The first ever post on the Introductor was “the Queen of Campaigning”, Becky Tarbotton. To our shock and sadness, Becky passed away in an accident over Christmas. Her extraordinary life has been remembered in many places, from The Guardian, to Forbes, to the New York Times.
Re-reading her original post, made me so glad I’d started this blog, so glad to have this snapshot of her insights, questions and passion. It also reminded me of the last time I saw Becky, a few months ago, when we drunk expensive cocktails in London’s Savoy hotel and cackled with laughter while the pianist played Sinatra.
We talked about work, about her Suzuki moment that she went on to describe so beautifully in her REVEL speech, about a pie-in-the-sky trip to India and about old age. Becky declared that when she retired she wanted to go into the movies, “I don’t mind starting with commercials,” she began, as if to prove her pragmatisim, “I’ll do bit parts at first. We could set up an acting company…”
I loved the thought of us as wrinkled old women, drinking expensive cocktails, exchanging wisdom and laughing until we cried. I said my final goodbye to Becky on a cold London night in Covent Garden, and walked away high on the contentment that comes from a treasured, enduring friendship that will last for life.
And then Becky’s life tragically ended, so much sooner than anyone could have imagined.
In the days following her death, I found myself slowly writing a list. I realised it was a list of Becky’s qualities that I wanted to embody, the elements of my friend I wanted to live within me, a kind of existential bucket list. Now no-one, least of all the multifaceted Becky, can be reduced to bullet points, but well, whatever gets you through the night. Right? So here are some of the lessons I have learnt from the incredible, sorely missed, Becky Tarbotton.
1. Laugh loudly and often. Becky’s humanity and her humour, were what made her not only a brilliant friend, but also a brilliant leader. Her deeply strategic pragmatic idealism was accompanied by a winning levity, that in the words of Sungevity president Danny Kennedy, meant “Disney execs danced for her and timber tycoons ran from RAN because of her.”
2. Be yourselves – all of them. Becky was an incredible polymath, her breadth didn’t diminish her impact, it amplified it. The strategist, the fiddle player, the kayaker, the dancer, the protestor were all key to Becky sustaining a powerful life and not burning out.
3. Interdepend. Becky made and sustained deep connections with people wherever she went (despite being terrible at correspondence). In the days since her death, this immense community has suddenly become visible, with her friends supporting each other across continents and tributes pouring in from tribal leaders in Indonesia, CEO’s in the US, activists in Britain and school-friends in Canada.
4. Stand. Take a stand. Take a stand.
5. Don’t leave your success to chance. I remember when Becky first took leadership roles she spoke of that familiar feeling of being an imposter. She continually made sure she got the professional support she needed to overcome this and any other obstacles. Becky took all that potential she had, and then ran with it.
6. Embrace living in different worlds. Becky was just as at home brandishing a placard in front of the White House, drinking cocktails with film stars at galas, sea kayaking in the wilderness, and playing the fiddle in Irish pubs.
7. Make everyone matter. Everyone. Whoever you were, wherever you came from, whatever you were doing, when you were talking to Becky, you felt like you could make a difference. Be present and generous in the way you listen to people
8. Spend more than you can afford on shoes. Becky was really good at doing this.
Becky. Rest In Peace.