Well, I Guess this is Growing Up?

November 2, 2014 By Tom

did the most interesting man alive have to worry about his social media antics?

I’ve traditionally done a pretty good job separating my professional viewpoint on social media and my much more candid, off-the-cuff and occasionally antic filled personal social media accounts. It’s no secret that as a 28 year old unmarried bachelor, I play hard just like I work hard. You can usually find me out on the town during the evenings in the week and for sure on weekend nights at some sort of social event. Looking back at my personal social media account from the last 15 months, it captures a lot of my reality–the frustration, hurt, anger and shenanigans that have happened in that time frame–the emotional roller coaster that has been my real life in both the personal and professional circles. There’s plenty of  tweets, photos and play-by-plays that have occurred in the moment, and at a time when I was still in relative obscurity from the makers-and-shakers in Indianapolis.

And then…all of a sudden…and much to my disbelief…I have joined the circles and broke through the ceilings that a year ago, I could only dream of. I lost my obscurity.  Suddenly, I tweet a photo out without a proper context and I’m getting texts and emails from multiple individuals asking “who is the new girl on your arm?” or “how can I meet such and such person you’re currently with?”

In the last year, between my hard work and lots of luck–I’ve transitioned from an outsider with a crazy idea in this city and 2 equally as obscure co-founders to an insider with the title of CEO and Executive Director who has a solid idea and the relationships to help back it. I still pinch myself at the amount of things that had to happen exactly right to get to this point, but it’s more than I ever could have imagined in terms of responsibility and opportunity. Suddenly, “with great power comes great responsibility” is a phrase that I now fully understand.

While those that follow me on my personal twitter account is still an incredibly small number compared to many of my own peers, not a week goes by where I don’t sit down in a meeting and some senior level person at a company or organization says “how was dinner last night at XYZ?” or “I saw you did ___ the other day” thanks to them seeing it on Twitter.

…and suddenly, I realize being a successful twenty-something in this city means my antics (good and bad) have eyeballs on them. It’s one thing when I refuse to put on a tie or khakis for a business meeting because in my mind, “if you’re going to give me money, you should do it regardless if I’m dressed in a suit or wearing jeans and a polo”, but it’s another thing when I have to answer for my actions on social media.

I’ve been fortunate, I’ve never said anything that is obscene enough, vulgar enough or arrogant enough for me to lose a deal because of social media. But I’m also aware that is most likely because I’ve been lucky versus smart on some of my commentary. But, I’ve had a few people whom I really respect say, “Tom, you’re a leader, you need to make sure what you say now isn’t going to haunt you in the future.”

a sample not appropriate photo would be me dressed as James Dean hanging out with Ebola…too soon?

And in hearing those words, I realized something else. There are now people whom I care about that rely on me for a paycheck. My antics, off the clock or on the clock, have the ability to directly impact my team and their livelihood. There isn’t an “oops, I’m sorry” Hallmark card if I do something that changes the community impression of who I am and why you should support the organization I lead.

So, while I haven’t changed (I’m still cocky, focused and invincible), you’ve most likely already seen a change in my commentary on social media. It’s not that I’m a different person (I’m not), it’s the fact that I’ve got too much going for me to fuck it up because I was tweeting while drunk or not properly recognizing the impact my words make on the organization I am fortunate to steward through growth and further success.

Are you already missing the social media antics and occasional rhetoric? Then, let’s meet up in real life and get a drink…I’ll buy the first round and you buy the rest and I promise you’ll have more than your fill of my commentary in 1st person than you could ever desire or want.


Cheers & Tailwinds,

-the guy who used the word “fuck” in a blog post talking about making sure I have respect for the impact social media has on me in the eyes of others