Welcome Mavens

Manhattan and Podcast

October 06, 2017

Welcome to Service Mavens, My name is Austin Degenhardt and this is my first blog post... ever. 

In this post I will tell you a bit about myself and why I am doing a blog and podcast. I will give you an idea of what can be expected here and paint a clear picture of who and what we will be talking about. Give it a shot, it will be fun.


I was a bartender and now I am an entrepreneur developing a footwear brand for service industry professionals to match the quality, performance, and style of the people they're designed for.


When I was behind the stick I learned that the job could be fun but it is also stressful and difficult to manage dealing with customers all day (many drunk ones at that). Half of customers don't know what they want but they want it FAST! I was engaging and could make a mean margarita but speed was not my specialty. Remembering all of the drink and food orders was a challenge but I got through it in a trial by fire! Same with memorizing the drinks, I still don't know how people do that, I was looking in the little black book all the time. 

I got by with the help of Tracy and my buddy Nick at the Fish Market in San Mateo, and on Saturday nights, we had a good thing going for awhile.

I considered attempting craft cocktails and when I looked at what it takes to get to that level I realized I couldn't just slide by. The expectations for individual service, quality, and knowledge are too high nowadays for servers, bartenders, and sommeliers. 

I did not have enough passion for the job and my hands were falling apart from all the wear and tear so I went a different career direction. But my love for the industry stuck with me and I didn't stray far from the industry at all. Now I'm back in a different form and my passion is to serve the people that serve us!

So I've made it my mission is to change the way we look at service industries both within and without. I believe in the idea of service leadership as defined in Robert Greenleaf's essay, The Servant as Leader and ideas developed from Hermann Hesse's Journey to the East. The basic story goes that a servant is with a group of people on a journey in the Far East. Everything goes well until the servant leaves, things get too difficult and people quit.

Later, members of the group discover that the servant is actually a well respected king (the leader). Obviously there is much more to the story and it's worth reading, for these purposes, I'll leave it there.

I believe this concept of servant leadership is apparent throughout service professions in our society. These service-oriented leaders come in the form of bartenders, waiters, waitresses, flight attendants, hotel staff, nurses and the list goes on...

They create our experiences when we go out. They work when we play. And sometimes they protect us from ourselves.

In that spirit of championing these folks, I started this blog and podcast to get to know the most talented, passionate, and hard working people behind some of the best bars and restaurants in the world.

So, who are these people?

I believe that career service industry professionals, especially bartenders, are mavens and connectors as Malcolm Gladwell describes them in The Tipping Point. They have a unique capacity for massive social circles! Just ask a bartender the name of a few other bartenders who work in the area and you'll see what I mean.

They also seem to know a lot of information about a wide range of topics. Cocktails, wine and food of course, but ask them about current events, distilleries, or motorcycles and you might get more than you bargained for. That's why we called the podcast and this blog Service Mavens.

Bartenders, servers, sommeliers, anyone in service to others who is performing at the highest level – those are our guests!  These people fit the mold of work hard - play hard. They're on their feet for 7-12 hours a day, creating a party for everyone to enjoy!

I want to provide a space where people can gather around the service industry. If you're inside you can get to know some of the best in the business and how they got there. If you're not in the industry and have never worked at a bar, club, or restaurant, this is your chance to see, feel, and hear what it's like.

So read on, tune in, and get to know the Service Mavens!

I personally want to know what drives them, what their world is like, and how the hell they remember all those cocktail recipes? What craziness do they see and how do they find balance in their life?

What do You want to ask your bartender? Well, here's your chance:

Enjoy and please give some feedback in the comments and keep in mind, unfriendliness will not be tolerated. Give feedback, constructive criticism even, and help me make this blog something you want to read and this podcast something you want to listen to!

Thank You. 

Austin Paul Degenhardt

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