A very important person in my life has passed away and I want to pay tribute to this incredible human whose birthday is today.
I met Ruth Ferguson at difficult time in my life when I was broke and trying to figure out how to rebuild my career. I had a baby daughter at home and truly wasn’t sure how I was going to start over. Out of desperation and loneliness (not brilliance as many people infer) I started a company that came later to be known as Social Media Delivered. I did this by placing an ad on Craigslist asking people to come and work with me for free as an intern. I told them I was on unemployment and lonely, but I had an idea to start a company. I couldn’t pay them or myself but if we were successful, I would share the money with them.
During the recession of 2008 and 2009, many people were in a similar situation on unemployment, lonely and looking for work. They showed up at my house and I’d give a shot at working with some with varying levels of success. Early in the game, Ruth came for her interview. She was kind, a little shy and obviously smart. I wasn’t sure if she really knew much about social media because she called Twitter “Tweeter” and I almost didn’t work with her because of that. This is something she teased me about for years. I almost passed up on one of my most valuable employees and friends I ever had because of one word pronounced incorrectly. Apparently, I was a bit of an idiot but smart enough to take the plunge with Ruth.
Ruth was smart and overcame her shyness in about a month. As other hopeful interns came and went, Ruth and I sat side by side at my kitchen table while baby Luna joined us every 15 minutes and demanded love. Ruth was my very first hire at Social Media Delivered but beyond that she became a dear friend and part of our family. I still remember the day when we sat around the table sipping $6 pink champagne and eating cheese balls with a motley crew celebrating our first paid social media marketing deal with our dream client – The Adolphus Hotel and The French Room.
Ruth was a gifted writer and a kind soul. She had a gorgeous laugh and was filled with love and faith. She loved travel, beauty, flowers and dogs. She was so good to my daughter and incredibly good to the staff and to me. Ruth was there next to me during business ups and downs, saw me through a divorce, and cheered for me when I fell in love again.
Ruth went from intern all the way to Vice President of Social Media Delivered. She was relentless in her work and good to the team she managed.
Much like family members, Ruth’s and my relationship went through ups and downs and there came a time that we parted ways working together but we always remained friends. Earlier this year, we were lucky enough to get to work together again on a few projects and I enjoyed having Ruth back in my life on a more regular basis. I’m now even more thankful that I got this time with Ruth so near the end.
Ruth taught me unrelenting kindness. I was inspired by her faith and never understood how she could remain so calm in almost every situation. Ruth was secretly hilarious but in a quiet, unassuming way I admired. The world was made better by this woman’s presence and my life was better because she was in it.
Some of the most powerful relationships in my life have come from people who have worked for me and clients I have served. I will always look for the lessons I can gain from the people I work with. I value work because of the gorgeous tapestry of people it brings into my life. I will never keep my personal and work life separate because my professional life has brought me friendship, family and lessons I could have found no where else.