If you haven’t noticed yet (and you probably have, because that special section is where everyone turns first), BusinessWest has changed up the format when it comes to presenting its 40 Under Forty honorees.
In years past, there were short profiles written by staff members, who, by the way, considered that assignment among the most enjoyable within a given year. However, this year, we decided to switch things up and offer a questionnaire of sorts.
Indeed, we gave our honorees a series of questions and informed them they could answer as many as they wanted, so long as they kept to a word count. The questions ranged from what would be considered traditional — “How do you define success?” — to the decidedly not so traditional — “What will work colleagues say at your funeral?”
Almost everyone answered that first one, and very few took a stab at the latter, but that’s not important.
What is important is that this year, those of us at BusinessWest decided to let our honorees do more of the talking — and they certainly did. And by doing so, they’ve given all of us some things to think about.
We’ll get back to that in a minute. First, the class of 2018…
Like those that came before it, this class is diverse in every respect, meaning everything from gender to geography to the fields they’ve chosen. Indeed, virtually every sector is represented by these 40 individuals, including healthcare, financial services, education, nonprofit management, law, retail, and more. And many of them have chosen to work for themselves, not for someone else, something we’re seeing more of in recent years.
And, like most all of the 440 honorees who came before them, the members of the class of 2018 are involved in the community, supporting nonprofits and causes ranging from the Zoo at Forest Park to Link to Libraries to the United Way, and putting their many talents to a different, commendable use while doing so.
Unlike those previous classes, though, these honorees got to tell us a little more about themselves. They had more opportunity to tell us what’s on their minds and about what’s important to them. And, again, they took full advantage of it.
Like when we asked them which actor or actress would portray them on the big screen. People gave nods to Sandra Bullock, Brad Pitt, Paul Rudd, and even Robert Redford. We think — we hope — he meant a much younger Robert Redford, but we digress.
Perhaps the most intriguing question, and the one that generated the most responses, was that one about success and how it is defined. We understand that there is certainly a politically correct way to answer this question, but we believe our honorees were quite sincere when they implied strongly (and we’re paraphrasing here) that success isn’t measured by the number on the paycheck — although that’s part of it.
Instead, our honorees noted, it’s measured by how happy and fulfilled someone is — not by the job they hold, but by the life they’re living.
One honoree actually summoned that old ‘I don’t live to work, I work to live’ line, but the others were saying essentially saying the same thing.
If you read all 40 responses (that will take time, but make some; it’s worth it), you’ll find that many of these individuals count their parents as their best role models and mentors, and consider it their unofficial mission in life to have someone write the same thing about them in 20 or 30 years.
Overall, it’s very refreshing and, as they say in this business, good reading.
If you haven’t done that yet, get to it next.