Why Awards Matter

Sept. 1, 2020
An inside look at what it means to be recognized

There’s a lot I could write about our annual FenderBender Awards issue. I could say it’s one of my favorite issues to work on annually. I could say it’s the 13th year we’ve featured the best of the best in the industry. I could write about the hundreds of nominations that we get and how difficult it is to narrow those down to just five winners.

All of that is true, but instead, if you’ll bear with me, I’d like to tell a more personal story, about the impact that being recognized can have.

To set the scene here: It was summer 2018, and we were just barely starting to emerge from one of the most difficult stretches, professionally, that we had encountered thus far. That preceding year included a lot of turnover, restructuring, the launch of a new magazine, and my first foray into a leadership position. It was one of those years where you just put your head down and just worked

Celebrating was the furthest thing from my mind when my boss, vice president Bryce Evans, tricked me into picking up a business call for him, only to find a writer from FOLIO magazine on the other end, letting me know that my sneaky boss had nominated me for their Rising Star Awards program, and that I was one of the winners.

In that moment, everything turned fuzzy. I don’t remember a single thing she said to me other than that I was one of the honorees. I do remember that it took me a while to even figure out what was going on—that’s how surprised I was.

Now, when I tell you that I never cry at work, I mean it. I’ve gotten terrible news at work and still somehow managed to keep it together. But on this occasion, I couldn’t help but cry. Why? I’m not sure, exactly! I was happy, I was caught off guard, I felt valued, but, more than anything, I was touched.

I honestly couldn’t believe that someone thought so highly of me to take time out of their day to nominate me for an award. I also couldn’t believe how genuinely happy my coworkers were for me. They might have been more excited than I was! I got back to my desk and found it completely decked out.

It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I even got to fly to New York City to attend the awards ceremony in person. I keep the award prominently displayed in my home, not because it’s a source of pride, but because of the amazing memories that it represents.

I wanted to tell you this story not to boast about how awesome I am or because of how important awards are (they’re not, necessarily), but to underscore the impact it has on the winners. It’s not often that you’re able to recognize your colleagues’ excellence on a big stage, and I’m proud to say that the FenderBender Awards are one of those opportunities. I’ve been on both the receiving end of winning, and of letting someone know they won—the reaction never gets old. 

I hope you’ll read this year’s FenderBender Awards feature and not only learn from the best this industry has to offer, but also consider nominating some of your own next year. Trust me, you’ll make their year.

Anna Zeck

Editorial Director

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