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Dan Kenary

Dan Kenary

How has disruption impacted your role as CEO?

As a CEO, I am pulled in a lot of different directions in that making sure that the day to day is moving along, but we never losing sight of the horizon and where we need to go and when change has to happen, I have to be responsible for making that happen. Innovation and disruption are kind of a constant now, you know, I think we in, we in craft beer, especially those of us who've been around for a long time since the beginning of craft beer, you know, we had, we had long stretches where, you know, the industry was growing and it was kind of carrying everybody along and those days are completely over, you know, we were there, 120 breweries when we started and now they're over 7,000. So the whole, it's a completely different industry.

How did you approach the beer market differently?

When we started, the goal was we really did have the goal to transform the American beer market. We wanted to make it more interesting. We wanted to take beer away from being a commodity to being something, you know, distinct and different, and fun and vibrant. When we were raising money, I remember looking at coffee and ice cream as two industries in the eighties where that had started to happen. So we thought with beer, you know what, let's do this to beer because beer has way more pedigree and interesting history and variety than those things. So let's try to bring that to the US.

What are the characteristics of great business leaders?

You know you gotta have a guiding North Star to kind of guide yourself or the way that you want to, you know, live your life or conduct yourself in business. And I think having that is always very important. But around that, surrounding yourself with great people who share that vision and those values, but also have that resiliency and flexibility that you need to be successful. Because things are going to change all the time and they do and they will continue to change all the time.

What advice do you have for younger generations?

You know, invest your time when you're young and figuring out what you, what you're interested in, what you think you might be good at it, and then take some chances. Go for it. Life's short and don't, don't settle for a job you don't like. Maybe you don't have to love it. Be great if you did love it, but don't do a job you don't like to do. You just spend way too much of your life at work to not like your job and like the people like and respect the people that you work with. I think sometimes people just get so nervous or looking six months down the road, they have no idea I'm going to get from here to here. It's like, you know what? Just start. Just start. You'll figure it out.


At the center of the craft beer revolution, Harpoon co-founder and CEO Dan Kenary reflects on his career in a time of disruption and what it takes to make a great leader.