Nashville Lifestyles Influencers Event Reigniting a Fire Within

This morning I attended the Nashville Lifestyles Influencers event, hoping to be meet new people in the business community and be inspired, in addition to supporting Music’s City magazine that has been so kind to welcome me and my work onto their pages.

Nashville is an exhilarating city. There’s always something exciting going on. Three miles down the road from our neighborhood, Brad Paisley might be filming a music video in the square and all of Franklin is invited. Or, we might go out on a date night and find out there’s a free pop up Jason Aldean concert in the park, or walk down the street after dinner to The Listening Room and Charles Esten is playing. Sit in Frothy Monkey with your morning coffee and head buried in your laptop and a music deal might be going down at the table right next to you. All of this can happen in a normal Nashville day and no one bats an eye. But, in addition to all of the excitement in this city of dreamers, the people here are just plain nice, encouraging and creatively collaborative. They have big ideas just like you and me. The key difference for this city, is Nashvillians all want to be a part to helping you make that dream a reality, whether you’ve lived here all of your life or for just a few months. It doesn’t matter.

This morning a panel of some of Nashville’s most influential business people generously shared some of their wisdom and what paved the roads to their success. The panel included Butch Spyridon, President and CEO of the Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau, Tom Morales, Founder of TomKats Hospitality Group, which caters box office hit movie sets and many of the major restaurant establishments in the city, Sally Williams, Vice President and General Manager at Ryman Auditorium, Patrick Woodyard, Co-founder and CEO of Nisolo and Chloe Wen, a Lifestyle Blogger.

Here’s my take aways/favorite quotes from this morning’s inspiring discussion. Maybe they’ll inspire and encourage you to keep on dreaming, just like they did me. And, then let’s see how we can apply these motivating philosophies to our own emerging careers.

NL: What makes Nashville so special?

Butch Spyridon, Nashville CVB: “Nashville has a soul, you can just feel it. There’s a creative thread here. Dare to try, there will always be critics. Have a spirit of cooperation.”

Sally Williams, Ryman Auditorium: “Rising tides raise all boats. Competitors come together to work for the whole.”

Chloe Wen, Lifestyle Blogger: “It doesn’t feel like there’s walls between people here.”

Tom Morales, TomKats Hospitality: “Nashville’s history and being true to it.”

NL: What was the trajectory moment in your career?

Butch Spyridon, Nashville CVB: “Taking risks even though there were critics. Start with a blank canvas. Be deliberate and intentional. The risks I took were pursuing an NFL team and NHL team, building the New Years Eve event which is now one of the largest in the world, and building the Music City Center. These all have paid off. The flood here taught me the most in my career about this city.”

Sally Williams, Ryman Auditorium: “Following my instincts. Choosing a music community and taking the job at Ryman. 3 Promises I made to myself when I took the job at Ryman: 1) Be mindful of what you are doing to stay true to the history and so that it will resinate today and 100 years from now as it did 100 years before. 2) Subscribe to the “All are Welcome” philosophy. and 3) Strive to create the best experience possible.”

Chloe Wen, Lifestyle Blogger: “Following my passion and instincts even though it meant quitting college. That was a huge risk.”

Patrick Woodyard, Nisolo: “Followed my instinct to start this company, establish a factory in Peru and consider the environmental and human impact of the fashion business to push the industry in a new direction. I never want to feel like I’ve arrived. Stay in the trenches and remember it’s the journey. Use your gifts and resources and surround yourself with people of the same vision and goals. FOCUS. Put too much attention on your competitors and you’ll be blind to your potential success. Be all in on the journey.”

Tom Morales, TomKats Hospitality: “I took a risk and bought a food truck when no one knew what a food truck was. I learned how to feed 1500 on a movie set in 20 minutes, which had never been done before and saved the production company lots of money. Hospitality is the core of any business. Take what someone else does and innovate to do it better. Have compassion. Treat people with respect.”

Question from Crowd: What would you tell your younger self?

Butch Spyridon, Nashville CVB: “Shut up and listen. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Make sure you know how to write. It [the written word] still matters.”

Sally Williams, Ryman Auditorium: “It’s okay to make mistakes. Amazon has made a ton, but the successes have far outweighed them.”

Chloe Wen, Lifestyle Blogger: “It’s okay to make mistakes. Move on. You are right where you need to be right now. Don’t compare yourself to others.”

Patrick Woodyard, Nisolo: “Who you surround yourself with is extremely important. Try to find people that are humble, hungry and smart…in that order. Trust your instincts. Focus. Things you say no to are more important than the things you say yes to. Slim down the choices and reduce the noise.”

Tom Morales, TomKats Hospitality: “Listen to your parents & intuition. Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want. ‘Dress me slowly, I’m in a hurry.’ Slow down and don’t be impulsive. Experience and intuition will tell you what to do.”

NL: What is the next big revolution for Nashville?

Butch Spyridon, Nashville CVB: “Nurture the creativity. Protect the history. Preserve the culture for the future.”

Tom Morales, TomKats Hospitality: “Hospitality resurgence and elevated customer experiences.”

I don’t know about you, but what they each had to say really resonates with me, especially being new to Nashville and moving my business after being established in Birmingham for 14 years. I often find myself creatively ancy, a myriad of photography ideas swirling around in my head, anxious to begin the next project. Some days the task of starting over to establish myself in an even bigger city feels overwhelming and I can get discouraged (I’m rereading, and post-it noting the quote about it being a marathon, not a sprint); but today I had a new fire lit underneath me. Thank you Nashville Lifestyles for helping to reignite that fire. Excited for what’s to come…



Above: Publisher, Brian Barry NL publisher and the Influencers Panel


Above: Heather (right) with Logan (left), a fellow photographer friend and also a Franklin resident.















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