Thursday, October 31, 2013

What a day!

The journey continues and seems to be more magical than ever. I have done a lot of reflection lately and it's quite funny to reflect back on experiences, lessons learned along the way, and realizing how life is a ride and some parts you have a say and some parts you just have to decide to enjoy the ride.

I had a unique experience today that really inspired me. I remembered I had this blog and wanted to ensure I remember this experience forever and thus here I am. Before I share--it does prompt me to think that I should reflect and write more often so I'm not constantly learning the same lesson but also to laugh at how silly I was at a prior point in life. As I am growing older... and ideally wiser, I have seen that at every stage of your life you feel like you are doing all you can and then you realize how to work smarter and not just harder and then you are able to take on even more. It's important to prioritize, reevaluate, learn, challenge the common and move forward!

So now about the day I had... 

Today was our final day of interviews for our 2013 Deanne Dewey Roberts Emerging Leader Award Finalists. This award was created last year in honor of Emerge Co-founder, Deanne Roberts. Deanne was a mother, founder of her company, community leader, mentor and friend. I could list all of her accomplishments, or just a few of the organizations she chaired, or even a list of the organizations she started... but honestly it would just be easier for you to just click here to see her legacy page on ChappellRoberts website! Let's just say the list is pretty powerful and those are just the big things.. not the stories that are shared by those that were touched by her in some way, big or small. I find myself being inspired by Deanne without even meeting her which I believe is the testament to a strong and impactful legacy. The stories are being shared which I think is the most one can hope for when considering the world without them in it.

The highlight of my day was hearing the stories from her peers, friends, proteges and confidants. How interesting it is that no matter what the role she played she had the same level of impact! I love that! The best statement I heard today was "surround yourself with people who will tell you the truth". Apparently that was a strength of Deanne's--telling it like she saw it I mean! "She spoke, acted, and then made sure to bring people along"... "There was always room at the table for those who wanted to be involved--no matter your age, your position or your company." ... My brain is spinning with the idea of living up to the challenge of a woman like Deanne both personally but especially as it relates to Emerge!

It's funny to think of how my "Deanne journey" started which I actually never thought about in it's entirety until right now. Shortly after I began working at the Chamber, Karen sat down with me and started talking about a conversation she had with Deanne before Deanne became really sick. Karen shared that Deanne was the founder of Emerge and then hit me with a phrase I will never forget. She said Deanne told her "You need to get Emerge back on track because the program is not what it was meant to be." I'm pretty sure I was speechless. Mind you I had never met Deanne... and at this point her health wasn't good so I couldn't be like-- "Hey, what did you mean? What is Emerge meant to be?"

Skipping a little bit forward in the journey I met Colleen Chappell. Mind you, I know that this lady Deanne worked for ChappellRoberts prior to her passing... I'm no dummy--I realized there was a connection!  
Colleen served on a panel for our Leadership Tampa Class of 2012. I remember as soon as she said her name and company I was like hmm... :) I loved everything about what I saw and heard from Colleen and always from afar! So last year, 2012, we decided that we were going to do an Emerge event in honor of Deanne, celebrating the legacy of the program as well as recognize an emerging leader in name of Deanne each year which we named the Deanne Dewey Roberts Emerging Leader Award. Emerge will present this award annually to one outstanding young professional for their dedication and service to Emerge Tampa Bay and the business community. 

So, if I'm being honest, I thought this was really cool but I think for a very different reason than I do today. This event wasn't my idea but I was like heck yes--we need a signature event! We need a year end celebration to honor our leadership, our accomplishments and to get people pumped for the coming year! I thought it was really nice that we were honoring Deanne but I just didn't quite see the bigger picture or really get it. As we began discussing this event I was like, I guess I should know something about this lady to determine our award criteria; understand what the event should feel like, etc... being that it was truly in honor of "Deanne Dewey Roberts". I still think it's funny that we use all 3 names. It reminds me of ADPi.. CBG, KPG, etc. 

I began googling Deanne Roberts. I found a couple of great YouTube videos, some articles and started a document on all things Deanne. I wanted to learn who is Deanne; what matters to Deanne; what legacy did she want to leave.. and how do we share that story?

