My friend, Mark Talaba, died in his sleep on December 23, 2017, from natural causes. He was a tremendously talented person – and I probably don’t know everything about all of his talents. The first thing I can tell you, however, is that much like the way he lived, he did not want anyone making a big deal out of his passing – whenever it came to happen. He preferred to live quietly behind the scenes, making his contribution without seeking the limelight.
And so it is with a bit of trepidation (he won’t haunt me, will he?) – that I set out to write a tribute to a man who wanted no tribute, but whose life deserves to be noted.
I met Mark in 2009 at a meetup organized by Skip Shuda over on the Mainline outside of Philadelphia. Mark Talaba, was the featured speaker. He spoke about The Gabriel Institute and it’s role based assessment (now Teamability, a system designed to help people work together more effectively. Mark and I connected at that event, and became friends, especially when we realized we lived in the same town and had many shared interests.
Over the years, Mark and I enjoyed beers and meals at local establishments in Doylestown, as well as multiple SEPTA rides from Doylestown to Center City. Our conversations were always lively, and were filled with Mark’s obvious love for people and perpetual interest in trying new things and learning new things.
Within Teamability, Mark was a Founder and a Vision Former (and maybe some other things). I am a Vision Mover and Vision Former, and if you understand Teamability, you know there’s a lot of energy and exciting possibilities when people with these roles get together.
We were both interested in helping people and organizations be better and do better. We wanted the world to be a better place, and we shared ideas about how that could happen. We told stories and traded ideas and taught each other various things. Mark often helped me clarify my understanding of Teamability, and I often took him to task over what I saw as flaws in the marketing or positioning of Teamability. He listened intently as I told him how I use Teamability in the coaching work I do. He respected the outside perspectives I offered, and I respected his deep knowledge and experience. I’d like to think that we became better people as we talked and shared and influenced each other.
Over time, I came to learn that among many things Mark was:
- An intellectually curious college student who almost didn’t graduate because he had learned what he wanted to learn and was ready to work. He did graduate, after taking one final class to get across the finish line.
- A talented musician.
- A welder who helped design and build assembly line equipment.
- A stain-glass artist with amazing accomplishments. Look here, his work is beautiful! http://www.talabastudio.com/About.html
- A businessman who ran a software company.
- A creative visionary who (like many of us) didn’t always do well with irritating details because the big picture is so magnificent to behold.
- A fine person who deserves to be remembered for the contributions he has made to life.
It may sound corny, but I have say that even though Mark is gone, he lives on in the people he has touched, the things he has created, and a spirit that can never be dissolved. I know my friend wanted no fuss made of his life, but just like our spirited discussions when we didn’t always agree, I will assert that I am right to disagree.
People need to know a wonderful person has left planet earth, but remains with us in so many ways. Thank you, Mark Talaba.