Ashley Santoro has a dream job. She spends her days surrounded by fine wine at the Standard Hotel’s locations in downtown Manhattan. When she’s not in meetings or checking in with her team, she’s testing beverages or visiting winemakers.
Though not all of us can be successful sommeliers like Santoro, we can learn from her pointers on how to live our best lives at work. Here are a few nuggets from a recent interview she had with Lifehacker, when she spilled all her secrets about how to stay organized, what to pack in your suitcase — and yes, what wine to pair with that spaghetti dish you love to make.
On packing to impress
Because Santoro splits her time between two hotels, she said she makes a point of packing light. But she does have one tip for being prepared, no matter how lightly you pack.
“Always pack black,” she told Lifehacker. “I never know what (or who) might pop up and need to be ready for a quick outfit turnaround.”
On leaning on co-workers
Santoro said she “would be lost” without her team, especially the people who lead creative development for beverages at the hotels. And if she can rely on her colleagues for backup, that means you can, too. After all, everything goes better when you work together.
On staying calm
Santoro leads a hectic life — the Standard’s monthly beverage inventory alone sounds like a headache. But she’s figured out a trick for remembering what she needs to get done, and it’s pretty simple.
“I write everything down!” she said. “It’s the only way I can prioritize. If it’s not in my calendar or notes, it’s not real.”
On escaping the stress
It may seem relaxing to smell wine all day, but from the sound of it, Santoro’s job is a tough grind. To get rejuvenated, Santoro said she travels “whenever possible, even if it’s a train ride away.” Time to check Travelzoo for Amtrak deals!
On finding the perfect wine
Hoping to make your staple spaghetti and meatballs a little fancier? Look no further than Peybonhomme les Tours. The winery makes a bottle, the Energies, that Santoro said pairs beautifully with red sauce (among other things). Listed below $30, a bottle of the Bordeaux wine is surprisingly affordable.
On taking career advice
Santoro received one major piece of advice that seems to have stuck with her, all the way to the Standard Hotel. And it’s probably worth listening to no matter what profession you pursue.
“Move out of your own way,” she told LifeHacker. “It’s definitely easier said than done, but when a majority of decisions must be made in the moment, you can’t get stuck in your head.”