Someday I'll think it's funny that a food safety geek like me has been knocked out of service on the weekend of New Year's Eve by what appears, to all observation, to be norovirus. My bruised ribs won't let me laugh just yet.
What I do get to do, though, is spend hours upon hours in my favorite room, in my cozy couch fort, something that never happens IRL. Too busy, too tired, too crowded. But now, in a silent house, there is time to look at the pictures, pick up the books, snuggle in.
And as I dutifully reflect on the year turning, I feel surrounded by wisdom, and courage, and caring. Working with entrepreneurs, and those who support them, is the most amazing gift. Every single person I've met and worked with this year has inspired me to learn more, work harder, be braver.
Here are some of the people I've been fortunate to work, or cook, or problem-solve with this year:
- a brilliant businessman, always blazing his own trail, who says, "I'm broke, I'm not poor!" Right there with you, brother....
- a whip-smart marketing teacher who opened the door for people to talk about failure, and where it takes us if we'll let it
- a man gifted as baker, teacher, grower, guide and father who is finding the ways to weave all those together to meet the needs of his, all of our, communities
- a talented woman with a crystal-clear vision of her company's future who surrounds herself with smart people, invests in their well-being, works her ass off and trusts the process (well, let it be said that I know several of these, so that's fun!)
- a sweet family who 'landed the plane' of a failed business dream with good grace and generosity, despite blows to their trust and faith
- so many innovative people working in, or on, incubators and accelerators and spaces for people to dream and work and create
- a woman who, seeing woman-owned businesses folding at unacceptable rates, starts thinking and collaborating in new ways to find solutions
- a very young man who spent many of his years in solitary confinement, and is just now, against all odds, beginning to learn what the world may hold for him when he leaves prison because he is even smarter and wiser than he knows, and more importantly, is kind and open
- teachers, advisors, inspectors who really do want to help and will, for the price of a call, a visit, a beer : )
Food business, and entrepreneurship, are not for everyone. But anyone can try to bring their dream to life. In some ways, it's never been easier. Look around you, find your community, build on solid ground, and never stop believing in yourself. Reach back, and reach out. No one succeeds alone; we are stronger together.
A year ago I could not have imagined where I'd be today, and neither could you. So in the dark, cold days stay warm, surround yourself with good people and good books, and trust that your hard work can take you where you need to go.
Thank you for your trust in me, the gifts you've shared, the lessons you've taught.
Happy New Year.