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Tom Ingrassia is the founder and president of both The MotivAct Group and Tom Ingrassia Productions. He is a motivational speaker and success coach, award winning author, radio personality and Motown historian. He has twice been named Best Radio Personality in regional media polls. Tom is living, breathing proof that dreams do come true. His motto is, Learn from the turtle. It only makes progress when it sticks its neck out.
1. How did you get started working from home?
In 2001–at age 48 and just days before the 9/11 terrorist attacks–I chucked a successful, 25-year career in higher education administration (I was assistant dean at a university business school at the time) to pursue my childhood dream of working in the entertainment industry. Amazingly, Mary Wilson (of The Supremes)–whom I had known for over 20 years–offered me a job as the Creative Director of her merchandising company. For the next 6 years, I worked with Ms. Wilson, as well as others in the entertainment industry…the very people I had grown up listening to and idolizing.
It finally dawned on me that what I had done was pretty remarkable–I had worked hard to make my dreams come true…despite the obstacles. I used that accumulated wisdom as the springboard to launch my motivational speaking and coaching business. I still keep my hand in the entertainment industry with my weekly radio show (The Motown Jukebox), my Motown lecture programs, and occasional projects with my entertainer friends.
2. How did you choose the work-at-home career you do?
Throughout my academic career, I always worked in a capacity where I was helping people to achieve their goals–whether academic or career. And, I always knew there was something bigger calling my name. Coupling that with my own experience with radical career transformation, it seemed natural to begin coaching and motivating others to live into their dreams, just as I had lived into mine. This career offered me the best of all worlds–work that I am passionate about, the opportunity to guide others to achieve their best, highest selves, the ability to travel all over, and the ability to do what I do from the comfort of my home office.
3. How did you get started (basic initial steps)?
The transition from academic administrator to entertainment manager was easy–I knew that if I did not accept Mary Wilson’s offer, I would never have another opportunity to fulfill my dream. It was not easy, though. I gave up a very lucrative–and secure–career for the unknown. I had to rely on my wife for health insurance. My income was not the same (at first). I had to establish an entirely new network of colleagues. And I loved it!!
When, in 2007, I made the transition to motivational speaker and success coach, I again had to completely shift gears, establish yet another new network, establish a new routine…and give up some of the wonderful perks of working in show biz. But, in my heart of hearts, I KNEW that I had the opportunity to make a REAL difference in people’s lives.
4. How did you get your first client or customer or job?
Starting out with my motivational/coaching business, I relied on my colleagues in the academic world to refer me to speaking engagements. At first, I took any and every opportunity to speak in front of a group–whether it paid or not. My message–and my passion–resonated with my audiences. Before long, I was getting offers to do workshops and seminars for business groups, educational associations, medical and wellness facilities, support groups, etc. And, with each seminar, my list of coaching clients grew longer and longer.
5. How do you market your business?
In the beginning, I did a lot of print and media advertising to promote my businesses. Today, it is all via word of mouth and networking–both social media and F2F. I never buy paid media advertising any more.
6. What does your usual day look like?
My usual day? There is no such thing in my business. Which is exactly the way I like it. As close to a routine as I get is this: get up at 6 am to run, get home, cleaned up and eat breakfast. Check my email and voicemail. From there, it can be anything from client meetings to business meetings (I serve on the boards of 3 nonprofits), media interviews. I try to limit my coaching time to Tuesdays and Fridays. I do my 4 hour radio show every Wednesday. I hang out with my grandchild on Mondays and Thursdays. I am on the road many weekends with my seminars, workshops, and author talks. That is the beauty of working for yourself–I have total control over my schedule.
7. What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started?
When I was first starting out, I wish I had known that you do NOT have to be on call 24/7/365. I had one client who thought nothing of calling me at midnight with a project they needed done by the morning. And, because I kept my mobile turned on 24/7, I took those calls. NOTHING is that critical. Now, I turn off my mobile and laptop at 7 pm. Evenings are mine to relax and enjoy. My clients know that I will get back to them first thing in the morning.
8. What advice would you give someone who wants to work from home?
Working from home is NOT easy–it requires great discipline. There is always the call of the couch, the diversion that pulls you away from what you want to accomplish. However…you also can multitask, if you are good at it. Overall, my advise is to have the courage to follow your heart. If something speaks to you, don’t hold back…JUMP! Do the work you were born to do, the work that you are passionate about. Your heart never steers you in the wrong direction.
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