That question was the actual title of a submission John posted to our blog on September 4, 2013. And it’s pure John Sadowski. In fact, it’s so much more than that. It’s a summary of an entire career. Both the cornerstone and the capstone for a professional life spent in service to others.
Some may see in the question’s informality a hint of impatience, even abruptness. But those who knew John best will tell you it is nothing more than enthusiasm; the excitement of the chase, if you will. You can almost see John bent forward in his chair, eyes twinkling. Now focused in rapt attention, now questioning, probing—eager to get moving toward the solution.
Optimism and initiative were twin hallmarks of John’s style. Always an edge walker, John loved new knowledge and quickly getting down to a first-name basis with new challenges. The product of a family of first- and second-generation immigrants, John learned early from proud, hardworking parents “. . . the value of a library card, a good education and treating people with respect.”
John applied those lessons in a sparkling, colorful career that included roles as writer, trainer, facilitator, manager, creative director, business owner, video producer, live event producer and strategist. No wonder he described himself as a perpetual student always excited to learn new things.
John was immensely proud of his talented and creative wife and his successful daughter and son. His daughter teaches technical theatre, and his son is a motion graphics video producer. He was also thankful to experience what he considered to be one of the most exciting chapters in communication arts and the training business.
John’s insights were deep and his manner gentle. They’re just what you’d expect from a veteran who valued loyalty, determination, kindness and fairness and sought to model them in his own life.
Although John was gentle and unassuming, he was also an instigator at times. Many a Maestronaut remembers his open invitations to lunch adventures. Or his full-on recruitment when his taste buds told him it was time to track down Kalamazoo’s own food truck, the Gorilla Gourmet. “Are you in?” he would ask hopefully. More was always merrier for John.
John liked his food hot and his cars fast. In fact, he owned nearly three-dozen cars and cycles and was proud of the fact that he had driven two-liter open-wheel racecars. In fact, John listed his favorite song on his Maestro employee profile as “Roll with the Changes” by—you guessed it—REO Speedwagon.
What do we need? Actually, we’re glad you asked, John. You see, here’s the thing . . . We need you. We need your insights, your humor and the image of those glasses having slid too far down your nose. We need the quiet comfort of you hunkered down, serving and solving as you have always done.
We need your quips to liven a meeting that’s dragging, the joy of your courtesy, the enormity of your presence and the quiet counsel of wisdom patiently counseling youth. That’s what we need, John.
Few exercises have been as powerful or had such lasting impact as forging our company’s core beliefs. Sometimes the temptation to picture an individual as the poster child for a given belief is irresistible. Now is one of those times.
We say of ourselves: If businesses had love languages, ours would be service. No one spoke that language so well, so creatively, so passionately as you, John. Now we understand. We finally get that, like charity, service begins at home with our friends and colleagues, those whose hearts and minds and hopes are happily intertwined with our own. So from all of us to you, our silenced hero: Thank you.