Death and loss. These things are amazing reminders of how small we are yet how far reaching our influence on others can be.

As I write this from New Mexico, across the country, a mentor and dear friend is laying in a bed in Florida, about to take his final breath and take his leave of the world.

John Owens has worn many hats in his life. He’s been a husband, father, marketing wiz, a sax player, fair manager, consultant and a radio talent and he served his country in the United States Navy.

He was many things but the thing I will tell you he was best at was being a friend. John understood the value of relationships better than almost anyone in our fair industry. He knew when to speak but most of all he understood how to listen. This allowed him to grasp whatever the situation was you shared with him and for him to best help you discover the correct path.

Notice what I said.  He helped you discover the right path.

I can hardly recall a time when, as a young upstart in the fair entertainment business, John told me what to do. Rather many of our conversations included questions like, “How do you think you can best achieve that goal,” and, “Put yourself in the shoes of the fair manager. What do you desire most and how can you help them with that?”

John didn’t tell you how to grow. He asked questions and allowed you to do the discovery and growing yourself.

If you think I’m exaggerating just go look at the comments on Facebook that are pouring in from across the country. They offer condolences and many offer fond memories. As I began reading posts from others, I knew John was beloved. But as I continued to read, I realized John was more than beloved. In many ways he was revered.

One evening while reading so many comments I mentioned to my wife that I can only hope to be so lucky, that one day, when it is my turn, that I’ve made that kind of impact in the lives of others.

The influence John has had in my life as a friend and as a marketing mentor can not be understated. If you’re looking at a marketing piece I’ve created, be it a magazine advertisement, online promotion, or even one of my live performances, almost without exception, John Owens played a role in it.

I am grieving the loss of a mentor and great friend. But I rejoice that he so touched my life that I get to experience that loss. I will remember John with every Ferris Wheel I see spin and honor his memory with every new relationship I build.

May God watch over you, John. Always.