My former boss, Steve Forsyth, was killed at the mall shooting yesterday in Portland. When I saw this on the news, it was impossible to believe. Steve was larger than life... invincible, in a way, to those who knew him.
One day, Steve and I had an explosive interaction that radically changed the course of my life. You see, he was one of the only managers who allowed his staff to express open feedback, ask awkward questions and share unpleasant personal truths. Steve had intense passion for people and willingness to show his emotions when needed.
To me, this was the greatest thing about him.
For months (maybe years) I had been deeply unhappy selling radio commercials. The money was good. My free time was plentiful. Yet it was time to move on and I refused to let go.
In a meeting with Steve, I remember losing my temper like never before, unleashing rage that wouldn't be tolerated in any business setting. Steve leaped from his chair, slammed the door shut and got in my face with his ears burning red and his eyes shooting fire.
He said in the most calm voice he could muster, "Listen Erin, we ALL KNOW how unhappy you are here. When are you going to DO something about it? ACCEPT YOUR DESIRE TO MOVE ON!"
That moment was my most memorable experience in radio. On one hand, I was devastated that my true feelings had been so obvious, but I was also relieved to be seen (finally) for who I truly was. His honesty was painful, but oh-so liberating.
Two weeks later, it was my last day on the job. Steve helped me resign with confidence and closure. He even arranged a going away party that was both honoring and meaningful. He was the last person I hugged before getting in my car to drive away.
In the last few years, I've carried Steve's influence like a locket around my neck. His leadership showed me the GOOD that's created when we can speak about things that are difficult, hidden, and uncomfortable.
Honesty, reflection and transparency have become crucial to success in today's business world. When truth cannot reach those in power, there's always a price to pay. Steve understood this. He exemplified authentic communication and genuine compassion. Because of this, he was massively loved by everyone in media.
Please keep his wife, Carla, and their kids, Katie and Alex, in your prayers.
Steve, thank you so much for everything.
Rest in Peace.