2015 Distinguished Alumnus
Co-Founder, Barefoot Cellars; New York Times best-selling author
1968, Bachelor of Arts, Political Science, CSULB
Visionary entrepreneur and brand builder Michael Houlihan and his partner Bonnie Harvey used Performance-based Compensation, “Worthy Cause Marketing,” and an expanded view of Customer Service, to beat the business odds, transforming Barefoot Wine from an obscure novelty product into an iconic brand that is now the world’s #1 wine brand.
In 2005, Houlihan sold the Barefoot brand to E. J. Gallo and worked for them for year as a brand consultant. Now a sought-after speaker, author, consultant, and workshop leader, Houlihan shares his entrepreneurial journey and philosophies with audiences and clients throughout the world.
Houlihan and Harvey produce two weekly business blogs at www.thebarefootspirit.com and www.thebrandauthority.net and are co-authors of the New York Times bestselling business book The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand, and now, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways to Engage and Empower Your People. They recently spoke to CSULB business students about their experience developing Barefoot Wine. They were featured in the Winter 2014 issue of Beach Magazine, highlighting the couple’s success as entrepreneurs. Houlihan has earned the wine industry’s top awards, including “Trend Setter,” “Fast Track Growth Brand,” and “Hot Brand.”
Houlihan enjoys hiking, backpacking, and international travel. He lives in the Sonoma County Wine Country where he is an avid supporter of conservation and humanitarian causes. He is has spoken at more than 30 schools of entrepreneurship around the world, was the keynote speaker at the 2014 World Conference on Entrepreneurship.
From Alumni Awards 2015 program