In conducting the research, reporting and interviews for the first DBT40 during the summer of 2014, the one word that repeatedly popped into my mind was “impressed.” I was impressed by what all the honorees had done for their careers and for their communities in such a short time.
This year, however, as I myself approach 40, the word that came to mind during the honoree interview process for the second annual DBT40 was “inspired.” All of these 40 dynamic people, through their work, volunteerism, entrepreneurial spirit and drive to be their best selves, have inspired me to want to be better at what I do in my daily life.
The first person who comes to mind when I think about the inspirational aspects of this group is Matthew Wilson, who not only survived a bout with pancreatic cancer, but now gives back through his work with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and the National Kidney Foundation.
Furthermore, as an English-as-a-second-language assistant professor at Wilmington University, he has helped to coordinate the “Alternative Spring Break,” wherein students can sign up to travel to New Orleans or New York to help the ongoing rebuilding process in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy.
“The Alternative Spring Break” gives 15 students an opportunity to do something they wouldn’t do any other time,” said Wilson, 33. “They not only get to see a great city, but also give back to a situation that is still really challenging for a lot of people.”
Nick Matarese, president and creative director at The Barn, an award-winning creative branding agency located in Wilmington, inspired me as a freelancer. The 30-year-old has worked to turn his solo agency into one that major companies like Disney have taken on as a contractor.
“It was a proud moment for me to get on that list, because they only work with about 150 contract workers or freelancers around the globe,” said Matarese. “Working with a company like that gives you the chance to look at your own business, especially in terms of contracting and intellectual property.”
But perhaps the most inspiring thing to see and hear was how – despite their busy schedules and demanding careers – these 40 people are not only committed to their families, but spend the time to be with their support systems as proof.
Tribhuwan Singh, a 36-year-old captain second class, who serves as state training sites manager at the Delaware Army National Guard, shared with me his “one-third, two-third rule,” which states that for every one-third of your time you give to work, you should give two-thirds back to family.
Jeffrey T. Benson, a 31-year-old exclusive agent at Horace Mann Insurance in Dagsboro, said, “My wife and my two kids are my life, so they come first.”
And lastly, Jonathan Moll, a 37-year-old director at Belfint, Lyons and Shuman, P.A., when asked about his biggest break, said “When my wife said, ‘Yes.’ Without her support and encouragement, most of what I do is not possible.”
This one hit home for me in a particularly powerful way, because during the weeks I spent interviewing these folks, my father-in-law was fighting for his life at Christiana Hospital. After a four-year bout with lymphoma, he unfortunately succumbed to pneumonia.
It was a particularly difficult time for my wife, my mother-in-law, and our entire family, but , as I parsed through the emails and made phone calls to these honorees, it dawned on me how much they – very much like my father-in-law did – value family above all else.
Like my father-in-law, these people are lucky to have their families in their lives, and vice versa. They provide the support one can’t get from a co-worker and the patience it requires for these people to be successful. In all, these honorees inspired me during the reporting process, but I imagine it’s their families that inspire them, and are a big reason why they are part of this year’s Delaware Business Times 40 Under 40.