Yes, I Can Walk in These

What I Learned from Marilynn Mobley



Marilynn Mobley was what one might call a “quiet giver,” making a difference without calling attention to her efforts.

You didn’t have to know Marilynn to appreciate the importance of her role or her impact. Chances are you know someone like her. Chances are, they, too, made your organization or world better.

The life of Marilynn Mobley, Edelman’s executive vice president of global talent management, was cut far too short this week and yet, in her brief years, she managed to give far more than most, leaving us all with lessons we could – and should – apply to our own lives.

Don’t underestimate the quiet person in the room. What was remarkable about Marilynn – and few others tucked away in today’s business world – was her mission to improve the lives of others while never asking for fanfare or frills or flattery. Her most desired reward was the knowledge of making a difference. Interestingly, that is often what made her the most impactful person in a room.

Give for giving’s sake. Her drive stemmed from sincere beliefs in causes and missions, not their popularity. Having that passion is what makes one relentless in his or her drive and memorable for his or her pursuit.

Marilynn Bio PhotoBusiness is not always about making money. When news of her passing spread, I checked my inbox to find comfort in the myriad of emails from her over the years. Amongst them, I counted no less than 46 that flagged potential blog topics, suggested fodder for speeches or alerted me to intriguing new research in the area of women’s advancement in the workplace. We shared a passion for helping women rise to their greatest potential and while she didn’t hold a formal role within our women’s executive network, she was one of its fiercest supporters.

Remain curious and try new things. Marilynn was an author, a journalist, blogger, very active on social media and, before joining Edelman, a speech writer for the CEO of IBM. She was a great champion of women, talent development and a great force in our business. She never stopped learning or seeking – or sharing – information and also opened the doors to learning through many development programs at Edelman.

Be a friend and mentor. Marilynn had a reputation for being everyone’s mentor and coach. In fact, many say they saw her as the one who believed in them most. I often relied on Marilynn’s suggestions to better advance causes on which we shared a passion. While Marilynn was a relative/friend/trusted colleague to many – to me and countless others – she was a source of inspiration.

One of my last exchanges with Marilynn involved the Farnum Street blog, “Warren Buffett: The three things I look for in a person.” As I reflect back on my dear colleague and friend, Marilynn, I can’t help but be reminded of Buffett’s words now…

“Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”

Thank you, Marilynn Mobley, for allowing us to forever bask in your beautiful shade.

Gail Becker is Edelman’s president of strategic partnerships and global integration, and is the founding chair of Edelman’s Global Women’s Executive Network.

  • Nigel Miller

    What a beautiful tribute, Gail. I only knew Marilynn from afar, but I, too, was inspired by all of the things you so eloquently reference here. If we all take just one lesson from Marilynn’s legacy, the world might be a better place.

  • CMW

    Thank you, Gail. Marilynn was my mentor, a good friend and a fellow Bulldog. I marveled at her enthusiasm for life, her family, her friends and her work. She encouraged me, she made me laugh and she made me feel that I could always accomplish whatever I set my mind to. Because of her, I will now try to be the kind of mentor to others that she was to me. I can only hope.

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