The past month many of us in the music tech and tech world lost three truly great men- John Loscalzo (MTV, CBS Radio & much more), Dave Goldberg (Survey Monkey, co-founder of Launch which became Yahoo! Music) and Michael Deputato (Universal.)
When John passed I was speechless. My dear friend Courtney Smith called to tell me the news. John was her boss at MTV and her current role at CBS Radio. My brain could not take in what she was saying. John and I were not only colleagues at MTV Networks, we were neighbors. He owned the local news source, BrooklynHeightsBlog.com and we had only been in touch on a local issue the day prior.
John was a quirky guy with an offbeat sense of humor, who loved his wife Traci Zamot and daughter, Gracie with such joy, it couldn’t help but make you smile to see them together. He was only 51. He liked to scheme, to take part in local politics and he always did it with a tremendous grin on his face. Walking down the streets of the neighborhood after his passing, you can feel John noticing things to report on, delight in and rally in the air. A truly great human who is very much missed.
Then, last week, another friend sent me a Viber message asking if I had heard about Dave Goldberg’s sudden death. My first reaction was to curse, not very ladylike, but it was another blow. When I worked at Yahoo!, I loved to see Dave in action. There was one meeting, the first working day of the year, I’ll never forget. Dave was fired up in a good way. He wanted to counteract a bad contract. The head of legal shook his head – he had put in many months of work with his team and said the ink was still drying on the signatures. Dave was not happy with the terms and asked me for my support.
It was a deal that effected the programming of the website for years afterward – and Dave was right in his stance. He didn’t need my support, he could’ve, like so many other powerful men, simply dictated for me to carry out his orders. He was a great leader who knew how to inspire and be real.
Between his fire and beliefs in what he did at work, and his big heart- Dave handed out roses to everyone on Valentine’s Day and hosted amazing annual Super Bowl parties with his wife, Sheryl Sandberg at their home in the Palisades, Dave never let anyone feel like he wasn’t interested in what they had to say, and a true example of people who are truly successful championing other people.
It was on Facebook that another smart and wonderful fellow, Jon Vanhala, broke the news of a lovely man, and long time colleague, Michael Deputato succumbed to brain cancer this past Saturday. I remember calling Michael when Spotify first launched in the U.S. to ask his advice about naming conventions. The account was handled by sales, but the only way to make a daily impact is to create playlists, which tapped into my music programming experience.
While Michael and I discussed the account he asked me how many people were on my digital team. I’ll never forget his shock to find out I was a one person team with ten dotted-line reports, wok ring the active roster. After that Michael would call me to check in on me- and give me a bit of a sanity check. What a good man he was, as were Loscalzo and Dave Goldberg.
What I learned from these men is to pursue your passions, make time and notice people who need your help – most of all do something, so watch life from the sidelines.