Dick Thomas, Managing Partner, Match Marketing Group
In the agency world, many people dream about (and occasionally even talk about) “striking out on their own” to create a different kind of experience. Dick Thomas actualized that dream when he started Trisect in 2005. Now a part of Match Marketing Group, he continues to bring that entrepreneurial spirit to his work and still draws on lessons from a summer spent mowing lawns (it’s more relevant to our industry than you think.) .
As a child, what was your dream job?
As a child, I wanted to be a professional baseball player. I loved everything about baseball…..most of all playing it. Even as a child, I realized that if I could make a living doing something I love and have passion for, it would never really be “work.”
What was your first job and what did you learn from it?
My first job was mowing yards with my best friend. I learned a ton from that.
First of all, I learned how to go out and create business by knocking on doors (literally) and persuading people to let us cut their grass.
Second, I learned not to overpromise and to pay attention to details when planning. We took on way too many lawns but thought we could handle it by spreading out the work during the entire week. We soon learned that everyone wants their lawns cut on Thursdays and Fridays.
Third, I learned to be very careful about who you choose to work with. My friend, close as he was, proved to be unreliable and he would always choose fun over what we had to do. I found myself pulling a lot of his load. Our friendship survived, but our childhood business partnership didn’t even make it through the summer.
The thing that made you excited about the industry on day one and still keeps you excited today is:
Working with creative people. Our industry is full of the best creative minds and I love everything that comes along with that….the constant invention, the desire to explore alternative paths, the larger-than-life personalities, the constant intellectual curiosity and the deep passion for life that I find in most creative people. Working with highly creative people is an adventure every day.
How would you explain what you do every day to a child?
I try to get people to love a product as much as the person who invented it.
Describe a key pivot or defining moment in your career that ultimately landed you where you are:
This is going to sound like a cliché answer but it is true. I decided to finally start my own firm when I saw how concern for, and attention to, profit was far outweighing the importance and well-being of clients, employees and great work. It started to feel like I was selling my soul every day I went to work.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever found yourself doing for work?
There is actually a lot of competition for this answer. Everything from eating fried grasshoppers to pretending I knew how to ride a motorcycle when I didn’t and nearly killing myself. However, I would have to say the strangest thing I ever did (or at least it felt like it at the time) was to try on and wear panty-hose for a new client at their headquarters because they wanted us all, male and female, to feel how comfortable they truly were.
Finally, the quality that makes you successful in this business is:
Passion. I truly love marketing and the vast majority of people who do it for a living. I believe a baseline characteristic for any leader is passion and enthusiasm….and it must be real. Over my career, people may have questioned numerous things about me but I don’t think anyone has questioned how much I love this business and how deeply I care.