Leader: Tom Pitts is a marketer, inventor and founder of Yo Pitts! Foods, Soap Scense and Chaotic Interactions. An autodidact and golfer, when he is not creating a new product, Tom can be seen promoting his daughter’s Girl Scouts troop.
Leadership lesson: Being a leader is not only being the best but also bringing out the best in others.
Life lesson: The best way to live without regret is to put thought into your actions, then understand and embrace any outcome.
Leadership motto: If you want things others do not have, you have to be willing to do things others will not do!
When I sat down with Tom Pitts a few months ago, I was first impressed with his big heart, energy and effervescence. Then, I found out he runs three businesses concurrently! He is a consummate serial entrepreneur, excelling at both idea generation and execution.
Tom has worked in various industries throughout his professional life. He started his career in radio and print advertising before moving into the nascent mobile phone industry, then thrived in the golf industry before returning to the ad world at the beginning of the digital media boom. After learning the ropes, he launched Chaotic Interactions in 1995, which is still in operation today.
Tom’s next venture came out of his invention, patented pro se, of an all-natural soap containing a center that can be used as a skin moisturizer, air freshener or candle. This eliminates the waste of the skinny part of the soap many of us toss in the garbage. On a fateful trip to upstate New York to source ingredients and identify potential soap manufacturers, Tom was struck with a burst of inspiration to create his third venture.
Yo Pitts! Foods, a company that makes natural condiments, was born out of Tom’s love of flavorful food coupled with his desire to be more conscious of what he consumes. He launched two years ago and is already selling 12 flavors of ketchup and mustard throughout the US.
If you, like Tom, have a knack for idea generation and execution, then being a serial entrepreneur may appeal to you. He believes that to be effective in that role, everything you do must be magnified to have impact. Here are Tom’s 3 tips:
1. Be exceptionally clear to forge your path. Clarity is important with respect to everything on both a granular and broad level. From objectives to customer experience to logistics to desired outcomes, creating the time and space to think clearly through all scenarios supports identifying and closing possible gaps and moving forward. Clarity also comes into play when viewing the broader picture of how all ventures intersect…or not.
2. Be intensely focused to stay on your path. Focus allows you to be present at all times, blocking out internal and external noise so that you can continue to move along the forged path.
3. Be extremely agile to navigate your path. Agility will enable you to adjust quickly to changing information and situations, seize new opportunities and avoid missteps. And when those missteps inevitably come, you learn, adjust and get back on the path.
Clarity, focus and agility are interdependent practices that underscore replicable success.
Tom’s love of idea generation and execution are not only present in his entrepreneurship but also in his commitment to compassionate acts. Early in Tom’s career, he helped a client who often mistreated him successfully navigate a difficult situation even though he was instructed not to bother. Tom also served as his grandmother’s primary caregiver for 18 years while he was building his businesses. He performed these acts of compassion, large and small, without concern for acknowledgement.
Because he values doing the right thing even when no one is watching, Tom uses his generous spirit to acknowledge people performing compassionate acts in everyday life. He has dubbed those actors Every Day Heroes, or EDHs. When he hears about an EDH, he tracks them down and sends them a Yo Pitts! Foods or Soap Scense gift basket.
Past recipients include a bar owner who caught a homeless teen stealing a wallet. Instead of reporting the teen to the authorities, the bar owner offered him food and shelter and formally made him a member of his family. Another EDH was a young pizza shop worker who drove three hours to deliver a customer’s favorite pizza. That customer had been diagnosed with severe cancer and was heading to hospice. Tom enjoys surprising these compassionate heroes with his wares and notes of acknowledgement, as well as receiving heartfelt, handwritten thank you notes in return.
I know that Tom will continue to be a compassionate entrepreneur, leading by example. I hope that you will identify an Every Day Hero in your life and pay it forward.