It all started in a cubicle at General Mills in 2002. As a new marketer who learned to draw cartoons at Harvard Business School, Tom started sending cartoons to coworkers, poking fun at what we were all going through together.
Friends would pop their heads over the cubicle walls like prairie dogs to talk about the cartoons (and tease Tom that he would get fired for drawing them).
Drawing Marketoonist every week, Tom discovered the power of laughing at ourselves, helping us talk about the things that get in the way of doing our best work.
He kept drawing cartoons throughout his marketing career in the US and Europe and roles at HotelTonight (now part of Airbnb), Method, Nestlé, General Mills, and his own agency.
Twenty years later, Marketoonist is now read by half a million readers a week and has been featured by the Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, and The New York Times.
In his weekly Marketoonist cartoons and articles, Tom has chronicled every twist and turn in business over the last twenty years. Holding up the mirror helps us talk about the things we most need to talk about in business.
Using his own hand-drawn cartoons to get audiences laughing at situations we’ve all experienced in business, Tom delivers insights, case studies, and stories about how business leaders can evolve to do their best work.
Humor is one of the most overlooked but powerful tools in business. It calls out the elephant in the room and points out when the emperor has no clothes. By poking fun at what gets in the way, humor helps us do our best work.
The only cartoonist graduate of Harvard Business School, Tom was cartoonist-in-residence for the Stanford Graduate School of Business course on the power of humor in business.
In 2010, Tom expanded Marketoonist into a creative agency, helping businesses communicate through the unique medium of cartoons. He has worked with more than 200 companies, including Google, Adobe, LinkedIn, Novo Nordisk, DBS Bank, and WorkBoard.
Tom draws (literally and figuratively) from experience with some of the world’s most interesting brands.
He was an early advisor and Chief Marketing Officer for HotelTonight (now part of Airbnb).
He helped launch the Method brand into Europe, named “Brand Launch of the Year” by The Grocer.
While working in brand management for Nestlé and General Mills, he once developed a Food Network reality show to create the next Häagen-Dazs flavor (wearing a hairnet in his TV debut).
(Among many lessons, he learned that product sampling events tend to get more attention if you bring your cute kids with you.)
Tom is the author of “Your Ad Ignored Here: Cartoons from 15 Years of Marketing, Business, and Doodling in Meetings.”
He author illustrated three Wall Street Journal best-selling business books with Deloitte: “Provoke”, “Detonate”, and “Work Disrupted.”
Drawing marketing cartoons for 20 years has given Tom a unique perspective on the state of business and the future of work.
Tom is frequent media personality, from TV to podcasts, bringing a sense of humor to the top issues facing business.
His cartoons have featured weekly in MarketingWeek since 2007 and appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, and the New York Times.
HBS is not exactly a feeder school for cartoonists (and cartooning wasn’t part of his application).
But Tom drew a weekly cartoon there about student life for two years called Sky Deck for the Harbus Student Newspaper (slightly less renowned for humor than the Harvard Lampoon).
His professors soon commissioned him to draw cartoons as teaching aids. He frequently returns to Harvard Business School to guest lecture on the power of humor in business.
We now have the ability to deliver more consistent and creative customer experiences than ever before. So why does customer engagement so often fall flat? We’ve all felt the pain of customer engagement that doesn’t work — customer journeys that break, consumer data without insight, attempts at personalization that misfire. A sense of humor can help us probe those pain points and explore how to become better marketers.
Technology changes exponentially; organizations change logarithmically. Most organizations haven’t kept pace with the potential brought by technology. From AI to data to digital transformation, technology initiatives are often adopted shallowly, missing their full potential. If we want to pursue technology transformation, we ultimately have to think about organizational transformation.
The creative process shouldn’t end after the brainstorm, yet ideas often suffer a thousand cuts on the path to launch. In this keynote talk, Tom will unpack the mindset that organizations need to adopt in order to develop remarkable marketing and innovations. He will frame ways to build a culture that champions creativity and overcomes idea killers. No idea is born perfect, and innovation requires the collective creative efforts of everyone in an organization.
Humor is the language of culture change. As former Apple executive Hiroki Asai put it, “Fear kills creativity and humor is our most powerful tool to drive fear out of the system.” Through humor, we are able to talk about topics that are otherwise difficult to talk about. We can better connect with others, whether in external marketing or driving internal culture change. In this keynote talk, Tom uses cartoons and case studies to help us all tap into our innate sense of humor and unlock the power of laughing at ourselves.