The Buyer
Jackie Fast: why we need a new set of rule breaking leaders

Jackie Fast: why we need a new set of rule breaking leaders

“It is clear we are all sick of hierarchical, traditional, old-style (read: pale, male, stale) leaders who haven’t done much for pushing the needle forward for everyone… ‘Rule Breaker’ is a manifesto for how to lead now.” That’s how Jackie Fast introduces her new book that claims any successful business leader needs to be willing to break the rules, rip up the old ways of doing things and truly lead with a spirit that anything is possible and I’m here to help us make change happen.

Jackie Fast
24th February 2021by Jackie Fast
posted in Opinion,

Jackie Fast lives up to her name. She likes to get things done. She also has a proven track record of building successful businesses – from sports sponsorship to developing her own wine brand Rebel Pi. Experiences that have taught her that playing by the rules does not work any more. As she explains in her new book.

Jackie Fast launched her own ice wine Rebel Pi in 2018

Want to be a leader in wine? You need to break some rules.

The wine industry can be intimidating. The information, the knowledge and the millions of bottles available to be consumed. It can be overwhelming, especially for the next generation entering the wine trade.

Historically experience and age has driven leaders in their field to be revered. This is no different to any other sector, but the wine industry is particularly plagued because of wine’s proliferation amongst the general population contrasted with few industry leaders spouting recommendations.

However, this is changing. The world is different now and the pandemic has only accelerated this divide. There are now more variables that make someone great in the wine industry beyond just having a discerning palate.

With direct-to-consumer significantly on the rise, the understanding of how digital can reach #winelovers is becoming critical. You potentially no longer need to be a Master of Wine, but you do need to be a Master of Online. This combined with a keen understanding of the value of personal branding is fundamental if you plan to remain a future leader in the wine industry.

With this shift comes a new way of doing things. New rules to follow and old rules to break.

Wine is not for a few – it’s for everyone

Gone are the stuffy sommeliers that snub you when you ask for wine at a price point. The labels you cannot read. The wine snobs who won’t let you into their members club. The truth is wine is quite literally for everyone. For the Karens drinking canned rose in their backyard inflatable pool to Grandma Shirley sipping sticky port watching Jeopardy. This has always been the case, but more recently the historical pompous veneer of the wine industry is starting to crack. Consumers want to understand more about wine, but shouldn’t need to take a course to do so. And sommeliers are taking notice.

Stefan Neumann MS has been sharing his sommelier talents on Intagram Live with a series of food and wine matching sessions throughout lockdown

With lockdowns in full swing, some of London’s finest have taken to Instagram to share wine tips and tasting notes online for the benefit of everyone. Stefan Neumann MS (@stefanthesommelier_ms) who is the director of wine at the Mandarin Oriental shares a video a week talking about everything from buying and pairing wine refreshingly dressed down in t-shirts. Michael Raebel, former head sommelier at Rosewood Hotel (@mr.thewinewizard), goes into detail about wines and food pairings while posting about his new start-up. Both understand simple messages resonate better online.

Love what you love

It is easyto follow the trade in terms of what is sexy and what sells, but that does not mean you need to stop buying and selling what you love. More than other industries, the trade is driven from a love of good food and wine, and yet many people feel there is a certain acceptable palate when it comes to wine. The problem in this lies with the fact that the industry feels more homogenous than it really is, or really ought to be. So, if you love a rare varietal, a mid-priced tipple, or a sweet ice wine (like I do) then do not hesitate to tell the world.

[This video encapsulates what Jackie Fast’s Rule Breaker motto and manifesto is all about]

Don’t be complacent – drink it all

It would be impossible to drink every new wine that comes out each year, but if you are in the wine trade, you should at least try. The point being is that the world is so much smaller now. You have access to wines, wineries, and regions you never had access to before. So why stock your cellar to the brim with Burgundy? Instead make a point to drink past your comfort zone and purchase wines from regions you’ve never heard of, or winemakers just starting out.

India, Mexico, China and Canada are all burgeoning wine regions and yet many people in the trade have yet to seek their teeth into the wines being produced there.

In order to remain a leader in the trade you must continually be aware of what is going on in the industry, and that means taking time to understand wines that you may not have heard of and may not even like. Only then will you truly become an expert.

The wine industry is changing, so don’t think you don’t have to. These tips will help you start thinking about how you can remain innovative as a leader in the trade and continue to push the industry forward. They are also the sort of rules that I think we need to professionally break if we going to become the future leaders our industry needs – which just happens to be set out in my new book – Rule Breaker: Rebellious Leadership for the Future of Work.

Jackie Fast’s new book – Rule Breaker – aims to inspire the next generation of leaders and what fresh ideas they can bring to business


The book was inspired by looking at the state of the world, and more importantly, those leading it. It is clear we are all sick of hierarchical, traditional, old-style (read: pale, male, stale) leaders who haven’t done much for pushing the needle forward for everyone. As a reflection of that, by looking on the shelves, 95% of leadership books are written by that cohort, most of whom launched their careers before the internet became widely available. This is a problem. Not only does it not speak to the many, but it also provides the wrong advice for how to lead in the current climate. A climate that is bombarded with online communications, post-truth, and influencer fatigue.

‘Rule Breaker’ is a manifesto for how to lead now. We examine current businesses that are diverse in nature, but have commonality in terms of how they execute – from Beats and Quibi, to Kylie Cosmetics, BrewDog, M.92 and Greta Thunberg. It was important to me to choose leaders who are leading businesses that are breaking traditional boundaries. Those that have flatter structures but have clearly executed exceptionally well using new media. The world we are in now is vastly different to what came before, we need new information to guide that journey.

A book born out of the pandemic

This book survived my first baby and a pandemic so in that sense it was the best of times and the worst of times to write 65,000 words, but I was inspired by the people I spoke to and the stories I researched. Because I started writing before the pandemic, the book provides a unique context to how Covid accelerated many of the ideas. As such, I believe it is the most relevant and up-to-date book about leadership currently available.

This book is for you

Jackie Fast’s old bete noir from The Apprentice is in high praise of her new leadership book

This book is truly aimed for everyone who wants to lead better – whether you work for an organisation, lead an organisation, or run a one-man-band. It is an important and necessary reflection of how the world has changed and why you too must change to be successful. Everyone should read it and I am not the only one who thinks so:

“Full of brilliant zesty stories Jackie Fast has created a book that is captivating to read and leaves the reader ready to take on the world”. Bruce Daisley, ex-Twitter VP & bestselling author ****

“This is not only a fresh, unique perspective on leadership, it is the perspective on leadership we NEED. Jackie’s ability to recognize and convey what a modern leader is capable of leaves you nodding your head with an intense urge to underline every gem of information. Highly recommend!”Lauryn Evarts Bosstick of The Skinny Confidential.

Rule Breaker’s biggest takeaway

The biggest takeaway within the book is that you learn which rules no longer apply to the current state of the world, rules that were placed by old leaders who were protecting their podium. The book also outlines what new rules to follow. We examine work/life balance, working from home, the grim realisation of a skill’s half-life, complacency, the addictive nature of the internet, and so much more. Fundamentally it propels you to do something you love to do and gives you an actionable blueprint for how to achieve that.

It is truly a reflection of the current state of the world and work like never before. Anyone who is working should get their hands on this book!