No, I’m not looking for advice… I’m just writing to congratulate you on being a member of the 2016 Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal “Women in Business” honorees! As your co-worker and mom, I know how deserving you are of this award.
I”m sorry that you were unable to attend the awards ceremony but I was happy to accept in your absence. Noontime mimosas and deliclous food fueled the happy atmosphere of so many talented, energetic, and supportive women who were all excited to celebrate your success and theirs. You would have loved it!
I know you never imagined yourself leading a sports company, let alone one centered on the obscure sport of log rolling. Even though your first job at thirteen was teaching log rolling to neighborhood kids, you were on a career path toward your love of art and art history. You understood the value of both, and had a keen ability to articulate the artist’s vision to others.
But like many of your peers who graduated from college during one of the worst US economic downturns, your opportunities were diminished with education funding cuts. I have no doubt that you would have forged a successful path but the offer to do something entirely new and different took hold.
Your dad and I presented you with a crazy idea… to lead our vision to create a portable, synthetic “log” to grow the sport of log rolling toward Olympic status. The historic sport was a family tradition of ours, a strong and exciting athletic pursuit but one that had no possibility for growth due to the cumbersome five hundred pound wood logs traditionally used. We recognized the sport's great potential, and we recognized that log rolling just needed a technological boost.
With your natural deliberative style, you thought hard about the job before committing to it. I know it wasn’t an easy decision. Your friends were moving to New York and San Francisco, following their career paths, while you were looking at a move to Minneapolis. It was a big risk… you knew nothing about product design or manufacturing, and only a little about marketing. But somehow we convinced you that you had the abilities and that you would learn more about life than you dreamed possible... and that you could change directions if you didn't like it. In typical Abby-style, you had the Key Log® designed and manufactured in one year, and began marketing it to summer camps. A US Tradmark and Patent followed the next year.
Five years and six hundred Key Logs later, you've created business with potential. But your success isn’t being measured only by the number of sales; more imporantly, it's also measured by the hundreds of log rolling teaching programs that you are establishing. Ultimately, 'teaching the teachers' has been the driver of this business… getting into the water and holding the log for people while they experience their first ascent up onto a floating log, and then instructing them into their first “a-ha” moment of spinning it backward and forward. There’s magic there, and thankfully you discovered that joy in your first business, your neighborhood log rolling school. It’s your love of teaching others — giving to others — that is propelling the sport forward. You learned from me what I learned from my first log rolling teacher — if you love what you teach, and you teach others the same, you are imparting love. Plato said the same thing but much more eloquently.
Business awards and sales potential aside, hasn't the Key Log Rolling adventure been fun?! All the brainstorming sessions; product design and graphic design; meetings, meetings, more meetings; instructional materials created; videos produced; problems created, problems solved; road trips and conferences. And the people! So many wonderful people who have helped us along the way.
I know it's been a lot of work, so much more than meets the eye of the casual observer. And all the while, you're still training as an elite level log roller, holding fast to your competitive goals. And you're a fully engaged daughter, sister, partner, auntie, friend, always participating in the fun times, and the difficult times, of life.
Again, I’m sorry you were unable to attend the awards event in Minneapolis but duty called in California! Delivering Key Logs, training teachers and giving demos at the Boy Scout's National Meeting — you're making hay while the sun shines! And since we're both a sensing a change in the weather, we might want to stock up on sun screen!
Finally, I was very honored to personally accept your award; thankfully, I didn’t trip up the stage after drinking your mimosa, too. (Hey, I wanted you to have a set of commemorative glasses!) Just know that there were so many smiling faces applauding your success. But none bigger than mine.
"The goal of these tournaments is to grow the sport of log rolling. The first step has been introducing it recreationally to new rollers. We're now introducing the sport to rollers in a competitive environment that is comparable to other collegiate sports," said Ward.