Congratulations to the 2012 Northern California Entrepreneur of the Year® Award winners!

The nine honorees were announced Saturday in San Francisco, and I was fortunate to join some of my RoseRyan colleagues at the awards gala at the Fairmont. The Ernst & Young program, now in its 26th year, celebrates the belief that “a community of entrepreneurs is a powerful force that can transform economies, address large, complex problems, drive innovation and improve our communities.”

The winners’ companies are diverse, from those that seem like they’ve been with us forever, such as Wyse Technology (founded in 1981) and Sleep Train (founded in 1985), to relatively young companies like GoPro, which brings us the GoPro camera.

While they all differ, over the years that RoseRyan has been involved with this program I’ve noticed that these people of vision share elements critical to their success. Some years the focus is on finding disruptive technologies; others, company culture takes the stage as the essential element of success. Here are a few themes from this year:

Embrace risk. Believe in yourself enough to take a risk. If you aren’t failing, you aren’t stretching enough or challenging yourself to take a big enough risk.

Be driven to make things better. When you walk into a room, look around and ask how you can make things better. Focus on things that are really inefficient.

Teamwork leads to success. Many CEOs said they are part of a team and the dedication, hard work, energy and passion of their employees was key to making the company successful. And a number of the CEOs spoke about the strong support from their family that enables them to take the risks, put in the hours and devote their talents to their business.

During the celebration, it was said that that an entrepreneur is someone who asks a simple question and changes the world. Entrepreneurs are visionaries, innovators and leaders. They are imbued with inspiration, imagination and vision.

RoseRyan has been a proud sponsor of this program for a number of years, and it is a privilege to be able to participate in nominating, selecting and celebrating these entrepreneurs. We share their spirit.

The 2012 Northern California winners are Geoffrey Barker, RPX; Tom Bedecarre, AKQA; Lawrence Blatt, Alios BioPharma; Dale Carlsen, Sleep Train; Lisa Im, Performant Financial; Tarkan Maner, Wyse Technology; Matthew Monahan and Brian Monahan, Inflection; and Nicholas Woodman, GoPro. The national winner will be announced in November.