Although Honest Tea consumers might be familiar with the “Seth & Barry” story, there are dozens of other people who work every day to craft, market and sell our drinks. Last month we lost someone who had been at the heart of our organization. It gives me great sadness to report that our dear Lynette Taylor, my executive assistant for the past three years, died of heart failure.
Lynette was a beautiful spirit and force of nature. She had a zest for living and for the people around her that always made her fun to be with. Her consistently upbeat and positive personality made her able to win over the crankiest person. She handled calls from executive assistants and US Senators with the same combination of professionalism and friendliness.
She was loyal, transparent and someone I looked forward to seeing every day. Although Lynette liked to remind me that I was older than her, I often thought of her as an older sister because she always had my back. If I was going to speak somewhere, I often heard her grilling my hosts over the phone — making sure they had vegetarian food for me, or making sure that our drinks were going to be served cold.
One of my favorite images of Lynette is how she used to hold court in our “lunchroom”, where she would share her unfiltered views with all in attendance. All the chairs were taken, and there was always lots of laughter. The topics were wide-ranging – NFL football, college days, the latest TV shows or her beloved dachshund Roxie.
Lynette had sports swagger – she was one only person I’ve met who was almost able to convince my sons and me that her 4-12 Redskins were a better team than our Super Bowl champion Patriots. She was the official organizer of Honest Tea’s NCAA bracket pool, as well as lots of other fantasy leagues. For Lynette, it wasn’t about the prize money, it was about the bragging rights. Her emails to introduce the competitions usually started out with a message like “The Race is on for second place” and ended, “May the best woman win!” She was also an enthusiastic participant in our own Ice Bucket Challenge, for which she brought in her own customized shower cap.
Lynette Taylor was born in Okinawa, Japan as a “military brat” and then spent her early years in Germany before moving back to Virginia. It will surprise no one that her favorite activity as a child was playing teacher with her siblings. She especially enjoyed putting her brothers in detention. She graduated from James Madison University in Virginia, and did some ROTC training during her time there. She worked at Discovery Channel and then at Broadsoft, before joining Honest Tea in 2012. Lynette was all in with Honest Tea. From answering the phones, to helping unload pallets, she was a total team player, who delighted in our sales wins, and worked aggressively to find the most cost-effective ways for me to travel, especially if it meant being able to enjoy a joke with my wife Julie about how cheap I am.
This week as I look over my laptop at Lynette’s empty chair with an Honest Tea jacket on it and her desk full of trip folders, a half-drunken bottle of Lori’s Lemon and Redskins memorabilia, I am struck by how unexpected and painful this loss is for all of us. Her sudden passing is a reminder that our work is never more important than our health and well-being, and that every day and every person is to be cherished.