It seemed like Joe Gallagher had a million friends. And logic tells me that, while I was his friend, I was certainly not his best friend. Yet somehow, he always made me feel like I was. If you knew Joey G at all, I’m sure you can identify with this feeling.
To those not lucky enough to have bent an elbow or shared a laugh with Joe, he was a presence in our business over the last 20 years, most recently leading sales for Digital Remedy and before that in a half dozen high profile media jobs. In late July, while on vacation in Wisconsin, Joe was the passenger in a single car accident and died. Suddenly, shockingly, and – needless to say – far too soon.
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I wanted to find some way of honoring and remembering our friend. The best way to do that is to talk about the man’s presence, which his absence calls into such stark relief. Joey G had presence, and he had it in spades. First, let’s talk about the sport coats — loud, bold and a little off color, much like the man himself. Joey G talked a little louder, laughed a little harder and hugged a little tighter than one might anticipate. His jokes and stories were more animated and drawn out than we often see in today’s world of ironic tweets. And he smiled with his entire face – the happiest most welcoming smile imaginable. Presence.
But there was another important aspect to the presence of Joey G. He was always present. It didn’t matter if you hadn’t seen each other in a year or had spoken 30 minutes ago, Joey G was always completely there for you. Attentive, interested, focused. When you talked with Joey G, you were the only person in the world in that moment. He didn’t just listen, he listened generously. In an age where we’ve all got one eye glued to our phones and are paying half-attention to one another, perhaps the best way to honor Joey G is to follow his example. We can all decide to listen and be present for those in our lives. We can decide to put away our phones and truly hear and understand those who are important to us. And we can live our decisions.
Joe leaves behind his wife, Patty, and three children. His colleagues at Digital Remedy and the IAB are hosting a tuition fundraiser for Joe’s kids next week at Ben & Jack’s in Manhattan, his favorite haunt. Space is limited at the event, but you can still make a donation to support the family of a great man, a man who was one of our own. If you’d like to make some other kind of donation to the cause, just email me and I’ll be happy to put you in touch with the right people.
The last time I got to feel the presence of Joey G was at our Seller Forum event back in June. We shared a drink and more than a few laughs at the post-Forum networking reception, which we’ll be informally renaming “The Joe Gallagher Happy Hour” in his honor. Well also be donating part of the proceeds from the event to the scholarship fund.
Joe Gallagher may no longer be with us, but the presence of Joey G can live on through each of us. Just listen a little longer, laugh a little louder, and hug a little tighter.