As discussed many times in this blog, it typically pays great dividends to stay abreast of the latest news in today’s “wired world” and to consume a steady diet of information each day — whether you use Google reader, your mobile phone, or some other mechanism to do so.

The downside?  Every now and then, you’ll hear some information that will break your heart.

That was the case today, I’m afraid to report, when I was perusing one of the regular blogs I follow, Career Hub, and came across an article mentioning the sudden passing of my friend and fellow career adviser, Mark Hovind.

Mark was a pioneer in the career services industry, owner of a website and career firm called JobBait.com that  evangelized the benefits of direct marketing as an effective job search strategy.  He wrote extensively about this topic, drawing upon his engineering background to peer through all the hyperbole and root out the cold, hard facts about which job hunting methods worked — and didn’t work — for professionals in transition.  His methods weren’t necessarily easy, or inexpensive, but they were absolutely credible and his insights were quoted far and wide throughout the national business and career community.

If you’re a client of mine, and his name sounds familiar at all, you might even have met him.  Mark  lived down in the Tacoma area, and in addition to conducting numerous free workshops around the Puget Sound region, he also did me the honor of speaking to several of my own networking groups over the years — always to rave reviews.

While Mark and I would typically only get together a few times a year, often for a leisurely stroll around Southcenter Mall, there was virtually no career professional I enjoyed chatting with more.  He was opinionated.  He was argumentative.  He was outspoken.  But his integrity was unshakeable, he knew his stuff, and even though we’d wrangle from time to time over certain methods of finding work, I never had anything but the utmost respect for his perspective on things.

In fact, I think the greatest gift we could pay him is to perhaps spend a few final minutes poking around his pioneering website — which you’ll find, again, at JobBait.com — since this site spells out in detail his career philosophy and the case he makes for direct marketing as a job search strategy.  Poke around on some of the links.  I think you’ll be impressed.  And while I confess I don’t know a ton about Mark’s history or exploits prior to his shift into the career industry, this website unquestionably represents the “life’s work” of his later years.

The thing I’ll remember most of all about Mark, however?  It’s actually not his career wisdom, which was formidable, but a more random vignette from our relationship together.  The last time we got together, he showed me a video from a number of years back, when he lived in Las Vegas and would organize charity square dances to help single people come together to network, mingle, and make friends.  It was just the kind of thing he’d do, routinely, to make the world a better place.  In this video, you see him standing out in front of the dance center, playing the gracious host and greeting dozens of shy, awkward-looking guys who had somehow managed to suck up their courage and come to the event.  And each time, with a twinkle in his eye, he’d reach out his hand, shake theirs, and pump up their spirits with the exact same one-liner: “Oh good, you’re finally here.  Get inside.  All the girls have been asking about you!”

It was a gesture of great humanity.

My deepest sympathies go out to his wife, Cheryl, and the rest of his family.

Mark, my friend, you’ll be greatly missed.