“And, don’t forget to polish your shoes,” my dear friend, Joyce Newman, an esteemed presentation skills professional, advised me during one of her training sessions years ago.
Last week, this inspirational lady made her transition after courageously confronting cancer. Even when illness threatened her positive outlook, she lived her life with love, humor, grace and beauty.
How fortunate to have met her initially in the mid-90s while I was working for the former telecom giant, MCI. Prepping for a major sales and marketing conference at the time, she and her team were hired to groom executive speakers. A behind-the-scenes guy, I, from the sidelines, watched her operate. She had the admired talent of optimally blending a presenter’s cardinal skills: voice, visualization and presence.
Somehow, amidst the corporate chaos, we quickly became colleagues. And, in turn, the two of us became close friends, even though, on the surface, we couldn’t have been more different: she was a true New Yorker, while I was lifetime Southerner! Together, we shared countless, memorable meals, shows, experiences and laughs.
We also shared life’s challenges. A true mensch, she was often there as I dealt with personal issues, including my early 40s’ ordeal (“What else am I supposed to do with my life?”) to being among the first with whom I shared my psychic discovery (“I found what else I’m supposed to do with my life!”).
We knew that our deep friendship wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for our business connection. In my corporate capacities at Fortune 500 firms, I treasured my communication training with her. Whether it was helping me become more comfortable on stage or formatting an impactful speech, she made an influential difference in my career. Recently, those learnings carried over when I began shooting my new cable access TV show, Southern Soul.
Caring is the trait which made her focus on details, minutia that others might’ve discounted. An ace in her field, she looked at my total image from head to toe, to include, yes, the shoe shine. She wanted me to put my best foot forward.
I’m just honored that I got to walk alongside her some of the way.
Love and light,