One of the immortals of the entrepreneurial world died last week. I think it would be nice to honor Jay Conrad Levinson, the author of the “Guerrilla Marketing” series of books that changed the lives of many entrepreneurs, including me.
More than any other author with the possible exception of Michael Gerber, Jay was responsible for planting the dream of entrepreneurial success for millions of people – and give them the tools to build their businesses.
I never met him or heard him speak, but I know many of his co-authors and they all praised him for giving them the opportunity to get their messages out with his brand.
No one knew what a “Guerrilla” was when he started out. Now, now one even thinks of spelling it “Gorilla.”
On Amazon, his bio says, “Jay Conrad Levinson is the author of the best-selling marketing series in history, “Guerrilla Marketing,” plus 27 other business books. His guerrilla concepts have influenced marketing so much that today his books appear in 41 languages and are required reading in many MBA programs worldwide.”
His reach was far and profound.
Wow — I had no idea that Levinson passed. I attended a two-day workshop of his a few years ago in Orlando. While some of us had moved further forward than he had regarding social media, his grasp of marketing and PR and how to firm their core to get the max results were spectacular. We had a relatively intimate group so we were able to ask questions and tap his expertise. I’m grateful for that experience.
Thank you, Dan. He certainly did positively affect countless millions of entrepreneurs. Myself included.
Here is My Journey with Jay Levinson.
There are so many places to start, so many stories to pass on. It is hard to decide where to begin. The story of how Jay convinced me to write my first book. Or the story of how we first met in person at Armand Morin’s Big Seminar over 6 years after starting to write together. Or I could start with the story where Jay and I sat for hours in his home talking about his journey in the desert. They are all amazing.
Jay was a phenomenal storyteller. Most great leaders are. I loved each and every one of them. He was entertaining, inspiring, encouraging and of course, very educating. My favorites are the classics like the birth of the Marlboro Man and the how Tabasco grew back to profitability with one amazingly simple trick. Or how he and Jeannie married on their very first date (which was they very first time they met). Like I said, they are all great stories and I’ve heard them all, likely just as you have.
But I’ll start with a more personal one.
Almost exactly 2 years ago, while having dinner at Smokey Bones with Jeannie and Jay in Florida, Jay turned to me and said that he’d like to tell me a story. I immediately laughed and said that I’ve heard them all but could hear them all over and over again. He smiled and said that this one he could guarantee I had not heard before. “Challenge accepted”, I said.
He proceeded to tell me, with his usual, carefully chosen words – with joy and purpose – that 5 months ago he was diagnosed with a rare form of bone marrow cancer.
He was right. I had not heard that story. My heart dropped into my stomach as I listened on.
He went on to tell me that it was incurable, untreatable and he was given less than 6 months to live.
I couldn’t hold back my tears. I was getting all choked up as I tried to tell him that I didn’t want to hear that story. Jay comforted me as he continued. He looked at me with a big smile and told me not to be sad. He said the story has a very happy ending.
Then he went on to tell me how he’s lived a full life. He’s accomplished every goal he set out. He listed out literally dozens of amazing moments in his life. I could barely keep up.
He then told me of how amazingly grateful he was to have me in his life. And how much fun he’s having writing and publishing with me.
I lost it.
Of all the talents Jay had, and this is so true, his most endearing talent was his ability to make you feel like it was more of an honor for him to be with you than the other way around. He was a very gracious, loving man. As you can see in this short video interview, from October 2008, as he ambushed my praise of him and turned it on me (http://youtu.be/ziM_gR479AY).
Let me get back to the happy ending…
Jay continued to tell me all the joys he had as our lives intersected. Then he paused. Smiled even bigger and said, “I’ve filled my bucket to overflowing and I’m ready to kick it!” We both laughed out loud. It was too clever of a quip not too.
We all were blessed to have him in our lives and he defied the odds, as he always had with everything he did.
He passed at home, in Jeannie’s arms early yesterday morning (October 10, 2013).
Join with me, not in the mourning of his passing, but the joy and celebration of his life!
Jay, I will always love you and I am eternally grateful to have had you in my life. You were, as I said before, very entertaining, inspiring, encouraging and educating. You taught me so many things including the importance of having balance.
Balance while attaining work that is satisfying, enough money to enjoy freedom from worry about it, health good enough to take for granted, a family with whom I can give and receive love and support, fun that does not have to be pursued but exists in daily living, and the longevity to appreciate with wisdom that I and those I love have achieved. Most importantly, as I hope you realize, Jay taught me that the goal is the journey itself.
Thank you, Jay, for including me on your journey, and being a part of mine.
– David L. Hancock, Founder of Morgan James Publishing and The Ethan Awards, and has co-authored twelve books including “Guerrilla Marketing for Writers”, “The Entrepreneurial Author” and “Performance Driven Thinking”.