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In Memoriam: Stefan Pollard

  |  May 24, 2010   |  Comments

E-mail marketing community mourns the loss of a marketing pro dedicated to helping his peers and clients and working to improve an industry.

In the marketing world - where self-promotion is an occupational hazard - e-mail marketing expert and ClickZ columnist Stefan Pollard was an exception.

Stefan, senior strategic consultant at Responsys, was selfless as a mentor, educator, and champion of best practices in e-mail marketing.

News of his death this month was mourned by the e-mail marketing community. In response, friends, colleagues, and peers celebrated his life in tributes they shared with ClickZ this weekend - via the channel where he built his career - e-mail.

Special thanks to Loren T. McDonald, his friend, and Heather Blank and Lena Waters, his colleagues at Responsys, for coordinating this virtual eulogy - published below - in recognition of Stefan's life and work.

Stefan is survived by his wife, Susan, and two children, Nicholas and Lauren. Responsys has set up a fund on behalf of his children; contributions can be made to the Pollard Memorial Fund by logging in to your Paypal account, clicking on the "Send Money" tab, and sending donations to the pollardmemorial@responsys.com e-mail address.

So here's to Stefan, who wrapped up each column with this signature line: "Until next time, keep on deliverin'!"


Stefan was a shining example of what I strive to be daily. He worked hard, enjoyed life, and loved his family. Each interaction I had with Stefan always left me with a fond memory or had a positive impact on my personal life and career. I am grateful for his friendship, for the lessons he taught me, for his ever present enthusiasm for life. We're blessed as an industry and as individuals for having been a part of his world.

Thank you my friend for being a part of my life and for allowing me to be a part of yours. I will miss you...

With sincerest sympathy,

- Dennis Dayman


I can't remember how long Stefan and I have known each other, only that our friendship had grown considerably over the past few years. Having both been in the email space for a long time, and with so many similar experiences, stories - good and bad - of days past were often topics of conversation. What made that special for me wasn't so much the sharing of stories, but sharing the nostalgia with someone that had lived it, too. I'll miss those times and those talks. I already do.

- John Caldwell


I've had the pleasure of working with Stefan on a number of research reports and client projects over the past two years, but what I'll remember most is not his wise email marketing advice or his passion for our industry.

When I think of him I'll flash back to the dinner my wife and I had with Stefan and his wife, Susan, in Vegas last year. We talked about our kids and he recounted some of his bad cop, tough love moments with his kids - particularly with his daughter, of whom he was very protective. In story after story, it was clear how much he loved his kids and only wanted the best for them, even if that meant making their lives a little difficult at times. But most of all I was struck by the twinkle in Stefan's eyes as he bantered back and forth with Susan. The way they were with each other it was like they were teenagers again and falling in love all over again. My wife and I were lucky to have shared in that love, if only for a night.

- Chad White, Research Director, Responsys


Whether in Captiva Island (Email Insider Summit) or Miami (Email Evolution Conference), Stefan and I always seemed to meet face to face in Florida. The conversation often centered around 3 topics: Family, Beer, and Email Marketing.

Stefan was the person I confided in most often - whether getting his feedback during a job search or simply asking his opinion on a hot (email) topic, Stefan was always there. Always. I could email, call, IM - whatever.

When I think of the leaders in the email marketing industry, Stefan's name is right at the top. I'm certain that his peers would agree.

Besides being wicked smart, Stefan Pollard was also caring, humble and funny.

Caring: Less than 24 hours after our baby was born, Stefan sent me the following email: "So stoked for you dude, now stop reading work emails and go be with your new baby."

Humble: Stefan always wrote the best email marketing articles. I complemented him on one of them. His response? "Thanks, glad you still bother to read them."

Funny: An IM transcript from August 2009
DJ: you going to eec?
Stefan: In Feb, maybe...depends if I get asked to speak
DJ: join me on a panel, Title: Am I Hot or Not
Stefan: sure. I'm Hot, no doubt about that

Stefan always ended his IM's with "ttfn" (that's that for now). So, as I raise my microbrew to you, Mr. Pollard...

ttfn

- DJ Waldow


As I think about how much I enjoyed knowing Stefan, I can imagine him chuckling at all the warm and glowing tributes others are creating right about now.

Well, too bad, buddy, because here's another one.

Working with Stefan was one of the reasons I love what I do. He was generous with his knowledge and a no-nonsense guy with a sly sense of humor. My highlight was the Friday afternoons when we would chat after wrapping up the week's work.

