I am pleased, honored and humbled to be named Business Woman of the Year in the hospitality category by the Tampa Bay Business Journal.
Earlier this year, nominations were accepted from the Tampa Bay Metro Area, with a population of nearly 2.8 million people. I received an email notifying me that I had been nominated (I still do not know who nominated me, but to whomever you are out there, I thank you.), with an attached questionnaire to complete and a list of required documents. The entry packet was quite extensive, and took days to complete, but after discussing with Jack, I decided to take the time to do it. I was flattered to be nominated, but honestly, did not think much more about it after I sent my response package of information back.
Several weeks ago I returned from a walk with Rooney to an email congratulating me for being named a finalist for the Business Woman of the Year, in the hospitality category. Over 350 women had been nominated, and a panel of judges narrowed the group down to 13 categories, and 58 finalists. I was one of the 58. Stunned, emotional, grateful, honored. Just a few of the things I was feeling at that time.
Fast forward to this last Friday, September 23rd, the TBBJ Business Woman of the Year Awards Banquet was held at The Vinoy. My best friend, Lindsy, flew in to surprise me and be by my side. My cousins Gary and Lynn came from Pennsylvania to be with me. Kevan, my contact at Sysco West Coast Florida who has been been by my side at Three Birds Tavern year after year (and put up with me scrutinizing every dollar and the quality of every piece of product that comes through our door), and his lovely wife sat at our table, supporting my efforts at the restaurant. Kristin and Justin, two of our managers at Three Birds, joined us, and continued to lift me, as they do day after day, allowing me to work outside of the restaurant. Without that, there would be no Out of the Weeds. Local artist, Michele Tuegel, who has become a confidant and trusted friend, showed her continuing love and support. And finally, but most importantly, my husband, Jack. It is easy to celebrate the fun times, the highs, such as nights like this, and we have been blessed with many reasons to celebrate over the years. However, this is not where Jack is at his best. Jack shines brightly in the darkness. He has lifted me from many lows and shone light on many dark moments. I would be lost without him, and this night was no different.
So I was content, surrounded by my tribe, and one of 58 Tampa Bay Business Women recognized for our hard work and successes. We dressed up, Lynn did my makeup, Jack had champagne and we celebrated. But then it happened. I won. Among a group of smart, talented, creative, hard-working, beautiful, tenacious and fierce women, I was named Tampa Bay Business Journal Hospitality Business Woman of the Year.
Overwhelmed with joy and gratitude, I only wish that Mom could have lived to see where I am today. Business Woman of the Year, the daughter of a woman who never worked outside of the home (well, for a day or two at The Hot Dog Shop in Butler, and another day or two at Miller’s Shoe Store). Obviously she did not teach me how to behave around a conference table. What I learned from Mom that has contributed most to my success is how to treat people. How to love, and love hard. How to give, and give generously. But more than anything, how to lift people. Her best quality. What I am most grateful to have learned from her, and has been a big part of my success. We rise by lifting others. Words I live by every day.
Tampa Bay, thanks for the lift!