Click the arrow above to play Catalyst Publisher Joe Hamilton’s interview with Bridgette Bello, CEO & Publisher of Tampa Bay Business & Wealth Magazine.
2017 brought its fair share of challenges to Bridgette Bello and her family. In July, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. In August, her husband lost his job. In September, hers was the only single family home in Pinellas County lost to Hurricane Irma. In Bello’s words, it began to feel as though the universe was trying to tell her something.
In late 2017, Bello announced that she would be resigning her post of more than 20 years at Tampa Bay Business Journal. In 2018, the “godmother of business news” launched her very own C-suite-only magazine, Tampa Bay Business & Wealth (TBBW). This week, she sat down with Catalyst Publisher Joe Hamilton to talk about the process of launching TBBW and the lessons learned from her decades at the Tampa Bay Business Journal.
Bello blazed a trail at the TBBJ. She elevated its stature as a regional brand and guided it into the digital age. “I did have an amazing run,” said Bello. “I had all of the reward and none of the risk for a while,” said Bello. But the company started going in a more centrally branded, homogenized direction.
“I started to lose some of that entrepreneurial ability, and taking risks, and doing things that I thought were right for Tampa Bay,” Bello explained. “So I wanted to get that back.”
Launching TBBW after her departure felt like a homecoming. “All roads led me back to my true love,” said Bello. “I’ve been a first amendment junkie since I was very, very young. I went to school for journalism. I’ve always done this, so it’s just become a part of who I am.”
Bello says the magazine has a “rising tide mentality” committed to driving economic development to lift up nonprofits, and highlight diversity in the C-suite. In fact, she’s committed to putting female CEOs on 25 percent of all of TBBW’s covers, a figure over and above the average percentage of women in the C-suite across the nation.
Bello considers TBBW a significant departure from her work with TBBJ, in that she gets to publish the positive stories she wants to tell. “[We are] writing really amazing positive stories that are not at all fluff pieces, they’re still need-to-know, must-know pieces but they are uplifting and they’re economic development pieces,” explained Bello. “They’re things that are really good for this community and for people who maybe aren’t here yet to see who we are.”
Listen to the full long-form interview above.