This week at the annual Chair conference in Orlando I received the Red Scott Award. I was astonished. Didn’t see this coming and in fact never expected to win the award. First, the Red Scott award began only two years ago. It is given to the Florida Vistage Chair that best represents the spirit of the unique Vistage Florida brand as determined by management and previous award winners. The previous winners are Bill Hopf and Cindy Hesterman. Both of these people are great Chairs and fine, fine people. It is an honor just to be considered if only for the bottom spot in their league!
When Charlie Davis began to describe the winner I could see that the statistics were right. Started in 2005, two groups, innovative marketer, always says yes when requested to help. I am not the only person that would fit that description so I figured another name would be called in a few moments. Veteran change agents like me don’t get much recognition and frankly we don’t expect it. Criticism is much more familiar to us. The last couple of statements he made were closer to home and I began to think but not believe I would be called. Then, unbelievably, he called my name and I was on the way to the stage to receive the award.
I managed to walk to the podium and express my surprise and to tell the wonderful Chairs of Vistage Florida what an honor it is to just be a part of their community. It is truly the best community of colleagues I have had the good fortune to work with.
Many of them are excellent Chairs and excellent people that I would have chosen way ahead of me. However, I was chosen. I am honored, humbled and grateful. Now I share the responsibility of choosing new honorees each year. I will do so with care and pride.
A bit about Red Scott for whom the award is named. Red was the owner of Vistage Florida for the past twenty plus years. He was an outstanding self-made business executive who owned several businesses and had served as President of Intermark, CEO of Fuqua Industries, Pier One, Imports, Snapper Lawn Equipment and many others. His passion did not stop with business. Red had a strong social conscience and his charitable and civic involvements were legendary. I knew Red personally as most Chairs at Vistage Florida and many throughout the world did. He cared deeply about Vistage and was a member of TEC 7 (previous name of Vistage) for more than forty years. Just in case you wondered, the number 7 indicates that his group was the seventh ever organized. Today group numbers exceed 2300. Red was a recipient of the Horatio Alger Award for Distinguished Americans and countless other awards during his lifetime.
Conversation with Red was direct. He had no problem telling you his opinion and it rarely changed. It always carried the values he learned growing up in Paris Texas. He made the rounds as keynote speaker of the CEO Summit here in Florida in January of 2007. Many members heard loud and clear their first warnings that the recession was real and would be long and deep from Red. Many took it to heart and wisely prepared for the storm to come. Red was right, of course, and many Vistage members in Florida who heeded the warning were glad they did. I still hear them talk about it in 2015 and I remember that morning well.
Red was a man who knew the meaning of and the importance of perseverance. That is why the Red Scott award is a blue vase. The vase commemorates the story of the Degree of the Blue Vase as told by Peter B. Kyne in a small book entitled The Go Getter. It was published in 1921. I am told Red bought them by the dozen and often gave them away to people who needed to get the message on perseverance. It describes a job qualification process where the candidate is told to find and deliver a blue vase from a specific jewelry store. The time was short the task formidable and the barriers were many. Only a few had the dogged determination and resourcefulness to acquire and deliver the blue vase. They were the few who were entrusted with the jobs. The ordeal described is actually a lot like forming a Vistage group and bringing it to a sustainable level of success over many years. It is also very much like building a business from scratch.
The Blue Vase of the Red Scott award is actually Italian crystal by Mario Cioni and has a nice inscription. The award vase is supplemented by a silver Tiffany pen and a copy of the book The Go Getter. Red signed the book before his passing in April of 2013. I am pleased to be the honoree for this year and to have an award memorializing Red. It’s a rare privilege and still a little hard to get my mind around.