Lee Odden

Remembering Brian Larson

Lee Odden     TopRank Agency News

Brian Larson

It is with the greatest of sorrow that I am sharing our admired TopRank Marketing team member, Brian Larson, has passed away unexpectedly this weekend. Our condolences to Brian’s wife Erin and his family for such a tragic loss.

Brian started with TopRank about 3 years ago after having worked for over 6 years with PR Newswire. As Account Manager of Strategic Accounts at TopRank, Brian was one of the most humble, giving and professional people I’ve ever worked with. We will miss him dearly.

I can’t count how many times clients would approach me at industry conferences to say what a great guy he was to work with. He really cared about his team, clients and doing great work.

What I endorsed him for on LinkedIn a year ago is even more true now: “Brian’s approach to account management was very customer focused and led to successful, long term relationships with many high profile clients. As a team player and emerging leader at our agency, his thoughtful perspective about integrated marketing and PR was a positive influence on our team and the client accounts he led.”

Recently, Brian presented at his first SES conference at SES Chicago and as you’d expect, the room was packed and people loved his humorous, practical and engaging personality. Brian helped Eliza Steely at that event with liveblogging, resulting in some of the best conference coverage we’ve ever had of an event. Brian touched all the people he worked with at TopRank and summing that experience up is very difficult.

There are so many memorable moments working with Brian over the past few years and I know the thing I remember most is that he would go out of his way to publicly and in detail, to recognize his co-workers for the great work they did. At TopRank we call them “flames” and as busy as Brian was managing major client accounts, he kept the “heat on” by consistently recognizing the awesome in others and supporting that recognition with specifics. He empowered his team members and that is one of the greatest gifts one can give I think. He will be remembered as someone who gave selflessly and generously.

Brian truly was the epitome of a “good person”.

What this means for TopRank Marketing: The way our agency is structured, Account Managers like Brian are mentored and also mentor others on their team – working cross functionally in many cases. That means Brian worked closely with just about all of our staff at one point or another. Brian’s past immediate supervisor, Jolina Pettice, will be taking on Brian’s accounts with support from the same team that has worked with him over the past few years. I am thankful for such an amazing team at TopRank that is quick to adapt and support each other in times like these.

Brian is survived by his wonderful wife Erin and their three dogs Harvey, Norman, and Justice.  Details on the funeral can be found here, which takes place on Wednesday this week.

Brian cared deeply about animals, especially his dogs and his wife Erin has expressed that any memorials be given to mnsnap.org – an animal protection organization.

There is so much more I could share here.  If you know, worked with or were affected by Brian, please share your experiences so others in our community can see what a special guy he was.

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. I am so sorry.

  2. Brian was motivated by LIFE!

    He brought true joy to our team on a moment by moment basis.

    We have been so proud to support him on his professional and personal journey. Watching him grow into a true team leader with such compassion, humor and happiness is an experience I will always carry with me.

    Watching him convert to a country boy and eating his and Erin’s home made canned goods was true delight for me!

    Perhaps he came to us all with a destiny which he accomplished at a much younger age than many of us do.

    That is the way I chose to think of his leaving us so soon. Because his presence in my life has truly made me a better person.

    Be at peace Brian knowing that all those you have touched are better people because of you!


  3. So sorry for your loss. What a wonderful remembrance – Brian sounds like an amazing person and team member.

  4. Avatar Lisa_Barone says

    Condolences to you, the TopRank team and to Brian’s family.

  5. I’m so sorry to hear of this, Lee. My condolences on losing a friend and team member, and my best to Brian’s family.

  6. Avatar Emily Conley says

    This post and the comments below are very apt descriptions of Brian. He was a genuinely kind and sincere person who really motivated you to be the best version of yourself. Brian always went out of his way to help everyone around him regardless of his own circumstances and was truly a leader and a good friend. He will be greatly missed and always remembered.

  7. “Brian truly was the epitome of a “good person”.”

    That really says it all. One of the most genuinely nice, giving, warm, funny, and talented people I’ve had the privilege of knowing and working with.

