“You Can Do That, But You Should Probably Think About Doing This.”

Like many industry colleagues, I attended Gary Cooper’s funeral last week.  “Coop” had been in the label industry for 30 years, most recently as CEO of Dot It.  He died suddenly and unexpectedly on Super Bowl Sunday.

There was not a dry eye in the house as Coop was eulogized by best friend, and his family, his son Truman, daughter Tory, and wife, Colleen.  Truman relayed stories of how his dad supported whatever he wanted to do.  He said that when he would go to Gary for advice and tell him what he wanted to do that, rather than say no, Gary would end the conversation with, “You can do that, but you should probably think about doing this.”  The conversation would end, Truman would think about his choices, and usually determined Gary was right.

I was fortunate to consider Gary a friend.  As I thought about Truman’s eulogy, I remembered conversations with Gary.  We had many business conversations and I would often solicit his input.  He had a way of guiding me to the right choice.  He was not dogmatic in his advice; he somehow was able to make you think the right choice was the decision you would have made all along.  Coop had a leadership gift we all can learn from: listen well and make people think before deciding.

If Coop were still with us, he probably would have said to a few of the attendees, “You can wear a sport coat to a funeral, but you should probably think about wearing a suit.”  (I know a few readers will understand that comment and that Coop is smiling down upon us.)

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