Social South was held in Birmingham in 2009, and it will always be a very special event to me, for many reasons. One of which was that it was where I got to meet Trey Pennington. I remember Trey attended my session ‘What Rockstars Can Teach You About Kicking Ass With Social Media’, and he tweeted to Collective Soul that I mentioned them in my deck as a case study. And five minutes later, the band tweeted back to both of us!
The next time I met Trey was in Greenville last year at Brains on Fire’s F.I.R.E. Sessions. To be completely honest, I started not to go to this event. As an introvert, I am very uncomfortable when I’m in a room full of people that I don’t know. There was a pre-event networking event the night before it started and sure enough, I knew no one there other than Robbin and Geno. I honestly did NOT want to be there, but after a while Trey arrived, and we started chatting. I think he must have noticed how uncomfortable I was because he said ‘Here, let’s introduce you to a few people’, and then he went around the room introducing me to a few of the many people he knew there. It was a very kind gesture that helped put me at ease and made the entire event much more enjoyable from that point forward.
I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on these two meetings with Trey today, because earlier this morning I found out that Trey took his own life. I won’t claim to have any idea of what issues Trey was facing, because I really didn’t know Trey, and he really didn’t know me. But despite this, during both our meetings, Trey went out of his way to help me and to attempt to improve my situation.
As I was reading the outpouring of response to Trey’s death on Sunday, I learned that my experiences with Trey were completely typical. Trey simply went out of his way to give to others, and to spread kindness to them. He left people in a better place than where he found them.
Goodbye, Trey. Thanks for being kind, compassionate, a fellow Crimson Tide fan, and an inspiration. I’m sorry we didn’t get to spend more time together, but I am a better person for the time we did share.
I, too, walked into that Brains on Fire event as a hesitant introvert, and was thrilled to see you and Trey as soon as I walked in. I remember you both giving me such welcoming smiles, and how you were the one who introduced me to Trey. He was such a gentleman throughout the 2-day event, and I was honored to finally have the chance to meet him.
From that point he was so encouraging to me in our online conversations. He made me feel like he really cared, and though I tried to convey it I can only hope he knew how much that meant to me.
He really touched me, and he will be missed.
Thanks for sharing your stories, Mack… It helps to remember.
@MackCollier Your story was a heartfelt tribute to a man who seemed to have touched many lives…more than he probably knew. I am sorry for your loss of a friend and colleague and I am deeply sorry for his family’s loss as well. Tragedies such as this remind us of the precious frailty of life and how important it is to remind those we love how special they are to us.
@SocialMediaDDS Thank you. Yes the loss is terrible, but I would also like to remember the good that Trey brought to our lives as well.
What really upset me was that when I finished writing this post, I realized that I could have, and SHOULD have written it long before now. I think I’ll have to find a way to do that for the friends that are still here.
@LisaPetrilli I’m sure he knew, Lisa. That networking event was made so much better when I got to meet Trey, then you in the span of 30 minutes or so. 😉
Trey was a good man and did a wonderful job of shining the spotlight on others, instead of himself. Thankfully, my close remaining friends seem to have that same quality.
Mack–Thank you for sharing your experiences with Trey. Like you, I admired Trey’s ability to connect with people and to connect them to others. (BTW, you’re one person I’d never think of as introverted!) Sincerely, Heidi Cohen