Dear Tony ,
I miss you my friend. I am trying to find the words to express what I mean by this. I don’t think I realized the amount of memories I had with you until I knew that I couldn’t make any more memories with you. I’ve been looking through our messages and thousands of emails. I’ve been going through old photos and videos, I am trying to hold onto whatever I have left of you but it’s not enough.
Reading the profound impact you have had on thousands and thousands of people just makes me realize how lucky I was to call you a friend. You gave your time, your energy and your email address out freely to anyone who needed help. I remember when we first met, in 2012, I couldn’t believe how you made sure every single person who emailed you received a response. You would apologize if you were delayed in responding (you were running a billion dollar company and put millions of your own money into building a city and would apologize if your email was a week late).
I was rewatching a video of me interviewing you last year where we talked about everything from flaming hot Cheetos, to market based dynamics, to spicy wings contests and a woman asked you more about creating a company focused on helping employees take chances and risks as you did for Zappos. Of course, you gave her your email and told her to email you and you’d send her resources to help her figure out how to do it in her own company. That was just who you were. You told me that you would be happy to do the talk/interview with me but that the conditions were that I would came back with you on the bus from LA and spend the weekend in vegas. I’m so happy that a part of the conditions were always for you to spend time with the people you care about. I was 5 months pregnant and probably wouldn’t have made the time.
I’m so happy I made the time. That was a little over a year ago and I just think of all of the things you did for people to bring them joy. Whether you rented out movie theaters and brought a bunch of acquaintances, putting us on a text chain so we could all joke about the movie, or making sure you invited dozens of people to your friend’s diabetes nonprofit event every year. You always were creating reasons for connection. I’ve seen a lot of people have stories of what it meant to know you. They recount how you changed their life with one meeting. You did that because you made people feel seen. You didn’t have to speak a lot, you had that Tony smirk, that Tony look and that Tony love that just made people feel seen.
Some of my favorite memories with you were the little in between moments. The moments that were not about the conferences, the talks, the many many introductions you made, the business advice, it was about all of the moments in between.
I remember being at a conference with you and instead of going to the big event that night, we spent the night ordering food with friends and singing Disney songs.
I remember the night before I got married, ordering spicy burgers and pickles with you and talking to a stranger next to us for an hour.
I remember telling you about how I went to a spicy hot sauce place and tried the spiciest sauce and then you showing me how the gold spike was now featuring 50+ hot sauces.
I remember you writing me a note telling me all i do is a sleep and putting it on my head as I passed out on a plane seat (I do love to sleep).
I remember you introducing me to young entrepreneurs and telling me behind the scenes to support them.
I remember you supporting me.
I remember you stopping on the streets to talk to people who would tell you how inspiring you were. You awkwardly said thank you graciously and kindly every. Single. Time.
I remember eating a tomahawk steak with you in downtown, or making sure I tried a sandwich you brought from across the country, or opening your fridge and grabbing a string cheese, while I ran away from Marley who was chasing me.
I miss you.
The world misses you.
I promise to keep learning from you. I hope to love the way you did. Without judgement. Without refrain.
I promise to give the way you did. To the world. To strangers. To friends.
I promise to keep your legacy alive. By learning. And teaching. And growing.
I promise to create opportunities for quality time. For those who I care about.
I promise to always think of you every time I see a spicy pickle.
And I promise to never take myself too seriously, to think about how I can chase my passion and the money will follow, and to never be afraid to give out my email.