Tuesday, March 06, 2012

In Memory: Todd Taylor

I don't have a picture of me with Todd Taylor. This makes me sad. However, this picture of him with Rob Miller is a great one.

When I read on Twitter that Todd had died, I cried. I cried as if I had lost a brother.

Well, because in a way, I did.

I don't recall ever meeting Todd. Then, one day in 2007, in response to a blog post saying I was looking for a job, I got an email from Todd. Only I didn't realize it was THE Todd, because he didn't include his last name (I had worked for the Democratic Party for months before I realized that the "Todd" who frequently commented on my blog posts was THAT Todd). He was sending me details about a job at Utah Democratic Party HQ. Well, it wasn't so much details as "We've got a job for you. Call this person for an interview." My interview was basically "Todd said I should hire you. Here's what we're doing. Are you in?"

I remember my co-workers faces of dread whenever Todd would show up to a staff meeting. When Todd was there, meetings were never short. It's because once Todd got going on a subject, he kept going. And most of the kids I worked with really didn't understand Todd. I found myself on more than one occasion translation Todd-ese into English.

However, I did. Todd and I were cut from the same mold. I never really understood that until we were sitting in the hotel bar late one night in Denver.

It was late at night, and a bunch of us were sitting around B.S.ing. Most people had gone to bed. Several Utah reporters were there, and Todd made it clear early and often that everything was off the record (With Todd, every conversation was "off the record," unless he told me afterword to go start typing. Usually those conversations were held in the parking garage).. It was Todd telling story after story. He also got a little personal talking about how much of an introvert he really was. I, myself, am quite introverted and appreciated that there was a niche for me. Like Todd, I also took life as a series of experiences meant to educate us. And that education is meant to be shared.

I've let the narrative get me sidetracked. But, since Todd once told me that is favorite blog posts of mine were the ones where he knew I didn't care if anybody was reading, I'll move back to a couple of experiences. One was a time when he wrote an email regarding yard signs to send out to candidates. Well, it wasn't so much an email as it was a novel. He discussed things right down why certain color schemes work and don't work and how fast someone should be able to drive and still be able to get the most out of you sign I think of that email every time I see a bad yard sign. And there are many bad yard signs.

Another great moment was when I had written a post that dealt mostly with inner-office politics. He called me into his office, made me close the door, and he gently rebuked me for posting about things that happened in the office without clearing it through him. When I asked him if I should take the post down, he said "No. I want to see if [then Utah Democratic Chair] Wayne [Holland] reads your blog like he says he does. When he reads it, he'll yell at me, and I'll let you know it's time to take it down." That post is still up.

As knowledgeable as Todd was, he wasn't afraid to admit when he wasn't an expert on something. He invited me to sit in his office to listen in on a conference-call training regarding blogs and ads. Most of the conversation was over his head, but he wasn't afraid to ask questions. That is the mark of a real genius.

I really wish that somewhere out there, there is a book of wisdom written by Todd. That is a book I would purchase, and give to my friends. I would also offer to translate it into English for them.

One of the last conversations Todd and I had was 52 weeks ago today. I had bitten off more than I could chew by organizing a rally in the capitol rotunda. It was about 2 hours before the rally was supposed to start, and he found me in the capitol cafeteria. He stopped, asked how things were going, and then changed the subject to something non-political. After about 15 minutes, he said "No matter what happens, you've done good today. Don't ever forget that."

Right back at ya, Todd.

(First photo stolen from Rob Miller on Facebook. Second photo stolen from JM Bell on Facebook)

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