Our time here is short. Make the most of it, like Steven did.

The best part of business is the people. I didn’t know that when I started my career. But over the past two decades I have discovered that businesses aren’t just powerful economic engines. They are the primary source of social interactions among adults.  The workplace is dramatically undervalued as a matchmaker of friends, mentors, collaborators and life partners. In fact, I met my wife, Dawn, at work.

Steven Schreibman

On Mother’s Day I got a shocking text from my close friend, Jennifer Hanley, whom I first met when she became a client of mine in 2008. She had bad news. My friend and former client, Steven Schreibman, had passed away the day before. This was totally unexpected. He recently began experiencing severe headaches. Then, on May 7th, he suffered a fall that resulted in a brain injury. He never regained consciousness.

I am truly blessed to have known Steven. But we would have never met had it not been for business. Steven was a fancy pants marketing lead at Nationwide Insurance. I was the creative lead at one of Nationwide’s advertising agencies. And we became fast friends.

The Legend

Steven’s reputation preceded him. My coworkers would come back from meetings with Nationwide telling stories of this wild, rogue client. I couldn’t wait to meet this mythical marketing creature.

He didn’t disappoint. In fact, Steven Schreibman was such a fantastic character, that even though I am only halfway through my advertising career expectancy, I am declaring that I will never encounter another client or coworker that is more spectacularly unique than Steven.

IMG_1191
During an all night shoot in LA, we snuck into a diner for the best peanut butter chocolate shake I’ve ever had. I think Steven (back-row middle) had a Burberry Shake.

Today I am reflecting on Steven’s impact on my life. My last 10 years have been much more flavorful thanks to Steven. Here are four of the many things I will never forget about him.

The Steven Schreibman Top 4 List.

1. His Laugh

I love to laugh. But Steven’s laugh made me look like the farmer in American Gothic.  His laugh felt like the essence of life itself. His laugh was big and loud, like an alarm. And it never contained an ounce of restraint. Nor did it adhere to any social norms. I would have loved to have gone to church or synagogue or a library with Steven just to see if he could actually put a lid on his impulse to laugh without a hint of inhibition at the hilarity of the world. We should all live and laugh like that.

2. He cared.

Steven engaged with people as if he were a talk show host. Which is probably the job he should have had. In fact, I hope he gets that gig in Heaven. Because me and St. Peter would watch the Steven Schreibman Show every night.

2010-04-07 17.24.22.jpg
Welcome back to the Tonight Show. I’m Steven Schreibman. And you are not. BWAHAHAHA!

Steven always showed a genuine interest in my life. He was full of questions and remembered everything I ever told him. When we first began working together, my family was small and growing. I have three blonde haired, blue-eyed kids named Ava, Johann and Magnus. Steven would always ask me, ‘How is your little Aryan race coming along?’ I laugh out loud when I think about how completely inappropriate he was, even as he demonstrated how much he cared about me and my family.

3. He Was Eternally Optimistic

Steven was a great client to present creative ideas to, because he recognized the potential in every idea. This is an extremely rare and valuable skill. Everything was Fabulous and Brilliant and Amazing. He loved pushing each idea to see how far it could go. He loved making things bigger, wilder and more attention-getting. He loved making ideas more memorable, and less like everything else. He could have taught a class on getting the most value out of a creative idea. He also could have been the class clown in that very same course.

tonight-show
This is a very bad picture from a very interesting night. While out in LA on a shoot, Matt Haritan (far right) and I had the idea to go to a taping of the Tonight Show. Not only did we go to a taping, afterwards we got invited back stage, on stage and even staged a coup d’etat on Jay Leno’s couch. Steven (third from the left) loved this kinda stuff.

4. He Was Entertaining

Steven was outlandish, and over-the-top, all of the time. His personality was completely incongruent with that of a large, conservative insurance company. But Steven reveled in being the pot stirrer. He understood his role as the person who could balance out a conservative corporate culture with his total irreverence for all things conservative.

