Why I Give a Damn

By Mandy Balak // Tuesday 9th of May, 2017 // 12:00 PM
photo by Neil Zeller

My fiancé James and I ran into an old friend at our favourite watering hole, Cannibale, a couple weeks back. It was the day we announced the conference lineup so I think I was in need of a particularly strong drink. He had no idea I was a part of Best of Calgary so I curiously asked for his opinion on the whole ‘Best of’ thing.

“Frankly – I’m indifferent, “ he said with a shrug of his shoulders, “The ‘Best’ is decided by who pays for advertising anyways, so what does it matter?”

Honestly, I wasn’t totally shocked. I’ve been working in the media space for a few years now and it’s proven to me that authenticity and integrity are the exception, not the rule.

I think it’s important the facts are straight, as we have just started to celebrate and commend the 2017 ‘Best of’.

Best of Calgary is legit.  Real voters, real people and not a single dollar of advertising revenue is exchanged for their recognition. A highly respected third-party research firm – Stone Olafson – tabulates the results before the organizers even see them. The Conference and The Bash are supported by corporations like ATB, TELUS, First Calgary, EFW Radiology and Tourism Calgary to name a few –companies that see value in bringing the community together to connect with each other and with our city. 

“So why does it matter?” I believe that now, more than ever, we need to celebrate our wins.

As I drive down any street in Calgary I see more and more ‘FOR LEASE’ signs and businesses are shutting their doors left and right. It’s heart breaking.

Being able to walk right in to almost any restaurant in the city without a reservation is one small indication that things aren’t quite what they used to be.

Calgarians, so eloquently labeled by Andrew Phung in an interview last week as “The Underdogs” are hard workers. We fight and we don’t quit. But the work we put in now yields less of a result than in the past and we have to work twice as hard to achieve it. There is more competition, tighter budgets and less of a line out the door.

The work that a ‘Best of’ winner does is important and should be celebrated. They did not become the best over night – and it certainly did not come easy. They have been working towards it for years – endless late nights, struggling with finances, while building teams and developing a brand.

The ‘Best of’ is well-deserved recognition of determination, persistence and consistency that people keep coming back for.

As a small business owner, I know first hand that the struggle is real and it’s not often you get a pat on the back.  I am grateful for the opportunities Calgary has given me and the amazing people that I get to collaborate with. I am proud of the work that I have done and my success is owed to not just hard work but the open arms of the community in this city that have had my back.

So let’s all just stop being skeptics for a second and recognize that this is an opportunity to celebrate the people that make this city so great and this city could use a little more of that.

Hug your neighbor and join us at one of 14 events taking place during Ideas Week; TELUS Community Day, ATB Business Day, one of the 10 Interactive Labs presented by First Calgary or The ‘Best of’ Bash to raise a glass to our fine city and all the people who work hard every damn day to make this place home.

Find out more here

Mandy Balak is Executive Director of Best of Calgary and Founder of It's Date Night