This past week saw the sudden and unexpected loss of author, speaker, and journalist Jeffrey Zaslow.
I never met Jeffrey in person, but I would have had the opportunity in April 2012. I had just gotten mutual agreement to book him for an event which I personally would be attending, and I was looking forward to hearing him on stage. Such fascinating stories, such high-profile lives he's touched, such a gift for description, emotion, and most of all, storytelling.
One of the real roots of this industry of guest speakers, public speakers, professional speakers - however you choose to describe it - one of the most important ways to characterize this job/calling/gift of being a speaker is storytelling. You have to tell a good story. More than one in any given speech, actually, woven together in such a way that raises the simple relaying of information to the level of artistry.
I was looking forward to seeing Jeffrey do that. He did it so well in his books; I was sure I had a lot to look forward to in person.
Jeffrey died in a car accident in Michigan, while on tour supporting his recently-released book, "The Magic Room." It hadn't originally been on my radar for books I must read soon, but it is now. I understand it's about a bridal shop, passed down through four generations, and about some of the specific brides that pass through the shop doors, on their way to seek long-lasting love and happiness.
Jeffrey himself has three daughters, so I'm sure this was a very personal book for him; its subtitle is "A Story About the Love We Wish for our Daughters." Amidst their sorrow at the tragic loss of their father, how very glad his daughters must be that he had the opportunity to leave them this book. While he will never attend their weddings, they will know, at least, that he understood, and wished them the best.
His other books include "The Last Lecture" with Randy Pausch, and a book about Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, entitled "Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope." He also co-wrote a book with Captain "Sully" Sullenberger, of Hudson River plane-landing fame.
My job is many things. It's work, it's pleasure, it's fun, it's challenging, it's rewarding, it's unique (or at least unusual). Sometimes, it's also a privilege. And sometimes it's a wake-up call.
Thanks, Jeffrey, for reminding me that I need to get out and see more of these fascinating speakers I book, meet more of them in person. They are such very amazing people, which, of course, is why someone would want to pay them to make a speech.
And of course, I need to make sure I enjoy every minute with my family and friends. While I can.
To his family and friends, to those who did know him, I'm so sorry for your loss.