In a Facebook post in March of this year, famed Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg remarked that marrying her husband, Dave Goldberg, was "the best decision I ever made." That sentiment has now been given a new, albeit sadder meaning: Goldberg, who served as the CEO of SurveyMonkey, died suddenly on Saturday at just 47 years old while the two were on vacation in Mexico. He reportedly died while exercising.
Few can forget the compelling argument Sandberg made, initially while speaking at Barnard College's 2011 commencement ceremony. "It’s a bit counterintuitive," she said. "But the most important career decision you're going to make is whether or not you have a life partner and who that partner is. If you pick someone who's willing to share the burdens and the joys of your personal life, you’re going to go further."
That viewpoint is reinforced in her best-selling book, Lean In, in which Goldberg himself plays prominent role: "When looking for a life partner, my advice to women is date all of them: The bad boys, the cool boys, the commitment-phobic boys, the crazy boys. But do not marry them...When it comes time to settle down, find someone who wants an equal partner," she writes. Sandberg has sparked something of a revolution with Lean In, encouraging women in business to advocate more for what they deserve. She also argues that Goldberg was this "equal partner" in more ways than one. (Sandberg should know--she, too, had to kiss her share of frogs, and was divorced prior to marrying Goldberg at the age of 25.)
Here are some of the attributes that made Goldberg a model husband, from his status as a "lifelong women's advocate," as The New York Times' Jodi Kantor writes, to his assertion that companies should adopt a more 'family friendly' business model:
1. He was a feminist.
Hollywood actress and UN ambassador Emma Watson, among others, has famously argued that men have an equal (if not more pressing) role to play where gender equality is concerned. And while some men find it difficult to identify as feminists, Kantor notes that this came naturally to Goldberg. As a teenager, he pressed his female classmates to speak up in class, and later on, he persuaded Sandberg to negotiate with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for higher pay: "I wanted Mark to really feel he stretched to get Sheryl, because she was worth it," Goldberg explained in a 2013 interview with 60 Minutes. What's more, SurveyMonkey itself has a virtually unprecedented number of female executives, especially for a billion-dollar "unicorn" company: Six out of the 16 members of its management team are women.
Whether male or female, it's important that you choose a partner that shares your core values--and who's also willing to implement those values both personally and professionally.
2. He was willing to compromise.
No marriage is perfect, and often the best partners are the ones who challenge you.
Kantor notes that the distance between Los Angeles and San Francisco strained Sandberg and Goldberg's relationship, while Goldberg was serving as the CEO of Launch Media: Sandberg was left to do most of the child-rearing, with Goldberg commuting back and forth on a regular basis. In the end, Goldberg relocated to the Bay Area, and the two struck a compromise. They each took on different household duties, but would often leave work around 5:30 to have dinner with their children.
"I go home, I have dinner with my wife and kids, and after my kids go to bed, I'm back online doing stuff. We have a fairly family friendly environment [at SurveyMonkey]," Goldberg remarked in a 2013 interview with FirstRound Capital.
In the end, it's important that your partner is willing to meet in the middle. It's not only more efficient, it's a sure sign of respect.
3. He was Sandberg's "best friend."
In the same Facebook post in March, Sandberg wrote that she and Goldberg "immediately became the best of friends," upon meeting each other more than 15 years ago. And although they didn't get married until 2004, she went on to describe him as "the first person to show me the Internet, the kind of friend who shows up to help you move apartments, and always made me feel like I was home no matter where I was."
Beyond being parents and challenging one another professionally, Goldberg and Sandberg had an interpersonal affinity that was easy to identify--and which lasted until the end.
Watch the 2013 60 Minutes interview with both Sandberg and Goldberg in its entirety below: