You’ve Got a Friend . . .

The incomparable James Taylor had many hits while I was growing up, but one that has always stuck with me is You’ve Got a Friend.”   This ballad hit home this week because I lost a dear friend, Penina Sachs, to cancer.  Penina quietly battled for five years before passing.

Penina was someone who “got it” when it came to being a friend.  She and I served together when I was the President of the Greater Cincinnati HR Assocation (GCHRA).  There were so many things that defined Penina that drew me to her as a friend.  She was candid, forthright, determined and she wanted to move the profession of HR forward.  Through her tireless volunteer efforts she did just that.  She was someone who embraced social media and was active in the forums.  She was also someone who saw the future by being an attendee at the first HRevolution.

Penina was never one for pretense and some found that difficult.  So many people spend hours and hours trying to “be somebody” vs. just being comfortable in their own skin.  That was never the case for Penina.

Her passing leads me to throw this out there for the HR social community to think about.

The reason I valued Penina was that we were truly friends.  Not on-line followers, lurkers, Linked In connections, or Facebook “friends.”  We were connected on-line, but more importantly in real life.  I know that it’s not possible to be connected with everyone we know in person, but I want to challenge those connected to me.  When I see someone who has 50,000+ followers on Twitter, I’m skeptical.  Sure, you have the numbers, but do they just want to be seen with you and not know you?  Where’s the value in that?

When people boast of numbers, numbers, numbers – I just wonder if you even know people’s names?  The influencer lists are based on SEO’s and metrics, but is that truly influence?

I don’t want to influence, I want to leave a legacy.  I want to be an imprint on others and I want them to imprint me.  Penina did that.  I will value her legacy of support and adventure in our ever evolving field.

So, if you are kind enough to read this blog or are connected with me in other forums know that I’m serious about this.  I want to know you enough that you leave an imprint on my life.  It’s just like James Taylor sang . . .

“You just call out my name and you know wherever I am – I’ll come running to see you again . . . You’ve got a friend.”

I’ll miss you Penina !!

Image courtesy of Word Collector

16 thoughts on “You’ve Got a Friend . . .”

  1. Terrific message Steve. Keeping it real is one of the most important things you bring to the conversation, whether it’s about work, family, or friends. Thanks for keeping us all focused on what’s most important.

  2. Steve,
    What a beautiful tribute to Penina and the power of friendship! She was a very special person who truly made a difference in my life…and for many others. She was a super role model for reaching out to others and I will do my best to follow her lead.
    Thanks for the wonderful post.

  3. What a beautiful story. We will all miss Penina and her authenticity. She was such a fine role model. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Such a nice tribute to Penina Steve. She definitely left a legacy for her family, community and the HR community and will be missed.

    You are also leaving a tremendous legacy my friend. I am one of the many who look up to you and follow your example. Keep up the good work! We’re watching you. 🙂

  5. Thank you, Steve for giving this tribute. Thank you for speaking so kindly of her at the round table. I was not aware of her illness until recently, and was shocked that we had lost her. Penina gave her time to so many. I was honored to have known her.

  6. I agree with you that online connection is more than just numbers, but I do think it can be meaningful. I always try very hard to say happy birthday or congratulations or deepest sympathies when online connections post something that seems to need a response like that – and I mean it. To me, being truly interested in all aspects of a connection’s life is the best way I can connect to people that I just can’t see face to face. It’s one of the reasons that I like it when people post more than their latest HR goodie – tell me about your kids or how your mothers/fathers day was – because I really, really want to know.

  7. Great post and tribute to Penina. I am also glad that I knew Penina personally as a friend and not just a connection. I admire her contribution to our HR community. Thank you for sharing, Steve.

  8. Shocking news I had only met Penina a couple times when I first joined GCRHA and could never tell she was dealing with such an illness. May she rest in peace.

    That was a very thoughtful message Steve and even though I’m not specifically in the HR profession specifically I always enjoy your insight and comments. You are a great example of how to treat people with such enthusiasm, your energy is very contagious. I need to get back to the HR Roundtable…..see you soon.

  9. Thank you for this beautiful story. After reading this I wish I had met Penina. Definitely not just a number and neither are you Steve.

  10. What a great post! I keep wondering what the future holds for social media and relationships in general. Initially, I think everyone was obsessed with numbers simply because there had never before been a platform to reach so many people so easily. Now, I’m (happily) seeing an increase in the importance of actual relationships. Maybe everyone quickly grew tired of communicating all day in a superficial manner and craved that personal piece of relationships? I do hope so, because I consider the most important part of life both personally and professionally to be relationships. I’m also concerned for my kids to grow up in such an impersonal world. Not only will they miss the joys of genuine friendships, but they will lack basic communication skills. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the new fad will be smaller numbers of “followers” or “friends” with a focus on quality. As you’ve shown with this post, it is possible to use these platforms to build genuine relationships. Thanks for sharing your experience and friendship!

  11. Fantastic post Steve!

    Too often in our personal and professional lives we put emphasis on “checking the boxes.” By doing this we miss the opportunity to have a meaningful impact on others as well as allow others the opportunity to impact us.

    I love the comment on Legacy as this is something that I think about often both personally and professionally.

    Thank you for the encouragement I needed to make some immediate connection changes!

  12. Steve: A great post, it seems that we have lost a number of our valued colleagues in the past couple years. Your insights go beyond our connections with HR but apply to each of our lives and those within that circle.

    What is that was once said, “yesterday’s history, tomorrow’s a mystery, today is the present – treat it as a gift”

    Thanks for your gift to us with this post!


  13. Thanks for the heartfelt post! Again you remind us of what is really important! Keep up the good work!


  14. Your message was poignant and heartfelt. Having lost a number of close “comrades in arms” in HR and family members in the recent years, it does make one stop and think about letting folks know that we care and how much they mean to us. The goal for each of us is to let those who are near and dear know how much we appreciate them now and not wait to have to say it in a eulogy or commemorative message.

    The fact of the matter is that those messages are for letting othes know how we felt about the friends who are taken, in many cases way too young! We will miss Penina.

    I agree with several of the respondents that “quality” is far more important than quantity!

    Love ya man!


  15. One and all thanks for taking the time for listing a comment. I appreciate that all of us are connected as well and I hope that you know that your friendship is a part of who I am !!

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