Today, I sit at my desk with tears in my eyes writing about a man who wrote so much about the businesses – and people behind the businesses – in the St. Louis area. Rick Desloge was a crafty and witty storyteller who had the ability to see things in a way the rest of us didn’t. He uncovered things through his visits and interviews that sometimes ended up being big, good “a-ha” moments for his subjects. And he did it all with passion, enthusiasm, and sincere curiosity.
While we all loved Rick for the stories he told, we also loved him for what he taught us – and those lessons were many:
Rick taught us to be better PR people. He always focused on the “why” of the story, and upon hearing a pitch would say “let’s talk about the why”. Why is the story different? Why is the story interesting? Why can’t everyone else in the industry tell this same story? Here at Kolbeco, that ends up being the first set of questions we always ask when working on a story angle, and that practice was inspired by Rick.
Rick showed us the value of seeing things with fresh eyes. Sometimes in business, you get so fixated on seeing the story the way you think it is that you end up missing what the story actually is. He taught us that taking a step back and dropping all of your preconceived notions will allow you to see something in a greater, better, and maybe a simpler way.
Rick demonstrated that every story is interesting – you just have to find the “nugget”. On the surface, an every-day, non-flashy business may not appear to be the most exciting thing in the world. But Rick took those businesses and found the real story that either involved the passion of an owner, or a sideways series of events that led someplace unexpected. He taught us to dig further to find that too.
Rick always remembered. OK, so maybe he forgot about a photo or document that I emailed the week before, but he always remembered every subject he ever interviewed and details of their stories. Every time I saw Rick, he would ask about clients he had written about – and he was truly interested in hearing updates. And because he remembered, he made invaluable introductions and connections that helped transform those businesses.
There are many anecdotes that I could tell about Rick – stories that I will always cherish and interactions that will always make me chuckle (like the many times he’d call me and say “I only have a couple of minutes for a quick question” … and we’d still be on the phone chatting an hour later). But he made an everlasting mark, and left Kolbeco a great legacy through the lessons he taught us, without even knowing he was doing it.
We will miss you, Rick.