Dave Goldberg, head of a prominent Silicon Valley based web survey company and husband of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, died suddenly on Friday evening. He was 47 and left two children.

His brother, Robert, announced his passing on Facebook and said that Sheryl, their children, and the entire family would be grateful if people would post memories and pictures of Dave to his Facebook profile.

I knew of Dave’s being an advocate for women from reading Sheryl’s book, Lean In. I had not heard all of the other positive attributes of this serial entrepreneur until reading news reports of his death and skimming through the posts on his Facebook.

Kindness, humility, support and inspiration were words I read throughout. A guy focused on family, friends and teammates at work.

Sheryl and Dave believed enough in their family that despite their crazy work lives, they were home at six each night for their children. Dave told the New York Times a few years ago that he’ll do plenty of email at night — but only after the kids are in bed.

Technologist and godfather to blogging, Dave Winer (@DaveWiner), on news of Goldman’s death posted to Facebook “If not now, when?” He said “It’s time to do whatever you were sent here to do.”

What a question. If not now, when?

Goldberg himself was all set to go to law school, but with classes two weeks away, as he’d tell Business Insider, “I came to the realization that I didn’t really want to be a lawyer. Sometimes the things you decide not to do are actually the biggest things to do in your career.”

I am not suggesting folks get out of the law. A career in the law can be one of the more noble, honorable and rewarding professional career paths one can take. I am just posing a question here.

As lawyers we’re driven to overachieve. Grades to get into law school. For those of you smarter than me, good grades in law school to gain clerkships and high-paying jobs. Then, for most of us, the continuing chase for status, money and fame.

Sure there’s some time for family. And God knows a family requires money.

But have we slowed down enough to figure out if we’re doing what we were put here to do?

I’ll confess at age 59 it’s something I think about — a lot. Especially when guys like Dave pass at a young age.

I jumped out of practicing law after 17 years. I loved practicing, but left upon discovering the Internet (for me) in 1999 and seeing how it could be used to help lawyers and in turn, people.

It may sound a little nuts, especially to my wife and family, but I thought at age 43 it was time to do what I was sent here to do.

Sixteen years, a couple companies and five children out of the house later I am still trying to get there. Especially as it comes to family first and making sure LexBlog is serving the needs of lawyers and the people we serve. And that I am supporting my teammates.

I didn’t know Dave, but his death is a reminder for me, and hopefully you, that we only get a short time here, we ought to keep asking “If not now, when?”

Photo Credit: Brian Koprowski

The U.S. Army just launched a television commercial to showcase the strength, versatility and professionalism of the force.

I saw the ad during the NFL draft telecast this morning.

They didn’t join this team to win championships, become famous, or get their own signature shoes.

They joined because there is important work to be done, and only some able to do it and only some able to do it. They’re brighter, better educated, led and equipped than any team in history. 

They’re doctors, lawyers, engineers, technologists and combat troops. All prepared for whatever comes their way.

Mark Davis, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for marketing, commenting on the ad:

This is an extraordinarily great institution that does so many different things to make people’s lives better, to make America better, and to make the world better. 

……..

[The ad] shows Soldiers in a variety of roles, including warfighters, doctors, lawyers, aviators, technicians, and proud members of their community.

The ad concludes:

One day they may be asked what they did to make a difference in this world, they can respond, ‘I became a Soldier.’

As a lawyer I was struck by the ads message that serving as a lawyer is a noble calling enabling one to make their community, their country and the world better.

Right there with doctors, aviators, engineers, technologists, and combat troops — lawyers making a difference.

As lawyers, especially those of us further along in our careers, we should be asking ‘What have we done to make a difference in this world?’

Here’s the ad.

https://youtu.be/ozT18LA5CSE

We lost an incredible person today. Father Ted Hesburgh, former president of Notre Dame, died at 97. (NYT obituary)

Father Ted was not your typical priest or typical president of a University. Through a sense of humility and a belief in service to others, he left the world a far better place – through his own actions and in the continuing actions of those he touched.

Not only did he serve in two dozen White House appointments, including as chair of the United States Civil Rights Commission, he took Notre Dame from a small school known for Football to one of the more renowned universities in the world.

In the summer of 1974, Father Ted served mass and spoke to the the new students, me included, and their parents on the lawn of the Hesburgh Library (then known as the memorial library). My Mom, an Irish Catholic, had to proud as heck of having her only son going to the mecca of schools as far as she was concerned and listening to Ted Hesburgh in person.

Father Ted told the parents that their children would go on to change the world. There was nothing they would not be able to accomplish. They would be government leaders, corporate leaders, and so much more. Thinking back, if he had told us to walk across the water on the reflecting pond right then, I probably would have believed I could do it.

Afterwards Mom walked up to Father Ted to introduce herself and to let him know she expected him to take care of her son. He said he would. From that point on, I think Mom loved Notre Dame as much as Father Ted.

Father Ted worked in his office each night on the second floor of the administration building (golden dome) so that students could see his light on and stop up and talk anytime they wanted to. An incredibly approachable, though powerful person.

Interviewed by the Wall Street Journal a number of years ago, they asked why he regularly went out front of the administration building and took so much abuse from the protestors during the Viet Nam war. He told them you can only learn something from the people giving you a tough time, you don’t learn anything from the people giving you the attaboy’s telling you that you are doing a great job. I remember this every day and tell it to my team when they are taking a little flack.

Each time I return to Notre Dame, the most recent a month ago, I think of Father Ted in his office in the top of the Hesburgh Library and Mom meeting him out front. The two of them instilled in me the belief that I could accomplish anything I wanted to in service of others, a belief that carries me through the challenges of business and life.

God Bless Father Ted. And God Bless Mom.