Nov. 16 2011 07:26 AM

Our industry lost a legend with the passing of Burt Sperber, Founder, CEO and Head Gardener of ValleyCrest Companies. I worked with and learned from Burt.

While working with Burt on a significant project, the brand enhancement and renaming of strategic business units within ValleyCrest, it became clear to me just how much he loved our industry and his company, and how that deep love drove and inspired him, and became part of his DNA.

I was fortunate to have learned the science of branding from the marketing legend, Jim Gregory, who taught me that companies with the greatest Master Brands have their CEOs as their most passionate brand stewards. This was certainly the case with Burt. Most people might be very surprised to learn just how “hands-on” he was in the everyday details of work. From colors to fonts, imagery and words, Burt always made certain he protected, promoted and strengthened the ValleyCrest brand.

I’ll never forget arriving at work, only to find that he had redecorated my office to update and enhance the ValleyCrest brand and image. He personally had decorated my office!

But he also attracted and surrounded himself with legends. Disney and Steve Wynn, a casino and real estate legend, are major clients.

Michael Dell, the computer legend, felt so strongly about ValleyCrest that he acquired a large percentage of it.

I found it ironic that Burt was buried on the day Apple legend Steve Jobs died. I guess it’s what you might call six degrees of legendary separa tion.

In a notable commencement address that Jobs gave at Stanford University, he said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.”

For those who want to know Burt’s secret, that was it. He loved what he did, and from that love, great things grew and flourished.

My mom, with a green thumb of her own, has this wonderful way of honoring family, friends and colleagues who have passed on. She plants their favorite flower, and when tending to their flower, stops, reflects and says a prayer.

Burt loved many flowers (especially white), including plumerias and Shasta daisies. I’m looking forward to planting my white Shasta daisies and plumerias and reflecting on the lessons I learned from Burt Sperber. May he rest in peace and put his touches on the greatest garden of all. EDITOR’S NOTE: Judith M. Guido is chairwoman of Guido & Associates, a business management company. She can be reached at 818-800-0135 or