The Master of Shock Value

We should all have a friend who is as endlessly entertaining as Steven was. He was so funny, and so outlandishly unpredictable, that you just wanted to be around him to see and hear what he would do next. There were no ordinary conversations with Steven. I think it would have been a violation of his personal brand to give you a straight answer. Every conversation with Steven was like a box of Cracker Jacks. And I looked forward to the joke, the surprise, or the shocking commentary that was tucked into every exchange.

My First Impression

I first met Steven on a Nationwide commercial shoot, on a 100 degree day in North Carolina. His face was lathered in sunscreen that was barely rubbed in. Which meant that he looked ridiculous. And he loved it. He kept asking if there was something on his face, and he acted oblivious to the white creamy mess he wore like Halloween makeup, just to get a reaction.

IMG_1846
This is from Steven’s going away party when he left Nationwide. Clearly it was significantly retouched. Because he did not have red hands.

The Shirt Incident

One of my favorite Steven memories was from his birthday in 2009. We had a meeting together, and I wore a wild paisley shirt. When the SS waltzed into the meeting he was wearing the exact same shirt! When he spotted me wearing his birthday shirt, his jaw dropped, and he exclaimed, ‘Oh. My. Gawd!  We HAVE to sit next to each other!!!!’ So we did. The rest of the meeting felt like a Saturday Night Live skit. It was all just too ridiculous to take anything seriously. As I think about Steven now, I immediate go back to that meeting. We looked like twin clowns. And we loved every minute of it.

dsc07453-e1274843083156
Steven reacting to a production assistant on a shoot who warned him to be careful on the stairs.

This Blog

Steven was the most engaged reader of this blog. Literally. The insights page on The Perfect Agency Project show that he has provided the most comments on this blog, by far. In fact, Steven has 33% more comments than the next most prolific commenter. This blog will miss him.

Conclusion

I love characters. And Steven was one of the greatest characters I’ve ever known. My conversations with Steven were more provocative and entertaining than the Howard Stern show. Always hilarious. Always inappropriate. And never a bit predictable.

Steven was indeed larger than life. And to those of us whose lives he touched, he is larger than death. Nothing can undo the impact you’ve had on all of us Steven. We will miss you greatly. I can’t wait to hear your laugh again on the other side.

*If you know a friend or family member of Steven’s, please consider sharing this post with them.

Advertisements

Published by

Adam Albrecht

Adam Albrecht is the Founder and CEO of the advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry. He believes the most powerful weapon on Earth is the human mind. He also authors two blogs: The Perfect Agency Project and Dad Says Daughter Says, a Daddy-Daughter blog he co-writes with his 12 year old daughter Ava. Adam can be reached at adam@theweaponry.com.

32 thoughts on “Our time here is short. Make the most of it, like Steven did.”

  1. I was lucky enough to call SS a friend for 15 years and attended his funeral yesterday. Very accurate description of him. He will missed by many, many people. Thanks for writing it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Adam … so well said. Beyond Steven’s external persona I loved his more quiet 1:1 self. He was always thoughtful, caring, empathetic, curious, courageous, and understanding. He had huge integrity, with never a bad word about anyone. I agree we will likely never meet anyone quite like him. Godspeed Steven.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with everything you added Bill. A moment that I wrote about, but edited out, was a story about the time I learned that my Grandfather had passed away on my way to a creative presentation with Steven. He could tell I wasn’t at my very blingiest when I walked in the room. He asked me if I was ok, and I told him my news. His response was so empathetic, you would have thought it was his grandfather who passed. I will never forget that.

      Like

  3. I am so sad to hear this. I only met Steven once, when I was a reporter at Advertising Age, but he made a lasting impression on me. I remember making my way into the headquarters at Nationwide fully expecting to interview yet another tight-lipped, corporate marketing drone. Instead, I met Steven, who was anything but. Steven was funny, charming, open, warm, and, yes, he had one of the best laughs ever. Thanks for writing this beautiful tribute.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great stuff, Adam. Steven was one of my first in-house clients, which led me to some wildly incorrect assumptions about life in the legal department of a large, midwestern insurance company.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Do you know that to some people, normal people who don’t show up to national conferences in Green Bay Packer jerseys…….. YOU are their Steven Schreibman. When I think about outrageous, brilliant, positive, funny people, like your Steven, that I have met in the workforce or anywhere, you come to mind first and loudest. Sounds like high praise to be like Steven.

