About Stanley Fink, Undefeated to the Last

This July 4, I want to remember one patriot whose career preceded the Internet Age: Stanley Fink.

Anecdotes about Stanley are impossible to find online these days, which is unfortunate, because the memory of him burns so brightly among those of us who knew him.

Two years ago, I left a job at Verizon where I had spent nearly two decades directing financial and corporate communications. When friends at PRSA and IABC recently asked me to speak to their chapters about the basics of financial communications, I had to look back on my career — and naturally I thought of Stanley.

I now work in the nonprofit sector, at what he would call an “eleemosynary institution.”

Stanley was a member of the New York State Assembly beginning in 1969. He became Majority Leader in 1977 and 1978, and Speaker from 1979 until he left politics for the private sector in 1986.

I did PR for him when he was Government Affairs VP at NYNEX until his untimely death from cancer in 1997. A human dynamo, quick-witted and full of bluster, Stanley was one of the smartest (and most appreciative) people I’ve known.

Stanley loved to kibbitz with NYNEX’s Investor Relations pros. Since regulatory issues played a big role in the Verizon predecessor company’s outlook, he met often with investors. He was passionate about financial matters and closely followed the market. I recall conversations about this or that pharmaceutical stock, which (I realized only after learning of his diagnosis) also had personal meaning for him.

A Democrat from Brooklyn, Stanley had a long political track record of using his influence and financial acumen to ensure that government provided services to people who couldn’t provide services for themselves.

He was the driving force behind transportation infrastructure investments that fueled New York City’s growth, and he pushed for more money for schools, notably increasing state support for the City University of New York.

Stanley taught me that financial literacy was important because… it’s not about money; it’s about people.

In that way, communicating about money is a sacred trust.

I like to think Stanley would have been proud of me for landing the financial communications role at Verizon in 2002, and prouder still that I did my job for so many years without having to cut any ethical corners. I had great leadership support in that regard, and I don’t think I let Stanley down.

Where I fell short, upon further review, was in not emulating his indomitable confidence.

I recall Stanley, fingers locked, pumping his hands in the air from side to side as if he had just won a World Wrestling Federation match.

“That’s the way I always walked off the Assembly floor after a vote,” he said with a big smile and a twinkle in his eye. “You always claim victory, no matter what the outcome.”

“You fight as hard as you can to get what you want, make the best out of what you get, and return to fight another day.”

I only wish I were as bold.

Here’s to Stanley Fink, never to be forgotten and undefeated to the last.

Originally published at http://varettoni.blogspot.com.

Posting here about writing, books, tech, family, baseball. More about me at bvarcommunications.com