Top 10 List of Why We Love Luke Sklar
By Jennifer Marley and Sarah Liverance
Many of you know that Luke loved his top 10 lists, perhaps most when some of the content was inappropriate. So in this vein, we thought it fitting to share the top 10 reasons why all of us at SW&A love Luke Sklar.
1. He was a strategic problem solver
He was a strategist with a gift for turning his vision into words.
He was a heavyweight contributor to our SW&A blog with the often humorous Everything Is Marketing series.
He could summarize entire paragraphs, full decks even, into 3 bullet points or words. We constantly find ourselves channeling Luke…what would Luke do here?
He could help you solve literally any problem simply by asking a few provocative and thoughtful questions. This skill is one that he taught all of us.
He understood the power of words – He was a change-maker and every word he spoke was worth hanging onto.
2. He was brilliant
Brilliant beyond comprehension with a super quick mind, Luke used his intelligence to quickly assess the situation and get to the best answer. “One of the brightest and most insightful people we’ll ever meet.”
He ingrained in each of us the importance of “understanding the problem to solve” before jumping to action.
He had charisma, and gave us and our clients confidence and conviction to act on decisions once made.
He had compassion and was able to read people’s emotions so well. It was clear that he cared more about the person than the business. Clients have played this back to us over and over.
3. He was driven to get results
He had very high (sometimes unrelenting!) quality standards, a bar he set so high that it drove us to go above and beyond…always.
He was an unbelievable leader. After literally every meeting, sometimes even before pausing to acknowledge what went well, he’d say ‘ok, what could we have done better.’ As a result, he was foundational in the professional development of so many of us.
4. He was the embodiment of our purpose ‘Helping others succeed’
In the last few days, SWANs past and present, our supplier partners, and our clients shared this sentiment over and over. (SWAN is how we refer internally to each other at SW&A. It stands for Smart, hard Working, Ambitious, and Nice)
He was never too busy to take time out of his always busy schedule to help – be it a professional or personal need.
He always took the time to ask about our family members. He genuinely cared about our personal lives, about the personal challenges he knew we were facing. Even while he was so sick, the first thing he wanted to talk about was how each SWAN was doing.
5. He had a sense of humour
And he loved to get laughs by saying things that were totally inappropriate.
After a meeting: “How about that funeral director of a CFO?”
After ripping his shirt in the stress of a meeting, an Associate exclaimed, ‘That pocket is mine!’ At the end of the day, he went to her desk, ripped off his pocket and gave it to her.
Luke was a bit naïve and not all that street smart. So our team loved ‘educating’ him and assuring him that ‘yes…his daughters DID probably know what this is’. This included sharing the type of content normally found on Urban Dictionary, a website known for its work-inappropriate content!
In a letter to congratulate a client on his promotion, he wrote “What the hell is a Chief Development Officer? Hope it’s meaningful and hope you continue to be overpaid!”
And there is way, way more, but we’ve edited this for general consumption.
6. He shared his love for Judaism with many of us
He taught us Yiddish words like mensch (person of integrity) and putz (quite the opposite of mensch!) and revelled when we used these in sentences.
He gleefully created a “How to be a Jew” file for one of our team including changing her last name from Hudson to Hudstein.
He gifted us a legacy of always doing the right things in the right way.
7. He was truly kind, and you could see it in his interactions with kids.
He was so proud of his three girls, and so happily shared with us what each of you were doing.
He sat down with our kids when then came in to the office, and spoke to them as independent beings, as adults. And yet…
He loved misbehaving with them. He found a way to make each and every one of them laugh. He loved it when my son ate the entire cake that I’d made for our company ski day. He loved it when his daughter taught my son that a Barbie doll could do things he hadn’t realized.
8. He was our cheerleader, advisor, friend, and mentor
Luke was a source of constant encouragement and support. When he was part of an audience, he made eye contact with you as the presenter and held that eye contact. He would nod and smile, and project so much unspoken support you couldn’t help but be amazing. Afterwards, he would tell us that he was ‘kvelling’ (bursting with pride!).
He gave us the supportive pushes we needed. By the time we showed up each day, he’d already reviewed our calendars and noted what key meetings we had so he could get us pumped up and energized.
9. He had boundless energy and enthusiasm, and could light up a room
Luke has been described as a Force (our very own Luke Sklarwalker!). His incredible force of positivity and creativity came out in unique mannerisms such as hand biting, pacing, and loud talking on the phone with his feet on his desk.
Luke was intensely enthusiastic. So much so that one time he exuberantly extended his arms and yelled ‘YES’ – breaking glasses hanging from the bar behind him; and, on 3 occasions, his excitement led to spilling drinks into the laps of our clients.
He shared his positive energy with everyone he met. He said hi to everyone, whether he knew them or not, which often led to very interesting conversations on trains and planes.
Despite his great energy, he was a terrible dancer. Every SWAN can attest to this because we love to dance at our annual offsite.
10. He had such courage
Luke was willing to fire clients when they didn’t fit our values. ‘We are the company we keep’ was one of his core philosophies.
He had the courage to tell a massive audience during his Marketing Hall Of Legends acceptance speech that he was suffering from severe depression – “an insidious sickness needing even more awareness, understanding, and community”.
He was our Hero Warrior. He fought so hard for so long with indescribable pain.
Luke was our mentor, leader and friend. We are all better because of him and his light. We will miss Luke’s creative mind and his loving soul.
Rest in peace, Dear Friend.