March 12, 2009
By Carly Laubenstein I was lost and in the middle of my college career when I first met Tom Asacker. I was overwhelmed and stressed trying to figure out where I wanted to go in life. There was something about him that fired me up inside. He truly provoked my passions and advised me to relax, go with my intuition, and always keep it real. Much like all of us at Careerealism.com, he believes personal branding is incredibly essential in the success of perusing your dreams. When it comes to branding, Tom cuts out the fat and helps companies redefine their marketing skills to adapt to the new customer-economy. Tom encourages his clients to make your brand human, tell stories and make it come alive. From his energizing speeches to his humorous no-bull books, Tom Asacker is an enlightening man full of ideas to get you where you want to be in this complex and rapidly changing world. Here’s what he had to share… 1. What did you study in college, and then, knowing what you know now, do you wish you had studied something different? If so, what would it be and why? I went to college to refine my skills as a fine artist. I pictured myself (pun intended) a modern day Cézanne. However, during my sophomore year I changed my major to Economics. For the life of me, I can’t remember what particular influences motivated that change. Perhaps it was my father asking how I was going to pay back my college loans as a starving artist. Do I wish I had studied something else? I’ve never really thought about it. But since you’re asking. Every decision I’ve ever made has, in some mysterious way, brought me to where I am today. So I’d be reluctant to go back and mess with my particularly strange and crooked path. Plus, those were simply four years of the past 35 years for me. I’ve been studying every day since I left school. It’s something that I do; like eating, sleeping, exercising, etc. If something interests me, I study it. 2. Tell us your career journey post-graduation through now in less than 200 words. Then tell us: If there was one thing you could do differently in that journey, what would it be? My first job was as a corporate performer as part of a children’s national retail marketing program. I flew out to NYC on graduation day to study stage magic with a world renowned group, and later travelled to various venues retail openings, hospitals, ballparks, etc. and performed for children. That gig lasted a little more than a year, so then I had to get serious. I took a position with an electronics manufacturer and eventually landed a job with a division of G.E. About five years into that job, I spearheaded a corporate ERP implementation and eventually participated in a management buyout of the business unit from G.E. I left that position to join a startup medical device company as an owner and President, helped grow the business to unparalleled levels of sales and profitability, was awarded various patents, won design awards, attained recognition by Inc. Magazine, M.I.T., Y.E.O., etc. I eventually had a “vision collision” with the passive investor/owners, so I left, wrote and published a small business parable, and formed my own consulting firm. Fast forward a dozen years: I’ve written four more books, I’m an independent brand advisor to some of the world’s most well-respected firms, I’ve started a few more businesses (which never took off) and I’m a sought after speaker by corporate, association, and university audiences around the world. As my father used to tell his friends, “Not bad for a kid who started his career as a clown.” If there was one thing I could have done differently, what would it be? I would have worried a hell of a lot less. 3. Name 1-2 things you’ve learned to date about career that you think young professionals (ages 18-40) would want to know. First, why did you define young as 18 – 40? “Young” is not a statement of time; it’s a statement of mind. I know people who are old at 30, and others who are fun, vibrant, creative and passionate at 85. That being said, the most important thing I’ve learned is what folks like Goethe have been trying to tell us all along: “What is important in life is life, and not the result of life.” Don’t delay living, and being a passionate, connected part of other’s lives, until you get yourself set and secure. You’ll never get there. You’ll never figure it all out. It’s an illusion. There is no grand insight to point you in the right direction. The right direction is the one that uniquely engages you. Follow your bliss and let change provide your insights. And finally, lighten up. No one gets out of here alive, nor can you escape pain and suffering. So enjoy the moment. Laugh often and loudly, especially at yourself. Live life with a childlike sense of wonder, caring, and honesty. And be grateful. Because to be living in this particular place and during this amazing time makes you one of the luckiest people in the history of mankind. Tom Asacker writes, teaches, and speaks about radically new practices and ideas for marketplace success in chaotic times. He is the author of A Little Less Conversation and A Clear Eye for Branding, groundbreaking books that redefine business for the new, customer-controlled economy. Tom's first book, Sandbox Wisdom, a heartwarming story about a CEO's search for meaning and success in the world of business and work, was a business bestseller in the U.S., and was published internationally to rave reviews. He has a BA in Economics from The University of New Hampshire’s Whittemore School. Visit www.acleareye.com to learn more.