Exploring Tom-isms: Strategies for Meaningful Leadership

Effective Strategies for Success
Exploring Tom-isms: Strategies for Meaningful Leadership


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In the world of leadership and innovation, it’s rare to encounter a blend of wisdom that is as practical as it is profound. Enter Tom Schmitt, President, Chairman, and CEO of Forward Air Corporation, whose insights have carved a path for many to follow.  

In an insightful episode of the eCom Logistics Podcast, Tom Schmitt shared a series of leadership and life principles known as “Tom-isms.”  

These nuggets of wisdom, distilled from Tom’s extensive experience provide straightforward, actionable guidance for navigating complexities in professional and personal lives.  

Let’s breakdown the origin of Tom-ism and what it truly means.  

Origin of Tom-isms

Tom-isms emerged from Tom Schmitt’s reflections on his journey through the worlds of global logistics, team dynamics, and effective leadership.  

These principles were initially coined by his wife & those who worked closely with Tom and recognized the universality and depth of his advice.  

What is a Tom-ism?

A Tom-ism is a golden nugget of wisdom that directs action toward effectiveness, integrity, and foresight. These principles resonate deeply because they are rooted in real-world experiences and challenges, offering a lens through which we can understand and navigate our own paths more clearly.

“My journey has been about finding those moments where I could add the most value, not just in the roles I’ve held but in the interactions I’ve had. It’s never been about the title for me but about how I could contribute to something greater than myself. That’s what leadership is all about.”- Tom Schmitt, Former Chairman & CEO, Forward Air Corporation.

Top 10 Tom-isms: Explained

1. Leave a place better than you found it: This Tom-ism encourages us to contribute positively and meaningfully to every environment we are part of, ensuring that our presence has a lasting and beneficial impact. 

2. Keep the main thing the main thing: It stresses the importance of focus and prioritization, urging us to not lose sight of our core objectives amidst distractions and to always remember what truly matters. 

3. When given the opportunity, people choose to be confused: This insight acknowledges the human tendency to opt for ambiguity over facing uncomfortable truths, highlighting the necessity for clarity and directness in communication and decision-making. 

4. Be compelling, not complete: This principle suggests that being persuasive and making a strong case is more important than trying to cover every detail or striving for perfection, which can lead to inaction or delay. 

5. When things get longer, they don’t get better: It underlines the value of brevity and getting to the point, implying that more information or time doesn’t necessarily improve the outcome and can, in fact, dilute the message or effectiveness. 

6. When you make commitments, you do everything possible to keep those commitments: This Tom-ism underscores the significance of reliability and trustworthiness, emphasizing that honoring your commitments is fundamental to building strong, lasting relationships. 

7. Position power is not what you should be leaning on. You should be leaning on adding value: It challenges the traditional notion of authority, suggesting that true leadership and influence come from the value one provides, rather than their formal position or title. 

8. Luck is when preparedness meets opportunity: This redefines luck as not just a chance event but as the result of being ready and able to seize opportunities when they arise, stressing the importance of preparation and hard work. 

9. We operate as one: It advocates for teamwork and collective effort, emphasizing that unity and collaboration are essential for achieving common goals and overcoming challenges. 

10. Keep your feet on the ground and reach for the stars: A call for balanced ambition, this Tom-ism advises us to aim high and pursue our dreams, while also staying grounded.  

Exploring Tom-isms offers us a lens to view leadership and personal development in a new light. These are principles encouraging us to lead with integrity, make impactful decisions, and inspire those around us. 

For a closer look at how Tom Schmitt embodies and expands upon these ideas, tune into the latest episode of the eCom Logistics Podcast.  

Listen to the Episode

Exploring Tom-isms: Strategies for Meaningful Leadership


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