By Margaret M. Boller, CEO
It was with great sadness that I learned of the death of Warren Slater Zeller, III on November 29, 2017. Understandably, his immediate family is heartbroken, but like the old adage about dropping a pebble in a lake and watching its ripple effect move to the other side—that was the impact Warren had on most who knew him. He made an impression, whether large or small, and you definitely remembered him. Needless to say, the Eclipse team was devastated by the news.
I first met Warren back in 1992 when he was at Starz/Encore. I had just started my own business and had run into my old Showtime mentor, John Sie, at one of the many cable conventions. I had told John about Eclipse Marketing Services, and how “of course” we could do wonderful things for Starz! Whether Warren was “forced” to hire us initially, I’ll never know but we had a nice relationship and worked well together on small projects. I came to Denver to pitch him some new ideas I had. After sharing them, Warren said with a grin, “You know, Magoo, I’ll never refuse a meeting with you. You give me so many good ideas I can steal!” You can well imagine my shock to be so blunt and to make such a statement… needless to say, that was my last pitch to him while he was with Starz! But it was an early clue into his character actually… “what you see is what you got” with Warren… he was honest, sincere, not a game-player, and I later discovered incredibly loyal. In fact, years later I reminded him of this story and it became a joke between us… he claimed, “he was younger then…” And I could always make him blush if I told it. Sorry, Warren, but I’m sure you’re still blushing now!
In 2009, we launched our Hispanic Marketing division. It was a very exciting time and we were getting a lot of press. To my surprise, I got a call from Warren to congratulate me… and to pitch me on hiring him! We weren’t looking for a sales person at that time, but he convinced me that he really could help us grow this niche, as he had been working as VP Account Services for IXI Services, a division of Equifax. His focus had been working the segmented and targeted marketing angle with major MVPDs at the time… and that they were “ripe” for help with Hispanic and multicultural marketing. And thus began our real friendship.
True to his promise, Warren successfully sold in participation in Eclipse strategic Hispanic marketing programs to Time Warner Cable, Brighthouse, Cox Communications, Comcast, and Cablevision. Our trademarked magazine, Nexos Latinos®, became a strategic tool in our clients’ arsenal of tactics to develop relationships in the Hispanic market and grow and retain this business. Our internal joke was that our Hispanic division consisted of a bunch of Latina ladies and “Juarren”—and he was proud of his name and of his “angels”, and together, their accomplishments. While on this journey, he forged new relationships with many programming networks in both general market and Spanish language channels. That was one of Warren’s greatest skills—his ability to establish rapport with strangers, talk to both C-level and CSRs and make them feel important, listened to and strategize on ways we could help them.
Warren was always thinking out of the box! On one hand, he’d make jokes about being an old boomer, yet he would recommend and push the company to use new technology in certain sectors, and he was always reading and staying on top of current industry trends. Warren was using Skype and Dropbox years ahead of their popularity gains, as an example. He was an early adopter of new trends in technology and would say that it was because he wanted to keep up with topics he could relate to with his children, which on one hand I understand because he was passionate about Jeff, Charlie, and Brooke… but I also believe it was Warren’s thirst for knowledge and an inner desire to keep growing and remaining relevant that pushed him to find and play with new-fangled things.
While here on the team, he helped strategize and develop new programs for clients—some not so sexy or glamorous like a coupon e-redemption site that solved his client’s retention and efficiency needs—to developing new OTT portals for new service launches. He thrived on challenges.
He was a hunter….and a farmer! As a salesman, he took pleasure in moving between both roles. He had an uncanny ability to get meetings with new prospects for Eclipse that we never imagined possible! In fact, there were several occasions where his commanding confidence in what he was pitching convinced people that he was in charge! I had actually received notes that the “president” of Eclipse Marketing, Warren Zeller had recently contacted them. Thus, he earned yet another knick-name at Eclipse: “El Presidente”! His well-rounded knowledge of current events, entertainment, sports, the college scene and our industry allowed him to create many long-lasting relationships. And he was spiritual and humble. We laughed about his “formal” name: Warren Slater Zeller…the third! He carried his name with pride, not pretention.
He was a warrior. His long battle with lymphoma, his treatments, medicines and the roller-coaster ride of remission and return, was a long one. But he never gave up! Warren fought bravely and was remarkable. His love of his family and life drove him on. He was full of heart, soul, and passion and was determined to win. Yes, he’d get discouraged but he never wanted anyone’s pity. If his family was his heart, working was his soul! His need to stay useful, relevant and part of a team was so commendable. In his very last hours, he was still a very active member of our Eclipse team. Despite the physical frailty at times, his inner strength and passion could be seen. When he was visiting the home office, he might surprise us with the appearance of a new bandage or limp, but after just a few minutes of talking with him, the scars and “boo-boos” would melt away as you saw the devilish twinkle when his eyes smiled and the little-upturned grin that was characteristic of Warren telling a tale and maybe knowing a little secret. And not to forget his little laugh!
He was fiercely loyal. I know that he loved Eclipse and his teammates here. And he loved his clients, too! He never gave up trying to help both our clients’ and Eclipse’s businesses grow. We love you, Warren, and I am grateful for all you have done for me personally and for Eclipse. I know that I will miss him very much but I am also confident that he is pulling for his team from the other side. If you really know Warren, you know he won’t let go….