It was a sucker punch to wake up to the news. Anthony Bourdain had taken his own life at 61. I was hardly alone in this feeling. As the weekend progressed, my social media accounts swarmed with painful memories and the darkest shock.
As a person whose career in the wine business has floated near - and often overlapped - the travel and food industries, Bourdain loomed very large in my life. Like so many others, I enjoyed the hours of travel and food television with a mixture of delight and envy. "Anthony Bourdain has the best job in the world" was a common refrain for chefs, travelers, bloggers, and the wine industry.
The manner of his passing has brutally reminded all of us an important spiritual lesson. Travel cannot save you. Nor can fame. Nor wealth. Nor celebrity. Nor a "Dream Job." The greatest meals in the most exotic locations do not fill the hole in the human soul.
Beyond the spiritual lesson, which will be accepted by some and hated by others, there is an important business lesson than cannot be overlooked.
Anthony Bourdain got to have a career that many of us only dream of, because he was able to provide value to others. For first the Travel Channel and then CNN, Bourdain drew an audience that could be sold to advertisers for large amounts of money. This is a thing that has been progressively difficult in the information explosion of the internet. And Bourdain was very good at it.
If we have envy of Anthony Bourdain's career - exotic world travel, fabulous meals, incredible fame - there is value in casting aside the curtain and understanding the business framework that made it possible.
But perhaps, the end of this story should make us reflect a moment and consider what such things can really offer to us.