August 7, 2022

Don’t be sad that it’s over; smile because it happened.

-Dr. Suess, Gabriel García Márquez, Vin Scully (and I’m sure others)

One of the most beloved and accomplished sportscasters, Vin Scully, passed away this week at the age of 94.

I heard the quote above attributed to him—then Googled it and there were others who said it in some form before him—but today he gets the credit.

Apologies to Dr. Seuss and Gabriel García Márquez. 🙂

The beauty of Vin Scully is that he could care less about getting credit for the quote; but I know—based on following his career during my 50+ years following baseball—he cares deeply about the sentiment.

Here’s a guy who had a front row seat to some of the most memorable games ever played…and with each one, he soaked up the experience for everything it was worth…and kept smiling every day about every one until the day he died.

Not a bad prescription for living a meaningful life.

I know if you follow my blog regularly you might interpret some of the “memorial-like posts” to be a little depressing (or even morbid) …and I’m pleading with you to not interpret them that way.

When I wrote about my near fatal stroke in 2019…or the passing of some of the greats of marketing (e.g., Joe SugarmanClayton Makepeace, Fred Catona, Jim Rutz) …and most recently the passing of my mom…it is always in the spirit of celebrating life, not mourning it.

It’s why I try to attend, in person, every funeral or memorial service of anyone who touched me during my lifetime…not only to celebrate them but to discover key things I missed while they were alive.

I attend and I am sad because they are gone; but concurrently I am blessed to learn how others experienced the departed, sharing what they learned from them (that I would otherwise never know).

Funerals are sad…and celebratory…and dare I say, educational.

Soaking in lost gems from folks who knew the dead better than me, creating a fuller portrait of a life well lived, is always a priceless experience.

Simply put, attend every funeral you can and pay close attention.

And…Don’t be sad because (their life) is over; smile because (their life) happened.

Back to some additional wisdom from Vin Scully…

Because he wanted to keep experiencing and smiling, he incorporated this quote into his life to insure he had joy until the end:

Some people die twice: once when they retire, and again when they actually pass away. Fear of the first one is a big incentive for me to keep working.

That’s not to say “retirement” is a dirty word…but Scully’s quote is a bit of a warning to all of us to stay productive and engaged…and to focus on meaningful experiences no matter what your definition of retirement might be.

I lean towards a version of Dan Sullivan’s definition of retirement (Dan is the world’s top coach for entrepreneurs):

I retire from things I don’t like to do; I retire from things I don’t do well; and I retire from people I don’t want to hang around with anymore.

Based on that definition, how “retired” are you?

It’s a worthwhile question to ask yourself throughout your lifetime whether you are in your 20’s or your 90’s.

Another quote from Vin Scully that got me thinking, this time about direct response marketing (although he was referring to baseball):

Statistics are used much like a drunk uses a lamppost: for support, not illumination.

While I believe in the Dick Benson quote, “You have to believe your numbers since they are all you’ve got until you get new numbers,” numbers aren’t everything.

Numbers in the hands of a mathematician are far different than in the hands of a seasoned marketer…and they must be taken in the context of multiple variables including instinct, heart and experience.

Ignore your numbers (i.e., “statistics”) at your peril; but they are not the be-all and end-all when you are illuminating a new product or promotion.

I wonder if Vin would approve of me taking his quote completely out of context? 🙂

I didn’t know where I wanted to go with this post today.

I know that I wanted to (sort of) apologize for writing about death and dying so often…and to let you know why I do it in a blog that is supposedly about marketing and copywriting.

Using Vin Scully as my anchor to express this sentiment seemed appropriate. Hopefully you didn’t mind.

I’ll close with a parable that was sent to me by a member of my online family in response to my post when I let you know about the death of my mom.

Every person I’ve shared this parable with told me how meaningful it was to them…and I hope it’s as meaningful to all of you:

A person stood at the pier and watched a ship about to embark on a long journey.

There was music and a parade, and generally the mood was festive as people were waving to the passengers.

On the other side of the pier, he noticed that a ship was coming in from a long journey. There was nobody there to greet them.

The passengers disembarked, picked up their luggage, and left.

The person couldn’t understand.

Shouldn’t it have been just the opposite?

The ship heading out was in great peril. Who knew whether it would capsize in a storm, or whether pirates would capture the ship? Shouldn’t the mood have been more somber and perhaps prayers were more appropriate than festivities?

The festivities and parade should have been saved for the incoming ship who weathered all the ocean threw at it and came away unscathed.

The parable is the story of life.

We celebrate the birth of a new child, and mourn the passing away of a loved one.

Who knows what this child will grow up to be?

A righteous person or an evil one?

Will the soul accomplish its mission in this world?

Shouldn’t there rather be lots of prayer instead of celebrating?

The opposite is true at the passing of a loved one.

If they lived a righteous and accomplished life, then it would behoove us to be happier than we usually are when losing a loved one.

As an additional reminder to all of us to celebrate age, wisdom…and yes, death… one last quote from Vin Scully:

It’s a mere moment in a man’s life between an All-Star Game [played during the prime of their career] and an Old-Timers Game [played after their “retirement”].

And from Eleanor Roosevelt (whether she was a baseball fan or not):

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift. That’s why it’s called “the present.”

Combining Vin with Eleanor:

Smile because it happened…will happen…and is currently happening. 🙂



P.S. While writing the post above, I kept coming back to the final chapter of my book, Overdeliver, which is titled, “Playing the Long Game.”

The irony of the book being released one day before I had my stroke will never be lost on me…nor will the fact that “life is long” no matter how many years we all have left.

There I go again…NOT getting depressing and morbid…just celebrating the wonder of life and death. 🙂

After my stroke, while recovering in the hospital, I thought about what my footprint might have been had I died that day…and it was not my book.

It was actually the resource page for the book……because my footprint is only possible because of the larger footprints of my mentors who came before me…and many of them are honored on that page.

So…in the spirit of remembrance, celebrating life (and death) I invite you to check out that page and see what standing on the shoulders of giants is all about.

Also: Feel free to buy the book there with an overdelivery of free bonuses (hey, when you title a book “Overdeliver” you need to over deliver on the bonuses!)…and dive into the wisdom of many of my giants.

Click here.

And my list of giants (all with mighty shoulders) grows every day.

Today I can add Vin Scully, Dr. Seuss and Gabriel García Márquez…with a nod to Eleanor Roosevelt. 🙂

About the author 

Brian Kurtz

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