Forward by Eric Szymanski

 

I know what you’re thinking.  Who the heck is Eric Szymanski, and why did I turn to this page instead of going straight to the first chapter of Tom’s book?  I’ll do my best to make this worth your time.  As I write this, I’m so “Naked and Afraid”.  I helped Tom write the title of this book, and now he wants me to write the Foreword.  What the heck is a Foreword, anyway?  This is “SO, Tom Morrison!” He is getting me to do something I’ve never done before in front of an intimate audience. He loves to get people out of their comfort zone.  But who am I kidding?  I am not a writer…I work in Sales.  Where is the last time I heard that?  Oh yeah, I remember…  

The last time I heard the words, “You just don’t understand, you work in Sales” was when I was surrounded by four (yes, four) large bouncers while hosting Tom and his wife, DeAnna, at a two day VIP Client Showcase at a world-famous tourist destination.  The bouncers were there to escort me (ME, not Tom), out of the establishment.  Mind you, I was the Host– and the bar was at MY Resort.  I’m getting bounced out of a club, at a bar that I represent, in front of a client. What the hell?  I even have the word Seniorin my job title.  I’m having an out of body experience, I’m wondering why I’m explaining myself to the “brute squad”, and hoping I don’t get fired. Meanwhile, Tom has worked his way inside, enjoying his drink and conversation. This is just like Tom. How in the world could this be happening? I’ll try to explain…

It’s 1:27 am and we just finished cocktails and dancing at a night club after party…aka “Networking” in Tom’s language.  We’re in a boardwalk setting and we’re walking to the valet area to procure a ride back to our resort.  The night is over…or so I thought.  As we were walking, Tom hears more music coming from another bar.  He wants to go in for a second afterglow. A second afterglow?!  Did I mention it’s 1:27 am?  Who does that?  Oh yeah…Tom does. Why?  Because Tom wants to make sure his obituary won’t suck. His favorite hashtag is #LiveInTheMoment. It’s all about memorable experiences for Tom, while dragging his friends along for the ride.  

 

So Tom turns to me and says, “I forgot my lanyard (i.e. event name badge) in the previous club.”  I felt it was my responsibility to ensure that Tom had his name badge at our event the next day.  With both clubs closing in less than 3 minutes, I had to act fast. I tell Tom to go inside bar #2 and order a round of drinks. I will go back to the club #1 to retrieve his lanyard. Time is of the essence.  With me wearing professional attire, but no name tag or company credentials, I quickly state to the bouncer in bar #2 that I’m a leader at the company.  I’m hosting clients for a 2-day VIP tour, and I’m heading over to retrieve something from club #1 (which is next door) and will be right back.  Tom had told me exactly where it was.  The plan is set.  Tom and DeAnna walk in to bar #2 while I walk back to the club #1 to retrieve Tom’s lanyard. I make record time. Tom’s lanyard is exactly where he said it would be.  I’ll bet I was gone maybe 60 seconds from the door of bar #2.  When I return to join Tom, the door is closed.  I check my watch, it’s 1:29am.  I pull the door handle and it’s locked.  Are you kidding me, there is still one minute left! 

My clients are inside. I’m standing outside the locked door, holding Tom’s lanyard like a game show contestant with a parting gift.  What am I going to do?  I told my client to go inside and everything would be ok.  What if it’s not?  It’s my responsibility to ensure they are safe.  Just breathe…  Take a moment and think.  The bouncer’s watch must have been a little fast.  He must have closed and locked the door so other guests could not go inside. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind if I walked to the back door and went inside, right?  After all, I explained the situation.  We both work there, it will all be ok, right?  I was so wrong.  I walk past several employees as I stroll through the back door.  I wave, smile, and make eye contact.  I have nothing to hide, I’m a “Senior Manager.”  I enter the establishment.  Tom and DeAnna have already ordered another round of drinks. I walk over, hand Tom his lanyard, and exhale as I believe the crisis has been averted.  Little did I know, that while solving Tom’s lanyard crisis, I had created my own personal invitation to “Bouncer Wonderland”. 

