Emerge – My 2023 Word of the Year

It took over a month for me to find my word of the year for 2023. In my life and this organization, words have power. We try very hard to use words well here at TJB. So when it came time for me to discover my word of the year for 2023, I knew I had a challenge ahead of me. I’ll get into my process in a minute, but let me share why this was such a challenge this year.

A word of the year is meant to summarize in a single word what you hope to do, embody, be, or achieve that year. There are no rules that it has to be one word or that you cannot change the word during the year. For me, though – it’s one word. That one word keeps me focused all year long on all the goals I’ve set and the dreams I hope come true.

Not an easy task, especially for those (like me) who have a LOT of goals!

a lit match burning, for word of the year blog

Why a Word of the Year is Important to Business Owners

As business owners, we can easily be pulled in multiple directions through the days, weeks, and months of a year. We have goals, rocks, intentions, BHAGS…whatever you call them at your company. We also have visions, missions, Whys, and passion-fueled ventures. One word, top of mind every day, can serve as a guiding light for each year that keeps us uber-focused not only on what we hope to achieve but also remind us of how we want to “show up” each day.

Three Months to Emerge

I knew my 2023 word of the year would be a challenging one to identify. For the past three years, I have been building something. Working on something new – a new service, a new business, a new brand. I’ve been making a personal brand as a public figure.

2020 Word of the Year

This all started in January 2020, before Covid hit us hard. I went into that year with my word of the year being “Manifest.” Looking back, that’s precisely what I did – I manifested a change for myself and my companies. While it didn’t manifest exactly how I thought it would, a significant change happened in all areas of my life and work in 2020. That was the year I started podcasting, leading to numerous opportunities and changes.

2021 Word of the Year

In January 2021, with so much uncertainty still surrounding us, I needed a little magic in my life. My word of the year for 2021 was “Believe.” 2021 was the most challenging year I’ve endured in business since starting in 2008. I went into the year believing anything was possible; at the end of the year, I was grasping at straws to believe in myself. I went through a major burnout. I stopped networking. I continued to stay in the shelter of Covid because I was not in the right frame of mind to be around people. It turns out I was starting the internal work.

2022 Word of the Year

With how 2021 played out when January 2022 rolled around, I decided to keep my word of the year, “Believe,” for another year. The first half of the year was spent stripping away a lot of noise, writing a book, redefining my core values, and realizing that I have a lot to offer the business community (and the world). The second half of 2022 was spent figuring out ways to monetize all that I offer, embodying core values, and reflecting on the journey I’ve been on—believing in myself and betting on me.


In October 2022, when I started thinking about my 2023 word of the year, I knew it had to change. I no longer needed an entire word to believe in myself, to find that confidence.

Don’t get me wrong; there are still days when I think, “I can’t do this,” but I’m quick to check those thoughts.

I’d also been hunkered down in my home office for almost three years. I had not gone to a networking event with my new offerings. I had done a few in-person speaking engagements and virtual networking events, but I had this burning fire in my gut. I need to get out there again but as my new brand. I wanted to come out (for the 2nd time in my life) as who I am and the true value I can offer.

It was time for me to EMERGE.

My Word of the Year Process

Starting in October, I reflect on the past year and look forward to the new year. I take notes and journal, but this is when I let things percolate. This is when possible words for the upcoming year show up.

In November, I work through an exercise my good friend, coach, mentor, and executive Wayfinder Angie Stegall gave me a few years ago. She calls it the “Create an Exceptional Year” exercise. It asks profound questions regarding the past, present, and future. I usually invest about a month in this document.

By early December, three to five words will usually become clear frontrunners. For 2023, the three words that kept showing up for me were emerge, deliberate, and intention. I will discuss this with trusted peers and friends, get their insights, and percolate a bit more.

In all of this thinking, I only have one deadline. By December 21 of each year, I will have selected my word of the year for the following year.

And by December 21, 2022, I had selected EMERGE as my word of the year for 2023.

What’s Your Word of the Year?

This formula may not work for every business owner, but it is a ritual for some people. If you have a word of the year for 2023, I would love to hear it!

If you’d like to discuss this further, please contact me. I’m also an engaging public speaker on this topic and may be a good fit for your next event. Finally, if you have not yet signed up for the BEE Awesome Brief (a weekly email from me), please do so.