Kate and Tony

lily“Our clients are in the business of joy.”

This is the first line of the manifesto for my Food & Beverage practice.  I wrote this, inviting chuckles and snickers from some of my more hard-nosed lawyer colleagues, in an effort to explain to them how I believed we needed to approach our clients.  How we needed to keep in mind that for these clients, every interaction with their customer was intended to elicit happiness.  How we need to be their cheerleaders and ambassadors in our community, and offer them encouragement at every turn.  And how we need to tone down our well-honed lawyer cynicism in favor of the kind of passion and good-natured desire to be of service that would make someone want to open a food or beverage business in the first place.  I believed all that then, and I still do.

But this week has been tough.  On Tuesday, we received word that Kate Spade was dead.  Ms. Spade was not in the food or beverage industry, but her business too was about making her customer feel happy and special.  Her death was deeply troubling for many people who loved her and loved her bags and sense of design.

Today, I awoke to the news that Anthony Bourdain had been found dead as well.  Tony’s death is devastating.  The beauty and honesty of his storytelling inspired me.  His love of the food and beverage world was infectious.  And his understanding that humanity founded on our opportunity to share a meal or a drink with one another is the foundation for my practice.  Indeed, I was thinking of that approach when I wrote that goofy line.

Both of these people were – by all outward appearances – wildly successful.  Both had achieved incredible things.  And both apparently took their own lives.

There’s no legal content in this post.  But there is an earnest request.  If you or someone you know are struggling, please seek out help.  There are resources available to you.  And know that you are not alone in this.  Many of us – myself included – have struggled at times and continue to struggle.  But you must not give in.

For those worried about loved ones, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline asks that you be on the lookout for the following warning signs:

  • Talking about wanting to die
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious, agitated or recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings

If you or a loved one are at risk, please call the lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).  You will be connected to a local crisis center.  And if you don’t want to call them, call a friend.  But please call someone and get help.


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