    You are sincerely loved and greatly missed Brian.


  8. Cracking open a Monster in remembrance today, buddy.

    You were one of the good ones. Everyone knew it. Everyone knows it. They always will. You keep rocking it in heaven, okay?

  9. Very sorry, Lee.

  10. I always looked forward to time with Brian; he brought smiles, focus and energy. Brian has been an extremely valuable member of our extended marketing team at Datatrend, and he has grown to be a friend, as our relationship developed since originally meeting at a MIMA event. He will be sorely missed; though, our fond memories will carry forward.

  11. Avatar Nick Ehrenberg says

    Brian was a true mentor and friend. While I’ve only known him for a few months, he left a lasting impression on me with his knowledge and cheerfulness.

    I have been truly honored to be a member of his team, and we all miss him dearly. Rest in peace, my friend.

  12. Avatar MirandaM_EComm says

    You are right on about Brian lifting up the people around him. He and I worked closely together and that can be really tough when one person is remote. It was like he was right in the next room — he went out of his way to make sure I was in the loop and informed and involved.

    Working with him was uplifting. Brian was a calming influence and had his own BLarson way of quickly taking stock and coming up with 2 or 3 ways to tackle a situation. I was excited for him that he was speaking at SES, as he had so much potential to lead and teach and mentor.

    Beyond work, he was the kind of guy you instantly become friends with and I’ll miss him on that level, too. When we visited in Minnesota, it was like sitting down to dinner with old friends, even though we’d only just met Brian and his wife in person that day. Work calls and emails were always peppered with his wit and jokes; he just made things fun.

    This is a loss for so many and just seems so senseless. Brian was one of the good guys and our hearts go out to Erin and his family, his friends and his families at TopRank and PR Newswire.

  13. So, so sorry about your loss Lee, and to Brian’s family. I appreciate you letting us all know.

  14. Avatar Henley Wing says

    I don’t know Brian personally, just read his posts on this blog, but I share my condolences.

  15. Avatar linkedinexpert says

    Reading all these comments I am sorry i didn’t know Brian personally – it sounds like the world has a little less goodness in it now that he is gone.

  16. Avatar Jesse Pickrain says

    Brian was a wonderful person to be around. Susan mentioned the “moment to moment” joy he brought.

    So true.

    Every day was the perfect mix of accomplishment, learning and laughter. His ability to mix all three was uncanny.

    70% of Americans hate their jobs. The other 30% work with someone like Brian Larson, and .0000001% had the fortunate opportunity to work with THE Brian Larson.

    Per Evan: “Genuinely nice, giving, warm, funny, and talented” describes him perfectly. But for anyone reading this who never had the chance to hang out with him…

    You would have LOVED him.

    Deepest condolences to his family.

  17. Such very sad news. Brian had such an amazing, bright spirit. He always had wonderful ideas and the patience to work through challenges.

    My heart goes out to his wife, Erin and his TopRank family. We were blessed by his presence. Our team @Dell will miss him!

  18. Avatar Jennifer Slegg says

    So shocked to hear of his passing. I was his moderator last week at SES Chicago, where he did a fabulous job. My condolences to everyone at TopRank and his family.

  19. I am sorry for your loss.

  20. Avatar Alicia Brayboy says

    I don’t know how to take this. I’m in shock. Brian was truly a pleasure to work with and he knew his stuff. On the client’s side, I looked forward to every phone call with him and Jolina because I knew A) we would make progress and B) there would be a lot of laughter and snarky jokes about Minnesota! I am so very happy to have met him and I give my best wishes to his family and the TopRank Team.

  21. I don’t know him personally but I want to thank you for sharing this story.After reading all the comments below,I know one thing is for sure-Brian is such an amazing person.

  22. Avatar Maria Pergolino says

    I worked with Brian for over 2 years while at Marketo. He was smart, funny, and patient (you have to be patient when you are an account manager working with me). Hearing about this brought me to tears, as I am sure he made this world a better place. I feel so much for Brian’s family and the Toprank team.

