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Judith's Balancing Act

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A tribute to Marcia Kaufman: A Woman of Valor

Marcia and I would always tell people that we met in high school when we were both 15 years old. But that doesn’t tell the story of a friendship and a business partnership that began in 2003. I was an entrepreneur at a crossroads of my career. I had lost the company I had started in 1992 and walked away from a company that I started in 2002. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next and I will admit that I was afraid that I would fail. Then one day I got a phone call from Marcia. We had been in touch off and on over the years. Marcia too was at a crossroads. She had recently left a job as an industry analyst and was also trying to decide what to do next.

She said to me, “If you are thinking about starting another company I am interested.” To be truthful, I wasn’t sure that I was ready for what I knew would be difficult. But I agreed that we should meet for coffee. Despite my misgivings, and perhaps because of Marcia’s infectious optimism, I decided that it made sense to give it a try.

And I was right. It was hard. In the beginning we struggled to find projects and position our very tiny company. We taught each other a lot about working as a team, about technology, and about having fun while working hard. I could tell you hundreds of stories about our adventure over 13 years. There was the time that we worked all Christmas day so that we could finish a research paper. I could tell you about the one time that Marcia yelled at the top of her lungs at a freelance researcher who was working with us on a project. It was unusual because Marcia could get along with everyone – except this one very annoying writer. I could tell you about all the times that we would meet at the airport to go to conferences in Las Vegas. While I dreaded going to Vegas, it energized her. She made these trips fun. She loved the concerts that took place during the shows. She loved to dance and sing. I often left early to get some sleep. But Marcia never seemed to tire and stayed long after I went to bed.

I would often push us to take on new projects, such as the many books we wrote together. She would look at me as though I was crazy (which I probably was) but she would never say no. Even when she was sick, we worked together on the hardest writing project we ever undertook – cognitive computing and big data analytics. It was a wonderful book and a testament to Marcia’s brilliance and perseverance.

Over the last three years, it became harder and harder for Marcia to work. This made her angry, because she loved researching, learning, and writing. Over the years, she became a master writer. She was widely respected and deeply loved. She would tell me in moments when the two of us were together how very sick she was. She was quite aware of her condition, but she continued to work. When she couldn’t come into the office, she would work at home. Her doctor was shocked that she was still working. In fact, I remember Marcia telling me that her doctor expected her to stop working and just take care of herself. She continued to work until the disease finally made it impossible. With every setback she would first say to me, ‘”Oh, Judith, I just got such bad news. And in the next sentence she would tell me, “…but I am going to beat it.” In fact, the last time I visited Marcia when she was in rehab two weeks before she died, she told me that she had come to accept what was happening to her. But in characteristic Marcia fashion, her next words were, ‘”But I am still going to fight.”

This is at least the 6th draft of this note I that I have written, trying to capture the Marcia knew I loved Marcia as a friend and colleague. I miss her strength, her honesty, her intensity, her kindness, her elegance, and her love of life. I don’t think that I will ever meet another person like Marcia. She held onto life with such fervor.

As brokenhearted as I am, I know that Marcia lived life as fully as anyone I have ever known. I will miss you forever and you will always be in my heart.

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  • Holly Hilbrands Monday, March 27 2017

    Marcia will be missed

    Judith - thank you for this wonderful tribute to Marcia. She was "one of a kind" and you both made an amazing team. She was a delight to work with and she will be missed by the entire IBM analyst relations team.

  • Michelle Henry Monday, March 27 2017

    Thank you Judith!

    Most of us that knew Marcia, knew the two of you as the dynamic duo. Two strong women with such determination and drive, it is inspirational. Marcia will be remembered not as an analyst, which is how many of us came to know her, but as a kind, genuine and gentle person we all had the privilege of knowing. Thank you for sharing your memories and stories of Marcia, may she rest in peace.

  • mike werner - Monday, March 27 2017

    Best thoughts to you

    Judith, I'm so sorry to read this entry, but so happy that you have done this to celebrate the impact of a collaborator, co-founder, co-worker and friend to you. Marcia was a wonderful person and you both were a wonderful team, and many are very grateful and my heart goes out to you, Marcia's family and the wide extension of friends and contacts you have across the globe. Best energy to you all.

  • Beth Smith Tuesday, March 28 2017

    Marcia was such a wonderful lady. She will definitely be missed. Judith, this was a beautiful tribute.

  • Bala Tuesday, March 28 2017

    Thank you for this beautiful note

    Hi Judith,

    My sincere condolences. Marcia was lucky to have a friend like you and so we're you. Wishing you strength during these tough times

  • David Butler Tuesday, March 28 2017

    Marcia and You Made Me Smile, ALWAYS

    Sorry to hear about Marcia. She was an amazing person. Your story is just as amazing. One thing I always remember about Marcia (and you) is she always had a way of making me smile. No matter what I was talking about. I will miss her and the chance to share our industry goings on together. Thank you Judith for sharing this story. May Marcia rest in peace. All the best to you.

  • Dave Lindquist Tuesday, March 28 2017

    thank you for sharing your memories

    I'm so sorry. My thoughts are with you and Marcia's family. Thank you for the memories. I always enjoyed our discussions with Marcia, she was a wonderful person.

  • Mike Ferguson Tuesday, March 28 2017

    Beautiful Note

    Judith, I never met Marcia and to be honest as a European Analyst I don't know you very well either albeit that I've seen you several times at various analyst briefings. Nevertheless your words about Marcia are really touching. I can relate a lot to the struggles as a small analyst firm. I just know that based on your beautifully written tribute that her honesty and enthusiasm must have been such a strength to you and a great support when times get tough. God bless you. I'm so sorry for your loss and I hope to say hello at a future analyst event.
    With Kind Regards
    Mike Ferguson

  • Caroline Robertson Friday, March 31 2017

    What a lovely tribute to your personal and professional partnership

    I remember working with both of you for Service Management for Dummies during my IBM years and you could just tell what a great team you were. I am so sorry for this loss.

  • Vickie Farrell Tuesday, April 04 2017

    Of all the many things you've written, Judith, I imagine that this was one of the hardest. But you'll persevere, better for your experience working with Marcia. I am so very sorry.

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