For the last time, Stefan: It's Miller Time!

- Janet Roberts


Every industry has its collection of pundits and rock stars, email marketing is no different. Stefan Pollard, however, was in a class by himself, the email industry's guiding conscience. Never a self-promoter, Stefan always had a way of cutting through the hype, misguided proclamations, "the sky is fallingisms" and offered up stellar guidance that balanced the realities of challenges faced by marketers and the needs and wishes of their customers and subscribers.

Stefan had a love for email marketing that was only exceeded by his tremendous love for his wife and children. The industry has lost its nicest, most wonderful resident and a voice that truly, truly mattered. For me personally, I've lost a friend, a confidant and guiding light. We miss you Stefan, our inboxes will never be the same again.

- Loren T. McDonald, VP, Industry Relations, Silverpop


I'm writing this with tears in my eyes... like everyone else who knew Stefan, I am utterly shocked and still trying to come to grips with the fact that I will never be able to talk and have fun with Stefan again. It feels so unreal...

Stefan was like a mentor to me. I remember spending an afternoon with him at EIS in 2007. I was considering leaving eBay to become an email marketing consultant but had no clue what being a consultant would be like. He sat down with me and he gave me tons of tips and advice and by the end of the afternoon I'd taken the decision to just go ahead and do it.

052410-pollard-gielen-319x249

That's how I remember Stefan: a kind, warm, loving, funny and incredibly smart person that would go out of his way to help other people.

Words can't describe how dearly I will miss him...

- Tamara Gielen, Email Marketing Consultant


A few weeks before his passing, Stefan spoke to over 100 Responsys customers in SF. He was particularly strong that day and the crowd was busy scribbling down his wisdom and practical suggestions. Right afterwards I congratulated him on a great presentation as we made our way to the reception (the bar too), and Stefan was full of good cheer.

He was funny, self-deprecating and witty. Vintage Stefan. That is how I will always remember him.

- Dan Springer, CEO, Responsys


Stefan was one of the most grounded and level-headed experts in the email marketing field. As a charter member of the eec, he always had the time to provide thoughts and insights that helped further and better the industry. He was truly happy when he knew his expertise would not just solve an answer, but it would help inspire others. When I think about Stefan, the first thing that always comes to my mind is his dedication and loyalty to making the industry we all worked in a better place. I will miss his humor, expertise and level-headed judgment.

- Jeanniey Mullen, Global EVP, CMO, Zinio and VIVmag


Stefan was an exceptional person in our industry. He was an early champion of email marketing whose views and expertise helped shape the perceptions of the industry that exist today. The vast knowledge and enthusiasm he brought to Lyris during his time with the company was invaluable to both our employees and customers. On a personal level, Stefan was a kind soul who always set a positive example for others. He will be missed.

- Luis Rivera, CEO, Lyris


Stefan was a prolific writer and great champion of best practices. I never read a Stefan column that I didn't forward to at least several others...He was the magnetic north of email marketing's "moral compass" and will be sorely missed.

- Austin Bliss, President, FreshAddress


There's a warm, empowering, happy feeling you'd get after talking with Stefan. He was the kind of guy that always made time. To help. To counsel. To listen. Ideas discussed with Stefan were always improved. He was truly excited for you. He'd offer a few solutions and suddenly everyone in the meeting would be singing from the same songbook. He'd reach out to the "new guy" (or gal), whomever that might be. We'd always close with a hug, either real or virtual. He was constant. Kind. Without ego. Energizing to speak with, cool to work with, fun to be around. Thank you, my friend and esteemed colleague. You have taught me much, and I am grateful.

I miss you. Rest in peace.

- Stephanie Miller, Return Path


I was fortunate enough to first get to know Stefan many years ago when I was working in an advisory capacity with his then employer during the Lyris/Email Labs acquisition. His intelligence, warmth and kind soul quickly endeared me to him. I will always fondly remember the industry events that we would attend. Perhaps my favorite memory is the day we explored an island off of Captiva with many of our friends. Stefan will be missed not just for his many contributions to our industry but as friend with a huge heart.

- David Daniels, CEO, The Relevancy Group


Stefan Pollard was one of the first "email industry" people whose writings I came to admire. This guy really gets it, I thought to myself. He knew how to communicate passion for permission in a way that struck home for me. His was one of the few voices out there that would say things like, "Your email got blocked? Quit whining and get over it," and it's a style that I very much admire and utilize myself. I used to give him a hard time, way back when, because he wrote articles for many different websites and there was no one centralized place where I could get an RSS feed of his writings. I wanted to be alerted every time he wrote something new, because I was always eager to read what he wrote and share that wisdom with friends and colleagues.

