It’s easy to find people who are humble, and even easier to find people who are humbling. It’s rare to find someone who’s both.
Matt Puchlerz was a teammate and a friend. Shortly after I joined Groupon, we teamed up together to build a new product, along with Keith Norman, Anthony Caliendo, Steven Walker, Sean Iams, Evan Farrar and Seth Lochen. To focus on the job ahead, we isolated ourselves from the rest of the company by moving to a windowless room with no air-conditioning, or elbow room. It was a cast of characters — a bunch of talented goofballs who loved to build stuff from scratch. Our surroundings didn’t matter. We could have been in the Gaza Strip and still had a good time.
But our team needed a rock. Someone who could be the voice of reason, and resolver of debate. Matt Purchlerz played this role like Brando played Don Corleone. In a room full of constant noise, when Matt spoke, we listened. Always calm, always thoughtful, he examined a decision from all angles. Yet in his own way, Matt was probably the biggest goofball of the entire crew.
Matt once grabbed the mic during a random Karaoke night and busted out a version of Maneater (why?) that would have made Hall & Oates jealous. It stunned the team, and everyone else who joined us that night. It wasn’t just he had an awesome voice. It was the style in which he delivered it. But that was Puchlerz — results plus style.
Two weeks ago, we attended Matt’s memorial. In his mid-twenties, he died suddenly from a heart complication, leaving behind two loving parents, a devoted younger brother, his newly wed wife, and a team full of guys that day-after-day look over at an empty desk full of promise.
In a short amount of time, Matt influenced the way we think and act. And as the team grows, we’ll undoubtedly pass a bit of Matt on to those who never had the honor of knowing him. We’ll tell stories about a group of dudes working long, memorable hours in a cramped, uncomfortable room — and the guy who taught us how to deliver humbling results with a humble style. That is the Puchlerz legacy.