From there, Andrew Smith and I met with Colleen. Yes, dream come true! Lol, looking back it's so funny because I was like.. I hope she likes me! She's soo cool. Yes, I'm a dork. We chatted with her about her vision for this event. We asked her to share stories with us about Deanne and then discussed ideal format. It was great. Andrew and I left smiling from ear to ear eager to get going on this amazing event. I then discussed with Diane Egner and Dianne Jacob as well.

Watching videos and hearing Deanne speak about her passions really helped and then complimenting that with hearing from Colleen was awesome. I was starting to get it a little more. So we had our inaugural event November 21 of 2012. It was awesome. We received great reviews and we had an amazing audience of all ages. It's unique in that way but speaks to Deanne and resembles her thought of everyone deserves a seat at the table. I hope our audience is always that dynamic. 

Well--I started this story sharing the awesomeness of today in hearing stories of Deanne in so many different capacities. No matter what the story, the message was the same.
Deanne was a connector, an influencer of change. Persistent yet patient; caring, courageous, committed, tenacious. She took every phone call. She took the time to listen and give feedback. She was founder of several organizations and just as much a champion and a cheerleader for others. She did what she loved and didn't ask for credit. She was a visionary... and she didn't take no for an answer if she believed in something enough! She was the first woman chair of the Chamber which I think is pretty BA if you ask me! Bold. Courageous. and did work! 

I legitimately was like what have I been doing and how did I miss all of these things before? I see the vision of Emerge--it's to teach our young people how to be like Deanne! Be bold. Lead Change. Speak. Act. And bring people along!

"You can achieve anything you want in life if you have the courage to dream it, the intelligence to make a realistic plan, and the will to see that plan through to the end."

My immediate "take-aways"... or thoughts...

None of us know how much time we have left... is what we're doing accomplishing the goals we have for ourselves and our legacy? I have been thinking a lot about priorities. Determining what to get involved in. I have a love for growth and change and a love for helping others. That basically means I find every cause and nonprofit important and meaningful. How do I determine what to take on and when it's time to say now is not the time?

"I've learned the hard way that it's never too early to think about your legacy. And I believe it's our collective legacy as leaders to support others as they take big―and sometimes scary―leaps for our community.”--Deanne Roberts

Give back in every capacity you can. Take an extra moment to teach someone how to do something instead of just doing it for them. Say thank you to the people that are at the bottom of the totem poll in the same manner you would the CEO. Be mindful. Be grateful. Use your strengths to benefit your organization and your community. Mentor the next generation. Leave everything you touch better than you found it. Do things that matter to you. Choose things not because of the recognition but because you believe you can have a meaningful impact. 

Cheer on your peers and celebrate the successes of others. Be a cheerleader for your community. Always bring people up with you and help others find their place.

“I hope the fruits of my labor are ripe for many generations to come.”

Always remember, you never know the kind of impression you can have on someone. Consider the pay it forward method. You do something nice for someone and then they pass it on and so on. You never know where your kindness is going. Where your time will lead. Example, I want to make a difference in a life of another because I had an awesome Greek advisor who took a vested interest in me. I want to ensure I effect someones life in the same way. I think it's so cool that so many people share about Deanne so that our membership can learn who she is and why it matters. This is where my Deanne journey continues--people that I sat in the room these last two days (Christine Turner, Mike Griffin, Jon Streitmatter, Bob Rohrlack, Dianne Jacob...) all have a connection to her and I learn from these people every day. I can't even mention my love and appreciation for Colleen--yet another testament to the legacy! ..  The Legacy ... a legacy that goes well beyond the years on Earth but that effects people who don't even know you. The question I keep asking myself "Is your life worthy of talking about when you're not here? and is what people are saying what you'd want to hear?"

"When I retire I'll ask myself if I did everything I could to act with integrity, bring along young people and invest in my community. And those are the questions I hope you'll ask yourself—and I sincerely hope you're happy with the answers. Because they really do matter.” - Deanne Roberts

I should close with mentioning today is Deanne's birthday. October 31... a magical day in the journey of Deanne! Life is funny--Emerge started with her and today was a memorable one in figuring out my version of what Deanne wanted Emerge to be. We need more Deanne's in the community and in an effort to make that a reality--Emerge was born! We created an environment that promotes growth and development of our members and a platform for young professionals to get together with a collected and powerful voice. 

Well I'd say 2014 is our year! Looking forward to the journey that awaits!