A talk with Thom Singer
You may have seen our guest, Thom Singer, at one of his conferences, corporate events, or even read one of his books. He’s nationally known but he is a proud Austinite. He’s known for knowing everyone so you’re certain to learn something from him.
EAA: Tell me a little bit about your blog. Who is it for? How did you get started?
Thom: Initially, it started as a way to promote my speaking business and promote my books. It has turned into a bit of a source for therapy and a way to give and get personal advice. I get a platform to talk about the things that are important to me and my friends.
EAA: How did you end up in Austin?
Thom: I was in California and me and my then-girlfriend, now wife, both got jobs out here in 1991. I don’t know that we planned on staying here but now we’ve been here 23 years and raised a family so it is home.
EAA: What work were you doing back then?
Thom: I was a photography studio manager. Between then and now I worked for 5 companies that closed or had major layoffs. You might say I was bad at picking companies, but they were all entrepreneurial in nature so its not a huge surprise that they experienced a lot of change.
EAA: Photography studio manager to corporate speaker seems like a big leap.
Thom: Yeah, well in all of those transitions, I never had an issue finding the next opportunity. Usually within a week of losing a job, I already had another offer. It was because I had such a strong network. And I already had an entrepreneurial streak so its not as unusual as it might seem at first glance.
EAA: What advice do you have for people that are new to Austin?
Thom: People in Austin have an unnatural love affair with Austin. The only people who don’t enjoy Austin are the ones who fight it. Just drink the Kool Aid and enjoy it.
EAA: What’s on your Austin Bucket List?
Thom: Nothing specific, but I do wish I had done more stuff. I’m not a homebody but I think there is a lot more I could take advantage of.
EAA: Are there any hidden gems you would like to share?
Thom: I remember when the whole town was a hidden gem. Now it’s a bustling city that’s at the top of every list and the population has doubled. Even after all that it still has a small town community spark.
With that in mind, I would say to make sure to eat at all the old Austin institutions. There are some great new restaurants, but be sure to check out the classics – Salt Lick, Gueros, Hut’s, Kerbey Lane, Matt’s El Rancho, Maria’s Taco Express.
EAA: Any warnings for newcomers? Anything that is overrated?
Thom: Not really. Even with the traffic, I would still take it all over being somewhere else.
EAA: I know you do a lot with charity. Would you care to talk about that?
Thom: Sure. When my daughter was born, she was diagnosed with a condition called Sagittal Synostosis. It caused the bones in her skull to fuse prematurely. At the time, Austin didn’t have facilities to deal with the issue. Now we have the Dell Children’s Hospital, which is one of the best in the country.
We support the children’s hospital and the families facing similar issues with the Kate Singer Endowment For Cranio-Facial Surgery. I donate a portion of all my speaking fees to it for the past decade and we do an annual fundraiser every February.
It wasn’t an overnight success, but it is really having an impact now. I call it the effect of “compound generosity”. I’d really encourage everyone to figure out what their cause is and give a little to support it every year. It really can have an impact.