Today I honor the memory of my dear friend, mentor and confidant, Marilynn Mobley who passed away in September.
The first time I met Marilynn Mobley was at the local chapter of the National Speaker’s Association. Back in those days we called it GSA. Then we would pass around a microphone and everyone in attendance would introduce themselves briefly. We somehow managed it.
That day Marilynn was seated beside Dan Thurman. Dan is a motivational speaker and a performer. He juggles, rides a unicycle and stuff like that. Dan said a few words about who he is and what he does then stepped into the isle and did a backflip. You know the kind where you just jump and flip heels over head and land back on your feet! The audience irrupted in wild applause as Dan passed the mic to Marilynn.
Like a true professional she waited for the room to get quiet before speaking. Then she introduced herself with her name and company name then said, “It’s my first time at GSA and I’ve already learned something. Don’t sit beside Dan Thurman.” She delivered the line without a smile and with perfect timing of a seasoned comedic straight man. Her slow delivery and quick wit was standard Marilynn. The audience erupted in laughter!
Marilynn went on to tell about her speaking and business. At the time she had her own PR company, Acorn PR Consulting. She mentioned an article she’d just had published in the AJC. Like Marilynn, I read the paper every day. Of course she regularly read numerous newspapers and magazines to stay current on what’s happening in the world and to spot trends.
Turns out I’d read her article and remembered it. I couldn’t wait to run up to her at the end of the meeting and tell her that I’d read the article. I was already a fan!
The article was well-written, well-researched and she didn’t hesitate to take a stand. Marilynn never seemed to be without a well-considered opinion. As I remember it the article was titled, “The Comeback of Iceberg Lettuce.” Yes, iceberg lettuce had been getting a bad rap, being knocked for lack of nutrition and taste while other lettuces such as romaine were becoming increasingly popular.
Marilynn was such a great storyteller that she could make even an article defending iceberg lettuce readable, enjoyable and newsworthy!
After that first meeting, Marilynn and I quickly became friends. I hired her to do some PR for me and was amazed at the press she was able to get for me, given what little I had to work with. What Marilynn would do is meet with me for lunch and just talk about everything. It seemed like two friends meeting for lunch but she was always looking for stories, items of interest and hooks for publicity.
Our client-consultant relationship didn’t last long as my marketing/PR budget quickly ran out and Marilynn eventually took an executive position at Edelman. But our long lunches didn’t stop. Our friendship had been firmly established.
We shared a love for interesting conversation, clever repartee and really got each other’s sense of humor.
Our lunches were always long and always fun. We’d both grown up in rural parts of Georgia so we’d share stories. We’d talk about our families, whatever was in the news, our favorite TV shows and our work. We’d catch each other up on whatever mutual friends we’d see since last time.
Marilynn gave me business advice and taught me a lot about PR. She said I was a great student and had a knack for it. People noticed when I’d get publicity and I’d share her advice. Before she wrote her book, The Scoop on Media Interviews. I used to tease her that I was going to write a book on PR called, “Everything I know About PR I learned from Marilynn.”
Anytime I was mentioned in the AJC I’d get an email from Marilynn saying, “I see that my favorite publicity ho is in the news again!” I’d send the same message when she was quoted.
She was generous with her support and was a respected resource to her friends and her vast network of business contacts. She always had a level head and good insights. She was very encouraging. When I decided to focus on writing rather than speaking, she was my biggest fan and the first and often only person I would go to for feedback. I trusted her judgment and she was one of the best writers I knew.
I remember the best advice Marilynn ever gave me. I don’t remember what micro-crisis I was dealing with at the time but she said, “Sometimes when you don’t have faith in your own ability you have to lean on the faith others have in you until your own kicks in. I have faith in you so just trust that for now.” Her encouragement always felt genuine and deep.
Marilynn was well-loved. She was smart, funny and accomplished. She was the kind of person you were happy to be around and proud to know. She’s gone too soon but the impact she had on each of us lives on. I know that I am a better person because she was my friend.