In Memoriam: My Friend Alan Schonberg

Nov 18, 2013

Editor’s note: Alan Schonberg, founder of MRI and a pioneer in search, died Friday. His obituary is here.

You’d pick up the phone and it would be Alan.

Just calling to see how you were doing. Always with some compliment. Some encouragement. Some wisdom. Always about you.

His favorite thing was introducing a trainer – or in my case – the “placement lawyer” to MRI.

He became so successful by helping others succeed. One at a time. Then tens of millions, really. Including you. The MRI/SC/OM5 managers, franchisees and their recruiters. The associates of the managers, franchisees and their recruiters. The business model and techniques of successful practitioners everywhere. The candidates they place around the world. The employers they staff globally. Alan’s many philanthropic causes.

Alan never changed in the half-century we walked and talked. Always the gracious gentleman who exuded class. The gentle giant who bent down and lovingly raised people up one at a time.

I remember once in the heat of a court battle I quipped, “There’s MRI and there’s everyone else.” He smiled, and that became his favorite private quote. He’d never say it publicly.

Alan didn’t care about the accolades, awards and adoration. He cared about the person in front of him. Genuinely. From the heart.

Toward the end, he said “Living to 85 ain’t that bad.” That’s the only time I ever disagreed with him. He deserved to live forever. He was that wonderful.

Yes – Alan Schonberg lives on in the stories about his generosity and wisdom. In the lives of those tens of millions. Including you. So he wasn’t really a legend. He was legendary.

 When I started practicing law, Alan wrote me a letter. I framed it, but never hung it in our office. I was too embarrassed because I couldn’t possibly be the man he described. So I hung it in my study at home. At least I could try.

Alan didn’t tell you what you wanted to hear. He told you the truth. It was up to you to make it so. In that magical way, he didn’t just make you feel special. He made you special.

Magicians don’t really disappear.

Maybe Alan will call.

Get articles like this
in your inbox
Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting articles about talent acquisition emailed daily!