The world lost a good man on May 1st. While I didn't know David Goldberg personally, because I have spent time with "angel" investors from many of the venture capital firms in Silicon Valley (as well as women tech entrepreneurs and executives at Alley to the Valley conferences) I certainly knew him by name and reputation. And his reputation -- and legacy -- are worthy of praise.
David Goldberg was a power connector in the best sense of the word. Not just because he moved in some very powerful circles. It's not everybody who has Bono sing at their memorial service, or the top CEOs of all of Silicon Valley drop everything to attend. What's important is why they were there. David Goldberg spent his life giving of his time and energy to help people. He was loyal to friends and kept in touch with them throughout his life. He showed entrepreneurs who were just starting out how to raise venture capital. And he generously shared his connections -- his longtime friend Chris Tsakalakis was interviewed by USA Today following the memorial service, and said, "I looked around that auditorium today, and all I could see where people that I knew because of Goldie."
As CEO of SurveyMonkey (which he grew from 12 employees to more than 450 and a valuation of $2 billion), Goldberg was equally helpful and available. In a Q&A at a "Start-ups: Uncensored" seminar in Los Angeles in 2013, Goldberg commented that while he tried to limit the number of formal meetings he had, "I have lots of time in my day where I am available to have informal conversations, where I grab someone to talk, and people can just walk up to my desk and talk to me." That kind of availability, approachability, and generosity of spirit are hallmarks of a great connector and mentor.
What is clear about David Goldberg is that this ability to connect was fundamental to who he was. Put simply, he looked for ways to help others. And people loved him for it. On the White House Facebook page, President Obama wrote, "David Goldberg embodied the definition of a real leader -- someone who was always looking for ways to empower others. He was generous and kind with everybody, and cared less about the limelight than making sure that the people he worked with and loved succeeded in whatever they did."
The Yiddish word for someone like David Goldberg is mensch -- defined as "a person of integrity and honor." Whenever I've heard someone called a mensch, it's been because they out of their way to help others, to reach out, to do good deeds without any expectation of return. Mensches put people together and create the deep connections that bind our communities. They connect us for all the right reasons. And we should honor them for it.
If you're lucky enough to have a mensch as a boss, a mentor, or a co-worker, your life is often a little smoother and your way a little easier. If you're lucky enough to have a mensch as a friend, you'll always have someone in your corner. And all of us should take notice and pay tribute when a mensch like David Goldberg leaves us too soon.
Judy Robinett is known as "the woman with the titanium digital Rolodex." One of the nation's leading experts on helping leaders develop strategic business relationships, she is the author of How to Be a Power Connector: The 5+50+100 Rule for Turning Your Business Network into Profits (McGraw-Hill, 2014). Reach her at www.judyrobinett.com or follow her on Twitter @judyrobinett.