The Drift

The Drift


When I’m sad or grieving or just dealing with something enormous, my first impulse is to sit down at the keyboard and get it out.

I’m writing tonight.

This afternoon in San Francisco a man named John Durham died after many years of serious health problems. Those are the facts, but not the story. To those of us who knew and loved him so much, he was THE DURHAM: a life force, a gentle soul, a fantastic dresser and a terrible speller. He was generous to his students at USF, to the many one-time interns whose careers he started, to industry colleagues, to shopkeepers and clerks and nurses and complete strangers. He shared his wine, he reached for the check, he did the work to bring his industry friends together over lavish meals that he himself couldn’t enjoy in later years. And he always pivoted the conversation to “…but I want to hear about YOU? How’re YOU doing?”

As I sit here typing tonight with two glasses of 2013 Syrah on the table, I feel like a light has gone out and the world got just a little dimmer. My memories of John were so personal, our conversations so deep and rich. But I also realize that in the world of THE DURHAM, I’m just one of many souls at many tables who are feeling this way tonight. I poured that second glass for John, but it’s there for all of you who knew him as well.

Memories I’ll hold close forever are of John and me at iMedia. Doesn’t matter which one, doesn’t matter which city or resort. No matter what either or both of us had going on, we’d end up sitting next to each other in some breezeway or patio or riverside rocking chairs like Statler and Waldorf, the two Muppets in the balcony, commenting on the world, sharing deep ideas and laughing like fools. And never for twenty or thirty minutes: for an hour, for two. While we connected many times by phone and unintelligible text messages over these pandemic months, our last time together – our last hug- was at the iMedia reunion he organized in New Orleans in February 2020. We sat together over coffee in the hotel lobby for close to three hours. He talked about the directions his life might go in future years. He talked about feeling blessed. Having been to hell and back, he was now a man who simultaneously had so much left to do while also being completely at peace with whatever lay ahead.

It was perfect.

In short, he was THE DURHAM. To his friends, no explanation is necessary. To those who were never touched by him, no explanation is possible. Go in love and peace dear friend. Your name will be spoken and your laughter and kindness and humanity will be celebrated for many, many years to come.

More Posts

Attending, 2021

I wrote this post about the value of attention a few years ago, pre-pandemic and pre-Zoom. Lightly-edited, it seems even more relevant now. Making others feel fully-attended earns us their attention in return. Read on.

More Stuff to Write Down.

Last week I used this space to share several of the leading themes from Write this Down: Memes and Metaphors for a Better Life in Sales, a book that I've begun working on. This week, a few more, including some challenging advice for both managers, individual contributors and their fellow humans from many walks of life.

The Drift is Back.

You haven't heard from The Drift since late spring... a several-week hiatus that allowed for the outlining of "Write this Down: Memes and Metaphors for a Better Life in Sales." Since fleshing out the book will take a while longer, I've decided to share many of the aforementioned Memes and Metaphors across the next few posts of The Drift. Read on, comment, share, push back and apply them to your own life in sales.

A Time of Truth.

Five years ago, P&G CMO Marc Pritchard called bullshit on the digital supply chain and challenged us to get our house in order. I’ll make it even simpler. Tell the truth. Sell real stuff. Clean up after yourself. Leave the place a little better than how you found it. Create confidence. Now Google and Apple have done us all a favor. They not only locked the door to the digital funhouse; they pretty much burned the place down. What we build now is up to us. I hope we build back better.

What We Say When We're Not Selling.

While erstwhile sellers may never actually come out and say "Please don't buy anything from me today," these anti-selling clichés may be the next best -- or worst -- thing.

The VIP Manager.

For teams conditioned to their managers spitting out answers and directives, this approach is going to feel strange at first. The VIP manager is forcing strategic thinking and deeper context into decision making that’s too often situational, transactional and unscalable. VIP management will slow down the moments while simultaneously speeding up the growth of your team.

Our Year on Earth.

For exactly a year now, each day, without leaving home, we look into the faces of dozens of industry execs: we share meaningful phone calls with managers working to better lead and care for their teams. On a dime, and on a shoestring, we’ve pivoted into the fourth complete reinvention of our company. And we’ve spent this year on earth making a difference for good people. Who's luckier than we are?

Hiring in the Shadows.

The truth is, we’re still mostly interviewing the way we did in 2015 – and 2005 and 1995 – and it has nothing to do with the pandemic or Zoom. Our perspective on talent is compromised not because we are now hiring within the frame of a Zoom screen. It’s because we’ve always used a flawed lens to frame candidates.

Low Beams.

The person you’re speaking to right now… the work in front of you… today… the next hour. These are the only reality we can truly impact. Look past them and you’ll lose the only resource that can never be replaced: The moment.

The January Conversation.

Without a disruptive strategy to get the January conversation, you’re just another player hanging around the rim waiting for a rebound. You deserve better. So grab the ball and take your shots.


A little more light, more vaccine being delivered, people sharing news of their vaccinations on social media. And even as the amount of light and hope spirals upward, we will simultaneously suffer through cold and storms and sadness. These things live together in winter, but in spring the light wins out. And Spring will come. Just stay focused on the light.

What It Will Take.

Now here we are, with vaccines rolling out and a sense that things are going to get better… but only in the spring. Here we are, facing winter. And we’re asking ourselves, what will it take? What will it take to keep spirits strong, to stay hopeful and resilient under the weight of COVID fatigue and Zoom burnout? It will take choices... good ones.