Categorized | Publisher's Letter

A by-product of passion

What a whirlwind month. I must say that after attending the Small Business Week celebration luncheon May 13, I was energized for weeks. This signature event has become one of my favorite business gatherings of the year.  Something about the passion of the business owners who receive recognition for their hard work gives others the extra motivation to push forward.

One of the reasons I enjoy this event so much is because of the magic that happens behind the scenes. This year’s guest speaker was Warren Brown. Educated as an attorney, Warren quickly found that although his profession was rewarding in many ways, it could never provide him the creative outlet he craved.

To fulfill that creativity need, he started baking cakes for friends and family. Soon he found himself deviating from published recipes. Some combinations worked and others didn’t. Over time he had some sure winners, and he found demand for his signature cakes began to grow. His creations were the outcome of his passion. Today that passion is shared with viewers on his television shows CakeLove and Sugar Rush on the Food Network. He has also appeared on Oprah.

Before the luncheon began, Cathy Hagan, a certified analyst at the Small Business Development Center, found me to tell me what she had just witnessed: One of the luncheon’s attendee’s, Elizabeth, who is owner of A Sweet to Eat (, had had a conversation with Warren.

As the owner of a recently opened bakery, Elizabeth was excited to meet an entrepreneur who has had extraordinary success in her industry. As they talked, they both learned they had a lot in common. Just as Warren had left law to become a baker, she left a successful career in the retail food industry to study baking at two elite institutes in New York. Then she returned to Jacksonville to follow her dream of opening an international bake shop, just as Warren had opened his bakeries.

As the brief conversation was ending a few moments before Warren was to make his way on stage, he asked if he could visit the bakery before his flight out of town. Elizabeth was ecstatic to have him visit.
When I heard about this, I had to be a spectator.  I went along to Elizabeth’s shop and took a few photos as they chatted about four-quart mixers and convection ovens. The real value was the inspiration provided each other.
The collaboration between these two creative minds was intriguing to watch. I couldn’t help but think of the ingredient many of us in business never find—passion. You could tell these people care more about their craft than their checkbook.

The lesson for me was clear. Pick what you are passionate about and do it 100%. The financial rewards are simply a by-product.

I think everyone gained something that day. Warren earned my respect for investing his time in developing one of our small businesses—something he did not need to do.  Elizabeth gained a lot—especially emotionally—from the time she spent with Warren. And even Warren got something out of the day: Elizabeth taught him how to make chocolate -covered popcorn—an idea he had never before considered.

Until next time,

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