Eleven days in the past I obtained a name that I by no means anticipated: Stephanie Meyers, my 37-year-old deputy at Quick Firm and Inc., had died, inexplicably. Solely days later would we be taught half of an evidence: blood clots in her lungs.
My feelings have ranged since then from shock to shaken-up to recognition that I couldn’t fairly course of what occurred—that somebody so younger, so vibrant, with such a brilliant future—was gone. I can hardly think about what these closest to Steph—her father and brother and childhood pals—are going by way of.
I employed Steph and was her boss for the final seven years, however we had been actually colleagues, companions, and shut pals. Working with Steph was one of the highlights of my profession. Based mostly on issues many others have been saying about Steph, this won’t come as a shock to anybody.
She was distinctive. A former ebook and journal editor, Steph led the social media technique and progress for Inc. and Quick Firm, which included editorial feeds but in addition promotion of occasions and subscriptions. She was a trusted and valued advisor throughout the corporate: to editorial, video, occasions, gross sales, client advertising, and product. She impressed editors with sensible protection strategies, entrepreneurs with good predictive fashions, and product managers with concise person tales. With out hesitation, she regularly logged in on weekends to submit on social media if information broke. She led, managed, and mentored our viewers improvement staff. She complimented individuals a lot. She diplomatically and calmly dealt with sticky conditions. She gracefully signed up and carried out new partnerships. She did unglamorous-yet-important issues, with out prompting or hesitation, like create a detailed spreadsheet to rigorously observe all syndication income. And she or he did all this whereas finishing an MBA at New York College at night time and on weekends.
Steph had not too long ago advised me she deliberate to depart her job, to shift out of media and into the tech business, in early June. Although it was the very last thing I needed, I knew I had no selection however to want her the perfect on this thrilling transition, and hope that at some point we’d work collectively once more. However as a result of of that, I obtained a probability to inform her many of the issues I so appreciated about her (although they now really feel fairly insufficient): How working together with her was unimaginable, that she was so sensible, an uncommon mixture of inventive and analytical, and had a knack for marrying editorial concepts with information; that she was so reliable, productive, organized, and a great supervisor and instance for our staff.
She was additionally the consummate planner. She let me know she was making the profession change properly forward of time as a result of she needed to make it as straightforward as potential for me to plan forward. When she fretted momentarily that possibly the early warning had inadvertently made issues tougher, I obtained to inform her I had a lot respect for a way she dealt with issues.
As I’ve tried to make sense of what occurred, I seemed to Steph’s personal knowledge, and reread the gorgeous tribute she had given at her mom’s funeral and posted on Fb on the 10-year anniversary of her mom’s loss of life. (I additionally included it beneath, as her personal sentiments say a lot concerning the form of individual she was and how she confronted horrible loss.) Like Steph when her mom died far too younger, I someway discover myself making an attempt to take from this terrible tragedy some optimistic which means.
Whereas actually nothing may make up for it, I do see some classes from how Steph did issues that I hope to hold with me and dwell by, to honor Steph’s memory, every single day: to stay optimistic, even within the worst of circumstances (as she was when her mom died); to at all times be grateful (like she was for her household and lifelong pals); to be form in small methods (like remembering birthdays or when somebody may use a pick-me-up); to do the correct factor when nobody is wanting (like find time for weekly one-on-ones along with your direct stories); to be fiercely protecting of your individuals (and make sure that higher-ups don’t pile on means an excessive amount of work); to know what you need and go after it (like a job in a new business); to say precisely what you assume, with a calm, even tone (even once you’re irritated).
In the final yr or so, as a result of of the pandemic, I solely noticed Steph in individual as soon as, once I occurred to be within the metropolis and took her for an outside lunch. Our interplay had morphed into each day Zooms, calls, and emails, and what appeared like 1000’s of more and more casual and off-the-cuff Slack messages a day (or night time). Sooner or later we’d began joking about at some point creating a web site collectively known as SMAF.com, combining our initials. One of Steph’s final Slack messages to me was “SMAF Ceaselessly!”
