Interviews with smart, passionate leaders yielded a treasure trove of quotes, memories and anecdotes this year.
Here, I'm sharing some that I used in past columns and others you'll read for the first time. I've chosen them because of the insight they gave me into businesspeople and business trends.
"I can almost tell you the date in September 2008 when the whole world changed and the finances went from where I had three banks courting us to where I had a hard time finding a bank."
Dr. Ken Schenck, owner of Mueller Pet Medical Center, which opened in March in south Sacramento. He's one of many business owners still feeling the wounds from 2008.
"I wanted to save up enough money to start a business outright. So I went homeless for about nine months or a year, and I lived in my car. I saved up about $35,000 and started my promotions business with no debt. We did screen printing, embroidery, banners, graphics, everything, and I did that for about three years, and I sold it."
Russell Breton, 26, who now leads Sacramento-based Vision Launchers, explaining how he capitalized his first business.
"Publishers have the choice of whether or not to license e-books to libraries. They can basically make the decision about what content libraries get to carry. We're in the business of connecting people to information, and the marketplace is going more toward the electronic format than the print format. Right now, it's maybe 20 percent, 80 percent, but when that number is reversed, what will the library look like if we can't even purchase and provide e-books?"
Amy Calhoun, the electronic resources librarian at the Sacramento Public Library, talking about how difficult it is to get publishers to license e-books to libraries and the future implications.
"Everybody makes mistakes. I'm not saying everybody who comes into our program is an angel who wants to turn himself around. The people who really want to change their lives and do something right, those are the people we want to work with. At least the participants who I deal with in these businesses, they don't want to go back. They work hard. They show up on time, and they do a good job."
Cornelius Taylor, vice president of administration at Cottage Housing. The nonprofit's carwash and an online used-book retailer reflect the growing trend of social entrepreneurism.
"You can't get rid of stereotypes. When people came into the restaurant, they'd see Asians serving Southern food. They didn't give us a chance. I'd joke around and say, 'I'm from the South South Korea.' This time, we decided to stick to our roots."
Alex Won, a classically trained chef who opened Tako Korean BBQ with Yoon Hee Cho in July. Their previous venture, Yunece 61, a Southern barbecue restaurant, didn't fare well despite favorable reviews.
"When you're surrounded by people who are better than you at your job you have the constant desire to do better, to never be content with what you're doing and always trying to push yourself to the next level. If it's a dish and it turned out great today, how can we make it better tomorrow? There's a question that I ask myself every single day, 'What am I going to do today that makes me better than I was yesterday?' "
Timothy Hollingsworth, a Placerville native and executive chef of the French Laundry in Yountville, perennially ranked as one of the best restaurants in the world. He's challenging himself by leaving his post to start his own culinary business.