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If not now, when?

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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
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