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Strive to Thrive

I recently attended the Crystal Coast Women in Business Conference and I left feeling very inspired! The keynote speaker, Mindy Fitzpatrick, co-owner of the legendary Friendly Market, was fascinating to hear. Not only does she run a rock star business, she also played college basketball on the National Championship winning team. Her speech focused on how much she learned about teamwork and leadership from her years as a top athlete and how she applied those principles when starting the Friendly Market and has used them to amass explosive growth in a relatively short time period. She repeatedly said how she was never the best athlete but that she was always coachable; always listening and striving to be better than she was the day before. And how nobody succeeds alone.

If you have ever been to The Friendly Market, you understand the environment that has been created there. The teamwork amongst everyone from the checkout to the bakers is unparalleled. Mindy said anyone can make chicken salad or tomato pie, and that someone else may make it better than them, but she thrives on the experience and environment much like she did when playing sports. It isn't always about the win (or the best recipe) but how you make others feel in the journey. That is true success.

The other speaker that greatly moved me was JenMekia Gay. If you've ever thought you had things hard or had a lot to overcome, then you just need to sit down and hear her story. Since I was the MC for the event, I had the pleasure of meeting her at a reception the night before. Her smile, attitude, and positive energy were absolutely infectious; I knew I would be in for a treat to hear her speak but it was even more than I could have imagined.

JenMekia was speaking on the topic of women in non-traditional roles. After all, how many women welders do you know? She didn't have the easiest start to life. She was born to a crack addict mother, along with 7 siblings, and spent her childhood in and out of foster homes. She dropped out of high school at 16 to start working in order to support herself. She worked jobs like fast food and stocking shelves at a grocery store. In 2018, she overheard two men talking and one was telling the other that if he could get his welding certification he could be making $45/ hour. As a single mom of 3 at this point, JenMekia's ears perked up. She left work that day with $180 to her name and went straight to the community college (our local community college has a fantastic welding program) and spent every last dollar she had enrolling. First, she had to get her GED before she could even start but she never let that deter her. She continued working and being a single mom of 3 while she attended school. Not only did she finish the program a few years later, she graduated top in her class, went on to win the Skills USA state welding competition, and then the Skills USA national welding competition. Nothing was stopping her now! She now has a great job and a promising future!

I believe the key to her story of overcoming was her attitude and positivity! She told some funny stories and some very sad stories but how she always believed in herself and staying positive. One of her lines that got a good chuckle from the audience was "just because you've had a shitty life, doesn't mean you have to become a shitty person." If anyone in that room arrived that morning feeling down on their luck or circumstances, they left with a positive attitude that could take them places.

These two ladies are both proof positive that attitude is everything. They have inspired me to work harder, connect more, and focus on the positive energy!

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