develop Grit? (Please share a story or example for each)
“Don’t take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.” -Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements
As the quote says, don’t waste your valuable time taking things personally. The time you spend trying to figure out why a person said something or did something to you, analyzing why they are who they are or how you can change that person, or even worse, how you can get that person to see things the way you do is all wasted effort. I learned that the hard way through many, many wasted hours. Spend your valuable time elsewhere pursuing matters that will yield positive results for your life.
When someone shows you who they are, pay attention. People do not change and you aren’t going to change anyone, nor do you have the power to do so. I’ve found that applies to both business and personal life. As a leader and in a professional work setting, it’s imperative you know your audience and master the art of how to adapt to different people, how to work with individuals with dissimilar backgrounds, and how to motivate a team of variegated personalities. When someone shows you who they are, for better or worse, pay close attention. Do not try to change them, but rather make a silent note for yourself in your head of who they are and keep your expectations of that person in line and allow them to be their true self.
Find a mentor and be a mentor. I have always found a requisite of my success to be both having mentor(s) and being a mentor.
Through having mentors and male allies in a workforce that has historically been male dominated, I’ve learned everything about life and career. Through being a mentor, I’ve gained a sense of fulfillment that has become one of the most essential parts of defining who I am and my purpose.
We all become absorbed and engaged in the pursuance of our daily career tasks, but it’s important we find and allocate the time to seek out valuable mentors and give back to young adults by being a great mentor.
Be yourself and live authentically. Live authentically. If you don’t, you’ll regret it and it will have detrimental effects on your life. I remember when my brother, Ethan came out to me in college and told me he was gay. He had decided to live his authentic life and be his true self and from then on and for the first time, I could truly see him; the real him. It was just beautiful.
Speak your truth, be honest with those around you, and don’t be apprehensive to be vulnerable and let people know who you are and what you’ve been through. I used to hide much of who I was, but I discovered years ago that the more you let people in and are genuine with your interactions and intentions, the more people will want to be connected to you. If someone says, “How are you?” don’t be afraid to say, “I’m not doing great right now, but it means a lot to me that you asked.” Watch their reaction — I guarantee it will be a moment of effulgence.
Don’t believe everything people tell you. Just because someone says something, that doesn’t make it true.
Feelings are not facts. My brother, Ethan, always drills that one into me and rightfully so. When I first started out, a disgruntled colleague told me, “Everyone knows you don’t know what you’re doing. It’s obvious. I don’t think this industry is for you and there are a lot of people who don’t think you should be here.” I nodded my head and thanked that person for sharing their view. Years later, I went on to far supersede that person in all aspects of life and career. The most important person you need to listen to is yourself. Don’t let other people sway you, influence you, or tell you what your ceiling for success is. You know yourself best and no one can stand in your way unless you allow them.
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 you when things were tough? Can you share a story about that?
I would have to answer this question two-fold; one is my mother, Amy and the other is my husband, Dustan. My mother never let me get away with anything. She was extremely tough, but always gave me lots of hugs, love, and spent real time listening to me and hearing me. She held me accountable, even as a child. She taught me the value of hard work and resilience and pushed me to discover and foster my talents. She taught me the value of everything. She started me on violin when I was just 4 years old. She gave me a cracker jack box and a ruler and told me to practice playing as if it was a real violin and when I could stand correctly and hold the ruler correctly, I would have the opportunity to play a real violin. When I was in middle school, she would drive me every weekend to Connecticut to take violin lessons with a teacher from Julliard who was as extraordinarily talented at cello as he was at violin. She wanted me to have the best, so that I could be my best self. If she had allowed me to be ordinary, to complain and get out of things, to behave selfishly or not to take responsibility for my actions, I would be a much different person today. She never let me become lazy or take things for granted. She never let me treat anyone with disrespect or behave selfishly. She taught me the cornerstones of generosity, consideration for others, and true empathy. She taught me how to live a life where I would always be true to myself and always be authentic, no matter the cost. Everything that makes someone a good, kind, loving and successful human, I learned from my mother.
My husband, Dustan is my saving grace. Dustan is opposite of me in many ways, but he teaches me so much and balances me out in a way that makes me the best version of myself. He has a heart of gold and has always been my biggest supporter. On the days that no one talks about or sees, when I come home feeling broken or when I’m having one of my many panic attacks and can’t sleep at night, he’s always there; reassuring me of my talent and giving me endless love and support. He always reminds me everything will work out and that I’m not alone. There is no way I would be a fraction of the person I am if he wasn’t in my corner. I am endlessly grateful I found a human as special as him and I am honored he decided to bestow his love upon me.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I’ve focused a great deal of my time on giving back to others. I realize that sounds stereotypical, but it’s my passion and I execute that time with the utmost care and thoughtfulness. I do this through mentoring young adults; helping guide them on how to approach internships, professional networking, and utilizing my networks to assist them in obtaining competitive internships and careers.
The other piece of mentoring I’m extremely committed to is my position on the Board of Directors for Mass Mentoring Partnership. I’ve served on many of MMP’s event committees, co-chaired our annual fundraising event, as well as co-chaired our philanthropy committee. I have been involved with the organization for over three (3) years now and I’m extremely driven by their mission and commitment to ensuring every young person in the state has access to quality mentoring relationships, regardless of who they are or where they live. I’ve witnessed lives change through this organization and I’m always deeply moved by their work.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Right now, I am working alongside Tito’s Handmade Vodka and Mass Mentoring Partnership to encourage matched gifts to MMP throughout the next month, which will enable this amazing organization to continue to ensure every young person in the state has access to quality mentoring relationships. MMP is a statewide organization that partners with corporate, public, and philanthropic entities to drive critical resources to a network of more than 370 mentoring and youth-serving organizations, representing more than 50,000 young people. Tito’s Handmade Vodka has generously offered to match a certain level of contributions to Mass Mentoring Partnership and the relationship is going to continue to grow over to 2021 as well. They are both amazing organizations and I am honored to be able to work with both of them and to have connected them. The funds raised will be critical to helping support the essential work MMP is doing during this unprecedented time. Not only do I think it will help people, I know it will change lives.
What advice would you give to other executives or professionals to help their employees to thrive?
To encourage their employees to be their true selves and live their authentic lives and never stop fighting for the challenge or position they want. I would encourage executives to set up systems that allow their employees to share any thoughts or feedback they may have for improving their work community, ways of working, and work environment.
For the next generation of leaders and talent, diversity, equity, inclusion, mental and emotional health, and full-scale health coverage are going to be top priorities.
Executives will be hard-pressed to attract and obtain top talent in the years to come if they are not willing to assess both their work culture and communities in an honest fashion. Employees thrive when they are happy — put simply. It isn’t a complicated formula. Figure out what makes them happy and what drives them in a workplace and in a position. Show them you care about their growth, career trajectory, and success through genuine actions and words. Employees need to know you are invested in their success and in ensuring they feel a sense of belonging at your company. It sounds simple, but it will go a long way in sustaining talent and valued employees.
Luckily, I work for an incredible company who is dedicated to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as well as supporting women in anyway possible. We have an incredible ownership team and executive team that truly cares about the people in our organization and are committed to ensuring everyone has the opportunity to reach for their desired position or challenge. I am deeply fortunate in that respect.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” — Anne Frank
This quote is relevant to me because first and foremost, I am Jewish and I am a woman. I believe this quote is simple, yet very true. It exudes hope, and hope is a precious gift.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Of course! My instagram handle is @nicstahh and my LinkedIn name is the same as featured in this article.
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.