We had the good fortune of connecting with Tom Henschel and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tom, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Years after I graduated high school, I visited my favorite teacher. He told me he’d been impressed that as a senior in high school I had declared, “I could never work a 9 – 5 job.” I had no memory of that, but it resonated. And it certainly is how I have lived my life. My first career, as a professional actor, was highly unpredictable which suited me fine. When I saw that my acting work wouldn’t sustain me or my family into retirement, it never occurred to me to “get a job.” So I’m not certain there was a “thought process” behind starting my business. Rather it feels as though it was a choice that simply presented itself as a fait accompli.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I run an executive development company. We primarily coach senior leaders in Fortune 500 companies. We also lead team events and do keynote speaking. Building a consulting business is all about relationships. Much to my surprise, the relationships that have contributed most significantly to the longevity of my company has not been my client relationships — although those have been very rewarding. Rather it has been my relationships with colleagues. Having come from show business, which is grounded in scarcity, it was a revelation to land in a profession of helpers who are grounded in abundance. People share resources. People refer business. People help others. Living in abundance has allowed me to provide roughly 50% of my time to pro bono service to rising women leaders and to my podcast audience. It’s been a gift in my life.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Even if it weren’t the era of virus, I’d be heading outdoors. We’d start in my gardens which are full of California native plants. We might even head up to Theodore Payne Foundation where they propagate and sell California natives. There’s also a nice hike up into the canyon and onto a ridge that’s a pleasure. We might head out to the other side of the Valley, to Chatsworth, to enjoy the spectacle that is Stony Point. Or head into Griffith Park for some hikes. Or Tree People for the long, lovely walk down to Laurel Canyon Blvd. I have lots of family in South Bay so we’d certainly head that way. Most likely we’d take in more native landscapes at the Madrona Marsh in Torrance. Quite different from what you find in the Valley!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Dr. Lois Frankel changed my life. When I was a very young consultant, she saw something in me and asked me to join a company she was forming. It was an executive coaching firm at a time when executive coaching wasn’t even called executive coaching. She had a vision for coaching and she had a vision for me. I took my place at a table of psychologists and consultants who were blazing an uncharted path into the world of executive development. I confess to being intimidated at times, since they all had PhDs and I had a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Juilliard. One of these things was definitely not like the others! But Lois believed in me. Lois taught me how to coach. She specifically taught me how to coach women. To this day, my clients benefit from lessons I learned from Lois. A big shoutout to her!