This is by far the most difficult blog post I’ve ever written.
Sunday night I received the tragic news that my good friend and longtime business partner Elizabeth Redding passed away victim of a very aggressive form of cancer. Elizabeth had been battling cancer for several months and her condition aggressively deteriorated over the last few weeks.
Elizabeth and I were introduced 4 years ago by our common friend and Tellago co-founder Joe Klug. Joe insisted that Elizabeth would be a great fit for Tellago and planned a meeting while we both were in Seattle for a conference. To this day, I’ve wondered what in the world made Joe believe that we were going to connect.
- I was in my late 20s, Elizabeth in her early 40s.
- I was single (still am), never married (still haven’t) and didn’t have any kids (still don’t ). Elizabeth had a wonderful family including four incredible kids.
- I wanted to build a company based on technical excellence and a hacker culture, Elizabeth was more interested on having the right team to deliver great solutions.
- I was an immigrant with a really aggressive approach to business. Elizabeth embraced the kindness and patience typical of the Midwest.
- I am a socially liberal, fiscally conservative person who tends to get frustrated to the ignorance of politicians of both parties. Elizabeth was as conservative as they come.
Somehow, despite our major differences, Elizabeth and I really connected. She helped to get Tellago off the ground and joined as our first president. For more than 3 years, we enjoyed and incredible ride. We managed to grow Tellago from nothing to an award winning elite services organization.
After things were rolling with Tellago, I approached Elizabeth with the crazy idea of starting a software company based on some ideas that I had been working on. I thought the idea was going to scare the heck out of her given that it required a significant investment on our side and it would likely distract my attention from Tellago. Knowing I was really passionate about it and had put a lot of hours working on the first prototypes, Elizabeth accepted without hesitation and that’s how Tellago Studios was born.
The rest is history, Elizabeth and I split our time between the two business with a firm believe that you can change enterprise IT via innovative software(Studios) and a creative service delivery model(Tellago). We went through the ups and down of any fast growing company; won a lot of projects/customers, lost some, managed to fight every week but always protected and cherished our friendship. It wasn’t uncommon for Elizabeth and I to end the week with a huge disagreement. However, she will still manage to call late Friday evening to see how I was doing after the craziness of the week.
When Elizabeth was diagnosed with cancer she approached her condition with the same eternal optimism she lived life. When her condition worsened mid this year, Elizabeth never ceased to put everyone’s interests ahead of hers and kept pushing really hard to accomplish our goals in both companies. I visited Elizabeth a few days ago expecting to find her really exhausted and unable to talk from the effects of the cancer. However, that day, after an exhausting physical therapy session, she still found the strength to talk to me for over two hours, attentively listening to the launch plans of our new Studios product, listing all the things that needed to be accomplished and giving me an occasional hard time about a few things. Knowing that I was having a really intense week full of meetings and trips, Elizabeth called me that Friday night and managed to make me laugh making jokes about her medical condition.
Elizabeth was a great friend, my biggest supporter, one of my biggest critics and the person that always pushed me the hardest. She was the most optimistic person I’ve ever met. Elizabeth believed that pursuing a dream was more important than achieving financial success. She valued perseverance over talent, resiliency over skills, passion over business strategies and more than anything she believe in doing the right thing.
Last night, I found the strength to read the dozens of support emails sent by our employees, customers and other members of the Tellago family after knowing the news about Elizabeth. In those emails, there was a consistent adjective used to describe my friend: Good.
Elizabeth was good and always looked for the good side in people. She was good in the most difficult circumstances and inspired other to do the same. She remained good in a highly competitive industry known by its aggressive business practices. She was a great example that you can be good, do good and still win.
We will remember Elizabeth like the good person she was. I know we are going to miss her in Tellago. I know I am going to miss my friend, her advice, energy and even our fights ;).
Rest in peace my friend.
A great memory from last year, here is Elizabeth accepting Tellago’s American Business Award as the best software services company in the United States with less than a hundred employees.