Ted Hall (SFO, 73-00), master vintner
NewsNetwork, August 23, 2001
Ted Hall (SF, 1973-2000) has adopted a McKinsey-like motto at his Long Meadow Ranch – "Excellence through responsible farming" – proving yet again that while you can take the man out of McKinsey, you can't take McKinsey out of the man.
Hall's decision to leave our Firm to follow his "personal passion," while still holding true to deeply felt values, has led him to produce what international experts have deemed first-rate wines and olive oils. "If you're producing world-class products," declares Hall, "you have to subject yourself to world-class tests. We began distributing in New York and London, where wine opinion is formed. I live my McKinsey rhetoric by going global from the outset."
Hall began making wine in 1971, winning amateur awards for 17 years. Then, in the late 1980s, he purchased 600 acres in the Mayacamas Mountains above the Napa Valley and began his second career as a professional vintner and olive grower. His first Cabernet Sauvignon vintages (1996 and 1997) received glowing reviews from such publications as Bon Appetit and Wine Enthusiast, and soon plans to release his 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon. Long Meadow's Prato Longo olive oil, whose new vintage is also available, has received high praise from critics.
Although Hall's 27 years with the Firm involved highly intellectual pursuits (capital market theory, strategy, and applied microeconomics), he never lost touch with his earthy roots and the Pennsylvania farm where his mother taught him organic growing techniques. As evidence of Hall's broad range of interests, his innovative, organic ranch supports not only grapes and olives, but also Scottish Highland cattle, Appaloosa horses, chickens, and a vegetable garden.
Looking back at his days at our Firm, Hall says he's most often reminded of Bob Waterman's (SFO/MEL, 1964-85) credo that to be successful here "you need to be an interesting person." Now on his own, Hall still takes that advice to heart. In addition to winemaking, he plays trombone, founded a jazz record label, produces records, votes in the Grammy Awards, heads a specialty music company, and recently collaborated on a 12-movement liturgical composition, the New Millennium Mass. He also races yachts, noting that he "learned as much about the complexities and tensions of leading a small group by racing my sailboat across the Pacific as I did in any McKinsey situation."
Hall offers these insights on our Firm to new CSS: "There are three stages to a McKinsey career. First, you're known for what you do, for example, great financial analysis. Second, you're known for what you know – everything about an industry segment. Third, you're successful because of who you are. It's important to invest in your personal and professional development against all three horizons."
Another reason for balancing personal and professional interests, he says, is that "you're providing advice and counsel to very senior people. The perspective you bring is very complex, and is as much about judgment and wisdom as analytic insight into particular situations or specific industry knowledge – those are prerequisites. But at the end of the day, you're relying on honest judgment and wisdom."
In other words, says Hall, all work and no play isn't the way to go. Still, he readily admits, "The joke in our house always was, 'if Dad's awake, he's working.' But what's work? I'm pursuing things I want to do."