The Minyanville Festivus
The definition of professional nirvana is doing what you love with people you respect while serving the greater good.
Webster's defines community as a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality and share common cultural and historical heritage.
In Minyanville, we've long operated under the assumption that by surrounding ourselves with people we trust whose skill-sets complement our own, we will increase the odds of mutual success and, quite likely, share many smiles along the way.
On the heels of last year's Critters Choice Awards, we decided to take Festivus in a different direction. There would be no panels or keynotes to delve into the financial marketplace. Instead, we wanted to host a snazzy soiree that collected our community and allowed Minyans to mingle at their own pace.
The recipe was simple. Find a viable venue, add Minyans from around the world, serve excellent grub, mix in holiday cheer and turn 'em loose to cut the rug as three bands jammed until the early morning hours.
It sounded great on paper. Now all we had to do was execute.
Old School Habits
My grandmother Dorothy arrived on Thursday but not without drama. She was scheduled to stay at a Starwood Hotel but learned that there was a labor dispute. As Ruby's beloved wife of 59 years, she refused to cross the picket line. "Your grandfather wouldn't have it," she told me on the phone as we made other plans. I knew better than to try to change her mind.
The energy and momentum continued to build as Friday arrived. We closed registration earlier in the week after tapping the top end of capacity. Still, a flurry of phone calls and emails arrived as folks tried to find a way to Festivus. We juggled the struggle down to the wire as we pride ourselves on doing the right thing for those who attempt to do the same.
Jeff Saut and Tony Dwyer met me at MVHQ on Friday's close and we walked to the Waldorf Astoria to join our friends on FOX Business Happy Hour. We spoke about stocks, the consumer, the housing market and philanthropy before Hoofy and Boo debuted their weekly episode.
And then it was time. Friday night. New York City. A snow flurry completed the scene.
We drove to Hill Country BBQ and walked into a warmth and wellness that immediately captured our imagination.
(All photos © Allan Tannenbaum.)
A gingerbread rendition of Minyanville
The Children's Aid Society Choir shares the love
Minyans began to file in. They traveled from Mexico, they came from Cape Town, they arrived from Europe. In a blink of an eye, over 300 folks filled the room and began chatting like they've known each other their entire lives.
Toddo and President Fish, Kevin Wassong, celebrate over 20 years of friendship.
Minyanville CMO Charlie Mangano shares a smile with Jay and Lynn Pestrichelli
Minyans mingle en masse
After about an hour of appetizers and introductions, it was time for some quick speeches. President Fish kicked it off by welcoming everyone and thanking TD-Ameritrade, Kaboose, Harbor Pilot, BTIG and Midtown Partners for sponsoring Festivus.
Indeed a dream is only as powerful as those who believe in it and we couldn't have done it without them.
President Fish holds court
From there, the Dean of Stony Brook University introduced the two recipients of the Ruby Peck Memorial Scholarship, both of whom took the stage to express their gratitude.
Aspire to Inspire
It was then my turn to take the mike and thank ye faithful and I did so with the most beautiful woman in the room by my side.
Toddo and his grandmother, the Margarita Maven Dorothy Peck
I spoke about what my grandfather taught me. "All you have is your name and your word." "What goes around, comes around." "One hand washes the other." "Never disparage your competitors." "Always look someone in the eye when you shake their hand." "Think positive."
All things I learned from Ruby, all of which have helped me become the man I am today.
I raised my glass and asked the room to join me in a toast. Not only to my grandfather, but for all the people we love who are no longer with us but whose spirit continues to shine bright within us all.
From there, Pete Moses, the CEO of the Children's Aid Society, shared his thoughts on what the Minyanville community means to him.
Pete Moses, CEO of the Children's Aid Society.
And then we ate, drank and played some cards, with all the monies benefiting the worthy cause of children's education.
Minyans dig in for some serious Hill Country Texas style BBQ
Minyans belly up to the bar
Pepe and Mama Depew
Adam Harrison presses his luck on the blackjack table
As FOX Business wrapped interviews upstairs and Minyans digested the fantastic fare, the Grateful Dead band began to jam. Smiles, which were bountiful to begin with, were now full fledge.
Event Director Vanessa Ohayon with Minyan Neo
Mama Harrison (right) holds court
Tom Eggers, CEO of the Dreyfus Corporation, with his excellent son Kyle
The night continued as Minyans migrated downstairs to hear The Rolling Bones bring it home with some rocking tunes.
Charlie and Cody Willard find some rhythm
Minyans cutting rug
Charlie finds the fountain of youth
The Margarita Maven takes her turn as a "Woo Woo" girl
Toddo and Cody celebrate the journey
As Minyans collected parting gifts and Saturday morning arrived, I settled back with my brother Adam and reflected on the journey. It's been a long and, at times, difficult road but mindful moments like that seemed to make sense of it all.
I've long offered that the definition of professional nirvana is doing what you love with people you respect while serving the greater good. And through Minyanville and The Ruby Peck Foundation for Children's Education, we have vehicles to do just that.
As 2007 winds down, I would like to wish you and yours all the very best for a healthy and prosperous holidays and a fantastic new year. This world is far from easy but we can and will find our way together. That is the beauty of our community and it is a passion we together share.
From our family to yours, thank you all for all you do and may peace be with you.
Todd Harrison is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Minyanville. Prior to his current role, Mr. Harrison was President and head trader at a $400 million dollar New York-based hedge fund. Todd welcomes your comments and/or feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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