Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

I returned from a conference in Atlanta to discover that my wife had thrown out my lanyard collection. Before you begin mentally flogging her for such an obvious and unspeakable transgression, her mistake (though horrific) was not malicious. In fact, it was quite accidental and she felt, and continues to feel, absolutely terrible—not as heartsick as I of course, but at least I know she suffers from the same type of guilt pangs I have felt after more than a few forgotten anniversaries. And yes, I do realize that a forgotten anniversary is not nearly as serious an offense as tossing a treasured collection (that I have been building for the better part of forty years), but she is only human and I will find it in my heart to forgive her…after I wallow in the memories of my mislaid anthology of lanyards.

I had amassed over 472 different lanyards—each one unique and reminiscent of a moment in time that, like my lost lanyards, can never be recaptured. I had all kinds—red, green, rainbow colored, imprinted, knitted, cotton, silk, leather and classic black; lanyards made of 1/8” cord lived side by side with those made of knitted cotton. I had lanyards that lit up, relieved stress and played music. I even had the very first lanyard I ever wore when I, at the tender age of five, attended my very first marketing meeting with my father. It was way too long for my tiny frame and my dad had to tie knots in it to keep it from hanging to my knees. My mother says I wore it for a week straight when I returned and wouldn’t take it off, even for my bath. My favorite was the one Grandpa Winston, God rest his soul, wore at the last meeting he ever attended. It was navy blue and made of 1/2′” thick braided cotton, with a break-away cord—it was spectacular. He gave it to me just before he passed…not only was it a beautiful piece of craftsmanship, it was a symbol of our shared love of marketing. That one lanyard meant more to me than the other 471 in my collection.

So, it is with mixed feelings of pride, longing and reverence that I dedicate this column to the memory of my dear Grandpa Winston, a true marketing genius, and say goodbye to my beloved lanyard collection. May they both rest in peace.