In Tribute to the Fallen: Trey Pennington


"You can have everything in life you want if you help enough other people get what they want." - Trey Pennington, quoting Zig Ziglar on June 16, 2011 in Knoxville TN.


It's amazing what becomes water cooler news in my office. Today, it was Trey Pennington.  Although I personally never met him his work inspired me. The news of suicide today bounced across  Mashable and whilst America slept, we in Sydney quietly mourned. Trey was a father to 6, husband, gentlemen, author and gifted speaker. He was a member of his community and an active member of the community of social media evangelists that I work with.  He often inspired lectured small business owners with his posts, updates and pictures and he and I's social graph overlapped time and time again.

What I liked about Trey was his style. He was not only witty, he was also and moreover willing. He did the work that he could because he could.  He was "authentically helpful".

Trey's work reflects that he too saw the world differently. He was a storyteller. He resonated what I tell my clients all the time and he was known for reminding businesses "You don't own your brand."

Trey's death disturbs me.  Being an East Coast Southerner he was grain-fed and nurtured on the same business manifestos that I cut my teeth on - The Secrets of Closing the Sale, The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, etc. He ran in the right circles, spoke at the right conferences, coached Congressmen, and led big business to reconsider their messaging and marketing.  At the end of it, he had nothing left to live for inside himself. It's tragic.

Today in quiet reflection about Trey Pennington I thought about all my colleagues around the world who work day in and day out in social media as well as of the family of the deceased.  The Greeks and the Jews have a unique and shared custom as it relates to death and passing. Both wish those who survive "Life to Us" and "Long Life".  Whilst that is a daily and constant wish for all in my meditations and in my tweets I think my colleagues in the digital enabling realm need a bit more. We give, we share, and we do because we can. We need more than just length of days.

As in any field that involves leadership and innovation, working in digital content creation, community and collaboration is challenging. It is not for the faint of heart, the thin skinned and for anyone who is not totally and authentically connected to what they do with the courage to do it, day in and day out. Someday we might be revered like astronauts but today we are perceived as marketing rogues and digital space cowboys more so than agents of change.  We train, we learn, we experiment. We mix, we match and we measure, measure, measure. Every time we are blasted into a new client's microcosm we willingly accept that there is no such thing as static as each interaction and listening point becomes transformational. Knowledge is power. (Somehow I keep visualizing the Incredible Hulk...)

I think each and every time we take on a new voice, we knowing lose a little of our own. The darkness out there is expansive. For some of us, all that is not illuminated represents is a vast appreciation of all that we don't know and may never get a chance to explore. It is the weight of inner space. It's deafening. It is maddening and like any revolution, it claims a few good men. Trey Pennington, RIP.