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Ideas. Insights. Inspiration.

Don't Wait

I can't say I knew Glenn Broadley very well.

He was a co-founder of the Hill Street Beverage Company, so I interviewed with him when I was in the final stages of discussions to take on the Chief Marketing Officer role with the company back in 2018.

But once I was hired, we didn't see each other often.

Glenn was almost 20 years my senior and we didn't have a lot of interests in common, so we didn't hang out socially.

Hill Street didn't have a physical office, so we didn't run into each other at the water cooler.

We didn't work on the same initiatives, so we didn't interact professionally very much.

And frankly, when we did interact professionally, it wasn't always positive. Glenn and I didn't exactly agree on what needed to happen to build the Hill Street brand, so I spent more time than I'd have preferred trying to explain my work to him and far more time than I'd have liked listening to him tell me why everything I was trying to accomplish was misguided.

But I greatly respect people who can manage business interactions like they're playing a game of rugby: be as tough as you need to be with the opposing team during the game itself, but when the game is over, shake hands and head to the bar together. In other words, don't make business disagreements personal. I found Glenn to be like that: we disagreed often, but I can't recall a time when it got personal. 

When he and the other founders of Hill Street decided to part ways, it wasn't particularly amicable. And as such, the first shareholder meeting after his official departure was more than a little bit awkward; as a significant shareholder, he had every right to be in attendance, but it was clear his presence wasn't welcome by everyone. Glenn didn't care: he simply took a seat in the corner of the room and didn't speak to anyone.

Well, anyone except for me. I walked over to him, said hello, and shook his hand. And why not? I didn't have anything against Glenn, and I pride myself on my ability to separate how I feel about someone professionally from how I feel about them personally. Professionally, Glenn and I didn't always get along, but personally, I had no issues with the man.

I suppose the feeling was mutual because Glenn reached out to me on LinkedIn almost immediately after I myself had departed from Hill Street. Somewhat ironically given our numerous disagreements about marketing, Glenn wanted to know if I might be interested in speaking with him about a consulting opportunity with Gruvi, the new alcohol-free beverage company he had founded. We had a brief call the following week, and while the specific consulting opportunity wasn't something I wanted to pursue, I gave him some free advice for which he was grateful. We said we would stay in touch.

The next time I connected with Glenn was nine months later when I had been sent a gift basket that happened to contain a bottle of Gruvi Dry Secco. Knowing how hard Glenn was working to build his latest business venture, I thought he'd be happy to know someone had chosen to include Gruvi in their offering, so I sent a photo with a brief note: "Thought you might appreciate seeing the gift basket I just received..."

Glenn replied:

Thanks David

It looks great

We should have a coffee sometime

Car window to car window or after things open up if that interests you

This message exchange happened on April 28, 2020, not long after the world had recognized COVID as a global problem and had begun to implement various social-distancing rules to help stop the spread of the virus. This was also before any vaccines were widely available, and since both my parents and my in-laws are all older and in the "high-risk" category for COVID, I was hesitant to meet with anybody.

So I replied to Glenn honestly: "Once things open up again -- whenever that will be! -- that would be great. Hope things are well with you."

That's when Glenn told me he was battling stage 4 liver cancer.

I hadn't known Glenn had cancer. I remembered that he had missed a few "all-hands" meetings for medical appointments, but specific details were never volunteered and I didn't feel it was appropriate for me to ask for any.

I expressed my regrets, and then to lighten the conversation, wrote that I was eager to try his Gruvi beverage. To which he replied,

I hope you like the Dry Secco when you try.

Please let me know

I could get your more on me

We ended our chat amicably and went on with our lives.

Things didn't really start to open up again until this past summer, by which point I had completely forgotten about my conversation with Glenn and our plans to have coffee.

I was reminded of them again yesterday when I read Glenn Broadley had died last week.

I can't say I knew Glenn Broadley very well.

Yet I still regret not having a chance to reconnect with him before he passed.

If there's someone you've been meaning to catch up with, don't wait.

Because tomorrow may never come.

Cheers to you, Glenn.

Glenn Broadley, 1958 - 2021

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