On a personal note, there was a lot of loss. A lot of incredible people left this earthly plane in '08, from my own family to one of my best friends, an incredible young woman, Cortni Tuck, who was a force in the marketing and media worlds. She had been diagnosed with diabetes last year, but you just never imagined someone so young and full of life leaving here so soon.
We all came to know Cortni when she worked at the American Legacy Foundation, the home of the "Truth" campaign. Cortni was our one of our first clients and was constant barometer on the brand's relevance to young people. Cortni dedicated her life to impacting young people, and as a result of her efforts and those of the dedicated team of public heath, marketing and advertising professionals, the campaign has gone on to prevent hundreds of thousands of teens from smoking. That is impact.
Even through all of that success, she wanted to live more in line with her truest passion and moved to New York to pursue life in the fashion and media worlds. Her own personal style was well-known, and she was a fixture of the NY scene.
She went on to work at Nylon Magazine with GTM on the launch of Current TV, and at Conde Nast. All this and she was just tipping into her 30's. I never imagined Cortni being anything other than a boss running some fashion line or media empire, but God had other plans. As soon as I heard the news about Cortni's passing, my first reactions were disbelief, denial and sorrow. Then the self-reflection set in. I asked myself, "What are you doing with your life?"
Life is precious. So as we gear up for an incredible year, filled with upheaval and hope, we must remember that this is the part in the movie where we remember what's most important. Just when it's darkest, we see a glimmer of hope, whether that glimmer is faith in God, a new president, new business, or the love of your friends and family; the sun is on the horizon.
What does it all mean? As I sat watching photos at her repast with her circle of strong family and friends in Durham, N.C., it hit me: We can count on the sun rising another day, but we cannot count on being here to see it. We must breathe every breath like it's our last, live every day with intention to do what we must do. We must do what is best for ourselves, our families and our community.
When God calls you home, what will you have to show for it? I had to assess what I was doing with my life. I think I know in general to live a good life, be a good father, husband, friend, entrepreneur and soldier for change.
Will I leave here being a great marketer or a world leader? I wish I could come to you buttoned up, with all the answers. All I can say is find out what you are most passionate about doing and do it. Do it till the wheels fall off and help someone along the way. That's our only way to leave this place better than we found it.
Thanks to the incredible people that I've met through life in general, AdColor and through this blog, I have begun to understand the larger community that we are beholden to as shapers of perception, demand and decision. Let's be prudent with our power. Live a life worth living and give back to those around you like there's no tomorrow, because there may not be. The question we must ask ourselves is what of value are we doing with our gifts?
Despite all the gut wrenching moves of 2008, I remain optimistic about 2009. One thing we can be sure of is that we are at a crossroads. Old ways are falling by the wayside. Power structures, ways of doing business, personal relationships -- all must stand the tests being put before them right now. As a society and community of human beings, the world is challenging us to define what is most important and to go out and secure that with our talent, passion and intuition at full blast.
We've all heard that perception is reality. Well, life is an illusion that we perceive to be real. Since we're dreaming, do the most. Live your life to the fullest. Live your dreams to their fullest, leave doubt in the dust and shine in 2009.