I’m sitting down with Tom and DeAnna, when four large men walk over to me and ask me to leave…immediately.   They can’t be serious.  I try to explain the situation.  I’m hosting clients.  I’m a leader at the company.  I spoke with the bouncer at the door.  It’s right at that moment I realize that one of the four bouncers wasthe bouncer from the front door.  They are not backing down.  My words are going unheard.  They do not want to talk this over.   What am I going to do?  There is no reference to this in the employee handbook.  I had a choice – escalate or diffuse the situation.  I chose to try to diffuse the situation.  I tell Tom and DeAnna, “Please stay here and finish your drink. I’ll walk to the back office, and talk to the bouncers and the bar manager. We’ll work this out.  It’s a simple misunderstanding.” 

Tom, DeAnna, and the “four horsemen” all agree to this plan. Excellent!  I’m escorted to the back office. Three brutes stay with me, while one goes to find the manager.  Long story short, they don’t care who I am, or what I’m doing here. By the way, the first words out of my mouth is that Tom is the CEO of an organization who can fill the bar with patrons. This is very embarrassing for them (not me).  I’m here to demonstrate the good time you could have at the bar, so Tom will return with hundreds of his members.  They are ruining it.  The manager comes over.  I repeat my story, and ask if he wants to call my boss at 1:40 am to confirm who I am, not knowing if they would answer the call. 

My story was met with a unified response – “you must leave now.” That’s when it came out of the original bouncer…“You just don’t understand, you work in Sales!  You think you can do whatever you want.”  It was at a that moment that I realized we were at a stalemate.  …but I knew something they didn’t know…  While we were in the back office, I was giving Tom and DeAnna time to finish their drinks.  I was stalling the manager and the bouncers to give my clients the time they needed. I apologized to the “walking muscle trees” and offered to leave with my clients immediately.  They said that’s all they wanted in the first place. Mission accomplished!  I walked back into the bar and Tom asked if everything was ok.  I observed their glasses were nearly empty and asked if they were ready to leave. Thankfully, Tom said, “yes,” and we were out of there like a bat out of hell.

The next morning, I arrived at our event.  The first thing I said to the nearest senior leader is, “I think I may be fired today.”  I explained what happened, and she said everything would be ok.  It turns out that our company did notmanage that particular bar, so technicallyI wastrespassing.  Oh, Snap! Rest assured! I lived to sell another day!  

Let me remind you that the only reason I almost lost my job due to trespassing was because Tom wanted to go to a “second afterglow” at 1:27 am to create another awesome life memory…without his freaking name badge. Soon afterwards, Tom signed a contract with my company to host his conference at our establishment. He never confirmed this, but I’m pretty sure one of the main reasons Tom chose our company was because I demonstrated my willingness to lose my job to make sure he could have a good time with his wife…while I almost got beat up by four very large men.  Many would have called it a night at 1:27 am that night…not Tom. He has a passion for life, and a “live in the moment” attitude to create a balance and quality of life that people admire and desire. He wants the same for you.

My question is, “Are you living the quality of life you really, really want? …or do you feel like you are just going through the motions in life?” If you disappeared, would anyone care? Do you ever feel the mountain is too steep to climb, or you don’t have enough time to get it all done? Maybe you have some success, but you don’t know how to get to the next level.

If you already have the perfect life, this book may not be for you. Put the book down, and step away from the table.  Take a moment or two and congratulate yourself on your awesomeness.  You have arrived!  If your life isn’t perfect and you’re still reading this, congratulations.  Try not to feel bad about your less than perfect situation.  I’m right there with you.  You are not alone.  We’ve all been there, and this too shall pass. You may be wondering, “how do I get from where I am now to where I want to be?”  There must be something I can do. There is…

The knowledge you will gain from reading Tom’s book is the path for discovering your desires, chasing your dreams, and living a life so your obituary doesn’t suck. Don’t stop here. Turn the page to chapter one, keep reading, and start creating the life you want today! 

 

Eric Szymanski

 

No-Nonsense Hospitality Professional

Association Industry Professional

Member of Tom’s Wolfpack

Survivor of Tom’s Bachelor Party 

Attendee and M.C. of Tom & DeAnna’s Wedding

Barbershop Quartet Singer

Husband & Father

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