SIPA Member Profile: Lynch Finds the Light

Tom Lynch, CMO, Astek Consulting

SIPA: What was your first job out of college and how did you get into this business?
LYNCH: First job out of college: Selling “plain paper” copiers in Chicago for a large company out of Minnesota—lots of cold calling. Did it for about a year and a half. The earliest heat fusion models would set the paper on fire if they ran too long. Short demos sold more copiers… Found out on the street a large company out of Japan manufactured their copiers and sold the identical box in my territory for about a grand less. It was a tough job…[As for getting into this business] A friend pulled me in and I haven’t been able to escape since.

Has there been a defining moment in your career? Perhaps when you knew you were on the right road.
I think my defining moment will be when I retire. But seriously, I thought I was on the right road when I was making good money in the ‘80s and early ‘90s selling direct mail. Then the Web came along. I thought I was on the right road when I started my own Web development company in the mid ‘90s. Then came along the 2000 downturn. Did some soul searching… I thought I was on the right road when I got into the Second City Conservatory. Then I thought I was on the right road when I co-wrote/co-produced one show for Comedy Central. Then I had to pay my bills and that got me on the right road. When I finally pop the question to my Liz, that will probably be my defining moment.

In brief, describe your business/company?
Astek Consulting does website and blog design, development, hosting, best practice SEO/SEM, training and consulting, social media, application development, and web and mobile. We have a proprietary CMS that is search-engine friendly. As a whole, we are kinda geeky but have social skills outside of Facebook and are service oriented. As a small company, we all wear a lot of hats. Everybody picks up the phone—everybody makes coffee. I’m usually the one that fills the candy bowl. As CMO, I focus on marketing and sales for our clients and us.

What are two or three important concepts or rules that have helped you to succeed in business?
Focus on the customer. What are their business goals? Let that drive the strategy and supporting tactics.
Anything that can go wrong will—have a contingency plan. (Thanks Murphy for the first part and Dad for the second.)
Try to deliver more than you promise. (Thank you Harvey Mackay.)

What is the single-most successful thing that your company is doing right now?
Adding 30-plus newsletters into Webany, our search engine friendly CMS. We still have capacity so bring it on!

Do you see a trend or path in 2010 that you know you have to lock onto?
2010 and forward, getting the word out on best practices and staying on top of what that is.

What are the key benefits of SIPA membership for you and your team?
Opportunities to meet with lots of people we can help, do business with, and hear the latest in the publishing industry directly from the folks doing it.

Where did you grow up?
Westchester, Ill.

What college did you attend?
Elmhurst College, Elmhurst, Ill. (Sounds like Amherst if you say it fast.)

Is there a moment from that time that stands out?
Becoming the music director for the radio station; that was a blast.

Are you married?
Divorced/annulled for 23 years and single but not long for that world.

Do you have children?
Nope—hopefully someday.

What are your favorite hobbies and how did they develop in your life?
Fishing, camping and golf. My dad had a set of “lefty’s” in the garage and one day I just picked them up. Made the golf team in college as an alternate. Been a co-chair of a golf club for nearly 10 years now that gets out to a different private club every week. Last several years only get out three or four times a year. That work thing always getting in the way. My Liz got me into camping and fishing—I love it. Fishing: Crawlers is easy. Finally caught my first keeper big mouth bass off a plastic lure Saturday. Check out the “best in tent camping” series of books for spots with no Winnebagos.

What was the last book you read and movie you saw?
Book: Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. Informative and useful.
Movie: Hurt Locker.

Additional comments?
One of the things that the Second City’s Improv training program taught me was to be in the moment; additionally—”Yes/And.” Yes/And = Agree and heighten. To make Improv work, you have to agree with your scene partner and heighten that initiation with something that supports it, and adds to it. It has been great for me personally and professionally. Good book on the Second City Reading List: “Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre” by Keith Johnstone. It’s short but loaded with what you need to know about Improv. The next person you meet with try agreeing with them and heightening the idea just to see where it goes. (I think you’ll be pleased with the results excluding drunk or crazy.)

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