Tom Geary

Tom Geary
On today’s show, I talk with Tom Geary, an entrepreneur who started a successful marketing agency, School of Thought, in 2008, on the eve of a recession. Tom shares insights about the importance of creativity, taking risks and having empathy even during scary times.

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Tom has been combining his creative impulse and entrepreneurial spirit since the age of 10 when he started a newspaper while traveling around the world with his parents. Tom shares the experience of surviving a typhoon on his father’s boat, and how he learned from his father to think outside of the box and take each problem as they came.

Tom stresses the importance of working with companies to help them see past what they think they know and put themselves in the customer’s place. He creates campaigns that don’t just “play by the book,” but that stand out from the crowd. His company’s motto is “Make them care,” and that’s what he endeavors to do for every project he works on. How a company communicates its offering is as important to think about as the product or service.

Now, with everyone in lockdown during the pandemic, Tom says that business leaders should take this opportunity to demonstrate their understanding and empathy while also being creative. He points to campaigns by Reddit and Frito-Lay as examples of how companies can be different while also demonstrating understanding and empathy.

Having the courage to take chances and try things out is essential to succeeding as an entrepreneur. The best practice for companies to survive rough times is to the exact opposite of what many do - to pull back. Instead, Tom recommends that we take the opportunity to stand out, to invest, and build up.

Tom strives to create a workplace where employees feel invested and care about the company. He encourages employees to practice self-care and to have boundaries between work and personal lives, which is particularly difficult right now. Employees, like marketing, should not just be an afterthought in business.

Now let’s get better together.

Actions to Try or Advice to Take

  • Show empathy and sensitivity. Acknowledge what people are going through, but don’t just follow the same playbook as everyone else.
  • Don’t be afraid to take risks. Success is built on trials and failures, not playing it safe.
  • Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Try to identify their desire or need. Be surprising.
  • Take time to rest and recover. Safeguard your mental health.

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