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Your guide to successfully living and working under the same roof!
HOW Profile: Tom Ingrassia
Motivational Speaker & Life Coach
Entertainment Management Company
Tom Ingrassia Productions
Year started home business: 2001
Hours per week you work: 50-60+ (can vary if I am on the road, to asmuch as 90+)
Happy at home index: (1 - miserable, 10 – nirvana) Definitely a 10!
Success at home index: (1-pauper, 10-fabulously wealthy) 7--comfortable & paying the bills; but
being fabulously wealthy is not a motivator for me -- it will be nice when it
happens, but being happy in my work, and knowing that I am making a difference
in people's lives is more important. (NOTE: I am fortunate in that my spouse has a
good-paying, stable job, and she provides the health insurance!)
What kind of business do you have at home?
Tom Ingrassia Productions is a motivational speaking and life coaching business.
Ingrassia Artist Management is an entertainment management company, with a
roster of 12 artists -- local, regional and national acts.
What did you do before you started a home business?
I spent 25 years in higher education administration, culminating in the position of
assistant dean of a university business school.
Why did you start a home business, and why these particular businesses?
It was my lifelong dream to work in the entertainment industry. I fell in love with
show business when I saw The Supremes on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, at the
age of 11 -- and I told my mother, "I'm going to meet them someday." And that's
exactly what happened. In 1972, I interviewed Supreme Mary Wilson for a
magazine article. In 2001, Ms. Wilson asked me to manage a merchandising
business with her, and from there I was off and running.
Tell us about your second business – the coaching and speaking business. Why
did you start that business?
Having spent 25 years in higher education administration, I often offered academic
lectures. However, when I made what I like to call my "dramatic re-invention" of
myself -- from college administrator to entertainment entrepreneur, my lifelong
dream -- my former colleagues in academia kept telling me that I had quite a story
to tell, and that I should start going out and talking to groups. Plus, there is a bit of
ham in me -- and I LOVE having an audience! So, about a year ago, I decided to test
the waters, and put together a powerful program called, "Live Into Your Dreams...
And Create Success Now!" The first time I offered it -- to a church group -- the
response was amazing. I looked into the audience, and there were actually people
crying. And the following week, I heard from several people who told me that I had
given them the courage to follow their dreams, too.
The coaching came as an outgrowth of the motivational program. One of my clients
asked me to work with him on some goal setting issues, and it just grew from there.
I have learned that I have talents that even I wasn't aware of!
How do you manage to blend these two businesses together?
They blend well, for the most part, at present. There is quite a bit of overlap, as I
manage speaking engagements for several of my artists -- and, of course, my own
lecture programs are built around my experiences in artist management. It is
becoming more of a challenge, though, as the speaking and coaching take off. So...I
have followed the advice I share in my motivational program, and have spent time
reflecting on what motivates me most, what excites me most, and where I actually
spend most of my time...and that is on my own projects -- the speaking and
coaching. My goal now is within the next 12-18 months to be lecturing and writing
full-time, and doing the artist management piece part-time (by reducing my roster
What are the challenges of running two businesses from home?
Time management, time management, time management! I am working harder now
than I ever have -- and loving it more!
What was your biggest challenge in starting your home business?
Overcoming the fear of failure, and the feeling that I had no business working in
show business definitely was the Number One challenge -- along with giving up
the security of a secure job with an excellent benefits package. I actually left my job
at the university just a week after the 9/11 disaster -- so it was a VERY shaky start!
But I knew the opportunity might never come again, and so I grabbed it and made
it my own.
What has been your biggest challenge staying in business?
Continually refining my goals and the direction I am going -- as well as having to
make some difficult decisions to drop clients who were not living up to our
What do you love about working from home?
I am a very motivated and organized person -- and I love being in control of my
own schedule. I work much harder for myself than I ever worked for anyone else --
and I accomplish a lot more. I love that I can multi-task -- put in a load of laundry
while I am downloading my email, etc.
What do you hate about it?
It can be rather lonely -- there is no one to take a coffee break with, or shoot the
breeze with. But, I am on the road a lot with my own speaking engagements, and
with my clients at their performances -- for example, I will spend several weeks in
Europe this summer -- and that definitely outweighs any negatives.
How do you inspire or motivate yourself everyday?
One of the exercises I use both with my life coaching clients and in my workshops is
to have people write down three things that they are so excited about that they can't
wait to jump out of bed in the morning to get started. I LOVE the work I am doing --
it is my dream come true. And that is enough to inspire and motivate me every
hour of every day.
How do you separate home life from your work life?
That can be difficult -- in many ways, this is a 24/7 job. I learned the hard way
(when I had a client who thought nothing of calling me at 2 in the morning, because
she had something she needed done for the next day) never to give my home
number to my clients. I use my cell phone exclusively for business -- and that is the
only number my clients get. I turn the phone off by 8 at night, and don't turn it back
on until 8 the next morning. And I try my best to reserve Sundays as family day.
Being on the road so much can be difficult, too -- I often am gone 3-4 days a
What is your daily routine?
There really is no routine in my business. However, when I am at home, I start the
day running errands (post office, bank, etc.), and open the office by 9 a.m. I usually
take a lunch break from 12-12:30, and then return to work. A workout break from
2:30 to 3:30, and then back to work until 6:30. Work can involve anything from
negotiating performance contracts, to assembling and sending out promotional
packets; handling the behind-the-scenes details and logistics of a concert date;
doing media interviews; answering email; meetings with clients; etc. When I am on
the road, I often work 20+ hour days -- up at 5, to get a client to early morning
interviews; rehearsals and sound checks in the afternoon; show prep and then the
show; maybe out for a late dinner after the show; back to the hotel at 2 a.m.; to bed;
and then back up again at 5 or 6 for the next day's activities. Fortunately, I function
well on little sleep!
What is your biggest (or proudest) achievement so far?
The fact that I actually had the courage to risk everything to achieve my dream IS
my proudest achievement -- followed closely by my taking my story on the road in
a motivational seminar ("Live Into Your Dreams...And Create Success Now!)
I know that if my story can impact even just one person's life, then I will have
changed the world. I also am proud of the fact that I organized and coordinated 2
major programs with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for one of my clients. And that
I am meeting and working with many of the people I grew up listening to
What are you working on right now to grow your business?
I recently hired a new webmaster, who totally revitalized my websites, so that they
are a much more accurate reflection of who I am and what I am about. I am going
out and speaking to as many groups as I can about the power of a dream, and how
to make your dreams come true. And I am about to launch major direct mail
marketing campaigns, both for my speaking business, and for my artist
What advice can you give about starting a home business?
Going back to what I wrote earlier, identify your passion -- what fires you up so that
you can't wait to get started. You have to want it with a passion! Initially, suspend
all practical thoughts -- first, decide what it is you want and commit to that goal.
Then go back and do whatever is necessary to make it happen. It also is important
to have a good support network -- the support of your family is critical, but it also
is important to have people who will hold your feet t the fire and make sure you
are making progress toward your goals. And, above all, believe in yourself.
If you had to do it all over again, what would you do (or not do)?
Since starting my businesses in 2001, I have never looked back. I do not regret for a
minute anything I have done -- and I would do it all again.
What do you do for fun when you’re not working?
I love traveling. I love gardening. During the summer months, I love nothing better
than relaxing on my porch with a good book and a cool drink. But, I also love my
work -- so it doesn't really feel like work to me. I still pinch myself every morning to
see if this is a dream from which I will wake up. And I still have that sense of
wonder that I had as an 11-year old boy. If I ever lose that sense of wonder, then
I'll know it's time to quit this business.
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