The Unspoken Acceptance Speech

Last night, the Okotoks Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual awards gala and my little coffee roasting business was nominated in the category of New Business of the Year. It is given to a business in operation fewer than 3 years recognized for excellent product quality and value, a record of community involvement, and high employment standards.

I had no idea who else was nominated. Not that it mattered. I gave up comparison some time ago. So I visualized winning the award. Why not?

And for me, a previous professional PR practitioner, that meant an acceptance speech. There were lots of people I wanted to thank. I may be a sole proprietor but by no means does that translate into doing things alone. I’ve had help with this venture since Day 1 and now would be my chance to pay for a fancy gala night ticket for each of them and tell at least 7 of them publicly how much they mean to me and my business success. I was ready. I was prepared. I was practised. All my speech writing and reading tricks and tips pushed through the previous 15 years of mental junk accumulated through parenting, social media, and constant multi-tasking. I felt like it worked. And my mom thought so too when I called her to read it aloud. (Thanks mom.) It was the perfect balance of thank you’s and brand awareness. All I needed to do was wait for them to call my name.

But wait…no one else is giving a speech.

One by one all the award winners took the microphone to give a 10 second thank you and send some quickie love to the crowd. No one else had 2 carefully crafted minutes of storytelling and heartfelt accolades. If I won and proceeded to recite my obviously premeditated speech it could be a bit embarrassing. And I wasn’t the only one who thought so. I caught my partner, Chris, looking from me to my letter sized paper script more than once with this look in his eye that telepathically said, “Are you sure?” I wasn’t sure.

So, when they did call my business’ name (Yay!!) I left the script at the table and went to accept my award and give a much scaled down version of my thanks without any of the confidence that I had reciting the original to myself in my car. I totally chickened out. Not very Rebel of me, was it? But it doesn’t change the fact that there were people I wanted to thank publicly. So, here now, in the safety of my own website blog I will leave the 2 minutes of words that I didn’t have the cohunes to steal from a room full of business peers.

“About 2 ½ years ago I started this coffee roasting business with nothing but passion, instinct, and desperation --- the way most business probably start – plus a start-up loan from Community Futures Highwood. Thank you to John Lockhart & his team for this great community-run financing program. Initially my business was carried by a loyal fan base--- mostly made up of my friends ----who bought my coffee and spread the word. Add to that a few talented local individuals, namely: Derrick Birkmann from Converge Studios for branding and a website worthy of a Rebel; and Christie Craven from Young Sun bookkeeping, for handling the numbers that my brain simply can’t. And then I relied on friends and family who put in volunteer hours long before I was able to offer them a pay cheque. Rikki, Jackie, Emily-Rose, Sarah, and my kids, Carter and Ella have each put in their fair share of hours in the roasting room. The local hospitality sector has also been great supporters. Thanks to The British Chippy, Bistro 1882, Cha Cha John’s, and Best Western Okotoks for choosing to serve their customers locally roasted coffee. It says a lot about you and the way you operate your business. But, of course, my biggest gratitude goes to Heather Van Aalst of Home Ground Coffee who took a huge chance when deciding to only use Rebel Bean Coffee in her coffee shop. It is a risk that has paid off for both of us, with Home Ground winning best coffee in the Foothills for the past 2 years, and a growing customer base for us both. Heather, our businesses and our lives are unquestionably linked. And I can’t think of anyone I’d rather ride this roller coaster with. Except for maybe one. Thanks to, Chris, who is my biggest fan -- good days and bad --- and has the apparently unenviable task of brewing the coffee roaster her first coffee of every day. And finally, thanks to you, the Okotoks business community and to everyone who nominated me for this award. I love my little business and love giving back to this town which gives so much to me. There is nowhere else I’d rather run my business and raise my kids. This award is just extra foam on an already excellent cappuccino. Thank you.”