A sad farewell.

The Internet and social media have changed the world of business and sales forever. That cannot be denied.

However, far from isolating people from each other, as the naysayers decry, technology—and social media in particular—has made it possible to build personal relationships that would not otherwise be possible. In this country, social networks are an integral component in the lives of 80% of the population. Even more amazing is that social networks encompass almost 25% of time-online.
(Statistics from the Social Media Examiner)

For me personally, LinkedIn, Focus, Twitter, Blogs, email, online-meetings, and yes, the ubiquitous and indispensible phone, are the tools I have used to build not only a thriving company, but an incredible and vibrant network of friends. Indeed, through this increasingly connected world I have discovered, and interacted with an abundance of interesting and remarkable people that I would not have had the possibility of meeting in the past. I have technology to thank for this extraordinary gift.

Naturally, I do not always have the good fortune to meet people in person. But that has not gotten in the way of building meaningful, productive, and trusted relationships, and—dare I say—friendships with customers and professional colleagues.
One such customer was Ken Murray, President and Founder of VanillaSoft. Ken built VanillaSoft into a wildly successful company offering a powerful InsideSales CRM Lead management solution.

Sadly, just a few short weeks ago, Ken passed away unexpectedly. I never had the pleasure of meeting Ken, nor his wife, Genie. We never talked about our personal lives beyond the normal pleasantries. And yet, by virtue of his limitless generosity for sharing insight and encouragement, I considered Ken a true and treasured friend.

Ken served as an inspiration to me. And although he was a customer of mine, in reality, it was I that received the greatest value and motivation from our relationship. Ken always – ALWAYS – had time to talk with me, and during those brilliantly stimulating conversations, his boundless energy and sheer enthusiasm for life and for his business left me with the absolute conviction that whatever I set my heart and mind on I could achieve.

His words, his encouragement, and his passion served to ignite and sustain the fires of my own perseverance and purpose within this dynamic profession. He made me infinitely proud of what I do, and fostered a supreme and everlasting influence on how I do it. Ken truly wanted everyone whose lives he blessed to be not just successful, but fulfilled, and I would bet my company that he treated everyone exactly the same way.

Some would argue that technology has made it harder to get to know people and to establish meaningful relationships. But don’t say that to me. What I learned from Ken was undeniably meaningful to me. The time I spent talking with Ken was meaningful to me. Our friendship was certainly meaningful to me.

His passing has sparked a singular and emerging awareness that, in the end, an individual’s greatest achievement will be measured not by how they have conquered their profession, or the world for that matter, but by how well they have graced it. And that is the testament of Ken’s impact upon my life and so many others’.

I know that Ken has left behind a great and enduring legacy, and VanillaSoft will continue to be a thriving company under the leadership of Dave Hood, Genie, and the many other dedicated and talented employees. But I will miss him immensely.

To all of my many business friends, customers, mentors, and associates that I would otherwise have never come to know, permit me a brief moment to expound on what “knowing you” has come to signify to me personally and professionally in this marvelous techno-tapestry of life.

The very concept of friendship is shifting. It is no longer bound by physical proximity, or geography. Texting, blogging, Skyping, and Tweeting have become integral facets of our connectivity with friends and associates, and without these tools our ability to build and nurture these relationships would surely be diminished. This global village of ours may be fueled by our commercial endeavors, but it is built upon the pillars of our friendships.

At the same time, technology is transforming the quality, the quantity, and the very nature of friendship itself. We are becoming more open, more tolerant of diversity, perhaps even more personal by virtue of this ever-evolving and vibrant flow of connectedness. It is an emerging new brand of allegiance, defining our endeavors, our purposes, our collective goals,and even our sense of morality.

We are changing the way we perceive ourselves, along with our social and professional networks, in order to make better sense of the world around us. We define our own self-identity through personal interactions, relationships, and commitments. And my own sense of satisfaction and contentment will be forever measured by what this technology has so cleverly and conveniently laid upon my virtual doorstep, from the very same business acquaintances, customers, mentors, and associates—the biggest and most meaningful gift of all—your friendship.

While I say a sad farewell to Ken, my future will continue to be blessed by knowing each and every one of you.