20) Thom – My First Role Model; An Entrepreneur and Reluctant Job Holder

In the last post you read about my bad start in college, a journey which eventually took me 16 years to secure my bachelor’s degree. In this post, I will introduce Thom, my most important friend during a time when I was failing everything I tried except attracting girls.

Thom Oozed Self-Confidence and Helped Me with Mine

My best friend and person who influenced my life the most my first year of college was Thom. Thom was raised  in the suburb of Brooklyn Park with the parents who adopted him. Thom wasn’t even 5 feet 8 inches tall and barely 170 pounds but had the more self-assurance and confidence of anyone I ever met. A keen mind for business and a dry, nordic sense of humor, Thom had the ability to instantly get people to like and trust him. I admired Thom’s ability to make connections with the guys in a way that seemed  lacking sometimes in me. Thom would be the first to admit he wasn’t the most handsome guy, during those years and I think folks trusted him even more due to his sincere, earnest nature.

Thom helped me believe in myself during a time I didn’t have a very strong foundation – like the first 20 years of my life. One of the ways Thom helped me was helping us find work in 1968 and 1969 before we enlisted in the Air Force in 1970.

Grinding Metal at Tennant Company – A Maker of Floor Scrubbers

M1XVLqa1TDO_3zpRxWvo6_wI recall one job Thom helped me get was with Tennant Company, located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A global company that provides cleaning solutions, one of Tennant’s major products is a line of mechanized floor-sweepers (vintage model shown above).

My job was to operate a hand-held metal grinder to smooth-out welds on the chassis of these floor sweepers. Thom was a welder, and I was a grinder each working the second shift in the factory.

Operating a Snow Plow

Determine to get specialized job training and support his need for independence, Thom enrolled at The Dunwoody Institute (now named Dunwoody College of Technology) in Minneapolis in a program they offered to become a Licensed Electrician. Thom ran a snow removal business on the side and hired me as a snow-plow operator to support his accounts while he attended class. Thom was very enterprising and at the same time, was able to help me. I can never repay Thom.

Image: http://thumbs4.ebaystatic.com/d/l225/m/m1XVLqa1TDO_3zpRxWvo6_w.jpg

Video: http://youtu.be/tEDCY2LEy0A

Did someone help you believe in yourself when you were growing up?

Next: Sergeant Stanley – U.S. Air Force Screw-up

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