Nine days ago on Sunday evening, I received the tragic and shocking news that Josh Greenberg had passed away. To the world, Josh was one of the co-founders of Grooveshark, an incredibly popular startup born and grown here in Gainesville, FL that endured for nearly a decade as the pillar of the Gainesville startup community despite incredibly adversarial conditions.
To me, Josh was a friend. There are many who knew him better, both personally and professionally. Yet over the past 6 years, Josh and I had built a relationship based on our roles as co-founders; I felt that we were kindred spirits, with similar stories to share about the ups and downs of business life, or more specifically, the all-consuming nature of leading a startup.
What started off as professional admiration evolved into a stronger bond as we both grew as people and leaders. The eternal student, I don’t think Josh realized that every moment I ever spent with him was always a lesson for me – I’m sure others felt the same way. Though we were both very close in age, He always seemed to possess a wisdom far beyond his years, and very far beyond my own. His perspective was so measured, so reasoned, so well thought out – it was maddening at times. “This has to be a facade” I concluded to myself when I first met Josh. I was stumped on how he could always seem so articulate, so composed, with so much startup madness swirling about him.
Eventually I came to realize that there was no such thing as a facade when it came to Josh. Over the years, as our conversations became deeper, his authenticity and vulnerability were truly eye-opening. In the cutthroat world of business and entrepreneurship, where ego, machismo, and supreme confidence are idolized as the calling cards of a startup’s leading man, Josh taught me that there was another way – a better way; one of humility and compassion.
“…every moment I ever spent with him was always a lesson for me…”
The topics of Josh’s lessons for me constantly varied; from balance to friendship to leadership and beyond. He taught me about selflessness through how much he gave back to the community. Josh was incredibly driven to put Gainesville on the map; seemingly single-handedly. He saw something in us that made him believe that we were special, worthy of so much of his time and effort. I watched as he threw his entire weight behind so many community initiatives with no expectations of any sort of personal glory or praise. It was inspiring to observe, and I was grateful to be involved alongside him in a few of those efforts.
I always knew Josh Greenberg was going to change the world; you can’t hide a brilliance like his. What I didn’t realize is just how much he already has. I know now that the numerous lessons he taught me are the same ones he shared with his friends, family, co-workers, and colleagues the world over. To me, his last lesson, his everlasting one, will be about legacy. We often times believe that we will be remembered by what we accomplished as individuals. Josh would disagree – his legacy has taught me just how much you can achieve if you focus on bringing the best out in others.
We’ll miss you Josh. Your last lesson came too soon.