I remember what a pleasure it was when I first met him in person and found that not only was his industry guidance spot on, but he was a really nice guy, too. We've both changed companies a few different times throughout the past five years, and even though we were usually competitors, it was always easy for us to chat and compare notes on how to help raise the standards of the industry. I'm really going to miss his wisdom and kindness, but I'm very lucky to have been exposed to it these past five years that I've known him.

- Al Iverson, Director, Privacy and Deliverability, ExactTarget


Stefan had that incredibly rare mixture of both intelligence and humanity in high degrees. He knew the business inside and out and was always willing to offer help or advice to coworkers and competitors alike. Stefan showed us all that you could follow your brain and your heart and still be successful. He will be sorely missed.

- Aaron Smith, Smith-Harmon


Stefan was one of those very few experts who could make every single one of their articles worth reading. The loss of the man is the greatest loss, but the email marketing world has also parted company with one of its wisest, strongest and most eloquent voices...

- Mark Brownlow, Email Marketing Reports


Stefan was revered as a chief email strategist. A pioneer that would grant you precious time and undivided attention. His resourceful columns galvanized our industry and inspired each of us to become better email tacticians.

- Fred Tabsharani, Port25 Solutions


Stefan Pollard stood out among standouts. In an industry that's brimming with talent, he was among the best. My feeling of loss is disproportionate to the time I got to spend with him because Stefan was a sweet, talented, generous man who brightened every interaction with his insight, humor and good nature.

- Stefan Tornquist, eConsultancy


Stefan was one of those few individuals who truly had a significant impact on all who he encountered. I remember talking to him about how lucky he felt he was. He had a family he adored. He was a leader in an industry he loved. He was surrounded by people who loved him at home and at work. He taught me, and most, a great deal. I am truly thankful for having met Stefan and will miss him tremendously.

- Sal Tripi, Publishers Clearing House


Stefan was one of the most welcoming and compassionate individuals I have met in the email marketing space. He loved what he did and loved mentoring those around him. While an expert in email marketing, he never held his knowledge against anyone and was generous in educating his peers and sharing his thoughts. Such strength, openness and generosity will be sorely missed!

- Carolyn Sparano, Bronto


I can't begin to express the sorrow I feel at hearing of the loss of Stefan Pollard. The email marketing community has lost one of its best minds and beloved colleagues. Like many in the industry, my relationship with Stefan was forged at more trade shows than I care to remember and the two things that stand out in my memory are his love for his family and his passion for our industry.
Stefan was warm, kind, fun and possessed an unshakeable integrity. His love of the email industry transcended any particular company he worked for. He worked for all of us. Stefan never refused to provide his vast knowledge and insights to any problem asked of him. I never saw him without a smile on his face and I know personally many people whose lives were changed by his example and advice.

People like Stefan are mourned but never replaced. The industry has lost one of its great lights and we'll not see his like again.

I will miss you deeply, friend.

- Bill McCloskey


Stefan, the man with a strong point of view and strength of conviction. He always had that smirk and contagious smile, which best characterized his emotional intelligence, but also his genuine interest in others. Relished the time we had, will remember the many conversations and debates and will miss his contributions to his space. One of the great minds in the space that balanced it with energy and passion. We'll miss you!

- David Baker


I had the pleasure of knowing Stefan for over 4 years. Over those years, he became a friend and trusted advisor to me. He was always someone there waiting to take your phone calls, emails, tweets and happy to give you his view, knowledge or help you to make the right decisions about ideas you wanted to implement. Yet it was more than a professional relationship that he gave to me. He gave me a friendship.

I looked forward to the times we spoke, the times we met up at events, and the times he was there to listen to me. I could reflect on all the times we shared while he was here with us, but I don't think that reflecting is what he had in mind. He wanted us to do things, make things, try things and grow.

He gave me laughter along with this friendship, and most importantly he gave me his time. We often take for granted our time when we are in the now, thinking about how to balance our lives, how to make room for everything, and how to make time count.

Stefan made the time I had with him count. I will miss him.

I hope that all of us can realize the importance of time and the impact of giving our time to others as we move forward. This is what I feel he would have wanted us to do. Go out and give it, make it and learn from it.

The next event that brings us all together I hope that we all find the time to raise a glass, share our friendships, and embrace the moment we are in right then.

- Dylan T. Boyd, www.eROI.com

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