It’s the morning of the 2020 EY Entrepreneur of the Year awards, and I found myself reflecting on awards in general and their purpose and value to a company.
It’s over three years now since John and I started Workvivo - and we’ve had some incredible milestones along the way. Like landing our first customer and seeing sales revenue hit our bank account for the first time. Like winning our first large enterprise customer and rolling it out to their 50,000 employees across the world. Attracting investment from the founder of Zoom. Raising a €15m Series A round of investment. Opening our first office in the United States. Hiring over 30 people. Welcoming An Taoiseach to our offices to announce 100 new jobs. We’ve had some phenomenal successes over the past few years, and there’s a lot for us to take pride in.
The thing is, when all of this is happening in such a short period of time, you feel like you’re running around at 1,000 miles per hour, and you neglect to pause, take a step back and actually let it sink in what you’ve achieved. When you reach a milestone, you’re already thinking about the next one. When you win a new big customer, you’re already focusing on how to ensure their rollout of your product is successful. When you ship a great new feature, you’re already thinking about all the ways you can make it even better. There’s always more work to be done, and when you’re moving at such a fast pace, the hardest thing to do is often to take stock of what you’ve already accomplished.
This is where awards nights really shine. Having your company nominated for an award forces you to take a night off, to celebrate and enjoy an evening with your family, colleagues and peers. It makes you take a step back and reflect on your journey and achievements, which inevitably makes you feel proud about what you’re doing each and every day. You also get to see a glimpse of what the outside world thinks about you and your company. From a video about you that’s been recorded for the event, to hearing feedback from people who use your product in their company, to hearing about people who have just been following your progress with great interest and are rooting for you to be successful - awards bring out so much positivity, energy and joy.
Awards are also great for the positive impact they have across your company. For everyone working in the company, being nominated for an award is a great validation that all their hard work is being recognised, and not just internally.
With awards the focus is often on the leaders of the companies in question, but the reality is that being nominated for an award is a recognition of the success and hard work of every single person in the business. John and I may be in the spotlight this evening, but we’re only there because of the efforts of everyone in Workvivo - and we’re so incredibly grateful to our team for everything that they do.
Being nominated for this award, in particular, is quite special. This has been a year like no other, and it’s been harder than ever to take a break and recognise our successes. In spite of the major challenges of putting on a gala event in a world of social distancing and lockdowns - the EOTY team at EY have done an incredible job. From what I’ve seen in the preparations for the event, it will be a memorable evening and a great show. They have made a great fuss about each and every nominee, and I know I speak for every company involved when I say that they have exceeded every expectation I had about this process right from the start.
This award is also special in that it has unlocked an extraordinary community for us. This programme connects you not just with your fellow finalists, but with the entire community of past finalists, including some of the most notable names in the business world. It’s a cliche to say that it’s just nice to be nominated and that the winning doesn’t really matter - but with this event that is absolutely the truth.
Congratulations to all of our fellow nominees and to whoever goes on to win each category tonight. I hope you all enjoy this opportunity to reflect and take pride in yourselves as much as I will.