21. Mentorship Pt. III: Tom Hansen Interview

Welcome to Episode 21 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the topsy/turvy world of creativity. 


My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, and we’re here for our last thoughts on mentorship…


Today, you’re getting a break. A well-deserved break from my voice. Because this episode features our very first interview here on Navigating the Fustercluck.


My guest? My most influential mentor, Tom Hansen. 


I met Tom over 20 years ago when I was a junior copywriter in Chicago. Along with his art direction partner, the Mighty Tim Murphy, better known as “Murph”, Tom immediately impressed me as someone different. His mind was flexible and fast. Lightning fast. He also could talk business with any client. In fact, eventually, Tom would become the CEO not only of his own agency, but of a major corporation. His writing was crisp. And no one to this day has impressed me more as a presenter than Tom Hansen.


So, when he slipped into my office with Murph and closed the door, I was all ears.


We’re starting our own place, and we want you to come with us. But we’ve got to know now.


Without pausing, my answer was Yes.


Great, we’ll give you the details later. Hans and Murph closed the door. Five seconds later, Tom opened my door again, and said, By the way, we’re doing it in Dallas.


Dallas?! Good thing Tom took off so fast or he would have seen my jaw drop to my chest. It was 4:30pm. My jaw didn’t close until 4:30am, as I laid in my bed trying to figure out how to tell Tom & Murph that I was not leaving Chicago for Dallas. I grew up with Chicago as my dream city. I had never been to or planned on going to Dallas. But after staying up half the night, I decided I trusted those guys. Plus, I had never lived outside the Midwest, and it might be nice to try somewhere else.


As a mentor, Tom was amazing at motivating people. Why? We all knew that he cared about us.


When he told me how much he was going to pay me, I admitted to him that he was giving me 50% more than what I had ever made before. I also admitted that I wasn’t sure that I was worth it.


You’re not, he said. But you will be. And you’ll get there a lot faster if you’re not worried about covering your rent and where your next meal is coming from.


Man, that gave me confidence. And be damn sure that it cemented my commitment. And when he heard that my creative partner, Bernard Park weren’t sure that we could afford airfare back home for Christmas, we found roundtrip tickets on our desks the very next day.


Kind acts weren’t all that Tom gave us. He taught us about really thinking strategically. Editing. He’d sit down and work with you. And it all paid off. Our little company took off.


It’s been awhile since we last worked together, but I continue to learn from Tom in so many ways. That’s why I’m excited to introduce you to my greatest mentor, Tom Hansen:


Thanks, and welcome to Navigating the Fustercluck, Hans!


  1. You’ve been a great mentor to me and many, many others. Who was your best mentor, and what was the most important thing you learned from him or her?
  2. You’ve been around advertising a long, long time. What needs to change and what should never change?
  3. You’ve been both a creative and a client? What do both need to understand to make the work better?
  4. Tom, you’re the best presenter I’ve ever seen. A lot of people struggle with presenting. What’s the first thing you’d share with them?
  5. When you think of the best creatives you’ve worked with, what traits/habits have you seen in them?
  6. How do see creatives taking full advantage of data?
  7. So, as you look back on when you first entered the world of creativity, what do you wish you knew then that you know now?


Let’s Take a Short Breather… (EXHALE.)


…We’re here at Deaf Mule Studios to remind everyone that this is Navigating the Fustercluck. And I’m Wegs with one last thought on mentors and mentorship:


A lot of people have gone further than they ever thought they could because someone else thought they could.


Thanks to people like Tom Hansen, that’s been true for me and many others. Thanks, Hans. Much love. Much respect.


Well, that about wraps up our 21st episode of Navigating the Fustercluck. 

Here from Deaf Mule Studios, I’m your host, Wegs, like eggs with a W, thank you for listening in. Until then, please feel free to reach out to us on Twitter at NavigatingF and Navigating the Fustercluck.com. Remember, we’re all in this together, so thanks for doing your part in mentoring others. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future.