You just never know.

It was the last evening of a year’s worth of training, networking, bonding and support for 30 new business owners. I’d been involved for a year with these folks, looking at business plans, giving advice, and ultimately working with them to develop their ideas, launch their businesses, adding yet again to Barrie’s economy.

We had been together a couple of nights a month for a year, learning about finance, finding expansion money, how and when to incorporate, the ins and outs of hiring, and on and on. Each topic was a piece of the puzzle of business management, added to the core expertise which caused the entrepreneur to begin in the first place.

It was the final evening. We’d celebrated the year’s progress, shared plans for year two, discussed potential new markets, handed out thank you prizes for perfect attendance, and then presented certificates that created a sense of awe with their originality. We knew each other very well.

And finally, quiet Shigeshi Aoki, the graphic artist so talented with design, stood to say thank you for the year. He smiled, made an explanation and then in Japanese said Arigato. Thank you. Simply.

Then Jody McIntyre, proud owner of Cellar Dweller stood and in his fluent Greek said ‘thank you.’

And Zenon Duvalko, herbalist and bookkeeper, and Bill Pidlysny, Precision Aircraft Detailing, added with Ukrainian.

Then Lisa Paulino, San Marino Sandwiches and Tony Madonna, Mapleview Optical, added Italian.

Mark Brys, talented Electrical Engineer, shared this phrase of gratitude in Polish.

Robin Crowder of Redworc Multi Media graced us with German.

Drew Gibney, Dynamis Mobility, gave us the Celtic rendition.

Simone Marlowe, my trusty sidekick on this evening, offered in what has become familiar French, ‘merci.’

I took, quietly, looking at these people who had taken the ends of their full time employment in full stride, who’d developed business ideas, who’d grappled with fatal questions--Could I? Should I? Would I?--and started out.

And I had shared the intimacy of this journey.

And in all that time, in the common struggle to deny all else to meet the goal, we had never noticed our multi cultural backgrounds, our countries of origin, the very special stories each person’s culture brought to our table.

And using a phrase from my husband’s country, I responded, with love, “ludzu.’

You’re welcome.

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