Sonoma is rotten with moguls. They run the gamut from top dogs helming storied institutions to bottom-feeders in dire need of institutionalization. I like to pretend I’m in the middle – feeding off the bottom of the top. Or the top of the bottom, depending on the status of my invoices.
Moguldom is a matter of scale and perspective. A crumb is a feast to an ant. A feast of crumbs is better than a feast of ants – unless you’re on a low-carb diet, then it’s debatable. If the Buddha had an MBA, this is how he’d talk, which, to a creative type, is only slightly less confusing than any other economic pundit. Which is to say “Flower.” Of course, being a “mogul” is a completely subjective notion. As regards my own career, I use the term with a healthy heap of “self-conscious complicit critique,” a smarty-pants term I learned in a literary criticism class in college and, had I not dropped the class, I could tell you what it means.
Like most of my colleagues in this market, I am a “micro-mogul,” which is like being a real mogul except that the empires are smaller but more manageable. In fact, they’re more likely to be measured in terms of gigabytes rather than dollars and only multinational inasmuch as we have access to the World Wide Web when the wifi at EDK is working. That said, the model works. Many of us launched our empires when disgorged in a spray of corporate bloodletting back when the first Recession hit. Others still, saw how much fun we’re having and started their own empires so as to join the party, then realized it was actually work and left to study Zen and the Art of Counting My Money. Good on them. This is a hard road but not a lonely road.
Though times have changed irrevocably in the media game, my colleagues and I are committed to the course. Some have their own fiefdoms; others are polar bears adrift on an ice cube of vanishing relevance. True media people, however, are like cockroaches that can type. Nuke us and we’ll give you 800 words about it by sunrise.
This is a lifestyle choice. We enjoy meeting interesting people, drinking fine wine and eating well, then faking a fight for the tab, which we inevitably lose. Our clients run the gamut from national concerns to the chap next to us at the cafe, who name-drops you on Twitter in exchange for a 30-second consultation on the relative merits of the “Medium Organic Italian Roast” versus the house-blend.
I’m something of a prodigal son returned from the belly of the beast, happily repatriated to a changed landscape, one improved by vineyards and profligate use of the word “artisanal.” When I have occasion to reflect on the course of my career, one that is profitably immersed in culture, arts and media, I am as grateful as I am amazed that one can make in Sonoma (I focus on the arts and media and leave the culture part to the cheese-makers). This is where opportunity conspires.
We should be proud, Sonoma. We prove time and again that geography and profession need not be opposed. That the good life and making a living can be one in the same; that community and commerce share more than a handful of letters. We are micro-moguls. And we sleep well.
This may not be the American Dream, but it gets us through the night.