One Last Lesson From Alberto Rafael Rodriguez

Live Life to the Fullest (but Take Care of Yourself)

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Bill Imada Bill Imada
Last week I picked up a copy of the New York Times as I was boarding a flight to Oakland, Calif. Yes, it was the printed version. And yes, I recognize that I am part of a dying breed of traditional media enthusiasts who still pay for a printed copy of many national and local papers.

I normally skip through the obituaries with only a passing glance at the rows of anonymous photographs. Most of the deceased were older adults in their 70s, 80s and 90s. Occasionally there would be a note about a younger person who died tragically in an automobile accident or after a long-term illness.

But this day's obituary was different from other days.

I felt the page calling out to me and my eyes were transfixed upon a face of a young Latino gentleman named Alberto Rafael Rodriguez. The death notice announced that Alberto had died suddenly of a heart attack last Sunday in Manhattan. He was just 40.

I didn't know Alberto. And I didn't know anything about his agency, Revolucion. Yet even my lack of familiarity with Alberto and his agency didn't stop me from reading about this remarkable man.

Alberto's agency represents some blue chip clients including AOL/Latino, HBO/Latino, Casio, ACE Hardware, Commerce Bank and even the American Heart Association. And on his agency bio, which still remains posted on the company's website, Alberto is described as an award-winning creative director with experience working on some of the world's best known brands, including McDonald's, Coca-Cola and Heineken.

A clear message I received from reading about Alberto's short but full life was that he had a passion for advertising, marketing and community service. However, even more important, there was another message from Alberto for me and for all of you out in the advertising world: Take care of yourselves. Live life to the absolute fullest, and enjoy the fruits of your labor while you still can. Try to remain active, yet healthy. And spend time with your friends and loved ones.

I know that many agency principals, senior directors and managers and staff spend a great deal of time at their desks, eating unhealthy meals and participating in endless conference calls and meetings. We also spend an enormous amount of time away from home and our loved ones, skip meals and exercise, and get only a few hours of actual rest. Our lifestyles do affect our lives and we should do more to protect what we have. And it isn't too late to manage our lives more carefully.

Several years ago, former First Lady Barbara Bush gave a commencement speech to a graduating class of college seniors at Wellesley College. Although I don't recall her entire speech, the gist of her speech was as follows: "At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test; winning one more verdict; or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband/wife, a child, a friend, or a parent."

I want to send my deepest condolences to every person who was touched by Alberto Rafael Rodriguez. May he rest in peace. I also want to thank Alberto for calling out my name as I read the paper that day and for reminding me that there is more to life than producing another ad, writing another press release, chasing down another lead or working each and every weekend.

I took my elderly mom out to dinner the other day. I exercised at the gym. I slept in until 10 a.m. And I visited with several friends in another city. Next weekend, I'll follow a similar routine.

Thanks, Alberto.

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