We talk about branding and how to network, find jobs, and build a personal reputation based on our actions, accomplishments, interests. There is no greater proof of an admirable personal brand than that of a life well lived and communicated to those around them. A person who stands for something, and when that life has run its course, those close to him can remember with caring fondness what that brand was all about because it was made abundantly clear every day through their actions.
One such person comes to mind, H. Michael Torlone, who passed away last week. No, Mike will not make national headlines, he lived and gave example through his works and passes unheeded by the world at large, but for those of us who knew him, he was larger than life. Mike was born in 1923 in Boston, obtained his education and went to work in a family business at a young age. He had the gift of a beautiful bass voice and met his wife, Rosemarie, singing in a choir. A music lover, their marriage of fifty seven years was a model symphony. Two strong individuals, raising children, moving to Florida and building businesses, they were never far from their faith and the music that gave them sustenance.
Michael was devoted to his family, helped his church, his community, his friends. The services held included moving tributes from his son, his friends and fellow choir members. Everyone shared a special way that Michael had touched their lives, with knowledge of finances of which he was very astute, to music and opera, to food and good company. The group was regaled with stories both humorous and touching, each one detailing some special gift that he had shared with them at a time when they most needed it.
And this is emblematic of a strong, meaningful personal brand. People come into our lives and in one way or another at that very moment when we need them; we receive the wisdom we ourselves have missed. The writer experienced this very gift: Mike gave me the courage to take control of my finances at a time when I felt lost and overwhelmed by the complexity of them. His discipline and patience in these matters is legendary, and I am grateful to have received the benefit of his expertise.
As we move through our lives, building our own brand, it serves us well to think about what legacy we leave behind us in the ways we have been attentive to those around us and their needs. Michael Torlone was a quiet man, some would even say shy, yet he listened, and looked you in the eye and offered you what he could in a very basic and honest way. This is the kind of brand we can only hope to emulate through our own contributions. He is sorely missed.