Goodbye Jody. You Really Were Awesome

Posted on Jan 29, 2013 | 85 comments


Jody.

You’re gone too early. We still had so many more times to spend together.

Jody Sherman - NoI loved this image I saw posted by Andy Rankin. Because this is the one word that was not in your vocabulary.

And it was the first word I muttered when I heard the news tonight.

I remember when we met years ago. I think Michael Kantor introduced us. You were pitching me an online business selling other people’s baby food. I told you what a dumb idea it was.

You came back. You had a new plan. You had renegotiated your way out of that agreement. Now you wanted to merge with a broader-based business and sell all products. You got to keep the name of the new company – ecomom. You were so proud of that name and what it stood for. You wanted good in the world.

And in turn the world wanted good for you. But the world made you fight for it. And I did, too.

I told you to go away again, you crazy, wiry, non-stop pitching fool.

What? You back again? Who let you in here? Oh, you want to tell me about how your business is now scaling? You have repeat orders and high gross margins? Go away, I say! It’s mom stuff. We didn’t do so well in that category in the past.

Review your deck? Ok, Jody. You sure do push the envelope. But I kinda like your chutzpah. Sure, bro. Come on in. But … could you button up the shirt a couple more notches when you come to my office? I think you might have scared a few folks last time. Ha, just kidding. No, seriously. Just one more button.

Wow. Your deck looks great. Are those growth numbers real? Impressive. No. No I can’t meet for breakfast. I don’t think we can fund in that category, Jody.

Ok. I’ll have the egg-white burrito. I have to eat something healthy around you or I’ll feel guilty. Is it true that you have 3% body fat? I know, I know. I shouldn’t eat the carbs. But this is Lemon Moon – at least we know it’s healthy.

Fine. Fine. I’ll write you an angel check, then. As long as you promise to stop pitching me! Yes, Jody. I really believe in you. I always did. But when I got home and I told my wife that I had just committed $25,000 that she should just consider it a mitzvah. I didn’t so much want to see a baby products company make money as I wanted to see you succeed. You had some magic dust.

Ok, Jody. We have to have a heart-to-heart. You gotta stop pitching Sand Hill Road VCs. Look at their entrepreneurs – they are 28, computer programmers and they went to Harvard or Stanford. Now go look in a mirror. You have “weird hair.” Yes. weird hair. My cousin calls it JewFro. And you have it. And in stead of hiding it you wear it Kramer style just to scare people. I think you like looking at them looking at you. Don’t you? Focus on raising money from outsiders. From people eschewed by the typical system. Raise money from underdogs like you.

You told me that was some of the most honest and best advice you had ever gotten. That most people were too scared to say that to you. And raise money you did. Millions of it.

Ok. I have to admit something to you. With your persona I always expected to ask you tough financial questions about your business and expect you to say, “let me check with my CFO.” You didn’t. You always had the most precise mastery of your numbers. The way no  CEO from Harvard does.

You were a smart chip-on-your-shoulder-that-weighed-a-ton mother fucker. And proud of it. And so was I.

You were always so generous with giving back. You spent so much time with first-time startups from Launchpad LA. You helped so many figure out how to approach angels. And how to think about being an entrepreneur.

You were so excited when you got to help me. I told you that I wanted to go to The Lobby and you told me you’d make it happen.

No, Jody. Please don’t email David Hornik. I don’t want to bug him. I’m a VC – he doesn’t need more of me at The Lobby.

Thank you. That was very kind. Ok, fine – just promise me you won’t make him feel compelled. Just an intro. Let me hang out. I can always go The Lobby another year.

Ok. David invited me. Thank you, Jody. I appreciate what you did for me. I didn’t ask you to. I never do. I kind of begged you not to. But you never accepted no for an answer. And I know that you enjoyed helping other people and returning favors more than you enjoyed looking after yourself.

Jody Sherman Mark Suster - MexicoSo it’s fitting that we got to hang out together last year at The Lobby in Mexico. I love this shot we took together. I wanted a picture together there since you were the guy who made it happen.

And it’s kind of the motto that I would always imagine coming from Jody Sherman, “Regret Nothing.”

And we finally met Kerri. She was so lovely. You bragged about her to me so many times. How smart she was – studying to be a doctor. How gorgeous she was. How did a putz like you end up with a beauty like that? Hey? ;-) We loved meeting her. And she loved you.

I remember reading about Paige Craig’s skiing accident. Lots of broken bones. And I saw that you posted a note that said something like, “Dude. Holler if you need anything at all and I’m on the next flight.” And I remember thinking to myself at the time that I knew you really meant it. For most people that would be just words.

You lived your commitments.

And now you’re gone. And it’s too early. And I have a tear in my eye. And I’m not a crier. You weren’t supposed to leave us this early, Jody. Damn you.

I had a laugh reading a message on Facebook. It was written by somebody who knew your true spirit. Somebody who knew what you’d be thinking looking down at us all. For one, you’d be thinking, “Suster, stop being such a wussy.”

