What I Learned From Bob

I was having lunch with an old friend today from the first advertising agency I ever worked at over 25 years ago.

Rose and I were catching, up, barely taking breaths between our words and making the waitress incessantly nervous as she waited on us to place our orders. We couldn’t stop talking long enough to decide whether to have the 6 oz. Sirloin or the Salmon Salad. Between the bread and the drink delivery, Rose said “can you believe Bob died?”

My heart skipped a beat.

Bob was one of my old consulting buddies. Our last projects together had been strained as I had little tolerance for client mumbo jumbo or for Bob’s persnickety ways. Bob was about 14 years older than me which made him a cross between a nice uncle, a demanding Dad and an annoying brother. We’d billed thousands of dollars a month together as we strategized with heating and cooling companies, roofers, an oil company and retirement communities.

Bob was always early. I was always…right on time. Bob always had to rehearse. I preferred winging it. Our style differences didn’t matter much in the beginning but as I began to think about moving on, Bob’s preferences became exasperating.

Bob’s death made me gasp. Thinking of the planet without him made me sad. He was such a steady force that I guess I thought he’d be around forever. He’s not. After a trip to the hospital on a Tuesday night where the doctors declared him fit and fine, he died the next morning with his wife in the next room making coffee. I’m not sure of what killed Bob. I don’t really know if it matters.

Everyone has something to teach us. No matter how old, how young or how opposite of us someone is…there’s always something to learn.

Here’s what I learned from Bob:

• Preparation is essential to success…have a plan and then go work it
• Always have a clean car even if you’re the only one who ever rides in it
• Carry cash
• Ask lots of questions
• Integrity, trust and character are essential elements of good relationships
• Always make copies
• Be a mentor whenever you can

Bob was a great man. He’ll be missed. He was only 64 years old and left a wife and a daughter who love him. I got the lessons Bob, even if you didn’t think I was listening.

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