Gayle Brown is the co-owner of Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Waterbury, Vermont. She has 15 years of experience running the family business with her husband Paul. The mill is a popular tourist destination that welcomes more than 350,000 visitors a year. She has a bachelor's degree in Geology from the University of Vermont, where she was also the captain of the 1979 ski team.
When Gayle’s children were young, their bookkeeper got angry after she had simply asked for a statement. Gayle realized that the bookkeeper was manipulating her and her husband against each other. She did not want this to hurt her marriage and ended up pushing back her instinct that something felt ‘off’. Gayle remembers realizing how much manipulation took place across the years, because she was scared of losing the bookkeeper as an employee, which would have led to controversy in the business.
Gayle had taken a class with successful local business leaders and she might not have had any fancy letters after her name, but realized what she had to say was just as important. Gayle and her husband did not have to run their business any other way than they intended to.
Gayle likes to lead by example. She and her husband are both very hands on at the cider mill, so they can set the example. Gayle also makes sure to always give someone 5-10 minutes of face-to-face time or phone calls, if there is no way to meet in person.
Gayle is excited about their hard cider project and she describes her taste profile process. She would also like to create a new taste profile with bittersweet fruit from Great Britain. They are currently working with growers to figure out what is the best fruit to grow there for cider, to help with the shortage.
Gayle takes 3-5 minutes a day to allow her brain to quiet the noise. She has so many things up in the air at once that it helps to have the quite for a few minutes.
Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson
Gayle would tell herself that if you want something in your heart enough, and your heart and brain are connected – it’s okay if you don’t have a fancy degree – don’t let it affect what you want to go after.
“Our thoughts are magnets.”