In a world of push, where everyone has an agenda and multiple platforms in which to push their message, Dana beautifully owned the art of pull. That pull was so strong that in her passing many people; her family, her friends, her colleagues, her acquaintances are all learning that the joy and beauty she brought to their lives was felt by so many.
I met Dana on the digital speaking circuit in 2009. I liked her instantly because of her smile and her deep passion and love for the search community. Every time I saw her at a show she would stop, smile, ask a question, share a story.
In a setting where most people were working an angle or their agenda (share their business card, sell you software, get a job, connect with them on a social channel) Dana didn’t push her need, she pulled yours – “What session are you excited about?”, “How’d your presentation go?”, “Will I see you at the next show?”.
I, like so many people in the wake of our collective and individual loss, have went back to read her Tweets or to revisit the lovely posts she shared in a closed Facebook page where she so honestly and lovingly shared her experiences after her bike accident in 2013. What’s so striking is that, even in her pain and personal loss, she focused on gracefully thanking and blessing those who supported her.
Had desire to share how much you all mean to me & saw out reach for support! So blessed!! @jennita @ruthburr
Today’s http://Ride4Dana.org was huge w/300+ Riders, DJ, food truck, raffle w/$10K of prizes! Thx to all who helped! #blessed
Thanking so many for the outpouring of love & @AlanBleiweiss writing about my latest challenges & needs
My favorite memory with her was bunking together at SMX West. I shared my desire to work with a large agency after 14 years of being a consultant. The learning I sought would likely require a move and a big life change (I’d never lived outside of Oregon and I’d never lived alone). Most people in my life cautioned me against this drastic change or attributed the impetus to my children going to college. Dana just asked me questions and encouraged me, “That’s so brave,”, “What types of clients do you want to work with?”, “You’ll do great”, “I believe in you.” Lots of giggling, her thoughtful questions and I was set on my path, a path that led me to a cross-country move, a lot of learning and immense joy. Dana was just one voice in my journey, but she was a powerful one.
The other thing I remember from that night was how she spoke of her husband, Ed. Nothing that really stood out, just the quiet confidence that comes from wholehearted people who know they are truly loved. When Ed shared how he met Dana in a post he said he was “drawn to her”. That pull wasn’t just for her fellow marketers but for every level of love in her life including her friend Alan Bleiweiss who rushed to her side after the accident and lived with her and Ed for 14 months to care for her. He wasn’t pushed to be there, he was pulled to help a friend, to give back the way she had always given.
Even in what must have been such a difficult time Dana considered others. She encouraged us to have faith, then when she needed to focus all of her time to her personal faith, she excused herself from updates with grace, thanking people for their support and offering her unyielding gratitude and love.
I look back on what she taught us as an industry, such as her work in information architecture and social sharing structured data. In retrospect it makes perfect sense because those technical machinations are meant to pull things together that don’t make sense, they add structure and calm and acceptance into an environment of chaos and complexity.
I’ve been pleased to participate and help judge the State of Digital’s “The Youngsters” series that highlighted stories from young marketers new to the industry and though I hope our collective assessments of their writing and learning is helpful, what I’d most like is for them to learn from Dana. Don’t think about you, think about others. Don’t think about advancing yourself, think about how you help the person next to you.
A new colleague and friend, Heather Pease, was kind enough to share what’s been such great advice for anyone after a loss. What counts is how you honor that person. I’m excited to commit to fundraising for a Scholarship Fund that has been established in her name, to participate in honoring her next week at the US Search Awards and to have a place here at State of Digital to share how much I cherished her and how much I’ll miss her.
It’s been comforting to hear all the ways she is being honored. Though the best thing I’ve heard about how to honor Dana came from her husband Ed, who shared, “This afternoon I tried something a little different for me. I went out on a bike ride and decided I would try to be Dana, so I said hello loudly and cheerfully to everyone and I mean everyone that I saw. Walkers, runners, people riding. It was kind of fun!”
More than anything we could do to honor her, I think she’d love that best.