Thrive Questionnaire: Jordan Salcito

The award-winning sommelier and founder of RAMONA opens up about learning from mistakes, surrounding herself with creative energy, and the prioritizing trick that never fails her.

Courtesy of Jordan Salcito
Courtesy of Jordan Salcito

When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people.

Jordan Salcito, the founder and CEO of RAMONA, has proven herself an innovative tastemaker who can manage both a blossoming career and a busy family life. Salcito is known for her wine programs and originality, but it is her entrepreneurial spirit and determination that are particularly inspiring. She began her career in New York as a hostess, before becoming a prep cook, sommelier, manager, and eventually, the wine and beverage director at David Chang’s Momofuku restaurants. Salcito spent over a decade exploring the different facets of the wine and restaurant industries, and in 2016, decided to hone in on her passion — and return to her roots — by founding RAMONA, an organic Italian wine spritz, and Bellus Wines. Salcito opens up about learning from mistakes, surrounding herself with creative energy, and the prioritizing trick she swears by.

Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?  

Jordan Salcito: Get my son, Henry, a glass of milk and agree to pretend to be one of the Cars movie characters (he is always Lightning McQueen).

TG: What gives you energy? 

JS: Moving around! I’m very into ballet at the moment. Also, spending time with creative people who have different viewpoints than I do.

TG: What daily habit or practice helps you thrive?  

JS: Meditation and list-making.

TG: Name a book that changed your life.    

JS: There are so many. I just finished Educated by Tara Westover. Also. Seat of the Soul (the edition with prefaces by Oprah and Maya Angelou), Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari, A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving, The Sound and the Fury by Faulkner…

TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?  

JS: I try to keep it off the table at meals and meetings. It’s also my alarm clock (when Henry isn’t) so it sleeps on my bedside table.  

TG: How do you deal with email?

JS: An angel named Fanny now has access to my work email and flags anything urgent in red and anything time-sensitive due by end-of-week in green. I also block time on my calendar each week to catch up.

TG: How do you prioritize when you have an overwhelming amount to do?  

JS: I make lists, dividing tasks into As (urgent), Bs (important but less urgent) and Cs (things I want/need to do but can wait until after the As and Bs). I complete all of the As before moving to the Bs, and all of the Bs before moving to the Cs. It’s a tip from my friend Gia and it has been life-changing.

TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?    

JS: If it’s nice out, catch up on emails while going for a walk around the block. If it’s gloomy, meditate!

TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?  

JS: To be honest, earlier this week. My husband and I are in Europe with Henry for work. We both have entirely different schedules in different countries and our incredible nanny was supposed to join us but her visa was denied. Unexpectedly, Henry joined me in Stockholm for two days of meetings after a nutty travel schedule (two French trains and a delayed flight to Sweden). We arrived at 2 a.m. after a 12-hour travel day. I rearranged a few things after that and splurged on a great room where I knew we’d eat and sleep well. 

TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it?   

JS: Failure is an interesting word. I’d say I truly fail when I don’t listen to my intuition. Building a business, I am constantly learning, making mistakes, and pivoting, but I view that as part of this company’s — and my — evolution.

TG: What advice would you give your younger self?  

JS: Sleep is important, work for people whom you are inspired by and can learn from, and don’t compromise your value system. Also: The dots will connect in retrospect.

TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.  

JS: At the moment, I’m loving a Hawaiian prayer, Ho’oponopono. My friend Auriela shared it and it’s proved to be cleansing and powerful in many contexts. The four pillars are repentance, forgiveness, gratitude, and love: I’m Sorry. Please Forgive Me. Thank You/I Love You.

On a separate note I’ve long been partial to a Wayne Gretzky quote: “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take” — I credit my parents with that mindset!

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