Young, cool, funky and making a difference

Last week the Business Press decided to get young, cool and funky and have dinner with some hipsters. Dudes and dudettes of accomplishment. We invited a group of young entrepreneurs (some appeared wealthy), a former reality television personality, a man rebranding a local iconic pizza restaurant, women working as lawyers and advertising agency executives and other assorted talented Fort Worth folks. They drank beer and wine, and listened to George Strait, Cat Stevens, and Lady Gaga and Beyoncé. Elvis was even in the building before he left, as he always does. We told them that if they came to dinner with us we’d brag about them in front of their friends, families and co-workers. Sure enough, they came. Actually, we weren’t just hosting a dinner party; we were hosting an event, our annual “40 under 40” party. Co-hosting the event with us was presenting sponsor Comerica Bank. This is the event, which honors 40 people in our communities who are under the age of 40 and are making a difference in business and in the community at large. Bragging about the people in this group is easy. Selecting them was the hard part. We received more than 200 nominations this year as family members and co-workers and bosses told us about someone they know under the age of 40 making an impact, a dent in the world for the good guys and women. We have been doing this for more than 20 years and it never gets old. There is a special section in this week’s issue of the Business Press profiling our winners and their accomplishments. When you read about these people you will be amazed at their accomplishments not only in the workplace but also in society. In order to be one of the final 40, a person typically works with nonprofits, does community outreach, and helps those among us who cannot help themselves. Each year when I attend this dinner the community service aspect of almost every individual humbles me. I’m a “baby boomer,” although, being over 60, I wince when I write that phrase. The word “baby” seems less than apt. But, while my generation was instrumental in working on the great civil rights changes, the beginning of what was called the feminist movement, work in the Peace Corps, the challenging of many accepted norms and practices in society that were antiquated, and a number of truly historic accomplishments, I believe for the most part we could have given more time and effort devoted to helping the less fortunate. So, it’s humbling to watch and listen to the stories about groups of young people such as those in our “40 under 40” class. Take Mattie Parker, 29-year-old campaign manager for U.S. Rep. Kay Granger. About as demanding a job as one could imagine, but she’s also organized a partnership with SafeHaven of Tarrant County for a dance therapy class benefiting girls reared in troubled households. Oh, did I mention she has two young children? Humbling, yes, but gratifying also. There was Bowie Hogg. The 35-year-old was on the first Apprentice television show winning a spot from more than 2,000 candidates. He has the recognition of being fired by Donald Trump after making it into the fourth show. Now, among other things, he is vice president of the Arlington School District Board of Trustees. One of my personal favorites was Tennessee Walker. His family is in the cutting horse business and even though Quarter Horses are the primary breed in cutting, naming their son after another breed fit perfectly. Horse business or not, his is a name you will not forget. He’s now a lawyer with Harris, Finley & Bogle in Fort Worth and has made a name for himself at the young age of 29. Last time I saw him he was maybe 10 or 12, a scrawny kid rough-housing at cutting horse shows except when he’d show in a youth class and beat everyone. I rode cutting horses and we showed a lot in Waco where Tennessee and his dad, Gary, and mother, Mary, hung out. Gary still trains cutting horses. Nope. Can’t say I ever imagined Tennessee practicing law and leading a pack of young professionals in Fort Worth. Seeing Tennessee getting his award makes you realize you need to be nice to all children. Someday you might be working for them. We’ll be holding this same party next year about the same time and prior to the event we will be asking for nominations. It’s not too early to be thinking of someone you know who all of us need to know better. And we’ll never tire of feeling young, cool and funky and sharing dinner with some hipsters.

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