Posted by: ogandocoaching | June 20, 2008

Remembering Tim Russert

Remembering Tim

Much has been written about the tragic death of Meet the Press host Tim Russert but I have some additional sentiments to share that I believe are relevant to our readers.

First, on a personal level, I wasn’t prepared for the overwhelming emotions I felt as I watched most of the memorial coverage. The outpour of sympathy from world dignitaries and his colleagues was unprecedented for a person that reported on news rather than made it. And yet, for so many years you weren’t a bonafide newsmaker of national note unless you had sat across from Tim Russert on any given Sunday.

Russert was the embodiment of the American dream come true. A working-class Irish kid from Buffalo, New York that made not just good, but really good. When JFK made a rare visit to Tim’s hometown there were few other thirteen-year-olds that could boast that they’d maneuvered their way to actually shake the President’s hand. Was it luck or a foreshadow of destiny? Possibly the spark that ignited Tim’s passion for politics? How fitting that at Russert’s funeral John McCain and Barack Obama sat side by side, unaccompanied by aides and handlers, and in a way we had never seen them before.

So what can we learn about personal branding from Tim Russert? First, the significance of authenticity. Russert was not your chiseled-featured variety newsman. He had a Columbo quality, both in style and manner — and it worked.

Yes, he asked the tough questions – but with a sense of fairness you could always count on. These qualities earned our trust and elevated his broadcast to the “must do” Sunday news show, if you wanted to be taken seriously as a political figure.

Second; his countless expressions of generosity. He was a great father, husband, role model and a mentor to so many. Throughout the memorial coverage dozens of Tim’s colleagues and competitors shared stories of his thoughtfulness. ABC News’ This Week host, George Stephanopoulos shared that on the occasion of his daughter’s birth, Tim sent his family a pillow engraved with her name. Russert was never too busy to forget time-honored traditions and honest gestures of good will.

Sundays won’t be the same without Tim Russert and neither will the political season. Let us learn by his example. The important things in life aren’t found in the achievements we’re taught that symbolize success but rather in simple expressions of thoughtfulness and service to others.

Ed Madison

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