Jody Sherman TatooBill Price wrote

[Jody]  showed me his latest tattoo. I was incredulous. What kind of jackass puts “i am awesome” across the back of his wrist? Before I could speak, as I was raising my eyes to his, he looked at me and answered the question with his trademark gigantic smile before I could ask it. 

“Because I am.”

Your trademark gigantic smile. How precious. You are awesome, Jody.

You are.

And only you had the juevos to pull off that tattoo.

Life isn’t perfect. And I’m sure you had demons. And a past. And your struggles with the future. And with living up to expectations you set with those around you. And whatever information I absorb about you in the future – and I referenced you way back when so I know your life wasn’t perfect – I know that the true core of Jody Sherman was a kind, caring, giving, emotional, flawed, smart, ambitious, competitive person.

We all saw that in you, Jody. Your imperfections. And we loved you anyways. I wish you knew that.

Ok. Ok. Shut up, man. I’ll stop tearing up.

But please, rest in peace, Jody. I’ll miss you.

And thanks for leaving us your afterlife photo. It’s how I’ll remember you.

Jody Sherman afterlife

  • http://www.mightynest.com Chris

    Great post Mark. This news stopped me in my tracks this morning. I didn’t know Jody personally but I’ve been following what he and his team have built at ecomom. It sucks to lose a great entrepreneur and even more to lose someone who was clearly a great person. I am sorry that I didn’t get the chance to know him better and I have those that did in my thoughts.

  • SG

    I didn’t know Jody, either, as one posted earlier. After reading all of this… I feel my life will be incomplete now. His passage was a loss to all. I’m sorry, folks….

  • Carol Burns

    Thank you Mark, this homage to Jody depicts him perfectly. I had the privilege of working with Jody and though we did not always see eye to eye and butted heads often, we both walked away with respect for each other and would laugh about it later–well, that depends on who won the debate :)

    I wish he and I had been more in touch in recent years. I’ve been reading all the posts about him on various sites and it’s clear the depth of his presence in this world affected so many! RIP-Jody, you know we are all thinking of you!

  • lyngraft

    This story makes you want to meet Jody and be part of what he was creating.

  • http://www.facebook.com/msrsan Marko Srsan

    I didn’t know Jody, I didn’t have the privilege to meet him but the first thing that I saw today when I woke up was the FB-TW feed covered in sadness. Reading this from thousand miles away, I partly understand why that sadness appeared – giving back to the community by looking at the world in a unique way while doing stuff successfully on his own, that was obviously Jody. An he will be missed a lot.
    Thnx Mark for this piece – it’s an example of a caring, watch-your-back community startup world has become.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    butting heads is what jody did best ;-)

  • acoolong

    Beautiful, Mark.

  • http://twitter.com/eatros Adam Eatros

    Great post Mark. I personally didn’t know Jody myself, but you brought tears to my eyes as I read this.

    Thanks for sharing…

  • Jeremy Sherman

    Wow! Thank you for writing this! RIP Jody!!

  • mironlulic

    Beautiful post Mark.

    I’m struggling to make sense of this. Was just emailing Jody last week. He was consoling me about some struggles I’ve been having with my startup.

    I’m lucky to have spent the time I did with Jody and will always remember him as one of the most unique and awesome human beings I’ve met.

  • Chris Yeh

    I remember Jody calling me up one time, his voice full of excitement: “Chris! I just got Mark Suster to invest.” It’s great to hear the other side of the story.

  • Jon Siegal (@jonsiegal)

    Mark, I’m sorry for the loss of your friend and colleague. I did not know him but smiled many times will reading this post. He sounds like a one of a kind person and I wish I had met him.

  • http://twitter.com/craigsyverson Craig Syverson

    Beautifully said, Mark. Thanks. Your piece is helping me explain Jody to my friends who did not know him, and to explain to my colleagues why I could not go to work today.

  • http://twitter.com/g4cohen Grant Cohen

    Really nice piece Mark – its a sad day for the tech community but great to see the support for what was a truly awesome dude. Below is the comment I posted on his Facebook page – I’d like to think its a great insight into the type of guy he was and figured a lot of people here may not be connected with him on there where folks have been sharing a great array of similar stories…

    I first met Jody at a Launchpad LA event he invited me to after I had spent a few months harassing him through LinkedIn and email to enlist his help with our launch of Swagsy. The following week I was conveniently headed to Vegas for a college buddy’s bachelor party and asked Jody to meet up for a drink, so I could further pick his brain, hit him up for intros and get him on the official Advisory Board as it was clear his input would be of great value for us. He countered by insisting that I come out to the office to check the local scene (which he was quite proud of) and to participate in one of their weekly afternoon yoga sessions. You can imagine the shock of my buddies when I announced I was skipping out on the planned afternoon debauchery at the sports book to go do yoga with some guy I’d just met over in the downtown Vegas offices of an unknown website called “Eco-Mom”. But that’s the type of dude Jody was – he was so endearing that the idea of this otherwise off-the-wall meet up seemed to totally normal (Note – it ended up being literally “off the wall” as he goaded me into repeatedly attempting a handstand against said office walls, which I failed miserably at and was then sore for weeks as a result of). Soon after Jody joined the Swagsy team and was an invaluable resource over the last 18 months providing an alarmingly honest, obvious and accurate set of advice in the most upbeat and useful way possible at every turn. We have a kick ass group who we lean on for help, but he was always the first to respond and amazingly generous with his time – particularly considering he was the only one also running his own startup! After our last call with him a few weeks back, I literally hung up, dialed my co-founder and said: “Jody is fucking awesome. I want to be him when I grow up”. He will be badly missed, but if his goal was really to “be remembered for being helpful to others” then I think he can safely consider this life a shining success.

