Community over everything

The last thing anyone probably thought I’d be doing this weekend is working, having just wrapped up Dallas Startup Week, but I find these days in the wake of it to be the most inspiring. It’s a week spent not only connecting with folks and helping them realize and achieve their dreams and passions, but a week spent catching up with people in the community and witnessing their continued success from small seeds planted many years ago.

This year, I had the honor of being nominated by the local startup community as a Top 5 nominee for the yearly Startup Evangelist of the Year award, hosted by the Dallas Entrepreneur Center and awarded at their State of Entrepreneurship event. I was nominated alongside some very outstanding individuals who I am proud to call colleagues and friends in the community. It was awarded to Leah Frazier, deservingly so, who I’ve had the pleasure of working with as one of our track captains for Startup Week the last couple of years. Leah is a local icon in the Dallas fashion community, and her hard work deserves to be recognized.

Although many offered me consolations for not winning myself, I chuckled at this because everyone knows that if I was doing this for the awards that I would’ve quit many years ago. And I don’t say this to lessen the worth of the award she won–we need to recognize the hard people put into this community, especially since most, if not all, of it is often unpaid and we struggle to balance helping the community with continuing our own personal and professional success and managing our own daily lives. But I don’t volunteer and give my time and expertise to people in the hopes of one day winning an award. It was certainly wonderful to receive a nod from the community in recognition from the people I work alongside every day–I’m very grateful for that. But I do this work because I love this community and the people that make it up. I love meeting someone and seeing the at the earliest stages of their idea, to helping them hire talent to make it a reality, to seeing them gain funding and traction to putting it out there in the world and actually successfully running a company. This is only one scenario of success, but I’ve seen many, many more within the metroplex and beyond. This is the stuff that gets me excited, that gets me up early every Tuesday morning to grab coffee and host #BigDOCC and introduce strangers who become co-founders or friends or colleagues.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m grateful to have been in the Top 5, but I’m just glad to be here. I’m grateful that I have space to do the work I love and learn from and work with the people around me. I celebrated with a big plate of pasta and some delicious tiramisu at Americano, surrounded by people who love, support, and inspire me–I couldn’t ever ask for more than that.

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