Since attending the funeral service this morning at St. Ignatius Loyola church here in NYC, I cannot stop thinking of Steve.
Not that I knew him that well. A few business meetings, a weekend in Key Largo, maybe a few meals at the Four Seasons---but anyone who knew him at all will recall that it didn’t take long for Steve to make a big and lasting impression.
People are saying that he was “bigger than life” in many ways: his outgoing personality, his aggressive points of view, his competitiveness. But I think rather that he was as large as life, that he lived life as it should be lived, to the fullest. And I think this scared and scares a lot of people because many of us live our lives smaller than they could be, afraid perhaps to make those around us anxious or uncomfortable.
In business I think that Steve thought it was a major part of his role as a leader to make people around him uncomfortable with the status quo, to shake things up, to make us unwilling to settle for less than could be achieved.
Steve loved stories so here are a couple from my memory of Steve.
I remember a memorable night on Andy Berlin’s yacht, sitting on the top deck with Steve and his gang of usual suspects (Tom, Richard, Chuck, Ron) puffing on fine cigars and sipping fine cognacs under a cover of bright stars and listening to an endless series of tall tales and risque jokes for hours and hours. Steve’s energy kept us all at a high pitch whenever we were around him; what a blessing!
I also remember working with Ron and Tom on the launch of the BMW Z3 automobile, their first roadster in America. Our task was to pre-sell 9000 cars with a small budget. The solution: an ‘outsert’ to accompany certain Vogue subscriptions consisting of a tune-in ‘program’ for the VH1 Fashion Awards and a sponsorship of the awards. Steve and his folks introduced the BMW people to key contacts at stores such as Nieman Marcus and Nordstrom’s to get showcases for the car.
Not only did we sell out the entire year’s production run before a single car was available but we did it in a classy, high quality way and we had fun doing it. That was Steve’s genius: surrounding himself with great people, always being open to ideas and willing to mow down any obstacles that got in the way.
Rest in peace, Steve. Vaya con dios.