  23. I am so sorry to hear this. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to see his presentation, but he sounded like an amazing person. God bless his family.

  24. I am so sorry to hear about Brian. I had just begun to work with him at Dell. My condolences to his wife, Erin, and to his friends at TopRank. God bless.

  25. Avatar Suzanne Doughty says

    I am so sorry to hear about Brian. I had just begun to work with him at Dell. My condolences to his wife, Erin, and to his friends at TopRank. God bless.

  26. Avatar Jason Miller says

    I am in total shock. So sorry to hear this. I can’t say enough good things about what it was like to work with Brian. My condolences to everyone at TopRank and Brian’s family as well.

  27. I am so sad to hear of the passing of Brian – he spoke for the first time at SES in Chicago last week and I met him on Thursday when he liveblogged my session – all of the above about his character was immediately clear – such a kind and professional person who I was looking forward to working with more at our events. Sending all my love and best wishes to his family, friends and colleagues at TopRank

  28. So sorry to hear. Thought and prayers to Brian’s family and the TopRank team.

  29. Thank you everyone for such thoughtful comments and for your sentiments. It’s clear that Brian was indeed a positive light for many he worked with at our agency, with clients and those he interacted with in the industry. Brian set a great example for us all in terms of caring about people, the work and mostly his family.

  30. Brian was truly one of a kind.

    I was fortunate to share an office with Brian at TopRank and formed the type of friendship and work relationship that involves helping each other when you’re down, and giving each other a hard time to make sure you stay in line. His good nature and sense of humor helped get me through some difficult days and I will be forever thankful for his friendship.

    Brian was a fantastic friend and inspiration to work with. I will miss our
    laughs, TopRank brainstorming sessions, and mutual allergy to just about every food.

    My heart goes out to his family and the @TopRank team. The world has lost a truly wonderful individual.

  31. Avatar Mike Ducatelli says

    While I only started to work with Brian over the last four months he left a lasting impression on me. In a very short period of time he taught this old sales and marketing guy some incredible ways to leverage social media and oversaw the build out of an awesome website. My prayers go out to his wife, family and his great Top Rank team.
    I feel very fortunate to have know Brian even for a short time

  32. Avatar Steven Zahurones says

    Brian created memorable moments at every moment. His ability to turn every minute of every day into an experience that could be taken and cherished was unlike anything I’ve ever known.

    There isn’t one particular moment that sticks out as greater than the others because they were all great, and they were all worth sharing. It’s safe to say that I would not be the person I am today without Brian. I view myself as a better person simply because of his acceptance of me as a friend. There are very few people that I respect more than Brian.

  33. Avatar Kathryn Gritzmacher says

    I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. 🙁 After reading the comments, Brian seemed like a great guy – how unfortunate.

  34. Brian, such a nice account manager and a good teacher. Feeling so sorry and will miss him

  35. Had very few interactions with Brian but from what I understand from my team he was a great person to work with and they had learned so much from him. My thoughts and prayers to Brian’s family.

  36. Brian had such an amazing and brilliant. I will pray to almighty to give the courage, support and strength to his wife, family and friends.

  37. I am so shocked to hear this! Brian and I chatted many times over Skype and email and his professionalism was always peppered with wit and humor which made working with him so much fun. My condolences to the TopRank team and Brian’s family.

  38. Avatar Matthew LeBaron says

    I was saddened to hear of Brian’s sudden passing. He was a pleasure to engage with, always motivating and positive – even when screen sharing didn’t quite work. The comments here testify that he was truly a blessing to those around him.

    My thoughts and condolences to his family, friends, puppies, and the TopRank team as a whole.

  39. Avatar Kenan Frager says

    I am so sorry to hear about Brian. He was really a great guy and I always felt the humanity in his work. He seemed like a wonderful person. My condolences to his family.

  40. It is so great to hear about Brian.He is good account manager.He achieved a great thing in his life time.we are really proud of him