Tom was born on his family’s farm about 20 minutes outside of Kirksville, a small town in north central Missouri. It was 1935 – the world was a much simpler time and being raised on a turkey farm was even simpler. Wake before dawn – typically about 4:30 am – and get straight to work doing chores until breakfast. Head off, on horseback, to the one-room school house for half a day, get home and yes, do chores. Simple times – but not easy times.
Tom’s dad became known for his special breed of turkey, resulting in raising upwards of 100,000 turkeys per year. Getting the birds delivered became much easier when Tom’s dad bought an old Cessna 170. At the tender age of 15, Tom became a pilot, as did his older brother. They delivered turkeys throughout the Midwest in that plane – their dad not being keen on flying. The runway was a clearing on the farm, the pickup truck’s headlights became landing lights for late returns.
That kind of childhood routine can lead to some lifelong lessons and habits. For one thing, it instills an incredible work ethic. It also triggers bigger thoughts of life’s possibilities.
Tom enrolled at the University of Missouri in Columbia at the age of 19. There he met another 19-year-old freshman, a girl named Carol. They married in 1955. The following year, out of nowhere it seemed, a stranger approached Tom, suggesting he would be a good teacher, promising him a quick certification. Tom spent two years teaching and coaching at Auxvasse High School, eventually experiencing a life-changing event. He had taken to riding a Harley motorcycle. One day, as he sped along a stretch of road always deserted, it happened. In front of him on the one-lane bridge was a truck. He could swerve, and likely end up in the river and perhaps maimed or continue on, which was his choice.
When he opened his eyes, he was across the bridge – the truck heading off in the rear view mirror. Convinced that he had experienced divine intervention, Tom became refocused on his education, returning to the University of Missouri. During the years Tom’s academic progress continued, eventually earning a Doctorate. He and Carol had four children, whom Tom loved dearly. After 21 years, however, the marriage ceased working, resulting in divorce.
Tom, who had continued working in academia, was transferred to Cape Girardeau in southeastern Missouri. Lonely and living on the little money left after alimony and child support, two more significant things occurred. Early on a Sunday morning a lay preacher gave the sermon on the local AM radio station. He was speaking to Tom who was moved to go to the church. Once there, he learned that there was no such person and no such radio show but Tom had received the message – everything would be ok. More divine providence.
Secondly, his daughter Terri and her friend, also a Terri, orchestrated a blind date between Tom and friend Terri’s mother. Tom and Betty went to a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game on a friend basis. quickly realized that they were soulmates and eventually married. With a stronger than ever faith in God and a friend and life partner for a wife, Tom’s life was more enriched than ever.
In 1986, a friend spoke to Tom about the potential available selling RE/MAX real estate brokerages. Never having been in business and never having been a salesman, Tom was skeptical yet intrigued. Together, Tom and Betty decided to sell their belongings, cash in their retirement and ‘go for it’. They moved to Atlanta and selling RE/MAX franchises became their life. Within a year, Tom became the leading RE/MAX salesman in the country. Within four years, he and Betty owned all or part of the franchise rights in five and 1/2 states and they were the top producers for RE/MAX worldwide. Results like this are only possible because Dr. Tom Hill is a fearless brand
Fearless Brands embrace their faith and know that ‘everything will be ok’
By the mid 1990’s, Tom and Betty had sold their RE/MAX rights and moved back to Missouri, settling in Lake St. Louis. Retired from academia as well as from a whirlwind business success, Tom knew there was more for him to do. Betty knew it too, encouraging and supporting him at every turn.
Tom knew that successful business people, like himself, want to achieve significance – meaning, they want to make the world a better place. With that knowledge, Tom sent an email to several dozen such people with the simple subject line – ‘Why’. The email was an invitation to join Tom in San Diego to discuss an important, although unannounced, topic. Nearly two dozen people showed up. That meeting was the first Eagle Summit, a meeting of people committed to enriching the world through their faith in God, their business savvy and their generous nature.
There are now three Eagle Summits annually, all by invite only. Tom’s Eagle Summits have touched thousands of lives – directly and indirectly. With encouragement and support of his inner circle, the Tom Hill Institute was created. The institute is an online program to provide support, guidance and materials to anyone seeking to ‘Design an Exceptional Life’. Tom has over twenty successful business people as coaching clients, a group that he affectionately calls Hill’s Angels.
He is the author of two books, Living at the Summit and Blessed Beyond Measure. The latter is a book which chronicles a five country, seven meeting, twenty day speaking tour. Blessed Beyond Measure is part tour guide, part biography, part how-to and part inspiration. Together, it tells the story of a genuinely fearless brand, Tom Hill, a man we can all learn great lessons from about our own brand – and our own success.
It’s never too late to start – Tom Hill began his RE/MAX career at age 50, without experience, with no guarantee of success. What he did have was a powerful faith, and incredibly strong and supportive partner in his wife Betty and an unshakeable work ethic born on a turkey farm outside of Kirksville, MO. He ran the pre-Olympic Athens marathon at age 70. Now in his 80’s, his efforts to help as many people as possible continue to grow. Do you have a dream? Have you thought about pursuing it but haven’t? Start. Start now. Look to Tom for inspiration and validation – it’s never too late to start.
Life is about serving others – Building and upgrading our brand, seeking and realizing success and our legacy all speak to the meaning of life. To quote from Blessed Beyond Measure – “The great contributors to spiritual thought from all over the world throughout history seem to hold one conviction unanimously: Life is about serving others.’ So is your brand. Ask yourself “Whom do I serve and how well do I serve them?”
OIMF! – Have you guessed what OIMF! means? It means getting the Odds In My Favor! That’s great advice for building your brand or any pursuit in life. What does Tom Hill say is the greatest factor to achieve OIMF!? Discipline – doing things you know you should do until they become habit. In branding – in life for that matter – discipline leads to consistency which builds brand awareness and creates trust. Discipline. Consistency. Trust.
Dr. Tom Hill comes from simple surroundings and keeps things simple to this day. He may be little known, but his impact is enormous. His story proves that you don’t need to be well known to achieve significance. It’s not fame that will measure your success nor will it deliver the results you seek. What will guarantee those results? Being a fearless brand, like Tom Hill, knowing your purpose, using your skills, embracing your faith and serving others.