25 years ago Bill asked me where I wanted to live.
I told him anywhere in the world as long as it was in Georgia.
Bill: “What am I going to wear to that? We donated my funeral suit.”
This was exactly Bill’s reaction when I told him (breathlessly I might add) that we just won the Georgia Small Business Rock Star Award and have a banquet to look forward to as well.
He had a point.
Almost everything Bill owns has mud on it either from THE river bank or BASIC neglect.
And because I always know what I am going to wear, my reaction was very different.
I was simply stunned.
I knew we had been nominated for the award but logically assumed top honors were reserved for companies that made real money had conference rooms versus work benches and inspirational quotes on the walls versus 2 inches of bamboo dust EVERYWHERE.
In the months leading up to the banquet, the impostor syndrome (look it up) crept in to my daily routine.
While I have always considered Oyster a personal victory…our business prowess seems more illusive of a subject.
Do we belong in the mainstream world of business?
Oh sure, as a full-time bamboo rod making business, we are an anomaly. We honestly don’t know anyone else without a “legit job”, alternative income, retirement or a rich Uncle to fall back on that sells bamboo fly rods to pay their bills.
However, in a nation of capitalism, “scaling” and exit strategies (
ours being death) being the primary measures of success, can we really expect to share such an accolade with companies who’s original intent was to be a “business”.
Do we belong? Are we impostors? Did the “powers that be”, in this case the Georgia Department of Economic Development, get this all painfully wrong?
No, I thought. We earned this award. We deserve it as much as any other small business.
So, off we went
a car full of impostors to the Georgia Aquarium this past Monday to receive our award.
Ummmm…then came the name tags, parking validation and a sea of rather nice dark suits without mud on them.
We do not belong.
Wait…there is a special door for “us special people” that leads to a special ballroom with special access to an area of the aquarium we have never been…we are special.
Okay, maybe we do belong.
Oh shit, There is the Governor of the State of Georgia.
Nope. We don’t…
Honestly, until our name was announced and the film of Oyster starting playing on this enormous screen (see link below or click here), I still considered the possibility that this was a
mistake a simple misunderstanding…especially after hearing the other three winner’s stories (there were 4 categories…we were retail).
Fun fact: I loathe speaking in front of ANYONE if it’s expected. Karaoke on a random Wednesday at a local hang? Fine. Impromptu narrative about pretty much anything? No problem. But if I have to so much as introduce myself in a rehearsed fashion to a room of 2 people…I completely choke. This is why, in part, that Bill is also our “face guy” for all things scripted in nature.
So, when Bill went into his eloquent-as-usual, cooler-than-thou acceptance speech – I stood back and
fell in love with him for the millionth time let him do his thing…until…
threw me under the bus lovingly thanked me and insisted I say something. Ouch.
And, here’s the deal. I survived. I was okay. I thanked the proper people and organizations (I think) and off I
scrambled politely left the stage.
However, if I was able to prepare let alone actually speak to a room of 350
serious reputable people, you bet there is a thing or two I would have said in my parallel universe concerning small business…ah, good ole hindsight.
Here goes: (after all off the appropriate amount of appreciation)
“If you have a passion and the talent to back it up…morphing that devotion into a business is entirely possible.
And not in an “all things are possible” type of approach.
I respectfully say this in a “get out there, dig-in hard and stop placing obstacles in your path” kind of way.
Your comfort zone will kill you.
Habitually, move far beyond your self-imposed limitations.
And when you have shattered your glass ceiling…go some more.
Dream big while preserving your original intent of freedom and legacy.”
Editor’s note: this WAS the end of my beloved little blog…until…
So, late this evening, as I gathered Bill’s clothes up off the floor (shocker) preparing them for laundry, I could not help but admire what ended up his chosen attire:
Tweed, Howler Brothers shirt, Ledbury pants, Helm boots and a Patagonia belt…covered in MUD.