Thom has an amazing story and is an amazing man who helps our youth in so many ways. Thom didn’t always have it easy though. For many years Thom struggled with drug addiction, life on the streets, was shot, stabbed and even left for dead a few times. Thom has climbed out of that difficult life of addiction and the streets and now he counsels young entrepreneurs, and gives back to the community in a variety of capacities, some of which include Former Chairman of the Board of Directors of Junior Achievement, Facilitator and Mentor for Valley Venture Mentors, and membership within the United Way of Pioneer Valley’s Financial Stability Network.
Thom, did you always know that you wanted to serve others and help today’s youth?
No. I spent a large part of my life selfish and ignorant. I find this largely attributed to the people I surrounded myself with. Thankfully, the Western Massachusetts community is teeming with good-natured people who invest their time and energy to bring out the best in others. It’s because of their caring that I turned my life around and adhere to a service mentality.
How did you get started in your career path?
For roughly 2 decades I worked at a national nonprofit. The great thing about a nonprofit is that you have to wear 15 hats. I did everything from author books, to produce national TV and radio marketing campaigns. As we go through life our priorities change. When I became involved with Valley Venture Mentors, I started to see the opportunities of offering advisory services to small and midsize businesses. I took for granted all the knowledge I had in my head, but was surprised that every time I opened my mouth people wanted to hear more.
How did you handle the bumps in the road? Were there any moments when you wondered if all your hard work was worth it?
Managing bumps in the road is somewhat difficult as I dealt with depression for most of my life. Thankfully, I’ve connected with good people who encouraged me to embrace meditation and philanthropy. The more I do to see clarity, and help others, I find that my anxiety reduced. I’m sure I’ll come across additional struggles – it’s all part of life. But when I do, I know that I have a good group of people surrounding me, and that their wisdom and insights can make even the darkest days bright.
What do you attribute your success to?
My prevailing wisdom on this is that of Mike Tyson – “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.” Being able to take your lumps, pick yourself up, and move forward are not options – they are necessities.
Thom, what do teens need today more than anything else?
They need to know they’re on the right path. For decades companies have dictated what the world of work is all about. Now, millennial’s and other generations are fighting for work/life balance. They realize that we only have a certain amount of time on this planet, and there is no sense wasting any of it stressing about work, incompetent employers, and corporate cultures that don’t fit your belief system. Today’s young adults are savvy. They know what they want, what they’re willing to compromise, and that the future belongs to them.
What would you tell a teen who was struggling?
I’ll share the wisdom of my own grandfather – “If you don’t like your life, change it.” Granted, it took me decades to figure this out; however, it is perhaps one of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned. There are tremendous amount of individuals who want to help young people succeed. I would encourage teenagers to reach out for help. Connect with people in the community. Find someone who shares a similar background. Ask them how they overcame adversity. You never know, they may take a shining to you. There would be no better way to overcome your struggles and by having a mentor in your corner to offer advice and support when you need it most.
What else do you want to tell us about what you do and what you want to eventually be doing?
I help businesses and entrepreneurs strategize, connect with resources, and launch ideas. Like many entrepreneurs, much of my early experience was derived from achieving extraordinary results with little more than my wits and a desire to succeed. As my accomplishments mounted, greater opportunities emerged. Now, I use my knowledge, experience, and critical thinking skills to help others succeed. Generally, my services are sought by entrepreneurs, small business owners, CEO’s, executive directors, public relations and marketing consultants, business advisors, and investors.
Do you have any products or services that people should know about?
Business growth coaching is my signature offering. It’s my opinion, building a business is a science. Many entrepreneurs and small business owners make assumptions – heck, we’re forced too! However, assumptions don’t guarantee results. The traditional process of growing a business leads to a lot of pain, which compounds the stresses associated with entrepreneurship. I coach business owners to incorporate leading-edge methods proven to alleviate many of the challenges associated with growth.
How can people get in touch with you if they have additional questions?
Visit my website at ThomFox.com, connect with me on Twitter @ThomasJFox, or contact me at 413-330-5254
Thanks for your time Thom and keep up the good work! Our youth and their care takers needs more people like you!
Author and Speaker of the Granddaddy’s Secrets teen leadership book series.
* PURCHASE “THE STORM” http://tinyurl.com/glxzjaf