Saturday, April 12, 2008

Norm Lives on Through The People He Touched

Last week the valley broadcasting community lost a good friend and great advocate. Norm Ginsburg passed away at 83.

Fran and I met Norm nearly twenty years ago when he retired from CBS and moved to Arizona and taught at ASU. By then Fran and I had both graduated and were in the work force. Norm was teaching sales and marketing at ASU.

He was a unique professor. He had real-world experience yet he realized that the best way for the students to learn about the ever evolving broadcasting business was to bring in guest speakers from each industry to speak with his students about what it was really like out there in the real world. Norm really cared about his students and wanted them to know how it really was and what the factors for success were.

Fran, myself, many of our friends, associates and competitors made the annual pilgrimage to Tempe to speak in Norm's class. As a gesture of Norm's appreciation, there was always a buffet lunch at the Tempe Mission Palms after the lecture.

It was during those lunches, that I went back to school. You see, just as the students were learning from all of the professionals that spoke in class, I was learning from Norm. His wisdom and story's were always interesting and insightful.

On a more personal note, Fran and I along with our girls were fortunate to have Norm in our lives. Norm and Connie joined us for many holidays and celebrations. They had become part of our family.

The Cronkite school has a nice biography on Norm. Read it here ==>

After the memorial service, in true broadcasting fashion Jack Ginsberg, Norm's son invited everyone next door to Julio G's to have a drink in Norm's honor. I can't help but think that Norm was looking over and enjoying the fact that his family, friends, colleagues, broadcasters and students were all together not just celebrating his life, but talking about the business.

My friend Ed Olsen gave a fitting tribute to Norm at the service and he spoke about what Norm meant to him. The reality is, that Ed's words articulated the essence of Norm Ginsburg and what he meant to all of us.

Date: April 11, 2008
By: Ed Olsen

It is humbling to stand before such a distinguished group. I am honored to be able to share my thoughts on this day of remembrance. I most certainly want to thank each and every one of you for taking time to say goodbye to our friend and colleague…Norm Ginsburg.

In the many years that I knew Norm he never once took credit for the many lives he changed or the impact he had on the advertising industry in this market and beyond. He understood the role of an educator and many of us were blessed to have received his tutelage. Our seemingly unlikely friendship was really not the least bit odd…you see like many of you…when we were together Norm would speak…and I…would learn.

16 years ago Norm Ginburg ambled into my life with an awkward gait, the largest binder I had ever seen tucked under his sleeve and armed with his indelible look of determination. I purposefully sat in the back as I had no interest in the subject…there was no way I was going to “sell” anything…which actually did ring true in 3rd quarter 2007.

Norm’s stories (a few of which I heard more than once) his guidance, his passion for the business, peppered with a virtual who’s who of guest speakers (some of which are here today) made the class tolerable…then mildly interesting…and at the end…absolutely fascinating. I can remember one day near the end of the semester…Norm and I were talking about my future…he asked if I had a picture of my wife in my wallet. I produced one and after looking at it for an almost uncomfortable amount of time…Norm deadpanned…you better get into sales if you expect to keep her.

Norm taught us that selling advertising wasn’t about being slick or disingenuous. It was about being a good listener, dressing and acting professional, creating relationships and HAVING FUN…This is what I learned from Norm Ginsburg.

After graduation I was afforded a sales job the Greater Phoenix Interconnect…which became CableRep and is now Cox Media. Shortly after I began selling Norm invited me to lunch and asked me to bring a presentation. He wanted me to give him the presentation as practice in order for me to improve my sales skills. Nervously I brought a presentation I was giving to a prospective client later that day. As I started to go through it Norm reached over and took the binder away from me. He then looked at me and said “go on....” I fumbled through all I could remember…when I finished he looked at me with his steely eyes and said….”if you don’t know it by heart then you don’t know it…if you don’t know it…you can’t sell it.

Norm and I spoke and met often over the years. He was a cherished friend. I was so very fortunate for having him be a significant part of my life. When it became evident that he was nearing his end…he made it a point to make sure and tell me how special each and everyone of you are.

I’m not sure why God calls our loved ones home. I can do without this pain…this great sense of loss. Maybe God is trying to remind us that we should keep our lives in proper perspective, treat people right, nurture our friendships, cherish our loved ones, and invest in ourselves and into our families.

I will remember Norm through our deep and long conversations. His ever so insightful guidance…his ever so relative stories….and the sparkle in his eyes when he was about to deadpan one of his clever quips.

Rest easy Norm…your work here is done…thanks…from all of us….thanks….we’ll see you in heaven.

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