40 Under 40

0 Posted by - October 2, 2013 - Uncategorized

Brain drain.

It’s something we hear a lot about these days, like a new strange sickness hitting the coast.

It’s described as the phenomenon of an area losing its best and brightest youngsters after they head to college. They get an education, see the largeness of the world and seek greener pastures rather than return home to the Gulf Coast.

Although that may be happening, it’s not apparent when selecting 40 individuals under the age of 40 who represent the next generation of leaders in the business community.

It’s a tough job. Not because they’re hard to find, but because there are so many of them. From Tampa to Naples, it’s hard to choose just 40.

So how do we choose? For our 40 Under 40, we seek candidates who are entrepreneurial, whether it’s because they’ve started their own business or because they work with independence within a larger organization. These business leaders are trying new things, taking risks and making connections to rise up in their career. Just like our readers.

On the following pages, we’ve tried something new, too. This year we added short stories and asked the winners to write or draw something of significance to them on a white board. You’ll see what they wrote in some of their pictures.

Of course, we’re always limited by the space we have in print, which is why we created a website devoted exclusively to our 40 winners, at BusinessObserver4040.com.

Be sure to check it out for videos of the winners, more pictures, stories, questionnaire answers and more. We’ve included QR codes in print to allow you to quickly visit winners’ pages for lots of don’t-miss content. One winner even sang and played guitar for us.

That performance is just one example of how impressed we were by the talents and initiatives of this year’s winners. During our interviews with them, we heard many stories of Gulf Coast natives who came back to the area because it offers things they can’t find anywhere else. We also heard stories of how the region attracted non-natives, and why they’re here to stay.

It’s hard to fathom brain drain while speaking with these individuals. But then again, these are people who don’t wait for opportunities, a lack of which are blamed for brain drain. Instead, these are people who create them.

— Kat Hughes


Photos by Mark Wemple, unless otherwise noted

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