Am currently attending the ISPA conference in Orlando, Florida. It was an honor to be named their 2012 Visionary Award recipient. While I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare remarks since my trip to India ended on Saturday and ISPA began on Sunday, I did jot down some thoughts and shared them with the audience. It was my first time using a teleprompter (thumbs up on that) and in order to do so I had to write out my remarks. So thought I would share them with you – plus a photo snapped by Sallie Fraenkel right afterward. Here then were my words….
“When I received the phone call telling me that I would be this year’s recipient of the ISPA Visionary Award, I was really moved. I hung up the phone and just sat there, and tears came to my eyes. It seemed so odd to receive an award for something that has been such a privilege.
It has been 40 years since I started my career in this industry and I don’t believe there has been one day since in my entire career where I wished I was doing something else. How lucky for me to have found something early in my life that has given me so much joy and fulfillment.
I do want to say three very important thank you’s.
The first thank you undoubtedly goes to Deborah Szekely. I know that I do not need to introduce her to this audience. Everyone knows Deborah as the godmother of the spa industry. She is the person who hired me as a fitness instructor at the Golden Door almost 40 years ago. Little did I know at the time that Deborah, who was a tad intimidating to me at the time, would become not only my boss, but my mentor, a second “mom” to me and then eventually a true friend. It is a joy to have her stay with me whenever she comes to New York and I have loved supporting her new dream – Wellness Warriors that I am sure you will hear more about in the next few days.
My second thank you goes to ISPA. I do remember when ISPA was formed – it was 1991 and there is no doubt that it has been a huge contributor to the industry. It was my privilege to serve as an assistant to two of ISPA’s early Presidents, Alex Szekely and Jerry Katzoff. I have benefited greatly from all the work done over the past 21 years – each board member, each board chair person, all who served as president or executive director deserve thanks – really from all of us. And a special thank you to Lynne McNees who has been at the helm as President for so many years now. My work in spa trend forecasting and developing the Global Spa and Wellness Summit was birthed from this foundation and I am truly grateful to ISPA.
My third thank you goes to my husband Peter – and it is my greatest and most passionate thanks. In fact the word thank you doesn’t begin to describe how grateful I am for having shared so much of my life with him. Fittingly I met Peter at a spa – the Golden Door actually. That was 29 years ago. Many of you know Peter as the CEO of our company, SpaFinder Wellness, but most of you don’t know that Peter also cooks me breakfast every morning and has dinner on the table when I return from work every evening. He also does all the grocery shopping, loves to buy me clothes, and makes most of the decorating decisions in our living spaces. He also pays all the bills, sees to our travel arrangements and makes sure that my life is not all about work – as it surely would be if I wasn’t married to him. We often joke that he is the “best wife” anyone can have. He has also shared with me the chance to help raise his two children who were very young when we first met. I am blessed to be able to call Courtney and Nicholas my daughter and son today. And while all of that deserves thanks beyond words, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that Peter has also supported my passions financially. He has often mentioned to others that “Susie has a lot of million dollar ideas.” …and only partially in jest adds that…”and each of them have cost me a million dollars.” That really is close to the truth! While he had many wonderful years in the spotlight as a successful entrepreneur in the automotive industry, he has now stepped back and given me these past years as a gift…and allowed me to soar.
And finally, if I may, a word to those of you here in the audience who may just be starting out in your careers. I think the future of the spa and wellness industry will be even more exciting than the past. Why you might ask? Well, it is because the conversation is now a truly global one. Healing traditions from countries and peoples all over the world are now opening up new opportunities and with the technology available today and the advancements in science and research, the modern spa industry has a tremendous future.
2 days ago I returned from a 10 day trip to India where I had a chance to explore the rich healing traditions of a country that has contributed among other things, Ayurveda, yoga and meditation to our industry. That visit underscored my somewhat crazy belief that the spa and wellness industry not only touches people – literally – in body mind and spirit, but that it is a significant contributor to understandings between people. We shouldn’t dismiss our contribution to world peace.
It’s been a great 40 years, and while it is sometimes tempting to think that I am coming close to the end of my career, I must say that Deborah’s determination to live to 100 and still make significant contributions is an inspiration. And if I am a visionary as this visionary award might indicate, with the future for our industry looking so vibrant, I might just plan on being involved for a few more decades. But shh….don’t tell my husband that.