Monday, November 18, 2013

11w4d: Heart Attack Takes Dear Friend

Still very saddened by the sudden and unexpected death of dear friend and colleague.

Death is never something anyone is ready for, nor is it something those left behind can prepare for. Just tragic when it's a person with so much will to live.

She was the eternal optimistic who always lit up a room. She was found in her kitchen after an apparent heart attack. Apparently she had complained of back and neck pain during the week but dismissed the early warning signs.

Regardless, she was called and those she touched were left wondering why the hell her. Words don't explain the sorrow and sadness. Especially our hurt for her husband and son.

These things are always soothed with "there is a plan for us all" but it doesn't mean we can't feel angry, sad, and numb when these untimely things happen to good hearted people.

Thomas Jefferson once said:

But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life, and thanks to a benevolent arrangement the greater part of life is sunshine.

Simply devastated by today's loss of this beautiful person. Sue Mullins was a dear colleague, but most importantly a very happy human being who was always so endearing, motherly and full of advice on any topic. Rest in heaven Sue, we will toast a full glass of red in your honor as I am sure you will tip to ours. Our glass will runneth over, just like your zest for life. Our heart goes out to Tyler, Tom, and the rest of the Mullins family. Luv U Lots. Will miss your calls exclaiming "Maximo" and especially those bear hugs of yours Mullins.

We were blessed for she was always our sunshine.

I'd like to share a roast written by an esteemed colleague. She worked with Sue for over 15 years. Such a long relationship is filled with so many experiences and wit, that it is tough to capture. However, she did it how only she could. With her trademark humor. Enjoy this bittersweet tribute to the wonderful lady:

I haven't been able to bring myself to post anything about you Sue Parkes Mullins. It hurts. It's too personal. It's still not real. I can't think of all the funny stories that I usually tell about Sue. I can't think of the things I used to do bug the crap out of you, on purpose of course. I CAN think of some of the deeply personal things that I told you and maybe two other people on the planet. But I can't share those things here. And after 15 years of working together, communicating on a daily basis, agreeing, disagreeing and sharing an immense love of the same great brand, all I can think of right now is her face..... her voice..... but the words? No. It's great when someone else does.... "Remember when......" And of course I do. But when I try, there's only an unfinished list of items she's waiting on..... Or an FYI I still need to send..... WE'RE NOT FINISHED!!!! We don't even have the new damn trayliners in the DC yet. YOU HAVEN'T MET CARMEN!!!! We didn't do the wine and paint thing. I can't even look at that sailboat. It just hurts. My chair was gone yesterday.... again. I looked around the office for an extra..... Yours is empty. I start to cry. But this is just me.... a small part of your McFamily. Thomas Mullins and Tyler have a whole house filled with your finger prints. I hurt for them. But I saw Tyler's post. I was amazed at how articulate and loving he was. The last time I spoke to him he was about 16 and was the hired help for our cocktail party. Wow. You did well. They're going to make it. .......... Since I can't end with this, and I can't think clearly enough to share..... There's one memory I have that I know you do too...... It's the 25th anniversary speech... roast.... and I just happen to have a copy..... I sent it out recently to some of the co-conspritors here goes....

I’ve worked with Sue for about 11 years. To have this chance to tell you what I think of her with my tip check safely deposited and my performance review signed and filed; it’s a dream come true and I plan to make the most of it.

Sue sets the bar very high in our department. There is no project too big, no deadline too tight and no OPNAD program too ridiculous to be sold in. Her motto is “To me, nothing is impossible, because I don’t have to do the work”.

Most of you don’t know that she was working for McDonald’s on the agency side for many years before she started her 25 year journey here.

And she’s got lots of experience, before Sue joined Leo Burnett on the McDonald’s account team, she worked for the world’s first real successful advertising agency. You don’t have to be in advertising to be familiar with the work of Flintstone and Rubble.

True success hit this small agency when Sue, a media buyer at the time, was able to capitalize on the invention of fire and reach hundreds more customers by using smoke signals instead of the old media norm of cave wall paintings.

She is an icon who changed advertising forever and you can see some of her early work at the National Museum of History.

Once on board at McDonald’s, she couldn’t seem to keep a job. She was tossed out of both New Orleans and Phoenix before Jeff Schwartz did us all the big favor of bringing her here.

Under Sue’s leadership, SoCal has been recognized for:
- The introduction of Salads & More
- The Balanced Active Lifestyles campaign
- The Disney Tower of Taste partnership
- The Integration of quality in PR and Advertising
- The introduction of Angus and
- The return of quality to the National Marketing Calendar

She was personally awarded the Field Champion Award for her efforts around quality. And yes, she cried as she received it.

Sue led the best McCafe marketing launch in the system and got SoCal an additional $3 million to incentivize our managers, sample the hell out of McCafe and do some of the craziest marketing Southern California has seen since the smoke signals.

Sue is an active part of the National planning process through her role on the Family Team. She has been a partner on The Dollar Menu and works to keep the system aligned behind value.

According to fellow marketing director Mona Yarnell “Sue is well respected and she is a willing resource to her field peers. She always makes the time to share her perspective and expertise.”

Sue is a people champion. She has hired, trained or contributed to the development of many successful careers. Kevin Mazzu, Paul Barrera, Laura Vega, Max, me and countless others have benefited from her mentorship, including some of the system’s top leadership operators.

Clay however, claims he has been sharing his wisdom with her for years. It has allowed her to grow in her position and take all the credit, like all marketing people do. But he says he takes great pride in watching Sue receive all the accolades from his mentoring all of these years.

Bill Gibbons wants you to know you’re a dream client and sometimes it’s a bad dream. But you’re passionate, actually borderline crazy, smart and a good friend. Pam yacked on and on about the Phoenix days and how Sue knows her stuff. But I think she summed it up best when she said “we appreciate Sue. We like to drink wine with her and watch her mingle, tell stories and try to sell in OPNAD programs. Max refers to this by the way as your slurring ability because you can still deliver the key points.

She is an active member of the Ronald McDonald House Board of Directors and she is dedicated. Since nothing is impossible with Sue, Max spent his last official day in the Region calling Operators and conducting a 10 minute survey on the charity.

Kim Bayer says “Sue’s energy and passion for the business is contagious. She is a true brand ambassador and champion.”

When Chief Marketing Officer Neil Golden heard that Sue was celebrating 25 years, he said: “In my many years of experience with Sue, two things stand out above all else.

First, Sue loves brand McDonald's. She is tireless in her efforts to help make the Arches shine brighter.

Second, Sue cares deeply about each member of the McFamily. She always takes the time to help others to be better and realize even more success than they thought possible.

Sue loves our Region. She loves her job and it is a pleasure to work with her.

She is a real tender heart who cries at anyone’s award ceremony, every charity spot and if she’s not crying by now, I have not done my job here.

Clay says “raise a glass of red wine, if you don’t have red, white will do and toast to Sue for 25 years with many more to come.”

Congratulations, Sue.

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