I know many people think it's morbid to read obituaries. They think my doing so is yet more evidence of my innately lugubrious nature.
Some people, I'm sure, look at the practice as some ones and zeroes form of necromancy--a dip into the Black Arts--in which I try to summon, communicate and maybe even influence the dead to do my bidding.
Having worked in mostly-giant agencies since 1980, I have plenty of experience with the dead. I'd go so far as to say that in any meeting you're called to that has more then ten people in attendance, at least six have left us and all the incessant texting in the world can't and won't bring them back.
The truth is, as Laura my insanely astute wife pointed out the other day, obituaries aren't about death, they're about lives lived. And from Plutarch's Parallel Lives till at least the end of humanity, which by my reckoning happens every year around St. Patrick's Day and will crescendo loudest at amerika's election day, people have always learned from the lives of other people.
Long before some cockamamie episode of 'reality tv,' (cotton-candy tooth-decay for cognition) people learned from Gilgamesh, the Jewish Bible, the Iliad, the Odyssey, the Decameron, Canterbury Tales and from the lives of great and small and comical and morose brought to life by the Bard of Stratford on Avon, aka, Billy Boy.
Late last week I read two obituaries which made their way into my "fuck-a-duck" files. My fuck-a-duck files are astounding things I trip upon that I learn from, share with friends and clients--as instruction--and even my daughters who take in my chazerai even though they seem to be ignoring me.
Ordinarily, you'd think I'd give nothing more than a rat's ass about the life of a woman who ran bridal salons at New York's society department stores. But, I pulled some fatherly "speak up for yourself" stuff and some more "be brave" stuff from Hickey's death notice.
Here are two examples, as I said above, highlighted:
The next obituary I noticed was perhaps more up my typical Georgian alley. It was of a software engineer, Niklaus Wirth, who died at 89. I shared it within minutes with two of the tech clients I am currently working with.
Here are the two bits from Wirth's obituary that, to me, should inform both technologists as marketers--including advertising agencies.
That's a lot of life advice to find in a couple of death notices. You gotta give this blog credit.