    Like

  6. Steven loved your hair, Adam, even more than mine, I think. He would say to me, here comes Adam, look at that hair!! Your insights about him are so accurate and beautifully written. It describes him perfectly. I don’t know if you ever saw him make an entrance wearing his duster, but he wore it with such aplomb and with a look that dared anyone to say anything about it. And on his last day at Nationwide, he wore a shirt with skull and crossbones on it. I will miss him. We had so much fun, and I enjoyed being his admin and would do anything for him, like the time I had to take him for his colonoscopy. It was a little weird, but I chalked it up as “other duties as assigned”. He was kind and generous and I will miss his laugh. Rest In Peace, darling.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OMG Janell!!!! (I tried to write that the way SS would say it). You summed him up perfectly. I think we could start an Instagram feed of Steven’s fashion statements! I’ve missed you! I hope you are great!

      Like

  7. Wow. Well done. Thank you for the fabulous memories. I could hear Steven reading each word of this blog to all of us. Remember how mad he was that we were going to shoot late? I believe he slept in the car for awhile…but not too long to miss the PB Burberry milkshake. I will miss him dearly.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. When Nationwide entered into a partnership with Jack Hanna, the Columbus Zoo provided us with an opportunity to have Jack come speak to our associates. I can’t remember if this was solely my idea or if a team I was part of came up with it, but we all knew that Jack was famous for his late night talk show appearances where he brought out animals and made hosts uncomfortable. So, rather than just have Jack come in and give a talk, we concocted a talk show idea and when it came time to decide who the host of this talk show should be, there was an obvious choice! Steven took the role very seriously, I drafted some questions and talking points and sent them to Steven. He studied intently, made suggestions, and practiced so that it would come off as professional and not a joke. The show – presented live in one of the convention center ballrooms – went off without a hitch. Steven played the role like he was born for it – serious when he needed to be but hamming it up for laughs when the situation called for it (like when he held a 25ft snake). From that day forward, Steven always called out “Chipster!” when he saw me at Nationwide and would often post funny birthday greetings to me on Facebook, usually some sort of pun involving either my first or last name. Definitely one of a kind and after learning he had moved back to Columbus, I was hoping I’d run into him some time. He’ll be missed – thanks for writing what you did, you captured his character so well.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. What a wonderful tribute to Steven! I met Steven when we both were at Victoria’s Secret. I smiled and even laughed out loud as I read through the Steven Schreibman Top Four List because I remember him exactly as you describe. His laugh, his sense of humor and his warmth. I am saddened by our loss, but so truly moved by his legacy! Rest in peace Steven – you have deeply touched us all and made our lives better for having known you.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Loved reading this…and reading the wonderful comments. Steven was my first work friend– we were Assistant Account Executives at Benton & Bowles in 1984. He kept me laughing steadily for the next 3 years at work…and and the next 30 years as a great friend. Every year, a group of us would prepare for the Oscars by shooting a homemade video on the streets of New York where we’d create a storyline that allowed the characters to namecheck every one of the nominated films…. some lines written in advance, some improvised on the spot (the year ACCIDENTAL TOURIST was nominated we had nearly finished the video without referencing it, so Steve managed to reference a character on the NYC street that Steven dubbed “THE OCCIDENTAL TOURIST”)….he was hilarious. To this day, when I am in NY and a bus passes close by, I wheel around and frantically wave at the bus the way Steve used to do, cracking me up all the time. I still cannot believe he’s gone.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Adam, glad I stumbled upon this. This made me smile! I went to high school with Steven. He was a riot then and a great student, too. Love seeing these pictures. You were so lucky to work with him. We need more Steven’s in corporate America. Will pass on to the high school gang! Connie Unger

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Wow. Lover this so much. I’ve met Steven several times through friends. He was always a delight. Your depiction of him was straight on. How enjoyable that you could caption the person he was. He’s probably laughing at all of us fools right now. Good for him. Laugh on Steven!!!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s