It’s always invigorating to reflect on the passing year and look forward towards the New Year! This year in particular has truly left me in awe. There were so many special opportunities in 2017 that allowed me to grow and learn as an entrepreneur, an advocate, a mother, a philanthropist, and a triathlete.
It was such a blessing to travel to four countries in one year, meeting business leaders, aspiring entrepreneurs, and community members. Each place offered a new chance to spread the message that when women succeed in business, it not only changes their lives, but their families’ lives, their communities, and ultimately the world. On one of my recent trips, I traveled to Amman, Jordan with the Department of State to speak with the next generation of Jordanian entrepreneurs. It’s exhilarating to know that their plans will propel their economies and communities forward!
Another trip brought me to my parents’ home country of Ecuador to compete in the Ironman 70.3-mile triathlon as part of the Tri For Homes campaign, the first endeavor of the Nina Vaca Foundation. Many people contributed to raise $120,000, which is going towards building 40 homes in Ecuador for victims of the 2016 earthquake. As I swam, rode, and ran, competing against people who literally tried to push me down, I thought of those 40 families who lost so much. That gave me 40 reasons to keep going. In 2018, the Nina Vaca Foundation plans to continue helping people in need and those who aspire to make their communities a better place!
Efforts to aid others were also a driving force inside our business. Pinnacle Group associates made me extremely proud with their commitment to our 2017 theme: “Our Community IS Our Business!” The Pinnacle team dedicated themselves to fostering goodwill at events throughout the year. We joined Thomas Jefferson High School as the only entrepreneurial industry partner for their Pathway to Technology Collegiate Academy program. These students, many of whom will be the first in their families to attend college, will graduate in four years with a combined high school degree plus an Associates degree in technology from Brookhaven Community College. We cannot wait to see the amazing STEM leaders these students become! I’m also incredibly proud of how Pinnacle jumped into action to help victims of the Hurricane Harvey disaster. Pinnacle not only delivered much-needed supplies by the trailer-full, but also delivered hope to people when they needed it most. When we work together, we can truly move mountains.
On top of that, there were accomplishments throughout the company, including Pinnacle consistently delivering to our customers! We continue to develop Pinnacle strategically, earning recognition as one of the fastest-growing women-owned companies in the nation by the Women Presidents’ Organization and ranking among the Inc. 500/5000 fastest-growing companies in the country in each year of the past decade. At our annual Holiday Awards, we highlighted those who have made outstanding contributions to the company. Since the beginning of Pinnacle, we’ve made it a priority to honor our team members and build on the relationships that make us stronger!
Personally, it was a privilege to take part in influential events across the country, like attending the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council national conference, delivering a keynote speech at the Inc. 5000 national conference, and speaking on a panel at the Texas Conference for Women. There’s nothing like the feeling of inspiring others to dig down deep and turn their dreams into reality by providing unplugged, personal stories about successes and challenges. One of the biggest honors, though, is speaking to students. Connecting with future leaders and showing them that they can accomplish everything they want is extremely gratifying. I was delighted to end the year encouraging students in the Pathway to Technology program to keep working to improve their lives and those of their families.
As a strong advocate of women-owned and led businesses, it’s also heart-warming to be recognized by leading women’s advocacy groups, such as the National Women’s History Project, Diversity Woman, and the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas. There were also numerous articles that beautifully articulate the idea that lasting change requires a combination of courage and community, including compelling pieces by Forbes (here and here), Geri Stengel; Latino Leaders, Kiplinger; D CEO; The Dallas Morning News; Hispanic Executive. It’s a reminder that when you’re on the right path, the world conspires to help you!
None of this would have been possible, though, without the unending support of my family, friends, mentors, and most importantly … our amazing customers! It’s truly an honor to be blessed with so many people who always believe in and support us. A big heartfelt thank you to each and every one of you!
So here’s to another record-setting year in 2018! Best wishes and a very Happy New Year!!