Donations in memory of Stephanie Meyers might be made to Girls Write Now, a mentorship group for underserved younger ladies.
From Stephanie Meyers’s Fb profile, July 2018
It’s so onerous to imagine that it will likely be 10 years tomorrow since dropping my mother. I used to be making an attempt to assume of precisely what I may write that may seize that, and then realized that I had someway, crazily, lined all of it with what I stated again on the funeral, so I’m simply going to stick the complete speech beneath. For everybody who obtained the possibility to know and love her, when you have any favourite tales (or superior, beloved gadgets that she satisfied you to buy), I’d love to listen to them.
I’ve a very clear memory, from once I was about eight or 9, of asking my mother whether or not she was an optimist or a pessimist, as a result of I had simply realized these phrases in class. She advised me she was an everlasting optimist—and since being like your mother wasn’t notably cool, I instantly declared that I used to be a pessimist. She laughed and advised me she didn’t assume so. And of course, she was proper. (Really, she was at all times proper . . . about all the pieces. Significantly.) And actually, one of her biggest items to me is a whole lack of ability to NOT see the silver lining. As a result of of her, in any state of affairs, regardless of how terrible, I someway discover myself looking for some optimistic which means.
So though I can under no circumstances name this a nice expertise, within the spirit of my mom’s optimism, I wish to share three optimistic issues that I’ve gained from this horrible tragedy.
Over the previous seven years, and extra particularly over the previous yr, I’ve gotten a probability to see simply how extremely robust a girl my mom was. For a few years, I mistakenly thought she was JUST a nice mother. I do know now that she was additionally many different issues, together with an unimaginable fighter with willpower past something I’ve ever seen. Contemplating what my mom was capable of do, with most cancers, whereas on chemo, typically in a scorching, itchy wig—like getting two youngsters by way of highschool and school, occurring great holidays (deliberate round her chemo schedule), organizing fundraisers, placing up with my dad’s typically repeated jokes, and listening to my issues, and her pals’ issues, and at all times providing the correct recommendation—if she was capable of be as caring, beneficiant, useful, and energetic as she was underneath all these circumstances, then I’ve no excuses.
I’ve additionally been astounded and grateful for the quantity of kindness and thoughtfulness we’ve seen, not simply from pals however from acquaintances and strangers alike. We have now really been blessed to be surrounded by such great individuals. In a world the place we continuously hear about horrible issues that individuals have accomplished, it’s heartening to me to have such overwhelming proof of human goodness.
However most significantly, my mother’s sickness has given me the possibility to get to know many of you, her superb pals, in a means that I by no means in any other case would have. And I’ve realized a lot extra about my mother by way of understanding you. The phrase “greatest pals” carries a completely different which means for me now, having seen the infinite love and fixed help that you simply all supplied all through. You’re all extraordinary people, and we couldn’t have gotten this far with out you.
And seeing my mother’s superb pals has in flip made me really recognize how fortunate I’m to have many equally unimaginable pals in my very own life (though I hope my kids sometime get to know all of them underneath very completely different circumstances!)
I want I may commerce again all of this data for a completely different ending to my mother’s story, however since that’s sadly not an choice, I hope as an alternative that I’m able to use all the pieces that I’ve realized, from my mom, from all of you, and from others who aren’t right here at the moment, to be a kinder, extra considerate, extra beneficiant, and extra compassionate individual. In truth, even when it’s nonetheless not cool to say so, my biggest hope for myself is to be identical to my mother.
Towards that finish, if my mother had been right here now, I do know that she would wish to thanks all a lot for coming, and ask the way you’re holding up and if there was something she may do. So in her place, please let me thanks for being right here with us at the moment, and supply my hope that past simply grief at her far-too-early loss of life, my mom’s life has additionally supplied you with a silver lining of hope, inspiration, a sense of optimism, and a perception within the goodness of others.
Allison Fass is vice chairman, digital progress, at Inc. and Quick Firm