September 17, 2019

Florida Trend’s annual list of the “Florida 500”

By: Vicki Parsons - IT

Florida Trend has published it’s annual list of the “Florida 500” – the most influential business leaders in the Sunshine State.

You can access the full 2019 edition of “Florida 500” here:

Editor’s Letter

A Few Observations …

My favorite part of producing the Florida 500 is reading the answers to the questionnaire we send to those under consideration. Completing the questionnaire isn’t a prerequisite for making the Influentials list; it does, however, enable us to offer a more personal look at those who are chosen.

Some random, unscientific observations based on the answers to this year’s questionnaire:
The names cited as “most admired” by our influentials include David Lawrence, the former Miami Herald publisher who has become the state’s leading advocate for children, along with FPL CEO Eric Silagy, Miami developer Armando Codina, Florida Blue CEO Pat Geraghty, developer Syd Kitson and Tampa financier Jeff Vinik. The most admired firm, by far, is Publix.

Our Influentials appreciate the state’s healthy economy but consistently name traffic as something they’d change about Florida if they could. Asked to name something they’d pay their weight in gold to avoid, the two most-common answers were from lawyers who hate timesheets and a host of executives who hate “flying commercial.”

Our Influentials really like their iPhones. The Zach Brown band has a lot of fans, most-mentioned as a favorite musical group. It was fun to learn, however, that the head of one big corporation is an Ozzy Osbourne fan.

Asked what Olympic sport they would have participated in if they’d had the ability, our Influentials gave responses ranging from more mundane track-and-field events to ski jumping and table tennis.

One of our questions asked our Influentials to name the funniest person they know. The most-mentioned name, by far, was Gov. Ron DeSantis’ chief of staff, Shane Strum, a longtime GOP political operative who apparently is as entertaining as he is effective. Winston Churchill was named most frequently as a “personal hero.”

As I edited the responses, I was struck again this year by the willingness of very busy, engaged people to take the time to fill out the questionnaire, and by the candor and thoughtfulness of their answers. Thank you for that openness.