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Thanksgiving Revelations From My Favorite Scientist

My dad’s startup, the Advanced Photon Source

My dad’s startup, the Advanced Photon Source


Thanksgiving for me is a time of gratitude and reflection. I love this holiday because I get to surround myself with the people I love and take a moment to appreciate what I have in life.

This past year for me has been a whirlwind. I moved to Tampa Bay from Chicago and began to lay the foundation for the big vision behind Embarc Collective. However, the most notable change this past year was even more personal. Just after Thanksgiving 2017, I lost my father to idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. There is no one I admire as much as my father, so there was a lot to adjust to in my new life without him.

A bit of context: My father was a scientist, a physicist to be exact. His professional contribution to the world was a research facility called the Advanced Photon Source– which enabled very necessary multi-disciplinary research to be conducted under what was the world’s brightest light source.

The scientist and the entrepreneur are in many ways similar. Both are driven each day by a problem they know needs to be solved. Both work tirelessly in the pursuit of finding a solution, making trade-offs in life that sometimes are hard to understand. And both are wanting to make a positive impact on the world.

As I reflect on Thanksgiving 2018, I’m struck by how much I’ve applied what I learned from my father, the scientist, to my world of supporting entrepreneurs and building Embarc Collective.

1) Remember the Why

Growing up, I saw my dad work long days and nights, but he never thought about it as work. It was his passion. I have to make a deliberate decision to stop at least once a day when feeling taxed by meetings, a never-ending to-do list and feeling perpetually behind to remember why I’m doing this. I love my role as part of the Embarc Collective team — and I spend my days building this organization because I see strength and drive in the entrepreneurs of the Tampa-St. Pete region and want to help them see success. That success will breed more success, and this region will only continue to rise because of it.

2) The Team is Everything

My dad’s professional team was part of our family. They were often at our home for dinner when I was young, and they were often at our home to help my family later when my dad was sick. That showed me the importance of finding great people because when the vision is big, you can’t do it alone, and you build a bond that is akin to family. The Embarc Collective team is extraordinary — filled with a passion for the mission and endowed with incredible discipline, motivation and curiosity. Anyone who works with these people is incredibly lucky.

3) This is Bigger Than All of Us

The Advanced Photon Source was an $812 million dollar project (FY95 dollars). To make a project of that size come to fruition required the support and alignment of an entire community — not just amongst the scientists, but also with the rest of the research community and the local and federal government. That taught me that when going after a big vision like what we all have for Tampa Bay, you need the backing and collaboration of an entire community. Upon moving to this region, I was pleased to learn this alignment and collaboration exists and is increasing daily within the Tampa Bay entrepreneurial community. That will be our greatest strength as we work together to make Tampa Bay a prime destination for diverse startup talent to make an impact and create the condition for entrepreneurs to be successful in our region.

During this Thanksgiving holiday, I hope you take time to rest and reflect with the people who matter the most to you. I also thank you for welcoming me as a newcomer into this community. I look forward to big things ahead for us during the rest of 2018 and into 2019.

CEO at Embarc Collective Tampa Bay
Lakshmi Shenoy