Today I got up at 3:30am. No real reason. I was just done sleeping. I wrote last time about being 50. I guess this is part of it. The good news I got my workout in early so I could get going with my day. Might need some extra caffeine later but I can accept that. 

Yesterday I learned that a friend from my past passed away. I met Marni in 1999 when I went on a trip to Israel with a big group from Chicago (back when I lived there). She was 51, married, and had two young boys. Her diagnosis was lymphoma. I learned about this on my way into a meeting about my NEXT trip to Israel (the first one since 1999). Seemed a little jarring. 

Marni was one of those people everyone loved. I remember when we got back from that 10-day trip a bunch of girls went to her family’s cottage in Wisconsin. It was on a lake and I seem to remember when we woke up one morning the jet skis were missing (I guess we didn’t tie them up properly) and we had to go out on the speed boat to reel them in. And I remember late-night drinking on their pontoon boat in the middle of the lake. What a time. 

That was such a fun season of our lives. We were in our mid-twenties, getting going in our careers, we had no mortgages, no kids, no car payments. It was just fun to exist. This was pre-9/11, pre-social media, pre-covid. That’s what I’ll remember about Marni and that period of life. 

Now, before you start sending condolences, please hold. To represent that Marni was one of my closest friends would be disingenuous, and frankly, disrespectful to her closest friends and family. It would feel a little “Dear Evan Hansen” to me. We lost touch as many do. Though we were following each other on Facebook, we weren’t in each others’ lives because that’s the way life went for our generation. As we all started peeling off, getting married and leaving Lincoln Park (the area we lived in near downtown Chicago), we lost touch with no real way to easily stay connected (without a real effort.. and life just got in the way). So when I heard about Marni’s death yesterday I was stunned. I had no idea Marni was ill. Because we weren’t in close touch, her Facebook posts just didn’t show up in my algorithm (and I doubt mine showed up in hers). So I started scrolling last night and could see how sick she had become (though it does look like last month she and her husband got to take a trip).

It made me think not just about mortality and how short life is, but about the power of social and the power of communication. I’m sure if I had stayed in the Chicago area, Marni and I would have stayed in touch, would have seen each other from time to time. As we go through life and disconnect with friends and make new connections, communication is key. We must make a valiant effort to do it, and make it authentic. 

Certainly we can’t do this with everyone. There’s simply not enough time in the day. But elevating some friends to daily contact is important. It’s strange to find out someone you were so close to has been going through something so terrible and you have no idea. Again, jarring.

And… since this is my business blog, let me get to a point here. This is true with brands too. It’s important that brands elevate their consumers – especially their raving fans – to let them know they matter. Stay in touch with them. THANK them. Notice who your raving fans are and don’t let them feel ignored. And, yes, take care of your unhappy customers too. 

There’s a lot social media can do for your friendships – and for your business. Make sure you are tending to both. Let us not let a day go by that we let a friendship – or a strong customer – fade from our mind.

For Marni’s family, I wish them my sincerest condolences and the hope that her memory is a blessing for all who ever knew her. 

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