Dr. Wall Says

Speak up, listen up, bridge the gap

Ep 37 – Better is the Enemy of Great with Erick Castro

ep 37

What do you talk about with a bartender gone bar owner, video blogger, documentary producer and writer?

Everything and anything under the sun. Our guest this episode is Erick Castro, co-owner of Polite Provisions here in San Diego and Boilermaker in New York. Although we did talk about the San Diego bar scene, our focus was mostly on what it takes to open & manage a great business, how to tame your fears to move forward with dreams, how to harness your strengths & passions to build something great, and what it means to be truly happy.

Notice Erick’s look of concentration in the shot above. I chose to share this picture by photographer Lyudmila Zotova because it embodies  attention to detail, focus, and the perfectionism that is inherent to everything Erick does. It’s this same focus on being great that lead us to explore a very common theme for both of us: how the pursuit of great, can become an obsessive quest for perfect and turn into the enemy of good.

Castro’s vision is on the end goal, the big dream. He focuses on long-term happiness, the achievement of excellence and adapting to his growing interests and endeavors. He is confident, driven and knows that pursuing your passion means working your ass off.
Erick is someone who understands that to live a life that is right for you, you have to know what you stand for and make choices that reflect those values.



  • When you find your angle, when you know your personality, let it imbue all that you do. Don’t do something to be like others, do it to be you.
  • Perfections is extolled as some great virtue, but pushing for a standard that is often impossible to achieve is a sure way to miss the big picture, and puts us at risk of crashing and burning out.
  • “Perfectionism is insecurity. It’s really just a way of you being afraid of what everyone of saying, you being afraid of being judged. eventually you just need to be able to say ‘F**k what people thinks. This is the best work that I can come up with!'”
  • Good enough is great. Good enough is not code for mediocre. It means achieving a standard that meets all necessary requirements for something to succeed, and doing so with attention to detail and meticulous precision.
  • Your business is only as good as the people who work for you. Erick shares the 3 rules to making sure your business runs smoothly.
  • It’s not about following your passion, but being passionate about what you do.
    “Try to live your values no matter what you are doing. Whether you are washing the dishes, scrambling an egg or taking out the garbage, live by your ethos in every aspect of what you do.”
  • Stay tuned till the end – Erick shares his secret to happiness – he’s a pretty happy guy!
  • Right for you takes into account right! It’s not about doing what makes you happy all the time, it’s about making choices that are aligned with your higher needs and values.

Another One, Please

standingA California native who started tending bar as a college student at San Diego State, Erick’s passion for the industry and a crazy attention to detail have garnered him high praise up and down this coast and across the country in New York. Not only is he part owner of Polite Provisions and Boilermaker, but he is tearing it up on his online series Bartender at Large, which chronicles the craft-cocktail scene, over a 3,000 mile road trip, one bartender’s interview at a time.

Erick’s life is pretty fascinating, but you’ll hear all about that on the podcast. Here is a quick interview from San Diego Magazine on the man himself:

“Raised in Hemet, where he got into the hospitality field as a dishwasher at 14, Castro started tending bar while a student at San Diego State University. Castro said he’s a people person and enjoyed the social aspects of bartending.

“I liked having a job where people come in for a drink and they leave in a better mood,” he said.

After working at several bars up and down the California coast, he moved to San Francisco in 2007. There, StarChefs named him a “rising star” for his “vintage minimalist” cocktails at bars like the Bourbon & Branch speak-easy. In 2013, CH Projects’ Arsalun Tafazoli lured him to San Diego where together they opened Polite Provisions at the corner of 30th Street and Adams Avenue. It was a hit from day one.

Created in the style of a 1920s drug emporium, Polite Provisions has one of the most comprehensive tap systems in the country, with 46 taps serving 18 beers, three carbonated cocktails, two spirit cocktails, two craft sodas, eight white wines, nine red wines, five liqueurs, two spirits and one iced coffee.

Instead of generic brands, top-shelf liquors (like Buffalo Trace bourbon and Wild Turkey 101 rye) are used as 2-ounce first pours in cocktails. More than 50 bitters are made in-house, as well as all the soda pops, old-fashioned syrups, elixirs and tinctures from fresh produce, natural ingredients and unprocessed sugars.

Castro’s 28 employees regularly undergo extensive training, guest bartenders are flown in regularly for fresh ideas, and every six weeks cocktail classes are hosted to spread the wealth to the cocktail-loving public. Castro said his criteria for hiring bartenders is an engaging personality and a fierce work ethic.

To keep things on the cutting edge, Castro recently did a full-staff retraining and he changed out all the bar’s glassware, syrups, liqueurs and even the music playlist… [read full article here].

Check out Erick:
In San Diego
In New York

By the way, are you trying to figure out what really holds meaning for you? Do you want to know why you sometimes get stuck in the pursuit of things you should really want? Do you need help creating a plan of action that will get you a life that is right for you?

GOOD! Because I create LīF (pronounced life) to help you achieve all three of those objectives.

Lif is a three-part coaching series, that is offered as stand alone Kits, individual coaching, and (this Fall) as a group coaching process.

The first phase of LīF teaches you how to identify what right for you looks like through deep INSIGHT.

In the second phase you are given a framework to see and overcome your ROADBLOCKS.

The final part of LīF is ACTION, where you develop a personalized action plan to get you moving forward and creating the life that is RIGHT FOR YOU.

Check out lif

Filed in:

Share on:

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

Hi! I'm Dr. Alessandra Wall

I help smart driven women and forward-thinking companies bridge the gap & build real conversations.

Here on the ‘Dr. Wall Says’, I share tools, tips, and insights about speaking up, getting heard and how women can take up space and thrive in the 21st century.



Free Resource

Unforgettable: How To Articulate Your Value With Clarity & Confidence


Building a career that allows you to show up at your best, doing what you love + are most skilled at.

Leadership Consulting

Creating systems & businesses that support your best and brightest.

Speaking & Training

Building strong, engaged and impactful teams.