  • Lynn

    Thank you for an incredible piece, Mark. Jody and I met in the early renegade Internet days and we have stayed in touch and hung out occasionally throughout the years. No one was ever like Jody. I will smile when I think of him for the rest of my life. Rest in peace, friend.

  • http://estrategypartners.com/ Jeff Cohn

    Well done Mark!

  • Jon Callaghan

    Thank you Mark. A beautiful tribute to a real hero of our world and time. He was indeed awesome over the many cycles I knew him through. What a huge loss.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    was was always consoling. always advising. always helping.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    sorry to the loss, craig. he will be missed.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    that’s a great story. typical. thank you.

  • http://www.spindows.com/ Clay Hebert

    Thanks, Mark. Beautifully written.

  • http://www.facebook.com/hesky Hesky Kutscher

    so its midnight – been a bit of rough day, i go and scan facebook and I see this post, my heart starts racing praying its not what i think it is.. wow puts my day in perspective. I met Jody 2 years ago , go to spend time with him professionally and personally. Jody was really a rare character, he had tons of mojo and you think is this guy real.. and he was- more then that he was a mentch. He wouldnt make a promise he wouldnt keep even if it hurt him. He was so much fun to be around- my wife and I had dinner with him and his lovely wife and had such a nice time.. i am truly in shock right now – sleeping will be rough. Jody Sherman you will be missed…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Net-Jacobsson/513434100 Net Jacobsson

    Mark, you bet. LA is on my near term hit list. Will let you know soon.

  • http://www.facebook.com/hesky Hesky Kutscher

    Mark forgot to mention in my last comment how much I appreciated how your wrote this obit, really captured Jody and the feelings of myself and others in how we related to him. really special piece…

  • Chris Wallace

    Wow, I can’t believe it. My best wishes to your family, coworkers and friends, Jody you will be missed…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=18469 Rajil Kapoor

    wonderful piece mark – rings so true for those that got to know him – every word, every emotion. i wish we all could have helped him more….

  • http://www.ResiliencyForLife.com/ ResilientMichael

    Oh that this world had more Jody’s. Jody thanks for living life large. So very nicely written Mark.

  • http://www.ResiliencyForLife.com/ ResilientMichael

    Yes indeed!

  • http://www.ResiliencyForLife.com/ ResilientMichael

    Cory yes a short time with him but a warm example of a business professional with heart

  • GabrielMtn

    I aspired to work with Jody some day, after seeing a TWiST interview with him. I believe that for me, his lessons in tenacity, his personality, and his friendship came to me through this post, as much as they ever will.

  • nannasin smith

    so well to those that sadly never got to know him.
    1N4001

  • http://twitter.com/stefanportay Stefan Portay

    Great words there Mark.
    I had cold emailed Jody, about a year ago wanting a casual discussion about his experience, and advice for our product. He quickly responded, mostly because I’m a social entrepreneur and he has a passion for it, and said to hit him up next time I was in Vegas. I quickly got a flight, and when we met I was so shocked by his ‘look’. I had seen head shots, but he was in flip-flops, looked like he just got out of bed, and quick and witty with vulgar jokes. He was so smart, had great insight, a big heart, and a true leader with great vision.. looks can sometimes be deceiving… Before I left, he literally stopped me and said to me ‘Whatever you do, don’t sell out! Don’t get caught up in the Valley BS, and be true to your passion and your aspirations.’ It’s always stuck with me Jody, and I’ve always been grateful for taking the time to meet me. You obviously had a way with people, and truly enjoyed helping others… I will do the same, and always remember your advice!

  • Andres Leguizamon

    Mark, I am new to your site and just had a chance to read this post… Amazing. I never knew Jody but from your post I can tell he was an inspirational entrepreneur. Greatly written. Sorry for the loss of your friend. RIP Jody.

  • http://www.facebook.com/navajojo.jay Nava Jojo Jay

    So very, very beautifully written.
    I sadly never knew him personally but am ‘one of those’ ecomoms that got a taste of who he was and what his company stood for via facebook and email. I cried reading the news and am in absolute awe of how many people he affected. A book needs to be written with these stories! Please!

  • Guest

    So very, very beautifully written.
    I sadly never knew him
    personally but am ‘one of those’ ecomoms that got a taste of who he was
    and what his company stood for via facebook and email. I cried reading
    the news and am in absolute awe of how many people he affected. A book
    needs to be written about these stories! Please!