By Meg Gill
President & Co-Founder
I have often thought the most intense thing I'd do in my life would be the 50 freestyle on a national scale. Sounds silly that 22 seconds could take every ounce of physical fitness and the most extreme focus possible, far more focus needed in this race than when we swim from Lanai to Maui or around the entire San Francisco Bay, or running the Boston Marathon. But it's true - the fastest 50 freestyle of my life, a 22.2 anchoring a relay at Ivy League Championships, took 20+ years of psychological, strength, and endurance training...lots of prayers, 100+ books on "flow performance," and coaches who sacrificed everything to get me close to true potential. Those races were the most intense thing I've done...until...the Steve Harvey Show?? Really? Let me explain. Since Adam Avery told me 22 months ago that I had an enormous opportunity/responsibility starting a business so young and female, a light bulb went direct to that "focus" place in my brain and has not left. I've been happy to talk to writers, news anchors, retailers, distributors about being a gal kicking down older man doors to put the spotlight back on beer.
The Steve Harvey Show called our main line late one night to ask me to be on the show the next week. They'd never had alcohol on the show and Steve doesn't like beer, but they had a show concept they thought I was a good fit for. The title is "Think like a man, act like a woman," (I didn't know this until I was already in Chicago). Needless to say, I talked to all of their producers about the beer making process and why beer and food pairings exist. Sounds simple to beer lovers, but this is still a new concept on a mainstream media scale. Fast forward to Chicago where our luggage with most of the beer was lost, the show mixed up our core brands and poured specialties instead, and the crew had a script that I was not given a copy of. In rehearsals, the script kept changing, and I kept being told lines like "please do not say 'bribe,' Meg, these are very conservative women... think about your grandma in Iowa who has never had a sip of beer." WOW. Lines were changed last minute, there was a big freakout about the tattoo on my foot, and I kept being reminded that Steve Harvey hates beer, "you better sell him girl." At one point I was texting my two best friends from swimming asking what to do? Should I have gone to acting school? I'm just an athlete in business clothes - what do they expect of me?
So what did I do? I retreated to college swimming days. I put my feet on the wall, back on the ground, and visualized every second of the segment, over and over. Then got up and did arm circles. At this point I had a $500 dress and 2 hours worth of makeup on in the green room, swinging my arms in true swimmer-OCD manner, counting each arm circle with my eyes closed. Yes, people saw this - including the producers of the show, who were at this point going, "You better perk back up when you're on camera, where did your personality go?" Our publicist is going "Her personality is here, get the hell out of here and stop changing the direction of the show, she will be fine!" Thank god for Hannah!
Post-visualization, I was backstage getting last minute makeup and touched by at least 15 people on my walk out to meet Steve Harvey on air. Just before I put my phone away I had a "xoxo" text from Tony (Tony never sends xo's!). It helped me to know Tony would be watching. There were a couple funny moments and the thing that I was most nervous about - pouring a beer without shaking on air - I pulled off pretty well (great head on that Brown!). As I shook Steve's hand, I actually took a sip of the Berlinerweiss and got yelled at by one of the producer's that this was Steve's glass...but that little sip of that low abv beer was my security blanket as the cameras rolled on - and it also brought out a hilarious southern accent I haven't had in 10 years.. I don't remember much of the interview, but after it ended, Steve said how proud he was and the producers carried me off stage dancing to "Get Up Offa That Thing."
To wrap it up, was I happy with the segment? Not really. Did it change our business? Who knows? Was I able to turn a beer skeptic into a believer? Maybe. What that little "out of my comfort zone" live audience interview did, however, was far greater for my personal growth than anything I've done in my professional career. It wasn't any one thing I could point to, other than relate this back to my top swimming days, where every single ounce of me had to be directed to one place. All I wanted to do in the moment was be back in LA at the brewery away from the silly cameras. But as an adrenaline junky, two days later, I was running a mountain top in SoCal, telling a friend that I was ready for more.